Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Crook's Hollow Again

This week at Crook's Hollow was much the same as last week.  It was -6 C and there was a biting wind coming down the valley.  I painted without gloves for about an hour but the sun disappeared and I had to break out the hand warmers.

My first painting took about an hour and a half.  The class was at the same area as the last two weeks and I set up in almost the same location as the first time here.  I wanted to try the waterfall again without the stone wall as a distraction and I wanted the reflections on the smooth water above the falls to be the point of interest.  I like this one better than the first one.

We had about forty five minutes left in the class so I walked to where the rest of the students were and painted some birches that were catching the sun beautifully. This was painted in about half an hour using only a palette knife.  I paint much looser and much more intently with the knife and think that it will help my brush paintings if I paint this way more often.  With the knife I can put a lot of paint down fast and with only half an hour I had to put the paint down and move on so there was no fussing.  I also, for some unknown reason, find it easier to focus on the composition and make adjustments when painting this way.

I like this one a lot.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Princess Point Willow

Our Monday painters group (only 6 this time) met at Princess Point yesterday. It was -6 C but there was a gusty wind that was biting.  There is a group of willows at the end of Princess Point that I have been looking at for a while.  The grass in front of this big old willow was bright and colourful when I set up and the snowy path and distant shore glowed in the sunlight.  I managed to find a spot that was relatively sheltered and proceeded to paint.

The warm sun didn't stay out for long and it got cold and grey.  I lost the wonderful warm light and colour that attracted me to the scene and I think that it caused me to lose my direction a bit too.  This ended up a tad overworked, especially in the foreground but I am okay with it.  I usually paint dark branches over the lighter sky but this time I painted the branches first and then painted around them.  It was tedious, especially with cold fingers, but it does make for a more painterly painting.

Next week is the same location.  It is supposed to stay cold so we should still have snow and the willows are just starting to turn yellow so it should be colourful.

I am off to Crooks Hollow again this afternoon.  It is supposed to be -8 with 16 Kph wind so it will be much the same weather as yesterday.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Back to Basics

I went to the Burlington Fine Arts Association meeting last night and Brian Smith came to do a demo.  He is a practicing fine artist focusing on classical drawing and painting from the figure and he is brilliant.  He created this portrait from a sitting model (his son) in about an hour and a half while explaining each step of the process. Click on the image to check out Brian's site.

I learned a lot from the demo and I was reminded of the importance of having good drawing skills and how little drawing I have been doing since switching to oils. I have been painting a lot but always with the intention of creating a finished painting.  I need to play and practice more.

I decided that I would start sketching instead of painting during the Wednesday morning BFAA sketching group studio sessions.  This is today's attempt.  Brian talked about pushing and pulling where you use a mid toned paper and use a dark pastel to push shapes back and a white pastel to pull shapes forward.   He used burnt sienna and white soft pastel pencils which I don't have so I used graphite and a white pastel stick.  It is also drawn on very cheap newsprint with a fold in the middle. This is far from perfect because her facial features are all too large but I am happy with it and I had fun drawing it.

I am looking forward to the next session.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Crook's Hollow Bridge

What an amazing winter for painting outdoors.  More snow last night so everything was bright and fresh again today.  It was about -4 C and sunny with cloudy periods this afternoon.  Perfect weather for Catherine's outdoor class.  I went back to the same spot as last week but faced the opposite direction.

The warm sun was on my back so I was very comfortable except for the fact that I forgot to bring my painting coat.  It is tough to stay relaxed to paint when I can't stop thinking what Debbie will say if I get any oil paint on my good coat.  I was standing looking back down toward the foot bridge when the sun broke through and lit up the distant snow and made it a wonderful warm yellow.  I learned a lot today and am mostly happy with this painting.

Tomorrow it is portraits from a sitting model again.  Can't wait.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

OPAS Paint Out

Five Ontario Plein Air Society members met at the McMichael Gallery to paint on the grounds and visit the Mary Pratt exhibition.  It was warm (-8 C) and sunny so with the great company it was a joy to be out painting.

I am still not able to tame the Phthalo blue.  I am getting frustrated and am just about ready to give up and go back to my old palette.  Phthalo blue is very intense and seems to take over everything.  It is also very staining so my painting is blue, my brushes are permanently blue, my hands are blue, my moustache is blue and my hair has a slightly blue tinge to it.  Brush soap won't touch it so it may all be permanent.

The gallery was the icing on the cake.  Mary Pratts work is amazing.  I have no desire to paint as realistically as her but her paintings glow with an dazzling brilliance.  It must take many painstaking layers to get that effect.  One room was closed because they were hanging a new selection of Tom Thomson paintings (mostly plein air boards).  The staff doing the hanging let John Mullenger and I cross the barricade to get a closer look at the paintings and we were very grateful.  I may just make another trip back for another look.

All in all it was a marvellous day.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

It was a day of learning

I painted this afternoon in Catherine Gibon's landscape class.  It was a beautiful day to paint.  About -8 C with a slight breeze.  It was cloudy when we started but every once in a while the sun would come out and light up the snow in glorious warm yellows and wonderful cool shadows.

I tried very unsuccessfully to capture the warm sun on the distant snow, the cool shadows in the foreground, the remains of the old dam and the waterfall.  It was too much to focus on and after two and a half hours I was cold and couldn't properly concentrate.  Cathy suggested that I work smaller than the 11" X 14" that I normally paint so that I don't have as much board to cover.  I also need to have one focal point and not three or four.  All in all it was a great day to be outside painting.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Grindstone Creek

It was a magnificent day to paint.  It was -8 C but there was almost no wind and the sun was warm.  Ten of us gathered at Hidden Valley Park and everyone had a great day.

I am still experimenting.  This was painted with Cyan, Magenta and Yellow with a touch of Burnt Sienna to help with the greys and of course White.  I had a lot of fun with this one.  I was attracted to the scene by the almost burnt sienna coloured grasses and grey trees against the yellows and warm blues in the snow.  I painted the snow and was told by the others to cease and desist because it was finished.  I may come back and do this one again with the grass and trees included but I will bow to the collective intelligence and leave this one for now.

I am feeling energized.  I love getting out and painting in the winter and it is a treat to have so many friends that feel the same way.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Hidden Valley Snow

It was a fantastic day to be outside doing anything and the bright warm sun on the snow made for some great painting opportunities.  It was about -3 C and very sunny.  In hindsight I should have looked for a scene with shadows on the snow however I did have fun with this.

This painting was done using only cyan, magenta, yellow and white.  I am having fun playing with these colours.  I am finding that I can mix a very broad range of very intense hues from these three.  Instead of fighting to prevent mud I am having to neutralize my mixtures to make them less intense and this is coming from someone who loves intense colour.