Cambrian Art League Demo

Yesterday, I did a demonstration at the Cambrian Art League. They are a lively group and meet in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. I did a painting of the Truckee River in the snow, and with all the talking, etc., only got about 2/3rds complete.

Here’s a few pictures from the demo (Click on a thumbnail picture for a larger slideshow)–

Today I spent another hour or so to complete it, at least for now. Here is the complete piece–

Truckee Thaw, 12x16, oil on panel
Truckee Thaw, 12×16, oil on panel

The Painting of TwentyFive: Where Redwoods Thrive


Continuing the ╦ťCreeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” year long project.


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I recently bought a GoPro camera and used it to take some time lapse photography of painting number TwentyFive.

5627 individual photos were taken at one per second for a total duration of 94 minutes. The photos were then sped up to 10 per second to produce the video. The camera was never stopped the entire time, even when I was talking with passersby.

2nd Annual Plein Air Convention

The 2nd Annual Plein Air Convention was held in Monterey, CA this year. I missed the first convention last year in Las Vegas, but since Monterey is only 90 minutes from my home, certainly couldn’t miss this one!

I registered for the convention quite awhile ago, but then a month ago they added me to the ‘faculty’ to do an acrylic painting demonstration on the Expo Hall Demo Stage. Although I do most of my finished paintings in oil, I do take acrylics on travel trips, especially international excursions. Plein Air magazine had published an article about it last year, so I decided to just expand on the concept. At any rate, it was quite an honor to be in the same venue with some of the top plein air and traditional artists in the country.

Arriving Wednesday, the convention got off to a great start that afternoon, and didn’t slow down the entire time. It was non-stop lectures, demos, eating, meeting, vendors, and just fun. I won’t go into all the events and demos, as you can find them here, but every demo and lecture was top notch.

There seemed to be so many things going on, it was difficult to pick and choose which to attend. A few that stood out in my mind was James Gurney’s (Dinotopia author) totally entertaining lecture on opening night, where he gave about a semesters’s worth of art lessons in an hour. Also, demos by Gil Dellinger, CS Mundy, were a hoot. Brian Blood gave away his secrets on painting fog, and Ken Auster did a 52×52 inch painting in 90 minutes. The portraits painted by Michelle Dunaway and Jeremy Lipking were amazing.

My demo time slot on Saturday morning was only 45 minutes, but the prior special event went 15 minutes over, so I only had about 35 total minutes. I didn’t get far in the actual demo, but mainly answered lots of questions from the audience. I did finish the painting later in the Expo Hall, so those interested could watch and then see the finished product.

Here are a few pictures during the demo. You can click on any picture to see a larger version (Thanks, Sam for providing the photos!)–

Below is the finished painting–

Akaroa Lighthouse 12x16 Acrylic
Akaroa Lighthouse 12×16 Acrylic

That afternoon, the entire group went to Asilomar for lunch then painted in the area, mostly on Asilomar Beach. It was quite a ‘trippy’ experience to see hundreds of artists painting together on the same beach! If there were a Guiness World Record category for this, we certainly would hold the record!

A few shots of the crowd–

I was a little tired from standing, painting, and answering dozens of questions most of the morning, so took my chair, semi-relaxed, and did a small 8×10 oil of the beach. It was quite windy, which put a chill in the area, but everyone toughed it out like good plein air artists–

Asilomar Beach 8x10 Oil
Asilomar Beach 8×10 Oil

The next day, Sunday morning, many also met along the wharf in Monterey, where in places they stood shoulder to shoulder painting. Here are a few shots of the crowd. The first picture shows James Gurney, author of the Dinotopia books sitting and sketching–

I did another painting of the Monterey Wharf area. Here is me by the easel–

Yours truly out painting with the group
Yours truly out painting with the group

And the painting–

Monterey Wharf 12x24 Oil
Monterey Wharf 12×24 Oil

I soon had to head home. April 15 was the next day, and time to finish up the tax returns!

The producer of the show, Eric Rhoads (publisher, Plein Air Magazine) mentioned afterwards they are still looking for a venue next year. I’d recommend going for anyone interested in Plein Air painting. It was absolutely wonderful to meet and talk with some of my art ‘heros’, all of whom were very generous with their time and advice. Hope to see everyone there next year!

Millbrae Arts Association Demo

I was invited to do a demo at the Millbrae Arts Association in Millbrae California last night. I demoed for them several years ago a snow scene along the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe. They asked me to do a water scene, so I decided to paint the Merced River in Yosemite Valley with Sentinel Rock in the background using a study painted several years ago for a commission piece. Allotted about 90 minutes actual painting time, covering a 16×20 panel is a challenge! We did manage to get the basics down of how to paint reflections and other water subject techniques.

Below are a few pictures of the event…

The Millbrae association is a small, but friendly group, and it was a fun and great opportunity to spend an evening with them!

At Scottsdale Artist School With Marc Hanson

Prologue: As mentioned in my previous blog, I originally intended to write one blog entry a day during last weeks workshop with Marc Hanson at Scottsdale Artists’ School, but for some reason could not upload pictures to my weblog from my laptop. For those who follow me on Facebook, I was able to upload some photos there, so pardon the repetition. Below is a day by day account written after arriving home…

DAY 1
Today was the first day of class with Marc Hanson at Scottsdale Artists’ School. There are only 6 in the class, from all over including Alaska and Canada.

In the morning, Marc went through a slide show of his paintings, both plein air and studio works to give us an idea of what it takes to do small plein air pieces then a large studio work from the plein air. Marc then did a black and white value sketch derived from a plain air piece he had just done in Sedona, AZ a few days before. I have never done a value sketch like this, but can see the advantages if you need to work out certain ideas and values without color getting in the way.

