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Friday, August 27, 2010

Oil Painters of America Western Show 2010

"Parade Day"
Oil on Linen 8x10"

I am pleased to announce that my painting “Parade Day” was juried into this year’s OPA Western Juried show, which will be held at the Mountain Trails Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming from October 9th - November 10th, 2010.

Heli-painting in the Bugaboos:

I will be leading two heli-painting trips with CMH into the Bugaboos in early September. On the first trip I will be guiding and teaching a plein air workshop, on the second I will be guiding and assisting Robert Genn teach a workshop.

I flew into the Bugs with a couple of friends this week to get warmed up and do some location planning. This was one of a few pieces I finished while up there. (Watch for it on my website soon).

There is still space in the first trip (Aug.31st-Sept 4th). If you are interested in further details, please click here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #100

#100 - "And to All a Goodnight"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/17 (10:15pm)
This is not what it looks like - a fishing expedition to see if I could find Darrin again... I was actually on a side road BESIDE the highway, not on the highway - which enabled me to paint outside of the car, always better.

I see this view every evening when I drive home from the studio, and always love it, so it seemed fitting to paint it for my last piece of the project. Hadn't planned on putting cars in, but as they kept streaming by while I was painting, they started to feel like an essential part of the subject, so in they went. One thing I have discovered during the project is that I LOVE painting plein air nocturnes, more to come for sure!

Many of you have been commenting or writing to congratulate me on finishing the project. It really wouldn't have been nearly such a great experience without you (that includes the silent ones of you watching from the sidelines). Lots of people have also mentioned they will be sad to see it end, and I want you all to know that it's not ending, just changing. I will continue this blog with the intention of posting interesting paintings and sharing insights and stories that I hope will inspire and captivate you, so please check in from time to time to see what's new!

Sending out a HUGE heartfelt thank you for your interest and support! You guys made it fun, and kept me going on every level from painting them to posting and writing about them. This project was one of the coolest things I've done recently, I'm so glad I took it on, and so glad you followed!

PS: I will be publishing a book, both a softcover and hardcover version, of this project in the near future and will post about it here when it's ready to roll.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #99

#99 - "Catching the Light"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/17 (7:45pm)
Sometimes you don't even have to try, the light just gives you one. There was so much that was beautiful about this subject, and once again I knew it would be gone fast, so I spent a few moments before beginning to really take note of what I wanted to capture.

Knowing this was day 100, I was so grateful for a gorgeous evening. This painting gave me a chance to work with some of the key things I've learned along the way such as:

  • squinting to make sure I can reduce the scene to 4 or 5 large abstract shapes before starting
  • keeping the distant values light enough (always lighter than I think)
  • neutralizing and blueing colour as it recedes
  • using a few simple brushstrokes to suggest a whole lot of detail
  • choosing what I'm going to say and sticking with it no matter how many other ideas I am seduced by as the painting unfolds...tough one
  • if the wheels are falling off just keep putting paint on 'til it looks right
  • above all - when I'm getting cranky I try to remember to not take myself too seriously - (really tough one...)
All in all it's been one hell of a ride ~ can't wait to share #100 with you guys!

Monday, August 16, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #98

#98 - "Miner's Peak"
Original Oil 6x8"

*All proceeds from the sale of this painting will be donated to aid the victims of the Pakistan floods via Oxfam Canada.

10/07/17 (5pm)
Sorry for the delayed post guys, the internet was giving me a lot of grief tonight. That gave me time to decide that I'm going to post the last 3 one at a time though :-) ... can you tell I don't want it to end either?

This one was done at a new painting location I discovered right near the end of the project, and one I'm sure I'll go back to often. I feel like this one has a more graphic feel than a lot of the work done, more like how I used to paint, which I thought was a pretty cool thing to pop out right near the end of the project. Plein air painting - just like a box of chocolates...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #97

#97 - "12:01"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/16 (10:45pm)
This is my favourite painting, and my favourite story of the project, so it gets its own post.

I had been painting all day just outside of Calgary (#'s 93-96) and was heading out of the city along a fairly major thoroughfare (Sarcee Trail) when I saw this scene. I was SO captivated by it, but it was 10:30 at night, I still had more than an hour drive to get back to the mountains, I'd already done 4 paintings that day, and it was not the ideal painting location. So I almost kept driving. What motivated me to stop was the project, and the fact that it was almost over. It really seemed like a now or never moment, so I pulled over, put on my hazards, and started painting in the front seat of the car, all the while thinking, "It'll be a miracle if I get this finished without a cop showing up"...

