Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Plein Air DUD

From Ewww  to  Ooooooh!

After a morning of plein air painting at a lavender farm in Catlett, Virginia, I produced the first painting which is a dud.  The light kept changing due to clouds rolling in, but I managed to get some color notes I could reference later.  Basically, the 2 hour effort served as notes to refer back to.  I took some photos right at the beginning of our session, and was able to do a painting (16 x 20) that I am quite pleased with.  I couldn't have done it without having stood there in that space for a good while and picking up the subtleties of light and distance.  So, I was bummed after I painted out, but managed to get my mojo back in the studio.***happy dance***

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


5 x 7 oil
Ginny Lewis

Many times when we paint out on Wednesdays it takes me a while to get my vision for what I will paint.  Today promised to be overcast and hazy light, and there was  And then I happened to see one of our painters, Virginia Lewis, setting up to paint in this lovely blue shirt.  I am just as happy to paint a model outside as I am to paint a garden.   I did a smart thing and painted the figure first after laying in the lights and darks on top of my drawing.  She was free to move around about an hour after I started, and I could complete the painting and work on the background, or negative space, around her.  She is a lovely, kind person, and a good painter who likes to wipe her canvas down from time to time.  She also enjoys snacks and lunch after we paint, as do I.  As do all of us.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Lesson Learned

I participated in my first paint out event in a local town and was reminded how important it is to keep the painting brush strokes LIVELY.  Because I paint almost every day, I have been using a brush and a palette knife and maybe drifted toward making things look "wrapped up" and polished at the end.  In plein air, it is essential (IMHO) to show the energy of the artist's mark making because of the limited time. I did this peony painting today and paid careful attention to the marks I made and tried to keep the surface "fresh looking" as a result.  It was a step in the right direction!

Monday, May 16, 2016

A New Perspective

Daily Paintworks often features a "hovering" perspective of the objects and I thought I would give it a try.  I do like the abstract quality of the things that are only partially shown in the painting window.  Next time I will pay close attention to the colors of the objects themselves.  I selected the things more by their unique shapes.  I can see using this composition as a step to an abstract piece.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Make your own sunshine!

Day 15 of overcast and rainy.  I also have developed some ailment in my shoulders from painting so much!  I think they are inflamed and BOY DOES THAT HURT!  I can't reach behind myself to put my coat on, so I'm off to the doctor.  My paint out group just missed our third Wednesday out due to crappy weather.  I am trying to keep it all in perspective.  The sun is scheduled to return on SUNDAY.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Seeing Color Accurately

I was re-reading Kevin McPherson's first book about plein air painting and he stressed the need to accurately represent color by using a white paper as a reference, or a punched hole in a viewfinder to compare the value of the hue.  It was an interesting exercise to always be comparing a color to the color next to it, or the contrast between the apple's edge and the background.  I also switched to a halogen spotlight hoping to work in a cooler, less yellowing light.  The more I looked, the more colors I saw.  This was not a quick process, so my daily painting went over onto one more day.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ooops there's no FOCAL POINT....

Last week I decided to do a little study of a window from a local historical building.  I was unfocused while I was working, and my picture really has no FOCAL POINT or center of interest.  I sort of got lost in the rusty palette and left out the most important stage of planning and sketching. 
There's always next time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Good Luck

Once again I limited my subject to a single object, although the surface of the rusted old horse shoe had me lost in fabulous rusty tones.  The color of rust is one of my favorite things to paint actually.  I love the beauty created as the metal breaks down in multiple colors.  It is common knowledge in the country that the shoe opening must point upwards or all the luck will run out.  But, of course.  I managed to do this 5 x 7 in two and a half hours, a little over my desired time of 120 minutes.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Successful Daily Painting

I have done over one hundred paintings as a daily painter and I encounter the same problem every time: trying to complete a painting in two hours or so.  I am working on solving this problem, and I think it is mostly due to picking complex subject matter.  Today I selected this succulent plant in a tin that was a favor from a wedding.  It is simple, visually exciting because of the reflection of the metal tin, and I put up a simple yellow backdrop. I paint with a brush first and then complete the smaller areas with a palette knife.  Because I have finished in two hours, I still have studio time left to work on other projects. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Standing in Muck

I live near a bridge over the Rappahannock River where the Civil war and Revolutionary war had battles.  I went down a slope with my gear and stood in muddy clay for an hour and began this painting.  I was hot and so I packed up and crawled out with my wet painting.  Yay.  I finished up in the comfort of my studio.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Sunken Well Tavern
Fredericksburg, VA

Sometimes when faced with an overwhelming view, it is best to zoom in on one aspect of the scene.  In this case, I zoomed in on the door and the windows with ads taped to them, and was able to manage capturing my subject matter in two hours.  And then of course, we ate a delightful lunch.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A bit about our PAINT OUT

The highlight of my painting week is Wednesday, when I "paint out" with a group of painters in a nearby town, Fredericksburg, Virginia.  We are definitely blessed to be surrounded by history galore.  Our leader, Patty O'Brien, selects locations based on aesthetics, ample parking and opportunities for middle agers to use the bathroom indoors. We arrive at 9am at the selected site, and generally work til noon.
Everybody roams around, looking for the perfect spot.  This is also a great opportunity for photography while the light is good.  The peach trees in bloom were really eye catching.  Ginny picked a nice flat spot, off of the road.  She prefers to sit and paint, whereas I prefer to stand so I can back away from my work easily.  Most of the people use umbrellas to shade themselves and their work.
Carol chose to work near the cows.  Cows behave like large puppies, we were informed.  They gather near you because they are nosey, not because they want to attack you.  However, they did grab an umbrella and chew on it a little.  Carol has an extremely regal folding chair.
Many of the painters, like Ginny, also wear a hat for sun protection and eye shading.  It is hard to see accurately if you are squinting from sunlight.  Many of the hats have a chin strap so that you can secure the hat if it is windy.
This is the view I selected (My umbrella has been taken down do to vigorous winds). I choose to do broad paintings from a distance instead of working close up on a subject, using detail.  I try to remember that these paintings are really going to serve as studies for other work later on.  I can refer to my photos and do a larger painting in my studio.
This is my study.  We work for two hours to record the light as we saw it when we started.  After two hours, the sun's change is usually too drastic to keep working.  I have learned to resist the temptation to keep painting because it often destroys the light effect that prompted you to select the spot in the first place.  I also enjoy racing the clock and working consciously to ensure I will be far enough along at the end of our session.  Of course you can touch things up when you arrive home.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Oh, Happy Day!

