Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Selby Ficus

The Selby Ficus
12" x 16" - acrylic on canvas - SOLD
This is my plein air entry into the Lightchasers "Sarasota Paintout" exhibit taking place this weekend at the Phillippi Estate Mansion located in (good guess...) Sarasota, Florida. I did do a little more work after my 3 hours of painting  on location at Selby Gardens, and was happy with the final work. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Painting at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

I had a much better plein air painting experience today. I arrived at the Gardens when it opened and despite having some difficulty in deciding what to paint, finally settled on the large Banyan tree near the Children's area. I have been wanting to paint this particular tree for awhile, so the timing seemed right. Fortunately I was able to position myself in the shade and off the sidewalk - the latter being a rule in order to not block the visitors - which also ruled out a number of really great view options, but what can you do. 
I thought I would try to do a quick value sketch, but realized that trying to accurately draw and shade the tree roots would take forever, so opted to just jump into the painting, which I think was the right thing to do. 
I started with a wash of blue acrylic to just mass in the vertical trunks and provide a framework for the trees, then drew into that with a watercolour pencil, then kept trying to get some paint everywhere on the canvas, while slowly defining the wonderful maze of roots, as best I could.  
I had not planned to go crazy with colour, but things just happen. 

The painting did start to come together but the tree roots continued to be a challenge - and at several points I had to draw and then re-draw their edges - and the lower foreground still needs to be completed, as well as the background.  All in all, a good day and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

plein air conundrum

This is day three of the Sarasota Paintout......and I am not having as much fun as I thought I would. I am having problems with finding landscape views, and with painting the palm frond foliage shapes. 
On the first day (Thursday last) I drove to the Phillippi Estate Park and after making several value studies of a few possible views, I settled on one thinking that I'd just work through the palm tree problems:  of not being able to distinguish the overall foliage shape of one against another, and then actually in painting them.
Here are the photos of the scenes I thought about painting and the quick value studies I did do.

I finally started and spent most of my time working on a 12 x12 canvas. I actually liked it at one point, but unfortunately, kept painting. After about two hours I packed it in, and thought that perhaps I could improve it in the studio. I did work on it a bit (allowed) and here is what it looks like now. Not great.

I also started a second canvas that morning, of basically the same view but changing the format to a vertical rectangle. After blocking in the values on the canvas I left it and finished it in the studio yesterday and today.

On day two, yesterday, I spent several hours driving and looking for possible painting locations and views on Lido Key and on the south end of Longboat Key (all part of Sarasota County, and closer to my home location) but did not really find anything inspirational. Everything was too manicured, or was a wall of trees/vegetation, or was just boring. I am spending today and day four working on several studio pieces that are in various stages of completion, works that I am much happier with.  I haven't given up, I am just taking a break, and saving my energy for painting at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on Monday. Based on the internet photos of the Gardens I am really hoping to find some views there that will be more fun too paint. Sunny days ahead, my friends.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Light Chaser’s ‘Paint Sarasota Paintout’

I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to do some plein air painting in Florida this winter, and have signed up for the annual Light Chaser’s Paint Sarasota Paintout that begins today (February 18)  and finishes up next Wednesday February 24th. What that means is that I will head out each morning with my gear and paint some kind of landscape view, on location at the day’s designated spot, along with the other 92 painters involved. At the end of the period I will enter one of my paintings into the group’s annual exhibit to be held at the Edson Keith Mansion at the Phillippi Estate Park, on the weekend of Feb. 26 to the 28th. Fortunately, the weather looks like it will co-operate with mild temps and lots of sun – yeah!           

I will be posting what I paint each day - the good and the bad. If you are in the Sarasota County area the weekend of the exhibit this is your invitation to come by and see some fabulous art, and it’s all for sale! Information about the exhibit is on the poster above. I am looking forward to the challenge - so stay tuned.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Radiant River

Radiant River
30" x 40" - acrylic on canvas - sold

I finished this painting about a week ago after working on it over many weeks. Here is how it evolved.

1-pretty basic at this point
2-it took a long time to get it here - but it felt boring.
3-with nothing to lose I added lots of vertical marks connecting the trees (on the right) with the reflections and began to turn colours into abstract shapes; started too like it and could then see how to proceed - yeah!

As the reflections took on greater abstract form and began to project, I realized the need to restrain myself and other areas of the painting - pushing those areas 'back' by 's pushed back other areas by softening edges, using a mushy brushstroke and muted colours.  At one point I played with a bit of foreground in the lower left and right corners but finally took them out, creating a much stronger sense of asymmetrical balance. 
I am really happy with the final painting - and the sense of serenity and peacefulness I think it conveys.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Plein Air Painting - in Florida

Twin Lakes Reflections
11" x 14" - acrylic on canvas
One of my goals for the new year was to do some plein air painting this winter while in Florida. I joined a group called Lightchasers: Plein Air Painters of the Suncoast, who meet once a week to paint at a designated spot in Sarasota County. I did this work a few weeks ago on location at Twin Lakes Park. I had never been there before and arrived a bit late, so I just set up in front of the first view that seemed reasonable. (I decided to ignore the signs about alligators in the lakes, but did keep my ears out for sudden splashes.)

Here is the view I settled on. I knew that I had to crop or reduce whatever view I chose, and because the foliage reflected in the water was an interesting compositional shape, and the land was not very distinct in terms of form/shape and value - I focused on what I saw in the water. Though the actual colours of the reflections were quite subtle and wonderful, I was a little creative with the palette but did maintain the sense of temperature and ambiance.  It took me a couple of hours to complete, I heard no splashes, and was quite happy with the result.

On another outing with this group a few weeks ago I saw a plein air demo with Joseph Palmeirio - and it was terrific.  More about plein air later this week - cheers!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Arcadia Abstract

Arcadia Abstract
24" x 30"  - acrylic on canvas - $450

I started the work shown here, back in November, and it changed a lot over time. The subject was inspired by this photo I took while walking through a conservation area near to where I live in S-W Ontario.

Even though it was quite a dull day and there was little colour in the landscape, I liked the arrangement of trees across the picture plane contrasting with the three horizontal bands of fore, middle and background.
stage 1
In stage one I established the colour palette and the division of space - and really liked the Wolf-Kahn-esque appearance and considered stopping........but decided to proceed with my original idea, for better or worse. With each successive stage the tree forms took shape, and the grounds became more distinct and detailed.
stage 2

stage 3
 I wasn't crazy with it at this point and decided to define some abstract areas with an acrylic marker, and then obliterated the lines with more paint......
stage 4
By stage 4 I realized that the composition needed a more distinct focal point - something that would break up the horizontality of the composition. I also wanted to create a better visual path through the compositional space, and that became the actual path too once I opened up a 'space' through the trees which you can see in the finished work at the top of the post.  I am quite happy with the finished painting and love the whimsical, magical feeling of the scene - hence the title. Cheers!