Archive for the ‘En Plein Air’ Category

Mastodon State Historic Site – park 4

November 23, 2016

20161029_190519-1

Mastodon State Historic Site – park 4

Mastodon State Historic Site–hmmm, what to paint here? Well, the most recognizable icon for the park would’ve been the mastodon skeleton in the museum but…. I wanted to paint “en plein air” and felt since I didn’t have prior permission, it might be a hassle to set up and paint inside the museum–if it would even be allowed. Maybe one of these days I’ll call ahead and see if painting inside would be allowed…if not, I may try to paint from some photos I snapped. It seems like a fun challenge.

So, the next best thing, I thought, would be the bone beds, the site of the archeological digs where the mastodon bones were found. After finding out that you can’t really “see” the bone beds or at least they’re not really marked to protect future finds, I chose to set up along the trail, in a spot where the light really struck me and where you could see some of the ancient rock of the site.

I set up, determined to try and capture what “wowed” me about the view while my mom and aunt went on a hike. As I was painting, I heard what sounded like a bald eagle call. I dismissed it and went about my painting. Wait, I hear it again and more frequently. Finally, I look up to see a pair of bald eagles circling above for a bit before moving on, one following the other. …..and I thought I was “wowed” by the light……

 

To find out more about the historic site, visit their website at:

https://mostateparks.com/park/mastodon-state-historic-site

 

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge – park 3

November 3, 2016

20161029_185800-1Sandy Creek Covered Bridge – park 3

For our second park adventure weekend, mom and I chose to head southeast, talking my mom’s sister into tagging along with us. Our first stop took us to Sandy Creek Covered Bridge. A perfect morning for a stop at this historic, red historic covered bridge. One of only four remaining in the state and our second covered bridge site.

We had a perfect, idyllic fall morning to be there. We arrived with only one other car in the lot, who left shortly after. We walked the grounds a bit as I honed in on the view I wanted to paint. I settled on the view with the white fencing leading into the entrance, set up, and quickly went to work while my mom and aunt walked around and explored the grounds.

It seems that Sandy Creek Covered Bridge is not only eye candy for a painter but it is a sought after location for photogs taking family pictures. As I was finishing my painting, photog after photog showed up along with their families, causing some to wait in line for their turn to set up and take their pictures…..the park was getting busy, the peaceful fall morning was gone, time for us to move on to our next location.   Next up, Mastodon State Historic Site.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/sandy-creek-covered-bridge-en-plein-air/521361

 

https://mostateparks.com/park/sandy-creek-covered-bridge-state-historic-site

Trail of Tears State Park – Park 2

November 2, 2016

trailoftearsoverlook-enpleinair

Trail of Tears State Park

We ended our first park adventure, with a stop at the Trail of Tears State Park. A bittersweet place. The views from the overlooks were beautiful while the historic displays and accounts of hardship and death along the forced relocation march-particularly, the delayed crossing of the Mississippi River during winter, was a tragic reminder of one of the saddest times in American history.

While wanting to depict something specific to the park and what had happened in this area in 1838 and 1839, I settled on the view from the overlook. It was peaceful. The view was a perfect place for reflection while I painted.

To learn more about the park:

https://mostateparks.com/park/trail-tears-state-park

To see my “paint the parks” progress:

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/trail-of-tears-overlook-en-plein-air/519833

 

Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge – Park 1

October 31, 2016

Park Number 1-Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge

So, back to mom and I’s challenge, we officially started our adventure by heading down to Burfordville and Jackson Missouri to visit Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge and The Trail of Tears State Parks. We couldn’t have picked a better day for it. The colors are starting to show as fall slowly comes to southern Missouri and the temperatures were in the mid 70’s—my idea of perfect! We bollingermill-enpleinairstarted out with a tour of the mill and bridge, while I absorbed my surroundings and tried to decide what I wanted to depict. I finally decided I was going to paint from inside the covered bridge, looking outward, but, it appears there were several photogs taking advantage of the beautiful day and with similar ideas. So, not wanting to be in the way and to make sure I shared the park, I chose to paint the little falls by the mill with the mill and covered bridge in the painting as well—all of the elements that Bollinger Mill is known for. I set up my easel and went to work—on a time clock of sorts, as there were chairs, an arbor, and aisle set up for a wedding to happen that day. I wanted to be finished before they party arrived so I wasn’t in the way or caught in some photographs. All the while I painted, for some reason, I had Billy Idol’s song, “White Wedding” in my head. Funny how songs just pop into your head while you’re painting. I don’t think I sang any of the lyrics out loud but, can’t promise that I didn’t hum part of it while I was “in the zone”.

