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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Present for the Rurally-Inclined

"Plein Air" (detail))

"Plein Air" 650cm x 505cm, oil, by Ramon Casas.
In the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya , Barcelona

If you're like me and prefer living in the wide, open spaces, you may find it difficult to get to a good museum. I love looking at art, but frankly, a lot of the art I see is either in magazines, coffee table books or in tiny, highly-pixelated images online.  It's rare when I can view good art in person.

So here's the Christmas present for the rurally-inclined.  It's called the Google Art Project.  GAP has over 36,000 pieces of art, many of them in ultra-high resolution.  If you're the kind of museum-goer who is always told by the guard to step back from the paintings, this is an opportunity to get inches close to the canvas.

In the painting above by Ramon Casas, I zoomed in as far as I could on the tabletop arrangement of bottle, glass and hands.  You can see every brush stroke!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

From the Mailbag: Brushes

Recently, a reader asked what brushes I use.  If you look through the art supply catalogs, you'll see an overwhelming variety of brushes used for oil painting.  You can get rounds, flats, filberts, riggers, fan brushes and even brushes tailored to create little marks that look like leaves.  You can get them made of synthetic fiber or natural fiber such as sable, hog, squirrel and possibly even catamount.  You can get them with long handles, short handles and also very short handles that will fit into your pochade box.  There are almost as many choices for brushes as there are for paint colors.

Well, I like to keep things simple.  I use natural hog bristle flats, period.  The flat is incredibly versatile.  With it, I can make wide strokes, thin strokes and dots.  I can scrub on paint vigorously, or I can let off the gas a bit and make delicate, twig-like strokes.  As the flat wears down to more of a filbert shape, I can make very soft, blended passages.  Also, the natural hair seems to have a more gentle "spring" and fits my style of painting better than the "snappier" synthetics.

For painting outdoors in a 12x16 format or smaller, I use sizes 2 through 10.  I don't go for the short brushes or the long brushes - the short ones are too short for my style, and the long ones are harder to control when painting in a small format.  To keep my load light, sometimes I'll only take out a couple of brushes.  For a 9x12, I may use only two flats - a size 6 and a size 8.

Although there are many fine brands out there, I've settled on Silver Brush's "Grand Prix" line.

Yes, I do have a rigger or signature brush and a few sables.  If the painting has dried so much that I can't scrape my signature in with the end of the brush handle, I'll use a rigger to paint my signature.  If I'm in the studio using glazes, I'll use the sables, which won't damage possibly soft paint layers.  I don't carry either of these into the field, though.

By the way, in my online Udemy course, I have a video lesson on how I handle my brush.  I should also mention that you get the full Udemy course as part of my upcoming Artist's Network University online course, which starts January 8.  This is a four-week course in which you get weekly assignments plus personal critiques from me.  Click here for the Artists Network University course.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From the Mailbag: Wearing Gloves

A reader asked recently if I wear gloves when using pastel.  I don't.  The reason is that I use fairly small pieces of pastel, especially in the finishing stages of the painting, and the glove tips of my index finger  and thumb tend to get caught between the pastel and the painting surface.  (I use large but form-fitting nitrile gloves, as seen in the photo above.)  Instead, I'll use a product like "Gloves in a Bottle," "Magic Gloves" or some other barrier cream to keep the pastel out of my skin.  It also helps with clean-up in the end.  Problem is, more often than not I forget to use it!  I found that my local Ace Hardware has small bottles of "Gloves in a Bottle" at the checkout counter.

However, when working in oil, I always wear the gloves.  It's more for ease of clean-up than for dealing with toxicity, but it helps with that, too.

I've found I can usually use one pair of gloves over several painting sessions - at least two, typically three and sometimes more.

By the way, if you're looking for a Christmas present idea - for yourself or another artist - please consider my Paint Sedona and Paint Campobello plein air workshops.  You can even have a customized workshop!  All you'll need is yourself and three others, and I'll tailor the week any way you want.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Workshop Week Wrap-Up - and More on Greys

View of the Rabbit Ears, 12x16, oil - available

Until last night, fall had been unseasonably warm and dry.  The last time it rained was in October.  The trails have been dusty, and the red dirt has been getting into shoes and socks, and my plein air backpack is stained with it.  This all changed when a major storm moved around midnight.  Snow stayed above 7000 feet, but we got plenty of rain down in the Verde Valley.  We are very glad for it.

