Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Fine Kettle of Fish

Ya know...being a plein air wannabee, I sometimes do not know what I'm getting into. Thought these industrial huts would be a snap, and the truck and car in front would be fun too. Three hours later, my painting looked like shit (if I may put it ever so delicately). often happens, I took a photo and finished the next day in my studio. Another half and half! Half plein air and half photo referenced studio painting. Go to: It's a fabulous and very educational web site. He is a phenomenal plein air artist. His new Sept. post shows his latest paintings. One has a wrought iron gate in it. A COMPLEX wrought iron gate. He writes about this challenge and mirrors the kettle of fish I got into. But ya know, ya gotta face these challenges, however frustrating they may be, to learn and grow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dust, Steam, and other Vapors

Ever seen some atmospheric Whistler or Turner paintings? I've always loved them! Maybe its because I have always loved the transition of Summer into Fall here in the Great San Joaquin Valley. The temperature cools down, and we start to get misty, hazy days that eventually transition, as we go into the winter season, to deep "tullie' fog. No sun for days and weeks on end! Driving conditions are horrible. But to see things such as trees, people, buildings, being shrouded and obscured in the fog is amazing. Well, we are only on the cusp of that season, but I'm already limbering up. About a week ago, when I was doing my plein air thing in downtown Sacramento, I saw a street person who spends his days randomly sweeping. I have dubbed him "Mr. Clean". He was sweeping dirt in the early morning and was somewhat back lighted. Wow! Fortunately, I had my camera at hand, and took a few reference snaps. I'm not sure at this posting if I'm finished with this acrylic... sometimes I polish my paintings too much. I think I like it the way it is. I especially like the billowing dust. I took some photos over 35 years ago when I was a college student (that's just after they invented college) of a car wash in Stockton (where I grew up) during the fog season. They had a young man, handling a steam hose, cleaning off the cars as they went through. So not only was there fog in the background, but this billowing steam coming out of the kid's hose. That's a double wow, and the image has never left my mind. I'll try to dig out the photo soon and post it. Meanwhile, as you can see, I'm getting limbered up to transition into tullie fog season here in the Great San Joaquin Valley.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Paint the good, bad, and ESPECIALLY THE UGLY

If you can go out there in the big world and find something "ugly" to paint and make it into something beautiful, well...I think you are going to become a better painter. Instead of relying on beautiful pastures, mountains, ocean beaches etc., etc., to draw in the viewer, you start to think more about composition, brush and color work, dramatic values etc. I know... you think about these things anyway , but guess what?... you think about them even more when painting the "ugly". For me, at least, the so-called ugly or prosaic is really not at all ugly or prosaic! We all grow up to dismiss a lot of what we see as not worthy to look at for more than a second or two. I suppose this is OK, because we have to get on with our lives. But when one takes the time out to paint something, its fun to look these types of things for maybe an hour or 2 or 3 or more! And like I said, you need to dig deeper down into your bag of artistic tricks to end up with a compelling painting. This I am learning as a plein air wannabee.