Archive for the ‘paint outs’ Category

Just about to head back from the Carmel Art Festival and it’s been quite the long week. Got here with my friend and fellow painter Don Sondag a week ago. We decided to come out early because there was a rice break in the airfare and to have an extra couple of days to paint out here. From Saturday till the event began on Thursday we did 3 paintings a day, I scraped a few to conserve the canvas. I figured by the time the event started we would be all warmed up but instead I was already whipped having battled 30 mile an hour winds and the wrong choice in canvas for 5 days.
When the event began I had already gone through the spin cycle a bunch and was somewhere between utter despair and getting a job at House of Pancakes. Now don’t get me wrong the scenery here is unbeleivably inspirin, I just felt unworthy of it. Head games. Got skunked in sales and awards. The upside was I got to paint with all my favorite people; John Burton, Don Sondag, Randy Sexton and Jesse Powell. I got a lot of good memories, a few good studies, a few uglies and a case of the bad attitudes oh and a racked up credit card bill but it was all worthwhile. That coastline is spectacular.


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Winter Park

I guess I should just go ahead and post a little each day about the most recent paint out. It was a good week of work, I did probably 7 paintings. 2 fairly large ones at 20×20 (like the painting above) and the rest were 12×16 ‘s and 9×12’s. There was a really good turn out at the event Saturday night, in fact it was sold out, maybe 300 people were there.  It seems as if this event has really turned into a thing. The food was great and the wine was free and the weather was about as perfect as you could ask for. The remaining works are still up at the Polasek Museum in Winter Park for the next two weeks, in case anyone is in the area. It’s worth a look. This painting was done in the Antiques on the Avenue shop on Park Ave, it’s a crazy place. The owner is sort of like a hoarder with really good taste, there is literally no place to stand in this store, just narrow goat paths through top notch you-name-it antiques, you  have to keep your arms down at your side as you walk through and if you are wearing a big coat, forget it, you will break something. I have a thing for making busy work and this little shop of hoarders is the place to do it. The owner is super nice and is always happy to have me paint there.

As I said, I have a thing for making chaos make sense, taking mounds of stuff and getting a kind of flow through all the various nicknacks. I didn’t think this one would sell at the event and it didn’t but these do eventually sell and they are a challenge. I’m always at my best when I’m challenged, whether it’s standing in 40 mile an hour winds or freezing rain or tackling the entire contents of a store, it focuses my energy more. Don Sondag and I talked about making it more like a sport (which reminds me of a story I gotta tell you) where you have to run for 10 miles, or in my case, 10 blocks, and do a quick painting and then run for another 10 blocks or whatever and so on.  I’ll put up more as the week goes by but next up is story time.

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No boat paintings in Hawaii? The answer is yes, I just didn’t post them for a couple of reasons. Marine paintings are kind of a specialty of mine and when I’m doing a paint out or a wet paint show where I have a limited time to create something that has to be good, then I go to my safety net, boats and water. A lot depends on where I am though and I’m thinking, if I’m in Maui painting then I want to paint the things that are not found in my usual haunts like crashing surf, rocky cliffs with cloud draped islands in the distance. Boats I can paint anywhere. This quickdraw painting, a 10×12, was created because of the location, 2 hours to come up with something that was either at this marina or the nearby downtown. Boats it was. Usually the boat paintings sell, especially at a quickdraw. I picked this little scene because of a couple of paintings I saw on a fav website, http://www.leningradschool.com (link at right) that had a split center of interest. Here it’s the boat group in the foreground and the boat group in the distance. Not sure I pulled it off though. It’s painted okay, color is good, brush work is okay. Just maybe the split thing didn’t work as well. I tried to soften the background down by saying nice things to it and rubbing it with my fingers but it might not have been enough. Next time I’ll try getting some flowers.

And then there’s this 16×20 of chaos and no flow… it was a first pass and I had every intention of rectifying the myriad of errors but it got to be too much to think about plus I had other paintings I liked better to put in. One of these days I’ll sit down and figure out what to do to make this better, might make for an interesting post. I have a huge box full of paintings that I will one day fix and it sits next to the dripping faucets and falling down fence and shutters in need of paint. I’ll get to it some day, I swear… it’s on the list.

