Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Another Throwback Tuesday

Colored Pencil on Paper
This piece goes back to the '90s. I met the woman who modeled for this picture at (conveniently enough) an art supply store. It's a colored pencil piece on a full-sized sheet of archival printing paper, and one of the reasons I don't work in colored pencil anymore. That's a LOT of paper to cover using only tiny pencil points! I made a couple other paintings of her, but with pastel instead of colored pencil. Maybe I'll show those works in future "throwback" posts.

This portrait won a merit award for me in 1998 at the 74th Utah Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art, and was reproduced in the show catalog. I've neglected entering these kind of shows for a while now, in favor of painting for professional galleries. What museums like and what galleries want seem to be two different things. I've been considering getting active in museum shows again, while continuing to paint plein air landscapes for galleries, which I very much enjoy doing. The demands, opportunities and challenges that come with shows like The Spring Salon carry a different kind of excitement.

Photograph by Hawkinson Photography.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Random Pics from Random Hikes in the Wasatch Front 2017

Paintbrush
Hiking has always been a very important part of my life. Going on walks in the woods, mountains, desert - anyplace wild - is beneficial physically and mentally, and in so many other ways.
The Dry Lower Slopes of the Wasatch Front
Right next to town are the Wasatch Mountains. A few canyons cut deep into the mountains, and are convenient places to begin hikes. The photos in this blog post are from a few of the hikes I've taken this year. To view larger images, click on the pictures.


Near the Mouth of the Canyon
I don't always take photos while hiking. When I do, it's with a cheap little Casio camera that is usually with the gear in my day pack. I have better cameras at home, but it's the Casio that goes with me on trips. If the camera should be accidentally dropped, lost, or otherwise die, it wouldn't be too great an expense to replace it. All of the photos in this post were taken with that little $60 camera.


Water on the Trail
The spring runoff was pretty heavy this year. Fast moving water cut the usually dry canyon trail in several places. A springtime hike included a number of stream crossings while trying to keep my feet dry.

Closer View of the Water in the Previous Picture.
Thick vegetation covers some areas of the canyon bottom. Above that rise towering cliffs.


Wildlife commonly seen in the canyon include mule deer, bighorn sheep, and sometimes moose. I've seen elk sign in the canyon but have yet to see live elk.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies were common in the canyon this year.
Over halfway up the canyon trail you begin to get views of mountains rising above 11,000 feet in elevation.



Lizards are the most frequently seen reptiles in the canyon, but snakes are also often seen. I've met a number of rattlesnakes, and in spite of a couple alarming experiences we've always parted company peacefully. Also common are nonvenomous snakes; gopher snakes, racers, and - surprisingly - rubber boas.

It's not a giant earthworm -it's a rubber boa!
The upper end of the canyon opens up into meadows surrounded by evergreens and aspen trees, and wide open views.





Near one meadow I discovered a good sized aspen tree with very interesting claw marks on it. The claw marks were quite large. Similar marks were also found on a nearby tree. Could the marks have been made by a bear climbing the trees? The marks were rather old, but still encouraged vigilance on my part.




The claw marks go quite a ways up.
In another canyon later in the year I found this. It's not what I'd call pleasant accommodations. It looks like it should have trolls living in it. 




The top of this canyon also opens up into wonderful views of high mountains.


Provo Peak viewed from the north.
Imposing cliffs of Cascade Mountain.
The following photographs are a mix from a couple different canyons. Which canyons doesn't matter for my purposes here. I think this post will be about hiking and just being out in the wild more than it is about any particular place.




There are fascinating views of impressive mountain geology all around during these hikes, but there's much to see closer up, and on a smaller scale.

A Gnarly Rocky Mountain Maple Tree
Mud Wasp Nest?
High up on a cliff I saw this. Below the initials "LW" are reddish concentric circles and other marks. Are the reddish images ancient Indian rock art?



Among all the bigleaf raspberry plants I found one raspberry. I ate it.



Late summer wildflowers, including asters, growing by the trail in abundance.




Following are more views from Wasatch Range canyon hikes. The first one is a similar view to one shown earlier, but photographed later in the year, after most of the snow had melted.






Thanks for checking out my blog. Hope you liked it! Finally I'll leave you with this picture of me enjoying time spent in a Wasatch Mountain canyon.



Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Late Summer Path

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
It's early September. Fall is less than three weeks away, but daytime temperatures are still in the 90's (F). High in the mountains maples are beginning to turn their autumn red color. Meanwhile, down here in the valley, it still feels very much like summer. 

The painting shown above was painted west of Springville, near where Hobble Creek empties into the lake. Tall grass lines the pathway, and yellow flowers seem to reflect the color of the summer sun. Willow trees and cottonwoods wear their darkest summer green. Grasshoppers hopped about in abundance. Barn swallows flitted and darted through the air in preparation for, I imagine, their yearly migration south. It was a great day to go for an afternoon walk down a country road!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Phthaloranosaurus Rex, or How to paint with Pthalo Green

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
Well meaning people can sometimes cause problems.

A friend of mine owned some oil paints from a while ago when he had an interest in painting. Apparently, the muse wandered away from him years ago, and he no longer had interest in, nor use for the paints. He knows I oil paint, so he just dropped those waif-like paints off at my place. Now, there were among those paints some colors I use, like white, black, yellow ochre, and a couple cadmiums. There were a few colors I don't normally use, but can find a place for, such as thio violet. There were a few I don't know what to do with (Dioxazine purple - what the heck?) But red flags went up when I saw those two trouble-making colors, phthalo green and phthalo blue.


