I’m recommitting to getting in some plein air painting on a regular basis this year so headed out with my painting buddies for a session at a local beach area this week. Here we are having lunch in the shade after a hot few hours painting away and trying to get my acrylics on the canvas before they dried!
I love the name of this group. POGO is short for painters of the great outdoors but I always get a mental image of a group of artists bouncing around on pogo sticks with their easel and paints flapping around them as the go.
That wasn’t quite us but we did have a lot of fun and I will be making a real effort to schedule in every 3rd Monday of the month for a painting battery recharge in the fresh air.
We had a wonderful day trip down the Tasman peninsula this week for a spot of photography and some snorkeling.
Our first stop was at Remarkable Cave at low tide . This is a double entrance sea cave with spectacular views out to sea through one of the entrances.
Next stop the Tessalated Pavement which has such interesting rock formations.
I managed to scare myself here by snorkeling right over the top of a huge stingray which had just been disturbed from his hiding place in the sand by my husband who was swimming ahead. I saw what I thought was a strange piece of drift wood a few inches under me and almost reached out to touch it as it looked so smooth… then I saw it was the stinging tail of a ray and I back pedddled very fast. A few weeks ago at a local beach a man died from the sting of a stingray and I did not want a repeat !
I really wanted to remember this day so got straight into the paints when we were home again. Here’s my effort to capture the clear water and sunny day.
If painting on site isn’t an option then painting from a very fresh memory is the next best thing. I’d taken a lot of photos, swam off these rocks and lunched looking over the view so when it came to the painting I really only needed these memories to get me started and didn’t have to refer to the photos at all.
Immersing yourself in your subject is a great way to get that emotional content we should always be aiming for, and swimming is a great way to immerse yourself if your subject is water!
Here’s a few paintings and sketches I’ve done this trip…. I’ve enjoyed every one!
This is a small palette knife painting in acrylics. I like the touch of colour amongst the green here.
Lot’s of wonderful rocks I tried to capture with the palette knife again. Spent a few hours on this one and didn’t even notice The Writer had returned from his walk even though the smell of his stinky cheese snack should have alerted me!
Love those Tuscan clouds and spent a happy evening chasing them with my acrylics.
Done with my travel pastel set from the front lawn of our house in Sardinia. Lovely orange lantana offset the clear blue sea- the snorkeling was fantastic here!
Yes- those doors are a bit askew. It was windy as anything when I did this and the paper kept blowing over. Reminds me of all those green meadows, the early morning smell of cow country and the ceaseless and musical tinkle of cowbells.
It’s been a lot of fun but I’m back down to earth with a thump in a few days when I arrive home to a list of 6 commissions to get done! Will enjoy the last few days here in the glorious Aosta valley with trips to the Gran Paradiso National Park for some hiking.
A few small paintings – all done at Podere Pietrata near Radicofani in southern Tuscany. I just walked out the door and turned in a new direction every evening. They’re simple and not perfect – but they capture the feeling of the place – which is the whole point of plein air painting for me.
I often fill in the day when sitting at the gallery by painting small watercolour art books. People like to see the artist at work and I often sell something because they’ve enjoyed seeing me make it. This is one I did last week. It’s full of small local scenes which is one of the reasons I enjoy doing them so much.
Friday I got to art class early and started this one before my students arrived. I got the basics in and then finished it the next day at home. It took me right back to Arches National Park and I was there again amongst the blue green sage brush which is such a perfect foil for the riot of red, orange and ochres of the rocks and soil.
I fell in love with this plant and one of the most beautiful views from the many places we stayed was the sage brush plain outside our lovely cottage in Kanab. I would just stand and gaze across the blue green brush as the evening descended feeling joyful and serene. A nice state to end the day in. ( and Utah was pretty nice as well!)
Of course this is exactly what Arches National Park is so rightly famous for and I was mesmerised by the thin slivers of rock forming these arches . So graceful yet they were formed by years of abrasion and erosion. I wish I had been shaped so gracefully by my own years .
Every mile of desert landscape we travelled through was colourful, varied and wonderful. I was never bored by the passing landscape and so grateful for the experience and the opportunity to take some hikes that got me up close and personal with some of the landscape. I think you need to get out into nature and experience it in order to get real emotion into your paintings.
