Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Off the Beaten Path, pastel, 9 x 12
This week I'm having my classes work from black and white photos.  It's a great way to see values more accurately.  But it also helps you become more interpretive with color and think in terms of color harmony throughout the painting, since you're not trying to match the colors in the photo. Off the Beaten Path is my demo from this morning's class.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

River Walk, oil, 10 x 8
Today a few of my plein air artist friends and I had local artist/instructor John Brian Guernsey teach a private plein air class for us.  Check out his work at The weather turned on us a bit and we all resorted to fetching spare umbrellas from our cars and taping them to our easels, but it was otherwise a productive and enjoyable morning of painting.  I painted River Walk after watching John demo a similar view.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Curve Ahead, pastel, 9 x 12
I've done many paintings from this general location, and thought this view would work well with a low horizon.  I'm hoping to do a larger version of this.  (It's on my very long to-do list.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

One More Hay Bale, pastel, 9 x 12
Today's paint-along demo for a private class this morning. In my weekly group classes we've been focusing on developing a specific color palette to use before starting, so that's what we did with today's painting.  I admit, sometimes it's fun to just dive into a painting and let it evolve. But I find that if I establish my color palette first, and try to stick to it, it forces me to use a limited palette (less chance of mud!) and usually creates better color harmony.

When planning my color palette, I scribble out little color swatches on a piece of scrap paper, preferably a little spare piece from the same paper/surface that I'll be working on.

First I just randomly scribble out some initial guesses to see what looks good next to what, and then narrow it down to create a more organized group of color swatches.  Although I try not to add too many more colors or change my mind and go in a different color direction, I'll still certainly need to go back into my pastel box to tweak things a bit with more accurate values and color temperatures once I get the painting going.  But I mainly try to stick with the same color families when I add to it.

For this painting, working on Uart paper, I started with a monochromatic underpainting using a dark blue Nupastel and an alcohol wash.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Singing in the Spotlight, pastel, 9 x 12
We finished up our desert landscape series in my classes today, in which I used a different color palette for each of the three demos I did over the three weeks. This is my demo from this morning.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Misty Morning at McDaniel Farm, oil, 8 x 10
Plein air effort from this morning. Not a whole lot of sun to work with. Tried to keep my palette very limited on this one.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Afternoon Glow, pastel, 8 x 10
This morning's paint-along demo I did for a private class. It started out as a "minimal stroke" painting. I noodled with it more than I had planned, but it still survived. I was happy to capture the glow that this location has when the sun hits it just right.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Curve in the Path, pastel, 9 x 12
"If you speak from your weaknesses, you'll never run out of material."  I heard this quote recently. Although the person speaking it wasn't referring to anything relating to the art world, it explains very accurately how I go about coming up with topics to teach in my classes. I can't really say that color has ever been instinctive for me. But I've found ways around that. I often plan my color palette and pick apart colors used in artwork by favorite artists. So for the past two weeks I've had my classes plan their color palettes in the same way.  The desert scene we did last week had a very different color palette from this one, and we looked at the specific pastels used for each one.  It's often surprising when you go through an exercise like this.  The pastel sticks you end up using, when carefully chosen like this, aren't usually the ones you'd initially think to use.  "Curve in the Path" is my demo from this morning's class.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

value study, oil, 8 x 10
I've been primarily a pastel artist for many years, but I work in oil, too. However, color mixing in oil has always been my challenge. Every once in awhile I find that I need to take a step back and look at my subject matter in values only. After all, if you don't get the values right, you'll just make a mess with color. Today I thought it was time for a monochromatic value study.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Five O'clock Shadows, pastel, 9 x 12

I'm having my pastel classes paint southwestern desert landscapes for the next couple of weeks.  Since I've visited that part of the country only a handful of times, I can't say I'm an expert at painting this type of landscape.  But I poured over the work of my favorite artists who paint the southwest to study their color use, since that's what I've found to be the challenge of this unique scenery.  I found that the colors that worked best for this type of landscape lean more toward pale, muted hues, rather than the vibrant versions of those colors we're tempted to try.  Since I wanted to focus on the shadows along the path for this painting, I bumped up the color intensity just in that area.  The scene used here for my demo from this morning's class is from Arizona, just outside of the Phoenix area.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Resting Place, oil, 8 x 10
Plein air painting from this morning.  Looks like a peaceful location, but I was standing beneath an overpass for a major Atlanta highway.  It was loud!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Barn on the Edge, oil, 9 x 12
A family member of mine in Minnesota has been suggesting for the past couple of years that I should paint this old, weathered barn before it falls into this little lake.  It sits right on the very edge of the lake.  I finally made it out there to take some photos of it on my last trip up there in December and painted this in the studio today.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Frozen Marsh at Dusk, pastel, 9 x 12
My demo from today's class.  The objective was to keep within a narrow value range.  Other than a few darks in the distant trees, the values are mainly on the high end of the scale with only very subtle differences as you move through the scene.  Most all of my students keep their pastels arranged in value order, which makes it much easier to achieve correct values.