Friday, June 28, 2013

Laurel Hill Cemetery

 Today the boys and I ventured into the city to Laurel Hill Cemetery to paint. It was a scorcher! I think this was by far the hottest day I have been out painting so far this summer and the humidity today was clam bake! Aaron Thompson go into the city before Will Sentman and I who car pooled together. We found Aaron who had already done a painting and decided to stop as the light had changed too much. So we all drove around to find another spot to paint. Laurel Hill is just incredibly beautiful and there are probably hundreds of spots and view to paint...fantastic victorian sculptures and tombs, graves of every description from the 1800's into the 1900's. Its kind of overwhelming in that way, but search we did until we found a nice spot higher up in the cemetery. Aaron broke off and kept searching but we caught up later on.

 Will and I found a nice spot looking up the hill. I loved the cool darker shadows going back into the raking light. The sun was in and out all day but when it was out it cut great shapes through the trees and graves.

 You can see here the view Will and I had and our paintings under way.
 I worked on a 12 x 12 canvas this time as I think it's hard to mess up a composition on a square.
 But once we passed solar noon the shadows started to shift too much so i had to stop, besides I was really getting beat by the heat, even in the shade. So I stopped the painting and when i got home I added some finishes to it.

                                              Laurel Hill Cemetery, 12 x 12 OIL on canvas

 Will had a great moody almost Dickinson-like painting going. But we called it a day and went to Dick Blick and spent a LOT of money--well I did, I needed to stock up on a lot of supplies since I have been doing so much painting--which I plan to do again tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Darby Creek

 After finishing my regular work duty on this week's strips I grabbed some Z's and then headed out to paint something. I started too late so I wasn't able to joining Aaron Thompson who was painting out in valley Forge. before leaving I checked the radar it, and it  looked like I might get 2 hours before the raid could show up. Since the time was short I decided to drive back to the Swedish cabin down off of Darby Creek which is 15 minutes at the most from my place. Luckily there were not a lot of people there so I had it pretty much to myself except for people jumping off the SEPTA trolley bridge into the creek.
 There did appear to be some other creative types who visited this spot before me though.

 Just a great view to paint! I set up fast as I could see the clouds were building. I painted again on panel, over and old painting I did in school. I had oil primed it a few weeks back. I used a No. 4 flat and blasted awat blocking it in.

 After about 90 minutes this is where I had to stop as the thunder started..and the lighting too! They say lighting can travel 30 miles from a cloud--so I packed it up for the day. I had a lot of this one done, so I snapped a pick and finished it up at home. I think if you get a painting mostly done you can use photos to finish certain details and areas as you have already established most of the values and colors by eye from nature.

 Seems like its going to be this way weather wise every day this week, hot, humid with afternoon thunderstorms, so I think I'll have to make sure I get out early tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Afternoon in the Brandywine

 Today Aaron Thompson and I headed back out to the Brandywine to paint early because the weather is hot, hot, hot and the storms were forecast to roll in by the afternoon. I took Aaron back to the spot I painted at last Saturday along the top of a hill off of Creek road that gives you a great view of a barn and the valley.

This spot also provides a nice place to park and shade to paint in---which is important when its 92 degrees out. The air was already heavy and thick, the hazy was building fast over the sweet fields of grass. We started right away, as I set up my rig Aaron did some thinking with a few sketches.


This time I wanted to use a panel instead of canvas  for a change and really liked it.  I settled on my view and sketched it in real quick with a wash of Quinacridone Red. I figures since there was still a lot of greens the red showing through in spots would look good.

 After a while I snapped a pick of Aarons sweet mass-in, you can see mine in the background and you can see the different ways we think about approaching the same subject colorwise.

 We knew we didn't have much time as the clouds were really starting to build in the heat of the afternoon. I finished before Aaron and sat as he finished up his painting with a few last deft touches. One thing for sure, it's important to know when to STOP! You can really %$#!! up a painting quickly with a few wrong notes or over tickling one spot compared to the rest of the canvas. The great painters make everything on the picture plane in harmony--and plein air painting is very demanding in this way. To get down in a bold way the atmosphere, or the "prevailing weather conditions" as Peter Van Dyck would say. What is the color of the air? The light? You must also be a great designer to say more with less and to rearrange, conduct and construct. Technical knowledge in the harness to your emotional reaction, a horse that must be in control or it will over do it and ruin things quick. I find I have spells of thinking and not painting---then painting very fast. Greens are so hard to paint, and there are so many dancing into your eyes, you can dance with them all.

 Below you can see my painting as I left it. my biggest issue was the foreground and the mass of grass and the detail. I didn't want to get too busy, but I did want to get in some texture and the colors that wove together. I must have painted it 4-5 times and remassed it each time.

 There is Aaron's final and I love how he stated the planes and the feeling of air, of atmosphere. We were both kind beat so we headed off to hanks to have lunch and as our sandwiches were being served the sky grew dramatically dark, so we beat the rain by less than 20 minutes. On the way home it stormed like mad, but that means green grass for tomorrow's plein air adventure!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Brandywine Wandering

 The weather was so fantastic today that I decided to pack out early to the Brandywine and just drive some back roads and wander till I came upon a spot to paint. There were so many great spots along the way, and I did stop to snap some pics for future reference and to note future painting places. When i came upon this spot with the two builds, what looks like an old pump house and a barn in the distance that was the spot for today.

 So I have cool greens and warm greens and playing them into each other ads a richness you see in nature.

