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Updated 3/29/12

September 2008



1

Here's the big blocking in of major values when starting commissions... not my usual "make the background beautiful first", and that's because the dogs' bodies constitute much of the background --look how MUCH there is of them. The noses, eyes, paws 'n' claws will be the focal points, so I really am working on the "background" at this point.

The client has seen this image and approves it, with the admonition that the left dog "always" has his mouth open.

Now, the client doesn't understand the painting process, so a reaction like that is normal. They can only measure what's in front of them against their internal vision of the desired product, so they usually will focus on some area that hasn't been started yet.

I had a bit of fun and good news today. As part of my ongoing marketing plan, I get notified automatically when my web sites are linked and information about me is elsewhere than just my sites. This came through from widgetbox.com, telling me that my daily paintings widget is the "Most Popular" for people to add to their desktop! I'm so pleased! Here's the way it came in:

2

Here's the finished commission of the two dogs, and the collector loved it! I delivered it still wet in places, and he said I captured the personalities of the pooches with perfection of paintbrush (well, that's my interpretation!). The dog on the right is reserved in nature, and the one on the left is constantly happy and a bit goofy.

Getting that inherent personality is very essential to doing commissions, and I try my best to get it. The location is important for the client, too--the front porch is where they spend time and the positions are also characteristic, down to the twisted paws on the shy dog.

It was fun going from the cools of the area near the front door into the warms as the foreground came toward the viewer. And painting the tongue with alizarin and white seems to break the rules, but if you recall the lessons about human skin, dog's tongues follow the same rule. The learning never ends, does it?

I had a question from one of my friends who receives my blog, about how I handle messy cleanup in the studio, and thought you might enjoy seeing my solution. I purchased from SimpleHuman, a covered trash bin that uses plastic grocery bags. The cover keeps any brush cleaning solvent odors in check, and the bags are ubiquitous, so I never run out. I have two of these trash bins, one at either end of my taboret. Light weight, they hang from the end, and it is a simple matter to toss in the soiled towels and other debris.
The ingenious device also has storage for extra bags below it. Here's a link if you'd like more info. Thinking outside the box again, this was originally designed to go under the kitchen sink.
3

On location painting at a very special site, I finished this 12 x 16 oil on a summer afternoon a couple weeks back. I bring it to you today, because the original painting is hanging at the Maloof Foundation in Alta Loma (you can google Sam Maloof for an enlightening introduction to an American icon of furniture making.)

The Plein Air Artists of Riverside have been invited to show our works, and many include scenery from the lovely gardens and buildings of his Foundation for preserving the craftsmanship of fine woodworking.

When I looked around for something to paint, I was captivated by the contrast of the umbrella with the shadowed area behind it, and the lively ribbon streamers that are a characteristic of the grounds. Everything about the site speaks of quality hand-made craftsmanship, including the native stone walls and the beautifully constructed wood buildings.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sam a year ago, and he is a wonderfully modest and gentle man. In his 90s now, he still works on furniture designs with the help of apprentices in his workshop. Oh, if I could only afford one of his chairs!

4 A purple cow doesn't look purple when it is painted in moonlight, but it truly is. You can see that by isolating the color and putting it on a neutral gray background. (See below for the swatch from the cow's shoulder.)

Knowing how to paint something that is white (or black, or both) during different times of day is the whole concept about the Time of Day Color System. It requires practice, and most importantly, THINKING to get great color every time.

I did this 12 x 16 inch oil painting as a demonstration piece for moonlight during the workshop in Sebastopol a week ago, and then left it in the camper when I returned. Hmmmm, I wonder how many other paintings are sitting up on a shelf to be discovered later?

I received the first color proof on the Flash Cards... they are going to look great! Some minor tweaking on my end to get the colors spot on, and then we're going to do the print run. I had originally scheduled only 100 sets to be done, but know from your response that I need to do a much larger quantity. For that, I thank you so much. I hope you'll get a LOT of information from them, and you're going to be the first to know when I have them in my hands! Here are six of the seven fronts of the cards--can you identify the different times of day? (The cards will have some helpful text for those color bands along the bottom.)

