Thursday, August 13, 2015

Matador And The Bull

Matador And The Bull 10x10 O/L

Those of you who regularly read my blog posts (thank you!) know that I've been mostly sticking near home lately.  My husband, Gastone, had knee replacement surgery and I wanted to be around if he needed me.   Normally I am out and about -- not much of a stay at home type.  I paint outside, I take a class, I visit friends and family.  Not lately. 

Gastone has done astonishingly well.  The knee is healing beautifully and he is doing everything -- just a tiny bit slower -- but still doing it.   So it's not necessary that I stay home.  However, I still haven't gotten out much.   Gastone said "go" a while back so I did.  Off I went to El Matador.  My painting spot of choice is Leo Carrillo just a bit further north, but this time I decided to go to El Matador. 

My friends, Chris Cook and Diane Nelson-Gold, both love to paint at El Matador, but I usually don't paint well there and there is this long STEEP walk down stairs and a cliff that I normally choose to avoid.  However, I decided to paint there last week.   What a glorious day!!

I had a wonderful time outside painting.  I decided to forgo the view from down on the sand or on the cliff facing north that I usually paint and instead I looked south from the cliff path.  I enjoyed my day.  I chose to include some figures since there were so many people enjoying the beach that day.  I really just dropped in a spot where the figures would go and finished them up at home with a tiny brush.

I posted photos of where I was painting on Facebook and a friend told me that the rock formations were called Matador and The Bull so that is what I called the painting.  I tried to look it up, but found no "proof" his claim was what they are really called, but who cares?

Here are some of the paintings I have from around El Matador:

On my way home I stopped by the Weisman Museum in Pepperdine to see the paintings in the "On Location In Malibu" show.  Wow, there were some wonderful paintings in that show.  Many were also from the area around El Matador. -- It was so interesting to see how differently these well accomplished artists express similar areas.  Loved the show.  It has closed now, but it is still available online from the California Art Club's website.
I feel like I'm treading water right now.  I have several paintings I've started but can't seem to finish them up.  Good things are happening -- my paintings have gotten in to some great shows, but very, very sad things have happened too which sap some of the joy ---and also reminding me to seize the day. 

In a week Tyler will start back to school and shortly after that I'm heading off to the Eastern Sierra with my painting buddies, Linda Brown, Nita Harper, Debra Holladay, Laura Wambsgans and Sharon Weaver --  We're the PAC6!  It's going to be a ball.  (If riding those horses/mules up to our camping spot doesn't kill us first!!)

I enjoy hearing from you.  Thanks to those of you who make a comment or drop me a line.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Matilija Shadows -- Fear, Frustration and Resolve

Matilija Shadows 12"x12" O/L

Can you imagine being afraid of paint?
Apparently I am.  Well, I'm not actually afraid of the paint itself.... It's just that I find myself in the sad position that far too many painters -- especially those less confident ones -- are in. 

I usually participate in a weekly class with David Gallup.  Generally there are from 4-8 students in the class and there is always a lively dialogue -- critiques, demos, challenges, encouragement and painting time.  I've been a student of David's for over 5 years now.  I always enjoy class -- I always learn something.  However, since my husband was due to have knee replacement surgery in early July, I decided to take some time off from class to help Gastone with his recovery.

Quite surprisingly for the last class I went to before I took these last 4 weeks off, I was the only student.  Wow... a unique opportunity, right??  Well, it was actually... but I ended up really being frustrated with myself.  David is a consummate teacher.  He is always trying to instruct, lead, cajole and push us (sometimes kicking and screaming) into areas where we need to go to grow.  He looks at our individual strengths but he also is well aware of where we need to improve.  David decided to watch me mix my colors.  He has demonstrated and taught us this both during Master Class and in his color theory class, but now he wanted to make sure I understood it.   Wow...  being the only one in the class, I was really on the spot!

I started mixing up paint and as silly as it sounds, even after he told me to use more paint, I found that I had to FORCE myself to mix large piles.  I mean really... what was the big deal??  I'm not poor.  I can afford paint...  It's just that although I so absolutely LOVE those thick swathes of tangled paint in David's work, I couldn't bring myself to build the piles and apply them.   I was frustrated almost to the point of crying.   WHY?

It has been about 4 weeks since that class.  Of course during much of that time I was with my husband  helping him gain his strength and balance back, but I have also spent a lot of time thinking about painting and actually painting.... yes, trying --sometimes successfully- to mix up and use LARGE piles of colors... transitions in the same value to pick up with a loaded brush and apply to my paintings.