I hope that this painting somehow conveys to you those feelings I had as I wandered along the desert trails. The real joy I felt at the exuberance of colour, a sense of wonder that the solidity of those rocks could be changed and sculpted by wind and rain into such delicate structures, a feeling of connectedness to the landscape and a profound thankfulness that places like these have been protected and preserved for generations to enjoy.
If you want to see a real time video of me painting this it will be coming to my Patreon page as a full length video demo in September and will make it’s way to my You Tube channel in October.
July was a busy month for commissions with a really diverse lot of subjects. This is my classroom where I get set new challenges and learn a heap whilst making someone’s vision of a painting come to life.
This one is of a famous hiking trail in Japan. I loved the challenge of getting the mist to look look mist.
Here I got to grow a garden in a couple of days!
And how could I resist this cuddly twosome!
…and a chance to try out some of those quintessential American red barns in a lovely panorama format.
and lastly, a tugboat going about its work. Lots of detail here but that was offset by the loose sky and reflections.
Hope your month has been as varied and interesting!
I recently made some new linocuts and decided it would be fun to add a little story to them for the back of the cards I planned to use the prints on. Here’s what resulted.
“The Birdwatcher’s Club”
The cats met every Tuesday around lunchtime for a spot of sedate birdwatching. It was quietly thrilling as they took up position on the windowsill, never knowing what they might see through the dining room window that day. Perhaps it would be a baby Blue Fairy Wren so tiny and vulnerable as it took its first tentative flights, or maybe an endangered Swift Parrot attracted by all the ripe Irish Strawberries lying on the ground, or the first of the winter Robins with their bright crimson breast so easily spotted as they perched on the low wooden fence. The possibilities were so deliciously varied …
“Harry the Hairy Nosed Wombat”
“Harry was debating if he should get his hairy nose fixed. He felt sure it was hampering him in his quest for love. Maybe it was as simple as investing in a good razor? “
“Tassie was sure that now he had finally made it to the front cover of a greeting card he would be spotted by a talent agent and make the big time. Maybe a wildlife documentary or even a cartoon of his own. “
I enjoyed this so much I think I might try some more…..
I had the first lesson of this terms pastel class today. I know I need to demonstrate techniques for my class and I’m happy to do it but it does put the pressure on to make a “good” painting! When it all goes wrong I can hear them thinking ” I’m paying her to teach me!!!!”
So it was a bit of a mistake to try a new approach today that I knew would take too long to finish. I planned to only do a small area well and leave the rest of the subject area pretty empty.
Plans never go to plan! I started out with the idea of concentrating on the barn and rendering that to a finished stage but then my students had the audacity to follow through on my suggestion that they interrupt at any time and ask questions… I found myself moving into the trees and the sky in response and the end result looked like the unfinished scribblings of a two-year old let loose with the crayon packet! I meant to take a photo but somehow forgot so you’ll just have to imagine it but you can use the following to gauge it’s true horror. To be fait it was a lot more resolved than this but still very, very uninspiring which could be why my sub conscious forgot to take that photo.
Not content with one mess I grabbed another sheet of paper and scribbled a bit more .
I could have done better with more time but I’m always conscious that the main reason they’re in the room is so they can paint and I like to keep a strict 30 minutes for my into waffle and demo so I packed up the waffle iron and got them painting …and they did some great work which I like to think was partly in response to the earlier 30 minutes of demo and discussion. ( and which I hope they think was in some way a result of my teaching points or it coud be a very empty class room next week!)
When I got home I needed to finish that barn! An hour later I put the finishing touches and then tackled the scribbled sheet with an imaginary reflection scene. It felt good to relax with no video running, no need to talk about what I was doing ( I may have babbled on a bit to myself , but myself is very laid back when listening to myself, so no pressure there) and no one to see the end result as it unfolded. It could all go in the bin if I hated it.
Demonstrating to a live audience is full of pressure, a video is a bit better but if it all goes wrong there’s a lot of wasted time ( and to be honest I get a bit tired of talking while I paint – although the IT Geek would tell you I never get tired of talking!) and doing commissions is fraught with possible problems to be resolved. Painting just for me happens a lot less than it used to and I really, REALLY, enjoyed it.