Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sunflowers For Mom

Sunflowers For Mom 10x10 O/L

My mother would have been 100 on Mother's Day.  She was 92 when she passed away - having lived a long and mostly-lovely life with my Dad.  They were a great couple and enjoyed life and one another.  During the last several years Mom suffered from Alzheimer's disease, so we lost her slowly over the years rather than all at once.  Dad was a constant and caring caregiver.  He passed 5 years after Mom when he was 93. (She was a cradle robber, I guess.)

Just before Mother's Day I received news that the last of their large and fun-loving group of friends had passed at 97.  Somehow -- even though this friend had lived a great and long life, I found that her passing brought back all of the sadness of losing my parents.

I usually avoid going to the cemetery.  I prefer to remember my parents as they lived, but since it was both Mother's Day and Mom's birthday, I decided to visit them both.  I'm glad I went, really, but WOW... I had no idea how many people visit graves on days like Mother's Day.  The place was absolutely packed.  I had to wait in line just to enter the cemetery.  Happily it was a pretty day.  People were all around, picnicking and visiting.  The "neighbors" helped me dig out the little vase at the head of the plot so I could leave my sunflowers for Mom.  When I bought the flowers before going to visit, I decided to buy some for myself to paint also -- thus this little painting you see above.

I don't usually paint still lifes.  I enjoy landscapes.  But I wanted to practice and flowers were calling.  Of course I tried to create a good design - not worry too much about my drawing -- be free with my paint -- vary my edges and to use lots of secondary playful color in the shadow areas.  It was kind of fun!  I should paint like that more often.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Weathered and Enduring

Weathered and Enduring 24x24
I was deeply honored and THRILLED that this new piece was juried in to
California Statewide Land & Sea Exhibit," at the Santa Cruz Art League

June 3 - July 3, 2016
Lecture: “Art of the Deep” by Juror: David C. Gallup.   June 10, Friday, 7pm.
Reception: Saturday, June 11, 3:00 - 5:00pm

Santa Cruz Art League
526 Broadway
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 

It was a beautiful day on the cliffs of Dinosaur Caves Park in Shell Beach when I painted a small 8x8 plein air piece here.
The plein air piece was called "Dinosaur Caves at Shell Beach" after the park.

I think the area is beautiful and was inspired to paint this larger studio piece.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Since I saw no dinosaurs wandering through the park (except cement ones for children to enjoy) I wondered why it was called Dinosaur Caves Park.  Here is what I found:

Dinosaur Caves Park is a family-friendly park in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach, CA. The park has open grass areas, picnic tables, walking paths, ocean overlooks, and an abundance of kids play toys with animal and dinosaur themes. The park also has an interesting history. In the 1940’s a large concrete dinosaur was constructed at this location. Visitors could enter the dinosaur and descend a tunnel in the tail that lead into an underground sea cavern. The cavern has since collapsed and all evidence of the dinosaur have been removed. Unfortunately, all other access routes to the shoreline have eroded away so there is no beach access from the park anymore.   

I also found a great drone video of the park and the shoreline done by "RoadTripFPV"
Here it is for you to enjoy:

Monday, April 11, 2016

Blacktail - When Something Bothers You - Fix It!!

Blacktail 18x14 Oil/Canvas Panel

I had a wonderful adventure painting with a group and rafting down 140 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  While we had time onshore, we often hiked to interesting areas such as
this beautiful slot canyon called Blacktail Canyon around mile 121.
was juried in to the Summer 2013 Exhibition at the Burbank Creative Arts Center.
was selected as part of the American West Show at
La Galeria Gitana
San Fernando, CA
May-July, 2016

Is a painting ever REALLY "done"?
Recently I answered a call for entries to a show about the American West.  I submitted paintings and several were selected for inclusion.  They are all quite different but each represents a wonderful place and a wonderful adventure.

There is one from my recent backpacking/mule riding/camping/painting trip to the Easter Sierras.   Two are from my painting trip to Canyon de Chelly and the one featured in this blog post is a studio version of a painting I did while rafting through the Grand Canyon.

(I have to say that painting has really improved my ability to see the world in ways previously unimaginable to me.  -- Perhaps for that alone, I LOVE having learned to paint!)

I've always loved the painting, Blacktail, even when my good painting buddy told me that no one would ever buy it because it was too weird.  I have enjoyed it on my own walls -- each time smiling at the memory of a fabulously beautiful and unique place created through time, wind, water and surely a higher power.

