“Climbing Rose” 5 x 7 oil on canvas on board
This is the second in what will be an ongoing series of rose portraits – at least as long as they keep blooming, which will probably be a few more weeks from the looks of things at Huntington Gardens and Descanso Gardens. I think it’s the warm weather that is encouraging this last flush to be so abundant. This climber was twirling itself around a trellis without a care in the world.
Here we are eagerly anticipating the return of our daughter from business school in Chicago. We’re clearing away the residue of months of back to back art shows and getting seriously organized until the next wave begins. Any day now I’ll have to give some attention to my garden which has been sorely neglected. Ironic, that. I spend more time painting flowers than pruning my own. If only there were a way to add an extra 10-12 hours a day I’d be just fine.
November Dawn (Scott Gallery -Huntington Gardens) 12 x 16 oil on canvas
This studio painting depicting dawn in the Shakespeare Garden is based on plein sketches and photos I’ve taken at the Huntington. In fact, I’ve never been there at dawn, but I’ve taken some liberties with a noon photo (below) to imagine how it must look at the peak of fall bloom.
Changing the time of day and angle of the sun was a real exercise in thinking about color, shadows and so on because I had no reference to rely on. I remembered that white marble often glows pink in the morning, but there are touches of warm, too. To break up the wide expanse of the wall I invented shadows, but then I had to think about what color they would be. The same is true of the shadows of the side of the building – where would they cast shadows? The sky is different at dawn. Darker at the top than at the horizon (as usual) but it is warmer in the direction of the sun. So those colors needed to be softly blended to suggest the right atmosphere for that time of day.
I find this kind of exercise a lot of fun because it helps me to break out of painting that is just copying. This can be useful for plein air painting, too. For example, if you are a distance from your subject and you know there’s a shadow there but you can’t see it, you can use imagination and logic to decide what color to paint it.
Lions at the Gate – 8 x 10 oil on canvas on board
The truth in advertising part of this program compels me to confess that this was all painted from life at a paintout except for the sky – because I inadvertantly left the house without my tubes of paint – and there was insufficient cerulean and cobalt on my palette to do the deed without running out. So I used what skimpy blue I had to fill the area with the right color thinned with mineral spirits, but the thicker paint had to be applied after I got back home. There. I feel so much better.
Frankly, I might repaint that tree that has already shed its leaves, but I sort of liked the fact that it represented fall at the gardens. So I’ll have to think on that for awhile. The story of this painting is mainly about light – how it falls on the facade of the teahouse and the lion(s) that guard its entrance. The other lion is obscured by the front one so I left it out.
OK, and here’s some art news.
On Sunday I took the below painting to the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association meeting – which I’ve missed attending due to being at Descanso and other commitments, and I was thrilled to get first prize among the paintings displayed for competition, and to be chosen as artist of the month. The painting will go into the SGFAA gallery on Wednesday for a month and will compete in December for artist of the year.
And this painting got an award at the Verdugo Hills Art Association fall show. All in all, a good month!
“Temple of Love” – 8 x 10 – oil
This little painting was painted plein air style at Huntington Gardens early one morning. The sun was climbing rapidly so I concentrated on painting the “temple of love” first, while the light bounced warmly inside the classical structure. Then, I worked on the foreground and background trees and finally the grass, which didn’t change appreciably. I don’t know the species of the large tree but it is not a weeping willow. I’d say it looks like it’s in the juniper family, and although I looked for a plant marker I didn’t find one. Maybe some horticultural expert who knows the Huntington plants can enlighten me? There is such a plant as a Tolleson’s weeping juniper, but it supposedly only grows to 30 feet and this one was much larger.
Anyway, back to the plein air part. I’ve been using a glass palette these past few weeks and although I’m a little concerned about its fragility in the field, I really like the ability to clean it quickly with a glass scraper and have a fresh area to mix in. I use a Masterson’s box to transport my palette and to keep it airtight between painting sessions, so the paint does stay fairly moist.
I think I have just outted myself as both a plant geek and a paint geek. Sad, isn’t it? (grin)