Wednesday, July 30, 2008
...Meanwhile, back at the studio... I love summer, and this set-up says summer to me! This was painted in one day. It is an oil on panel that is 12"x24". When you have fresh fruit, you have to paint quickly or else fruitflies have a field day. My first session on a painting is generally my longest, and consequently, most important, so I paint as long as I can before the light fades (natural north light). This is where I get my forms, colors, masses, and rhythms set. Anthony VanDyke (17th century, Flemish Old Master) is credited with saying:
Endeavor as far as possible to complete your picture alla prima, because there is always plenty left to do afterwards.
To me, this is very true and logical. It also keeps your work fresh and the fruitflies at bay. :)
Yesterday was a perfect summer day. So, we headed in to Burlington to paint along the shores of Lake Champlain, New England's West Coast. Looking across the lake, you can see the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Jack set up in the shade (very smart) and chose a long view. The clouds were magnificent and changed continually, so it would have been a good day to just paint clouds, too. You can see the start of his painting with his toned panel, not yet covered by paint, at the bottom. We always paint on a toned canvas.
I chose to paint the shore, where the light, that was filtering down and hitting the rocks, caught my attention. When I forget my mahl stick, I use my left arm as a mahl stick. This helps to steady, or brace, my right arm so that I can make more precise brushstrokes.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Painting with other artists is always fun. Recently, Jack & I had the pleasure of painting with Jeffrey Freedner, who also studied with Frank Mason. We set up overlooking Boyden Winery in Cambridge. The farm field has a lovely dirt road that snakes its way down to the Lamoille River. Jeff really caught the movement and a nice sense of depth. He also has a blog: www.jeffreyfreedner.blogspot.com.
He has a great hat that keeps his neck from too much sun, and it offers good protection against those sneaky mosquitoes!
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
When we painted and drew here the other day, it was gray and started to rain, and we returned home before I was really "finished". So, my plan today was to go back and try to finish, or clean-up and tighten-up a bit, my other drawing. However, when I arrived sun was hitting my tree, and it was so lovely, that I was inspired to do another.
Drawing can tell you alot about yourself. I discovered, or I am beginning to realize more and more, that I draw more like a painting. I am attacted to the light effect and the movement, more than the details, and I work from the general to the specific, as I do in painting.
Again, I am using my sketchbook (Fabriano Quadrato Artist's Journal), and I am drawing with pencils and white chalk.
Jack & I decided to go back to the swimming hole in Jeffersonville. Jack usually works on one of his plein air paintings for several sessions. He works slowly and deliberately, carefully thinking out his form and light, while modeling and drawing with the brush. This is the third session with this painting. Working this way, he has to return to the same spot, at the same time, so the light is the same.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
We got out early this morning, and Jack took me to a place that he had painted in early spring. The weeds were over my head, but we managed to get to the little brook with the view of Mt. Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont. The space was pretty limited. Jack had a large canvas, so he took his "big" easel.
This easel was owned by Thomas Curtin, who was a friend of my sister-in-law, and was an artist who had lived in Cambridge, VT. He had passed away in 1977. Before he died, he gave the easel to my sister-in-law to give to us. It is a Gloucester easel manufactured by Oscar Anderson, and it is a very ingenious invention. It is very simple, and Jack's paintbox and landscape palette fits nicely on the v-shape in the middle. The canvas is sits on pegs, and the top of the canvas is held by a stick.
Jack is working on linen with an oil priming, and it is 24"x30". He will go back several times to the same spot to finish the piece. This was just the start.
I am working on a small gessoed panel, and instead of getting in the big mountain, I decided to concentrate on the bank just across the brook. You can see that my landscape palette box is held onto my easel by a small bungie...works great!
Here is a close-up of my palette box. I need to fix it up a bit now. When I mix a fresh palette, I can keep it in the freezer, and this will keep the paint from drying out.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Sometimes I use a smaller easel, which is lightweight, compact and good for camping trips. When I use this easel, I do not bring my normal "landscape palette" box, because it is too large. So, I came up with the truncated version that you see here. The colors shift prismatically, as well as in value, which I find very useful.
Jack was smart and painted in the shade.
I decided to do more drawing this summer, so while Jack was painting this morning, I took out my trusty sketchbook and drew this tree. It is done with pencil, a little ink and it is highlighted with white chalk. When it started to rain, we packed up. I may go back to try to finish it. I have painted an oil sketch in this same spot, so now I am trying to do a little more detailed drawing, which will enable me to do a larger studio landscape, using my plein air sketch and the drawings that I hope to accomplish.
The local swimming hole in Jeffersonville, with its little waterfall, is a great painting spot. Early in the day (especially a gray day) is quiet, whereas later in the day (if it is hot and sunny), the place is packed with bathers. Jack took advantage of the quiet to paint here.
You can see his set-up, with his "landscape palette" of premixed value scales. Premixing a palette gives you control, as well as freedom to explore color harmonies. It also enables you to paint quickly, which in outdoor landscape painting with its ever-changing light and other challenges (bugs, wind, rain, etc.) is important.
Our local art supply store came up with this bumper sticker.
With summer finally here, outdoor landscape painting (plein air) goes into full swing. Jack's favorite mode of transportation is this old Helix (Honda) scooter. It gets over 70 mpg, so it is very economical. You can see his easel strapped to the side, his basket with supplies, and he built a special box to carry the wet painting, which goes in the trunk.