Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Maine

This is a painting of the Bass Harbor Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island, Maine. I thought I should do some practicing of Maine landscapes since we'll be there later this summer and I plan to paint up there. We were there a few years ago so I dug out some of my old photographs. Sorry to go on and on about this trip but I'm SO excited to go to Maine and get out of the heat and paint outdoors.

I had never painted rocks before. I think the important thing is to keep the shadow and the light side of the rocks separate. Then after that it's just a matter of how much detail went in. I tried to put just enough to show they were rocks. And the lighthouse was just pure fun. I remember visiting this lighthouse, it's the only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island and there is a path down to the rocks.

I found a quote in my little book "Hawthorne on Painting" that speaks to light and shadows. The book is a collection of critiques he made on students' paintings, here is he speaking to a student who painted a white house with willow trees: "I want you to see things from the realization that your drawing does not need to be a house. The view that you must take is that this is a piece of God's outdoors, that this is shadow and this is light. You ought to tremble before it, and not sit down like a magician and try to make windows." Very powerful words!

This is 8"x10" oil on canvas.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Haybales along Hwy 288

This afternoon I drove to the place I had planned to paint the other day, when I brought home the kitty instead. I drove 37 miles and set up next to a big field with haybales. I painted haybales last week from an old photograph and I really needed to get out there and paint from life.

It was 100 degrees here, but I set out anyway. I'm always a little nervous about painting plein air on my own, especially when I'm outside the crowded city limits of Houston. I left a note for my husband so in case I didn't return, the police would have something to go on. Go ahead and laugh . . . a car pulled up next to me and a man got out and walked over to me. Okay, his wife was in the car and I could have taken him anyway, he was not a large man, but it made me a little nervous when the car stopped. All this is to say you can't be too careful.

I spent an hour painting the field, haybales and distant trees. I remembered there being shade at this particular place, but I got that wrong. No shade. I put on my big straw hat, turned my easel so at least the canvas wasn't in the sun and got busy. It's a quick study, I was just focusing on trying to get the colors down. I had so much fun though, painting outdoors really is addicting.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jackie O

Dear Alexandria, Celeste, Linda, Janelle, Marian, Sheila and David,
Thank you all for your kind and supportive words about my getting this new little kitty. I just put her picture up cause I thought she was so cute and never expected such support! David, I especially appreciate your kind words. Thank you all.

The little kitty still hides most of the day, but she does venture out and even was sitting on the sofa yeterday. We've decided to call her Jackie O, the markings on her face look like big dark sunglasses and though she's tiny, she's (so far) reserved and I'm hoping well mannered.

Yesterday morning I bought some frames from the "frame guy" who comes to Houston about four times a year. He travels around Texas and surrounding states pulling a trailer full of nice quality ready-made frames at good prices. I bought seven. Of course this sounds like a good idea, but I don't always correctly predict which sizes I'll need which explains the small stockpile of frames in the attic.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A new kitten instead of plein air painting

Yesterday was my mother's 87th birthday so I drove 45 minnutes to go out to lunch with her and my sister. Then we celebrated with a birthday cake at her Assited Living Home. I had my car all packed for plein air painting, I planned to stop on the way home and paint. I scouted out places on the drive there, I spotted a nice shady spot with a view of hay bales in a field, and I spotted some nice barns. But . . . all those plans went out the window when I decided to bring home this sweet little kitten. It was living outside the Assisted Living Home, someone had dropped it off and some of the residents were feeding it on the sly. It really needed a home before the owners of the home discovered it and called the pound. I decided I was the person to give it a home. So we found a box, cut some air holes in it, put the kitty in the box (not as easy as that sounds) and I brought it home.

Traumatic day for the kitty, but that was nothing compared to the visit to the vet this morning.

So, hopefully I'll get out there and paint soon. I read someone's blog who paints 3"x4" paintings plein air. That's smaller than I've ever painted but something to think about. Though now I really want to paint this little kitty!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting ready for plein air painting

Yay! The booklet about plein air painting on Mount Desert Island, Maine arrived today! Who know? I found a SIXTY page booklet on the best places to paint plein air on MDI. This booklet tells you where to go, where the best and nearest parking is, and where the nearest restrooms are, or in some cases that there are no restrooms nearby. The complete title is "Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island Plein Air Artist Guide" and it is written by Gail Ribas. I had a lovely half hour reading through this book and dreaming of all the places I'll paint when we go to MDI later this summer.

