May 29, 2009

Bolinas Boats

Acrylic on Postcard - 4 x 6 inches SOLD

It never did get any sunnier that day. I brought back some moody photos, so I'll probably be posting more soon. Here's one of the bay I did last night.

May 28, 2009

Salinas Palm

Marker on Paper

It's "Sketchbook Thursday!" Sounds so much better than I didn't paint today. This is a field sketch I did for the painting of the big palm tree I painted last week.

May 27, 2009

Bolinas Bay

Acrylic on Panel

Today I traded sunny California for foggy. Five minutes drive from here it was bright and sunny and warm. My father and I figured we'd pick a nice spot and it would brighten up any minute. By the time we were done, it was just as cold and foggy as when we'd arrive.

Again my biggest challenge was getting those "barely there" tones in the hills. I mixed up some big puddles and started, laid in big shapes, stepped back and then scrapped it all and started again. Three times!

The other side effect of using acrylic in the direct path of a chilly foggy breeze coming of the lagoon, was that my paint wouldn't really dry. It just gut a nasty sort of gummy. That's why I had to keep scraping.

May 26, 2009

Shadow Barn

Acrylic on Panel

Out of the studio and back in the great outdoors! I've become lazy and used to painting from cropped images viewed on my computer screen. I really need to get out more often. This was really frustrating at first, and it wasn't the composition or cropping. It was mixing colors outdoors and getting them to match. 

Also I forgot about the challenges of changing light. When I'd started, the roof was much much brighter than the sky, but by the time I finished, they had swapped values. I kinda wound up somewhere in between.

May 23, 2009

Apollo Coffee II

Acrylic on Canvas – 6"x 6" SOLD
I finally got around to doing a better painting of the Apollo Coffee. At someone's suggestion, I loosened the cropping so that a bit more street and sky appear, and was off to a running start. Not sure how it happened, but I really felt in the zone and it just sort of painted itself. Wouldn't it be great to tap into this and have it happen every time. Then again, maybe that would kill the thrill of it all.

May 22, 2009

PA Farm

Acrylic on Board

I missed out on the NYC street scene for last month's Different Strokes assignment, so I got an early start on the next one. The challenge here is that the source photo is Black & White, so a little interpretation of values is required. I don't think I really have a lot of experience with "values" but I've done a few landscapes before.

I started with golden fall tones throughout, but then decided it didn't seem to match up well so I pushed everything in a more green, lush Spring direction. I really like painting on these slicker boards. The paint just flies onto the surface.

May 21, 2009

Mill Creek House (sketch)

Charcoal on Paper

More from the sketchbook. Paintings to resume shortly. This is a sketch I did quickly to work out the geometry for a painting. When I paint at home I do my cropping in Photoshop first so I know how it will be framed, but in the field I can't do that so I usually do a quick sketch and then work out how I want to crop in to that.

May 20, 2009

Golden Gate Meadow

Oil Pastels on Paper

Having never had a show of my own, I used to laugh at fellow artists getting all wigged out before there's. Now I'm getting a sense of where that anxiety comes from. 

And I didn't even have to do any painting for either of my upcoming shows. I'm just showing stuff that's already done. However, there was selecting, framing, labeling etc. Oh, and installation. 

So, between all these little activities and my regular work, I'm left with little time to paint. I'll be resuming shortly, but for now I may be posting some stuff from my sketch book. Someone had sent me a link to Robert Chunn's blog, and he's made sketches part of his regular posting. Makes perfect sense. He also includes some excellent quotes.

May 19, 2009

Apollo Coffee

Acrylic on Canvas 

Shameless Plug Alert!!!

My manager has arranged a show for my recent California landscapes, at Apollo Coffee. I'll be posting a more official announcement on this page if I can figure out how to do that, later on. If you find yourself in San Francisco during the month of June, my stuff will be there all month.

This is a quick sketch of the cafe I did to just work out some color values etc. I'll be painting a better version, hopefully, later this week. Maybe tonight.

May 18, 2009

Tiny Mission

Acrylic on Canvas Ω
Not much time last night, so I decided to go even smaller. This is another of those 2-inch squares. Just a quick ten minute sketch (if that long) with the palette left over from yesterday.

May 17, 2009

Little Lemon

Acrylic on Postcard

Picking up yesterday's palette and doing a quick loose version. I'd have a hard time recognizing the subject just from this, dare I call it, painting. It looks more like a boat.

May 16, 2009


Acrylic on Canvas Board Ω
This is a great little car (sorry I know nothing about cars) parked on the front lawn of a residence in Salinas. The frame on the license plate says "I work, my husband's the bum."
This is a big canvas, for me, 14x18 inches. There's way too much on-canvas blending going on. I prefer the broken color in the grass at the bottom right and the looseness of the trees in the upper right. The rest can go in the dumper. Maybe I'll try going over this with broader strokes soon.

May 15, 2009

Red Roof Big

Acrylic on Gesso Board

I completely ran out of Titanium White (funny how that happens) so I ran to the rip-off art store nearby. While there I saw some masonite boards prepped with gesso, so I thought I'd try one out. Several of you have suggested I try this slicker surface since it's one of the qualities I enjoy in doing the postcards.

