Monday, June 27, 2011

Plein Air Painting: Potomac River Series


Time is flying by and I wanted to share with you the plein air studies completed last week. So far the comfort level of painting outside has been increasing and I am continuing to find ways to experiment and explore...

20110622 Potomac River Series 15
Potomac River Series XV
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm)) – oil on gessoed paper}

With this study my goal was to zero in on an area of the shoreline, working on defining the middle ground with the most information while minimizing the detail provided in the forground and background, creating a sense of distance using value and detail.

20110624 Potomac River Series 16
Potomac River Series XVI
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

It got a bit enamored with the two trees in the foreground, spending time on depicting the various vines and leaves that were growing on them.

20110625 Potomac River Series 17
Potomac River Series XVII
{approx. 8" x 12" (20.3 x 30.4 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

This study is double the area of all the previous studies, I was curious to work on this new size.

The sky was particularly beautiful when we got to the river's edge.

20110625 Potomac River Series 18
Potomac River Series XVIII
{approx. 8" x 12" (20.3 x 30.4 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Later in the morning the dazzling cloud formations and roses had left the sky, however this provided an opportunity to work on painting tree shapes and the reflections in the water.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First Day of Summer

Summer is my favorite season.

echinacea and butterfly

I love all the flowers that are blooming right now, so much inspiration to capture some of the summer colors in paintings... maybe I can keep painting until the delivery! That is what I am hoping for :)

Have a wonderful evening, Liz

Monday, June 20, 2011

Plein Air Painting: Potomac River Series


Here are the paintings created during the third week of June.

20110614 Potomac River Series 09
Potomac River Series IX
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Even when being by the river different scenes will capture my attention, and the way the leaves glowed yellow in the morning sun was something I wanted to try to capture.

20110617 Potomac River Series 10
Potomac River Series X
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

We have had a lot of overcast and rainy days lately and a lot of my focus this week was on trying to capture the fleeting impressions of the sky. In Carlson's
book on landscape painting he encourages you to work from memory, and I think trying to paint the sky as the clouds are constantly changing is pretty close to painting from memory because you have to work from an impression that changes immediately, so if you want to keep the initial composition of how the clouds were, you are engaging your memory.

20110617 Potomca River Series 11
Potomac River Series XI
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Another sky study, with the clouds getting more threatening...

20110618 Potomac River Series 12
Potomac River Series XII
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

After the past few attempts of painting trees I decided to check out a few other landscape artists I admire and see how they block-in and paint trees, this study was incorporating a technique I read about in Kevin Macpherson's
book on page 58.

20110618 Potomac River Series 13
Potomac River Series XIII
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Another sky/cloud study.

20110618 Potomac River Series 14
Potomac River Series XIV
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Another sky/cloud study, sometimes I deliberately know what I am going after and try to achieve it, however with these two studies, I just wanted to experiment with shapes and edges.


I thought you may be interested in seeing my setup when working outside at the picnic tables that are in the park areas along the Potomac.

This is the simple setup where I head out only with my cigar box pochade and other equipment, like brushes, turp jar, and paper towels. The square piece of card board has been shellaced so it can handle multiple applications of tape that attaches the sheets of gessoed watercolor paper.

Setup with Cigar Box Pochade

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Working in Plein Air: Potomac River Series


Here are the plein air studies completed from last week. My goal is to get out and paint 3-4 times a week, last week I was able to go out three times, on Sunday I was out for an extended time so two studies were completed.

I also switched over to using gessoed watercolor paper as my painting surface, it is an easy surface to paint on because the cold pressed watercolor paper has a bit of a texture and the gesso provides a level of tooth for the paint to grab onto. Another benefit is that because I gessoed several sheets of paper, I feel free to explore and experiment with out concern about wasting a canvas panel or the need to wipe down the painting when it does not work out. With the gessoed paper I will have a timeline that records progress.

20110606 Potomac River Series 05
Potomac River Series V
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

With this study I was working on the gradation of the sky along with the atmospheric graying of the distant trees and shore.

20110608 Potomac River Series 06
Potomac River Series VI
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

When working in plein air I often block in my drawing using aliz. crimson, so sometimes the thinned red will peep through.

