August 18, 2014

More Serendipity


Abundance at Marymere Falls (10x8 oils, SOLD)

Last year I was invited to attend an inaugural plein air event on the Olympic Peninsula (in Washington State). The event is headquartered in Port Angeles, Washington, and is known as "Paint the Peninsula." Since I had recently fallen in love with plein air painting, and anything associated with it, I jumped at the opportunity. 

If you have attended such events, you likely know that the back of the substrates you plan to use during the competition are stamped before painters head out in all directions. This assures that all paintings are, in fact, done within the confines of the event. I got my substrates stamped and headed out to see the world.

My ever-loving husband, Larry, accompanied me for the event and was always willing to be my sherpa (not to be confused with a shar pei :). I don't recall which day it was when we decided to hike in to Marymere Falls. It's not a long hike; just under a mile from the trailhead but Larry was nice enough to carry my gear for me.



When we got to the falls, I unpacked my stuff and realized I had forgotten my stamped panels. Larry, as always, came to my rescue and hoofed it back to the trailhead to get them for me. Now, he had three miles under foot as he returned. I had my panels. Yay! I could paint. I went to retrieve my painting tools and, believe it or not (I am typically a very organized person) I didn't have my painting tools either!! I was not about to ask Larry to go another two miles because of my mistake.

After a few minutes, I thought to pull out my credit card and started painting with that. I rather liked what was happening so I continued until I felt the piece was done. I wiped off my credit card, later hung the piece for the event, and was shocked, thankful and amazed when it won a special "Juror's Award!" 

Since then I have done quite a few more paintings using my credit cards (swiping took on a whole new meaning for me). 

July 22, 2014

Embracing Serendipity


Forest Gypsies (36 x 24 oils, gallery-wrap canvas)
showing at Cole Gallery

Racing waves in the sea by day
And wind by night
Time captures hoof-prints in the sand
The spirit of the Forest provides

One of the great joys of painting is the connection between my subject matter and my heart. Plein air (outdoor) painting is one of the ways I eliminate interference when applying art to my canvas. 

On this particular adventure, I was on my way to the west side of Whidbey Island because there are a few beaches there where I love to paint. On the way, I thought about which beach I would land on and how I might portray the scene that is so familiar to me. Driving across the island, I took a shortcut through a housing complex that quickly turns into rural area. Just past the houses, I happened to look to my left and my heart jumped to my throat when I spotted a small family of horses drenched in the only sunlight within a mile of where I was!

I made a u-turn in the middle of the road and had my painting gear set up within minutes. My connection with animals is a gift I treasure beyond words. 


Throughout the course of my painting stay, I was visited by each horse in what seemed an organized progression. Each came close enough to see what I was working on, and then gave up its turn for the next one. I felt so privileged.


The painting at the top of the page, Forest Gypsies, is a result of embracing serendipity.

February 23, 2014

Now, Where Was I?


Ah, yes, back to Deception Pass. This time with pastels and a slightly different angle. I love this park! It's no wonder there are over 2 million visitors annually. Let's not even count the number of people who then fall in love with Washington.

I thought I would show you the box I made to carry in my backpack for plein air painting. I wanted something super-light and just the right size to fit in my pack. I found that one of my (saved) Sennelier Pastel boxes worked wonderfully for this project.

 I covered it in scrapbook paper (and couldn't resist some stickers).and then covered the entire top with clear packing tape to give it a little extra protection.
Then I added a few strips of velcro so I could a) velcro the box closed and b) velcro the two halves of the box together to place on my easel butler.

So far, this is working out really well. I'm not sure how long the box will last since it is made out of cardboard but so far, so good.

It's almost time for me to head outdoors to paint and I am more than happy to do some more testing.

Cheers,
Sandy

October 08, 2013

Fall on the Island

 
Fall at Deception Pass Park
 (11 x 14 oil on linen panel)
 
I am proud to say my father served in the Navy for over forty years (thanks, Dad!) and by way of his service, I was a Navy "brat" (probably in more ways than one). On average, I think we moved about every 18 months. I have lived abroad, lived in more states than I can recall, and have traveled through all of them at one point or another in my lifetime. Out of all those places, I feel very blessed to call Whidbey Island, Washington, my home (and to have my parents living right next door and my siblings within spitting distance).
 
Perhaps I have been a bit swayed by the remarkable Summer we had this year. And, now, a beautiful Fall. I doubt I am celebrating all by myself but I AM celebrating! I am taking every opportunity to be outside and enjoy these glorious days and practice my plein air painting. Ah, what a LIFE!
The painting above is from a day at Deception Pass Park; a most glorious park. A short little hike and, presto; a little piece of heaven. Sun, paint, lunch, paint, sun, paint, sunset.
 


my plein air set-up (work in progress)
 
Cheers,
Sandy

August 19, 2013

Twilight Color Study

Twilight Color Study
 (8x10 pastel currently on Daily Paintworks)
 
How many surfaces can an artist be in love with at any given moment? Um, I don't really have the answer to that question but I am adding one more to my list. After reading a recent article in the Pastel Journal about Multimedia Artboards for Pastels, I ordered some. Oh, my! I am love-crazed, yet again. I have every intention of trying this for oils, too. I just haven't gotten there, yet.
 