Control Freak
I think the issue for me is not about "wasting paint".  It's about not being able to control it as I apply it to a painting.  I'm finally getting the hang of using transitions and bridges and secondary colors in the darks.  But when I have big, loaded brushes the paint doesn't always lay down where I want it to or in the way I had intended.    Then again... So what?   All I'd have to do would be to scrape it and start over.  Bottom line... I need to "Just do it".   And then do it again and again and again.   So I will.

I recently saw a photo on Facebook which I "lifted" and which you can see here.  I think it originally came from the webmaster of this website, FASO.  His name is Clint Watson.  He shares his great philosophy about art, creativity and marketing.  I hope you enjoy the photo and the message just as I did.

During these weeks, I've been painting.  I tried to use lots and lots of paint without being messy when I painted "Matilija Shadows".  I tried to make the "whites" not white - especially where the petals were translucent or where they shaded other petals.   I love Matilija Poppies and the way they seem to float along on the breeze.  I liked the way this painting came out too.  I still have a long way to go with being able to use large piles of beautiful paint... But I am "just doing it" anyway.

On another note....  I recently asked some friends to look through my website and pick 4 paintings that they thought were "my best work".  It was interesting and perhaps a lesson to me... although I'm not sure what to make of it yet.  There was virtually no consensus. 

I wonder what would happen if any of you took me up on my request.  Which four paintings from any or all of my "Collections" do YOU think represent "my best work"?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dry Run

Walk Along My Path 22x28 O/C SOLD

In four weeks my painting buddies and I are going to team up once again for another painting adventure.  Last year we traveled to
Canyon de Chelly, AZ and had an absolutely heavenly painting and exploring trip through the lands surrounding this beautiful Navajo National Monument.

In August the six of us will climb aboard horses or mules to pack in to Lake Ediza and environs in the Eastern Sierra Nevada range of California.  We called ourselves the "PAC6" -- (for painting across the country) because we knew this would be one of many painting adventures we would take together. 

This year we will be camping and although there will be a crew there to cook our meals and keep the bears from eating us (or our food), we need to pack our own tents, bedding, paint gear and clothes and there is a weight limit.  When we went to Canyon de Chelly, our only limit was how much we could stuff in our car.  This year is a bit different -- We will have a 75 lb weight limit and all gear must fit in to 24" bags.

To treat myself I decided to buy a new pochade box and tripod and backpack.  I've basically had the same EasyL since I started plein air painting.  Well that's not exactly true.  My first EasyL was a larger size.  After several trips to the Channel Islands I decided to buy a tiny EasyL so that I could paint on the kayak.  It was too tiny.  I didn't like it at all.  Happily I was able to trade it for one my friend, Diane Gold, had.  She wanted a smaller box.  She loves it.  And I've been very happy with her EasyL which was smaller than my original box but bigger than the little one.

But it's been almost 10 years since I bought my first paintbox and while the tripod still works and the original and traded boxes are still fine, I wanted a new one.  I looked at several varieties when I was at the Plein Air Convention  #PACE.  Basically, while I can afford whatever I want, I don't like to spend a lot of money.   Most of the boxes I looked at were too expensive or too heavy or too big -- none were "just right".  The new updated EasyL was around the right price... but it just didn't ring my chime.

When I found out that painting friend, Debra Holladay, was buying a new box that I'd never heard of,  I looked it up and decided it was just right.  It's actually quite beautiful.  It's a Sienna Pochade box, tripod and backpack.  It's really like nice furniture!  Best of all I found it on SALE!  It was delivered right away, but I hadn't taken it out to try it out until today.

My husband had knee replacement surgery two weeks ago and even though he's healing really well, I didn't want to leave him.  But when he said, "GO... have fun",  I went for it.  My plan was to go to the beach -- my favorite spot -- but it was supposed to be overcast at the beach and this morning Gastone, my husband, seemed to be having a small setback (the knee began to swell again) so I didn't want to go too far in case he needed me to take him to the Dr.

I got all of the gear ready -- Everything I wanted fit in the backpack!  So off I went.  YAY!!
I hiked around in the canyon for a while then I found a spot and set it up.  The box seems to work fine.  The tripod is steady and the umbrella works okay too.  It was a funny day in the canyon.  The canyon near my home - Caballero Canyon -- is a place I have painted often.   There are always lots of hikers and mountain bikers.  Today there was quite a stir because a coyote was spotted following some small dogs down the trail.  I saw him, but he was pretty elusive -- I couldn't get a photo.   Some young girls apparently had never seen a coyote and were scared - they went screaming down the trail.  Everyone else enjoyed the critter sighting.   I've seen coyotes around the neighborhood, but not when I've been down in the canyon.  But it IS their home, afterall. 

