Monday, August 31, 2015

Back to Sonoma Plein Air!

Summer Dusk (6x8) oil on linen

Looking forward to participating in the Sonoma Plein Air festival again next month! The event runs September 14-19, and this will be my 6th year. I love the landscape there, connecting with my California roots and painting with friends to benefit art programs in the local schools!

Down Comes the Night (12x16) oil on linen

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thru rose-colored glasses...

"Rose Colored" (12x16) oil on linen

The smoke from recent fires in the Pacific Northwest drifted over our area creating a filter for a couple of days, colouring everything pink and orange. Anything in sunlight seemed more intensely warm, while the corresponding shadows were cooler and more colourful than usual. I noticed the effect on our (white) fence that morning as it had an amber tone to it and the shadows were a soft, warm pastel was a very unusual, but beautiful and eye-catching effect.  I never before said, "Hey, look at the colour on that fence!" or, "Wow, check out the shadow on that driveway!" Everyday objects suddenly had a superficial interest they never had before...

It was kind of like what I imagine a colour-blind person seeing full-spectrum colour for the first time would feel -- as if a new hue was suddenly added to the natural range we're used to; yet this wasn't a new hue, but one short range of hues (red to yellow) being turned up above the others... While the sunlight was more unifying, it was also weaker (or limiting) in it's range because of the filtering smoke; much like a photographic range is unified or limited by adding a filter to a camera lens...

I imagined a "colourist" like Henry Hensche (1899 - 1992) and his students appreciating such exaggerated hue, and went to a nearby park to paint the effect I was seeing. It was hard to not overstate the candy-coloured bubblegum effect and keep the intensity in check, but I did like the fact that the filter was making colour choices easier by limiting the range of both hue and value.  Local objects were tinted as well as middle-distance objects, while the furthest forms seemed to have a bit more colour than usual (or at least they appeared warmer than normal) and contrast was reduced as well... 

Interesting conditions,  but considering the cost of what caused it, I'd rather things go back to normal ASAP.  God bless those who have lost homes and land to the fires this year -- for them right now, life is certainly anything but "rose-colored"....

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Old School Waterman

 Old School Waterman (24x20) oil on linen SOLD

This year at Plein Air Easton I decided to find a model to pose for me for a figurative piece... After spying a "waterman" with this epic beard, I knew that was the local subject I needed; waterman are the fishermen, crabbers and oyster harvesters who have worked the Chesapeake for decades. They have lots of character and everything an artist desires to make an interesting picture. 

Painter, Charles Hawthorne was the subliminal inspiration for this one. The model (who chose to remain nameless) sat for about two and a half hours, after which I tweaked it a little more from memory. The buoys I found down the road hanging on a shed and sketched them in my sketchbook to add later in the background, as I did also for the crab baskets at the bottom which were painted from life on a fishing dock close by.

Boat House Nocturne (16x20) oil on linen

This shed was located in Claiborne, not far from my hosts house where many folk reside who make their living on the water. I added the small boat on the side, but everything else was there. I have come to really love painting the rich history and culture of the Chesapeake Bay and it's residents and hope to return next year for more...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Plein Air Easton 2015

 Point Pleasant Poem (16x16) oil on linen SOLD

Had a wonderful time returning to Plein Air Easton last month (my 4th time) and the beautiful landscape there. Surprisingly this was NOT the hottest week of the year as is usually the case; still there were plenty of bug bites and lots of humidity, but that gets forgotten in the midst of all the camaraderie and great events the PAE organizers put on...

Made in July (9x12) oil SOLD

I was able to stay with a painter friend afterwards for a few days and tour the Smithsonian Museum of American Art where they have several Thayers, Benson's and Tanner's that were all amazing to see in person (especially the Thayers)! We even stumbled upon a William Wendt that was being cleaned in their restoration room. Good times again in Maryland -- hope to return next year!