I recently shared how using a kitchen timer changed the way I work on OutdoorPainter.com. My quick start method helped me to more quickly be in the zone and capture my first impression before it got away.
A few fun things happen when working in this way too. Because I'm in a bit of a rush, I don't overmix the paint on the palette and end up with variety in color and brushstrokes on the painting. The mix of washes, drips and scumbled texture helps keep me from getting too tight later on. Its a great exercise and I encourage you to play with the idea - read my "how to" on Outdoorpainter.com.
Painting on the street/sidewalk isn't easy. We got out early enough and had some nice light and a good view of the church spires but it turned out to be a busy area, with a truck that pulled up and took an hour to unload and quite a few folks arriving to work at the history center we were next to. The painting process is a fun challenge - the act of doing the painting is exhilarating. The end result is still not what I'd envisioned. But I learn and get better every time I do it.
Our second location was a pedestrian sidewalk with some great light just coming over and hitting the buildings on the right. For a short while. So, both results were not what I hoped and after carrying the wet paintings around for the day, I also had these two mush together and had to repair them as best as I could.
During the afternoon we sketched musicians playing in Jackson Square and painted another scene with the sun setting - wish I had caught that light better! We had a fabulous dinner at the Original French Market Restaurant & Bar and then wandered down to Frenchman St. to study the nightlife. We ducked into BB Kings House of Blues to hear just the end of a cool sounding Jazz singer. It was a full day!!
A little backstory: Before I moved to Texas in 1995, I lived in South Carolina - in the Piedmont or Upstate. My parents lived there too and while I was in college still, they lived outside Charleston for awhile so technically, I did too. We moved around a lot and most of my young life was spent in the mid south - Tennessee, Virginia, and SC. My sister is older and stayed in Ohio when we left the area in high school. My folks continued to move after I moved to Austin and they moved to Georgia and then Florida. So our connections to the south eastern coast are real. We've all had an affinity for the area and the beach. So this is a really wonderful thing for our family and I can't wait to deepen our connection to the Palmetto State!
Remember, we are hosting a "wet paintings" exhibit this weekend at our satellite studio - "Coast to Coast" - featuring paintings done on both the Texas coast by V... Vaughan and the east coast by me! If you are local, please come say hi. We will will painting, talking, demonstrating everything from painting to mounting paintings on paper, and be available for any questions you might have! August 11-13 daily from 10 am - 6 pm. 11301 Lakeline Blvd. Ste. 110.
I stood on a very windy hilltop this morning east of Austin to paint the rolling hills and curvy road in the country. The wind nearly blew me away. I have to say though, my new Prolific Painter easel set up was really stable. I kept a hand on it only during the biggest gusts.
I had a nice painting going. Caught the fresh tilled dark earth, the new spring greens, lots of atmosphere with the low sun. Then when I put the painting on the ground and was dismantling my palette, I dumped my turps (sludge and all) right on top of the painting. So now it has a pastel look - maybe a happy accident?
The painting was on Arches oil paper - and even with the turp mess, there was no bleed through. No "fat" left in these colors now.
When in a funk, the best thing to do is go back to the basics. I haven't been very inspired lately and not able to dive into a full painting. And when faced with one of my own figure sessions, held in my own backyard, I had to slow down and work methodically, as if a beginner.
I first sketched the scene planning my composition and dark/light patterns. Once comfortable with that I began a light line drawing with the brush. Then I started to fill in. I worked thinly, kept palette rather neutral and didn't define small areas. It felt good and worked well enough that I didn't finish the day feeling like a hack!
More on my funk later. Oh joy!
Sunday morning I met a group of artists at a joint Plein Air Austin and Oil Painters of America paint out on a private ranch south of town.
We arranged for a couple of models on Sunday and I had a wonderful time painting them. It's just what I've been wanting to do more of - and finally the weather cooperated!
The temps probably were in the low 90s Saturday afternoon and the air was so dry that my eyes got very tired. So I tried something on the abstract side - softening my focus and just getting a feeling of the dead tree and brush rather than working details.
Summer is hanging on here for all its worth. But I booked a spot in Bastrop for a family camping trip this weekend. Glutton for punishment?
After a night of little sleep, first being fascinated by the night sounds and stars, and then being awakened by horses outside our tent, I pulled my cold body out of bed and painted a little of the morning light on a nearby rock outcropping. That isn't worth showing.
Later in the day we headed back down to the Rock Pile and painted there. I also did some "notan" sketches and then got interested in a tree.
Friday morning I loaded my things into Terri Wells' suv and off we went to the hill country for a painting retreat with Plein Air Austin. We had a nice lunch in Llano and got to the 1200+ acre ranch around 3 pm.
Thank goodness she had a 4wd vehicle because we needed it as we drove the mesquite and oak pastures, climbing rough hills and crossing sandy creek beds.
We came to "Rock Pile" - a large granite outcropping that is common in this area around the highland lakes. I climbed to the top of this pile and had an amazing view. And while I stood there enjoying the absolute quiet, taking in the views, my cell phone rang. AT&T apparently had good coverage out there. Hubster was worried about picking up daughter who was not where she was expected to be. So I had to make some calls - standing 1525 ft above the ranch overlooking Enchanted Rock.
That taken care of, I climbed down and painted the scene above. We drove back to camp and met the other artists who were all arriving and settled down for what turned out to be an interesting night. More on that tomorrow!
A Painter's Journal
Chasing the light. Capturing life.
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