We knew weather was coming, so we worked hard the first few days.  Usually, my Paint Sedona workshops run 9-1, giving students time in the afternoon to explore or paint on their own.  But this week, we pushed it.  We worked through lunch and beyond, taking advantage of the excellent weather.

I continued to play with the idea of starting off with a monochromatic underpainting, using Gamblin's Chromatic Black plus white.  It's not a technique I teach to students yet, so I'm exploring its feasibility.  I'm liking it quite a lot.  It really "nails" the shadows and darks right off.  But best, I think, is that it breaks down the initial block-in phase into two simple steps.  Figure out the values first, then figure out the colors.

Even I sometimes have trouble juggling value and color in the block-in.  But once you have the greys blocked in, you have something to test your color mixtures against.  You can tell in an instant if your mixture is too light or too dark by putting a little dab of it on the appropriate spot in the painting.

East view of Courthouse Butte, 9x12, oil - available

I've posted some of my week's work so you can see the results.  Some of these rock formations are ones I haven't painted much.  They are over near the Village of Oak Creek near Bell Rock, and I tend to avoid that area because of the volume of tourist traffic.

By the way, I'm getting some really good questions for my blog.  If you haven't sent yours in yet, please do!  You can comment on the blog, e-mail me, ask me on Facebook or send a tweet my way.  If you are so equipped, you may also send one telepathically.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Call for Questions

Hamlet considers a recently exhumed Yorick
Once again, I'm putting out the call for questions from readers.  If you have any questions about plein air painting or topics you'd like see covered here, let me know!  I've been teaching workshops for over ten years and blogging about plein air painting since 2005, so this is your chance to tap my brain.  And if I don't know the answer, I'll do some digging.

You can either e-mail me or leave a comment to this post.

I don't guarantee I'll answer every question right away, but I'll put your question on my list and get to it as soon as I can.  I'd like to make this blog as helpful as possible, and I appreciate your help!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Starting with Greys, Toning Down the Palette, and Thoughts on Green

Greys, I, 8x10, oil

I've been playing with Gamblin's Chromatic Black this week, and it's led to some interesting ideas for beginning plein air painters.

We've all heard about doing thumbnail value sketches, but you can also take this approach to the painting directly.  If you have trouble mentally isolating value from color, try doing your initial block-in with grey.  One thing I've found is that this also leads to "nailing" the light and shadow patterns quickly, which is a huge help when painting outdoors.  Rather than wasting time mixing color, just start off with grey.  Mix up a big pile of Chromatic Black and white, and have at it.  It's a lot faster to get the painting going with greys.

In the two paintings accompanying this post, I forgot to take photos of the "grey" stage, so here is part of another painting I'm working on in the studio this week for which I use the same concept.

There's another benefit to starting with grey.  Lots of beginning outdoor painters have trouble controlling their chroma, especially when using a split-primary palette like mine.  (Just as a reminder, split-primary means a cool and a warm version of each of the three primaries.)  Because you're painting wet-into-wet, the grey block-in will mix gently with your next, full-color application of paint.  This will moderate any too-intense colors you've mixed.  Later, if you really want rich color, you can slather on some high-chroma mixtures thickly with a brush or knife.

Greys, II, 8x10, oil
Finally, I wanted to mention Chromatic Black as a replacement for blue.  In both of the paintings above, I used absolutely no blue except for the tiniest bit in the darkest part of the sky.  You can use Chromatic Black with your favorite yellow to make some nice, mellow greens.  For these two paintings, I used Gold Ochre plus Chromatic Black for the greens.

As a side note, I used only the following colors for these paintings:  Gold Ochre, Chromatic Black, and Alizarin Crimson.  Plus white, of course!

Friday, December 7, 2012

From the Mailbag: Painting Large on a 9x12 Guerrilla Box

Someone asked recently if you can paint in a larger format on Judson's 9x12 Guerrilla Painter Box.  You can!  I regularly paint 12x16 on my box by using the telescoping easel kit.   Since it's hard to describe how this works, I thought I'd show a few pictures.

