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The Daily Paintings and Postcard-Sized Sketches in Oils and Acrylics

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Updated 3/29/12

July 2006

1 July 1 Lesson Painting, Stage 1

Beginning with July, I'm going to do two lessons a month for you. Here is the first lesson painting: "Keeping Cool" Today I took my mare and met up with some other riders at Bonelli Park, near Raging Waters water park for a four-hour ride. The temperatures soared to 112 F, and where we rode it was 104. HOT weather... You can see a picture of me (covered because I don't want to risk skin cancer) on my mare in the water where we cooled off, through this link. I took our small digital camera, and later combined two photos of the other riders in the stream bed into a great composition for a 12 x 16 painting that sits now on the easel. Today I'm sending you the link to the source material (combo of two digital images) . I have the painting about 90% finished right now, and I'm really excited how it is turning out.
Please go to the source image (link above) and then compare it to the first pass I've sent to you today. I ask you to do that, because that will give you an insight into what I change to make common photography into good paintings. You might look at this and ask yourself, "What would I do with this image?"
To explain the first lay in, I am developing the abstract structure over a mid-value toned canvas. For this toning, I used Artist Spectrum brand Italian Pink, which turns out to be a lovely grayed transparent yellow. Over that, I've blocked in the structure of the darker values using a larger brush and burnt umber and thalo green. These dark values will be the larger stage against which colors and lesser value contrasts will play. Note the asymmetrical balance, which will be set to a steelyard by a smaller focal point on the right side nearer the right shore.
Tomorrow the lesson continues. This one will go three days (Hey, family's coming over for a barbeque tomorrow--I have to clean house at some point!)
2 Second "mental mindset" of the process of painting begins with the laying in of the middle values.  This painting will be slightly below mid-key, which means there will be a dominance (in area) of middle values; a slightly smaller area of darks, and then the littlest area (square inches) composed of the light values.  Since I'm aware of this going in, I can spend a goodly amount of time working on variances within the middle value range to create interest in these non-focal-point areas.  The theory about balance of values comes directly from Edgar Whitney, an American watercolorist and extraordinary teacher who wrote a book on painting. Most of the book is about designing good paintings, and I've adopted his "Mama, Papa, Baby" balancing of values as explained above, to my work.  He talks about six value plans, that have proven to be most desirous on our eyes, and which make good paintings for collectors. 

So these middle values are being embelished and made interesting before I even begin to paint the focal points.  They of course will be subordinate to the final brush strokes.  I'm using my Color System palette, staying with warms in the sunlight and cools in the shadows and grayed colors everywhere.  Why? Because grayed colors pause the eye, and allow the viewer to "get" more out of the painting.  I can remember standing in front of a Leslie Humphrey oil a year ago and just in awe of her mastery of grays.  The only semi-pure color in the piece was in the tail of the horse going over the brush.  I understood what she did with that painting, and how masterful it is.  Most artists don't mix good grays, so their work doesn't captivate the viewer.
3 Remember I said that working on the mid-values is a step to making a good painting better? The mid values are my largest area of the canvas, and those middle values play subordinate rolls to both the darks and especially the lights. In this image (bluish glare on upper right, sorry) you can see that I have taken the larger areas laid in, and made each of them more interesting to the viewer, without leaving the value range of that area. "Embellishing the big shapes".
This part of the painting process takes about as long as the final details--I just use bigger brushes! When I eventually DO get to the details of the water and the two riders, I'll use smaller brushes, and more pure color. I will also break the rules on warm/cool, putting some warms in the shadowed figures to really make them jump out at you. The reason I choose to do this is the figures are also middle value, and I have to contrast them from the major part of the painting, and I can only use purity of color and/or switching the palettes (using warm in a shadowed area) to really catch your eye.
4 "Keeping Cool" a 12 x 16 demonstration painting. Contrast this with the July 3 work, and you'll see how much has been detailed out and adjusted to give your eye something to enjoy in every part of the canvas. There are small areas of rest for the eyes, like the upper right bluish corner, and the larger tree leaves above the riders, but the rest of the canyon and stream area are full of visual brushwork excitement.
Note the use of the warm thalo blue on the jeans (nowhere else) to bring your eye to the figures, and the use of alizarin in the light shirt of the left rider. This is intentional, to bring you to the focal point. The flashes of ultramarine blue and white in the lower right and on the left of the riders are "hop scotch spots" for your eye to travel through the painting. I bet you can find more!
You'll see that I haven't strayed far from the original rough structure, which still holds up, even though the layers on top and brushwork have made the structure less important. You can easily see it by squinting your eyes almost closed. That abstract structure really, REALLY matters!