To find out more about Bollinger Mill:  https://mostateparks.com/park/bollinger-mill-state-historic-site

To view the full gallery of the state park paintings:  http://www.dailypaintworks.com/artists/veronica-brown-5531/artwork?category=State+Parks+Project#/category=State+Parks+Project&mode=search

A new challenge……painting the Missouri State Parks

October 27, 2016

passport-bookI’ve begun a new personal challenge……and I’m taking my mom along with me!

In light of 2016 being the centennial of the Missouri state parks, I’ve decided to try and visit as well as paint en plein air at each park. I hope to finish this challenge in 2 years, but we’ll see. It may take longer (there are 88 places to visit!), but in the end, the real goal is to learn more about the history of our great state and to see some beautiful country along the way. The other driving force behind this goal; my mom confessed to not really visiting many of the parks or really traveling Missouri much—OK, we need to change this! Challenge accepted!

I, myself have visited a lot of the state parks through the years and even painted at a few of them the past couple of years, as I’ve become more involved in painting en plein air. I only became aware of the “passport” book this past summer, after a friend was telling me about these little books that listed all 88 state parks and historic sites in Missouri and encouraged people to get their “passport” stamped at each park they visited. This got me thinking, how fun would it be to paint at each park while mom and I were earning our stamps! How cool would it be to finish the passport with 88 little paintings reminding us of our travels and adventures?!  Again, challenge accepted!

This isn’t a new concept but it is new to me—painting a large series and spreading it out over a year or two. I do not normally have the patience to do more than my annual painting a day for a month challenge. I admire people like artist Billyo O’Donnell, who set a personal challenge of this size and knock it out of the park. He visited and painted each county in Missouri a few years back. He did this over a span of years and the resulting work was amazing!  I really enjoyed reading his book, hearing the stories behind the locations, and seeing the subsequent paintings from his adventure! There is some beautiful and diverse country in Missouri and each place has something that makes it unique! You can check his adventure and more about the book here: http://www.paintingmissouri.com/book/

Now, I’m not claiming to be anywhere near Billyo’s artistic level, nor will the resulting travels end in a book or gallery tour, but, I think the result will be interesting in it’s own right and will carry with it a great sense of achievement and hopefully result in some wonderful memories!  I think it will be fun to see the personal growth through the paintings after they’re all lined up at the end of the adventure–hopefully my skills will be noticeably better!  I think it will also be fun to see what caught my eye on each particular day and what I chose to depict for that park visit.

To follow along on mom and I’s adventures…..stay tuned and I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I’m sure we will!

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 6-Cliff Cave Park

March 8, 2016

Day 6, I took it outdoors.  I met up with a couple of friends who are members of Missouri Plein Air Painters Association or MOPAPA.  They meet every Sunday at different locations and paint en plein air, have lunch, visit, and give each other pointers.  It was a beautiful, spring-like day.  It was a warm but windy day along the Mississippi.  We met up at Cliff Cave Park, a park that I’d never been to but was interested in exploring.  As I was driving down the road to the main pavilion, the first thing that caught my eye was the large cliffs that the railroad tracks ran along side and trees and brush separating the tracks from the river on the opposite side.  The tracks led right to the arched bridge that crossed the river.  I’ve learned that if something catches my eye that much, that’s what I need to paint.  If I have no feeling towards something, the process can become a struggle.

I did walk around and tour the park a bit, just to see what was there and see if something drew me in more than those bluffs.  I was also intrigued by the barges on the river but they were back-lit and I knew it’d be a tough paint with the sun in my eyes….maybe next time.