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The maui event

It was great to be back in Maui and really hard to say goodbye. It’s a beautiful place filled with the nicest of people. I probably should’ve  posted some while I was there but I was trying really hard to get some good work done and for the most part didn’t start getting my mojo until the 3rd day of the event. Though I started off with  a successful first quickdraw, a painting that I could have sold 10 times for some mysterious reason (the beach scene), the next couple of days were filled with doubt and struggle. However if you have to struggle with a painting, why not struggle in Hawaii? This first painting almost had me going home… but I was told by many that they liked the fresh perspective on the thing. I saw this kid on the rock and he had such a great pose that I had to get him in there somehow, but knowing how kids tend to move about like colts, I took a picture and went on trying to figure out how to compose the thing. The idea was to put the main focus at the bottom and have a lot of space above. I chased the reflections around for about 2 hours… we had three to complete it and get it into a frame and up to the gallery. By the way, all these pics are from my iphone so the quality is not up to my usual standards but I have to download my images from the camera still.

Next up was the second reasonable painting produced after 3 days of dredge. This is a really bad shot and will repost it as soon as I get better shots. This one started wednesday morning and finished thursday morning, fortunately the light held out for the second day. I don’t usually go for the big open vistas but I figured an approach other than large thing in the foreground and small things in the background was in order here. Those mountains were just plain majestic.. but the shadows were a bear, they kept changing color a little more light bouncing around or a little less made it hard to keep them simple.

The color in this pic is off but you get the idea. It’s a 16×20. Then there was this 12×16 beach scene and while painting it, I felt that I really figured something out about painting rocks, big simple shapes with subtle color modulation rather than trying to chase the form of the thing… I think I got that one from Frederic Waugh, whom I’ve mentioned before. Usually rocks give me fits but in this case it went a bit easier. I actually felt it was entirely successful until I saw it again and then I didn’t but on third consideration I think it is. I’m so fickle. It’s a lot harder mentally to be an artist than most people realize.

Up next is the second quickdraw where a model was provided, a lovely, strong, Hawaiian girl with a kind of pride that came out in her look. I was painting next to Scott Burdick and if you know who he is you know how daunting that can be. He is a great portrait painter who focused on her face, I went more for a Visit Maui/Hawaiian pride poster kind of thing. I liked it and felt it held up and was a good likeness to boot.

Then came a painting of a tomato farm and palm nursery and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say pot farm judging by the characters who worked there. This scene is more of what I like, lots of angles and lots of stuff and foreground and background bouncing off one another. I felt pretty good about it, at least it had a narrative to it and was more than pretty stuff.

One of the many highlights was getting to paint with all of my friends especially Randy Sexton who is just plain fun to hang with… we laugh a lot and maybe drink too much now and again but in addition to being a great painter, he’s a great friend. The paintings submitted this year were some of the best I’ve seen there overall, Mike Carrol, Colin Page, Scott Burdick, Mr. Sexton, Ronaldo Macedo and so many others did outstanding work. It’s always an honor to be included in the bunch.

Overall I did 14 paintings but only 5 or 6 were show worthy and the ones that didn’t sell (all but one) stayed there at the gallery. The rest of the dookie came back with me for a revisit once I get over the travel lag and get some more gallery work done. Coming up next week is the Wekiva paintout where at the very least I’ll get a lot of Florida work done for my galleries here.


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The Laguna event is now done. I would have posted on the fly but to be honest I was so tired at the end of each day, I couldn’t get the energy. As per usual I couldn’t sleep and then I’d get up at 6 and get out and on the road early, then paint till dark and meet artists for the various art parties and stuff. It’s a great event in terms of wonderful things to paint and tremendous commeraderie but as for sales, sadly, not so much. As I have a gallery in Carmel, I really wanted to focus on things I could send up the them if they didn’t sell. I sold this one, a 20×20, and a 12×16 quick draw but other than that it was slow for sales. Economy, saturated market, some changes the museum made in the way they handled the show all seemed to have an enormous effect. Not that I really expected any different. But good things come down the line from these events. I got to spend some quality time with my Mom who lives out there and that was worth the trip alone.

This painting started as a small study on the first day when it was sunny. The rest of the days were socked in so midweek I went back to this spot with a 20×20 canvas while it was completely overcast and started the drawing in the morning. The light and shadow zones really didn’t change much through the day so I was able to get a good tonal drawing in before lunch and then after the snack I went back around 2 to start mixing color, hoping the light would break at the end of the day. It did but only for a few minutes. So this piece is one part study, one part memory and one part imagination. Probably about 5 hours total. As I have been doing larger works I thought about taking out some big canvases 30×30’s and just going for that but the frames and shipping would have been a risky investment. As it turned out most of the sales were smaller pieces. Brian Mark Taylor sold a ton of 11×14’s.. he’s on fire right now. My favorite painter, John Burton, won artists choice. And Brian won a special award… I think it was for just being a nice guy, but he’s a hell of a painter. Interestingly, he doesn’t use any cadmiums or thinners because he’s worried about exposure for his little ones. Doesn’t hurt his work any, he’s really good at making busy scenes work. More later.