to the collection of Jan Luna of Norco, California

5 "Beach Babes"  I just love this painting!  Why?  First and foremost, it has good, solid design.  Second, it is a fun painting.  There are SO many possible stories to entertain the viewer.  It gives everyone, from the gossip to the voyeur, something to appeal to the senses.  I took the reference photos for this a few years ago when I was out at Catalina Island (you know, the one off the coast of California, "Twenty-six miles across the sea.").  People were lounging on the sand, and playing in the harbor water.  The design on this one is strong and interdependent.  Put your fingers over any one figure or item in the composition, and you'll see what I mean; it just weakens the painting.  Most reference shots you take are never as well designed as what the artist can do with their skills.
  Beach scenes also give me an opportunity to really pull out the stops on color.  Beachwear is bright and generally has a ton of pure color.  For this painting, I resurrected one of my favorite Classsic Oils, Platinum Violet.  You'll see it in the bathing suits and the shadow on the distant man's tee shirt.  
  Although this one isn't a lesson painting, there is much to learn from it.  
  A 12 x 16 oil, it is to the collection of Tracey Scheer of Branford, Connecticut.
6 "Washing the Favorite" Sometimes a painting will tell me how big it needs to be.  This was the case today, when I sorted through some of the un-filed photo references to pick something to brighten your day.  A couple of photos of this girl washing "her favorite racehorse" at Del Mar caught my eye, and so I composited it up into a quick design.  It wouldn't fit into a rectangle. And the power of the structure of the painting wouldn't lend itself to a small format .  Take a look at the lines and movement of the structure, and think about where your eye goes as it wanders over the canvas.  Each part is designed to carry your eye on a journey. Even the two buckets need to be there.
 So to solve my dilemma about size, I retrieved a canvas and brought this one to life on a 12 x 12 inch box canvas.  
  Join with me as I raise a glass of wine to honor the birth of a good one.  
  12 x 12 inches, on gallery-wrap (no framing needed) and I'm enjoying the painting of human figures these few days.  $400


7 I had been talking on the phone with the curator of the show at the Santa Rosa Plateau (yes, Rob, that's what you are!), and mentioned a planned visit to the White Mountains of Arizona perhaps in August.  I love the mountains, and that conversation planted the seeds of this quick 6 x 6 canvas of backlit summer aspens.  I certainly hope there is a little trip to see them and paint from life this summer.  If not, I'll still see them in October when they turn.
Loads of paint and brushwork on this one.