I set up my easel, pulled out my sketch book and went to work with a couple of thumbnail sketches.  I knew the bluffs would be a tough subject so, I did some prep work.  After doing the thumbnails and deciding on a square canvas panel, I went to work making a monochrome sketch on my panel.  After getting the bulk of the scene down, I asked a good friend and fellow artist, Judy to take a look and give me pointers on the composition before getting too far into the painting process.  That right there is one of the best things about painting with friends–the second opinions and fresh eyes!

I’m not going to kid, even with the prep work, the subject was challenging and made me second guess my choice more than once but, that’s when you learn the most, right?  I continued to work through the ugly duckling stage and with pointers from other artists that walked by, I think the painting came out all right.  I struggle with painting rocks sometimes and this bluff was no different so, that was one of the main reasons I knew I needed to paint it.  I left feeling tired, a bit accomplished, and with the umph to try and tackle that subject again sometime.  I would say that’s winning!

 

2015-A year in review

January 3, 2016
Plein air on Eagle Cliff Mountain

Painting on Eagle Cliff Mountain

 

 

Looking back on 2015, I have to say I was very blessed.  I took a few risks, was pleasantly surprised, and grew artistically in the process.

I participated in my first (and second) plein air events.  Both events were at the same location, Steelville MO.  I decided to ignore my fears, schedule some time away from my job and go for it.  It was a labor of love.  I was thoroughly exhausted and creatively spent at the end of the day.  These events are not easy despite how some artists make it look!  The first day I was so exhausted and frustrated with my performance that I was second guessing my decision. I told myself going in, I want to produce a painting to turn in each day/event and I want it to be something that I’m not totally disappointed in.  I wanted it to be something that I felt was a true representation of my work.  The first day, I struggled with finding a composition and drawing, getting true color down, and dodging rain showers.  In the last hour before time to check in, I painting a quick little painting.  It wasn’t my best work but I did feel it restored a bit of faith in myself.  I did go on to complete the event.  I turned in a painting a day, each day for 5 days plus a sunset paint and a nocturne.  I ended up painting over 15 paintings to display and sell at the final sale and gallery display!  I could see a change in my work each day and by the end of the event felt really good about my progress and accomplishment.  I sold several paintings and even won an honorable mention!  As a result of this event, I also met some amazing new artist friends; one of whom wrote an article that was published on the Plein Air Magazine’s online magazine where they used some of my location photos along with a photo of my painting in progress.  That was quite a feather in my cap!  Thank you again Marcia!

I went back to Steelville in the fall and participated in their fall paint out.  Again, I told myself I will paint in each event and turn something in for each one; the themes were earth, air, water, and fire.  Again, I painted multiple paintings each day….and when the event was over, I was ecstatic to have made a few sales and lo and behold, walk away with one of the days’ purchase awards!  You could’ve knocked me over with a feather!

Early on in the year, I signed up for an account on a daily painting site (although, I still do not paint daily, I am painting A LOT more).  It is safe to say that I’ve produced more paintings this year than several years combined in the past.  I signed up for this site as a place to display my “painting a day for a month” paintings.  Each February for the past few years, I do a “painting a day for a month” challenge to myself.  This year, I painted small, 5×7 inch value studies.  These were a way for me to focus on drawing and values.  This is a wonderful and very beneficial exercise for me.  Again, I saw a real improvement in my work and as an added bonus, I’ve made many sales and met new, wonderful, collectors/friends through these sales.  I’ve shipped art to several new states that I hadn’t sold in before and am up to 18 states on my “sellers list”!  Woo Hoo–I’m going for all 50….it’s on my bucket list! LOL

I participated in a few juried shows with our local art club, one being the annual landscape show.  I am honored to have taken second place in this show.  Quite an accomplishment after seeing the caliber of work in the show and knowing the artist who received first–I have long admired his work and really look up to him and value his critiques and advice.

