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Updated 3/29/12

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

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December 2008



2

On location with the Plein Air Artists of Riverside last Sunday I quickly painted evening light overlooking a vast view. And, the Golden Open acrylics work! Even in Santana wind conditions, I only had to spritz them a couple times with my water bottle. I was working with all Open except for Ultramarine Blue, that workhorse color, as I am awaiting an order to fill out the Color System.

This is called "Low Water" (Lake Matthews, California) and is a 9 x 12. I put my gear together and strapped it on the motor scooter and drove 20 minutes over to the PAAR member's house for this vista from their front yard. This scene is only a small piece of the entire view, and yet it spoke to me--loving the diagonal of the finger of the lake and the evening light on the hills and distance. Only in the sunlit areas below the halfway point of the canvas are there any hues from the warm box, and not many of them.

The Golden canvas went into my slip case as it wasn't dry enough to just toss under the seat as

normal acrylics--more like oils in that regard. I tootled on back home, and had a most interesting experience.... on the scooter, I could smell the scent of turkey casseroles and turkey soup on the air--never would have had that with a car! And when I fed the critters, I noticed the wonderful juxtaposition of Jupiter and Venus right off the points of the crescent moon before I came back in the house. This is one of the photographs that Alberto took of the view of city lights and that sky, from our driveway. Life is magic!
6

Ah, the holidays! Nice to have a commission come in of a horse in pasture, and to be able to pull out all the stops on the fall colors in the trees behind him!

Here's the underpainting on this 16 x 20 oil--I used a cool blue intentionally to set off the warms that will be in the layers to come. The horse's name is Quattro, and he's a racing quarter horse, two year old.

This is just the block in of the major shapes, and figuring out placement of the subject. Since I'll have two focal points--the large tree in the background and the horse/shadow combination in the foreground, I placed the horse almost left of center. I'll have to be careful to have his shadow be strong enough to keep that midpoint division from making the viewer uneasy! There will be white rail fences framing the horse and separating him from the woodland behind--very typical of the area.


News also, I've opened up registration for the ONE workshop I'm teaching in Southern California next year in my studio. It will be the three-day Boot Camp next February, which falls over Valentine's Day and the President's Day weekend--February 14-16. Four people have already signed up, and there are only ten slots. If you want one of the remaining six seats, please go here (opens a new page in your browser). This workshop focuses on hands-on Color System paintings, creating your own subjects in your most familiar medium.
13

Everyone asks, "Elin, how do you paint horses?" and to that I answer, "I paint everything around them and then find the horse with what's left over." However, in painting a horse in landscape, and especially a commission, I need to work hard to make sure that both the subject (horse) and the supporting area (landscape) are harmoniously working together.

In placing the fields of color at this early stage, you can pick out where colors are linked between these two areas. The horse has warm oranges on his coat, and the orange of the distant tree is carried over to the lower right corner. The blue underpainting keeps these warm areas easy to see while I'm working. Note too, that the shadow areas are also connected, and relate together.

This is how the design of a painting starts the moment you bring your brush to the canvas, and it doesn't stop until the signature is put on.

On other news, the February workshop here at my studio in Southern California is FULL, but I have two spaces on a waiting list. Even though all spaces are spoken for, I'm still awaiting deposits on two. If these people opt out, the lucky few will be brought in from the wait list. This workshop is the Color System Boot Camp--three days of intense painting and learning right here in my studio in Riverside.

14

Now the canvas is 98 percent covered, and the basic idea of the landscape is in place (except for all those white board fences!). The trees have their identities, and I have managed edge control to keep your eye where it needs to go--on the horse first, and then throughout the rest of the landscape.

The source material for this commission consists of two photographs--one of the horse, which doesn't include some portions of his hooves, and one of the distant trees and pastures of the farm. Combining resources is always fun, because it allows an artist (me) to be more creative with the design for a better end result.

Now that the canvas is mostly covered, and the major color choices have been made, I can begin to add related colors to make those areas more visually interesting, and then focus on the details of the horse. Many artists might choose to finish the horse first, but in my book, that makes for really heavy head-work to complete the rest of the canvas. One must then always compare and justify the painting in the background and make a concerted effort to keep it less than the focal point. I find it much easier to make the background interesting, and then heighten the excitement in the focal point (horse) with details and sharper edges.

