Sunday, November 29, 2009

Late November

Late November, oils on canvasboard, 9" x 12," contact artist for price.

We've had an unusually warm and wet fall this year, but now in late November, it's definitely getting colder. Yesterday's high was only 53 degrees and with the light breeze it felt colder. Bundled up in my thermal suit under several other layers and my winter favorite, a Tilley wool hat with ear and forehead flaps, I set out to explore a new place--the Daniels area of Patapsco Valley State Park a few miles north of my house.

This section of the park is at the bottom of a small valley behind a north-facing hillside and it was only a short distance from the parking area to the river bank for this view. It was surprising to see so many recreational users there: some with canoes or kayaks putting out on the water, a couple of fishermen in hip waders below a small dam, and a party of four on horseback riding down the hill.

After I laid out the paint on my palette, I put on an old pair of gloves to keep my hands warm. The glare from the sun off the water was blinding so I had to keep moving far back to be able to judge the balance of colors and values. A little after three in the afternoon the sun had sunk behind the hill, leaving the small valley in shadow, but my painting was finished and I had managed to stay warm enough to work for a couple of hours. It felt good to be out painting in plein air despite the chill; I think the water and reflections appear convincing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

With the Leaves Down

With the Leaves Down, oils on canvasboard, 11" x 14," $300 unframed.

This week our class we went back at the horse farm on Joyce Lane. It's the same view I painted two weeks ago in "Brisk November Day," but now the leaves are down from the trees and what a difference that makes!

The day was sunny and actually warmer than on the previous outing, but pictorially it looks colder because of the leafless trees. There is much less color in nature this week, with blue sky showing through the bare crowns.

The horses were getting wormed--the owner and two helpers were in the paddock putting drops with the medicine in their noses using a plastic syringe. One yearling by the fence obviously didn't like the flavor and rolled back her lips to show more front teeth and gums than I've ever seen on a horse--it was so funny to watch, I wish I'd had my camera.

It was the last class of our session. With the approach of winter the outdoor painting season is rapidly coming to its end. I hope there may still be a few nice days left, but I'm eyeing the winter catalogs for warm layers I can wear during extreme weather painting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rainy Day Still Life

Still Life with Blue Bowl, 12" x 9." Original, $100 unframed.

It was a rainy and blustery fall day so this week our class worked on a still life indoors. I hadn't painted a still life since last winter's classes, but by now I am familiar with our teacher's props, in particular the white stoneware pitcher and this blue bowl. I chose this angle because first of all, I found the shapes of the shadows the objects were casting on the tablecloth fascinating, but also the perspective on the pitcher from this angle was challenging to draw.

My drawing skills have improved a lot since I started following Lee Boynton's suggestion to use only straight lines to outline the basic shapes. By carefully observing the points of intersection and angle of the lines in the objects, accuracy comes more easily. I had not forgotten other proceedures: start with the brightest colors and work on "pairs" of colors--the lighted and shadowed portions of the same object until the white canvas is all covered, then adjust the val-hues before adding more detail. I had great fun painting this piece.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Brisk November Day

A Brisk November Day, oils on gessobord, 9" x 12." $200 unframed.

After being too sick to go to class last week, I was really looking forward to getting out to paint today. The November day was brisk but sunny; I bundled up under two layers of Polartec and my Tilley wool hat, and drove off to the Joyce Lane farm once again.

Lucky for me, one other student was also a bit late--we couldn't find Lee and the class at the usual place, so we drove farther down the road and eventually found them tucked between a bank covered with vegetation and the fence at the edge of the pasture. We lined up along the fence to paint. The foliage remaining on the trees glowed with burnt colors and the leaves on the vines behind us rattled in the breeze. Mars Violet seemed like the perfect color for the shadows and tree trunks on a day like today.

The morning passed in no time at all. Just as we were finishing our pieces, the horses came over to check us out and I couldn't resist putting a couple of them in my painting. They really add life to the scene.