It was a cold, windy morning yesterday. I usually start out with good intentions, but bail. Twice I left when the hardier artists braved it out to produce some wonderful plein air paintings, while I worked from photos that do not do justice to the winter scenes. This time I came prepared with insulated overalls and two sets of gloves. I stuck it out long enough to finish this scene.
12" x 6" oil on canvas panel
When a Tree Falls in the Forest
The afternoon was better as I shed the insulated overalls and even the gloves. I took my dog Catfish along for the exercise. He found a rabbit skin left by a hunter and of course did not listen to my shouts to "drop it" and ate the whole thing. That came back up when we got home.
The snow is so inspiring but the cold is discouraging. This is from a photo reference. I am watching the weather site hoping for a nice overlap of snow on the ground and warmer temperatures. I started with a still wet orange ground. It did take heavy application so of white to get the snow covered branches. It ended up being a struggle I may try to avoid in the future.
Working on commissions and graphic jobs is nice but I miss plein air painting. However, my plan to do a plein air painting was quickly cut short, because it is really cold out there. A lot of the public areas are still closed for the season which meant finding a place that is not gated. After all that I painted for probably 20 minutes then took a photo and finished at home.
I went out yesterday thinking I could get in some plein air painting, but like the cows, headed for warmer shelter. I did take some photos that are never as good as observing the subtle shades in the snow shadows.
I was a little late getting these finished due to commissions. I paint watercolor on regular matboard. Then spray them with fixative. Using a sewing needle I string up beads, then dip in acrylic gloss medium and slowly push the beads off the needle. That explains the crooked line of beads. I will sign the pin on the backside then finish up with a coat of the acrylic gloss medium front and back before attaching the clasp.
This was the second painting I did during the Bloomfield plein air painting event. A challenge of different shades of gray. I have learned to love neutrals. One only need to look at the paintings of Andrew Wyeth to see the possibilities.
This time of year the landscape is various grays. Reflections in the water are duller than what they reflect, grayer than gray. For some reason these were also a tinge of green, maybe something in the water that day. Shades of gray are subtle and that is an advantage of painting plein air over photos.
Saturday I participated in a plein air competition in Bloomfield, Iowa. A favorite part of these events is reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Richard Dutton, now a retired college art teacher made the two and a half hour drive to participate. He was also my first watercolor workshop teacher over twenty five years ago. I remember he started by saying he wakes up every day looking forward to teaching art. At 78 he is still teaching workshops, entering competitions and art fairs. A true teacher, he came over and advised me to stop on this painting or I could end up overworking it. I was his competitor in this event and won first place with it. When trying to explain why the arts matter I am reminded of Richard active and still enjoying this long after "retirement"
I took the photo reference while standing on the new bridge. I saw this view while returning from another plein air painting adventure and noticed how that time of day highlights the sun hitting the tops of the bridge and the trees. It goes quickly and maybe I can stand on the bridge long enough to do a watercolor sketch. It would be nice to paint plein air, but the new bridge does not have a pedestrian/bicycle path. Most of the vehicles move over when passing me photographing the old bridge. The bridge is a favorite backdrop for photographs and I have painted while on it, although it does have a few missing planks. It would be nice if they tried to save it like the ones in Oakland Mills and Bentonsport.
I was going to enter the previous abstract painting along with the top painting. Then I read the requirements and I interpreted it to mean that the paintings had to connect in some way, so I sanded off the abstract and painted the bottom painting to be the other bank of the Des Moines river.