In the afternoon, he did a large color painting of the same scene, Courthouse Rock in Sedona, Arizona.

DAY 2
The next day we went to a nearby city park, Papago Park, to gather some small field studies. One late student arrival showed, which made the total class size seven. The object of this one week workshop is to gather field studies the first couple days, then take those into the studio and produce large paintings from the field studies.

Papago Park has some nice desert scenes with large jutting rocks, cacti, palm trees, ponds, and other formations. It was a nice place to work, and also during this time of year it is warm, but not terribly hot! I decided to first sketch a group of rocks in a black and white study (using only Ivory Black and White paint) as Marc suggested.

Below is the scene. The rocks are in the distance, although they were actually closer than what appears in this photo…

The park was nice with picnic tables set up with a roof. Just right for getting out of the Phoenix sun…

Below is a quick snapshot of the value study on my easel…

I then did the exact same scene in color. Good practice! I actually like the black and white just as good or better!!

DAY 3
We met again at Papago Park, this time by some ponds just a short distance from where we were the day before. I decided to do a piece concentrating on the water. Below is a picture near where I painted, but I forgot to get a shot of the exact scene…

Some pictures of the group painting around the pond…

DAY 4 & 5
We met back at Scottsdale Art School for two days of studio painting from what we gathered in the field. I had painted 7 small pieces, 6×8 & 8×10, including both black and white value studies, and color studies.

Below are a few shots of the classroom the two days…

I finished two ‘large’ pieces the two studio days, both 16×20 shown below. These are snapshots from my iPhone, so maybe not the best quality. I had to leave the large wet paintings with my nephew in Phoenix as I had no way to carry them home on the airplane.

After spending the weekend with my nephew Jeff, I flew home late Sunday night.

All in all, it was a great week. It was my first time at the school, as I have always wanted to attend a workshop there. Marc is also such a good and helpful instructor. Hopefully our paths will cross again soon!

Scottsdale Artist School with Marc Hanson

First off, that is not my painting.

I have always admired Marc Hanson’s work from afar. I have never met him, nor seen any of his paintings in real life and have only seen his work on the Internet. What draws me to his art is his magical ability to make a seemingly mundane, common, ordinary place into … well … a great piece of art… and with subtle elegance. You can see it above with a simple scene which just draws me (maybe you) in, and then looking around, such simple elegance.

It is often said, don’t buy a piece of art unless it “speaks to you”. Well, as an artist, Marc’s work speaks to me.

So, I am in Scottsdale, Arizona on a Sunday tonight, after flying in to Pheonix to attend an all week workshop by Marc. For you baseball fans, the SF Giants spring training just ended today at Scottsdale Stadium, just two blocks away from my hotel. Glad I’m not paying yesterday’s hotel rates!!

I’ll try to post some developments along the way….stay tuned…

Above El Capitan VII

Some may remember late last year I was working on a large painting of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and posting the work as it developed. (You can scroll back through this weblog and see the posts I made as the painting progressed.) I was close to finished, so stopped working on it for a few weeks and come back with a fresh eye. Well, the weeks turned into months, and I am just now coming back to it.

In the last few days, I have painted all over the canvas, mainly lightening up the distant values as they were too dark. I might lighten them up a bit more once the foreground is complete. I also eliminated some of the clouds as they were over powering the rest of the painting. I also slightly changed and worked on the foreground, with more work to do there. It is getting close to finished. Anybody have suggestions?

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Here is a detail of part of the foreground.

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Above El Capitan VI

Continued work yesterday and today. I put in the rest of the valley floor, with the lower right very roughly painted as much of it will be covered with foreground trees. I continued to work on the foreground, and also all over the painting, making minor adjustments, adding some scattered clouds and other details.

Normally I can do 90% of a painting this size in 3-4 days, then let it sit and occasionally make adjustments here and there over several weeks . It is also good to put it aside for awhile and then look at it with fresh eyes. This phase will start in the next day or so.

Below are two shots, one of the entire painting, and one closeup of part of the sky which shows some of the color better.

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Above El Capitan V

I am still recovering from a sick spell, but spent more time today working on El Capitan than I have any day yet. At this stage, the painting becomes more fun as the highlights are starting to develop and the painting is taking on a finished look. You can probably tell from the photos below that a lot of progress was made. I worked the cliffs to the right just in front of El Capitan, more of the valley floor, and sketched in the Merced River as it flows through Yosemite Valley.

I also started some of the foreground cliffs. After some thought, I decided to lower the forground cliff where it is much less pronounced. I did this as the previous sketch boxed the viewer in. I want the eye to follow the cliff right into the middle distance and right to the light on El Capitan.

The quick snapshots I take while the painting is on the easel really wash out a lot of color, particularly the sky, where most of the grey you see is actually a bluish purple.

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Below is a closeup of the right hand cliffs which show the actual color and values a little more accurately–

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My goal is to get this painting about 95% complete this week. If I continue at today’s pace, I should make it!

Above El Capitan Part IV

Normally I would be finished with this painting by now, but other projects, activities, and several days of being under the weather have slowed me down. Today I finally got back to painting since mid last week.

I am still working mainly top to bottom, but since the entire painting was dry, went back over and put in more clouds and detail in places. I also worked more on the valley floor, which is primarily evergreen trees.

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Up to this point I have not decided how the foreground cliffs will appear, so now have to decide. The reason being, I don’t want too put much detail on the valley floor directly below which will be covered by trees, etc.