Friday, October 21, 2011

Big Cedar Paint Out plus Matt Smith Workshop


Owen's Sweet Ride, 9 x 12, oils.
 As we were approaching our destination, I told Jeff that I really wanted to paint a rusty old pickup but good luck finding one at Big Cedar Lodge. The place is impeccably landscaped. Not a blade of grass out of place. But as we were driving down a one lane road on the property, Jeff yells "Stop! there's an old yellow truck!" And there it was, partly hidden by the dense woods. The biggest challenge painting it was the constantly changing dappled light through leaves and branches.

Braided Path, 8 x 10, oils
 We spent most of Friday painting in Dogwood Canyon. I chose one of about 20 stone bridges as my subject. Again, dappled light was an issue. One minute the bridge was light against a dark background, the next it was dark against light. I settled on the latter with some light patches.

Last Light of Day, 8 x 14, oils
Friday night was the nocturne competition. We had two hours to turn in a painting but after one, I had run out of things to paint. On Saturday we turned in our paintings for judging and took it easy. At the awards event the competition was strong. I took no hardware but the yellow truck painting was purchased by Big Cedar. My three day workshop would begin the next morning.

Trout Heaven, 9 x 12, oils
Matt Smith is one of America's premier landscape painters. His paintings are noted for their natural color and beautiful brushwork. Seeing the originals up close is a joy; backlit rocks with airy shadows filled with reflected light. Mountain peaks separated from the viewer by five miles of air. His paintings are stunning. He is also one tough instructor. He doesn't throw out many compliments, instead going straight after what is wrong with your painting. When he does offer any form of praise it means a lot. The piece above was painted in Dogwood Canyon at a place called "The Glory Hole."

Alpine Study, 8 x 10, oils
The final day of the workshop was cold and rainy so we stayed indoors and worked from photos that Matt provided. I'm glad it worked out that way. In painting large mountains I have had difficulty getting the feeling of atmospheric distance. Painting distant horizons in Missouri is not the same. Matt really helped me figure some things out. Put simply, I can't wait to tackle my next Colorado painting.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Harvest Time


Liquid Sunlight, 11 x 14, oil on hardboard
 "Wine is sunlight, held together by water." - Galileo

For the last ten years I have wanted to participate in the harvesting of wine grapes. That dream came true last month as several local wineries not only let me paint or photograph their vineyards but also let me help with the picking of six tons of Cynthiana grapes and the crushing/destemming of a half ton of Cabernet Franc grapes. Many wineries have volunteer days during harvest and I highly recommend it for anyone interested.

Back in the studio I committed to making September "Vineyard Month" as well. The painting above is from Michael Amigoni's just after sunrise. It was completed in one long and inspired session. The big wedge shape, impressionistic color (light) and expressive brushwork bring drama to a scene that could easily be overlooked.

Ripe for Harvest, 16 x 20, oil on canvas                                                    Hidden Gold, 16 x 20, oil on canvas
After painting vineyards from just about every angle, I decided to move in close and study the clusters themselves. For these two pieces I broke away from tradition and painted them three or four times actual size. On the wall they have a more graphic/contemporary feel. Red and white grapes courtesy of Stonehaus Farms Winery.