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One more from the easton event. I had been painting boats for 5 days and needed a break from that. I think I have ADD, hey look, a squirrel. Anyway, one of the many things they do well for this event is feed the starving artists, it’s like a community service, and mid-week they had lunch at a recently built period style mansion. It was a good looking place and since it was uberhot out I thought I’d look for an interior to paint. I looked at the house from every angle, found this little reading room and noticed that in the adjoining room there was a woman reading, she worked there so I figured she had nowhere to go anytime soon and asked her to sit for me. She was a champ and didn’t budge for an hour and a half…. she didn’t even turn the page.

I’m not a specialist in painting the figure but it’s just like painting anything else, get the drawing right and the values right and the rest falls into place. Once I got the composition set, I focused on getting her down in case she had to get up or go back to work for any reason. When I finished with painting her I had the rest of the late afternoon to finish the room around her. I really liked the relationship between her and the painting of the african american woman on the wall. One thing that threw me a little was a very dim warm light over my palette that influenced the way I saw the colors I mixed. A warm light can skew the perception of color, it makes warm colors look less warm and so I overcompensated with the oranges and yellows painting them too saturated. But the following day when it was dry I had the chance to go in a correct that and adjust the values of the shadows to make the light stand out a bit more. I thought this might be a piece that would stand out as most everyone else was painting exterior landscapes without people. I even thought someone might buy it for that reason but it’s coming back. One thing I’m not sure of with this one is that it feels a little sterile… maybe I’ll give it another pass once it returns to the studio. There’s also one other thing I did that bugs the poo out of me but it would be tough to fix, I’ll be interested to see if anyone picks up on what it is…. if no one gets it, I’ll tell you.

And the answer to the riddle is…. okay it’s not going to seem like a big deal but once I saw it it’s all i could see. there’s a rule or a guideline that says that no two shapes or spaces should be equal and the painting in the upper left hand corner is placed equidistant from the top and from the side. and the two equal spaces make me crazy. I can move the painting in photoshop but to repaint it would be a pain. I’ve moved the picture in photoshop just enough to throw off the equal spaces, it’s subtle but the subtle stuff is what makes the difference.

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More from easton

I’m taking half the morning off to upload the paintings from the trip and add a few more to the blog, then it’s back to the trenches with many commissions and gallery work to be done. Here’s a better pic of the boat builder painting. The idea was sort of a two parter, emphasize that open door shape, make that the big event but create a secondary event with the guy working in the corner. I was happy with this one and sold it there at Easton. I really like a painting that tells a story…. I’m going to do more of those here shortly in the studio. And here’s the other one I sold, quite frankly I did this with a sale in mind, nothing sells like a sunrise or sunset something or another. Is that wrong? Not to me, this is a business after all. The above painting is what I love to do, complicated scenarios with lots of stuff and a story to be had. This painting was just about mood and moody stuff sells. It’s why God invented glazes. I liked it at first but by the time I put it in the show there was something off about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It’ll come to me.

and one more that has a footnote or two. I do love painting boats, if I can work in some historical architecture, all the mo’ bettah. This boat had a habit of leaving every 2 or 3 hours taking people out for scenic cruises. I kept asking about the schedule and stumbled on a block of time in the late afternoon when it wasn’t going anywhere till sunset. It’s a skipjack and a great looking boat… I wish I could’ve gotten some shots of it with the sails up but it was too far out when it was under sail.

I have a habit of TMSing a painting. I put it all in because it’s there. I usually have to go back in after the fact to take things out and move values around. For example, in the building behind the boat I had to lighten the values of the darks to push it back a notch and in doing that I took out a lot of the crap in the shadows. I also pushed the darkest dark in the foreground under the boat to bring it forward. I don’t know why I don’t think of this stuff when I’m doing it but there are so many other things to consider. Which leads me to the work of Tim Bell. His stuff just gets me going. Especially his studies, his small paintings. I realized that the thing I loved about his work was that there was no reworking of anything, he seems to just get it right on the first pass and then leaves it alone. Makes for a very fresh painting. also he leaves out everything except the biggest shapes and lets the color do the work. I’m still learning this stuff.

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