Let’s Play – Daily Painting

“Let’s Play” – 8 x 10 acrylic on canvasboard

A few days ago, at an art gathering, one of the people mentioned that a local art club was having a show on the theme “Americana” and invited me to submit something. I realized that it was too late to paint something in oils, due to the drying time, and I wanted more of an oil look instead of watercolor. So I decided to paint this in acrylic instead. I don’t often paint in acrylic but I have to say that the convenience of having something done and ready to show quickly is really appealing.

I’ll also consider this something for the Everyday Matters “Draw some sporting goods” challenge.

The more different media I explore, the more I come to realize that painting is just painting. Although there are specifics that are pertinent to the particular medium (painting from light to dark in watercolor, vs. dark to light in oil … having to ‘save whites’ in watercolor vs. the freedom of painting white over other layers in oils) … a great deal of painting is much the same. Brush handling, painting values and shapes, composition, modeling forms – these things are very much the same no matter the medium. The other day I picked up one of Charles Reid’s books on flower painting and I was amazed at the consistency between his watercolor and oil painting. They both portray Reid’s characteristic style and flair, even though rendered in completely different media.

So if you’ve been avoiding experimenting in a different medium, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised that it’s not as difficult a stretch as you might think.

White Oleander Trail

“White Oleander Trail” – 8 x 10 oil on canvasboard

This is the second in my ongoing series of “Trails of La Canada-Flintridge.” Eventually I’d like to paint all of the interesting byways that criss-cross our little town, winding along back yards and horse corrals in this distinctly suburban-semi-rural area. This part of the trail, in Flint Canyon, passes by fences that are crowned with huge oleander plants – in rose and white. I suppose one of these days I’ll include a hiker, biker or horseback rider on the trail, as they are used by all three. But for now I’ll leave it open and you can use your imagination to suggest who’ll be coming round the bend.

Lemons and Silver – California still life oil painting

“Lemons and Silver” – 8 7/8″ x 7 7/8″ – oil on masonite –

Arroyo Shelter – Daily Painting

Arroyo Shelter” – 8 x 10 – oil on canvasboard

When I take a walk through the Hahamongna wetlands area in the nearby arroyo, I love to look at the various forms of short shrubbery and small trees that are home to so many kinds of wildlife. Late in the day, rabbits emerge from the brush and red-winged blackbirds roost in the many small willow trees that fill the area.
I’m not sure of the name of these small trees – next time I’ll have to take a field guide along and see if I can identify them.

This week I’ve been taking a break from watercolor to work in oil and to put into practice some of what I’ve been learning. This week I was fortunate to come into contact with a woman who was giving up oils for acrylic painting and selling her supplies. So my paint box is restocked (for the moment) and I have a few new colors to experiment with, too.

Mulholland Twilight – Nibblefest

“Mulholland Twilight” 8 x 10 – oil on canvasboard

The purpose of Ebay’s monthly Nibblefest is to generate interest and publicity for our works and the person with the most unique bids from different bidders is the winner. For this reason, it’s good to keep the price in a low range as long as possible because it encourages more nibbles. Of course, I’d love to see it sell for a good price at the close of auction, but in the beginning, small bids from a lot of different people is ideal. In fact, I’d love to see 15 + people bid on it in 50 cent increments.

I only take part in this activity once a month, so if you’ve been interested in owning one of my paintings, this is a great time to do it.

This painting – a view of the San Fernando Valley from Mulholland Drive – is even more vibrant in person. The sky is a blend of ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson, with accents of cerulean blue and cadmium red. It’s the sort of sunset that is all too rare because of our lack of clouds. But when they happen it can be magical. In the distance the lights were just beginning to come on, creating the kind of wild/urban scene that can only happen in LA.

Flint Canyon Trail – Daily Painting

“Flint Canyon Trail” – 9 x 12 oil on canvasboard

Graduations and reunions are completed (joyfully) and we are catching up after all the partying and celebrating. Here are our son and daughter, who will be having her own MBA graduation next year.

So, it was time for me to get back to painting, and new watercolors, oils and pastels will follow soon. This painting represents a portion of the Flint Canyon Trail which is part of a large loop of trails that goes through La Canada, Flintridge, where we live. The trail is most beautiful in early morning and late afternoon light (this was about 6 pm.) The canvas was toned with burnt sienna underneath which adds an overall glow as bits of it peek through here and there.