Sure enough, 45 minutes in, flashing lights in my rearview mirror. I unrolled my window as he walked up and said, "Bet you're going to tell me I'm not supposed to be here." He said, "No, I'm just concerned, is everything alright?" As I assured him all was well, he looked into the car and said, "Wow. You're painting..." "Yes," I answered, "I really loved this scene. I know it's not a good spot to stop, I can pack up right now." To which he responded, "No, no, you just keep working and I'll sit behind you with my lights on 'til you're done."

Okay, not the answer I was expecting. I said, "Seriously???" He said, "Yup, go for it".  I assured him I would wrap it up in 10 minutes or less, and he replied, "No worries, take as long as you need..."

I did wrap it up in under 10 minutes, because honestly it felt a little too weird having my own police escort while I finished my painting, but this ended up being the finished piece, no studio tweaking. It was ready to be done. When I ran back to thank him, he said, "16 years I've been on the job, and this is a first. It's always something wrong. Happy to help out".

So this painting is dedicated to Darrin from the Calgary City Police, car # 1201. Thanks for looking out for me, and for giving me one of the coolest painting memories of my life. You rock! 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #95/#96

#95 - "View from the Leighton"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/16 (5pm)
Wow - I just got such a pang in my heart typing in #95. Really hit me that this is almost over. It has been such a great experience, and wouldn't have been nearly as special if not for all of you following, so thank you SO much for your interest, support and enthusiasm, it has meant the world to me.

Here was my BIG learning on this one: use the opportunity of working on a small canvas to create depth, movement and interest with brushwork. The foreground triangles of this piece were painted fairly flatly, and then somewhere near the end it occurred to me to throw in some expressive brushwork. I couldn't believe how much energy and space were created with those 5 or 6 simple marks.

#96 -"Evening Warmth"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/16 (8pm)
I LOVE this painting. It's the same day and location as "Summer Greens" (#93). As you can see, it turned out to be a beautiful evening.  What I find most interesting about plein air painting is that often I can look at a piece months or years later and remember the moment it was painted so vividly. The air temperature, the sounds and smells, who I was with, exactly how I was feeling. They're like little canvas time machines, magical doors into moments lived. This is why I am compelled to hold a few of these back for my own collection, they are a record of such valuable moments in my life, and worth so much more than any money I could exchange them for.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #93/#94

 #93 - "Summer Greens"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/16 (12:45pm)
Painting with the girls again today. This was a really beautiful marsh, and I was just getting a feel for the subject when a small hailstorm blew in and chased us to the shelter of the car.

#94 - "Peony Study"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/16 (3:30pm)
I got  30 minutes into this one and lost the sun. Packed up thinking I would finish it in the studio. And every time I glanced it's way for the next couple of weeks, I would think, I love it just as it is. Why would I do more? So in the end I didn't.

On another note, I just stumbled across this wonderful video clip of Virginia Vaughan's moving year long daily painting adventure. Both she and her paintings are lovely, well worth a look. If you're interested you can check it out here.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #91/#92

#91 - "Green on Green"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/15 (5pm)
The background and the water gave me so much grief on this one, I changed them and changed them and changed them. And then I remembered.


#92 - "Late Day Light"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/15 (7:30 pm)

Painting outdoors is incredibly challenging, but it is also infinitely rewarding. There are moments when I have just spent an hour or two completeing a painting and am cleaning my palette when I stop to look around and I realize I am in an altered state, connected with the  landscape on a deep level, rooted in it. Integrated. It is this sense that I have become more and more aware of throughout the course of this project.

In the end it doesn't much matter if my painting turns out, I have been changed by the experience, and that's what I hope will show up my future work.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #89/#90

#89 - "Shoreline Patterns"
Original Oil 6x8"
For purchase info click here

10/07/14 (4pm)
The light changed at least a million times while I was painting this, often completely reversing itself to background hills in dark shadow and foreground trees in full light. This was a case of being commited to stick to plan A and not get seduced by B,C,D,E and F.

#90 - "The Dike"
Original Oil 6x8"
For purchase info click here

10/07/14 (7:30pm)
Are you guys figuring out I'm an afternoon/evening painter? This actually worked to my advantage in this project as it's light in our neck of the woods until 11pm for most of June and July, so I would often start around 4 or 5 pm and paint into better and better light as the evening unfolded.

