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May 2010

Under Construction

1 How about if we go back in time for a bit and see that painting from yesterday's post at a different stage of development? Oopsie. Here's the first lay-in of colors, and shows more of my working method. I don't paint the most interesting and riveting part of the painting until I am certain that the background stands on its own merit.
So I'm always thinking about division of space, light, pattern/texture, atmosphere, repetition of shapes, dynamic line, and (of course) COLOR when I work.

The Color Boot Campers who just finished up their five days of intensive painting are on their way home now, taking some outstanding work with them. Here's one of the sillier examples of their work, which is what I used to have them warm up to brushwork and thinking about the value (lightness or darkness) of their palette. Called "silly paintings", the challenge is to not mix, but to paint with the inherent value of the pigments of the Color System. Eye-popping, to say the least!

Each source image is below the painting. It's a fun exercise, one filled with much laughter.

You can see my entire blog HERE.My workshop schedule for 2010 is HERE.Color System information can be found HERE.If you need to email me directly, please click here.
2 Here's the next stage of development of the morning light wash up. I'm really enjoying the traditional acrylics again, even though I love the workability of the Golden Opens and of course my oils. I'll be returning to them this week and next, as well.

Those of you familiar with the Color System can see the cools in the distance (over 300' away) and the warms in the sunlit areas of the living things in the painting at this point. What's fun is to put the "sky shine" on the shadowed sides of the figure and horse, as well as in the wet ground. I moved the bucket to the left side for design reasons.

The advanced students in the CBC (Color Boot Camp) received a snootful of design challenges this week past. They not only dealt with the time of day, and the value plan, but also had to consider using elements and principles of design to create dynamic compositions and paths for the viewer's eye to follow. Lots of complaining, but the end results were awesome. And everyone did two or more compete paintings each day.
3 First day of the Florida Color Boot Camp here in Ocala, and what a great group of artists and students! A wonderful facility and I'm staying with one of the organizers. This evening we spent it with wine glasses in their swimming pool!

This 12 x 12 acrylic has had the final "punch" put in the color to fine tune the relationships in morning light, to bring the viewer into the image, and to tell the story.

My story for this painting is in the people who do the hard work of keeping these equine athletes ready and healthy for performing. The title of this one is "It's not about the horse". I hope you like it.
4 At the Florida Boot Camp and ending the first day, I thought I would share with you the misty light painting I whipped up for their first demonstration. They are working with the Cool Box, and learning to really MIX color. I "imagineered" this Florida water landscape without seeing any of it. I need to get out more!

The painting still needs tweaking, but the idea of overcast light is conveyed, and their examples were really well done! Today they are working on Morning Light and Moonlight paintings.
5 Happy Cinco de Mayo! I have had such a wonderful time today watching and teaching the Color Boot Camp students who were painting all day. I've worked on this 12 x 16 morning light landscape in oils and this is the first pass. I started it up in Georgia, and have brought it to a more finished state, which I'll share with you tomorrow.

You can follow one of the attendee's blogs on the workshop here, which will give you one participant's perspective of what goes on--far more than I can share with you in these short notes. I hope you enjoy it!

Tomorrow I'm going kayaking on the Silver River--where the water is so clear that the kayaks seem to float on air. I'm looking forward to it!


Today, though, after class, I drove down to Gypsy Gold and visited my artist friend Lynn Wade, and took this image of Latcho Drom, the top stallion in the country. Even in the rain, he was magnificent! (By the way, Lynn kindly gave me a print from one of her lovely pastels of this horse, a portion of which is the opening image on her web site!)
6 OK, gang. After the workshop today, I finally got to do something I've wanted to do for ages... kayaking on a river, and wow, did I get my wish! Here I am on the Silver River in Florida outside Ocala, kayaking into the evening and heading for the headwaters of this massive aquifer. Clear, clear water! I'm with Jackie Shindahette, my hostess, on her second kayak, and our intent was to go for a few hours. We left at 4:30, and didn't get back to the launch until 9 p.m., well after dark--not smart, but who knew? The springs that spew out 0ver 550 million gallons of fresh water per day to create this river are three miles upstream, and we thought that would be a nice trip. (Remember, UP stream.) But try three miles of kayak paddling without being in condition to paddle. And we had to paddle back, because we lost the daylight about two miles out from our launch location. Tomorrow I'm going to be seriously immobile, methinks....

