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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Climbing the Wall - Denver Monolith

Climbing the Wall, 36x24, oil on linen
Here is a painting that has caused me great angst. One that I thought would be fairly straightforward. A man, mostly in shadow climbing a wall, mostly in shadow, and then a wall of glass hard can this be? Part of the reflection from the glass wall is hitting the Monolith; and the man has sun hitting him from the side, that is how hard it is. I even went downtown again to see the wall; it looks so black and dead and falling apart in real life. It is so hard for me to want to paint it that color!

So it may be 'too' blue but it is what it is for now. I need to take a break from it. Trying to make a man-made sculpture look like real stones is quite the challenge. Plus, the wall curves. Lots of things involved. Challenges are what builds character, or so I hear.

I wanted to do this picture as part of my series on people experiencing art. This is just one of climbing on public art or sculpture that I have thus far completed. This was a first and only time I have ever seen anyone climbing the Denver Monolith which is in the plaza outside the main entrance to the Denver Art Museum. I did not hang around to see just how high he was able to go but here he is at the second story level.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wynetka Farm Barn - as painted on site

Wynetka Farm Barn, 14x11, oil on canvas  Available
Tuesday is the Plein Air Artists of Colorado (PAAC) day to paint in and around Denver each week. It has been years since I have been an active member. This year I am endeavoring to go out more, this being the second time I have actually made it.

I am posting the painting as it was when I walked away from the scene. I do plan to do a few minor things to it to "finish" it. Example: the fence posts do not have their slats in them. The grasses on the hillside were mostly dead but I like the contrast of the color so I doubt I will get into that, but the tall dead grasses along the pond's edge, which I started to put in, might get a wee boost.

It was a beautiful morning before the wind started to softly, at first, blow around 10 or so. It changed the reflection mightily over the time I painted this, approximately an hour or so. That is what is so wonderful about painting plein air. You must get it down quickly before the conditions change! The light, the wind, the clouds, etc etc. There is something magical about painting outdoors and every time I do get out, I wonder why I do not do it more often.

Note: this photo was taken with my phone on my easel inside. I totally forgot to take a photo of it on the easel with the scene in front. It is fun to see that, I know.

I chose this scene because it was fairly straight forward. It divided the panel into almost equal thirds; the shape of the barn is a rectangle; the roof is a parallelogram; the barn was nice and white against all the color and I liked the white Winnebago (even if you can't tell, that is what it is) repeating the white of the barn, and the dark window within the white, opposite to the window in the barn.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wildflowers in the High Country - Colorado

Basic block in of large shapes, 18x14

Adding texture and color
Wildflower Peak, 18x14, oil on linen, available (contact me)

Lately I have been touching up paintings that have been relegated to the closet. Either I was tired of working on them or did not want to look at them anymore. And I knew they were not where I wanted them to be but was not in the place to get them there. It is rewarding to finish these outcasts but then I also need to do something completely different to break that work up. Hence, as spring has recently shown up, a summer painting painting called to me. Nothing too complex but that I could express my joy.
One of the things I try to remember for myself is to layer. Blocking in this painting I used colors to layout the big shapes. Nothing too extraordinary, pink sky, blue bushes and tan for dirt on the hillside and the overall dark shape of the evergreens in silhouette.  building on these shapes I wanted to leave the underlying color showing through. My tendency, as a graphic artist, is to want to cover it all up and make it flat color. So I went with patterns in the grass and the front bush to avoid my habit and to allow the underlying color to come through. When I got to the point of the sky, it was tough. I was getting used to the pinkish lavender sky and should I leave it or go with blue. Colorado can have the most amazing cobalt blue skies, and the reference I was using for this painting had a big white cloud taking up most of the sky but with blue blue all around it. Do I go for the more traditional blue or not? Since I had seen so much blue in the bushes that I wanted to have show through, I ended up going for the blue sky as the blue in the bushes was from the sky. Don't want to confuse the viewer, after all. I am glad I did. Not only is it more interesting, the lavender pink shows through enough to still 'be there.'

Thursday, March 9, 2017

French Village - around the Church

The Rectory, 20x16, oil on panel
We were doing a river cruise of our own making along the Yonne River in Burgundy, France. The Yonne River has locks. We had rented a small yacht that slept 8 for this river trip. One day we got behind schedule and knew we  would miss the last lock of our day. (The lock keepers are government employees and having lived in France as children, my sister and I knew that the locks would close down on time, if not earlier!) Instead of risking it, we 'docked' in a small village called Gurgy sur l'Yonne. We only spent one night there but I have painted now at least 4 paintings from that pit stop I was so taken by it. We had River Fog that night; there was a dinghy docked in front of us; the town was so quaint, as if time had passed it by. I know most people will not relate to this subject but it is so the France of my youth.

I started this piece close to 9 years ago. It is a simple subject but it has been hard for me to get it to a place I liked. I never thought it 'bad' just not as interesting as I would have preferred. When my husband walked into my studio the other day and exclaimed what a cool painting, I knew I had finally arrived. He has never been to France and so the painting was liked for itself and not his relation to it as he had none!

Why was it so hard to make interesting? Trying to get the brownish grey stucco of the buildings to be more than than just that; I kept trying to think of how to layer and what to layer to make it more of itself. There are so many layers on this painting now the stucco looks real enough.