It's Only Paint
When I painted it I struggled with the foreground rocks.  I could have left them out completely but decided not to.  However, all the time I've looked at this painting, the stark white rocks had bothered me.  When the painting was juried in to the upcoming show at La Galeria Gitana in San Fernando, CA, I decided to revisit those rocks.  -After all, it's only paint.  In my Master Class with my mentor, David Gallup, David has been discussing the importance of losing focus in the foreground of our paintings.  To quote David, "Okay, Master Class. The idea for our Month of Foreground is that rather than trap the eye at the bottom of the canvas by increasing detail and focus as objects draw nearer, we can look past an out-of-focus foreground to the subject, nearer the desired target from a 2-D design perspective. Using in and out of focus areas to create depth and move the eye in addition to all of our other tools. Dig? "

David has a "David Gallup Master Class" Facebook group page and we've all be searching the web for examples of out-of-focus foregrounds.  Check it out if you're interested in participating with the discussions.  (We also post all sorts of interesting artwork and bits of nature - especially those that relate to David's interest in underwater things.)

Anyhow, the point is that my foreground rocks were too imposing and prominent.   They trapped the eye more than was necessary.  (See the original on the left.) They were whiter and had fairly hard edges which contrasted with the dark waters of the pool.  Rather than to eliminate them, I darkened them and tried to soften the edges a bit.  It wasn't a huge change, but I think that now the painting works better.

Thanks for stopping by.  Perhaps I will see you at the show opening at La Galeria Gitana on May 14th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  It's always an interesting show.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

HOW Do They Find You?

Walking The Dog 11 x 14 O/C

I saw on the internet that the flowers were beginning to come up in a spot I enjoy painting up near Santa Barbara.  Happily, we have had a few spring rain   showers and I was hopeful that the Carpenteria Bluffs would be glorious.
In recent years, they have been brown and sad due to our long California drought.

I decided to drive up the coast to enjoy the Bluffs.  The 90 minute drive was lovely and the day was glorious.  There weren't as many flowers as I had hoped.  I think I jumped the gun a bit.  Unless we get a really hot dry spell, the flowers haven't reached their peak.  However I totally enjoyed my hike and the entire morning. 

I really liked the way the fog was obscuring the far hills, but shining through the eucalyptus which was shading the man who was walking his dog.  I tried to capture that tranquil moment.  I couldn't quite get the figure right and had to let the painting dry a bit before I went in and fixed up the man and his dog.   Hope you enjoy it!

(Walking The Dog is a new painting -- not the one that my new British collector purchased.)

I recently sold a painting to a new collector in the United Kingdom.  It was a small plein air piece that I had painted several years back while I was on the last of my painting adventures aboard an 80 foot dive boat that helped a great group of artists explore our local treasure, The Channel Islands National Park.

Happily at that time I was blogging more frequently so when this collector asked for details about where the painting was created, I was able to refer back to my blog post and give him lots of details.  HIS Channel Islands, of course, are quite different than ours, but I was proud to be able to share several links with information about this uniquely beautiful National Park.

His question:  "Do you remember which of the islands this painting is of?  It's always nice to have as much information as one can about a landscape painting.  I collect -- I am passionate about early English watercolours and it is very frustrating (and truth be told, detracts from the value) when one has a landscape of a place which can't be identified.  If you are buying a 200 year old watercolour one can't easily ask the artist, of course."

Hmmm...   How, I asked, did you find me?  (Especially since I don't paint in watercolors nor am I living in the 18th or 19th century.)
His answer wasn't quite what I had hoped:
"I'm not quite sure.  I have been browsing the internet for a couple of weeks looking for contemporary oils and one website leads to another.  Actually, it's quite addictive.  There is a website called "1stDibs" which may have lead me to you.  I think that was a US website.  But I may have been looking at a US art dealer's website who sells your work.  Not sure."
Still, I was very happy that he DID find me and that he took the time to go through so many paintings on my website!

Well, thank goodness for my wonderful FASO website!!  Also thank goodness for PayPal which protects both the buyer and the seller and which can deal with exchange rates, etc.  The real trial was getting the painting to him.  I checked out the rates for our US Postal Service and with FedEx and they were almost the same.  I decided to go with the USPS which may have been a mistake.  I had it insured and registered and because it went to another country had to fill out customs forms.  All went well until it got to London.  It took 4 days to get to London from my post office near Los Angeles, CA.  However, tracking from there was odd.  I heard nothing for almost a week and began to think it had gotten lost when suddenly it said it had left London.  Well, it finally arrived, but then the UK post office charged the collector additional postal fees and there was a VAT (value added tax) that was almost as much as the original postage.  Shocking!

At least it arrived and the collector thinks the painting is "lovely".   All's well that ends well.

