Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Plein Air in Lost Dutchman

My palette for this painting: Titanium white, cadmium yellow medium, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue hue (Utrecht)

Here is another 8x10 painting from a week or so ago at Lost Dutchman. I was testing out a composition format with some strong diagonals. The smaller chunks of rock help break those up. I'd like to revisit this area at different times of day, to see what kinds of shadow patterns appear. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Here is a 9x12 field study of some reeds from the Salt River, in the Tonto national forest. With towering cliff walls surrounding the area, I decided to focus in on a more intimate scene...

In this sketch, the reed catching the most light is too close to the center. I made a mental note to fix that on the studio version. 

Here's the 12x16 studio version. What I changed: 
-I put more of an emphasis on the larger clump of reeds just to the right of center, and I pushed back the single reed a bit. 
-I added a bit more variation in the "shore-line" of reeds, making that line a little bit more irregular.
-I brought more chroma into the left side of the painting. Especially the yellows and their reflections.
-I added more stray reeds floating on the water.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Palo Verde study

Above is an 8x10 field study of a Palo Verde tree from the Lost Dutchman State Park. I painted this to use as a reference for future studio paintings. 

Here is a detail from the studio painting. I referenced the plein air study in order to paint this one. I still think the plein air study turned out better, though.

Here is the full image of the studio piece. This painting measures 16x20 inches. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

From Small Study to Large Studio Painting

During my workshop at Scottsdale Artists School last week with Thomas Kitts, we were given an assignment to paint a simple color study: 

Here is my 8x10 color study from Lost Dutchman State Park. The focus of this assignment was to use only two values for each subject: one value for the shadowed side, and one value for the light side. While the whole painting has about 4 values in it, each object should only have two. Any variations in one side are to be made with changes in color temperature or saturation. 

I found this assignment really helpful in terms of composition and design.

After critiquing the study, we were instructed to create a larger studio painting from it. I chose to go with a 16x20 panel. 

I lowered the horizontal line in the foreground, in order to make the mountain seem more massive. Because it was lowered, I added an extra bit of sky showing at the top, hinting at how jagged the top of the mountain is. I also extended the distant highlight into the central boulder, which I think helps break up the central space. 

I also did a study of a palo verde in the field, which I referenced when painting the tree in the foreground. I'll post that study tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Week in a Workshop

This past week I've been really busy at a workshop with Thomas Jefferson Kitts ( at Scottsdale Artists School.

The workshop was an intensive 5 days of plein air sketching, and creating studio pieces from those sketches.

Here is my haul of paintings. I'll elaborate more about what I learned over the coming days...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Saturday Train Sketching

 My fiance had an event out in Buckeye so we got to drive out there Saturday morning. Some scouts were cooking hot dogs to fund a camping trip, and the leader/grill master was kind enough to pose for a quick sketch. Then I managed to sneak off to paint in a train yard with gouache.

"Coming or Going?" Gouache and watercolor pencil on watercolor paper journal, 5x8 inches

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Group Paint-Out in Papago Park

I hosted a group Paint-Out with Arizona Plein Air Painters on Saturday. We met up first thing in the morning and most stayed until 11 or noon. It was great painting with so many enthusiastic people. 

"First Light, Looking West" 5x9 inches, oil on canvas

"Back-Lit Palms" 6.5x9 inches, oil on canvas

Painting a Neon Sign in Gouache

"Rexall Drugstore" Gouache on watercolor paper, 7x10 inches

Downtown Florence, AZ has some cool old buildings. I visited on Friday morning and I have to say there is something to paint everywhere you look. I painted this old neon sign in gouache. Locals said the drugstore closed long ago. There used to be a soda fountain next door that burned down in the 50's. Now it's a parking lot.
I used a limited palette of Holbein gouache on a 6x9 cold press Arches watercolor block. The hanging wires were drawn in with a Prismacolor watercolor pencil. My palette was white, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, and just a touch of lemon yellow and peacock (phthalo) blue. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Monsoon in the Superstitions

"Monsoon in the Superstitions" Oil on canvas, 6x6 inches.

I worked up a smaller, square version of a painting from a few months ago. This one has more dramatic lighting, which I think works out a bit better than the first version. 