Here's one of the alligators who greeted us. When Jackie was distracted, I poked one with my paddle and was rewarded with a spray of "slough" junk, all over me, over the the kayak and Sparky as the 'gator took off, flipping his tail. Sure stunk. He was formidable, but I just had to go "poke". (I've done the same in my past with a skunk. Some people never learn.)

Today I painted two 6 x 8 skies, one sunset and one backlit for the Floridian workshop new recruits. I'll share them with you tomorrow, (if I can lift my arms).

What a great day, which just goes to show you that any life of excitement is just a few short decisions away! Now off to a much-deserved glass of wine and sleep.
7 I've spent a good amount of time working on this painting to get it to this point (far from finished at this point). Still here in Florida, and today was the last day of the wonderful first-timers Color Boot Camp. Details of the journey as viewed by one of the attendees Maggie can be seen here. (Thanks, galfriend!)

I've been putting details in the grasses of the pastures and talking up composition to the Boot Campers. I will miss their pleasure at learning the beginning steps with the Color System, and hope to see them again in Florida next year as "Repeat Offenders". Tomorrow morning I drive up north to Georgia and return to the Farm for the second week-long Color Boot Camp for newbies. I'm not tired at all!

Lynn Wade came by the Art Walk event in the downtown area, including a visit to Voilart Gallery, and I had a friend take this image of Lynn, Shraron Crute and myself with Sparky. Both Lynn and Sharon are great equine artists and I do hope you made some time to see Lynn's paintings: www.lynnwade.com and Sharon's web site.
Sharon is the co-owner of the gallery with Jackie, who put up with me. Kathie Camara organized the event and for all that, I'm eternally grateful! Thanks so much for a wonderful time!


My hair's gone all curly because of the humidity. I was born with curly hair, yet it went straight when I moved to California years ago. LOVE having it back! Can you say, "POOF?"
8 One of the demonstrations I did for the Florida CBCer's was this 6 x 8 oil of evening light, Florida Style. It starts with bland colors and some mid and low values, yet progressed rather quickly to the image you see below. It was quickly purchased by Peggy in the workshop and she says she'll be enjoying it in her studio. I enjoyed the juicy thick paint!



And what fun! The Florida Workshop finished up on Friday evening with Ocala's Art Walk, and afterward I settled in with two good friends, a bottle of wine and lots of good art conversations.

This morning I left and drove up here to North Georgia, where I was again greeted by two good friends, and we settled in for a good dinner and grand conversation before turning in for the night. I love the connections artists have. It is truly special.

One more photo from Florida before close down the computer--this one from the memory of Silver River, and the headwaters flowing around Jackie in her kayak, before we headed back downstream. You can see the sun leaving the tops of the trees here. It was dark before we regained the launch area, yet this was truly a moment in paradise.
9 As I sit and await the arrival of the seven newest Color Boot Camp recruits in gorgeous North Georgia, I'll share with you one of the two six by eight inch canvases I did during the other workshop.

Although there is glare on the upper right, you can see the Color System working in the gentler light of the Florida evening. Note the repetition with variety in the trio of duplicate shapes--clouds, palms and shrubs. One might think that it is a no-no to repeat in twos, but in this case it works, as the dark cloud on the left middle balances the weight of the duos on the right. And each of the dual objects is similar but not equal. Design is such a strong aspect of painting; one I'm always considering!

