Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sun Spot

Sun Spot, oil/panel, 8x10, 10/2009

Another day of painting during the beautiful month of October. I pulled along the side of the road on 12 Mile as I noticed the passing clouds making sun spots, lighting up the treeline every once in a while. At first I didn't know how to handle the foreground until a sun spot lit up a sliver of the field and I felt that was all that was necessary to convey the feeling that I was after.

Gray Day with Warm Color

Douglas Marina, oil/panel, 9x12, 10/09

This painting is featured on my November Newsletter so I thought I could tell the story behind it. I drove to Saugatuck/Douglas area with the intent of meeting my friend Margo there to paint in the dunes at Oval Beach. My friend had car trouble on her way and had to turn back so I continued on as I was close anyway. I did not want to waste a good day for painting! The weather forecast was for an unusually warm October day with some sun. Well, the sun really never came out and I didn't think it was too warm either at least in Douglas. Not wanting to paint in the dunes by myself, I chose a spot in the Marina. Painting there in the off season was ideal - no people, just geese. One even posed for me. I was taken with the warm colors against the foggy sky and gray/blue water. The boats in the distance just needed to be indicated with lines of color. Overall I was happy with my painting and was able to explore the dunes a little too. That will be another painting...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Painting on the Beach

"Pilings at Kirk Park", oil, 9x12, 11/2009

A few weeks ago I ventured over to Lake Michigan and met up with painter Barb Berens. The day was beautiful and the wind was not an issue until we were down on the beach...quite chilly. We set up to paint anyway because the light that morning was irresistable. I focused on the pilings in the distance as my focal point and will use this study for a larger painting in the future. I also examined the very interesting pilings, took some reference photos and decided I need to come back to paint there in the spring.

This painting will be available for sale after it is used for reference. Send me an e-mail if you would want me to hold it for you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Painting on a windy day...

"The Gristmill", oil, 10x12, 11/2009

On Monday, Patti and I went back to the Village of Cannonsburg. It was sunny, quite cold and very windy. I wanted to paint this challenging subject and since the month of November is often very cloudy, I thought I should sieze the opportunity to paint the Gristmill while the sun was shinning despite the wind. Why didn't I do this in September? The Gristmill is a small cafe, gourmet deli and gas station store. Very charming. Patti and I painted and then thawed out with hot drinks and a very good Rueben for lunch. Painting plein air, from life, is often uncomfortable but observing nature first hand and directly responding with the right colors and brushstrokes is the best way grow as an artist. Nature has much to offer, we just need to "see" it.

Honey Creek Inn

"Honey Creek Inn", oil, 12x12, 11/2009

On Saturday, my artist friend, Patti and I again needed to paint in the village...we couldn't resist the charm. Honey Creek Inn is a well known, busy restaurant, renovated from an old tavern. The tavern sign is still on top.

As I was painting, people went in and out the front door, and I started to feel like I needed to put some figures in the painting or it would look too lonely. Finally a patron, approached to see how I was doing and when I told him that I needed a model, he obliged by going back in and getting a waitress to sit on the front bench with him. How nice! She couldn't stay for long, only about a minute because she had tables to attend to, but it was long enough to put in two figures. I am very satisfied with this painting!

A Friendly Village

"The Bottle Shop", oil, 12x12, 11/2009
Last week my painting friend, Patti suggested that we paint in a quaint nearby village. I have driven through Cannonsburg many times on my way to paint in Townsend Park or at Pickerel Lake. I often thought it would be great to paint in the little village but the complicated nature of painting architecture was daunting. But after many months of painting orchards, farms, rivers, etc., I needed a change and decided to embrace the challenge. My goal was to paint a rather loose impression of the buildings trying to capture the colors of the November light. The Oberon Beer Truck was there when I set up my easel and I wanted to include it in the composition so that was the first thing I painted. Sure enough, he pulled out soon after. The owner of the Village, Don, welcomed us and made us feel at home with complimentary hot cocoa to warm us - it was quite chilly. Many others stopped to chat and that warmed us as well.

Next blog...The Honey Creek Inn...

Looking West

"Distant Farm - Autumn", oil, 11x14, 2009
The next day after I painted Alt's Farm - Autumn, I returned to paint the beautiful scene just looking west on the property. I was immediately stunned by this beautiful landscape so perfectly composed with interesting shapes, sunlight and shadows. Even the plowed earth had an interesting design. This plein air piece will be a reference for a larger studio work that I will be starting soon.

Painting Fast

"Pumpkin Field and Crates", oil, 12x9
A very nice elderly gentleman gave me permission to set up my easel in the pumpkin field that his son farmed not too far from my home. As I was trying to decide on the best vantage point among all the pumpkins and crates, when along came the farmer in his equipment ready to take away the crates filled with pumpkins. I explained what I was doing and so he helped by only taking the crates that were the farthest away. I really did not think I would finish this painting before all the crates were hauled away but it did make me paint fast.

Mr. Bob Alt, the farmer, then invited me to look at his property behind his home because he thought it might make a nice painting. The October colors are beautiful when complimented with a gray sky, so that afternoon I accepted the challenge, overlooking rows of golden corn stalks, a distant orchard, soy field and surrounding trees, just past their peak.

"Alt's Farm - Autumn", oil, 12x16
Sometimes one painting spot will lead to another. To be continued...

Vineyards in Late October

"Vineyards In Late October", oil, 8x10

Sometimes as artists working en plein air, we find ourselves in circumstances that we would have never expected. My friend and fellow artist, Holly Sturgis and I had plans to paint at the Silver Leaf Winery in Leelanau County, just north of Suttons Bay, MI. With only an afternoon to paint and relentless rain, the owner of the winery graciously let us set up our easels in a small cabin that was being refurbished overlooking the vineyards and cherry orchard. We were excited to be able to paint afterall. So this painting was done looking out of the cabin window. Even with such dreary weather, the colors seemed to pop and the experience was unforgettable. Also unforgettable is their Cherry Wine, a Gold Medal Winner in the 2009 Tasters Guild International Wine Competition.


"We are painters first, artists always, and as such not bound by anything but our innate desire to create."

-Mary Todd Beam

"Hillside with Pumpkins", oil, 8x10, 10/2009
I love that quote about painters - serious painters who really do have the passion to create works of art. Paintings that express something the artist needs to say. I especially like works of art of everyday scenes. Scenes that are easy to pass by unnoticed.
The above painting "Hillside with Pumpkins" is such a scene that could have easily been passed by, but on the morning that I came across it, the soft autumn light made it special. This 8x10 plein air study in oil will be used to create a larger painting that includes a beautful red oak on the left to balance the composition.