Sunday, June 30, 2013

Singing . . . uh, I mean . . . Painting "in" the rain!

Having completed a weekend workshop at the Donner Lake area in the northern California Sierra mountains (see previous post), my wife and I drove to the north shore of Lake Tahoe for some R and R. We stayed at a large, classic, all wood cabin built in the 1930"s. Our invitation to stay there came from a member of the Grebitus family, very well known in Sacramento for there many jewelry stores. The cabin sits right of the lake with its own private beach and boat pier. We were planning some outdoor barbecuing and or course watercoloring. One slight problem - a rare rain sodden Hawaiian storm was coming in. You can see the clouds starting to gather. Next two days, we were living in a monsoon! In the second photo, you can see the living room area, and right at the picture window was where I decided to paint the great outdoors whilst indoors! See my paper towel roll sticking up? The third photo shows the out side of this classic Sierra edifice (taken during the rain, of course). The next photo gives you a good look of the rain-spattered picture window that I was looking out of towards the lake and pier. The following photo gives you an idea that yes indeed, this weren't no contemporary house. It's a low ceiling, tongue and groove (have I got the correct description here?) cabin! Completed watercolor sketch in the last photo is on a quarter sheet of 140lb. cold press paper, and no I did not tape it down while I was painting. As I sit here in my Sacramento studio, the weather forcast for the next five days is for triple digit-plus daytime temps!! Wish I were back in that thar old cabin!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Donner Lake, California Plein Air Watercolor Workshop Demonstration

This June 21 to 23, I conducted a plein air watercolor workshop at Donner Lake, California. Yes, the self-same Donner Lake where the Donner Party got stranded in the mid 19th century. The photos here show one of our outings on the Truckee River near Donner Lake. The first photo shows me scouting out our painting location. I was looking for tree shade so we were not having to look at glaring white watercolor paper. One has to be aware of the movement of the sun so as not to loose shade too quickly. The next photo shows the scene I chose to paint looking directly across the Truckee River. I wanted a very simple scene with contrasting values and shapes. I also wanted something that could be completed in about an hour or less. The sunlight within that time frame can substantially change the look of your view as it arcs across the sky. This was in fact an excellent view to show my students how to squint (hard) at a scene to minimize fussy details and to see the darkest darks, lightest lights, and only a few middle values. The painting goal was to render simple dramatic shapes and contrast with a few beautiful colors added to the mix. When outdoors, I work with a very limited palette of Cadmium Red, Crimson Red, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Blue, and Cerulium Blue. I mix all my greens. Who wants to waste time with a lot of color choices? A limited palette allows you to mix hundreds of subtle color hues which is an indispensable way to train the eye to see all the exquisite color variations in nature,. The third photo shows my plein air kit consisting of a light-weight collapsable easel, light-weight plastic palette, folding chair with built in pouches below the seat, collapsable table to hold up my accordion style, collapsable plastic water container. The fifth photo shows me painting in shapes of contrasting value and color or as the American oil painter Kevin MacPheason has described it, "valuehues". Love that word! But before I painted in my "Valhues", I needed to do a quick composition and value pencil study. You can see the study next to the painting. These studies should be very, very simple and showing very little detail. It must show the basic value shapes that one sees while one's eyes are squinting (very hard). Even if the light changes quickly (maybe some clouds pass over the sun), you stick with your original sketch plan. The next three photos show the progression of the watercolor painting. The final photo shows the finished painting with its simple shapes, strong value contrasts, and a few playful color variations. The glints on the Truckee river water were accomplished by picking off little bits of the watercolor paper with the tip of an Exacto knife. Small paintings like I did here are a great way to do quick studies and finish them within an hour or less . . . studies that in the end, may end up framed and in an honored position on the wall!

Friday, June 14, 2013

"My facebook Friends" show at the Tim Collom Gallery, Sacramento

These are six more of the sixteen 11"X15" watercolor portraits that I have on view at the Tim Collom Gallery in Sacramento, California. The show will be up until July 6. I sell my 11"X15" original watercolor portraits for $650 for a single subject. I work from photographs either taken by me or provided by whoever is commissioning me and subject to both of our approvals. Enjoy, and I would love to read what my blogger friends think about them.

PS: The older Picasso and younger Warhol are obviously not my facebook friends, but if they were still alive, I'd send them a friend request!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I'm teaching a five day watercolor portrait workshop!

Kind of excited about this watercolor portraiture workshop coming up at the end of summer. It will be happening from August 12th through the 16th . . . five days! It is offered under the auspises of
The Santa Clara Watercolor Society, and I am so honored that they invited me to conduct it. We will thoroughly explore portraiture in mono-color, natural color, and expressionistic color. My style is bold and loose, and has been described as watercolor portraiture with a "California vibe". I will demonstrate how to take and work off of photographs as well as live studies. Here are some examples of my work.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Map out your watercolor plan of attack

                               As you can see here, I started first with a quick value thumbnail study to figure out where my darkest darks and lightest lights were going to go along with maybe one or two mid values. Next I painted in the light value of the boats wet-on-dry.

After painting a few dark values into the boats, I painted a light wet-on-wet wash for the water. After it dried, I painted in some darker values at the base of the fishing boats and added just enough wavelets to give the sea water a rippling effect.

Finally, I added the "jewelry" or final details to the fishing boats. I did not even come close to copying the myriad of details that I saw in my reference photo  -  just some simple shapes and values to give the impression of "boat stuff". Plan ahead with a value thumbnail study, figure out your painting progression, capture impressions, and don't flounder (pun intended) rendering fussy details. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Facebook Friends

This is an important new exhibition of fourteen of my original watercolor paintings at The Tim Collom Gallery in Sacramento. They are all of very prominent Sacramentans that as an artist, I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Each portrait will be accompanied by a short written comment.  What is a facebook friend painting without a written comment?! I'll be posting all sixteen watercolor portraits next month. By the way, this June 5, I will be interviewed on Capital Public Radio, a Sacramento PBS affiliate about my life as an artist and this show. The show is called "Insight" and is hosted by Beth Ruyak. Capital Public Radio, 90.9 FM.