neighborhood

Local Color

Sunday, May 12, 2019

When we moved here four years ago, I told our real estate agent I wanted to live in a place where I could see palm trees, succulents, cacti — where I could look out the window and immediately know I was in California and not Connecticut. He delivered.

Last week was all about rediscovering the neighborhood in my sketchbook. Also, I wanted an excuse to try out some of the materials I got at the Plein Air Convention: a Princeton Aqua Elite travel brush and a Richeson Grey Matters travel brush, both synthetic size 8s. They both hold a good bit of water and come to a nice point, especially the Aqua Elite.

A few steps into the park behind our house, and I see views like these:

190505 Santa Teresa County Park 1

190505 Santa Teresa County Park 2


Here's one of the views from the swing in our backyard. I love how the side of the house glows in the evening light.

190505 View from backyard swing

And this, from our front yard.

190508 Heaton Moor

I've been going for quantity and discipline, as a I prep for Carmel Art Festival in just a few days!



plein air

Recap: 8th Annual Plein Air Convention (Part 2)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Friday, April 26.
On Friday, I started the day with Marketing Boot Camp again, followed by Keiko Tanabe's demo. She painted a scene of San Francisco's Japantown, and it was great to watch her loose, spontaneous watercolor technique.

The highlight of the morning was a panel on plein air painting and the movie industry. I sat in just to rest for a bit but was absolutely blown away by the artists (Mike Hernandez of Dreamworks; Sharon Calahan and Bill Cone of Pixar). Their plein air work (especially in gouache) was amazing, and it was fascinating to learn how their fine art informs the scenery and lighting in animated movies. Many of their paintings rely on high-contrast juxtapositions -- brilliant lights next to the darks -- to create dramatic atmosphere.

In the afternoon, I sketched while watching Marc Dalessio's lesson on glazing techniques.

190426 Marc Dalessio at PACE19

Friday's paint-out was at Golden Gate Park. It's one of those places that I kept meaning to return to but, well, hadn't. I walked down to Market Street and hopped on the 5R bus to go to the Conservatory of Flowers. It was chilly and overcast, but I was able to do a quick sketch of the palm trees and the building in between helping other convention attendees with their own paintings.

190426 Golden Gate Park San Francisco

Saturday, April 27.
Last day of bootcamp! Eric asked us to write down our commitments, as usual. What could we be doing to further our business, to sell more art?

A little while later, we found out that next year's Plein Air Convention would be in Colorado! Excited to share my love of Denver, Boulder, and the surrounding area with next year's attendees.

After the closing ceremony, we all went out to Land's End to paint. Again, it was foggy and overcast, but I still managed to do a watercolor of Baker Beach while chatting with some new friends from AZ. This is probably my favorite of all the paintings I did during the convention.

190427 Baker Beach from Lands End SF

The last order of the day was a hippie-themed party. A San Francisco cliche, yes, but it was still fun to dance to all the oldies!

Sunday, April 28.
We had the whole day to paint at Viansa Sonoma, a winery with absolutely stunning views. I wasn't happy with the oil painting I started, but I did manage a few sketches.

190428 Viansa Sonoma 2

190428 Viansa Sonoma 1

Till next year! Can't wait to see everyone in the Rockies!

plein air

Recap: 8th Annual Plein Air Convention (Part 1)

Monday, May 06, 2019

Just got back from the 8th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo, at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. Third time attending (alum of Monterey and Tucson), first time as faculty. What an amazing experience start to finish!

IMG_4792

Wednesday, April 24.
After working a full day at the office, I rushed across town to check into the hotel, pick up my swag bag, and attend the Opening Ceremonies. As always, it was quite a show, and it was so cool to be invited on stage with the other faculty members.

Thursday, April 25.
Started the day at 6:30 AM, at Marketing Boot Camp with Eric Rhoads. This year he focused on social media. There wasn't much I hadn't heard before, but I did come away with more motivation to be intentional and consistent in my posting. I was amazed at how many people in the audience admitted to being unfamiliar with hashtags.

In the morning, I attended some demos, including Brenda Swenson's excellent session on watercolor sketching. I also caught a little bit of Brian Blood's session, where he explained how to capture perspective on the steep San Francisco streets. I then had lunch at Kin Khao at the Parc 55 Hotel, across the street from the Hilton. It's become a favorite in the area, and I even got in a sketch as I waited for my food.

190425 Kin Khao San Francisco

After lunch I watched Randy Sexton block in a painting of a car. I've seen him do this before, when I took his workshop, and he truly has an uncanny ability to visualize exactly where the strokes of color should be to depict the shape of a vehicle without drawing it.

The late afternoon brought a new experience: the organizers had set up an indoor video of Crissy Field (the beach in San Francisco with views of Golden Gate Bridge) for people who didn't want to leave the hotel to go the actual location. I was asked to be one of the "field" faculty in the room. It suited me because I was leading the session right afterward. (Apparently we lucked out, as it was freezing and windy outside on the water.)

The screen with the video wasn't very large, so instead of fighting for space with all the other easels I just pulled up my own photograph of Golden Gate Bridge from my visit there a few weeks ago and painted from that instead.