Descanso Camellia

“Descanso Camellia” – Approx 15 x 11″ – watercolor on paper

This is probably the largest floral piece I’ve done so far – and I enjoyed the process very much. Essentially it’s no different from working small except I have to stand back more frequently and use larger brushes to avoid getting too many picky details.

Busy, busy. I don’t have time to write much right now – I’m up to my ears in framing and gathering materials for a new class I’ll be attending tomorrow. Plus, our son is graduating from UCLA on Saturday and we’re co-hosting a grad party for him and some of his roommates.

OK, back to work for me …

Gloriosas and Delphiniums

9 x 12 – watercolor on Canson cold pressed paper – Gloriosas and delphiniums

Well, here it is 1:50 am again. I was drifting off to sleep when Ripley (who sleeps at the foot of our bed) suddenly barked once and woke me up. If I am awakened as I am making that first descent into sleep, it seems to take the edge off my sleepiness and I might as well get up and do something. Which I did (exhibit A, above.) I think these yellow gloriosa daisies are called “Irish Eyes” because the centers are as green as the emerald isle.

I got a pretty cool new brush the other day and I was eager to try it out. So I clipped a piece of paper to my easel, vertically, did a quick sketch and painted this as only a half-awake, half-asleep person can do. This Davinci Cosmotop is just dreamy – it holds a lot of paint and releases it smoothly.

Now that this is done I feel a little sleepier – I hope.

Peonies Plein Air

Plein Air Peonies – 11″ x 15″ (quarter sheet) Arches 140# watercolor paper

Well, the show was a success in every way and I have lived to tell the tale. Kudos to Lori and her family for not only organizing the event but offering their home as our gallery and creating an atmosphere of conviviality and creativity. We all arrived an hour before the studio tour began to set up our easels and help with last minute details … but everything was in perfect order so there was little we needed to do. Tour guests began arriving promptly at 1 and continued throughout the afternoon with only a few lulls and many surges. The organizing committee asked if artists might have some sort of demo set up at their studios, and several of were happy to oblige, setting up our easels around a beautiful still life arrangement artfully presented by painter Carolyn Jean. I haven’t done very many floral still lives but I loved the challenge of these peonies – which we cannot grow in Southern California. These buxom blooms came from Whole Foods market, and I understand from my artpal Nan that Trader Joes is carrying them as well.

The light changed quite radically during the hour or so that I was painting these, but I tried to keep the memory of the glow even while they slipped into the shade of the umbrella and grapefruit tree. I invoked the muse that speaks to Charles Reid to please give me a hand with the looseness – that is to say, to please stay my hand if I should try to get too fussy. Because I paint landscapes more than arranged flowers, this experience has given me the incentive to do more painting out on my back patio this summer.

All in all, we had a good day. I sold this painting of the garden at Casita Del Arroyo

to a lovely collector, and Robin, Ginny, Carolyn, Louisa and others in our group had sales as well. It was an auspicious beginning. But the best part was being in the company of good painting friends, family and art lovers on a perfect late spring day. Assuming the stars all align correctly, I can hardly wait until we do it next year.

­ Easel setup

I’m out for the day watching some master painters at work at Pitzer college at Claremont. In addition to seeing them paint I’m also interested in observing their tools and methods. Speaking of plein air, here’s a photo of my current setup when I’m painting watercolor. The little shelf is cut from one piece of masonite and attaches to the legs just by pressure-fitting (no screws or clamps.) It also helps to add extra stability to this lightweight Daler-Rowney easel. In this case I was using my studio palette because I wanted to use big brushes. The mist bottle helps keep the paint damp, especially when there’s a warm breeze blowing. Value sketch is there for reference, because light (and shadow forms) change really quickly at the end of the day. My water bucket hangs conveniently nearby. I use the mat to help evaluate what I’m doing when a painting is in progress, as this one was.

If you’re in LA, I’m going to be taking part in a group exhibition on Sunday afternoon at the studio of Lori Koop in Sierra Madre, where the city is hosting an open studio day. Several of us will all be painting outside for the duration of the event. If you want the address to stop by, drop me a note – address is in the left sidebar in the About Me area.