My palette: Cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue deep (Senellier), cobalt blue, yellow-green (Utrecht)

On a side note, I've been kind of unhappy with the Senellier ultramarine blue deep. It has some sort of solvent smell to it (a number of their colors do), which I assume is some sort of dryer. In addition to that, it's not pure ultramarine (PB29). It has some dioxazine violet in the mix. I can add violet myself, if I want to. I don't want it pre-mixed in the tube because there is no way for me to take it out. I'm only using this color just so I can finish off a tube. I won't buy it again, that's for sure. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rocks and a Saguaro: A review of Gamblin's Warm White and Caucasian Flesh Tint

"Between a Rock and a Hard Place" Oil on canvas, 6x6 inches

I tried out a different palette for this one. I have been hearing things about some landscape painters using Caucasian Flesh Tint from Gamblin, and I figured I would see what that's all about. I have always avoided pre-mixed "skin tones", preferring to mix everything myself, but this tube was given to me a while ago. So, rather than letting it collect dust I decided to try it out. 

For my purposes, I see the Caucasian Flesh Tint as a convenience color, a useful starting point for some of the peachy rocks we get out here. I also found it useful for lightening up a green and lowering the intensity at the same time... good when you want to knock back a green in the distance to convey atmospheric perspective. 

I also used Gamblin's "Warm White" in place of titanium white. This white is made from titanium with a touch of yellow in it. It's very subtle, but it works its way into every part of your painting and makes things seem a little bit warmer. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this color.

Here's my full palette:

Warm white (Gamblin), cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow medium, Caucasian flesh tint (Gamblin), alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue deep (Senellier), cobalt blue, yellow-green (Utrecht)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Plein Air

Here is a 9x12 painted in Papago Park on Halloween morning. I was up near Hole-in-the-Rock, and this view is looking southwest. That's South Mountain in the distance. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nocturne practice (2)

Here is a little 6x6 studio piece I painted today. I referenced the sketch from yesterday for color/value. The mountain is illuminated just a little bit from the faint glow of the western sky. The full moon is rising behind the mountain, giving it a sort of greenish halo. 

I'm enjoying the new possibilities in night painting. I'll definitely be exploring it more. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nocturne practice

This evening I did a little night painting in east Mesa, overlooking the Superstition mountains. It was a great practice piece and I can't wait to do some night painting again. 

My palette: Cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, alizarin crimson, dioxazine purple, ultramarine blue, viridian hue (Holbein), burnt umber

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall Still Life (Step-By-Step)

Here are some step-by-step photos of this Fall still life from last week. I'll include a little commentary here and there. 

My palette: Cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, viridian hue (Holbein), transparent oxide red (Rembrandt)

I started off by drawing in my composition with a reddish brown and a small #2 brush. Then I started blocking in the shadows. Paint at this stage is kept thin. 

Once shadow shapes were established I started blocking in local colors. When I paint local colors, I tend to err on the slightly darker side. I'd rather have to lighten them up later than have to darken them instead. Too much white early on can make your painting look chalky. 
I started getting some slightly thicker paint, defining the forms a bit more in the pumpkin and gourde. I was mainly focusing on the light areas. I'll get the shadowed sides a little later. 

More definition. This time a little bit in the shadow side of the pumpkin.

Building up some of the reflected lights in the pumpkin. The orange tends to go cool in the highlights. They become kind of a pink color rather than getting very yellow. Cadmium red light and white work well for that.

Building up a little bit of definition on the gourde.

Corn progress 1: Start with a darker than usual local color, painted thinly. Make some guide marks for the rows of kernels.

Using a flat #4-#6, I placed some of the first marks, in varying shades of purple with a couple lighter tan colored marks. I was trying to keep the brush strokes following the curve of the corn cob,

More shapes of color. Some wider, some narrower. Trying to keep colors scattered and random looking.

Getting there...

Now the kernels can be defined a little bit. Some reflected light, shadow shapes, and a couple soft highlights finish it off. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Working up a Studio Piece from a Plein Air Sketch (Part 2)

The finished painting, 16x26 inches. I kept the brushwork loose in the foreground, and also paid careful attention to edges throughout the piece. Lately I've been trying to use edges as a means of controlling the composition, and directing the viewer's eye. 

The plein air sketch from the Grand Canyon south rim, 9x12 inches.