I started painting en plein air (or on location) at least once per week unless I was away from home or until daylight savings time ended and I was getting off of work at my “day job” in the dark.  I’ve sold many of these paintings via the Daily Paintworks site, so, not only is it great practice but I’ve been able to continue paying for my supplies and gas to locations.  Yay, win/win!  Plein air painting has taken me to some amazing painting locations this year.  I’ve painted inside a cave, in the flint hills of Kansas, standing in a river, and even painted on the side of a mountain!  Not sure how I will top those in 2016!

I took a leap and applied to my first artist-in-residence program.  The jury is still out on whether I made the cut or not…..hopefully I will have great news to report in April of 2016!

I also put myself out there and applied to a couple of national shows/events.  I was not accepted but, it is still an accomplishment to go through the application process and put my work out there with the “big dogs” and be judged alongside them.  Who knows, with continued growth and persistence, maybe one day it will pay off.

There you have it, some of my artistic highlights for 2015….here’s to seeing what 2016 holds.  Stay tuned……

Painting in a cave

June 24, 2015

Painting in a cave!!??!!

You just never know where a plein air painter may turn up; one of the local parks, a sidewalk on Main Street, parked along a back road, or even In a cow pasture …….but in a cave???  Yep, they’ve even been known to turn up in a cave too!

I, along with some of my fellow plein air painters, recently had an awesome opportunity to set up and paint in a cave, Onondaga Cave to be exact.  This location was listed on our schedule to paint during the recent Steelville Plein Air Event.  When I noticed the location on the list, I just assumed it meant that we would be painting around the Onondaga Cave State Park grounds.  That was, until I received an email from the event organizers asking for confirmation of how many painters wanted to paint inside the cave.  “Wait, what??  We’re going to be allowed to paint inside the cave???  Count me in!  How many times will you be allowed to paint in a cave??!!? “   I like to think of myself as more of an adventurous plein air painter.  I like to get off the beaten path, so, this was definitely a must!

There was a brief list of rules, one of the most important being necessary steps to protect the cave by not touching any of the formations, putting a drop cloth under our equipment and not spilling any fluids or paint while in there.  Pack out everything you packed in (standard trail ethics).  Dress in layers because the “cave weather” would be cold and damp.  Try to leave room or step out of the way when tours or other visitors came through.  And finally, make sure we were escorted in and accounted for throughout the day.

This cave is a state run/commercial cave so, there were certain amenities such as; stairs and walkways to set up on, limited lighting, and guides to help out if needed.  With that said, it was still a plein air adventure!  The limited lighting was primarily on some of the cave features themselves and along parts of the walkway so, it was up to the painters to figure out how to see their palette and surface well enough to actually paint something.  In some parts of the cave, painters were occasionally dripped on or even experienced “full-on” rain throughout the day as ground water seeped in.  Everything ended up with varying degrees of dampness and depending on your medium…..it potentially wreaked havoc on your finished painting.  There were also the temperatures to deal with.  Since I am a painter that prefers the cold temps over the heat any day, I thought the cave temperatures were fantastic painting temps., especially since it was very hot and humid above ground.  However, I will admit, towards the end of my last painting, I did notice that I could see my own breathe and it was only after I started the hike out of the cave that I realized my nose was rather cold.  Lastly, the backpacking…..everything had to be packed in and depending on the location you chose, it was an uphill hike.

No worries, by the time I reached the spot in the cave that “spoke” to me, I paused and caught my breath, unpacked and set up…..I thought to myself again, “How lucky I am to get this opportunity.  The time, out-of breath, the dampness, it is all worth it!”  I immediately got to work and painted all day, only stopping once for a quick break.  I painted three paintings; one 11”x14”, one 8”x10”, and one 6”x8” because I had decided I was going to make the most of this opportunity and paint as long as they allowed us to be there.

My paintings aren’t necessarily masterpieces but, how often do you get a painting that was painted entirely on location, underground, in a cave?!?  It was such a peaceful experience, almost meditative that each time I look at one of my paintings; I’m taken back to that peace.  Just the soft light of the cave’s  limited cave lighting, my book lights illuminating my easel, the focus of applying paint onto canvas, and the soft drips of new cave formations in the making….just enough to break the silence……total painting zen.