Georgia is cool and lovely this time of year, and holding a sumptuous spring feel, and no better place to enjoy it than Fay's farm. Her generosity in allowing us to descend upon her for a five days is not to be taken lightly, and I'm honored to be considered her friend. Here's an image of the barn apartment upstairs with the balcony where the workshop will be held, across from the main house.

After this workshop, the only one remaining will be in Maine. I do hope to meet some more East Coast artist friends there! Color Boot Camp is special. Here's Maggie's most recent post.
10 While enjoying the Art Walk in Florida, I started this painting of the local wildlife (NOT alligators!) from an image I took while it was still light on the Silver River. I so enjoy the painted turtles, as they remind me of my childhood on Lake Barcroft in Virginia.
This is an acrylic, measuring 9 x 12, and I started it with an underpainting of thalo blue (!). Now the Cool Box colors are going over it as I pull it to life, shaping the natural environment in which it is enjoying it's afternoon sunbath. I hope you'll enjoy how it develops.

Here in Georgia after the first day, I'm tired but assured that the "newbies" are caroming into the Color System. Lots of good paintings! We lost one Boot Camper who went to town after class, but several phone calls later and she is safely on her way back to the farm. It is a remote location, but with the natural beauty of the area, it is ever so easy to miss the road signs. Sparky has settled into the routine of my teaching, and he enjoyed a wonderful morning walk with the students, where we captured lovely lighting situations such as the one below. May in Georgia is beautiful!

I'll be using this one for a future demonstration in the blog of that elusive overcast light!
11 How do you like it so far? This is the second stage of the painting, where I decide the major colors of the focal point (turtle) and then start to adjust and tweak the background to match it and hold its importance.

Lots of glazing in acrylics, and I'm using the traditional ones on this trip, so they dry fairly quickly and give me room to work on glazes. Now while I painted this one, I was chatting with people and also painting. Yes, there are design flaws, but hopefully I can pull it all together to share with you tomorrow!

Yesterday the rain started around noon and it is overcast today. Great for painting with the Cool Box, no problem as the Boot Campers are doing Morning and Moonlight! Ah well, the Color System prevails... This is turning out to be a fun group--they've dubbed themselves the "Mudder Day painters"... The Repeat Offenders workshop two weeks ago call themselves the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Paints". Lots of laughter, lots of fun!
12 Getting good images of paintings can be tricky, and none more so than photographing this image. The upper one is closer to the true color, yet taken indoors under artificial lights available to me. The second image (below) is taken OUTside, under overcast skies.

Taking images of paintings under overcast skies usually dilutes the warms in the Color System, because (as every Boot Camp Graduate knows) there is a pervasive blue in all shadows. That's because of the "sky shine" affecting those areas. So the true colors are warmer in the painting, but compromised in the second one below. I usually take images of my work in the morning before ten a.m., in FULL sunshine. That seems to hold the Color System well.

The last of the three Color Boot Camps here on the East Coast is in what they've dubbed "Tearsday", (as in Monday, Tearsday, Wednesday....) It happens when there is so much useful information. They are processing it and it seems so overwhelming to them. But there are benefits to being on the farm--they got to see a horse being shod in the barn below the workshop space.

This acrylic original with the river story is available for $250 directly from me.
13 In Florida, I demonstrated a backlit scene so the Boot Campers can understand the way the Color System works with this often difficult subject. On this 12 x 16 canvas, I toned the canvas with a warm orange, and then used the complete Co0l Box colors to lay in the large shapes in this spiral design. I'm pointing to the future focal point with the end of my brush, explaining that this area will be done in Warm Box mid tones, to set off the contrast of the cool backlit bird.

The lids of the pill boxes I use are seen at the bottom of the image, with the cool family on the left, and the warm family on the right. With this plein air setup, I have them velcro'ed together on the end and bottoms, to keep them in place on the easel.

This photo and others are courtesy of Maggie whose blog is a great record of the Florida workshop experience. Thanks, Maggie!

