Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Show

The University of Minnesota Morris is the setting of the lastest Project Art for Nature (PAN) Show. I'll be exhibiting along with twelve other artists. PAN is a collaboration of artists and illustrators from Minnesota and Wisconsin who work independently and collaboratively to create artwork which promotes stewardship of threatened natural areas.

Dusk, 6 x16 1/2", pastel

The two locations I focus on for the PAN collaborative are the area near our cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior and the large open space between Bald Eagle Lake and Otter Lake, two of the many lakes in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. The open space is filled with meadows, woods and marshes. The imagery of the marshes is often found in my art.

Evening, 5 x 16 1/2", pastel

The two small pastels above will be in the Morris show along with several other pastels and a set of four monotypes. 20% of the proceeds from sales of the art work are donated to non-profit environmental conservation organizations.

The show opens tomorow, Thursday, Ocotber 22, 7-9 pm at the Humanities Fine Art Gallery, University of Minnesota Morris. 104 Humanities Building, 600 East 4th St., Morris, MN. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday: 9 am - 8 pm; Friday: 9 am - 6 pm; Sunday: pm - 4 pm.

Please come see the show if you are in the area.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Evening Painting

Evening is my favorite time of the day to be painting. The light is luminous and the shadows are deep. Best of all, I have to put myself on auto pilot and just paint; no second guessing, no overthinking. Why? The light is fading fast forcing me to make decisions and stay with them. Otherwise I can get caught in the plein air landscape painter's trap of chasing the light.

The painting above was done on my recent trip to Utah. The sun was just setting. Cottonwoods were catching the last direct rays and were lit up to a chome yellow and the field in front of them was still sunny. Everything else was in that sort of early evening mountain shadow where they were gently illuminated by the reflected light from the sky.

The painting above was done another day but also in the early evening. (Actually it is the third painting done the day I painted the two from the last post.) As you can see, neither has much blue in the sky. Just a faint bit in the part farthest from the sun. So the yellow light of the sky is present in the rest of the landscape and influenced my choice of pigments. Doing a bit of forensics will help me remember my instinctive, auto-pilot choices since I foolishly did not take good notes. Now that I'm back home and attempting some studio paintings with these as reference I sure wish I know exactly what I used. Another lesson learned.

Here is a lesson I did learn: The advice that one should always lay out one's palette the same way is smart. When you obey this rule you don't have to wonder if you are dipping into cobalt or ultramarine or violet or alizarin in the dark. Believe me, after the sun goes down, they look alike.

Both paintings were done on gessoed board. The two above each had one coat of regular white acrylic gesso and one coat of clear acrylic gesso. I like the bit of tooth given by the clear acrylic gesso but I have wondered if it causes too much of the paint to be absorbed. I use a bit of odorless solvent but no medium. The result are paintings that dry relatively quickly (a day or two) and have a matte finish except where I have laid on really thick layer of paint.

I took a wonderful workshop from Marc Hanson this summer and have been using his suggested palette with the addition of Ultramarine Violet:

Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Magenta, Light Red, Transparent Red Oxide, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Yellow Ochre.

This a nice palette for landscapes--especially representational ones.

Last week I went to a lecture by a representative of Gamblin Oil Colors which prompted me to drive to Wet Paint to get some new pigments. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What I Saw

My husband Eric and I just returned from a trip West to get out annual mountain fix. To accommodate all of the paraphernalia that goes with plein air painting and fly fishing, we drove. It was wonderful. We took a relaxed three days to drive to Utah and returned the same non-rushed way. In the middle he fished and I painted for a week using Park City as our base of operation. On the drive to and from Utah I did small paintings of the scenes along the road in my journal. I'll show some of them in a future post.

We had been to Utah to ski and had seen the state in the Summer but we were not prepared for the glory of Utah's Fall. Or the great fishing! The maples had turned a fluorescent red and the aspens were starting to yellow. The color is almost too much for a landscape painter to deal with. Frankly, it just doesn't look real. Painting it risks going down the road of sentimentality or cliche. As it was, most of the spots I found myself oil painting in were in the Provo River Valley near the good fishing waters of the Middle Provo River. No maples or aspen there, just the willows and cottonwoods of the river bottoms and long stretches of meadow. Fall color was obvious but not shouting at me.

I left home with about twenty panels primed with either a rusty red or a medium gray. It was good having the choice of grounds. Evening subjects turned out better on the gray panels. You can see a bit of the red ground showing on the image above. In the image below I used a gray panel. It turned out that not having to deal with the red ground helped me catch the mercury-like color of the water as it looked long after the sun had faded. In fact, I was doing this painting almost in the dark by the time I finished. The red you see around the mountains in the background are bits of the drawing I did on the panel using some thinned down alizarin crimson.

These two images were painted at the same site. The top one looks south toward giant Mt. Timpanogos, the second one, immediately above, looks north along a lower section of the Middle Provo.
I came home with thirteen paintings. I'm still trying to get to 200.