Another fellow painter/friend wrote a fantastic article; “Plein Air Goes Underground”, on the experience of painting in the cave and interviewed several of the other artists.  I suggest you give it a read…..she is a bit of a better writer than yours truly…..you’ll be glad you checked it out!  Here’s the link:  http://www.marciawillman.com/

For the love of the “fight”

June 4, 2015

“Rain, falling snow, wind…all of these things to contend with only make the open air painter love the fight”  ~Walter Elmer Schofield

 

 

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We are in, what I would consider some of the most prime plein air weather here.  Temperatures have been mild and absolutely beautiful.  We have some beautiful color created by flowers and trees blooming and then the grass and leaves have gone from drab to green almost overnight.  Birds and peep frogs serenade you as you paint and the wildlife can sometimes appear out of nowhere to keep you company.  Yes, you can paint outside any time of the year or day—just that you quickly learn there are certain times of the season and even certain times of the day that are more pleasant and appealing.

I’ve read blog posts and articles about several of the die-hard plein air painters and the more adventuresome painters.  There are those painters that have trekked up mountains and roughed it, just to catch a backcountry scene in the morning light.  Those painters that have toughed it out in extreme temperatures on both ends of the thermometer, braved the snow, sleet, rain, and wind, not only for the painting being produced but for the thrill and adventure of it.  I love reading these stories—some of these artists are not only talented painters but entertaining writers as well.  If you’d like to read some of these posts and see the art created from these adventures, I suggest you check out the work of Josh Been http://www.joshuabeen.com/ , R. Gregory Summers http://rgregorysummers.com/ , or Shawn Cornell http://mshawncornellstudio.com/  and hey, for kicks and grins, check out my adventure page…it’s not all about painting but my wanderings too https://veronicabrownart.wordpress.com/category/adventures/

As I read about some of these artist adventures, I wondered what would drive someone to paint in the less than ideal conditions.  Painting en plein air can be challenging enough.  I’m somewhat of an adventuresome type but wasn’t sure if I loved the “fight” as Mr. Schofield mentioned, enough to actually try to paint during the wind, snow, rain, or sleet.  Then I tried it.  The first time, I painted in the wind and my clunky French easel blew over and cracked “…..awesome…..just awesome”, I thought.  That easel and I had a love/hate relationship.  It used to randomly collapse one or more of it’s legs on me while painting….but that’s a different “fight”.  I tell you this, I didn’t give up.  I started taking a few workshops in an attempt to improve my plein air skill.  These workshops are scheduled and they happen, rain or shine.  Well, at another workshop, I ended up painting in a rainy mist….ok, not so bad….it was light and I don’t melt.  My hair likes to curl and frizz, but hey, just avoid any mirrors or the public en mass and it’s all good.  Then I braved the winds of the Kansas Flint hills….again, not so bad because I weighted my easel down.  Oh, and did I mention, I finally saved up and sprung for an Easy L easel and tripod.  World of difference!!!  I could adjust the tripod legs to lower the center of gravity and then hang things from the middle of the tripod to weight it down.  OK, I conquered the wind.  Next, I set up and painted during one of our snows this past winter.  I wanted to study the color and values of snow.  I got snow alright.  Half way through my first painting, I started getting snowed on….”eh, no big deal, it was actually pretty and peaceful”.  Next up, it changed to sleet, “great….who ordered this???”  It ended in a very cold, wet, rain……..OK, I’m done with this painting….and packed it up.  I have painted in a mild weather rain as well and produced a couple of my favorite plein air paintings.  I’ve learned that the key is get paint on the canvas and learn to deal with slick, oily paint.  Next up…..hiking more than a couple of miles to paint…..  I hope to conquer that this fall!

OK, I get it, I see what some of the “fight” is all about.  It’s another challenge to add to the mix.  It separates some painters from others.  It is a learning and growing experience that can have the potential for rewards (and some fails), both in the finished painting and in the satisfaction of winning a “fight”.  I get it and I’m in!  Let’s do this!