So, for this trip I'll need a better set-up than my Julian french easel. I am not dragging that on the airplane, though I did take it to Wisconsin last year for a workshop. What was I thinking. After a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out which pochade box I would most like to have, I've decided on the Bitterroot by Alla Prima Pochade. But I won't take that to Maine for two reasons. First, it takes 5-6 weeks to make one so I won't have it in time. Second, though this is a moot point since I won't have the box anyway: I also think it'll be too heavy of a set up once I add a tripod to take on this particular trip. So that will be my pochade box for painting here in the Houston area and when I drive nearby places like Galveston Island and the Hill Country.

For the trip to Maine I've decided to try and put together my own makeshift pochade box. Today I went to a large liquor store here in Houston that also sells cigars, I went looking for empty cigar boxes. They only had a few cardboard cigar boxes but they had a beautiful wooden box that had at one time had a bottle of tequila inside of it. For $5 I decided this might work. There were also 4 shot glasses in the box. When the cashier commented on how pretty they were I told her she could have them. She then charged me $3 instead of $5 for the box. I explained what I wanted with the box and she became enthusiastic about the project. She said to come back tomorrow when the woman in charge of the cigars was there and maybe we could empty a cigar box that would fit my needs. Now it's a group project! So I'll go back tomorrow and see about that, otherwise I'll need to make some modifications to my $3 box pictured below:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Black, brown, brown

Three cows in the middle of the road in the Texas Hill Country. This is 9"x12" oil on linen canvas. Cows are fun to paint, I wish I had more pictures. They are not a very cooperative subject!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Last day on Galveston Island

Actually I painted this on the second to last day, I didn't paint on the last day of our vacation. On this morning I set up facing the pretty row of beach houses again. Getting a little braver, I painted on the only 8"x10" canvas that I brought along. I added the Texas flag, there was actually an OU (University of Oklahoma) flag there which gave me the idea of a flag, but I just couldn't paint an OU flag since I went to UT (The University of Texas). :) Anyway, the Texas flag has a broader appeal since I painted this one with a future show in mind.

Below is the reason I need to order a wet panel carrier pronto! When it came time to pack, I had to figure out how to get my wet paintings safely into our packed car. The night before we went out to dinner and I asked for an empty to-go container, the waiter looked at me strangely since there was no food left on my plate to put in the container, but it came in handy for a wet 6"x8" panel and I wish I had asked for another one. In the end, all my paintings made it home safely, it would just be less stress to have a nice wet panel carrier to slide my paintings into!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Galveston beach sunset

Okay, this painting is probably a little crazy, and certainly not your typical "sunset" painting, it's the view looking towards the sunset from the back of the beach house we rented on Galveston Island. I wanted to challenge myself with a different lighting situation so I rearranged the patio furniture so I had a table to paint on and a chair to sit in with this view towards the west. This was fun to do, though difficult; the sun was going down fast and those shadows kept changing and it was getting dark. But I think this is one of my favorites from our little trip.

After I finished a painting I put each one on the fireplace mantle in the beach house to dry. It was fun to have this little collection of paintings which I added to daily. Who knew plein air painting could be so much fun? Not me, but now I know.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

My family went down to Galveston Island for a few days. The weather was perfect, sunny skies, moderate temperatures which means 80's for Texas, and a nice breeze almost all the time. The water was even relatively clear and the beaches were clean. It was a wonderful vacation. I brought along my paints and canvas and painted every day.

The painting above was done one morning. I sat on the beach facing east and painted a row of beach houses illuminated by the morning sun. I sat on the beach under my mid sized umbrella and it was heaven to paint uninteruppted!

Another day I sat on the beach and faced away from the water and painted the dunes and some of the beach houses behind the dunes. This one was done one afternoon. It was such good practice to get outside and paint at different times of the day. Good practice to notice how warm the afternoon light is and how relatively cool the morning sun is. I learned a lot from my few days of painting, more tomorrow . . . .

Thank you to everyone who took the time to recommend an outdoor easel, I really appreciate it. After the last few days of painting and schlepping my art supplies around, I can really see how I need to get a more streamlined system.