Sunday, May 30, 2010

PAINTINGS - "STEMS Plein Air" Pt.2

Here is the next batch of paintings from this weekend. I went to the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens on Saturday. Above is the American Indian "Medicine Wheel". Visitors are allowed to place a rock somewhere in the wheel as a prayer. My wife always liked going there, since she had some Indian heritage in the family tree. The little straw hut had been blown over since the last time I was there. But it made for an interesting structure.

Below you can see how dramatically the light shifted during the course of the morning. This will be a recurring challenge anytime one tries plein air painting. One solution is to revisit a spot at the same time over several days. I chose not to do that...but I lost that strong shadow that grabbed me early in the day...hard to fake that.

Next, I wandered off down a trail that goes about a mile out into the woods of the Arboretum. Beautiful walk...not so fun, if you are hauling several pounds of painting gear. I stopped at a little bridge, where these trees and their roots caught my eye.
However, you can see the total change in the mood from the sun moving positions during the mid-day. I was not as happy with this painting, but once I got it home, I liked it a little better. I got tired, and really didn't get to the detailing on the roots like I had wanted to do.

This last one was done today at the Deanna Rose Farmstead. I started at 9:30 this morning, and didn't get finished until about 1:30. However I tried something a little unconventional, which made it take much longer. A mistake.
Because I love drawing in my sketchbooks, I thought I'd try a painting more like those images. I used my felt-tip marker pen and rendered the whole scene in linework. My intention was to do thin glazes of color oil washes. But the more I got into it, the less I liked it. A crowd was gathering around, and I started feeling the pressure.
So I reverted back to my traditional oil painting technique. I'm not unhappy with the final's just too bad that I lost the sketch that I spent a couple of hours on. At least I have the digital version from my camera...sigh.
(A final word to the wise...DO NOT set up near the dairy barn, if you don't want to hear a string of cow bells being constantly rung, dozens of parents reading a sign out loud to their kids about cow trivia, and EVERYBODY trying to communicate with the animals by MOOING all day long!!!! I'm just sayin'...)


Unknown said...

Another great looking set of paintings. It's nice to see that the sun was nice enough to come out, even if it continually gave you issues by that whole 'moving' thing it likes to do :).

I do enjoy the dynamic that is apparent from the shifting light though. You get a sense of life from each painting because of this. It becomes more than a scene through it.

Again your paint application looks fantastic, though I think it feels thinner on the final tractor painting. It's definitely a shame the line work was lost in the flurry of paint in the end, maybe you'll be able to refine the image in Photoshop and save the picture for digital color :). Seems to have enough resolution that you could make something from it still!

My favorite is easily the medicine wheel. It has a good amount of space represented and the contrast to make it feel as if it has real depth. The shadows over the foreground ensures the viewer that it was painted out in the air as well.

Will there be another set coming or is it off to the show next?

Christopher said...


Nice paintings Uncle! I really like the drawing too. For some reason I find myself liking the sketches more. I don't know if it's because it's black and white or what. Keep up the good work.
I too am interested in what happens next... could you enter any of these paintings in the show or do you actually have to show up on a specific day and submit a painting from that day?

Warren said...

Thanks for your comments and critiques, Gray and Christopher. It's a real challenge, not being able to freshen up the paintings once I get them home. But that's the way the rules play out.

After the end of next week, (June 7th is the final deadline), we may submit only 3 framed paintings, if we wish to be considered for judging. If the weather holds up, I might get out another couple of evenings. But we're supposed to get rain, so we'll see.

It's been interesting to read the comments I get from these posts. It might help me to decide which (if any) I'll turn in to be voted on. There are cash prizes, but there are also about a 100 other artists participating. Do the math...that's about 300 possible entries! But this has been a good experience for me...and on some days, actually enjoyable.

And, Chris...I'm also leaning towards the sketchbooks as my preferred approach. Just love to draw the details and it's a lot more portable!

Anonymous said...

Glad you're having a bit of fun with all of this in spite of the effort it is taking. I like them all, but I'm slightly prejudiced...only

Christopher said...

I personally like both 'Tractor/Threshing Machine' paintings as well as the 'Medicine Wheel'.

Can't wait to seen another if you get out there in time.

Stephan said...

Just randomly found your blog... I like your plein air paintings. They are impressive and atmospheric!

Warren said...

Stephan...thanks for the compliments. I visited your blog and really like your work. Nice figure drawings going there...inspires me to take advantage of a life drawing class at my work. I'll come to your blog again soon!