Thursday afternoon my daughter Emma and I hung my show at the Middle Street Gallery in Sperryville, Virginia.  We worked hard mastering the hanging system and placement. 

This is Emma taking a picture of me taking a picture with my camera.
Here are my 8 x 10s.
These are two of the larger paintings.  As you can see, my theme was TREES and ROWS OF TREES.
And today I found out that 4 of my 8 paintings had been SOLD!! The opening isn't for another week.
It was the best feeling to get this bit of news, and very gratifying to know someone likes my work!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Where Mary Washington went to the Bathroom

We get a little jaded in these parts...Virginia is brimming with history.  And today, at George Washington's mother's house, I painted her fancy pants outhouse.  It is really a facsimile and is used as a tool shed in her garden.  The red bud was in bloom and the light was clear.  Optimal plein air weather.  It is very inspirational to live near so many historical sites.

On a painting note, I held myself to two hours, no more, no less.  I knew I would, so I got as much done as I could, and focused on color and thick paint application.  I use water based oil paints by Daniel Smith and I love them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Painting #106

An exciting morning painting out...some cows decided to eat my painting friend's umbrella and dumped her entire painting set up over.  Apparently cows are like puppies and very playful.  I viewed it more as an ATTACK. 

Monday, March 21, 2016


I have been on DAILY PAINTWORKS for 100 paintings!  This was done on a grey day looking out my studio window with daffodils from the front yard.

Day 104: Birthday Flowers

After celebrating my birthday all weekend, I sat down to paint today.  These are flowers my hubby gave me for my day, on a sunny sill in my studio.  I let some of the underpainting come through. Check out my gallery on Daily Paintworks.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Painting NO NOs

Although I have a bachelor's degree in painting, I studied in a time where the professor smoked a pipe and mused aloud about art encounters and his opinion of artists and their work.  I was instructed to work GIGANTIC, so much so that my paintings didn't fit on the walls of my parent's suburban home.  I have learned more technical information through workshops and paint outs, sharing information and opinions with other painters.

Here are a few PAINTER NO NOs for artists attempting to work professionally:

I took classes to earn an art based master's degree and my instructor was horrified when I pulled out student grade acrylic paints.  It was a popular BASIC line, and I had purchased a package of six fundamental colors.  I was irritated and embarrassed, but I now know better.  There is less pigment in CHEAP paint.  The less pigment means weaker colors that don't mix to create strong bright colors.  So it is more advisable to paint smaller and use better quality paint.

In general, canvas panels that are made with cardboard and sold inexpensively are frowned upon.  I have often bought them for children to paint on, and they are great for that.  However, they are not considered archival for professional work.  You can buy a roll of gessoed canvas and glue cut pieces to a wooden/Masonite backing using artist grade adhesive if you want to paint on a rigid surface.

When you are at a workshop or a class, it is important to give yourself permission to fail.  It is a time to try new things and grow.  Don't be disappointed by putting the pressure on yourself to create a perfect image.  Allow yourself time to process what you are being shown and realize you will incorporate it into your ongoing painting practice when you return to your studio.

These are all ACTUAL events that took place in my painting career.  LIVE AND LEARN!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Birthday number 53!

Today I painted out in Fredericksburg with my plein air group.  To add to the joy of turning 53, I had a sunny day with music blasting and plenty of scenery to paint.  I actually spend about a half an hour zeroing in on what I will paint a picture of.  I pace around and try to consider vantage points that might involve a little bit of effort.  I selected these two boats after repeatedly being overwhelmed by the amazing river scene before me.

Friday, March 11, 2016


I am lucky enough to have a GROUP that I paint with once a week. Okay, I stalked them on facebook first, but they let me in.  The Fredericksburg Plein Air Group!

 It can get VERY LONELY painting alone during the long grey winter, without feedback from any one.  Now that I am working in a studio on my property, I don't even get the occasional "that looks good" from my husband when he returns from his office.  Now I have people to talk ART with! Many have taken workshops, and are happy to share the nuggets of wisdom that they take away from their classes.
This is CAROL JOSEFIAK, one of my new friends.  She is a wiz at MARKETING and is encouraging us all to get going on the internet and INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, FACEBOOK and DAILY PAINTWORKS.  Oh, and did I mention BLOG?  She and her husband John are generous with information and encouragement, oh and they are RIGHT FUNNY.  Carol is a brilliant painter and extremely FAST.

Here is John at work, and here is a painting I did of him at work.  I couldn't
 find an outside view, so I painted him painting.  He remained relatively still. 

So, I do suggest finding a GROUP to paint with. We have a rotating attendance that makes each session unique.  I might add that this is an extremely FRIENDLY group that likes to encourage one another.   I found this group in a town about 35 minutes from where I live, and I find each week to be invigorating.  I am grateful that PATTY OBRIEN organizes it and comes up with places for us to paint.  Our only criteria is THAT THERE IS A BATHROOM on site.  I don't always leave with a completed painting, but the company and new ideas exchanged are worth the drive any day.