On the Georgia workshop, we're winding down to the final day, and tonight will be the famous "BYOF" BBQ on the grass. Ah... so sad to know my East Coast trip is ending. I hope you've enjoyed the journey! Sparky and I fly home on Saturday.
Another image....
14 Now the warm circle around the focal point is in, and the basic deeper values of the bird, too. This is a white back-lit bird, so the darks aren't as dark as I would make them if the object were of a different hue. But I think I can pull it off, because the temperature difference between the bird and background is so extreme, even if not in value!

It's fun to scatter the warm box colors outside the "circle of warm" found in backlit subjects as I loosely put in the vegetation at this stage. And it is fun to play with all the greens in this subject. No high values yet, except for the lights in the overhanging moss. Such fun!

Ah. The final day of the workshop. The new Color Boot Camp graduates get their final critique today (individual) and I ask them four questions: What did you find to be most valuable? What will you do with the new knowledge? What goals are you setting for your art in the next 12 months and next five years? Will I get the pleasure of seeing you again? (Actually I ask them what can be improved in the workshop as that last question, but when I say good bye to my new friends and artists, it is very sad for me.)

Tonight I pack my boxes for shipping and get ready for the early morning pickup for the airport. My next post will be from California. See you soon!
15 As my plane lifts off for the West Coast and home, three weeks of painting and using the Color System have fired the creative energies, and I can hardly wait to be back in my studio.

The egret painting is finished, and I thought you'd enjoy seeing a closeup of the bird itself (below), and see how the accents of color play out on the canvas. He's only about two inches tall in the 12 x 16 oil, but enough value contrast makes him believable at any distance, even without the details that are the bread and butter of wildlife artists.



I'm actually in the air, in first/business class, with free wireless internet on my laptop. Amazing that 15 years ago, this was nowhere in our reality--stuff of science fiction. Life is good!

I'm having wonderful memories of my East Coast trip, and now am looking forward to new artwork in my studio, and many communications with you, artists and collectors who have read this far.

Sadly, I'm going home to another loss--my Tibetan Mastiff Seiko (the "watch dog) passed away rather suddenly while I was gone. I will miss her, and am wondering how to replace such a gentle giant. Here's an image of her playing with Sparky. Yes, she was huge, tipping the scales at over 100 pounds. She died near this spot, one of her favorite places to watch over everyone. At the Rainbow Bridge now...
17 Home and right back out on Sunday to the Annual "Primavera in the Gardens" event at the University of California Botanical Gardens with my brushes. This is the annual fundraiser for the Gardens, and my paintings have been featured on the promotional posters for the last two years. I donate the original for their fundraiser.

It's a high-end restaurant and winery gala with silent auctions and beautiful weather. For example, the chef in the first booth pictured below (the one I painted--coming tommorrow) was serving scallops with glazed Maui onions with dark chocolate sauce. Amazing taste sensation, and I already love scallops! Raspberry sorbet, raw green pea soup, honeydew melon soups--wandering through the booths was my reward for being a fast painter, and oh my! It was GOOD. My painting from last year was auctioned off and brought a good price for the organizers.


I'll get a good photo of the one from the paint out and post it tomorrow, since it has been cool and completely overcast here on the West Coast and I've been doing needed yard work. Such a change from what was just a few days ago! The painting above is the 9 x 12 acrylic I dd during the event last year.

Now it's time to sort out and settle in, knuckle down and focus on the list of things to do this month and this year. Only one more Color Boot Camp for 2010, but it looks like I'll be back for more on the East Coast next year.
18 This 9 x 12 painting just fell off my brushes in about an hour as I painted "en plein aire" at the UCR Botanical Gardens on Sunday. The image from yesterday's blog post was my view--and of course--artistic license creates a totally different "feel". '

Painting quickly and knowing where to put those dots and blobs of paint is primarily due to the Color System. I didn't scrape out one iota of this canvas!