I've tried phthalocyanine (phthalo) paints before, years ago. They're inexpensive, lightfast, and strong colors. But "strong" might not be the right word for them. More like obnoxious, overbearing, overpowering, even totalitarian. They can overrun and conquer your entire painting, giving an acidic blue-green cast to the entire work. I've spent a lot of time knocking back the strength of phthalos to get them to the earth tones typical of landscapes instead of the overly assertive colors phthalos want to be. After trying phthalo green and phthalo blue once, I've replaced them with viridian green and cobalt blue.

But now, here they were again. Phthalos. Try saying that out loud without spitting all over your computer screen. I didn't want them. I wanted to throw them away. I thought about taking the caps off the paint tubes and tossing them out the car window as I sped down a busy highway. Then later I might go back to see what color the highway had become. But no, I decided to give those two annoyingly brilliant colors one more try.


A palette which includes phthalos needs strong checks and balances, and I already had a good counter color - cadmium red. Not only is red the complementary color to green, but cadmium red is a dirty mixer, and can even be useful in toning down phthalo blue. In the painting shown at the top of this post, the sky was painted with phthalo blue and titanium white, toned down with cadmium red, ultramarine blue, and maybe touches of a few other colors. The trees in the painting were done using phthalo green, with cadmium red - a lot of it - and cadmium yellow to tone down and warm up the greens. A mix of thio violet* and ultramarine blue, with a little yellow, were added to phthalo green for the darkest parts of the trees. Again, small amounts of other colors made their way into the painting's trees, but I don't remember all the details.

I was happy with how phthalo green and phthalo blue worked in this painting. A few more examples of paintings I've made using phthalo colors can be seen in this post and this post. I think I'll keep those two tubes of paint and use them. At least until they're done - then I'll happily go back to viridian and cobalt!


As I drove away from my painting spot, I saw in another direction a huge plume of smoke from a wildfire in the mountains. It kind of reminded me of what can happen to a painting if you don't keep your phthalocyanine under control!
________________

*Instead of alizarin crimson or quinacridone red.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Brunette

10" x 8" Oil on Panel
A short post, and another two and a half hour or so oil sketch from one of last weeks portrait sessions. A fun model to paint. Colors used for this portrait were the usual: cadmium yellow, cadmium red, ivory black, and titanium white.

For more about portrait sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "portrait", "sketching" or "drawing".

Friday, August 18, 2017

Down in the Valley and up by a Mountain Lake

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
A couple more paintings made in the last little while share this post. The first one was painted west of town, near the lake. My interest was in the distant ridges, and in the clouds passing overhead. Some things in a landscape, like shadows and clouds, move. Moving things are a little more challenging to paint from life. Clouds move even faster than cast shadows, so they get painted first. Whether painting cast shadows or clouds, a quick lay-in starts the process off, then memory is used to finish it. 

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
The second was painted at an alpine lake, nearly 10,000 feet elevation in the Wasatch Mountains. The lake is in the Albion Basin, and is a popular destination for hikers of all ages. Social media and ease of access have made it perhaps a little too popular. The trail is only about two miles from parking area to lake. On this particular day there were so many people winding their way up the trail to the lake that I felt like I was joining a pilgrimage rather than going on a nature hike. The lake and surrounding mountains are nonetheless beautiful. I set up on a rocky point that juts out into the water. From there I painted a group of trees near the shore and across part of the lake.

While painting, I noticed that there were several salamanders swimming around in the lake near me. They are young tiger salamanders, about five or six inches long. A new discovery for me! I haven't seen salamanders in Utah until now.

There were also lots of brightly clad tourists around the lake. Here I was out in "wilderness," and never before have I had so many people standing around me watching me paint! I was glad the rocky point I was on was was relatively narrow, which allowed only so many spectators at a time.

Salamanders can swim in the lake, but according to a sign at the top of the trail, people aren't allowed to. Yet, the cold water of the lake is irresistible to some, and a few people jumped in and began swimming. Several, especially children, waded near shore. Before long, a man (I presume he was a ranger) stood high on a rock on the other side of the lake and yelled at the swimmers to get out of the water. "Can't you read the sign? No swimming!" A uniformed ranger then walked around the lake brusquely telling anyone who had so much as their toes in the water to get out of the water.

The weather that day was wonderful. It wasn't until late in the day that clouds moved in, blocking the sun. Shortly after finishing the painting, I began the hike back down the trail. Peak season for alpine flowers is past, but the meadows the trail wound through were still richly speckled with color. Lupine, paintbrush, aster, and other wildflowers of all colors brightened the meadows along the way. A deer browsed near meadow's edge by a stand of evergreen trees.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mutton Chops

7" x 5" Oil on Canvas Panel
Our model for the portrait session last Thursday was fun to paint. I arrived a little late so I had to set up way over on the side, as all the spots in front of the model were already taken. Because of that, I only got to paint one mutton chop, not both. That would have been twice as much fun!

This little painting was made, as usual, with just three colors, plus titanium white. Cadmium yellow and cadmium red were used, but instead of ivory black I used a Holbein color called "blue black."

For more about portrait sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "portrait", "sketching" or "drawing".