Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Palette Knife Study


Hay Bales, 6 x 8, oils
This little study is part of a series I'm starting to shake myself out of my comfort zone. I still tend to fall back on my illustration skills when a painting gets tough so I needed some exercises that make that harder to do. That's where the palette knife comes in. I've used one before to help lay extra paint down but I would always do the initial block in and then finish with brushes. This time I used the knife as my primary tool. I also made it an emphasis to not over mix paint on the palette. With paint this thick I found myself editing by scraping paint down or picking it up in one area to put it somewhere else. Try doing that with thin paint!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big Cedar Paint Out 2012


Sunlight Portal, 10 x 12, oils.
   It was late October and I was in shorts and a t-shirt with the AC on. An unseasonable 82˚F as I drove through the Missouri Ozarks on my way to Big Cedar Paint Out, the perfect exclamation mark for the end of the plein air season. (Eight events in five states over a period of seven months, I probably overdid it this year.) During the three days at Big Cedar Lodge, we were hit with a wet cold front that brought temps down to 26˚F before all was said and done. It sent some artists indoors to warm fireplaces but many of us stuck with it.
   I ended up with five paintings, entering two in the nocturne and quickpaint competitions and two more for final judging. The painting pictured above was executed during two mornings in Dogwood Canyon. When I came upon the scene, the glow under the bridge was intense but only lasted a few minutes. As I continued it became overcast and I had to abandon the sunlit areas but could still work on the shadows. The second morning was cloudy and 40 degrees colder. Eventually the sun came out and I could proceed with the sparkling creek and glow under the bridge, painting for a few minutes at a time before having to warm my hands in my pockets.
   The painting took Third Place Best of Show in competition and was purchased by Big Cedar owner Jeanie Morris. I also sold another painting from Dogwood Canyon but was unable to photograph it before the sale.

Accepting Third Place Best of Show with judge John Budicin.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Painting an Urban Canyon


Equinox, 12" x 16", oil on canvas
I've had this idea in floating around for over a couple of years to paint the sunset streaming through the streets of downtown Kansas City. I quickly realized that this only happens around the Spring and Fall equinox when the sun sets due west and not too far north or south. I've been there on a couple of occasions and still haven't caught what I'm looking for but at least it was close enough to work from. I did everything I could to make the warm distance the center of interest but the couple in the foreground is giving it some serious competition. I underestimated the power of the human figure.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Six Inches by Six Inches


Windows Made of Sky, 6" x 6",  oils
   I had so much fun painting for last years Randy Higbee Six Squared show last year that I got a head start on it this time. I spent six weeks in Rocky Mountain National Park in the last year and all four paintings are based on that experience. The first is from near an old logging road in the foothills. What attracted me to the scene was the sense of air between the trees and the ridge across the valley. Pallette knife was used extensively to really lay some paint down. I kept thinking of Monet's poplar series while working on it and even looked them up for pointers on getting the value and color temperature of the trunks right.

Storm Over Chapin Pass, 6" x 6", oils
   The second piece was supposed to be a plein air painting at Horseshoe Park but as soon as I got set up and ready to paint the storm hit. Then I was breaking it down and racing to the car as fast as I could. I did manage to snap a couple of pictures though. On this one I wanted to tell the story with colorful grays of similar value.

Reflections, 6" x 6", oils
   The third painting is from the trail to Mill's Lake but it could be so many places. The highest contrast and brightest color would place the center of interest where the water flows past the footbridge. But it's not what excited me about the scene. For me the "holy grail" was the reflection of the sky on the water in the foreground. I've seen a few painters capture this and I wanted to try it for myself.
   For my fourth submission I revisited that '55 Chevy from Estes Park. Update: Three of the four were accepted in the show. Only "Reflections" missed the cut.

'55 Chevy, 6" x 6", oils