The mast has a little hook at the top that holds the top of the panel.  The bottom of the panel rests in a little metal bracket, which itself hooks onto the two built-in brackets in the lid.  I also use a heavy-duty knob on the lid,which allows me to give the knob a little extra twist to really secure it.

The mast and the bracket are all part of the telescoping adapter kit.

Although the mast will accommodate a larger panel, I stop at 12x16 - you are still working with only a 9x12 palette, and I like to have a larger palette if I go bigger than 12x16.  (You can, of course, get a palette extension kit that will expand even that.)

Top of the mast

Mast telescopes with a pressure clamp; see the large,
replacement knob on the left of the box lid

The bottom of your panel rests in this bracket

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Photographing Art & the Color Separation Guide

This past week, I've been in the studio creating a pastel demonstration for The Artist's Magazine.  In the process, I used a tool I've not used before.  It's called a Kodak Q-13 Color Separation Guide.  (Mine's by Tiffen.)  But it wasn't for me - it's for the magazine's art director.

If you've ever tried to photograph and print your artwork, you know how hard it is to get the print to look like the original.  Although today's home computers and printers do a reasonable job, the color is usually somewhat off.  Too cool, too warm, too orange, too blue are some of the things I've run into.  Unfortunately, calibrating your monitor and printer require special equipment, and your home printer doesn't offer much in the way of adjustments that can be made.

The equipment used by magazines, however, is much more sophisticated.  There are many adjustments possible, and with a trained professional at the helm, wonders can be worked.

But the art director needs a reference to go by.  How does he know that his tweaks will get that delicately-nuanced passage of water you worked so hard on looking just right?

Well, you have to include a standard color bar in the photo.  This is where the Q-13 comes in.

I got mine from  (Or you can get the Q-14, which is longer.)  Here's what the item blurb says:

Separation Guides are used as the set up guide to calibrate several digital color print systems. In addition, they help photographers compare the color of the subject with known printing colors. They also help Graphic Arts camera operators identify separation negatives and positives for color reproduction processes.

By comparing the color bar in the image with an actual one, the art director can tell how to tweak the image or the printing system.  If that dark red square on the bar looks too pale or too cool, he can make an adjustment so that in the printed image, the square looks right.  And if all the colored squares look right, the printed image will look right, too.

I've never used one before, and I have to give credit to the magazine's art director for getting all my past images looking the way they should.

By the way, I'd love to show you the finished painting, but you'll have to be satisfied with the snippet above until next September when the article comes out.

Monday, December 3, 2012

From the Mailbag: Paint Brands

Storm Over Bear Mountain, 5x7 oil - $75

A reader writes:  Do you feel that Gamblin oil paints are definitely better than Grumbacher Pre-tested ? Have you ever used M. Graham walnut oil paints, and if so, what did you think of them ? I see that you prefer not to use mediums – do you feel that paint not diluted with mediums provides more saturated, rich color ? Thank you for your time, and inspiration. - Name Withheld

Thanks so much for your note.  You know, the brand of oil paint one uses is really a personal preference.    I know artists who swear by Grumbacher, and others, by Gamblin.  In some ways, it's like Honda v. Subaru.  (I've had both, and currently drive a Subaru.)  Both are economical, efficient and well-made cars, and I'd trust either one of them in a snowstorm.   I use Gamblin because the way the paint handles suits me.  But I also have Grumbacher on my shelf, and Richeson Shiva, Rembrandt, Da Vinci and more.

As for M. Graham, that's like comparing a front-wheel drive car to one that's rear-wheel drive.   There really is a difference.  Graham paints are made with walnut oil, which dries more slowly than linseed oil paints.  As an outdoor painter who travels a lot and needs his paint to dry quickly, I don't use them.  (But that's my only reason; they are perfectly fine paints.)  With Graham, I could certainly use the Graham alkyd medium, but I understand that just makes the paint dry about as fast as linseed oil paint.  Or, I could use another alkyd medium (Gamblin's Galkyd Lite) that would make it dry even faster, but I prefer not to use any medium in the field.  It's just one more thing to take.