The study above is part of the work I am doing for a larger oil painting so it was a perfect opportunity to try the new surface. The pastel went on nicely and stayed where I put it. I also enjoyed that the surface takes multiple layers very well without mooshing (yes, that is a word in pastel-speak) the layers below.
 
Back to testing...
Cheers,
Sandy


August 16, 2013

This Way to the Beach


Where does a girl go for the entire summer, you ask? "Why, outside, of course."

Yes, yes, I have been back plein air painting and off on some wild adventures. So many that I have barely been on the computer; it's all I can do to stay in the house. One of my favorite spots is on the west side of Whidbey Island (Washington). There is something so serene about painting the water while listening to the waves rolling onto the shore in the background.   
 
Last time I mentioned my set up, it was larger. I'm now working so everything fits in my backpack and I've chosen a standard size of 8x10. It makes it easier for me to plan things that way. I may switch out to a 9x12 later but for now I am enjoying this small size.
 
 
And, because I wanted to work smaller, Larry built an even smaller Attaché Board (we've nicknamed him "Pierre") - here he is all decked out:
 
 
This is my little plein air oil painting for my stint at West Beach:

Cheers,
Sandy

April 03, 2013

Kitty Kitty

Double Trouble (36 x 24, oil on linen panel) - click for a larger view
 
Generally, when I approach a painting with this amount of complexity, I have a pretty good plan for executing it. I hope I won't take the magic away by telling you that this kitty (Rosie) was not actually sleeping on that slipper, nor was she actually playing with that string, nor was she actually asleep on that particular floor. Those are all elements I wanted to introduce to tell "my" painting's story. When working through the steps, initially I thought I would paint Rosie and then paint her full reflection on the black tiled floor.
 
Um, what was I thinking?! As soon as I started painting Rosie, I realized I would need to paint both Rosies at the same time so I could exactly match the color on my brush for both cats and (as accurately as possible) capture the exact opposite stroke/direction for the fur in the reflection. Well, I wasn't using my right hand for much anyway so I turned the canvas horizontally and picked up a second paintbrush.
 
 
And this was how I painted most of the painting. There were points where I thought maybe I was headed for the crazy house (or perhaps I was already there) but, like a really good puzzle, I found that concentrating on one section at a time was my only hope for sanity. In the end, I like to think I was able to maintain that :).
 
Cheers,
Sandy


March 14, 2013

Love is Love, 18 x 24 pastel on La Carte
 
Through flight and fields of feathers, true love returns to where it belongs because regardless, Love is Love.
The Trumpeter Swans gather in the fields of Skagit Valley (Washington) every year and every year I dash out with my camera hoping to see them. They cover the fields in the valleys, nearly looking like fields of snow from a distance. It doesn't seem to matter that I saw them last year, I want to see them again this year. I want to meet the new arrivals and watch their spectacular displays (always keeping a respectful distance, of course).
Until one sees them up close, you might not realize how large these birds are. In fact, they are the largest waterfowl of North America with a wingspan (males) of six to eight feet. And you might be able to imagine what a field of trumpets, all playing at the same time, must sound like! It is something to behold.
Another lovely fact; Trumpeter Swans, generally having a lifespan of twenty to thirty years, also mate for life.
 

November 29, 2012

Stand Beside Her (work in progress)

Stand Beside Her
(24 x 18 dry pastel)
 
It feels to me that I live in the most blessed place on earth. It doesn't seem to matter what simple chore I am doing, I am surrounded by beauty. Lucky me, lucky, lucky me. I have to stop what I love doing (painting) to dash to the grocery store (which I don't like doing) and am greeted with THIS view on the way. Along my merry way. So, it is an incident as simple as this that renews my living philosophy that God is ever-present and blessings abound in every task.
 
Following are some images of how she was created. Well, you know, not from the beginning, just my feeble attempt on the easel...

This is the"rough-in" stage on salmon-colored Sennelier La Carte paper.
(click image for larger views) 
 
 
Pastels are MADE for painting clouds. I think it's as close as one can get to the feeling of actually making real ones.
 
 
After getting the sky pretty much in place, I started working on the land, from the furthest piece forward.
 

 And, here's the final again - just to complete the WIP series.


Thanks for stopping by
Cheers,
Sandy
 
 

October 26, 2012


Pumpkin (11 x 14 pastel on Sennelier La Carte)
availability info on my website
 
You know, Pumpkin can hardly WAIT...

October 15, 2012

20 minutes - what's the rush?

14 x 11 value study/quick draw - oil on linen panel
 
A friend and I hired a lovely model for our value and color exercise. It amazes me how quickly 20 minutes can fly by when one is trying to put eyeballs and noses in the correct place. I can see I did not do that in this piece but I am allowing myself those errors since this was a 20 minute piece with no room nor time for fixes. The purpose of this quickdraw was to warm up to the model's facial structure in increasingly longer poses. We started with a 5 minute pose, then a 10 minute pose, then 20 minutes then an hour+ with breaks for the model every 20 minutes. The time certainly flew by for us artists, especially under these conditions! Now that I have a value study and a color study, I feel confident I can produce a nice piece from the photos I took during the model session. We'll see :).   

