Bay Area Parks Berkeley Building Landscape Outdoors/Landscape Painting Watercolor

Brazil Room, Tilden Park, Watercolor Painting Commission (steps in process)

Brazillian Room, Tilden Park, Watercolor, 22 x 30 in
Brazilian Room, Tilden Park, Watercolor, 22 x 30 in

When I received an email from a woman in Switzerland, asking if I’d be interested in a commission to paint the site of her wedding (the Brazilian Room in Tilden Park) as a 10-year anniversary gift for her husband I said an enthusiastic, “Yes!” We agreed I would have the painting completed when she visited the Bay Area a couple of months later so that she could hand carry it back to Switzerland.

Brazillian Room, Tilden Park, Original Photo Reference
Brazilian Room, Tilden Park, Original Photo Reference

I visited the site, took photos and we agreed I would use the one above as reference for the painting. Since I shot the photo in late spring it wouldn’t really match the colors and light of her August wedding so I also used my imagination and memory of the park in summer to capture the warmth and strong light of August in the Bay Area. Below are some of the steps in the painting process.

Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Sketchbook Pages Sketchcrawl Urban Sketchers

Sketchcrawl San Francisco Part 1: Coit Tower

Coit Tower, from Levi Plaza, SF Sketchcrawl 40, ink & watercolor 7x5"
Coit Tower, from Levi Plaza, SF Sketchcrawl 40, ink & watercolor 7×5″

The San Francisco Sketchcrawl was so much fun and had a great turnout of around 75 people. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. This was actually my last sketch of the day, finished just before our 4:00 meetup.

Micaela and I were going to walk the hundreds of stairs up to Coit Tower to draw it but got distracted by all the other events going on along the Embarcadero on our way. We realized there a was a great view of the tower from inside Levi Plaza, a beautiful, somewhat hidden park that I’d like to return to for more sketching.

Bay Area Parks Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Life in general Plein Air Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Playing Catch Up!

Egret at Miller-Knox Park, Ink & watercolor 5x8"
Egret at Miller-Knox Park, Ink & watercolor 5×8″

Since my end-of-year wrap-up blog post remains unfinished, here are a couple of autumn sketches that were waiting patiently to be posted. I have a good excuse though: my new iMac arrived last week and since then I’ve been immersed in learning the Mac after over a decade on Windows PCs. I’ve been transferring files, talking to both Moron and Genius-level tech support, and installing and learning Mac versions of my applications.

Miller-Knox Park Autumn, ink & watercolor, 5x8"
Miller-Knox Park Autumn, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

I’m finding the Mac to be quite delightful in many ways and a bit confounding in others. But little by little I’m getting the hang of it… And..Oh Crud! right after I typed that I made some kind of wrong move and instantly I was popped out of the blog and into an endless loop of…

Computer: “Are you sure you want to leave this page?” I click: “Stay on page.” Computer: “Are you sure you want to leave this page?” over and over until I finally give up, say OK and click “Leave this page.” And of course nothing happens. Had to force quit and restart.

But Yay WordPress; it saved the draft! I wish I knew what I did so I don’t do it again. It has happened a bunch of times and I have no clue why.

It’s quite humbling going from being expert on the PC to being such a beginner that I couldn’t even figure out how to turn on the Mac (finally found the power button hidden behind the screen).

Art theory Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Outdoors/Landscape Sketchbook Pages

Dawn in Scottsdale and Notes from Portrait Class

Dawn View from my Scottsdale  hotel window, ink & watercolor 5x8"
Dawn View from my Scottsdale hotel window, ink & watercolor 5x8"

I was too excited to sleep much during my week at the Scottsdale Artists School, despite my quiet, comfortable hotel room. One morning I woke as the sun was coming up, with the moon still shining brightly. Everything outside my window was glowing so I immediately grabbed my sketchbook and paints. What a great way to start the day, even if on only a few hours sleep.

I promised to share what I learned from Rose Frantzen but after typing up 5 pages of notes, I’m not sure they will be helpful to anyone without having been there and seen her working and guiding us. That said, here is a bit of my notes:

Art supplies Drawing Landscape Oil Painting Outdoors/Landscape Painting Studio

Painting Pt. Bonita Part 2: Oils and Oil Pastels

Point Bonita #3, Oil on Gessobord Panel, 12x9"
Point Bonita #3, Oil on Gessobord Panel, 12x9"

After I did the watercolors I posted yesterday, I set up the sketch, the watercolor and my iPad displaying the photo on the table beside my easel and painted the scene once again, this time with oil paint. After a month or two of being totally frustrated with oil painting, trashing everything I made and about ready to give it up, suddenly painting was easy and I was loving it!

Point Bonita Painting set up in studio
Point Bonita Painting set up in studio

The entire painting worked like a charm except the foreground mount of dirt and ice plant which was the last thing I painted and which I did over and over. It kept trying to call too much attention to itself. I think I finally successfully muted that foreground while still keeping the light on it.

Then I was looking at some delightfully free and vibrant oil pastel work on Aletha Kuschan’s blog which inspired me to try the scene in oil pastels too. I know nothing about oil pastels so I quickly read a few how-to’s on the web and dug in.

BUT before I show you the drawing, I have to say that I made a fatal misstep: I chose a sheet of the totally wrong paper to work on. Instead of starting small on a sheet of white or blue pastel paper, I chose a large sheet of brown Stonehenge drawing paper. What was I thinking? Brown under a turquoise sea?

Point Bonita #4, Oil pastel on Stonehenge paper, 17x13"
Point Bonita #4, Oil pastel on Stonehenge paper, 17x13"

It was impossible to cover all the brown paper because even though the oil pastels got really thick in some areas—so thick that no more could be applied—in other spots they just wouldn’t cover.

Although my Holbein Oil Pastels are very old, purchased for a small project I did more than 20 years ago, they were still in good shape. But I didn’t have the right colors, and I had trouble blending. I didn’t have blending stumps, didn’t want to use my fingers and was wearing gloves which didn’t work. I tried a paper towel but it just smeared and left paper towel lint.

Compared to paint, oil pastels seems like a lot of extra work, having to fill in so much area by scribbling over and over. And it was messy; my gloves and the pastels got dirty from colors transferring onto them.

But maybe if I knew what I was doing, or had used the right paper it would have been easier or less messy? (Not to say that oil painting isn’t messy! Everything I own has paint on it!) I like the look of oil pastels done well so I’ll try another experiment with them. But on the right paper this time! Any tips?