And that brings me to your question of mediums.  Oil paint, according to the consultants I've spoken to, is best used right out of the tube with as little thinner or medium as possible.  Oil paint should be prepared in a way so that it has just enough oil to be workable and create a durable paint film.  In the rare case that I run across a paint that's not workable, then I may use a medium to make it "move" better.  I only add a drop or two.  I sometimes find pure titanium white paint needs a little extra push.  If I do need my paintings to dry more quickly because I'm in a plein air festival, I'll use a little Galkyd Lite.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Painting with M.L. Coleman

M.L. Coleman (left), me (right)

I first met painter M.L. Coleman ( several years ago at my first Sedona Plein Air Festival.  Since then, we've painted together several times, perhaps most memorably at the Grand Canyon when we went up in his Lazy Daze motorhome for a few days.  Recently, I had the opportunity to paint with him again along Spring Creek here in the Verde Valley.

Me (left), M.L. Coleman (right)

M.L. has typically painted large landscapes from areas as far-ranging as Sedona and the Grand Canyon to Italy and Ireland.  Since his father was a park ranger at Yellowstone, he takes naturally to the broad landscape.  Lately, he says, he's been going out to paint less with the intention of doing a finished painting than with the idea of simply recording color notes.  These small sketches can be painted rapidly and make excellent reference material for studio work.  He finds that in places like Ireland, where fast-moving weather can change the patterns of light and shadow in minutes, these quick sketches are a lot less frustrating.

We painted in two spots.  Our first spot, under a cliff along Spring Creek, had some beautiful light effects.  The sun was inching down, and using my hand as a guide, I estimated we had maybe 40 minutes to capture the light before the creek was plunged into shadow.  (You can use your hand to measure how long till sunset - or how long before the sun goes behind a cliff - just as you can measure the height of a horse.  One hand  equals 0.6 hours, or about 36 minutes.)  We set up our gear and dove in.  For this sketch, I had to work rapidly.  But it seems to evoke a sense of the moment and the light effects.

Sketch #1
THE WINNER!  72% of you liked this one.

For our last painting, we drove to a hilltop that gave us a broad view of the Verde Valley, looking toward Mingus Mountain.  We looked into the sun, since that gave us backlit trees, and the foliage was near-incandescent in spots.  We had a little more time for this session, and as you can see, it also gave me a little more time to "massage" the paint.  Is that a bad thing?  Perhaps.  I rather like the raw look of the first painting.  I'm curious to know which you prefer. [UPDATE:  See results above!  72% liked the first one.]

Sketch #2

We're hoping to make a road trip again soon in the Lazy Daze.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Made in the USA Christmas Gift Suggestions

Near Gibson Beach (Point Lobos), 12x24, oil

I've been in the studio this week, working on the painting pictured above. The moment I came across the scene at Point Lobos near Carmel, I knew I had to paint it. I've been using plein air sketches for color references and a few photos for details. I think I'm done at this point, but I'll give the piece a few more days on the easel.

Now that the rush of Black Friday is over and done with, I'm assuming everyone has calmed down and resumed gift-buying with a more reasonable approach. With that in mind, I thought I'd offer up some gift suggestions for you. These might make a nice gift for a loved one - or even yourself. And your dollars will stay right here in the U.S.A.!

Holiday Painting Sale: My holiday sale of sketches and demos in oil and pastel continues. Prices are very reasonable, and I ship quickly. Click here

2013 Calendar and Books: My 2013 calendar, featuring 12 oil and pastel paintings from the past year, is out. You can also get any of my books, including Backpacker Painting, Through a Painter's Brush: The American Southwest, Through a Painter's Brush: A Year on Campobello Island, and Paint Sedona: A Plein Air Painter's Field Guide. All of the books are available both as paperbacks and as eBooks and downloads. Click here

Art Instruction Videos: I have two full-length instruction videos for plein air painters. One is in oil, the other in pastel. If you can't afford to take one of my workshops, these videos give you a close-up look of my approach to outdoor painting. These can be ordered through Artists Network TV. Click here

A Paint Sedona Workshop Week: I have a series of workshops for the plein air painter in Sedona, and they run from now until mid-April. The workshops vary, with some intended for "all level" painters and others for more advanced painters. We will work in the mornings, and you will have the afternoons free to paint on your own or explore the area. I will critique anything you do in the afternoons. By the way, the National Weather Service is predicting a warmer winter than usual, so if you think Sedona is too cool, think again! Temps have been in the high 60s all week. I also have some special topic weeks, such as "Advanced Color." Click here