Pending sale to Lynne Frank of Baltimore, Maryland

8 Tonight was the opening of the Summer Art Show at the Santa Rosa   Plateau Visitors' Center, and I thought you would enjoy some images  from that opening. It was crowded, sales were good, and there were 14  other artists showing their work on the walls and room dividers. I  spent time talking to my friends and collectors, (that's Gabriel  Baber with me in two of the images) and thoroughly enjoyed the  evening. I had several paintings on display, and the invitation  painting is the big one behind me in the upper left and left side of  the image. This show benefits the Foundation, charged with finding  funds to provide transportation for every third grader to come up to  the Plateau from every elementary school within fifty miles.  Fun  evening, but no new painting. I hope you enjoy this look into the  
artist's life.
9 Why is it so hard to paint one's mother's face?  I am revisiting dealing with my Mom's death last April, and the only way I can cope with the wash of sadness is to paint her.  I keep finding images and even when looking at myself, I see her.  This image is her in the one bed-room apartment where she moved shortly after my dad died.  Living independently, perhaps not yet using her walker, she is a mature woman, lit from the sliding glass doorway to her small patio.  She used to put her index finger on her cheek just the way you see it here, and although odd, is a normal pose.  I find myself doing it, too.  The composition is one of strength, with the verticals framing her, objects of her life on the shelf of the china cabinet behind her, and the split-leaf philodendron almost paying homage to her spirit.  All of her houses had one of these tropical plants, some growing several feet tall.

In the collection of my sister, Leslie Gerhardt of Anaheim, California

10 "An Apple a Day" - Well, not really.  This Gala has been getting sliced and given to the studio canary as a treat over the last several days.  I did a bit more slicing on it tonight and it whispered, "Paint me."  After a dunk in some lemon juice (to keep it from darkening in the setup), off it went to the studio and now is preserved in oils forever on this five by seven canvas.  A rather simple subject, after yesterday's profound one.  Simple still life setups such as today's painting are a good way for you (and me) to relax, and still paint.  One doesn't have to do the equivalent of Raphael's "Madonna of the Meadows" every time we lift our brushes.  Sometimes something simple flexes the mental and hand muscles just enough to provide the links between bigger works.  There is still enough design thought going on, the placement of the slices, the lighting with consideration for the shadow shapes.  There's the real exercise! $100
11 "Cantaloupe" Way back last year, when I started these daily paintings, I sliced a cantaloupe melon and painted it.  Tonight I did the same, and this one turned out sweeter!  Ahh the fruits of summer--is there anything better?  This is a six by six oil, on gallery wrap canvas, and the slice of cantaloupe is gone as a delicious night snack, but not from this painting! $100

to the collection of Marlene Freschette of Alberta, Canada.

12 My mom grew up in Seattle, and the Northwest is known for its cherries, especially the Royal Annes.  As a kid in Virginia, I was able to enjoy them only canned, and it was such a treat to have my Mom bring a can home, and we'd open it and eat them together, laughing at how good they were.  Nowadays we can enjoy them fresh from the store, and as a rare treat, I brought home a small bag today.  While I enjoyed the rest of them, I set up five singles as this still life.  But I had an accident, and all five rolled off the platform and into the mineral spirits!  I fished them out with a brush, wiped them down, and set the still life up again.  Keeping them set up was certainly a lot easier as I wasn't tempted to eat them before I finished!

  I like to call this one "May I Have This Dance?" in its 6 x 6 oil state on gallery wrap canvas. I hope you enjoy it. 

to the collection of Suzanne McCurdy of Colville, Washington.

13 Here I sit in a coffee shop on the edge of the ocean, looking out at an idyllic ocean scene near Laguna Beach, and enjoying a blended latte. (Love the wifi!) I watch people walking on the beach and enjoying the summer evening.  I've spent the day enjoying some of the great contemporary artists whose work is on display in the Laguna Festival of the Arts, and environs-- a lovely day of art and enjoyment, culminated by a plein air painting session on the edge of the waves.
  "Tide Pools" is a view looking over the edge of the cliffs north of the beach area, into the marine sanctuary, in the late afternoon, well before sunset.  The high horizon line (edge of the ocean) in the composition definitely tells the viewer that you are high above the water.  The waves come in, break and leave the sea foam and spin drift as residuals of the white waves, and under the clear water, you see the rocks of the submerged tide pools in the foreground.

to new collector Emilie Buchwald of Edina, Minnesota, founder and publisher of Milkweed Editions.