Paint a Graveyard on Location (Saturday 10-24-2015)

Today I painted with Holbein gouache in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Phoenix. A sign nearby read "Due to the recent drought and water crisis, we will not be planting winter grass this season". Because of our recent rains, I think this is probably the greenest the grass will be until spring comes around.
I chose to focus on a tear-drop shaped headstone, lying in the cast shadow of a tall tree. Blue skylight and grass reflected on the edge of the dark granite. Yellow and orange bouquets of flowers dotted the grounds.
My palette was ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, lemon yellow, and permanent white.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Picketpost Mountain

Here is a painting from this morning at Picketpost Mountain. My friend Don Dean shared this place with me and I have to say it's a real gem. It's located just a few miles west of Superior, AZ, right off the US-60. Very easy to get to. The Arizona Trail (a hiking trail stretching from Mexico to Utah) crosses through here as well. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Phoenix Skyline and Cloud Studies

Here are a few cloud studies from this morning at Papago Park. There's a great view of the Phoenix skyline there. I chose to do some cloud studies. All three of these fit on a 9x12 panel. The first is about 9x3 and the other two are about 9x4

I used a limited palette of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Another Harvest Painting

Here is a small 6x6 painting from today. I made the ceramic vase a couple years ago. 

My palette is: 

cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, viridian hue (Holbein), and transparent oxide red. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Squash Pen/Ink

Here is a (slightly blurry) picture of a pen drawing of a squash. I used an 05 Micron Pen. This was a good challenge in using pen strokes to define the contours. Using strokes (pen or brush) to define the contours and shapes of objects helps make it appear to occupy space. It allows you to achieve changes in surface quality without having to change value much (or color, necessarily). 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Another Fall Still Life

Here is another 11x11 still life. I've been enjoying the challenge of painting corn. It's all about simplifying and brush marks. I think I'll have to buy a few more ears and do some more paintings. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A couple pieces from South Mountain



I painted up these two pieces this morning at South Mountain in Phoenix. I met up with an artist friend, Pam, who introduced me to Thomas Kitts. Thomas is in town for a demo this week, and we all went out to do some painting. I've signed up for a workshop with Thomas at Scottsdale Artists School in November, and after the wealth of advice I got this morning, I can't wait to learn more from him. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall Still Life

Fall is here, and the grocery stores are filled with all the great seasonal produce. Funky looking pumpkins, squash, gourdes, and dried corn. I bought a selection of these things and piled them up on the table, along with one of my ceramic bottles. This piece is 11x11.

My palette here is: Cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, transparent oxide red (Rembrandt), alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, viridian. 

The transparent oxide red is a handy color when painting still life. It makes some really great darks when mixed with ultramarine blue, and some great dark, muted greens when mixed with viridian. It's a very useful color especially in underpainting. 

I don't normally use the transparent oxide red in my landscape paintings, though. I usually prefer opaque, bright colors (usually because I paint landscapes alla prima). I tend to avoid using transparent colors, as those (at least for me) are better for indirect painting rather than direct painting. 

Hunt's Tomb

This is Governor Hunt's tomb in Papago Park. He was the first governor of Arizona, and he is entombed in this pyramid along with members of his family. There is an iron fence that surrounds the pyramid, but I decided to leave it out. 

There were a few families who came up to watch the sunset, and about a dozen kids decided that watching me paint was more entertaining than the sunset. They all asked great questions.

I used a palette of only secondary colors: cadmium orange, dioxazine violet, and viridian. It was a different way of thinking... purple and green mix together for your blue, green and orange make a very muted yellow (more like a muted dark ochre), and orange and purple mix together for your red (kind of like a burnt sienna). 

I think I'll explore this secondary palette a little bit more. Perhaps even make a few color charts. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Working up a Studio Piece from a Plein Air Sketch (Part 1)

This is a 9x12 plein air sketch from the rim of the Grand Canyon. I'm referencing this to make a larger studio painting. 

This is the start of the studio piece. I've gone with a more elongated rectangle. This one measures 16x26. I've simplified the foreground more, and I'm trying to work on edges with this piece. I want to keep the foreground edges soft, especially the trees, to help guide the eye back and towards the central rock formations. The color got pretty washed out in this photo. I've been referencing the plein air sketch for colors, and it's much more true to the first photo above. 

I'm using more of an extensive palette this time. My palette here is cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, dioxazine violet, ultramarine blue, and phthalo green. 

Tomorrow I plan on building up thicker paint and playing around more with edge quality.