Sedona Arts Center "Fundamentals of Plein Air" Course: I'm offering a two-session class through the Sedona Arts Center on the basics of plein air painting, February 16 & 23. If you'd like to ease into plein air painting with time between painting sessions to absorb material, this is the course for you! Click here

Artist's Network University "Getting Started in Plein Air" Online Course: You may think it's strange to learn how to paint outdoors through an online course, but I taught this course this past summer, and it worked really well. The course runs for four weeks (Jan 8-Feb 1.) For course material, you get some of my mini-videos, a manual on outdoor painting plus Bob Rohm's wonderful book, The Painterly Approach.  You'll have an assignment each week followed by a careful, personal critique with suggestions for improvement. Click here.

My Plein Air Essentials Online Courses: Broken down into three parts, this is a series of mini-videos plus a manual for outdoor painting. The first course covers the basic; two other courses cover information that is specific to oil or pastel painters. Although this is strictly a self-study course without critiques, you can always ask me a question! Click here

And finally, even though the below workshops are based in Canada, some of these dollars will end up in the US:

A Paint Campobello Workshop Week: Similar to my Paint Sedona workshops, but these are intended for every level of painter. Campobello, NB, and nearby Lubec, ME, where we may also paint, offer some fantastic maritime scenery. Workshops are based out of my summer studio and gallery. Click here

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Pleasures of Living Here

From the Schuerman Trail - 9x12, oil

One of the pleasures of living in Sedona is that there are so many good painters here to paint with.  Yesterday, I went out with my friend Cody Delong, a very fine painter who lives in the area and who has a studio gallery up in the historic mining town of Jerome.

Cody Delong

Another pleasure of living here is that we have so many great spots to paint in - so many, in fact, that it is literally taking me years to find them all.  When we were discussing where to paint, Cody asked if I'd ever been up the Schuerman Trail.   I hadn't, nor had he, but we'd heard it offered sweeping views.

I have a favorite website I go to when looking up trail information.  It noted that the elevation chart showed a rather steep, half-mile section at the start, but then it had the trail flattening out to an overlook not too far beyond it.  Although it was only a few hundred feet in elevation change, I had a fully-loaded backpack for painting.  Still, it was a nice hike along the shaded side of Schuerman Mountain.  The shade was welcome, considering we've been having unseasonably warm weather lately.

Me painting - the painting is at the top of the post

Cody brought his year-old puppy, Coya, and I had Trina with me.  Trina took photos while Coya dug up sticks to chew.  Once we got started painting, Trina went off to hike, Coya went off to investigate cactuses, and soon Cody and I fell silent as we got into the "zone."  By the time the sun threatened to sink behind the mountains, we were ready to pack up and head back down the trail.

Now that I've tried one new location, I'm eager to look for some more!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fall Foliage - and a Survey!

We're having some great fall foliage here in Sedona along Oak Creek right now.  The cottonwoods are turning a beautiful, golden hue.   Here's a painting showing you how the color looks now.

For those of you who have thought about - or are thinking about - a Paint Sedona workshop this winter, what can I do to entice you? I have a survey for you.  (Visit if you have questions about the program and look at the "Important Info" page for answers.) No personal information will be tracked!

Here is the link to the survey.  It'll only a take a minute!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Advice for Galleries

Fall in the Canyon, 12x9 oil

While I was in Carmel, California, last week, I had an opportunity to visit most of the fine art galleries in town.  I found some really nice ones, but I also went into some that could have done a better job at what they do.  Over the years, I've visited lots of galleries, done business with many, and have even run a couple.  So, I thought I'd give them some advice, as follows:

1.  TURN DOWN THE VOLUME.  I went into one gallery that was like going into The Gap at the local shopping mall; the music was so loud and pulsating it drove me out.  Although the gallery represented some top name painters, I couldn't stay long enough to look at the art.  If you must play music - and nothing in the rulebook says you must - let it be soft and stay well in the background.  But if your market is teenagers, then by all means, crank it up!

