The first time I drove past the Fleetwood Diner in a non-descript part of town my head would’ve flown off had it not been attached by my neck. It stands out like a full moon in a clear night sky. Hence the immediate U-turn.
It’s everything you’d want in a diner including great food, especially their popular dish—Hippie Hash!
After my first painting, a 5×7″ acrylic, I knew I had to go back—AT NIGHT— to take more pictures to really get that shine through the glass bricks and that glow of the neon lights—not an easy task.
My second painting, 12×24″ acrylic, I worked to capture the neon and the mystery of the Fleetwood in the late summer evening.
It’s a big enough job patrolling the garden, but when a dozen artists invade the place and I have to check out each one with all those shoes, and bags, and sticks in the ground, it’s a wonder I get to all my usual checkpoints. Good thing I have bench, with its raised vantage point and luxury sunbeams, to take a well deserved rest.
Long ago when I learned to use a computer I quickly got used to the UNDO command. My thumb and middle finger became ingrained in this keyboard motion and I found my fingers repeating this motion in spite of myself whenever I make a mistake whether I was on a computer or not!
There is no such command in painting. I think I’m done with a painting but…maybe…that one area might look better if it were a bit lighter…noooooo. It doesn’t. UNDO. UNDO. UNDO. Sigh…
If the paint underneath was dry I might be able to wipe it off, but that is not the case. So I scrape it off and repaint, telling myself how stupid I am. But, frustrating as it may be, it always turns out better than it was to begin with. Wow. And I’m happy again.
A friend of mine confessed that her thumb and finger try to expand pictures in magazines to make them bigger. Ha!
One of the biggest challenges for plein air painters (painting outdoors) is the vastness of what we are looking at. Trying to get the huge outdoors and fit it on our teeny, tiny, little canvas can stop an artist in our tracks so to speak.
All the advice, tips, and rules I hear from experienced painters seem to leave me when I am out there enjoying the wonders of nature. “Paint what you love.” “Look for the big shapes.” “See the darks and lights.”
Ever since I saw my first Monet painting I wanted to paint water lilies. We were at a beautiful garden with a pond with the most perfect water lilies you can imagine. I was so excited.
By the end of my painting session I was so disappointed. I had wanted to paint water lilies. Here is a sketch of what I did. I went home and scraped it off.
Luckily I took lots of photos and when I enlarged the photo and painted in my studio, I actually painted water lilies.
When I lived in California I was lucky enough to take a week-long portrait and figure painting, watercolor workshop from world famous artist Mary Whyte. One afternoon we ventured out of the studio to the beach (we were right on the coast in Crescent City) to take some photos of the model. Let’s face it, you don’t normally come across young women dressed like this strolling the beach.
It was a foggy day and the light was strange. The ocean and the sky was a strange, muted yellow green. I painted it once true to the photo, but after the online course I took this past winter, photos are just a reference and I have broken free from trying to reproduce them—a very big breakthrough for me.
Some people don’t like people in their art; others love the human, lively element people add to a painting. Which do you prefer?
When my friend invited a group of us to go to the sand dunes, I was thinking hiking the dune and some nature trails by Lake Michigan.
As she parked the car I saw one large dune and a public beach. She unloaded a blanket, towel and beach chair and headed for the beach. I was not prepared. I was not dressed for the beach. I did not bring a blanket, towel or chair. Luckily I had a hat, sunscreen, sketchbook and camera.
It was near the end of summer and I then had shoulder surgery, then it was fall and then the holidays, yada yada yada. I have been wanting to paint this beach scene (and others) since last year.
Finally! This little girl gets to go swimming!
I definitely would frame in a floater frame or edge-to-edge frame so nothing gets covered up.
I was listening to a podcast by the Savvy Painter, Antrese Wood, where she interviews successful artists (http://www.savvypainter.com), and the artist was saying he works on 40 to 50 canvases at a time.
Well my studio isn’t big enough to do that, but I’ve been working on one piece at a time. Working small and in oil, wet on wet, it generally requires finishing a painting in one session.
Lately though, some of the techniques I want to use haven’t been working and it would seem the paint needs to dry before I apply the next layer. So working on more than one piece would be beneficial.
Also, a fellow artist point out to me that if you are having a problem with a painting and getting frustrated, setting it aside and working on another can 1) build your confidence back up, and 2) going back to the first painting later you may see the problem in a new light and it has solved itself.
Indeed it seems to be working. I started this tulip painting, and then started a beach scene. Came back and finished the tulips and started 2 more beach scenes. Solving problems in one saves time with the next and letting areas dry for a certain texture is working well. I like it.
“Field of Tulips”, 8×10″ oil, available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/560288
After I took that e-Course in the winter I wanted to make sure I embedded the lessons in my memory, and since the subject matter we painted was basically florals, I painted several more flower still lifes. I’m quite happy with the results.
Then the weather got nice and plein air painting started (painting outdoors) and I was back out in the landscape. I’m always rusty at first and this year was no different. But going out each week helps and I’m getting better.
In the meantime, back in the studio I remembered some photos I took of a house nearby that has it’s whole front yard filled with tulips! Maybe this would be my happy medium. This could be a nice transition between flowers and the landscape. It was very fun to paint.
I am a fair weather painter. I admire those who bundle up in the winter and brave the cold and snow, but for me, the sun and wind and bugs are challenge enough.
I learned to paint “in the open air” while living in California. When I moved back to Michigan I was honestly surprised to find artists painting en plein air.Ha! So we go out together (safer) after being cooped up in our studios all winter to be enthralled, overwhelmed, and challenged by nature.
The first week I came home and immediately wiped off all the paint. The second week was not too bad—won’t win any prizes; probably won’t sell; but is worth studying to see what I learned for next time.
Third week went better. We were serenaded by birds and frogs; there was a creek and a nice breeze. I was happier with the result. Loose, painterly, almost abstract. Available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/557386
This week the group opted to paint in the local town. Just when I was getting back into the landscape (after my flower series) we have buildings! Another learning experience; not a keeper. And so it goes…
In the heart of Old Town Lansing, Michigan, Absolute Gallery supports local artists as well as offering custom framing and an array of handpicked craft and gift items. Everywhere you look you will find something of interest. They offer innovative live programs from time to time too.
Visit 307 East Grand River Ave., Lansing, to see these pieces I just delivered and now available.