Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Observing Trees to Paint in Studio

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This is a painting I've wanted to do for some time. It is a favorite scene for me at Fair Oaks. It was the last painting I did at my residency there last week. I am back in my own studio for a few days and leave again to go paint the trees at Wekiva State Park for a week, leaving here on Sunday.

There was more than one angle of this tree group that was nice, so I may do another one of this scene in the future. Staying at Fair Oaks made it possible for me to drive out to the scene several times to sit and look at it for a bit between painting sessions. The longer I paint, the more convinced I am that really observing a scene rather than painting it is a good marriage between studio painting and the real outdoors. I enjoy painting on site but not as much as just observing and taking my ideas back to the studio to work on larger paintings. I have painted on location for about 25 years now and have gone through many experiences, good and bad paintings and gradually have come to understand that I am simply a better studio painter. I now think of plein air as research for studio work. It is fun, but simply a means to the end in my studio.

There is so much to learn about painting trees that I expect they will keep me occupied with practice for many more years to come, both on location and in my studio.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cusp of Spring

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This painting was a nice challenge. The digital image has a glare on the right half, so it looks washed out. I love painting these groupings of trees with their intertwined branches and limbs. It is always my favorite theme for paintings in between seasons. Just that week or two between the seasons is fascinating to paint. It is a reoccurring theme in my work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Serenity Oak 3

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

It took me about a month to do this painting, working on it for a couple of hours at a time when I was at Fair Oaks on Sundays. I am here for a week, so I have been able to focus my time on painting upstairs in the studio for several hours a day. This is the third painting of this particular tree. It is a difficult tree to paint. There are many overlapping sections of the trunk and it has split into two sections as they are want to do in their great age. It is a mammoth tree.  I think this is the most successful of the three paintings, though I like the other two as well.

I used the following palette for the trunks and limbs:

Raw Umber
Trans Red Iron Oxide
Ivory Black
Zinc White
Cad Orange

For the canopy and grasses:

Cad Lemon Yellow
Trans Red Iron Oxide
Cad Orange
Sap Green- I use Daniel Green Sap Green. it is unique and much cooler and deeper than other brands of Sap Green
Thalo Blue
Titanium White

The painting is 20x24 inches, oil on canvas.

Today I will start a new tree painting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Trees at Fair Oaks

Sample painting for commission client
oil on canvas

Field One Palms
8x10 inches
oil on canvas

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

This week I am in residence at my favorite place in the world, Fair Oaks. Being an artist in residence there means that I can come out to paint for a day most any time I like, but to live there for a week is a once a year privilege. I can't tell you how much I look forward to this week in February each year. The time flies by so fast!!

I am working on several painting projects this time, including a sample painting for a 40x60 commission that is looming ahead of me in March. The canvas should arrive from my canvas maker while I am away from the studio. I use French Canvas for all of my commission paintings. They make high quality and custom sizes for me. I brought 18x24 canvases with me for this residency and I have a tree painting in progress already that I've been plugging along on in the last few Sundays. The weather has been quite cold here, so I go out for a little ride around the fields and take reference photos of trees and then go upstairs to the studio to work on paintings, rather than be miserable in the cold.

I am trending back toward oils again after a couple of years learning to master acrylics. I will continue to use acrylics for my loft studio work, because it is a retail studio. I don't want anyone to be turned away by the oil paint smell. I love it, but there are many who have allergies to the paints. Acrylics are cleaner and easier to manage there. I have begun to do oils alla prima and on location again, but will probably continue with both mediums on location.

The trees at Fair Oaks this year are lovely and graceful in their bare winter grays and umbers. I so love the palette for winter in Florida. I like the combination of ultramarine blue, raw umber and lead white this time of year for trunks and limbs and distant atmospheric trees. I can bias it cooler or warmer as I need to. Good stuff!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oil Field Notes

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

It's been about two years since I used oils on location. prior to 2011, I was mostly an oil painter. I dabbled with acrylics for about 8 years before 2011. In 2011 I decided to get serious about studying with acrylics. I put my oils away for about 18 months while I learned to paint well with acrylics. Recently, I decided to get back to oils in the painting studio. I began to miss them. After all, I have been an oil painter since the age of 12.

The re-learning curve for oils has been steep, much more difficult than I expected. I am just now beginning to get some technique back with them. Last Sunday, I packed my pochade box with oils for the first time in two years and headed out to my favorite place on earth, Fair Oaks.  The above painting was the result. it still needs some tweaking and when I have time, I'll work on it a bit more. I accomplished what I needed to. It is clean, not muddy, and has decent color mixing. it gives me some self confidence that I can once again get out there with oils and get the alla prima job done. I am thinking of taking them to my next Paint Out. I'll practice with them at Fair Oaks for a week this month during my residency. I'll show you the finished painting soon.