2.  DON'T IGNORE ME.  In a couple of galleries I visited, the salesperson didn't even say hello.  Staring fixedly at your computer screen sends the signal that you don't want to be bothered.   (In one gallery, but in another town, the clerk was reading her Kindle and never once looked up.)  Or, if you're talking with another client, failing to greet me, even if it's just with a smile and a nod, sends the signal that I'm not as important.  If I'm buying toothpaste at the local Walgreen's I don't really care, but when I'm in a gallery and looking at multi-thousand-dollar paintings, it's a different situation.

3.  ... BUT DO LEAVE ME ALONE TO LOOK.  In another gallery, the salesperson was a real chatterbox.  This affable guy just wouldn't stop talking.  He was doing a great job of following me and telling me about the paintings I was looking at, but after awhile I just wanted to spend some time looking without distraction.  After you've asked the obligatory questions ("Where are you from?" and "Are you an artist?"), please go away.  I'll let you know if I have a question, trust me.

4.  IDENTIFY THE ARTIST WITH A LABEL.  A few galleries didn't do this, which forced me to squint and try to decipher the signature.  Many artists have poor penmanship skills, especially when it comes to scrawling a signature in paint.  Sure, a painting should stand on its own merits, but knowing, for example, that a spectacular still life was painted by an artist known mostly for landscapes will increase my interest.  Knowing right off that a certain piece was painted by a master will do the same.   (And while we're on labels, why not put the price?  I hate the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" school of thought.)

5.  WATCH THE GLARE.  When you have lots of paintings on the walls, it's tough, I know, to give everything adequate lighting.  There will always be shadows.  But one thing you can do is watch for glare and reflections.  One gallery had some paintings for which I literally couldn't even identify the subject.  It was like driving blindly into the rising sun on the Interstate.  How are you going to sell a painting like that?

6. Finally, LIKE YOUR ARTISTS.  I went into one gallery in which the talkative owner pointed to some work that had just been brought in and wasn't yet hung.  "I really don't like that artist's work," he said.  And this was the gallery owner saying this!  So why the heck did he have the paintings in the first place?  You just can't sell work you don't like.  Duh.

These problems aren't limited to Carmel.  You'll find them in Scottsdale, Santa Fe and in every other big art town.  I find that the best galleries, really, are the ones that are owner-staffed, and where the owner really believes in his artists and understands what it takes to present the artists well.  I'd love to hear your comments, and what advice you might give galleries.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finishing Up in Carmel

Overlooking the Dunes Trail - 9x12, oil

The weather finally shifted yesterday, and intermittent rain and clouds moved in over California's Central Coast.  Fortunately, Carmel has many galleries, and I always say that if the weather is too unreliable to paint, visiting galleries is a good alternative.  One of the best is James J. Rieser Fine Art, located on Dolores Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.  Although there is much good art in town, this gallery has what appeals to me most, which is landscapes by both contemporary and Early California artists.  Guy Rose, Robert W. Wood, Ray Roberts and Charles Movalli are some of the names I found there.

The rain became more intermittent as the day wore on, so I seized an opportunity late in the day to do some more painting.  I hadn't yet painted a Monterey cypress, and I wanted to include at least one, even if in a peripheral way, in a sketch.  I found a bluff overlooking some sand dunes and a trail with a nice specimen close by.  I also wanted to get in some of the coloration of the ice plants (a pretty but invasive plant that is common here on the cliffs and dunes).  This overlook had it all.  Rain began spitting down again just as I was finishing up.

This exploratory painting trip is nearly over.  After one last day in Carmel, we'll be heading back to Sedona, where I'll be busy again with my Paint Sedona plein air painting workshops.  But I also want to work on some larger, more finished studio paintings of the Carmel area.  I'll go home with many photographs and sketches to work from - and, of course, many good memories.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Plein Air Painting at Asilomar and Pacific Grove, California

Near Pacific Grove - 9x12, oil

The beautiful weather continued yesterday.  After a few morning clouds, the sun came out, casting a brilliant light on the long waves sweeping to the beach.  We decided to head out on Sunset Drive toward Asilomar and Pacific Grove to stroll and, of course, to paint.  The rocks along the bluff are full of wonderful nooks and crannies for the waves to explore; I could watch the play of surf on rock and sand for weeks and never get bored.   The birds here are engaging, too.  I spied an egret clinging to a rock, and he was also apparently watching the waves.

