Monday, February 27, 2012

Up Around the Bend


Up Around the Bend, 11 x 14, oils
 This is the fourth painting in my series of Colorado snow scenes. While hiking around Bear Lake I came across the scene below and knew it had potential. I loved the sweeping, dappled light and shadow on the snow and how it leads the viewers to the mountain in the distance. I also liked the split rail fence in the foreground. 
Reference Photo
 The scene was nice but it didn't yet work as a painting. It was time to do a small sketch and see how it could be improved. This drawing is 2.5 inches wide on grid paper. The fence was leading the eyes right out of the scene so I bent it back towards the center of interest. Next I exaggerated the pinnacle of the mountain in the background. I would make more changes on the finished piece when it came to making decisions about color and contrast but this was enough to get started.

Thumbnail Sketch
You can see by comparing the reference to the finished painting that I've pushed the colors to more reflect my memory of the scene. After adding more atmospheric distance, I lightened the sky a bit since clear skies at 10,000 feet elevation can look unusually dark. Trying to get the snow to 'lie down' on that slope was probably the biggest challenge. I think I'll call this one done.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Next Year's Christmas Card


"In the Spotlight" 9 x 12, oil on double primed linen
Actually that's what I thought. I saw the sun hitting this little pine and thought "I will paint this and then make it into a card to send to family and friends next Christmas. I was still 'in the moment' and enjoying God's creation right in front of me but the thought did enter my head. In case you haven't noticed this is part of an ongoing series of Colorado winter scenes where I learn all the beautiful colors that make up the effect of light on snow. Advice for painting snow? I haven't used straight white yet and I don't intend to.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Looking for Unexpected Compositions

Winter at Bear Lake, 9 x 12, oils.
There were more spectacular vistas to be seen on my visit to Bear Lake last month but sometimes it's not about the postcard or calendar image. This time I was looking for interesting shapes of light and shadow and found them with this snow covered hill and the group of dramatic trees jutting up. I ended up simplifying the scene by removing some scraggly brushes and small trees. They weren't what the painting was about. There's also a frozen waterfall on the lower left that might have competed for attention if I'd rendered it more. I might paint it by itself someday. Snow is fun to paint but I feel like I have a lot to learn.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Western Winter Painting Trip 2012


I had been dreaming of this trip for years while sitting in my cubicle. Someday I would leave dreary winter in KC and work my way southwest, painting as I went. Well the reality was something like what I had in mind but also very different. Even though I've travelled the western US extensively, distances from point A to point B turn out to be further than you expect.  In future years I will plan trips much shorter than the 4,000+ miles that I put on the odometer this time. That aside, the trip had many high points. Here's a bit about each day:
  • Thursday, Jan 5: The thermometer read 71˚F as I drove through Goodland, Kansas.
  • Friday, Jan 6: The great weather continued as I hiked, photographed and painted at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Bear Lake, 6 x 8, oils.
  • Saturday, Jan 7: White knuckle driving in a major snowstorm. Still a great day as I made some important contacts while visiting Evergreen Fine Art Gallery.
  • Sunday, Jan 8: Cold but sunny as I hiked up to Dream Lake with my friend Jeff. Shot lots of great reference for future paintings.
  • Monday, Jan 9: A short driving day, I was able to get in a painting near sunset at Castlewood Canyon. 
  • Castlewood Canyon, 6 x 8, oils.
  • Tuesday, Jan 10: I was invited to do a demo and teach at Shelley Olivier's painting class in Colorado Springs. Thanks Nelly and Shelley. What a fun group to hang out with!
  • Wednesday, Jan 11: More bad weather driving up to Raton Pass. Dropped off six paintings for a show at the Old Pass Gallery in Raton, New Mexico. Then on to points south.
  • Thursday, Jan 12: Started the day at 32˚F INSIDE my cousin's guest cabin! Then just a really long driving day to Buckeye, Arizona. Phenomenal desert scenery and bye-bye cold weather.
  • Friday, Jan 13: Another driving day. Destination Oceanside, California.
  • Saturday, Jan 14: Great day taking in original paintings by Californian Impressionists at galleries in Irvine and Laguna. Did my first ocean plein air painting at Dana Point. 
  • Painting at Dana Point.
  • Sunday, Jan 15: Spent day with family.
  • Monday, Jan 16: Hiked to summit of Iron Mountain with my brother and his boys on a pretty gloomy day.
  • Tuesday, Jan 17: More ocean painting at San Elijo state beach.
  • Cardiff Winter, 6 x 12, oils.
  • Wednesday, Jan 18: Painted eucalyptus trees at Guahome Park.
  • Thursday, Jan 19: Driving day. Destination Tucson, Arizona.
  • Friday, Jan 20: Did morning painting of Pusch Ridge with friend Martin for company, and shooting reference for paintings in the Dragoon mountains. After that it was the longest drive of the trip to Odessa, Texas. The 80 mph posted speed limit was still too slow.
  • Saturday, Jan 21: Driving day. Destination Lawton, Oklahoma to visit family.
  • Sunday, Jan 22: Too cloudy to paint the Wichita Mountains so I headed straight home to my much missed wife.
For future road  trips I'd like to keep it within a 1,000 mile radius from home. Counting gas/food/lodging it's much cheaper to fly to California.