Over a particularly long period of rain a few weeks ago I was stuck inside and decided to do some still life paintings. All I had available at the time was a bag of lemons which ended up producing three paintings featuring them. Two are seen here the third has yet to be photographed.
"Lemon and jar"
10x8 Oil on linen
Looking forward to getting back outside this week...
It seems like every time I go out to paint I end up in one of the many State Parks that are within a 40 mile radius of me. All have their own unique qualities and atmospheres. From waterfalls to rock fields, it's been interested exploring these areas. Mostly I've just done small oil sketches that are more for learning then completing anything fully. I'm not sure if it's an excuse but one thing I find difficult about painting in Pennsylvania is the overwhelming about of green there is.
Hay Fields, Rickett's Glen State Park
For convenience I primarily work in a limited palette of just 3 colors and white. It makes for a long day of mixing to come up with all those greens in there! Even the sky begins to look green after staring into the ground planes for to long.
D&L Trailway, White Haven Pa
That said, I have found a few places where I was able to break up the mass of green with some variety.
8x10 Oil on linen panel
The above painting is from France's Slocum State Park. I found some nice quiet back trails around the park and was able to setup and paint uninterrupted for most of the morning.
This morning I had planned on being able to spend most of the day in the park (Rickett's Glen) but changing weather pushed me out. The last place you want to be in a thunderstorm is in open fields on top of a mountain at 3,400 feet.
Over the weekend I spent some time at Ricketts Glen State park, camping and painting. Although the forecast had originally called for Thunderstorms it ended up being great weather and even held out on Sunday until way after I was back home to begin raining.
Friday morning before I even set up camp I decided to paint. Unfortunately I spent so much time wandering around looking for a good spot of a scenic view I wasn't able to completely finish the 11x14 I started. I've brought it back to the studio to see if I can finish it with the same impression from my sketch, photos, and the information I already had down.
This is my afternoon setup from Saturday. It's a few steps from the campsite looking into the woods. It got so dark towards the end I could barely see but I did manage to finish it. Also i in the morning I setup near the Lake on the top of the mountain but didn't remember to take photos in progress. Here is my morning painting:
I'm heading out on a camping/painting trip and since I was packing my gear up I figured I'd snap some photos to show. Now I don't do a lot of plein air (mostly because I am horrible at making decisions about what to paint and most of my trips outdoors have been well planned excuses to walk in circles lugging my easel and bag until the sun is about to go down and I am forced to pick something). However I've never had a bad enough experience to keep me away and I always learn or am reminded of a ton. Nature is the best place to learn, so if I'm already going to put myself in the middle of it I may as well be productive and paint something.
This is the typical amount of stuff I take with me. I do take a full French easel and also a pochade box for smaller paintings. Usually I use the box around the campsite and just set it on my lap. Most of my stuff fits into the travel bag which is an old photo bag with various pockets that has plenty of space for my immediately needed items. I do take two sketchbooks as well. The larger one I use to actually sketch in when I'm tired of painting, while the other small blue one I use for doing thumbnail sketches in to build a composition for painting.That red lidded Tupperware container (clearly labeled "Do Not Eat" in case of stupidity after to many bonfire drinks) holds the leftover paint piles from the day. Not so much the clean colors but the mixed up muddy grays or "graveyard piles" as I call them.
Since I know I will be painting in easy to walk to areas most of this stuff, such as the tubes of paint(I just load up the palette that's kept inside the easel or pochade box) extra supports, and trash bags I will leave either at the campsite or in the car and get between paintings or as needed.
One of the things you don't see (which I didn't forget) is my brushes. I was in the process of washing them so they were left out of the picture but I take about 4-5 various sized brushes with me and keep them in the easel under the palette.
One thing I've learned to do is carry those small plastic bags you get at the supermarket to put fruit and veggies in. They are great for holding your used brushes for the weekend and I just wrap them up to keep them from drying. This is also great in the studio since brush washing is not on my agenda. It rarely happens to be honest. I've gone about 5 days with my brushes in the bag like this and never had an issue. A little swish through the turps and they are good to go. I do sometimes put a rubber band around them if its excessively hot out.