Today I didn't paint a beauty.  The painting you see above is a large studio piece I painted a few years back from several studies I have done there in the canyon.  Those rocks are pretty unusual -- rather unique to our canyon.  Today's painting was pretty much a "frisbee" or a "wiper", but at least I got to paint and try out the new equipment.  The box worked well.  The backpack holds it all.  There is a problem with the way the tripod is supposed to attach to the backpack, but now that I know I can figure out a work-around before the trip.

So I had a nice day... got to practice a bit and now I have some time before my trip to get the "kinks" out of the backpack.   The "dry run" worked.  It was a good day.

Tomorrow we go to Gastone's Dr. to get his stitches out.  Hopefully the doc can also fix the new swelling ... sort of like getting the "kinks" out of his new knee.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Some Time To Reflect

Suiting Up -- Boys On The Beach 10x8 O/L

My husband had knee replacement surgery last Friday.  He's fine and I know that with time he will be even better.   However, because I wanted to prepare and because I knew that after surgery, my husband would need to have me around more, I decided not to go to my Master Class with David Gallup until Gastone is more independent.

I love my class.  I always learn something new from David and I enjoy watching the demos, listening to the critiques and talking with and learning from my classmates.  David's always challenging us to do new things.  Recently after long discussions about the work of Bob Kuhn, he challenged us to add animals to our work... while paying attention to the abstract design (and values and edges and brushwork and color, etc).  I thought this was an interesting direction to take.  But sometimes it's good to just "chill".

So since I was not going to be attending class, I decided to spend my time thinking.  To be honest, I haven't done much painting.  I had expected to do more painting, but I guess my head or my heart just isn't in it.  I need to use this time to reflect on my direction and my goals.  I'm pretty clear about what I don't want -- I don't want to do festivals, I don't want to do plein air events.  I don't particularly want to teach -- maybe someday but not now.  It's harder to narrow down what I really want -- other than just to paint well.

A while back I decided to try to add figures to my landscapes.  My husband suggested that my paintings would be "more lively" with figures in them.  Some of my plein air pieces of the kids surfing or playing at the beach have been fun to do and seem to be appreciated by collectors, so I decided to work on painting some figures using some of the sketches from last summer painting and photos taken at the beach.

I tried to look at the values more than the colors.  I tried to pay attention to the abstract design.  What do you think? 

Should I keep working on figures? 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Final Days at #Paintcamp -- Awesome Ausable Chasm

The Falls At Ausable Chasm    12" x 9"  O/L
The Falls At Ausable Chasm 12" x 9" O/L

Hardy Painters
The weather during our week at #PaintCamp  (Eric Rhoads' Publisher's Invitational Paint Out) was not the best to be hoped for.  Happily, however, we all enjoyed painting and being outdoors, so we made the best of it.

The Gun Club Painters
On Friday we were able to all go to the Gun Club to paint.  Sadly, it was quite overcast and cold.  I have to say, though, that many of the painters managed to create wonderful paintings despite the less-than-desireable weather.  I wasn't one of them.  

I decided just to do a couple of figures.  I had some success in the past painting people at the beach, so this was another opportunity to practice figures in the landscape.  I painted the three painters directly in front of me while they painted.  They didn't move much, which was fine by me.  I'm not sure who the third painter was... possibly Susanna White, but the center painter was Nedra Smith and the first painter on the left was Greg Summers.   Greg's red shirt made him the subject of many of our paintings.  The bright red seemed to work well with so much green. 

Painting At Cascade Lake 10"x10" O/L
Greg is also in my second painting of the day.  One of the groups drove (and the caravan got lost) to Cascade Lake and we all painted trees and streams and the lake.   I really enjoyed painting with my friend, Laura Wambsgans.  She is quite accomplished and it is always instructive to watch how she lays in her paintings -- the colors she mixes-- what she chooses to put in or leave out, etc.   Since I was painting almost the same scenes as she was all day, it became even easier to peak over to see the progress of her work.

Awesome Ausable Chasm
Our last painting day was Saturday.  Laura and I had wanted to see Ausable Chasm (pronounced "Awww Sable") on the way to paint camp, but decided it was too much out of the way so we didn't go.  I had heard about Ausable Chasm from my friend, Mary Burkhardt, who told me that school kids have field trips to see it and hike around it.  As it turned out, Eric had planned for us to paint there so we didn't have to miss it.  Laura and I decided to paint there until mid-afternoon and then head back to Paul Smiths' College so we could clean up before the party.  The weather was perfect!  It was sunshiny and warm -- a good thing because the wind developed by the falls was strong and rather cool.   The painters lined up across the bridge and painted our hearts out.  In the afternoon some hiked down and painted from the bottom of the chasm and others went to paint elsewhere.