A few days before I headed out to paint the last two studies of the week I spent an afternoon reading through Marc Hanson's blog Painting My Way Through Life. Back in April 2009 Marc Hanson set a personal goal of completing four paintings a day en plein air for the entire month, that is for 30 straight days, he called it a "painting marathon".

I visited every blog post of that month and read about his experiences, it was so inspiring... I guess in a way I am trying to do something similar but a lot more open ended.

20110612 Potomac River Series 07
Potomac River Series VII
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Before beginning this study I had set a goal of trying to complete each within an hour, and I wanted to make sure my composition was more of a vignette, giving a specific impression of a scene that captured my attention.

I did not complete this in my time limit, however the play with fore, middle, and back ground was a good exercise.

20110612 Potomac River Series 08
Potomac River Series VII
{approx. 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) – oil on gessoed paper}

Learning to capture the big shapes and values is important to me, however I also need to spend time on developing the abilty to paint the smaller details like, rocks and such. So this study focused on the rocky edge of the Potomac.

I am was out painting this morning, the weather has returned to the normal temperatures DC is supposed to have during this time of year. It was a beautiful morning.

Thanks for stopping by, Liz

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 3: Miss Juliana Willoughby by George Romney

week 3: end of day status
{end of day status}

After last week's re-working of the head, face, and straw hat focus shifted down to the torso and dress.

The first thing focused on was working on the arm and hands, then the adjacent areas, this way total control of the edges was possible. So as I worked on an area if it was able to get to a certain level of refinement I would then shift to the neighboring area and work at integrating the two areas.

week 3: end of day status
{detail by the end of the day}

This painting has a lot of loose and expressive brushstrokes and my goal is to capture the spirit of them while not being a slave to each individual brush stroke, so with the skirt of the white dress I tried to keep things loose and flowing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Working in Plein Air: Potomac River Series


Now that I am in the home stretch of the pregnancy and my desire to keep painting until the very end has really kicked into over drive, I began a new project on the 1st of June. They say nesting starts to kick in around this time, however I have found that drive to paint is more predominant...

The project consists of simple plein air sketches along the Potomac river south of Old Town Alexandria. I live about a mile from the river's edge so for several mornings a week I have been heading out around sunrise to capture the moment. The goal is to get more comfortable with painting en plein air with a limited palette of aliz. crimson, cad. yellow pale, winsor green, ultramarine blue, and titanium white. Each painting is completed as quickly as possible {1/2 hr to 2 hrs} and most often has a specific paint handling/technique that I am trying to work through and get more adept at.

Here are the paintings from the first week of June:

20110601 Potomac River Series I
Potomac River I
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

On the first day I was so motivated that I was up and in the car before sunrise, so by the time I got to the river's edge the sun had just begun to climb into the sky...

20110601 Potomac River Series II
Potomac River II
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

With this painting the sun had already moved up pretty high into the sky and I wanted to focus on the gradiation of the sky and the soft edges of the trees on the other side of the river bank.

20110602 Potomac River Series III
Potomac River III
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

This composition is a continuation on exploring soft edges and atmospheric haze while beginning to incorporate some foreground features.

20110605 Potomac River Series IV
Potomac River IV
{6" x 8" (15.2 x 20.3 cm) – oil on canvas panel}

On this morning the sky was threatening to open up on me at any moment, a few times I had several drops of water fall down upon me and the painting. Being a hazy, humid morning grays and atmospheric perspective became the main focus of this study.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Week 2: Miss Juliana Willoughby by George Romney

week 2: end of day status
{end of day status}


Yesterday I was back in the gallery working on this copy, and I am happy to say that Thursdays are a great day to paint!

week 2: detail

For this painting session only the hat and face were focused on, I wanted to refine some of the edges and make smoother transitions between the different structural features. I was still trying to keep the shapes big and simple and not putting much effort into the details, however in some ways attention to the details began to creep in... So as a means of keeping me from diving into the details and somewhat limiting the abilty to zero in on the little bits only bristle brushes were used, forcing me to keep things simple.

I maintained the same limited palette as last week {Ivory Black, Burnt Umber, Cobalt Blue, Naples Yellow, Venetian Red, and Cremnitz White} while adding alizerin crimson in a few spots.