15

Quite a change from yesterday's image, and it is so far along that I showed it to the collector for her approval. I still have some more work to do on it, though.

I really enjoyed painting in the fencing behind the horse and will share with you how it was done. The first lines were horizontal, done with white and ultramarine blue. Then the sunlit portions were painted on top of that with just white and a whisper of cadmium orange. The posts were done with that same white/blue mix, and then their sunlit areas were put in with that same white.

Now, even though there is a signature on the work, I will still go in and work on some of the areas before I can truly call it finished. The distant tree needs more limbs, and there are some "issues" that artists have with their work that need resolving before it "reads right" to the originator. Sure was fun to get it to this point though! Can you Boot Camp Graduates tell what time of day it is? (Remember that the time of year also affects your decision!)

22

To all my friends, collectors and Color System followers, may this holiday season bring you joy, peace and happiness that extends into 2009 and beyond.

23

My husband Ron asked me to do a special painting for his office as a combined Christmas/Birthday present, and how better to share with him what I love by painting something he loves?

Here is the first design for the 30 x 40 inch canvas. The subject is the martial art of Aikido, with O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder, performing the art. The fun will be that the other people in the painting are all ones we both know, including the man receiving the art from O Sensei.

The design is one of a top-weighted dark area with the lower area of the mats illuminated by natural light. At this stage the painting only shows the value structure (small light, large dark in midtones). I plan to share this with you through Christmas, with a break of one painting done on location, and continue with it after Thursday.

On the next pass for this 30 x 40 inch oil, I've placed the midtone greens on the tatami mats and the deeper shadows behind the row of figures. I'm working out just how many people will be behind the two figures, and as I figure it out, more and more of the burnt umber/ultramarine blue shadows are cut in, leaving the seated figures in place.

As I mentioned yesterday, the fun in this work is that the people behind O Sensei will be our friends--Ace Atkinson, Steve Barbosa, husband Ron, Katz, me and of course Rowdy, who passed away this last year. She'll be on the far right, sitting slightly out of line with the rest of us, signifying her not being "with" us, except in spirit. The fellow receiving the art is none other than Alberto, who is still working on his master's in Spanish Literature and doing aikido, even teaching their kid's classes. Alberto just passed a major test on his way to his black belt last weekend.

On Alberto's hakama (the traditional black leggings/skirt aikidoists wear), I've depicted the speed and motion by lost edges. This gives life to the image, and creates a passing moment in time. Losing edges helps to create the feeling that this is an unfolding moment of action, rather than a static, freeze-frame moment.
25 Merry Christmas!! To share the joy of the Season, here's an original acrylic painting full of holiday lights done on location at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside a few weeks ago. I've been with the Plein Air Artists of Riverside who have been painting on location to capture the merriment and holiday lighting displays for which the Inn is famous.

When the moon was full this month, I set up with Sparky (yes, he came along and played "announce dog" to anyone who came close) in a planter bed diagonally across the street from the arches and buildings of the Inn. They decorate the palm trunks with huge snowflake lights, too. This is a 16 x 12 acrylic, done with those open acrylics, and I'm quite pleased with it for having captured not only the lights and the holiday feel of the building, but also the natural world of the night sky and full moon. The open acrylics allowed a longer working time, yet the Color System make the choices for this piece easy, even though I was working with a flash light in my hand! When I go out again on Dec. 29th, I'll have some nice LED lights that will shine both on my painting and palette.

If you've ever been to the Mission Inn (opens in a new window) it is quite a famous landmark for its architecture and holiday lights. I'm pleased with this painting of it, and hope you enjoy it as a sharing of the holiday spirit with us! It doesn't have a show schedule, so it is for sale, $300 to add to your collection. I can ship priority mail to have it in your hands before the Holiday lights are gone.

May your holiday be as you would wish it--quiet or noisy, reflective or boisterous, and may you get what you desire throughout this winter season and into the coming year.
The front of the Mission Inn, right as the sun disappears and the holiday lights come on. This is a small, 7x5 acrylic done on location as a warmup for the second painting of this historic monument in Riverside.

Cars come in for valet parking under the archway with the flags, and it was a real challenge to capture the impending night AND the lights, as well as the color on the autumn trees. Yes, we still have leaves on our big street trees, and here in our preserve.