Saturday, October 31, 2009

Back Yard Quickie

Gibson Branch behind my house

I have had a lot of opportunities to paint fall colors this year.  It has been just beautiful this year.  Normally I have not been too inspired by my own back yard.  I guess all I see are the things that need fixin and cleaned up.  There is a small creek at the edge of my property called Gibson Branch; it runs through a huge wooded area next door.  Well the golden glow was beaming in my studio window, so I grabbed my gear and headed out back.  This little creek is a bit of a challenge to paint, but it is up to the artist to make something of all the voices calling out. If you are ever doing a wooded stream scene be careful with those big straight diagonal trees. They are nice in 3d space, but I do better leaving them out for the most part. What inspired me was the beautiful golden light coming from behind the trees and reflecting in the water.  I teaked the photo of the scene but still it doesen't show all the beautiful color.....that's why we paint.

"Full Color"
oil on linen

I didn't have much time so I grabbed a scrap 5.75 x 5 and jumped right in.  I started in overcast light with the sun peaking through, which I feel produces more dramatic color. I used a size 6 and 2 hog hair bristle bush and a sable liner.  Done in 35-40 minutes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Painting From Lack Luster

On Thursday October 15, I headed up to Blowing Rock, NC to paint the fall colors at Cone Manor along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had a few things working against Me. For one, I forgot most of my painting panels exept for 2 - 9x12's, and secondly the weather was bad. All of this being said, I tried to make the best of it.

Carriage House at Cone Manor

The weather was overcast and misty. I was surprised how quickly the color had mostly come and gone at the 4000 foot elevation.  I was opimistic, something would be worth painting.  As I began to gather my gear the clouds and mist started to cover the top of the mountain, so I headed down to Bass Lake at the lower elevation.

Down through the woods I came upon a wonderful opening with a golden Maple tree and some blue grey mountain peaks breaking the horizon. Just as I began to paint the rain and clouds moved in.  I was fortunate the air was still and I held an umbrella in one hand and painted with the other.

One thing that intrigued me during this lack luster day, was the subtle beauty in the color of objects on a grey misty day.  You can see some of the wonderful colors in the grass below my easel.

Finished study or at least what I saw before the rain hit.


Down at Bass lake the rain had quit, but again not too inspiring.  The lily pads had turned brown and most of the color had fallen to the ground.  I only had one linen panel left so I kept walking and walking thinking there was something better around the corner.  Finally I got tired and decided to paint the trail in the overcast light.

So here's #2.  What I saw was a subtle golden light from the canopy of tall trees with some massive White Pine trees and cool high lights on the Rhododenron bushes.  When I started this study I was in the deep woods sort of speak, but continued the struggle until something emerged.  I hope you feel the overcast light in the forest.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Painting At Deep Creek

Early on Wednesday October 7th my son and I drove 3 hours to Deep Creek at the south end of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina near Bryson City. During the drive I thought we might be fogged in, but it turned out to be one of those rare days. As we approached the Park, the clouds began to break as the sun was rising. As we stepped outside, the air was crisp, the smells unbelieveablly refreshing, and the colors were vivid. These photos do not begin show you what we experienced. So I will try to add words and paintings to describe it.

Deep Creek at 8:30am as misty fog lifts
this photo only shows 1/4 of the color I experienced

Painting at the creeks bank

This study was mostly about the water as it struck me the most, so I down played the details of the forest and tried to create movement and in the creek to carry you through the painting. So the water is what showcases the color of the trees. If you take away the water in this picture the trees loose their drama!

Next, after lunch I came upon Juney Whank Falls. What a challenge it is to paint waterfalls; they move us emotionally but to paint a whole-nother story!

As you can see it starts at a 45 degree angle looking up and then falls to my feet fanning out into wild waves of misty grey colors.

Here you may be able to see some of the subtleties I mentioned, hints of greens from the reflected light from the forest and all variation of greys. I introduced a few spikes of the sky to add to the perspective. In this little 9 x 12 painting I used everything in my arsenal, pulling out quinacridone violet, cobalt blue, and ivory black which I almost never use - big brushes, little brushes, knives, paper towels, fingers, and signed with a toothpick.

Here is my 19 year old son Caleb fly fishing Deep Creek below the bridge. I try to paint where he wants to fish so we can hang out together. This time it was a good pick on his part. Here the sun is generally behind me in late afternoon and you can see just some of the color I mentioned, reflecting off the water and the photo is showing about 1/2 of what I was seeing!

This is Deep Creek just upstream of the bridge looking towards the light from the sun. Here again the photo lies, showing maybe 10 percent of the color. I could clearly see the cool violetly tones of the shaded stone bridge and the photo does not record it --This is why we need to paint plein air; so that we can begin to understand and learn how to represent colors of light with our paints. The more hours we stand in the face of nature with our palette and paints the more we will begin to understand and see color as an artist and to begin to effectively represent it with paint.

Deep Creek in full color

My son Caleb after a hard day of fishing. No fish for dinner as he is a catch and release guy, so we had Mama's Chilli - Mmm Good -and a few smores of course. The next day we painted a fished the Natahala River about 20 minutes away. More on that trip later.
If you would like to join me to paint plein air go to for our latest free plein air event!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Colors!

In August I participated in the Avery County Arts Council Plein Air Competition at Banner Elk, NC. Many fine artists came out on a foggy morning to throw their hat into the ring. At the end of the day I was privileged to win 2nd place. I received an envelope which held a certificate from the Art Purveyors Art Store for Oil Paint. This Prize was donated by Mike Hill owner of Art Purveyors located in Foscoe, NC on HWY 105 below Grandfather Mountain between Banner Elk and Boone. A few weeks ago I stopped in to see Mike Hill to claim my prize. Mike is a dealer for M. Graham Oil Colors. I was overwhelmed when he gave me 1 tube of every Graham Oil Color he sells as my prize. That's about 50 colors a $500 retail value. Thanks Mike and the Graham Company! If you're out near Grandfather Mountain stop by The Art Purveyor Art Store or check out their site to see the wide range of products they sell.
"A Foggy Start"
Second Place at the Avery County Arts Council Plein Air Competition