I have been reading a really interesting book called "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle. The basic premise is that talent doesn't have to be born, it can be grown, that anyone can greatly improve their skill at anything by practicing in a very specific way.  To paraphrase from the book: "If you use your muscles a certain way - by trying hard to lift things you can barely lift - those muscles will respond by getting stronger. If you fire your skill circuits the right way - by trying hard to do things you can barely do, in deep practice - then your skill circuits will respond by getting faster and more fluent."

If you looking for motivation to keep working at your art on the "I forgot how to paint" days, and you want ideas on how to excel more quickly, it's worth checking out this book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #87/#88

#87 - "Summer Evening"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/11 (7:45pm)
Okay, right off the bat I can say this is my second favourite painting of the project. (My favourite is coming up at #97 - but technically this one is better).

The most striking thing I recall is the perfume of some unknown flower filling the air as I was painting, in hindsight it was probably a bush I was trampling on my trips back and forth to the easel, but it was powerful stuff, overwhelming and gorgeous...

I had this light for about 15 minutes, and I knew clouds were going to block the sun, so before I started I spent 5 minutes standing in front of the scene, burning every vital detail into my brain (primarily high key backlit greens and highlights on trunks) and then painted those even though they left with the sun.

#88 - "Cloud Dance"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/12 (6:20pm)
There was little light to work with on this one, but I saw a great pattern of shapes and rhythm in the sky, so that's what I decided to follow...

I had a dream last night that someone said, "You know, you never really pushed yourself on this project, you could've grown a lot more". Whoever belonged to that pesky voice, they were right.

There is great accountability value when you announce a project like this out loud, certainly all you wonderful folks who have been following have been my inspiration countless times to keep getting out there. But I think if one really wants to raise the bar, it would actually make more sense to announce it after the fact, because on several occasions when my intention was to make fast, loose colour and value studies, I painted them into perfect little finished pieces. Knowing I would be showing them to the world was a big factor at play here, I was in performance mode far more often than exercise mode, and probably would have progressed further if that was reversed.

Just putting that out there for anyone considering taking on something like this....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

100 plein air paintings in 100 days - #84/#85/#86

#84 - "The Rundle Range"
Original Oil 6x8"

10/07/09 (5:15pm)
These 3 paintings were done on the same day (4 actually, but the first was a wiper).

Carol Carmichael commented recently to say, "I have NEVER painted plein air and know it would help me progress.  Definitely got me thinking - that's a start. "

Carol, in my experience (and that of all of my artist friends), you can pretty much guarantee your first few plein air sessions will not produce a stellar painting. There are a lot of things to sort out and it takes a few tries to get the hang of it. It's pretty tough to be a once or twice a year plein air painter, I would say if you're going to do it, it's helpful to dive in fully and commit to a fixed time (say 20 plein air paintings of the course of a summer) so that you can push through the start of the learning curve. Fellow artist Bobbi Heath has been doing this and I applaud her tenacity!

I do hope this project has inspired some of you to get out there. I needed a motivator, and would never have been this dedicated if I hadn't made it into a project. Knowing there was a deadline (and a finish line) helped me dig deep and get out when I didn't feel like it, and once I was out there I always (ok, almost always) loved it.

#85 - "Blowing Through"
Original Oil 6x8"
For purchase info click here

10/07/09 (7:45pm)
I was painting with Bobbi and Sharon today, and at this point they decided they were done for the day and would rather watch than paint. Based on this I decided to try a 1/2 hour painting, as if I was doing a demo. They were so quiet and respectful while I painted this, and afterward encouraged me to do another. That's when everything changed...

#86 - "Artistic License"
Original Oil 6x8"
For purchase info click here

10/07/09 (8:25pm)
3 artists painted this one, even though I was the only one holding a brush. By the time I was halfway in Bobbi and Sharon were both firing out suggestions, one on each side of me:  "Put an orange highlight on the water", "no make it purple", "trees darker", "no - trees lighter". Together: "More paint on the sky, lighter! ooh, ooh - leave those brushstrokes alone!" It was so funny, they were vocalizing the inner dilemmas that are always going on in my head when I'm painting, but it was weird to have it coming from the outside in. It felt like the old cartoons with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other (won't say which one was which) - let's just say it would have been an entirely different painting if I'd been standing there alone - and not nearly as entertaining!