Monday, May 30, 2011

First Plein Air Painting Day of 2011

This is my first plein air painting of 2011. It's been a long year since I did this, and not only was I very rusty, but I'd forgotten just how challenging painting outdoors is. But first, what a beautiful day it was! My painting buddy Sharon Churchill and I headed to one of our favourite locations - Glencoe Cove. It was the first warm, sunny weekend since the end of September 2010!! If you live in the Pacific Northwest you know that I'm only joking a little bit. In any case we had a glorious day, and some wonderful visitors, and below are some photos of our afternoon.

This cat must belong to an artist. He was so friendly, rubbing up against our legs, then he stretched out on the rocks and watched us for a while.

We were painting away and suddenly this beautiful little deer, came walking down the beach. How great is that?

The deer left the beach, then suddenly she was right beside us, checking us out from between the wild flowers, but by the time I picked up my camera, she had started to walk off.

Sharon with her new plein air painting set up. This was the first day she used her new painting umbrella. (I was very envious).

Sharon's painting was far superiour to mine.....but then I didn't have an umbrella! :-)

Plein air painting really is difficult. But although my painting was seriously lame, I did have a wonderful day and am excited to get out there again.

Here are some things that I should have been thinking about, but was distracted by all the natural beauty.
  • First off I needed to simplify the scene. In my desire to have a foreground, midground and background, I ended up with a bit too much going on.
  • I had a real problem with values. I don't know if it was because it was so bright, but when I got home and looked at my painting, I had made everything too dark. So this lame painting has actually been touched up a bit. In Michael Albala's book Landscape Painting, he states that "Ultimately, judging values is not a matching exercise between subject and painting; it is a comparative exercise among the values within the painting itself."
  • The light kept changing quickly, and I got drawn into changing the water over and over again, even though I know not to. I was sort of caught up in the moment and not really planning the painting all that well. Albala recommends that "plein air painters take their time. A painting that is incomplete but well thought out and organized is ultimately superior to something that is "finished" but rushed and unrealized. An unfinished painting can easily be completed indoors because it has a solid foundation." I think that's a very relevant comment. So for next time, I'll approach it in a more relaxed and thoughtful manner, simplify, plan my composition with simplicity in mind, and make a comparison of my values within the painting. And I'll try not to be so distracted by all that natural beauty!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Cedar Stroll

Oil on Linen 20 x 16

I love walking in the forests of BC. The Red and Yellow Cedars are spectacular, and when you find some old growth, the diameter of the tree trunks is astounding. This scene is from Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. The dappled sunlight breaking through the canopy of trees was something I just had to paint.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Bloom

Original Acrylic on Canvas 14 x 18

Although Spring has not officially arrived in Victoria this's SO cold!!! we do have the wildflowers blooming everywhere. They are actually about one month behind their normal blooming schedule. Usually we paint en plein air Easter weekend, and capture them just before they finish, but the blue Camas are still opening. This is Beacon Hill Park near my workplace, and at lunch I captured this shot while taking a walk. The shadows were very short because it was midday, but the colours were wonderful. As always, when I have a lot of green in a painting, I struggle a bit with foreground, midground and background. I pushed and pulled the values and finally settled with this version....for now. Do you find paintings with a lot of green challenging? Do you have thoughts on how to overcome this problem, other than practice?


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wild Flower Meadow

I've been wanting to try painting on a cradled wooden panel to see what it's like compared to painting on canvas or linen. So this was my first foray into painting on wood. As recommended, I sealed it with two coats of matte acrylic medium before starting to paint. There's definitely a learning curve here, because the paint goes on, (and comes off), differently for sure. It's quite a slick surface, so it doesn't stick that well, and can easily be removed by mistake if you don't use a light touch. I've got one more to experiment with, so I'll see how that one goes. I'd like to try building up texture before painting, and it would be interesting to see how acrylics go on as they dry so much more quickly. Have any of you painted on wood panels? Do you have any tips you'd like to share?

I actually really like this composition, and will probably repaint in on canvas. This is a walk my husband and I took recently in a nearby natural park. The park is full of protected plants and trees. The wildflowers are Fawn Lilies that are naturalized throughout the meadows, and the tree is a Garry Oak.

I'm really delighted to report that I've been juried into the TD Art Gallery Paint-In on July 16th. It's a wonderful summer art event which brings thousands of people together for one day, observing and talking with the artists at work. It's a really high energy and fun art celebration organized by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. If you happen to be coming to Victoria at that time, you'll definitely want to put this event on your agenda.

Monday, May 2, 2011

CNIB Eye Appeal Art Fundraising Event

Last Thursday evening was the Artists' Reception for all those who had donated works of art to the CNIB Eye Appeal, the national annual event to raise funds for the blind. As I said in my last post, as visual artists it is difficult to imagine having impaired sight or no sight at all. Being inspired daily by our sense of sight is what makes us create, so it's fitting that Victoria's artists join forces and help make this evening a grand success. Here I am beside my still life in oils.

The event took place in Crystal Gardens which is an historic building, now part of the Conference Center. It started out in the early 1900's as a glass roofed swimming pool. With all of that natural light coming through, it's the perfect venue for an art show and auction.

Here is Jean Wilmhurst, friend and fellow artist, who I met through the Federation of Canadian Artists. Jean is a very talented acrylic and watercolour artist. She is shown here posing beside her donation - a gorgeous watercolour of Blue Poppies.

These last two photos show some of the works for live and silent auction. Many of BC's highest calibre artists were part of this event, so I felt quite humbled to be a part of it. I haven't heard the outcome of the evening yet, but it was sold out, so no doubt it was a success.