Here is the mass-in, everything except the barn. From this point  end up making a lot of changes,but the basic bed is set. I know the shadows will shift so I go and lock them in first and then I feel i can always scrape off or paint over, move, etc. I did use a little Liquin fine detail. After about 3 hours I stopped as the shadows had shifted too much and we were upon Solar Noon where they will really change. The final is 16 x 20 Oil on Canvas.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cloudy With a Chance of Swedish Meatballs

 Yesterday the PPAP got back out to paint--this time in a cool "Hidden Philadelphia" spot about 12 minutes from my house in Upper Darby called the Lower Swedish Cabin. I've lived in Philly for almost 30 years and never heard of it! Alina found it on one of her runs, and it a great find!

 Here are a couple of cool panoramic views of the area and cabin. I love the old ruined cabin and want to paint that next time.

 This was my second day in a row  getting out to paint and it was awesome.  Aaron Thompson came back to join Will and Alina and myself as we raced the incoming rain. The radar showed the line of showers approaching from the west just before I left the house so I figured at anytime we could get a downpour but we lucked out until just the very end. Initially it was really nice and sunny, but in about 30 minutes the sun was gone and the light was the cool overcast for the remainder of the painting day.

 Will and Aaron set up down in the river to get great views for their paintings. I need to get a pair of waders!

 There were so many great spots to paint and I will come back to spots like this.

                                                         A close-up of Aaron painting

                                                     Arron really working on those rocks

Alina working away as you can see the sun going away and the light changing. The good thing about overcast days are the light does stay a lot more consistant.

 Here is Alina's final painting which reminds me very much of something by Manet in her paint application. below you can see Will's final painting, very tonalist in approach.

 Here is my block-in for the cabin, I figured using a red-ish bock-in would look good if any of the under painting showed through under the green. The main goal was to set the tonal atmosphere, the "color of the soup" and then work into that.

 Here is a shot of my blocking. I continued to adjust as the light really changed quite a bit from some sun to completely cloudy about halfway through the mass-in and that started to change values and temperatures. The sticky spot was the reflected light on the cabin which I had to darker a lot more. It was a lot of squinting going on the whole day...

 Alina took a snap of me starting me working away while hoping the rain would hold off.

 My final paint of the Swedish Cabin, 11 x 14 in Oil.

I searched around a bit for a spot for my second painting since Aaron was still down in the river working, but I could tell we didn't have much time till it started raining as it was getting darker and I could feel the temperature  dropping and the wind started picking up as the thunderstorms were approaching from the west. I was captivated by the trashcan by my jeep, there play of the rust against the greens and the old call box of some kind was just the thing---so I blasted this out in about 30-45 minutes using my biggest brush. My palette was super chunky and tacky from using the Liquin, I put the finishing touches on it as it started to rain pretty good, so Aaron packed it off to grab a few beers and eat some great Tia food at the Piggy Cafe. I plan to get back out by mid-week weather allowing.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Brandywine Creek After The Big Rain

After a spell of commercial work and heavy rain for about a week, including some severe weather I finally got a chance to get back out and do some Plein Air painting, and I returned to the Brandywine which never ceases to work its spell of beauty.  This time I was accompanied by by buddy, super painter and fellow PAFAite , Aaron Thompson.

 Aaron had never been to the Brandywine before so we met up in the Museum's parking lot  and I gave him a bit of a tour of the local area as we wanted to get going and get the paint slapping down as we had just reached solar noon. As we hunted for spots in the super-soggy landscape cross the muddy grounds and fields we can upon a lot of cool spots, but searching was not without incident as I slopped around and fell and got scratched up a bit trying to get to a spot. I really need waders or army boots as it was just so slippery. I ended up getting stung by some kind of bush that puts these little fiberglass-like bards into you or stings you like a jelly fish. My arm arms were hit pretty good and in fact they are still tingling where I got scrapped. As I painted my arm got hives on it, but after a few hours they went down.  Oh well, nature it tough, so you have to be if you want to paint her!

 Aaron setting up his rig with his new Gamblin colors that are as they say "The Shit".

 This is Aaron's painting in progress, you can see that little dob of the new high chroma Gamblin green which is some combo of Hansa Yellow and maybe a Pthalo Green or Cad Green. It's fantastic! It really hist that high bright green you see in the photo below--I can't wait till it's out in stores.

 We had many canoers go past on this beautiful afternoon. Below is a picture of me racing the sun with tingly arms slapping down the paint.

 Every once in a while its great to get up and stand back to see how things were coming, and check for ticks!

Aaron putting the final touches on his paintings and then we packed up and were off to have lunch at Hanks Place right across the way from the Museum.

AAron and I inspected out work and talked about how we were really trying to keep the masses simple, repainting them over to unite them several times as we worked quickly. Corbett and Sargent make it looks so simple, but believe me, it sounds easy in theory, but its hard work. What you see, vs what you need to design, eliminate, move, compress and what the painting needs. Its an intellectual construct fuled by your emotional reaction to what you see. Gosh, that sounds soooooo simple!

Arron's swell painting as he left it, he wanted to stop before he felt he might start making decisions that would not make the painting better.
Here is my final painting, and I felt the same way, stop while it had that spark of freshness to it. there was so much debris and piles of logs, driftwood and limbs, etc I could easily get too picky! I kept squinting and painting in and taking out or merging details the entire time. I had scouted more spots deeper into the back roads so tomorrow we plan on getting back out and painting some old barns or building.