5

Yesterday I was so excited about the Flash Cards that I forgot to add the swatch of the cow for you to see that purple! But sometimes thing happen this way, so I can explain more fully why something works for me. And so it is. Here's a circle from the shoulder of the cow, against a neutral gray background. Can you identify the colors? The painting is here, too, smaller, to refresh your memory.

Training the eye to "get it right" when you mix colors takes time, and a neutral gray area around one's colors can truly assist in identifying the colors. That's why on my taboret, both my glass acrylic and oil palettes are sitting on top of gray painted wood. With each mixing of colors, I have made my job of identifying the colors that much easier. Look at the same circle below, surrounded by white. All you see is the circle, and we miss the beautiful variations of color within the circle. The color is dominated by the value contrast, plain and simple.

10 Paintings follow me around... tapping me on my shoulder and whispering, "You need to paint me." This 24 x 36 inch oil came from a photograph I took while in Georgia earlier this year (see below) and what intrigued me about it is the soft, misty light and value structure.

So of course I close up my warm boxes and know that over 85% of this painting will be in the cools. The initial lay-in is to establish the abstract structure, and decide where I want the viewer's eye to go. My initial idea is to put some horses out in the distant pasture, yet create a texturally interesting foreground to allow the viewer to enjoy the journey. The small watercourse is a pathway around the tree and counteracts the lean it has.

Here's the source material:



And on the Flash Cards, they are printed! Still at the printers, they need to be cut, so I pick them up tomorrow at noon! Now you can order them, since I've seen the finals, and am very pleased with how they have turned out. I've set up a special PayPal and text order form on my web site... HERE.
Or you can cut and paste the link below.
http://www.elinart.com/pages/flashcards.html
No more waiting!
Oh, my! Thank you for your response to the Color System Flash Cards! I'm prepping envelopes and Alberto will be here today to fill and send them off for you. It was wonderful to be able to offer them at a much lower price than I originally thought. I do hope that some of you will let me know what you think of them--a mini review?

Here's the next 45 minutes on this canvas... mixing cools and dark values to fill in the "framework" of the composition, and then putting in the middle distance (mid-ground) ultramarine blue affected grasses. No details at this stage. Again, I'm just covering the canvas! Although I sometimes feel a tweaking need to slip into the warm boxes, I curtail it and instead mix up other hues that still read "cool". Almost every mix is more than two colors, too. That grays down the overall "feel" of the painting, and if I add any warms, they'll only be enhanced by the cooler hues.

Source material again for your enjoyment:


You can see, that although my warm boxes are completely "out of the picture" (HA... Pun!) the differences between the colors in the painting and the colors in the photograph are already diverging. This is why I absolutely love painting and the Color System, because it gives me much better choices than just those in the source material.
12 I've had some interesting responses to the posting from yesterday, and want to address them here, as this painting is special for its misty light. Right now the sky reads as warm, but I need to share with you that the underpainting for this was done with a thin wash of a warm and a cool--to make a neutral. The two colors mixed for the underpainting wash were untramarine blue and australian red gold.

At this point in the painting, there are NO pure warms anywhere. So the neutral sky area reads warm because of the proximity to the cools elsewhere--temperature contrast. It's amazing what colors do in relation to other colors. Ovanes Berberian once said, "A color has no temperature until it is next to another color." At the time, I didn't understand that. In growing into the Color System, I see it more and more, based upon the certainty of the colors I'm using to create cool and/or warm vistas.

The source material is above for you to compare.

I also need to stress that there is no mixture in the work that isn't less than three hues/colors. This is how one gets those marvelous, harmonious grays. The source material is a lot greener than the painting--if I painted to that (the "match" instead of lighting a fire on my canvas!), I'd be using a lot more duo mixes--ultramarine and yellow ochre or the cool yellow. But each of my mixes is THREE or more colors from the cool box. Try it!

Now you know the "famous sky trio" will do those sky patches, and more details will be added, yet it doesn't look too shabby at this point. Maybe I'll finally do a painting that avoids the "Uglies"!

