Posts Tagged ‘painting’

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 29-Spring at Shaw Study #1

April 1, 2016

 

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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 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 13 Mulie Study #2

March 19, 2016
Mulie+Study+2

5″x7″ oil on canvas

 

 

“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path and I will leave a trail.”Muriel Strode

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/mulie-study-2/466676

Painting a day 2016-Day 12-Sunlight and Sage-study

March 15, 2016
Day 12 painting a day

Sunlight and Sage study 7″x5″

I decided to continue working with the mule deer reference photos because; a.)I have so much of it and haven’t really painted much from it yet, and b.)the doe paintings seem to be really flowing.  It is good to be challenged but it is also good to have a balance between the process and progress and feel like you come out on top once in awhile.

While camping, we usually leave camp before daylight so that we can be out and about right at daybreak.  There are two huge reasons for that, the light is great at that time and that’s when the wildlife really get to moving.  Plus, the crowds and traffic are low at that time–so, there you go, there are three reasons!  That saying, “the early bird gets the worm”….very true.  When camping and hiking at a well visited park like Rocky, the best shots are those that take you away from the crowds.  Those that take you off of the beaten path and out of the tent and on the trail bright and early.  Sometimes it is those unexpected shots that you’re just blessed with being at the right place at the right time.  Sometimes it’s when weather is moving in and everyone else gets out of the rain, mist, wind or snow but you stick it out just a little bit longer.  And then sometimes it happens when you just set up in the woods, sit quietly, wait and watch.

This little painting was based on some reference material gathered in a big stand of pine that was beautifully lit by warm, filtered light.  We weren’t sure where we were headed that morning and just decided to head towards the Bear Lake area and stop when we’d decided the light was right and where wildlife movement seemed promising.  As we were headed down the road, I spotted a couple of does and several little ones moving through the forest, just off the road.  We pulled up to the next vehicle pull off and parked.  We decided to hike back down the mountain a bit, down into the pines on the opposite side of the road, find a quiet, spot on some boulders with tree trunks somewhat breaking up our silhouettes and just wait.  We figured if we just waited patiently–we might get some good shots once they crossed the road and moved into the sunlit gaps within the forest–and if not, hey, it was a beautiful morning, the air was just warming up, and the smell of pine and fresh air was strong–it just didn’t get any better than this.

Well, that’s what we thought….  Except that the icing on the cake was that our gamble paid off and I snapped several beautifully lit shots of the does and little ones as they browsed on the grasses and shrubs growing in the openings.  We sat there and just watched them wander about, until they finally moved on through the valley.  We got up and quietly walked back to the road, moving on, in search of our next peaceful moment.

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/veronica-brown/untitled/465330

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!

Lose yourself

June 1, 2015
Shaw Pond

Shaw Pond

Pinetum Lake

Pinetum Lake

“Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso

Amen, Pablo—no truer words can be said.

For the artist, the creation of art can be therapeutic, a chance to shake off the day to day grind, the baggage of a fast-paced world with information overload.  The creation of art can give the artist a chance to breathe, a chance to get out and rehabilitate our senses.  I can feel so exhausted after a day of painting and completely refreshed all at the same time.

For the artist and art appreciator alike, art can stir emotion.  Art can take us to another place, time, or memory.  It can make us feel the soft summer breezes, the warmth of the sun, the cold of a snowflake, the chill of a fresh rain, smell the aroma of newly blooming wildflowers, or remember a place or person special to us.  Art can make us lose ourselves, even if just for a moment.

Take some time to lose yourself in some art—trust me!  You don’t have to go to a museum or “artsy fartsy” (as my fam describes it) gallery to lose yourself.  This is THE season for plein air in this area, get out there and watch art as a spectator sport.  Watch as an artist creates their own spin on a scene right before you.  If you can’t attend and watch, go to the show afterwards and see the finished pieces and meet the artist who created it.  Hear some of the stories of the process.  See if you can spot those paintings created during the prime mosquito and gnat hours or those that may have had a mishap and kissed the ground a time or two during creation.  Attend a local fine art/craft demo at some of the historical re-enactment events or grab some great food to munch on while browsing an outdoor art fair.

If public gatherings are not your “thing”—there are great online sites that post all levels of artwork on a daily basis.  Check out www.dailypaintworks.com  –while you’re there….look me up!

Now, get out there and lose yourself—either as an artist or appreciator!