Monday, June 29, 2009

A quick note to say that I finally was able to adjust the strap on my 'Packer' by Guerilla. It took a good wrestling with it though before I could force it through the adjustment loop but I managed, so thought I'd put in that word since I complained about it when first purchased.

I've been so busy working in my yard the past couple of weeks that I've not spent much time painting. I did however, paint the 2 paintings below en plein air early one morning of the hollow:

Study 1: Sunrise in the Hollow

Study 2: Sunrise in the Hollow

I was pleased with these two paintings for several reasons:
  • I have really been striving to be consciously aware, while painting, of what Joseph Zbukvic refers to as 'visual language', otherwise I get too caught up in 'technicalities' and lose focus of what it is that I'm trying to capture in the first place which is mainly the mood of the scene. I feel I succeeded in capturing the mood of the hollow as I viewed it that morning. And this was accomplished I think, because I was able to capture the atmosphere as I explain below.
  • I was able to paint them without the struggles that I usually have when plein air painting and I think it shows that I enjoyed the process.
  • I was able to make use my new tripod easel without frustration. Just my second time to use it but I'm getting familiar with it.
  • This is HUGE for me: I think I was able to capture the atmosphere of the woods (thus creating the mood) which is so hard for me when working in a woodland setting. I've been struggling with this goal [of atmosphere in] painting a woodland 'landscape' of the hollow for a long time, several years off and on, not just of a single tree, or small group of plants, but a true landscape scene. This can be daunting, because in the deep woods there's not the obvious common backdrops to use as reference for atmospheric perspective. No distant hills, mountains, fields, etc. All I have to work with are layers of the same objects - not too distant foliage and trees with sometimes a touch of sky. So I have to rely on color choice - cool vs. warm, soft and hard edges, texture, and all the other 'tricks' of artistic license to create depth all while trying to be decisive about each brush stroke as I near the end - watercolor doesn't wait. That's what I love about the medium. It forces me to think on the fly, make a judicial move - just do it!
I only had to make one little correction (of course you may think I need more) and that was with the first study. After I got it in the studio and stuck it on the wall as I always do to catch any mistakes, right off the bat I noticed I had slapped a very dark limb smack in the middle of the painting. I pulled it out carefully with a barely dampened brush, dabbing with tissue after each stroke, and replaced it with the more of the 'blue' that was just beneath it to add more of that initial [blue] color placement.

The first painting has a 'softer' look to it that the second. That's because the paper was not as rough as the paper used in the second study. It creates a different mood than the second; however, I like doing plein air paintings on a rougher paper because you can get that 'sparkle' as your brush skims across it, imitating sunlight.

The best thing about these plein air paintings was that I did it from the comfort of my back yard, no worries about copperheads, deer ticks, mosquitoes, or chiggers. It was wonderful! I plan on doing many more this summer from various spots in the yard. Overall, I'm pleased with the results of these paintings mainly because my goals were accomplished, but to each his own. I'm never completely satisfied with my paintings, or any art that I do. I can always find something that could have been executed better. Comments or questions are welcomed. Until next time, happy painting, potting, gardening, or whatever...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Looking over my last post, I can see that I must have been in a really energetic mood at the time! Well, it's been over two weeks since that post and I can at least say that 3 of the 5 goals have been either fully met or at least begun:

  1. Love that the Packer fits all my gear, including the tray that goes with my Sun-Eden tripod along with watercolor paper (quarter sheets), and I use the 'back pack' straps to hold my gatorboard. It has straps underneath to hold my tripod and the 'travel adaptor' (the canvas/waterboard holder) or a fold-up chair or waterever.
  2. What I don't love is that the shoulder strap is poorly designed as well as the flap that folds over the bag. The strap is adjustable but the shoulder 'pad' is not wide enough to slide over the part that adjusts the strap, so what's the use of shortening it if I can't slide the pad? The flap for the bag is connected by two zippers, just another thing (or 2) to break in my opinion, which one of them almost did the first time I tried to zip it closed because it 'snagged', you know like zippers do. It would be better if it had been either Velcro or buckles; then I could tuck my canvas holder, because it's plastic, or the folding chair underneath the top of the flap and secure it without worrying about it getting damaged when sitting the bag down. They really didn't think that through!
  • As for the tripod, I'm not yet sure how satisfied I am. Things like switching around my water container to get it within easy reach, adjusting the 'quick release' for the tripod adapter, etc. will take a few paint outs before I'll know for sure if I like it or not.
  • I have gotten SO many things done in the yard!! Wow, what a difference working the equivalent of an hour a day makes. Of course that will slow down once the summer heats up and it's just too hot to work. And I really should cut my goal down to maybe 5 hrs. a week - that's much more practical and attainable.
  • I have prepared some pots for glazing, so now I need to get them glazed!
  • After spending way too many hours on my website trying out different styles, I've decided not to touch my website for now. It's just way too time consuming and I have too many other things I'd rather be doing!
  • I painted out last week. It was a painting of a small koi pond with a waterfall. Well, I 'learned a lot'. I'll leave it at that.
Not sure what my immediate goals are for now. Of course to paint out. That's a given, whether I reach it or not! As for other goals, we're about to have new flooring installed, so not sure when that will begin nor when it will be completed. I just know we'll be busy moving furniture for now!

Good luck with your endeavors. Until next time, stay positive!