Saturday, April 29, 2017

Painting That Man Made Park

A friend was just was just mentioning that she is going to be doing a plein air event this year in a park that is mostly green grass and green trees, and did I have any suggestions! I thought a few of you might be interested in this topic as well.

First of all - I know how she feels about the green grass and green trees scenes! Everything feels flat and mechanical and uninteresting. But sometimes that is what we have to work with! I've come up with a couple of strategies.

Artistic License: Don't feel like you have to capture the scene exactly! Use your creativity. Look for the elements that you love, use that as your focal point, and then use the rules of composition to create an interesting painting and tell your story. Move mountains and trees! Change the colors! It's your world!

Light and Shadow: I think the biggest thing is to look for light and shadow patterns. Which is tough when you are painting plein air because they move! The trick is to paint them in quickly when you see the pattern you like - just get the shapes and values in there - and then don't change them! You can always refine the area, change color. But just leave those shadow patterns alone! I can't tell you how many hours I've spent and realized I was just repainting the shadows as they moved! Alternatively, you can always make them up! Just be careful to be consistent, identify the direction of your light and stick to it! When you have only a few elements to work with - grass and trees - light becomes very important.

What if?: The best question to ask yourself to liven up a scene. What if I added a path? What if I added some flowers in this focal area? What if I moved this awkward tree to a better location? What if I added some distant mountains?

Color: I often just push the season in the focal area, maybe a touch of autumn color or spring blossoms. Also try to find an area where you have some distance view, even if it is just more trees. Then you can make those much bluer. Or make up some distance! A peak through the break you created in the trees. Trunks and branches are a great place to add some browns, reds, oranges, purples, blues. Trunks in light and in shadow bring in different colors - warm and cool shades. Dead leaves! More opportunities for color. Dry grass areas. Also, don't forget, there are many many shades of green. Subtle variations in both hue, saturation and value can really make a huge difference. Light, dark, dull, bright, warm, cool.

Think of how you can make a grayscale painting, or a monochromatic painting and it can be very impactful! Value and composition first.

Here's one I did in just such a park. All grass and trees, but in one little area I found this footpath through a little grove with the sun brightly lighting up the field behind...

You can see I've simplified the background, taking out the buildings in the distance, just leaving some neutral blue greens back there. I pushed the color in the midground field to be greener and prettier. I played up the light and shadow patterns and added some flowers.

Here's a more extreme take. Again, a fairly boring grass and trees park, though this time there was a building housing the bathrooms!

As you can see, this one was truly just inspired by the scene! Ha! I added lots of flowers, added more dappled, turned the potty into a little house. Changed the direction of the path to lead into the painting instead of out and made it dirt instead of asphalt! Fun stuff :) Hmmm, maybe I needed a wizard or an elf walking the path with a tall ornate walking stick!

Well I hope this gives you some good ideas! Have fun painting out this summer!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Something I've Learned from Painting

Living for the joy of living.

Something painting has taught me is to turn off my inner critic when I'm painting. Let go of the need to judge what I'm doing. Is it good? Am I good? Should I give it up?

I didn't know how to get in that frame of mind before. But I had to or I would never have continued. I never would have learned how awesome it is to just quit JUDGING! First with painting, and then in all areas of my life. Judging just gets in the way of living joyfully.

Judging is a survival technique. We have to decide right away if we are in danger or safe. It's an instinct that has kept our species alive. So far!

But art is something else. It's going beyond instinct. Being in a creative mode is in itself the reward and the joy. What we produce, well it is what it is! The key is to focus on the joy.

I'm not saying don't practice your skills. All that time at the easel needs to be done without judgement, you don't have to get somewhere. You are there! Every time you pick up the brush! And the more you do it, the more your skills will grow. It's inevitable!

If you are in a state of worry, judgement, criticism, self consciousness, embarrassment - you will never learn the amazing joy of painting!

This lesson has filtered into every part of my life. It has taught me to throw myself whole heartedly into everything I do and turn off the judgement. It's so much more fun to live this way! Thank you painting!

Do I look sillier to others now? Probably. Do I care? NOPE! :)

Whenever I feel that creative urge to do something different, out of the ordinary, whenever that familiar excitement starts to rise, I don't judge it anymore, I just do it! And never let the words "what will people think" or "I'm too old" or "I don't have any talent" into your mind! Pshaw! You have no power here!!

Haha. So. One of the things that I'm doing now because of what I learned painting - I'm playing the drums! :D

I always had an image in my head of getting together with family and friends to make music together. And I've always loved drums. My husband plays the bass, my daughter sings, and our friend Dan plays a mean lead guitar. And they are letting me bang along with them!

I'm having so much fun. And I'm leaving the critic out in the cold. He doesn't want us to enjoy living. I guess he is miserable so he wants everyone else to be!

So I'm sharing this little video of our little band hoping to inspire you to try something without judging yourself. When you paint - leave the critic out in the cold. Feel the amazing feeling of spreading paint on a canvas. Really feel it. Feel the movement of your hands, jump right into what you are painting and notice every part of it. Breath deep, relax, move, enjoy. :)

And let me know! What are you able to do now that you've left the Critic out in the cold?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Next Door Beauty

I have always been a huge fan of finding beauty in the ordinary.

So my new adventure is about homes in my neighborhood. I especially love the brightly colored ones! And there are so many here in Portland. Taking a risk, expressing themselves. Being bold. I just love it! Why DO we take ourselves so seriously after all!

My art has taken a shift over the last year. More Color! More Cowbell! Lol! Loose and free with lots of thick juicy color. :) Ahhhhh.

Every season seems to bring a different home into the spotlight. What I'm absolutely in love with is the combination of nature - domesticated though it may be - and the creative home.

So here are the first few of this series...

"Spring at Last" 9" x 12" acrylic on deep gallery wrapped canvas

"Fall in the Neighborhood"
9" x 12" acrylic
on deep gallery wrapped canvas

"Full Bloom"
9" x 12" acrylic on deep gallery wrapped canvas

"Candy Tree"

9" x 12" acrylic on deep gallery wrapped canvas

 "Crow's Eye View"
9" x 12" acrylic on deep gallery wrapped canvas

These two kid of got me started on this idea. I painted them for the Big 500 Art Show last fall.

This one is
"The Ginkgo"
8" x 8" acrylic on wood panel

And this one is

"Welcome Home"
8" x 8" Acrylic on wood panel

I'll post more as I finish them...

If you are interested, they are available in my Etsy Shop:

And hopefully I'll be showing them this summer at the outdoor art show we have here in St Johns called the Art Constitutional

The fun part is walking, biking or driving around looking for pictures to capture :) Except that I think when I drive real slow down residential streets, circling around and driving by again, people might think I'm up to no good! Ha!

Let me know if you think this is a good direction for me - or if you have a colorful house you would like me to paint :)