14 Today's painting is a 15 x 30 ACRYLIC (about time I went back to them, ehh?) of a monolith rock in Strawberry Valley, called Lily Rock, in  the mountain community of Idyllwild.  Idyllwild  sits at 6200 feet, is cool when its over 100 down here, and a favorite place to go to enjoy the pines and beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  This painting is going to the gallery up there, and will be delivered tomorrow, Saturday, along with three others.  Idyllwild is not in the fire zone, but is across the Palm Springs/desert pass from the 62,000 acre blaze in the San Gorgonio wilderness--that's headed to Big Bear.  Tomorrow it is supposed to reach a record high of 110 degrees Fahrenheit down here. What a challenge for the firefighters.  Blech.  However, most of the central and western United States is under heat wave as well, I hear, so I'd best do no complaining!  This one will only be for sale through the gallery in Idyllwild.

The beach was nice yesterday, now to the other extreme--the mountains!  No matter, either place is cooler than around here!
15 How did it get to be the 15th so fast?  My goodness.  I promised you a lesson back on the first, so here it is.  This day we're beginning a 12 x 16 acrylic, a moonlight scene (I still have the acrylic palette near the easel).  The subject is partially out of my head, and partially based on visual memories of the Vernal Pools at the Plateau.  These pools are shallow seasonal lakes that disappear by this time of year.  
I first did a quick sketch to locate the horizon line, the focal points and the major shapes of the design.  The second phase is to gesso the canvas before starting with any paint.  I gesso under acrylics because the layers are initially thin, and I like the brilliant white of the canvas for that first layer.  Then this first covering of the entire canvas goes on, to both get rid of the white and also to establish the abstract structure.  
  The majority of colors used in this pass are the cool palette, mostly Ultramarine Blue, Thalo Green and white in the landscape, and white, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre and ultramarine blue in the sky.  The moon was loosely painted in (isn't even ROUND!) with cadmium orange and white.
  Water is generally done with vertical strokes of anything that is reflected (tree shapes) and horizontal strokes for anything that is caught on the surface (the moon reflection).  
  Even in this first pass to cover the canvas, you can see a lot of the finished idea already.  Lots more to do, though.

16

"Moonlight on the Water" Here is the mid-month lesson painting, all finished now. You can compare the two images right next to one another and see the improvements. With such a good beginning, the second time spent with the work is mostly about edges. The entire painting was painted over completely in this pass, adding interest to larger areas with variations of color and brush work, yet the weight and importance of each transition and edge was considered to maintain the hierarchy of edges--subordination to the most important ones--near the focal point. Adding the lighter green grass between the moon and its watery reflection creates a wonderful feeling of distance and softness to the scene.
12 x 16 original acrylic

to new collector Connie Edmonds of Brentwood, Tennessee.

17 Today's painting is another acrylic.  I really need to switch the taboret around and get back to oils, but oh! I do love the acrylics, too!  This is a little 5 x 7 view down the main street of the mountain community of Idyllwild, looking toward the landmark Lily Rock, same one I painted in different light a few days ago.  I have done this scene on location in a larger format, and it was fun to revisit it with only a rather poor photo I took at the time.  When you have lousy source material, it really takes you to task to produce something more from your core.  I heard a quote today on National Public Radio that sort of fits:  "Sometimes you just have to take the leap and create the wings on your way down."  Doesn't that clearly describe what painting can be?  It doesn't work for tax records, but it can be a lot of fun when you just KNOW you've flown before, to pick up those brushes without a hint of wings, and be soaring by the time the painting is finished.  $100

to new collectors Bert and Peg Hall of Roseville, California.

18 "Dozing" Today we have a little exercise in color, working out some details for perhaps a larger painting,  This tricolor Appaloosa is dozing in the heat of a day, full of the humidity we have been experiencing lately.  It's a 6 x 6 acrylic on gallery wrap, and just seems to ooze that sleepy time of day.  Must be because I'm kinda tired tonight?
  Those of you looking to learn something, note the values.  Take it into a photo editing program and take out the color (desaturate) and look at the values, where the contrast is strongest, the movement of darks to keep you in the painting.  It is also a complimentary color scheme, blue/orange.

to new collector Donna Swajeski of New York City.

