Thursday, July 28, 2016

One From Last Week

16" x 20" Oil on Panel
Found this nice secluded spot in a neighborhood on the east side of Salt Lake Valley last week. The sound of traffic could still be heard, but the place had the appearance of being out in the wild, in the middle of nowhere. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Partly Sunny

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
It was a great day to go painting, in spite of the threat of storms and my own, well, inertia. Most of the afternoon had passed when I drove out to find a place to paint. It took a bit of exploring to find a spot convincing enough to get me stop and set up a pochade box. Storms moved in over the mountains behind me, but stayed out of the valley where I was. Forecasted strong winds others had warned me about never became a problem, either. I painted until after sunset. Most of the storms had cleared by then. That was when soothing milder temperatures settled in, replacing the heat of the afternoon. Then the underside of clouds reflected a brilliant red from a sun already below the horizon, and a big full moon rose over the Wasatch Mountains. It was a great day to go painting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Painting on Decker Road

11" x 14" Oil on Panel
When I did this painting for Midway's plein air competition this year, I took some in-process photographs of it. These photos not only show some of my painting process, but also give an idea of some of the challenges of painting outdoors. You can click on any of the pictures to see a larger image.

At the Trailhead
The day of the painting, skies were partly cloudy. I parked at the gated trailhead in the Wasatch Back and proceeded to walk down the trail to a spot I knew of from previous hikes.

Headed Down the Trail
Some of the Wildflowers Along the Way
Upon arriving at the place I wanted to paint, a mile or so down the trail, I set up an easel with an 11" x 14" panel on it. That's when I discovered I had forgotten paints and brushes! There was nothing to do but march a mile back up the trail to the car and return to the easel with the previously forgotten items.

Headed Back Down the Trail
Might As Well Enjoy More of the Wildflowers
My Set Up
Finally I could get to painting! With everything needed at hand this time, I laid out the colors on my palette and mixed up the dark purple I like to use in place of black. I use a "split primary" palette, and add a cool green. You can read more about the paints and palette I use here

The panel is toned with a thinned film of the dark purple mix, then wiped. Before that layer can dry, the painting is sketched onto the panel with a brush, and general areas are painted in with the approximate color and value I want. The darks are placed first, then I work progressively towards the lights, generally - but not always - from front to back. Once that is done, I begin to refine the painting, working from back to front.

In the next photo, you can see that the sky and the mountains have been developed further. You can also see something else. Tiny dark specks. This was the beginning of ...

The flies and gnats were pretty bad that day. The flies were big enough that when they landed on the painting or palette, they usually stuck only momentarily before freeing themselves from the gooey colors. The gnats, however, stuck to the painting like iron filings to a magnet. I was beginning to worry I would have another experience like one I wrote about in one of my earliest blog posts. The little winged pestilences affected my painting rhythm, too. My rhythm was like: paint, paint swat swat swat, paint, paint swat swat swat, This went on for most of the painting. One big horse fly was particularly bothersome. Surprisingly, none of the flies bit me, but the gnats did. Plenty.

The next photo shows how the foliage on the trees was built up. You can also see more gnats stuck to the painting.

In the next photo, the foreground begins to be developed. I've also removed most of the gnats and repaired the damage. That was done two or three times during the course of this painting. 

At this point, the weather had gone from partly cloudy to completely overcast. That caused a shadow across the top of the painting from the easel. There was no way to avoid the shadow, so it shows up in most of the remaining photographs. Hopefully, the shadow won't hinder your ability to see the painting process.

The foreground and other areas continue to be developed, as seen in the next picture. The painting is almost finished. Also, more gnats have stuck themselves all over the painting.

The wind began to increase. I braced the easel to keep it from blowing over. The painting was finished, the final gnats removed (well, most of them), and their damage undone. The painting and equipment was packed up for the hike back. The sky grew darker and the wind increased dramatically. I was sandblasted by blowing dust as I walked back up the trail to the car, but the painting made it home safe and sound. The last photo shows the painting after it had been photographed a day or two later in good lighting, and a gnat-free environment. The painting sold that Saturday at the show.

Decker Road, 11" x 14" Oil on Panel

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Little More About WPAP 2016

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
There's a little more to add about this year's Wasatch Plein Air Paradise, Midway's yearly plein air competition and art show. You can read my earlier post about it here. It's unfortunate for me that after dropping off my entries last Thursday afternoon, my busy schedule kept me away from the opening and Friday's Heber City paint out. Saturday morning I returned for the Midway paint out. 

In the regular competition, painters have all of Wasatch County to paint in, and several days to do it. For the paint outs, painters have a much smaller area to paint in, and from seven in the morning 'till two in the afternoon to complete their painting. 

After looking around a little, I chose a spot to paint near the covered bridge. There, at the edge of a weedy field, was a row of trees. I found a place where a large hole in the tree-wall allowed a view of the mountains beyond. This would be my entry for the paint out.

In the awards ceremony that afternoon, I was awarded second place in the Midway paint out competition for my painting. A photo of that piece is shown at the top of this post. Besides the paint out entry, I had entered three paintings into the main competition a couple days earlier. I had also put an older painting into the "studio" exhibit. One of the paintings had sold Thursday evening and two more sold Saturday afternoon. Besides that, I had gotten a commission for a painting from a couple who were disappointed they had missed buying one of my already sold paintings.

The show ran until Monday afternoon, the 4th of July. I had planned to paint earlier in the day and go to the show early that afternoon, but lost track of time while painting. When I finished and checked the time it was an hour past the show's closing! I tossed everything into the car and quickly drove to the exhibit, where I found the doors locked! I was worried I wouldn't be able to pick up my unsold paintings for a while. Another painter showed up, also late, to pick up his unsold work. Not knowing what else to do, we tried knocking enthusiastically on the door. It worked. The show organizers let us in. There I found I had no paintings to pick up. They had all sold.

11" x 14" Oil on Panel
I always enjoy participating in the Wasatch Plein Air Paradise, and the opportunity it provides to paint, exhibit, and sell artwork in such a wonderful place for painters as Heber Valley, Utah. This year was my best ever there. Many other painters did well, too. So grateful for those who organized and put on the show, and for the collectors who came and left with a little framed piece of Midway to brighten their homes!

The second picture in this post is of the painting that made me late.