Interesting, I felt as though I was painting a younger version of my folks on the right--it happens. So much of our lives are tied up in our memories, that the many people who walked through that spot melded into versions of my own family. The chefs, Miguel and Sarah, were pleased that their booth was featured in this work. I know I enjoyed their cuisine!

I'm liking the confidence of my work now, the ease with which I can take a horridly complex scene and turn it into something interesting for the eyes, without feeling rushed or too tied up in the details. Today I paint the gardens of a friend of mine, Lucy Heming. I'll be heading over there later this afternoon to catch the evening light!

On other news, there are two rescue dogs assuming the place of Seiko--adjusting to the routines, learning the priorities (no chasing of sheep, chickens are not dinner, small dogs are to be respected; and no, those cats will never come out to be playtoys). Fortunately, at least one has a great mind. The other is aloof and constantly "on point". I'll post pictures tomorrow. I'm back to three sheep, too, since the shepherd came and took the other four he owned back home. The grasses and weeds are definitely less now!

This original 9 x 12 oil is available for $250.
19
20 Yesterday I painted at the Heyming gardens, a certified wildlife habitat, and it was lovely. A large estate with all the amenities, including this watercourse and bridge. I was there in the early evening, and set up in the shade of the mature trees to look back at this heavily side-lit scene.

There is a diagonal composition going on, with the sculpture being the focal point, yet the bridge demanding more attention initially with all the nearby colors and contrast of values. One sees the sculpture because of its human form, so my intent was to combine and balance the two spots of interest with suggested directional lines. Can you spot them?

Here's the first of two new additions to the "estate" at Two Trees (ha, with me as the sole gardener and manager, "estate's" a laughing idea!). She's about two years old, and someone really did a botched job on her ear crop. However she's a gem in both personality and conformation. I used to show dobies back in the early 1980s, and can see how well she's put together. Amazing what people throw away. And she needs a name, so I'd love to hear from you on your ideas of names with the "oh" sound at the end of them--it's my tradition to name female Dobies with that end--in my past here was Cleo, Widow and Evoe so many years ago, and now this new girl. Send your suggestions! If I pick yours, I'll send you your choice of one of my Color System dvds. Let the games begin! Nameless wonder needs a name.
22 The Ocala, Florida, workshop was a great event in a grand locale, and I'm please to share with you the photograph taken by Maggie Weakley's husband--pro photographer, you can see his fabulous work here--of the ten people who participated. And of course, there is Sparky, hamming it up.

There has been an incredible response to my need for a name for the newest addition to the Two Trees household! Thank you all. A list of names, and creative they are! I looked over more than fifty naming options, and cogitated on it for a full day, and the choice is made.
Here are some of your creative offerings: (I'll never lack for a dog's name again!)
OhNo 'cause I'm positive that's what whoever cropped her ears said.
...she is a looker like "Vana White" on the game show and a lopped ear...Vanagogh
Shiloh...Oreo...Meadow...Bibelot...Harlow...Fargo
Hobo...Bardot...Margo (also Margeaux) ...Bravo...Aiko
Oido...Segundo...Solo...Yarrow...Juno...Echo
Shiloh (really "pup"ular)...CoCo...Calypso (almost picked this one)
Artisimo...Koloh...Arrow.. Halo...Duo... Mio...Timo...
and perhaps thirty more great suggestions. Even "Shadow", but I couldn't bring myself to name a dog after the Tibetan Mastiff pup I lost last January. Too painful. So Willow it is!

Donna McCullough came up with Willow first, although Cheryl Pass, Judi Evans and Mary Lou Roberts also suggested that name.
Donna's email arrived first, so she'll be sent her choice of DVD as a gift for helping name this lucky rescue. And I thank all of you caring hearts who love the rescues. What a grand community of wonderful people! And it made my job so much easier.

Willow settling in...