I've been filling the many flash card orders, and am so happy that I bit the bullet, ordered enough, and have enough to fill all of them. Over 50 sets went out in the mail last night!
13 I was working on the 24 x 36 canvas this morning, and also working on putting together the Flash Cards packets, and was immediately struck by something (no, not literally!). Of course my painting is morning light--I knew that when I began it. I know the Color System so well that I didn't need to have support material with me. But as I looked at the morning light Flash Cards, I realized you might enjoy seeing the cards in action. So for your lesson today, I put two of the Morning Light Flash Cards by the painting to show you what I found.

On the right is the Morning Light Flash Card with the red pear intact. That's one you get with the set. On the left is the same card with the red pear desaturated (love Photoshop!). I desaturated it for two reasons--one, there is no inherently RED object in my landscape, and more importantly, I wanted the lesson to go home to you as clearly as possible. The lesson? Stick to the colors on the Flash Cards, and you'll get great color! Wow...

Notice how the left card just blends into the canvas? The colors of morning light are clearly shown in my painting, and hopefully clearly understood when you see the card. I'm hoping that you'll use these Flash Cards as you paint, and that the cards will end up being small "companions" for your paintings! You'll know you've "nailed it" when the card just "belongs" with the painting.

Now, if I'd had a red object in the painting, then it would also harmonize with the right card.

This afternoon I head out for the Sam Maloof Foundation for the Plein Air Artists of Riverside's show (I have two paintings in it). I'll take along some of my flash cards and see if I can figure out who painted what time of day!! Now there's an idea.... I'm going to take a set to my next museum visit and look at some of the Impressionists and Tonalist paintings.

The first sets have started to arrive--I just received this from Gabriel Baber in Temecula, "Ok Elin..you really did it this time. Great brainchild..Awesome idea with the flash cards. I am excited to have them..Thanks for getting them to me so quickly. Those of us that are visual people..do much better with the color images than all the words. "

I'm so pleased they are helping people already!
14 It's finished. Just exactly what I wanted it to be, with enough detail to keep the viewer interested in all areas of the image. And yet with a focal point that sneaks up on you--because of the mist and the closeness of values in that area. This 24 x 36 oil is available for $1200 although right now I don't want to sell it.

How fun to finally pull one off that really says my art is going somewhere. I'm on a roll, expanding my thinking and yet paying homage to those who have gone before. In this case, it is Lanford Monroe, an East Coast artist who passed away at the young age of 50, and who was a stellar painter of the woods and Rockies--her husband printed a book of her work, called Homefields, and you can find it on line. I regret not knowing her while she was alive, but that is as it must be. Her ability to both tell a story and paint beautiful landscapes will live on forever because of his labor of love.

On another note, I was honored to receive Best in Show at the Maloof Foundation opening last night. As they were naming artists' names, I celebrated each one, for I know their work and it is an honor to be hanging with them. Then first place, going to my friend Pat Ford, and finally the wait for the highest honor.... and the judge called my name! Here is the painting--it is one I did while at the Santa Rosa Plateau, near the Vernal Pools, and is an 8 x 10 oil.



The judge said it had that extra "spark" she seeks in plein air work, and I'm hoping she was refering to the color!!

Tonight I was at the Riverside Art Museum plein air painting while a great event was going on--Several of the best restaurants and wineries in the Riverside area brought out samples of their fare and we had music and painters while folks enjoyed the cuisine and libation. I painted two 12 x 16 canvases in the three hours, and you'll see one of them tomorrow. The music was great!
In celebration of Restaurant Week, the Riverside Art Museum hosted a semi-formal "meet the chefs" evening, where for a flat fee, attendees could wander the museum and sample some gourmet courses. I arrived at the third story rooftop for an evening of painting, wine and music with about 400 attendees, and started on this 12 x 16 oil. Riverside has tree-lined streets with high/low palm trees along many boulevards--those fan palms are a trademark of the area.

Evening light, but very early--it was only about 5 pm when I started, and here we have daylight until 7:30 or so. So although this has the Color System working in it, the influencing colors are very minor. A whisper of orange in the palm fronds, and into the side of the building, then going quickly to yellow ochre as the distance increases. Shadows showing blue/blue-violet, and going darker to show the increased value contrast.