October 14, 2012

October Skies, Plein Aire Study

 
October Skies (10 x 8 Plein Aire Study)
availability info on Daily Paintworks
 
I'm finding with plein aire painting (I'm new to this) that there is a pull between slowing down and speeding things up and knowing the right time to do which one. For instance, I have found it important to spend some time getting a "feel" for the place I am going to paint. I don't want to just jump in and start painting. I want to bond. Maybe it's corny but it's the truth. That being said, I also find once I am set up and ready to paint, nature takes over and sometimes pushes me along to paint faster before the sun leaves that spot or before the storm arrives. Both of which were the case in the painting above from a couple days ago.
 
Of course, it's not always like that but I am finding lots of enjoyment in the challenges being tossed at me with each new adventure!
 
This is my simple set-up just before starting the painting. You can almost see the gray clouds forming on the left. They didn't stop me though, today I headed back to the beach in 25 mph winds :).
 
 

October 10, 2012

Out there, somewhere


I haven't been "here" because I've been out "there" and I'm trying to catch those few extra rays of sunshine while we still have them. I never used to be too keen on painting outside (plein air) but I think that might be because I didn't have the right setup. Now, I do (thank you Larry).

I started out with carts full of stuff and the setup seemed so cumbersome. Now, I am down to things I can just sling over my shoulder so I'm pretty mobile. Here's what I started with - yes, I know, it looks like my entire studio on wheels. But, because I didn't have the right stuff, I needed a lot of extra stuff. Until I got my Best Brella, I had to have the cart to attach my umbrella to (otherwise it would fly away) and I had to have the smaller cart because I didn't have anyplace to put my palette when I worked with oils. And, I had to have the bigger cart because my little cart couldn't go most places I wanted to go because the wheels are too small.

 
This is my new setup :).
 
Attache Aire (for oil or pastel) & bag (holds my pastels, paper/panels)
Winsor Newton Easel / Easel Butler (for pastels)
Best Brella
Walkstool
Accessory bag (turp/oils/brushes)
 
 
 
This is the Attache Aire set up for pastels. Those pointy things are magnetic & there's a tray below the painting so the dust doesn't get all over the pastels below. The paper on this is 11 x 14.
 
 
This is the Attache Aire set up for oils with a vertical palette! SO awesome for keeping the palette on the same light plane as the working surface (in the shade). I can't take credit for the idea, it was an idea inspired by David Kassan and shared by my friend, Cary. Larry adapted it to our Attache Board (still in protype) and now to the smaller Attache Aire. I am in love with this puppy!
 
 
 
This is so, cool, too - the palette flips over and screws facedown onto the board for transporting wet paint and fits into a Masterson Wet Palette storage container for longer term storage. Nice.
 
So what about the horse? Hahaha. Well, I was painting last night with a friend and this horse showed up for a nice stroll along the beach. Okay, he did have a friend with him, too, but it was still a little out of the ordinary and just another great reason why I enjoy going outside to paint.  
 
Cheers, all!

August 14, 2012

Golden Trail


Golden Trail (12 x 18, dry pastel, info on my website)
click image for a larger view

Hello and Welcome,

Having just juried one art show and soon getting ready to jury entries for the Pastel Journal Pastel 100 competition, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what makes a good painting. Of course, over the years of learning to paint, we artist all consider these things practically daily! What I find extremely useful when jurying a show is being accountable for the choices I make. Writing critiques makes me think harder and longer about why I make the choices I do; not just for the work of others but also for my own work. 

There are lots of reasons artists enter competitions; exposure of work, prize money, building a resume, etc. I am not a competitive person but I do consistently try to find ways to push myself beyond my own comfort zone when it comes to my art. One way I have found that helps me improve, and work a little harder to get a little better, is to enter competitions. Lest you think I might get full of myself when I win an award, please take note that I have a folder full of rejection letters to keep me in line. It is my opinion that an artist who chooses to enter competitions needs to build up competition calluses. And, like calluses, the first ones are a little tougher to take than the later ones but eventually, you take them in stride.

Last year, a painting that won first place (for me) didn't make it into the finals the year before. I reviewed the painting, thought about the results, decided I was still quite pleased with the piece and felt it was strong in all aspects. I left it as it was and re-entered it. Jury results can be a useful tool but ultimately you are the one who is the best judge of your work.

Cheers,
Sandy

July 16, 2012

Chasing Summer

Chasing Summer, 20 x 16 oil on linen

I never tire of seeing little feet in the sand nor water rushing to shore.

Below are a few progress photos of this painting that is done on one of my hand mounted linen boards. Pure luxury, as far as I am concerned...

Click on any of the images below for a larger view.





Below are details images showing the lusciousness of the linen.





Paint, live, love, enjoy and thank you so much for visiting my blog!