19 Today's painting is the beginning stages of a commissioned piece, of a beloved Australian Shepherd, owned by friends of Judy and Jim Wood of Canada.  I'm including two of the photographs I'm using for source material, and also making changes depending upon the request of the family for whom I'm painting this.
  I tend to "grope" at this phase, making things out of proportion because in the second pass of this 16 x 12 oil, I'll really find the edges I need, and make the corrections.  Please don't write and tell me the dog's face is all 'wrong"... I'll fix that tomorrow!
  You can see the major color areas at this point, but the painting does not have the "life" I like to bring to posthumous portraits yet.  Tomorrow, if all goes well, it will.
Not for Sale.
20 Well, here's Roper, finished and hopefully pleasing the Wood family. If one chooses to do commissioned work, as I do oftentimes, one always has the knowledge that as an artist, you are painting to a memory. That can be really difficult, because  you in your artist-mode look at the imagery supplied see the possibilities based upon your training and experience. Yet in the head of the people asking you to do this is a complex idea of what was, or what they remember, having changed what was to "fit" their own perceptions.   

I enjoy doing commissions, because I believe my abilities lie in being able to get inside the source material, to find the real "life" in the animal (or person). So far, I've been either lucky, or people are too afraid of my reputation to come back and say, "Um, Elin, I hate to say this, but our beloved Pookie's eyes weren't crossed." But they'll always be a first time.

Maybe I get away with a lot because I'm such a loose painter.  Artists whose work is needle tight tend to attract the jobs that we artists like to call "commissions from Hell", because the people like to see every freckle and hair in place. I'd never make it in those circles!

This painting has been to the collection of Jim and Judy Wood of Saskatoon, Canada.

21 Here's a bit of news! I have a new book coming out in August from Walter Foster, which is in kit form with the paints right along with the lessons! I was searching on the web for links to and from my site, and found that Walter Foster has taken six of the lessons from my Horses in Acrylics book and printed this lessons-with-supplies book! Geared for the beginning painter in acrylics, this is a hardbound book due to hit Amazon.com and other art book stores next month. So your daily painting is on the cover of this book--it was a 12 x 16 acrylic, and is SOLD to Lynda Sappington, another author who also sculpts horses who I'm honored to call a friend. You can find out more about this book here. (Opens a new window.)
22 "Remnants of the Storm" Tonight was the gallery opening of "Au Naturel", the group show of the Plein Air Artists of Riverside (PAAR), from 6 to 9 pm.  Showing about 50 pieces, it was diverse and yet a collection of very good plein air work.  It was HOT, however, I mean the temperature.  Today it ranged from 108 to 112 in our area with 38-45% humidity, and rotund thunderstorms marched across the skies, thwacking lightning and big winds around like an upset, overweight shopper.
  We dodged one storm on our way in, but ran smack dab through another one to get to the show.  I brought my oils, in my smaller plein air setup, and braved the storm and heat by sitting outside to do a couple little 7 x 5 canvases.  The air was fresh, and although it felt like "breathing soup" (love that line), I managed to do two paintings before the light left.  Today's is the first, showing the clouds and the changing sky as the sun approached the horizon.  Those of you familiar with my color system will know exactly where each color went, and why.  But I broke one rule, and you might see it in the darker values of the clouds.  
  to new collector Charlotte McDavid of Birmingham, Alabama.
23 "Virgas" I have been told that when rain falls out of a cloud and doesn't reach the ground, that phenomenum is called a virga. Last night we had a bunch of them as the thunder and lightning moved away, and the evening light showed through the storm clouds in a glory of sunset glow that was changing as fast as I could paint it. This is the second canvas of the "Sitting Outside in the chair at the Opening" paint session while it was so hot. It is a 7 x 5 inch oil, and I feel it realy captures that light in the sky at this time of day. $100