The building has some historical significance, as the current owners stopped by and saw it in process, saying that it has been in their family for generations. I painted the bell posts that are an integral part of the city of Riverside, and a stop light (on red!) to balance the lower portion of the composition.

This original, on-location oil is for sale for $300 through my Paypal.
18 After doing the first painting in one direction (brought to you on Monday), I swung around and looked the other way and saw this absolutely spectacular color show going on to my right.

Quickly--oh, so quickly!--to capture the sunset-backlit church steeple and those palm fronds shimmering with the glow of the fast-disappearing sun, the brushes got this one in a record 45 minutes. As I put the last marks on the lower darkness, the Museum turned on the rooftop lights and the magic was gone. But the band was playing, friends were be-boppin' in front of me, and I cleaned my brushes with a whopping grin on my face!

Again take a look below to see how the Color System Flash Cards work--there's a second image. This tells me whether I've "nailed it" with the Color System. Let's take a look. I've superimposed the "Backlit" card next to the finished painting. I don't have any inherent red objects in this composition, but are you with me that the painting "reads right"?

I've just been told that the August workshop in Acadia, Maine is a go--that will be in 2009, last week in September, just as the fall foliage turns! What can be finer than a full-on, Five Day COLOR BOOT CAMP with gorgeous New England autumn leaves? Well, how about Florida the second week of May? Where you stay and paint in the same spot--the Carriage Museum--surrounded by horses and green landscape. Both workshops will be open soon for registration, so if you've wanted a Color Boot Camp experience, here's your chance. For West Coast artists, I'll be hosting several three-day "Mini Color Boot Camps" at my studio in Riverside.

Thanks for joining me on the journey, and yes, please forward this email to your friends.

29 Here's the first pass on an 11 x 14 inch oil, started for a fun goal of painting animals for a month that I started over on Wetcanvas.com. When I start a painting like this, I generally block in the large shapes to define the abstract structure of the work.

In this painting, I want the dynamics of value and the complimentary blue/orange color scheme to hold the reins. So for my first brushwork, I don't worry about any of the edges, knowing that I can come back later and "fix" and find those that need finding.

These two dogs are my old German Pinscher (now 17) and Sparky, the year-old Teddy Roosevelt Terrier. The title of the painting will be called "Watching Over the Old One".

On other news, I continue to drop the excess pounds and have maintained muscle mass by riding and hiking the new trails behind our studio/home. Here's a picture of the newest trail, in evening light, with our place visible in the trees in the upper right corner. I'm at about 1750 feet elevation, and the house is about 300 feet below. I worked until deep twilight making this trail horse-safe. It's a long way down with a misstep!

Ah, beloved pets. Is there anything more comforting than to see them as they are today, knowing their short lives are going to become part of your personal history down the road? The black and tan is my beloved, aged Q, or "little biting dog"--LBD, who is 17 years old this year. Still spry, but with growths, totally deaf and cataracts are taking her once sharp eyesight.

Sparky is the "accidental" dog--I almost didn't get him, but at the last minute decided that Onslow needed a playmate. Dogs, true to their own needs, disrupted my best-laid plans. Onslow cares for and stays with Q, and Sparky has become my constant companion.

This is an original oil, 11 x 14, but not for sale. I like to keep some of my memories.

In finishing up this work, I was concerned again with the lighting, having sunshine coming in through a western window, and it being more late afternoon than evening. So any whispers of alizarin in the shadows are cancelled by the greenish influence of afternoon. But there is the whisper of cad orange in all of the lights. Even the thalo blue highlights on the dogs have that graying influence of the orange. Keeps the blues from being TOO strong. If you compare this image with the previous one, you can discern how much or little I did to finish it up.

On other news, I finished the installation of the new sink and counter/cabinets in the cleanup room of my studio. Here's a photo of the project...I'm happy that I got through the plumbing--it wasn't as tough as I thought! I'll need this for the workshops I'm planning for Two Trees (Riverside, California) in February of 2009.

Yes, those are paintings (the smaller ones) stored on the end wall and above the faucets.