Do you have any stories about how strangers have found your work?
How about shipping internationally?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Not With A Brush -- With A Mind And A Heart

Sunshine and Reflections - Goleta Slough 16x20 O/C

Near where my daughter lives is the most beautiful place to paint -- the Goleta Slough.
Just south of the UCSB campus this lovely beach is constantly changing with the tides.
Before Christmas I signed up for a Mentor Monday session through the California Art Club.  The artist who was to critique our work was Marcia Burtt - a wonderful acrylic artist with a very loose style, excellent creative designs and amazing color sense.  I have long admired her work, but never met her.  She was delightful and I thoroughly enjoyed my morning.  She spent time with all of us in the session discussing what might make our work stronger.  Before the session was over she mentioned that she would be hosting a workshop with Ray Roberts in early February at her studio/gallery in Santa Barbara.  As you may remember, I love Ray Roberts' work and have studied with him previously.  Since my daughter lives in Santa Barbara, I wouldn't have to pay hotel bills so I decided to sign up.

From Marcia Burtt's Studio/Gallery
I really enjoyed the excuse to spend more time with my daughter and grandkids while I was up there.  That was the bonus.  The workshop was the excuse.

I had a great time in the workshop and learned a lot from both Marcia and from Ray.  Marcia had a large canvas which she quickly covered with her beautiful acrylic colors.  She is more interested in on-the-spot gestural work.  Ray emphasized the importance of creating many small studies in the field and using them in addition to photographs and videos of the scene to create larger studio work.  We spent two days in the field during absolutely gorgeous weather, as we watched demonstrations and created our own small studies.  I did little 7 studies -- none worth sharing except to tell you of the enjoyment of being outside and painting in a beautiful spot. 
From Marcia Burtt's Studio/Gallery

While in the studio part of the session, Ray discussed how he uses captures from videos (he had flown a drone around the slough and had some amazing video) as well as photos which he manipulates in Photoshop to use as a basis for his studio pieces.  He showed us how he can enhance the "sparkles" of the sun shining on the water or manipulate the colors.  It was all very interesting and we each practiced with our own computers to see if we could do it as well.  (I'm going to have to practice the "sparkle" bit...  Didn't quite "get" it yet.)

During that last day in Marcia's studio/gallery I started the painting above.   Everyone in the class spread out.   Some were behind Ray to better see how he was handling his computer manipulation and his own painting and others, like me were off to the side.  Ray wasn't happy with his start -- almost wiping it down.  He realized the next morning that he had made the value of the water too light so he set about fixing it.  (Nice to know even the greats can get off to a bad start.)   It was interesting to see what all of the other artists created also.  Each of us had a unique take on the workshop and place where we were painting.   Basically, while there, I worked on the scene using Photoshop Elements and blocked in the painting.

At home over the last few weeks I've completed the block in and spent a lot of time refining it.  Sometimes I wonder if the time it takes to finish a painting is spent more with a brush in hand or through hours of thought, dreams and feelings of the heart.  I'm beginning to feel it's the latter.

I think it's very true that as artists, we are the sum of all those from whom we have learned.  We will always be our own selves but we take a bit of knowledge or a whisper of beauty from every painting and artist we admire.

I thought I was finished several times, but as the painting sat on my TV ledge in "time out", I would see something that I didn't like or that could be done better.   My mentor, David Gallup, is always asking us WHY we are painting something.  He tells us not to paint THINGS....  we should express feelings or what the scene says to us rather than just a place. 

That may be the most difficult task of all.

Many thanks to Marcia, Ray and David.... and to all of the other artists who have served as models and teachers along my painting journey. 


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hello Again - It's Been A While

Peaceful 10x10 O/L

I started blogging seriously in 2006 or 2007.  This is probably post #728 since I started.  If memory serves, I was blogging for almost a year only on Google "Blogger" because I hadn't yet signed up with Fine Art Studio Online (FASO).  At the time I was mucking around with my own self-developed website.  I had a bit of fun learning and practicing HTML and was pretty proud of myself. 

At the time I was very early in my painting journey and so was trying to paint and finish a painting every day.  Each day I would post a painting (such as it was -- didn't matter if it was "good"... just that I did it) and I'd blog about it.  It was fun and it worked for me.  Hey... We all know that the more miles we put on the canvas, the better painters we become.  (Of course, I heard Brian Blood once say that some of us have to put a lot more miles on canvas than others.... I know he's right...  I'm one of those turtles on this journey.)

The summer that I retired from LAUSD I changed my website from my own homemade site to a more professional looking and very easy to use one through FASO.  Even though it was not as developed as it is now, FASO hosts a GREAT website which even enabled me to post blogs right from the site.  My posts from FASO started in June of 2007.  FASO has continually evolved over the years offering many templates, lots of flexibility of color, etc, a newsletter, blog, and many, many other features.  -- AND they have out-of-this world tech support!

The blog posts have served as a diary or journal of sorts -- talking about growth, processes, experiences -- even major family events.  It was a way for me to process my thoughts about what I was doing and learning.  I really blogged for myself but found that I enjoyed the interactions with others and the new people I'd "meet" through the blog. 