This is everything packed away and as you can see all I will need to carry is whichever setup I'm using and the camera bag. My water and turps can hang on the bag with metal key chain clips. I also have a small folded stool and attachable umbrella that usually stays in my trunk unless I am lazy enough to sit or will be in extreme sun.
This is my paint bag (overnight bag from Ikea $5-$7 I think??) lined with one of the plastic grocery bags in case the paint leaks. (It's always the cadmium red that leaks..) Palette knives right in front, although they really get thrown into the easel before I go out. The bag usually stays.
This is the smaller paint box I use. It's a gorilla painters cigar box that I've had for a number of years. I generally use it for small paintings as the largest fitting for it is 8x10 but because of the way it holds panels you can't paint all the way around the support. To remedy this I just tape smaller supports to an 8x10 panel. The front are museum boards and the back is the Arches Oil paper. I have several taped on there so when I finish one I just take it down and start on the next behind it. Eventually I will invest in something like the Open Box M or Easy L models, but for now this works just fine for me.
Hopefully I complete something and/or something good enough to post! Follow me on Facebook as I'm sure I will be posting throughout the weekend.
These are two paintings I did recently in the same sitting, first the small one and then the larger one. I was trying to work in very thick paint building it up with a palette knife and then laying brush strokes overtop. Although I like how both paintings turned out even on an overcast day it was impossible for me to photograph them without some glare. I'm sure there are filters and tricks for this (or better cameras)....
During a few cold rainy days I setup a larger still life to work on. I kinda just took all the leftover fruit and veggies in the studio and threw them in together. Some were nearing the end of there useable cycle....
Luckily the new craze now is "juicing" and smooth making, with recipes flying all over the internet. Now I'm not the only weird one at the grocery store buying two of every fruit and vegetable available. Although I enjoy throwing them together in the blender its more effectively given me an ongoing inventory for painting props.
Finally made it out for some plein air painting last week. It started out very cloudy and gray in the morning which made it perfect weather for painting in a cemetery. Halfway through this the clouds starting splitting open with beams of light but I stuck to the original plan and finished it quickly before I started adding in the brighter colors. In all actuality the greens are much greener during cloud cover as the direct sunlight tends to wash them out.
One thing I was unaware of until this year was what it's like to have allergies. Standing in an open field with the sun blasting you in the eyes while all the pollen and such floats around is apparently not good for this. Next time I go out I will be sure to have some Allegra on hand. I finished just about the time my head started pounding though and felt pretty satisfied with it.
We are back on a frost advisory so it may be a few days before I get out again. (I am partial to the warmer weather if I'm going to be out standing in it)
I painted this on a rainy day when I couldn't get outside and had just cleaned up the studio (aka thrown out all the produce I use in still life painting) I took alot of photos last summer with my nephew out for walks by the creek and through the woods that made for great references.
After painting so many small to mid sized paintings it nice to have a large surface to work on. It makes the previous seem like lessons and this is the test. It's always a bit daunting at the start but after 3 days of work I was happy with my efforts.
It's hard to believe winter it's already May 1st and that the winter is FINALLY over. I particularly love may because it's usually the perfect temperament leading up to the hotter summer day. Also, I was born in May so I'm automatically partial. Bring on the sun and open air.
My titles really could use a little help, but no matter how creative I try to be with them I realize the way anyone would refer to it would still be the simpler title anyway, "the one with the plums and that pear."
The past few weeks I have noticed posts people had made on there regions progression of spring and it reminded me how patiently I'm waiting here in the Northeast for it to begin. Well, it has begun but its mostly rain and drab still. As much as I love my studio I can't wait to get outside and paint!
A still life done on the Arches oil paper. The background and white cloth were done with quick washes of paint thinned down with mineral spirits while the onion was built up with thick paint. Both techniques work well on this paper.
For Christmas I got a pack of the Arches oil paper and have since ordered a couple more. It's one of the best/easiest surfaces to work on. Like any new surface it takes some getting used to but overall I love the way the paint lays on it and how it looks when dried. It has that matte effect without sucking all the life out of the paint. I have adhered a bunch of it to masonite panels for plein air painting as well.