In the winter of 22-23, as we were getting out of the covid era, maybe, I painted over 200 small watercolor landscapes. Some “en plain air” some from shots I took on my phone. From those I picked 30 of the best to paint in a larger format on full sized sheets of good watercolor paper. We had scheduled a show at the Clymer Museum a year earlier and I thought we could fit about 30 paintings, matted and framed in their large room without being too crowded. I about 3 months I completed over 30 new paintings. After leaving out a few clunkers I had 28 new works for the show.
My wife Ren and Matthew Lennon, the curator of the Clymer helped arrange the show. It was so satisfying to see that many works up in such a beautiful space with good lighting. Thanks to the Clymer Museum for expanding what their show and supporting local artists. 28 Landscapes 2023 will hang through June 2nd 2023.
I have an interesting relationship with painting portraits. A loose, confident application of paint is required in watercolor to keep the paint fresh and clean while an accuracy in the positioning and drawing of the main features and structure of the forms is required to make it convincing. I’m after a balance between the cartoon and photo realism. This is the demo I did during a class I taught at our local gallery.
These paintings bring up deep memories of past landscapes. Perhaps my ancestors walked through here. When I get that feeling from the painting I know I’m done…. time to stop or I’ll loose it. You can see here the smaller color sketch I’m working from to make the larger painting. There is no point spending the time on a full size painting if it doesn’t work small. This one is part of my show at the Clymer Gallery in Ellensburg through May 2023.
7 local artists will be exhibiting at GalleryOne in Ellensburg February 3 through the end of February, 2023. We all have been making our art around here for over 50 years. It’s an honor to be part of this group and it’s a very interesting, skillful and varied show, spanning the gamut from Jane Orleman’s huge, intense mural to Julie Prather’s glowing glass lamps. I’ve include 5 new watercolors all done this winter. The reception is 1st Friday, February 3rd 5 to 8.
I’ve been teaching a Saturday afternoon oil painting class at GalleryOne in Ellensburg, WA. We started with a small still life of a lemon…. not so easy, but everybody did great. The second Saturday we got a good start on a landscape, learning to simplify and look for values. Next week we’ll dive into a portrait. It’s an interesting process to figure out where people are at and what they need. I hope I’m doing a good job.
We’ve been socked in with winter fog for days. This morning the glorious sun hit the hills outside our kitchen window. I’m trying to narrow down my view in a few small watercolors trying to catch one fleeting effect. An enjoyable hour with morning coffee at the kitchen table.
Each season has its own lighting effects. In small colored notebook sketches I can explore different techniques to find the magic I’m after.
When I’m a bit lost I remind myself to get back to the basics. Composition is the foundation for all that sits on top of it. Value is where form is described and color is like the flavors that make up a good meal. Out of many tiny thumbnails a few will stand out and call for more exploration and refinement. It’s design at this stage, pushing the shapes around and easy to adjust anything at a small size, no more than a few inches. Then after many small idea sketches a few will stand out and hopefully one will be interesting enough to take into a painting. This is just one process of many, but a good one to remember.
In my little watercolor notebook I start working this out. I want the brightest glow from the sky to just hit a bit on the right wall and around the figure. Perhaps the left wall is still too light. And I have to do a couple real vanishing points so the walls read correctly. And then the water reflection shapes need to be worked out as I don’t have a real photo of this, just a snap from a TV image.
After being completely focused on the straw bale building project for eight months, I’m feeling a bit burned out. So my watercolors and notebooks showed up and I started to play with some little landscapes again. It feels good to put the brush in the paint. The curves and shadows of nature are endlessly inspiring.