I blog much less now.  I haven't posted anything in over a month.  It's not that I'm NOT painting -- I am -- I just seem to take forever to finish anything.  I've got one or two up on my "time out" shelf.  One of them is really mostly done.  However, the longer I look at it, the more I'm convinced that just a few more touches will really be what it needs... (LOL).    When I'm ready I'll write a post about it.  I started it during and finished it a week or so after my last workshop with one of my painting idols, wonderful Ray Roberts.  If only staring at his work endlessly and taking workshops from him would make my work as good as his. (not)

Right now as several paintings sit in time out, I'm working on a very large 24 by 36 Sierra piece which I hope to include in a 2017 museum show with my PAC6 painting buddies.  I don't usually paint large pieces, so it was daunting just getting started.  But I'm working away on it.  Over the years I've learned that it's just paint.  If I don't like what I did yesterday, I can scrape it off or paint over it.  - Heck painting over sometimes makes it even better.  I've got one painting in a show now that was painted right over the top of a totally different painting.  The texture of the original painting made the leaves really fabulous.   The painting is called "Peaceful" and it's at the top of this blog post.  It's one of my favorites from my Canyon de Chelly adventure and it's still available.

Another reason why I don't blog as often is Facebook.  Somehow Facebook has stolen the time and taken over many of the reasons why I blogged in the first place.  Additionally it seems more immediate as is the feedback.  My posts rarely generate comments, but the ease of responding on FB is alluring.  But I do like to blog, so I WILL keep it up.  I hope some of you will read it and, of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

By the way -- another inspiration for me is studying with my mentor David Gallup.  I started studying with him in late 2010 before the first of several idyllic painting trips to California's Channel Islands.  I've learned many things from David and one of them is that painters should constantly evolve.  I own 4 of his paintings which hang on the wall near where I am right now.  They serve as reminders of lessons, inspirations, beautiful locations and fun adventures.  One is from his Channel Islands Show at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art.  One is of Sequit Point where I paint frequently, and another is a beautiful reminder of a Channel Islands trip.  The painting on the far left is the most recent addition.  I finished paying for it quite a while back (I always buy "on time").  I bought it while he was using it to demonstrate brushwork in one of our classes.  It went through several iterations while I watched, but David never signed it nor gave it to me until almost a year later.   When he finally decided it was "finished", he told me that he had to learn a lot and was still processing it so he couldn't finish it enough to be satisfied with letting me have it until just now.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Painting Doubles

"Southern" Sunrise - Sequit Point

Painting at Sequit Point on Leo Carrillo State Beach is one of my favorite things to do.

My PAC6 painters group was asked to created "doubles" for an upcoming show. (CALLED DOUBLE TAKE) -- Two paintings of the same place at different times of the day or different weather conditions or different seasons.  I painted a set of doubles - which I wrote about in my last two blog posts- ( "Sequit" and "Sunset At Sequit Point" ) for the show and really enjoyed doing it.


I decided that I would do series of doubles.  This painting above is one of two I've done recently looking what seems like south but which apparently is really east from Sequit Point.  Since I'm standing on the west coast and looking toward Mexico, I think of that direction as south... but since the sun is rising over there it is obviously east....  California can be confusing....  "North" on the 101 Freeway is actually west... but nobody calls it west on the 101.  Ya gotta live here to understand. 

I will share the second one I did (also looking "south" ) in my next post.  They are very different as you will see.

As I saw the work which will be in the show from my painting buddies, I realized that MY doubles are a bit different than those of my painting pals.  Rather than do more like what Monet did in his haystack or cathedral series, I had moved a bit from the viewpoint of the first to do the second or I used different ways of applying paint, so my differences between the doubles are much vaster.  We'll see how that plays out.

Please come by to see the show while it is hanging.  If you can make it to the reception, I would love to talk with you.  Please come!

I was pretty far along on each of this new set of "doubles" when I took them in for my mentor, David Gallup, to critique.  It was pretty discouraging.   David always gives a fair critique designed to move me and other artists in the class along from where we are, but on that day I was dejected.  I left the day feeling like perhaps I should trash them both. 

However, after "licking my wounds" and letting the paintings sit for several days while I worked on other paintings, I decided that I liked both of them enough to finish them up.  Actually this one kept calling to me... letting me know that it was really quite worthy.   So I continued working on them trying to improve the issues I saw after a few days... (shapes which were too regular or the same, not enough movement in the water, "flat", cut-out looking rocks, too many hard edges, etc.)

 I pulled out my Plein Air Magazine with Ray Roberts' seascape painting on the cover and flipped through his website for even more inspiration.  I love his work and would love to create work which has the appeal of his work... (not to mention his ability to use composition, color and brushwork to inspire the angels.)

Neither of these doubles are perfect, but I like them both and am happy to be moving in what I think is the "right" direction.... west, east....who knows....   but "right".


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