24 Do you think an artist ever truly "arrives"?  By that I mean achieve all their creative goals?  I don't think so.  Every time I reach a new level of knowledge in my technique, a new challenge presents itself. This is good, both for me and for artists reading this.  Many of you have emailed kind words of enthusiasm about my work, and of course I am grateful.  But even an artist who seems to make it look easy has challenges.  That's part of what this art creating is all about.  One can never "arrive"!  We are all on a journey to different destinations, with the destination constantly moving!  Frustrating?  Only if you focus on the destination instead of all the beautiful points along the way.  One of the reasons I don't get intimidated by a blank canvas is because I always see it as a step on my journey, not a performance on the platform of the destination.  It's all in the attitude you bring to the easel.  Am I learning, or performing?  Yesterday's painting opened a door to new thoughts about edges and space, and now I will be following a different destination's path on controlling more of the execution of those elusive edges for better paintings.  "It never ends." When applied to things other than art, that would elicit a sigh.  I have a huge grin on my face!

Today's painting is a 6 x 6 gallery-wrap oil, and just a bit of fun.  Called "In the Park" it shows a man and his dog, both taking what we call "practice naps".  Perhaps he was at an obedience trial?  Or retired and just enjoying the day in the park.  No matter who or why, the scene is timeless, and tinged with humor.  Those of you looking for some learning, notice the gradual transition from intense foreground colors with high contract between light and shadow, versus the distant areas, made clearly so because of less contrast, and less color intensity. $125
25 It is nice to sit down after a long day with a glass of White Merlot (Sutter Home) and a couple slices of smoked provolone as the evening closes in with the quiet and velvety thick dark.   I prepare to close up the studio for the night.  The weather has been so brutally hot, the only way I can get any decent work done in there is to literally go jump in the pool and come back inside soaking wet.  I completed one of the seven paintings for the commissions for the La Quinta job, and this one is the second one off the easel.  I apologize for the image quality--it is 30 x 20 inches, and I couldn't get consistent light on it tonight.  Maybe it is the wine?...but I think it's the size of it. 

to Sally Green and Associates, Interior Decorators.

26 Today's painting is a 16 x 20 acrylic, destined (just received the approval) to be sited in an entry of this project in La Quinta, along with two others.  it is one of those scenes found in the Coachella Valley in the evening--sunlight and the green of the fields below the mountains. I have such a deadline to meet, that I feel some pressure (as if painting every day with a new one to show you wasn't pressure--well, it isn't.  But I digress.)
  I sense the pressure extrinsically rather than from within, as having to do work for another's expectations and with a definite timeline is always challenging.  But as artists, isn't the challenge--the puzzle--what drives us to paint?  I know that's a major factor in my work.  There's the puzzle of the design, what works, what doesn't.  The puzzle of how to make it all work together so the painting doesn't look like a couple of jig saw pieces got into the mix.  The puzzle of how to make the viewer stay within the design, and directed on the path I have to figure out while creating.  As your eyes wander over this painting, make a note of where your gaze rests, where your eyes go next.  Those are paths in design intentionally made for you.  To ignore paths is to either confuse your viewers or create disinterest.  A good book for learning about visual paths is Edgar Payne's Composition in Landscape Painting.
This painting is already to Greene and Associates.
27

I got a bit side-tracked today, we went and looked at a house that set off all the bells and whistles for both of us, and we have been doing the scrambling to get paperwork in order to make the "offer they can't refuse".
  It's a buyer's market now, mostly, so we'll have to wait and see if everything works out.  However, I pulled back and painted a 5 x 7 acrylic today because of all the interruptions to the normal procedures.  It's a nice one, though, with the grays and softness of the Southwest desert light.  Although small, it definitely has a warm and colorful feeling. This one IS for sale.  $100.

This painting has been to the collection of Berta Strulovici of Philadelphia.