Looking straight down into the chasm from the bridge.

This was my painting done from the bridge:

The Falls At Ausable Chasm

Party timeEric and Laurie Rhoads (and the triplets) graciously invited all of us to their family camp for a final goodbye party.  The camp's name is Camp Limberlost and like so many of the "camps" along the lakes in the area, it's quite awesome.  Last year we were hosted above the boat house, but the boat house was undergoing repairs due to damages caused by a roof leak during the winter season.  This year we spent time mostly outdoors but also in the main rooms of the main house.  Much of the camp is sheathed in beautiful birch bark and inside there are many unique birch touches which add to the charm of the camp. 

The weather was perfect and the ambiance couldn't have been better.  The Rhoads' were perfect hosts -- everyone felt welcome and I believe we all had a great time.  We chatted, ate, drank and made delicious s'mores on the outdoor campfire. 

A "River Rat" reunion
(We all went through the Grand Canyon
along the Colorado River together)



  -- Many thanks to the Rhoads family for a perfect end to a wonderful week!

Laura and I left after all of the goodbyes and announcements the next morning.  We drove to a different ferry and crossed in to Vermont.  Our plane was delayed and we almost missed our connecting flight from NYC to LAX.  We thought we were "home free" until we landed in Los Angeles and discovered that our luggage hadn't made it home with us.  Thank goodness that happened on the way home and not on the way TO Paintcamp!!

It was a great trip.  I enjoyed the friendly people, the scenery and the painting time.  I would love to hear from you -- please feel free to comment.

ALSO....   I send out an almost monthly newsletter... It has paintings, rambling thoughts, the latest adventures and my bookshelf list.  If you are interested in receiving it in your mailbox, please sign up by clicking the link below:


Marian Fortunati Fine Art Email Newsletter

Monday, July 6, 2015

Scooting About To Find The "Right" Spot #paintcamp

High On A Rock - The Flume 10" x 10" O/L

Our days at Paint Camp began to fall into a rhythm.  Rise early enough to walk down to the cafeteria for breakfast, chatting with friends, to fix our sack lunch and to hear Eric Rhoads greet us and make announcements about the day's activities.
Of course we could go anywhere we wished to paint, but if we wanted to paint with the group, we chose either group A's destination or group B's.  Most of us followed the caravan to one of the day's chosen spots. 

The F
On Wednesday Laura and I decided to stay with the group that painted at the Flume.  The previous year, I had painted at the Flume, I painted above the falls because I wanted to stay with my friend, Mary.  This year I wanted to see the Flume from below, so we hiked down the cliff to the narrow band of shore which had a good view of the falls.  Since the water was really high this year, painters lined up along the shore and I didn't like the view I had.  It was fun watching some of my friends paint -- Nedra Smith and I had painted together on our rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.  After a while I decided to cross the bridge and see what I could see from the other side of the shore.  It was a bit difficult to get to a spot where I could see the falls, but at least I wasn't competing with umbrellas and worried about blocking other people's views.   I managed to hike and scoot and crawl out on a rocky cliff overlooking the river and looking back at the Flume.

Since I was on the shady side of the river AND sitting on a rather damp, cool rock, - even wearing my warmest clothes - by the time I was "finished" with my study, I was ready for some warm sun!

Here is my first Flume block-in and study:
High On A Rock -The Flume  10" x 10" O/L

I was fairly pleased with it... 

After I hiked back up the cliff and over the bridge I went to a spot on the other side of the flume somewhere near where I had painted the year before and painted this one.  I had to finish it later at home, though.
Above The Flume  8"x 10" O/L

In The Evening
Evenings were spent socializing, sharing stories and looking at the paintings amassed in a large room.  Sometimes campers got caught in downpours, but most of the time we got our exercise hiking from the dorms to the cafeteria and back.


The next day almost all of us went to Heaven Hill Farm which is a lovely historical building used as a conference center surrounded by green fields, trees and distant hills. 

Some painted by the house but many of us simply pulled up on the side of the road and painted by our cars.  It was a warm, sunny day.  

Later that day we drove to St. Regis Falls to paint.  On the way we experienced the sirens again this time with pick up trucks passing by at high speeds with flashing lights.  Upon investigation we found that there had been a child who claimed to have seen one of the escaped prisoners so they were on alert and searching the area.   

These are the two studies I did on Thursday:
    Another fun day at Paint Camp in the Adirondacks!

If you get the opportunity to go to Paint Camp with Eric and friends, you should do it!

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Above The Flume

High On A Rock -The Flume

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