Categories
Flower Art Gardening Oil Painting Painting Plein Air Still Life

Pansies Plein Air

Pansies in Pitcher Plein Air, oil on panel 12x9"
Pansies in Pitcher Plein Air, oil on panel 12x9"

The weather was too perfect to paint indoors but I didn’t feel like driving anywhere. My next door neighbor was out pruning his pansies and he’d pulled out a whole bucketful he was about to put in the compost bin.¬† Voila! A perfect painting subject. I stuffed a big clump of the pansies into a pitcher and set them on a table in the backyard.

I’d made the pitcher as a gift for my friend Barbara in the late 70s when I was a ceramic artist and she was a silversmith. She’s now a brilliant and prolific ceramic artist herself and she recently gave me the pitcher back. She was no longer using it due to a leaky crack and a house full of her own ceramics. I’ve been enjoying using it in still life set ups while fondly remembering it being filled with Mimosas every year for the annual Easter egg hunt and brunch her family held every year while our kids were growing up.

I knew that time was very limited before the shade moved across the yard onto the table so I worked quickly and had a great time.

Here’ are a couple steps in the work in progress:

Pansies Plein Air WIP #1
Pansies Plein Air WIP #1
Pansies Plein Air WIP #2
Pansies Plein Air WIP #2
Categories
Bay Area Parks Landscape Marin County Oil Painting Outdoors/Landscape Painting Photos Places Plein Air

Cloudy Day on the Bay, View from China Camp

Cloudy Bay, View from China Camp, oil on panel, 9x12
Cloudy Bay, View from China Camp, oil on panel, 9x12"

When I first arrived at China Camp in San Rafael for our plein air paint-out, I decided to make the dramatic, dark clouds my subject. Except that once I’d completed a quick thumbnail sketch for composition, drew the main shapes on my panel, blocked in the colors of the sky, clouds, land, water… POOF! The sun came out, the clouds blew away, and the hills that were my darkest darks were now glowing with light.

Since the scene was now completely different I put the panel away and started another small study, which I might mess with a bit and post another time.

I planned to finish the first painting in the studio, from photos I took before everything changed. Of course later when I looked at the photos, they had none of the color and drama I’d seen and felt in person. So I tried to work from memory along with the photo, and eventually just let the painting tell me what it needed.

This is the original block-in with the painting barely started. I’d put the clouds in first, but after I’d blocked in the rest of the elements, realized they were way too dark.

China Camp View blocked in
China Camp View blocked in

And this is the photo of the scene, in which the colors are all wrong, and which mostly just confused me when trying to paint from it.

Photo of China Camp cloudy view
Photo of China Camp cloudy view

As a wonderful bonus to the pleasure of being out painting on a gorgeous day, my painting group had hired plein air painter Elio Camacho to lead a workshop for us that day. I used to study with Elio a couple years ago so it was great working with him again. He is such a generous teacher and brilliant artist. Everyone had rave reviews afterward and were very pleased with what they’d learned that day.

Categories
Landscape Oil Painting Outdoors/Landscape Painting Photos Plein Air

Shorebird Marsh in Corte Madera; new oil painting

Shorebird Marsh, Corte Madera, Oil painting, 9x12"
Shorebird Marsh, Corte Madera, Oil painting, 9x12"

A few weeks ago my plein air group met on a blistering hot day at a little shadeless park alongside a marsh that was right next to the noisy highway and a block from an upscale shopping center (Village Shopping Center in Corte Madera). Some watercolorists in the group set up at the shopping center but were kicked out for taking up outdoor tables meant for food court customers.

Reference photo
Reference photo

I was tempted to leave. The scene didn’t appeal to me, I was tired, it was hot, there was no shade or other facilities and the noise of the traffic was terrible. But I decided to give it a shot, and of course, as I started drawing I got more enthusiastic (“such cute hills” I said to myself, and listening to music with headphones helped block out the highway noise.

Initial sketch on panel
Initial sketch on panel

I stopped taking photos after the one below because I was trying to finish quickly as the temperature kept climbing. I nearly completed the painting on site before I started  feeling like I was getting sunstroke and had to pack up and head home, without even waiting for the critique.

Starting to block in color
Starting to block in color

I worked from the reference photo a bit in the studio but then just started addressing the painting’s needs instead of what was in the photo. I tried not to mess with the hills and trees that I’d painted on site because I liked the way they were loosely painted in.