28 This is the third and final 16 x 20 painting for the hallways of the new facility over in La Quinta who's name is a mystery to me (they said if I knew more they'd have to kill me), and now I need to begin two 30 x 20 deserts for either side of a large armoire (sp?).  I cannot conceive of how this place is going to look, so I'm certainly going to make a point to go see it, or at least have someone over in the desert take some pictures for me, after they're installed.
  When this weekend is over, I can get back to "regular" painting, focusing on some new color work, the paintings for the next DVDs, and just "relax" back into equine paintings.  Of course, August has a high school reunion (toomany years, y'know) and my birthday's coming up soon.
 
I really enjoyed painting this one, as I hauled out the high solid gels to texture up the brush marks, and that lent itself well to the rocks.  This painting is to Greene and Associates.
29 "Oak Savannah Evening" is an 18 x 24 inch acrylic, showing a full range of color and bathed in the warmth of the evening light.  The quercus agrifolia, or Coastal Live Oak, is a common native to the grasslands of the plateaus of the coastal mountains and valleys of California.  We have one here on our acreage, possibly 400 years old.  Gnarled and with small spined leaves, deer and goats enjoy browsing the lower branches.  I painted this with layers of color, developing the deep values of the tree and shadow areas, and making passes of lighter colors to develop the sunlit areas and details.  Using acrylics this way allows the viewer's eye to travel deeply into the painting while remaining in a small visual area.  The depth of the layers creates interesting interactions of color transparency, which is one of the major reasons I enjoy using them.  Available for $350 as an 18 x 24

This painting is to Dee and Dick Staley of Lake Elsinore, California.

30 Whew!  What a marathon day!  Not one, but TWO paintings, and both 30 x 20 inch acrylics.  A diptych, with each painting going on one side of an armoire for this La Quinta commission--the FINAL paintings!
  Tomorrow I UPS the tube of paintings (these were painted unstretched) and then sit back and twiddle my thumbs (not!) until escrow closes on the new-to-us house.  Very exciting!  We were over there today, taking pictures and meeting the owner, learning about this special house, and I took 53 photos.  I'll cobble together a web page with the details about the new studio and the site.  Turns out the entire property is surrounded by dedicated open space, county parkland!  Privacy and no close neighbors!
  The painting today is the left side painting as one-half of the two paintings.  Doing these unstretched is an interesting endeavor.  I cut the canvas with an extra three inches all around so the framer would have a lot to work with, and then used a piece of foam core to back the canvas.  It was held on the foam core with two clips at the top.  Then I put the foam core and canvas up on the easel.  It's not much different than working on a board-backed canvas.  I used an extra couple of larger clips to hold it steady and got to work.  I'd marked the canvas with a pencil delineating the edges, and then gesso'd the surface.  When I work on canvas with acrylics, I always gesso first, because that gives me a consistency of "tooth" on which to start painting.  This painting is already to Greene and Associates.
31 "Ocotillo" This is the second half of the diptych from the marathon of painting, today I'm packing them up and shipping to the framers in Van Nuys.  The company that is stretching and framing these pieces does all the framing for the Norton Simon Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org).  I'm in grand company!  Acrylic, 30 x 20.
I do hope those of you interested in design take these two paintings and put them side by side with about half again their width between them.  They will be flanking a large piece of furniture, and creating a continuity to the wall space.  I want you to see how the design goes between and connects even across empty space.
  The human eye tends to "fill in the blanks" when given related areas in artwork.  Ken Auster said, "Don't insult the viewer by giving them all the details.  Let them feel good by allowing them to figure stuff out."  My take on that is we are conditioned by our intelligence and experience to see things and complete the image when it is something familiar.  Our "problem" as artists is that when we paint, we focus on one area as we paint it, to the exclusion of the whole presence, and get tied down to the details in that one area.  So I say, "Let go!" and lose the non-essential areas of your work.  Squint more (reduces details to the essentials) when you look at your subject.  Let the viewer of your work enjoy the puzzle solving of finding the connections.

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