Now, here are some images from yesterday.

Near Asilomar - 9x12, oil

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Plein Air Painting in Carmel, California Continues!

View from Pebble Beach - 9x12, oil

Yesterday, we paid another $10 - this time to the Pebble Beach Club so we could travel the famous 17-mile drive.  We took a stop near the golf course so I could paint a view of some of the waves along the beach.  It was a brisk morning with a stiff wind and plenty of clouds, but I managed to find a zone of calm.  It was a good day to paint waves and clouds.

A couple stopped by to chat as I was finishing up.  They admired the painting, but lamented that their house is already full of paintings.  They have so many, in fact, that they have closets full and have to rotate their inventory from wall to closet and closet to wall.  They're hoping their kids will soon buy homes so they can give them some of the art and start buying again.

I've run into the "house is already full" issue before.  It's an interesting problem to have.  I usually recommend the inventory rotation idea.  For those whose closets are also full, I recommend selling some of the art to make way for the new.

It looks like we'll get one more day of good weather, so I'm off to Asilomar.

If the horizon is tilted, a tsunami must be on its way


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Plein Air Painting in Carmel, California

Sand Hill Cove Overlook, 12x16 oil

Point Lobos is such a special place that I decided to pay another $10 for one more day of painting there.  (You can avoid the fee by parking on the highway and walking in - this is actually allowed by the park - but since I'm also doing a lot of hiking on this trip, I didn't want to wear myself out lugging in my gear.)  I found a nice spot to paint overlooking Sand Hill Cove.

For this painting, I used two new products - Archival Lean Medium and Gamblin's Gold Ochre.  The Gold Ochre, I found, is perfect for creating areas of warm, sunlit water as well as the highlights on the rocks when mixed with white.  The Archival Lean Medium is something I've wanted to try for awhile.  Ann Templeton recommended it to me years ago, but this was my first time using it.  It's surprisingly thin, much thinner than other alkyd mediums I've used, and it dips with a brush  more easily.  In other words, it's not goopy.

Painting here is a fully-loaded sensory experience.  When the sun hits the sage-covered cliffs, the air is filled with a wonderful, herbal scent.  When the tide is right, some of the little "sea caves" that occupy the space between water and cliff make a thunderous noise.  Yesterday, sea lions bawled in the distance as I painted at my overlook.  And I could smell them, too!

Sea lions

Trina managed to snap this photo of me with me painting far away

Here's a short video of surf and rocks:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Plein Air Painting in Carmel, California

Point Lobos Sketch - 9x12, oil

This week, we're in beautiful Carmel, California, for a little R&R.  For me, it's a "busman's holiday."  A busman's holiday, if you're not familiar with the phrase, is a holiday in which you do what you do at work.  So, even though we're getting in a good bit of hiking and sight-seeing, I'm also painting.  If you're a painter and you come to Carmel, bring your paints - you'll regret it if you don't do at least a little sketching.

Our trip to Carmel took us from the vast almond-tree groves near Bakersfield and the endless acres of roses in Wasco through the rolling, vine-laden hills of Paso Robles to the quiet beauty of coastal Cambria.  From there, we went north up Route 1 to Big Sur.  Last year when we drove that 100-mile section of road, it was raining, and rocks the size of cinderblocks were hurtling off the cliffs and smashing into the pavement.  (The road is notorious for rockslides .)   This time, we had perfect weather and a clear path.  The road wasn't any less twisty, but the unclouded views were breathtaking.

Now we are in our little weekly rental, perched above Carmel with a view of the Pacific.  The weather is predicted to be mostly good this week, so I'm trying to get in some painting (and hiking) before the weather turns.

Yesterday morning, I painted at Point Lobos State Nature Reserve.  It's a painter's all-you-can-eat buffet - picture Monterey cypresses twisted like giant bonsai and sea cliffs riddled with caves and windows and both broad vistas and intimate spaces.  Late in the afternoon, Trina and I went back for a long hike, and the light was golden and beautiful.  It's a tough choice:  paint, photograph, hike or just sit and soak it all in?