I have to say it really appealed to me. I did a dark wash first to tone down the stark white of the gesso. The I just went to town like I do with the postcards. Since it's a larger surface (9x12 inches) I did wind up putting in more detail than on the 4x6 postcard, but without getting overly fussy.

May 14, 2009

Red Roof

Acrylic on Postcard - 4x6 inches SOLD

Just got back from a day trip to Salinas, artichoke capital of the area between San Jose and wherever they grow more artichokes. There's lots of streets of little bungalow houses with palm trees, so I took lots of photos. This is a quick sketch of one of 'em.

May 13, 2009

Apple Basket

Acrylic on Postcard

A quick study for a larger piece I might get around to doing.

May 12, 2009


Acrylic on Postcard

This may look very abstract, especially at full size. It's from a photo I took while trying to find something to paint at an outdoor workshop. By day three is was getting tired of painting trees so I started shooting a bunch of close-ups of the shiny car lights. I just never did get around to painting any of them yet. This is a quick sketch of what I might do.

May 11, 2009

Silent Crossing

Acrylic on Canvas Board - 14 x 18 inches   SOLD
Sticking with big canvases for the time being, this is another 14x18 inch piece. I really need to get out more now that the weather is nicer. The photo this is from has great eerie qualities because of the back lighting coming through and it's softening effect on the posts. I'm using the big brush and trying to stay loose, but again, I've picked a subject with lots of straight lines!
I also thought that I could get away with using lots of black since the photo had such rich darks, but when I was done, it's pretty obvious that I over did it. I may come back to this again. Maybe.

Turns out this is the Cerri Building in Healdsburg, an important structure for sure, and right on the original rail line through town. I found out my dad had done a few of these as well. Naturally, our versions are different, but we both thought this crossing and the building itself were definitely a subject worthy of painting. In the far distance you can see a sliver of Fitch Mountain.

May 10, 2009

Santa Rosa II

Acrylic on Canvas Board (destroyed)
I thought I'd take what I have learned in 10 months and apply it to reworking an older piece that I didn't terribly like. Big mistake – in many ways.
Turns out there was a lot I didn't like, not just the application of paint. The geometry and perspective are wrong, the composition was poor, and the relative scale of objects is way off.
Maybe the best thing I learned was it might be a better idea to start over than to try and dress up a pig. Knowing me, I'm probably gonna have to make this mistake a few times before it sinks in.

Santa Rosa (before)

This is for reference to today's actual post.

May 9, 2009

Upper Fork II

Acrylic on Canvas Board

I had done this shot as a postcard a while back and it's been calling me to try the same thing only larger. A lot larger. This it 13x18 inches, and I used some bigger brushes. I actually went to the paint store and bought some 2-inch house painting brushes. The gang of day laborers hanging out front got all excited when I exited and asked if I needed any help painting. I do, but I wasn't sure which of them was really into impressionism, so I just said "no thanks."

Turns out I was still too chicken to use a 2-inch brush. Maybe tomorrow.

May 8, 2009

Brown Barn Red Roof

Acrylic on Canvas 

Working big again, at 12in x 18in. I'd painted this scene out in the field last Summer, but thought I'd give it another go. I think it turned out better, but it was a little easier without having the sun moving.

May 7, 2009

Farmers Market

Acrylic on Canvas  Ω
A quick sketch on a 2.5 in square, of one of the many old red pickups that bring the fruit and veg to the market.

May 6, 2009

Morning Camp Sketch

Acrylic on Postcard - 4 x 6 inches SOLD

Using up that left-over paint again. I am sooooo cheap. (you might say thrifty, but really it's a kind of cheapness). 4x6 is so much easier for me. For now.

May 5, 2009

Morning Camp

Acrylic on Canvas Board - 14 x 18 inches
Trying to paint bigger. This one's 14x18. I'm using a bigger brush and trying to get back from the canvas more. It's hard to resist putting in details, but it's starting to make sense. If I allow myself to just put in a few key points for reference, I find I can hold off on putting any real detail in.

May 4, 2009

Pool House Tree

Acrylic on Postcard

Thought I'd give the quick postcard technique to a detail of the pool house painting.

May 3, 2009

Pool House Early Spring

Acrylic on Canvas Board Ω
I started with a medium board, 8 x 10 inches primed with a very dark background (almost black). This actually made getting the shapes and light areas in place relatively easy. I'd actually prepped it for doing a nocturne, but the tone it impart really helps bring out that rainy day dullness that can be Spring in northern CA.
The best thing is there are NO HATS in this painting.

May 2, 2009

Big Hat

Acrylic on Canvas (destroyed)
Another reworking of the big hat (20x28 inches). Still trying to get that look I'm getting in the little postcards, but it's just not gelling. 

May 1, 2009

Dumpster Abstract

Acrylic on Postcard

I wanted to take another swipe at this, simplifying and reducing it to it's basic building blocks. Strangely enough, the quick rushed brushstrokes give the big steel box a sense of motion.