Plein air at Tower Grove Park- Wait, my subjects left!?!

April 7, 2016

What do you do when your subject leaves before you’re finished painting????

I recently took a workshop with Dave and M. Shawn Cornell and the focus was on studying your subjects in sketch, paint, and just with your eyes and mind–committing as much as you could to memory. The logic behind this is so you can “paint what you know”. To drive the concept home, we did several Notan (small drawings used to establish balance in a painting’s composition) sketches of landscapes and views, totally from our mind. After doing several of these, we then chose one that seemed to be the strongest idea and worked on developing the concept. We did more detailed Notans if the scene, detailed Notans of the details of the scene, and then small color studies of the scene. Finally, we did a larger painting using only the reference materials and studies we’d made. Normally what we found, is that the scenes were places we recognized, saw on a daily basis, or favorite places that have been committed to memory because of our fondness for the location.

This was a tough exercise for a lot of us (including myself), but it would turn out to be a great exercise that I would put to use, sooner than later.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I had been doing the “painting a day challenge for the month of March”. I’ve been trying to limit my time on these little studies each day, to one hour….or at the most an hour and a half. Each week, I sort’ve changed subjects or themes. One of the last weeks, I was painting horses. I’ve been drawing and painting horses since I can remember but, I still needed practice in getting them down quickly and correct so, these studies were proving to be great exercises for me.

Last Sunday, I went to Tower Grove Park to paint with members of the MOPAPA group. I painted a flowering tree first thing, then I migrated to a pavilion to eat lunch with a few of the members. As I was walking up there, I saw a Clydesdale hitched to a carriage and the gentlemen driving him was there to give carriage rides to the park visitors. I took a few pictures, chatted with the driver a bit and went on for lunch. After lunch, we decided to set up and paint one more painting before calling it a day. I walked around and looked at the flowers and the ponds and kept coming back to the Clyde and carriage. Could I pull it off? Could I paint quick enough to get a gesture and idea of the scene before he went around for another ride? I decided to take on the challenge and setup my easel from across the pond from the carriage, where there were tulips in front of the horse. I started covering my canvas with a wash and started drawing feverishly, and there went my subject. He was only there for a few minutes before he started giving a tour around the gardens. Eventually he came back and I started painting like a mad woman again….he left about 5 minutes later. So, my quick draw studies and my exercises at the Cornell workshop started paying off. I started filling in what I remembered from studying the horse and carriage earlier while chatting with the driver. I also adlibbed a bit based on what I knew about horses and harness in general. I reached a point that I really needed to see the carriage again….so, I worked on the background, waiting for my subjects to return….except they never did. They were done for the day.

So, what do you do when your subject leaves? Well, if you haven’t done any homework or studied your subject much, it’s going to be really hard to paint what you don’t know. So, you either have to surrender or hope to come back another day and hope for the same lighting and subjects. I had accepted the challenge and feel like I pretty much walked away winning. I’ll let you decide.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/untitled/470223

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/untitled/470222

Painting a day 2016-Day 23-Blinded eye-draft horse study

April 2, 2016
Blinded eye-draft horse study 5"x7" oil on canvas panel

Blinded eye-draft horse study
                  5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

“To be an artist is to believe in life”
-Henry Moore

I have found, while plein air painting, that one of the biggest challenges is to focus on your subject and try to only include it and supporting detail.  As a beginner, you see it all so you want to put it all in your painting.  Squint your eyes…that is what most instructors will remind you.  That does help….if I remember to do it.  Maybe I need to remind myself to look at the subject with “blinders”.  Blinders are meant to keep a horse focused on the road ahead and looking forward….kinda like plein air painting before the light changes.

Here’s another in my series of draft horses.  This guy had one blue eye and one brown eye….those blue eyes in horses are eerily beautiful.  This painting is based on some photo reference I took at my uncle’s farm while he and my cousin were tetting (fluffing) hay so that it dries quicker, with a team of horses.  I believe this big guy’s name was “Bud” and he was part Clydesdale–beautiful horse.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/blinded-eye-draft-horse-study/470008

Painting a day 2016-Day 29-Spring at Shaw Study #1

April 1, 2016

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

In honor of April Fool’s Day, I’m going to post out of order…..that, and I had the “day 29” post all ready before I had day 23…..so, there’s that….

Spring has sprung and I have a renewed need to get outdoors and paint!

Now, I won’t lie, I had the need to get outdoors to paint, even during winter–I love snow!  However, something about the trees budding, flowers blooming, grass turning green, birds singing, peep frogs chirping, and warmer temps (I could go on and on….this is one of my favorite times of the year!)….I just want to be outdoors painting.

After the time change, so that it stays light a bit longer….I try to get together once a week at one of our state or county parks with a group of painters and paint after my “day job”.  It’s a great way to schedule a time to paint–if it’s on the schedule then it becomes a priority instead of “I’ll paint after I get everything else done.”  This is also a great way to share a common interest among friends (to also meet new friends), offer encouragement, light critiques, and share tips and tricks.

One of the locations we like to frequent is Shaw Nature Reserve.  I am constantly in awe with each visit because it seems like there is always something new blooming.  Right now, the daffodils are in full bloom.  When I say daffodils–they have them!  There are literally thousands of them blooming throughout the park.  It is amazing and overwhelming at the same time.  How do you capture that in a painting?  Ho do you portray the volumes of flowers and still show the viewer that they are daffodils vs. some other yellow (and white) flower?  Of course, not only did I have that dilemma but I was also drawn to the blooming trees that seem to be in their prime, flowering glory as well.  I had sensory overload….and as my usual self, I attempted to put it ALL in right from the start.  I should know better than that by now but, hey, it was all so beautiful.  I will admit, I wiped off part of the painting not once, but twice.  While the final result wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, I’m still happy with the study results and think I have enough there that it might be fun to paint it again…strictly from the study.