190425 Golden Gate Bridge SF


Yeah, OK, I'll say it. I hate drawing bridges, with their just-so curves and tendency to look wildly inaccurate with just an errant flick of the brush. Plus, it was super intimidating to sit there trying to draw with some of the world's most accomplished artists around me. To wit: living legend and master pastelist Albert Handell actually looked over my shoulder and said something nice. Squee!

Finally it was 8 pm - time for my focus session, "Urban Sketching for Plein Air Painters." I thought I wouldn't have enough slides prepared, but I ended up speaking for nearly the full hour. I was floored at how many people stopped me afterward to tell me how much they enjoyed the presentation and liked sketching. It was also exciting to hear from people who had taken my class on Craftsy (Bluprint).

Whew! It was a long day, but I was glad my session was over so I could focus on painting and helping others for the rest of the convention.

To be continued...
Read Part 2

gouache

Tourist in My Own Town

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

It's no secret to those who know me: I don't love San Francisco. I think it's interesting, topographically speaking, but my affection generally ends there. We live barely an hour south, and I go up there for work or a sketching event fairly frequently, but I usually don't crave a ramble there otherwise. So when I was preparing for my focus session on urban sketching at the Plein Air Convention, I had a hard time finding sketches I had done of the city.

For a Bay Area "local," that was a bit ... embarrassing.

Time to change that, right? As a prelude to the convention, I took Heather Martin's gouache workshop at Yerba Buena Gardens. (Her work is amazing, by the way.) I had passed the place en route to the Moscone Center a dozen times, but I had never actually wandered in. So it was lovely to park myself on a bench and play with color, soaking in the SF sunshine.

190413 Yerba Buena Gardens San Francisco

I told myself I'd do my best to play (savvy) tourist during the convention: to explore and sketch and learn to love (well, at least *like*) the City by the Bay.

sketchwalk

Sunday Ramble in Denver

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Had to be in Boulder, Colorado, last week for work, so arrived early on Sunday to wander around Denver and go to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The weather was lovely, and I enjoyed a long walk around the gloriously sun-warmed red-brick storefronts of LoDo. Larimer Square was bedecked in playoff flags for I assume the ... um, Avalanche? Sorry, don’t ask me about sports. (Or about beer, which is Denver’s other passion.)

190407 Larimer Square Denver

190407 LoDo Denver

going coastal

Saturday Drive South

Sunday, March 24, 2019

I had to pick up my paintings from Wargin Wines in Watsonville yesterday since the show ended, so took advantage of the drive to hit some other spots. (Here's a picture of me at the show from a few weeks ago.)



We stopped in at Gizdich Ranch for a slice of their fresh-from-the-oven sweet and gooey apple ollalieberry pie (married with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course). I had to take a few minutes to sketch the bakers behind the counter.



100323 Gizdich Ranch pies

Having had dessert, we continued south to Carmel, so I could scout the area in preparation for May's Carmel Art Festival.



We walked around the downtown (yes, many of the buildings there have this fairy-tale vibe) and then went downhill to the lovely sugary beach.





I parked myself on the sand and took out my sketchbook. Even at midday there was a mist on the distant hills.

190323 Carmel Beach CA

Watercolor in Hahnemuhle Bamboo Carnet de Voyage mixed media sketchbook. The paper seems to suck in the pigment so the finish is a little duller than I like. But, as mentioned before in this blog, I've got a backlog of sketchbooks -- and it's just as helpful to learn the papers I don't love.

watercolor

Condiment of Spring

Sunday, March 17, 2019

When I sketched this Morgan Hill, CA, field last October, it was filled with rows and rows of pumpkin vines. Yesterday it sported an acid yellow coat: wild mustard as far as the eye could see.

190316 Mustard in Morgan Hill

Direct to watercolor, in Fabriano wirebound watercolor sketchbook. Not my favorite paper, as it doesn't love juicy washes ... but I'm on a self-imposed paper diet as I have too many UFSs (unfinished sketchbooks) on hand.

how-to

Fixing a Painting with Photoshop

Saturday, March 02, 2019

I'm all about the analog when it comes to painting, but sometimes a little technology goes a long way. Here's how I turned a dud painting into something passable with a little help from my friend Photoshop.

Remember when M. took me to San Luis Obispo to see Jon Batiste at CalPoly? Well, we stopped at at some vineyards on the way - first for lunch and then for painting.

Now, vineyards in January aren't your lush, verdant rows punctuated with plump grapes; they're raw and stark, their twisted twiggy fingers reaching hungrily for warmth. Still, it's California, so the rainy season brings out all the green on the hillsides.



I didn't have a lot of time to paint since we had to get to Morro Bay by dinner, and the light was changing rapidly.



I did what I could in an hour and then packed up. Back at home, I touched it up a little but I wasn't happy with the painting. The lines of clouds were too static, and they were largely parallel to the line of hills below. Plus, the painting wasn't dynamic -- it was pretty much 50% sky and 50% ground. No rule-of-thirds-to be found.



So I opened it in Photoshop to see what I could do. (I use a Wacom Bamboo pen tablet to make it easier to draw or paint in the tool.) I lightened the sky, reconfigured the clouds, and changed the distant hillside line to improve the composition.



I then used this version as a guide to revise my actual painting. I updated the sky color, the clouds, and the line of hills. I'm much happier with it now.

"On the Wine Trail," 8x10, oil.

190406 On the Wine Trail

How about you? Have you ever used technology to consider different outcomes for a painting?