Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This Week's Plein Air

Astoria Park, August Afternoon, 2011, oil on linen, 10 x 9 inches
Irene came and left last weekend, the city was at a halt trying to get ready for a hurricane that threatened to do a lot of damage to the tri state area. MTA, New York's public transportation system made up of subway lines, buses, and commuter rails going in and out of the city were shut down on Saturday afternoon, leaving millions of people without ways of getting around. Irene's heavy rain and wind knocked down trees and flooded neighborhoods close to the water, but things seemed to get back to normal on Monday.
Central Park Tree, August Afternoon, 2011, oil on linen, 11 x 9 inches
The sun came out and I could not stay cooped up in my apartment any longer. I spent two days enjoying the weather doing some plein air painting, hoping to catch the beautiful golden light of summer afternoons. I have been focusing on tree studies, trying to find the perfect painterly way of describing them without overworking the painting. So far I haven't reached that perfect balance of big shapes versus more detailed marks, but I'm working on it. More painting get done next week, stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Plein Air Paintings

Tree by the Pond, 2011, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches
I spent two full days at Central Park this week. After days of rain the sun finally came out and without missing a beat I went out to paint. I have been trying to get some outdoor painting time in the last month, mainly because I wanted to practice and perfect my technique as much as possible.
Driprock Arch, 2011, oil on linen, 9 x 10 inches
Something clicked in me these past two days and the quality of my work improved. My colors are more alive and my attention to detail is getting better, I have also noticed that I have a better handle of paint. All this is making me very happy.
Kerbs Boathouse, 2011, oil on linen, 9 x 11 inches
After getting home from the park tonight I pulled out some of my old plein air paintings, some from this year and some from 2009. The change is tremendous, I can't believe how much I have grown as a plein air painter. More to come.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Working on a Portrait

August has not been a good month for painting outdoor. On my days off it has been raining or things come up that keep me from getting work done. Even trying to find time to go for a run has been difficult this month. I started working on a new still life but after the third night I set it aside, things weren't going well with that. I was inspired to start a new portrait of Jarod, a small one that would be good practice before starting a bigger more complex painting.
On the first night I started by drawing out his face with burnt and raw umber. I refuse to draw it out in pencil on paper and then transferring it to the canvas, so that I could then proceed to paint within the lines. I like what happens when you develop and correct the painting without having guidelines. It looks more painterly and fleshy that way.
After figuring out the features I moved on to adding color trying to stay true to the under layer. Not bad for one night's work, but coming back to it the next day with fresh eyes, things start to stand out and changes become necessary.
After letting the painting sit for a day, looking at it, corrections start to take place. On the second night of painting I start measuring things and moving the position of the eyes, shortening the length of the face, changing the lips a little, etc. So far this painting is not so bad for a guy how doesn't do portraits. There's more progress to be done here, but it seems like this painting might be done sooner than expected. More to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life is a Beach...

Jones Beach Before a Storm, 2011, oil on linen, 9 x 11 inches
At least it was for a few hours yesterday afternoon. It's so hard to believe that summer is coming to an end and yesterday was the first time I went to the beach this season. It may not have been the perfect beach day, but it was enjoyable to lay on the sand and hear the waves crashing on the shore. I was not going to pass up on the opportunity of doing a quick plein air painting at Jones Beach, and it went smoother than expected. I thought that I would get sand everywhere, but by now it seems that I am able to keep debris away from my work. I finished this painting just in time before the rain came down, as soon as we made it back to the car it began pouring. Man was I lucky! It's funny to me that the two paintings of Jones Beach I have done have been stormy scenes...I swear Long Island has plenty of sunny days and I've enjoyed my share of them, but stormy days do make an interesting painting. More plein air painting to come.