A few hours of painting with friends, outdoors, on a crisp, spring day–perfection.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/spring-at-shaw-study1/469207

Painting a day 2016-Day22-Plow horse

March 30, 2016
Plow horse-study 7"x5"

             Plow horse-study
                         7″x5″

This guy is one half of a big, Belgian team of horses that  I “met” at a historic horse, mule, and oxen farming days.  Such big, beautiful animals that seem to look graceful even when pulling a plow.

Every time I see a team of Belgians, I think of my grandpa “ship” and the summers he kept a team and let me “help” with a few of the chores involving the horses.  I was fascinated by those big, beautiful, blonde horses with the huge hooves.  I remember watching him harness, hitch, and drive them as if he’d been doing it all his life…..oh wait, …..he had.  What I wouldn’t give to have had a few more years with him to learn to drive a team like he did.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/plow-horse-study/469081

Painting a day 2016-Day 21-Austin Study 3

March 28, 2016
Austin+Study+3

Austin Study #3 7″x5″

I got into photography as a result of my painting.  I knew I needed to gather my own reference material and photography was another creative outlet….except with the occasional, quicker result.  The more I got into photography, the more I loved the challenge of getting a new composition or viewpoint and coming up with a fresh, point of view.  I combined that with my love of being outdoors and playing with my horses and wildlife.  I even found myself lying on the ground while the horses grazed…..I’m sure the neighbors thought I was out of my mind….

This little painting is based on one of those days….lying on the ground, listening to soft crunching noise my horse ate grass around me.  Occasionally he’d come over and sniff my hair, tickle me with his nose and then move on around me—almost as if he’s just checking to see why I’m laying there and if I’m OK.  I miss that big furball with the gentle, kind soul.

“Life is too short, ride your best horse first.” ~unknown

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/austin-study-3/468610

 

Painting a day 2016-Day 20-Dixie Study

March 27, 2016
Dixie+Study

Dixie Study -7″x5″

This is Dixie.  Another in my dramatic light and vivid color mini series.  Black horses really do have a lot of color when they have great lighting and you look for it.  The photo reference for this was beautiful and worked well as a photo except it was too underexposed and I lost all of the detail in the shadow on the left side.  I tried to improvise and fill in some of the detail–I think I somewhat succeeded but the painting just didn’t meet up to my vision.  Although, sometimes it is tough to capture that vision in just an hour ala prima (all at once, wet on wet) session.  I think I’ll try this subject again….another day.  Until then, HAPPY EASTER all!

Painting a day 2016-Day 19-Austin Study #2

March 25, 2016
Austin Study #2

Austin Study #2 7″x5″ oil on canvas panel

“No Heaven can be, if my horse is not there to welcome me.” ~Anonymous

The second in my study of morning light and high contrast on my horses.  I have loved this reference material ever since I saw it on the digital display on my camera.  The photo itself was focused on his withers so, his face was soft and out of focus but I knew that some day it could make a cool painting.  Here is a “trial run” to see if I was right…..  Someday, I will definitely paint this one a bit bigger.  This is Austin-he was a big, lovable, furball who sometimes acted more like a dog than a horse.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/austin-study-2/468251

 

 

Painting a day 2016-Day 18-Pasture Buddies

March 24, 2016
Pasture Buddies- 5"x7" study

Pasture Buddies- 5″x7″ study

A fun little study based on some reference material from a fall, farm event.  These two little guys were in the petting zoo and were sharing some hay.  Scenes like this remind me of the “Android” commercial–if you haven’t seen it, you should:  https://youtu.be/xqfqb8Ifx9k  –one of my favorites!

Robin Hood and Little John
Walkin’ through the forest
Laughin’ back and forth
At what the other’n has to say
Reminiscin’ this ‘n’ that
And havin’ such a good time
Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day

I decided to experiment with the background a bit and present it in pastels….for a morning painting.  I usually try to limit myself to an hour for these little studies and give myself permission to loosen up and experiment a bit with color, composition, subjects…..sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  I at least know whether I want to explore the subject further or move on for a bit after these little studies.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/pasture-buddies/468031

Painting a day 2016-Day 17-Murdoc #2

March 24, 2016
Murdoc 2- 5"x7" study

Murdoc 2- 5″x7″ study

“The horse knows.  He knows if you know.  He also knows if you don’t know.”  ~Ray Hunt

This is Murdoc,…aka Doc.  He is a very intelligent yet frustrating equine, -depending on who you talk to.  I am usually amused by his antics, my dad and my husband….not so much….

 

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/murdoc2-study/468030

Painting a day 2016-Day 16-Cold Breakfast

March 20, 2016
ColdBreakfast

Cold Breakfast – 5″x7″ oil on panel

 

Cold breakfast.  We were driving to the trailhead we’d planned to start our morning hike from in search of wildlife, and as we drove past the aptly named, Deer Mountain, we saw this guy and a few of his bachelor friends.  The early morning saw some very wet snow fall that clung to all of the sage and scrub brush.  This guy and his friends were picking through and eating some of the scrub.  It was a beautiful, back lit, happenstance photo op-I love it when a things just fall into place.  They didn’t seem to mind us watching and snapping pics.  Once again, it proved to be a great morning to be outdoors!

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/cold-breakfast-study/466832


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 672 other followers