Lately, it seems that my plein air excursions have occured on overcast to threatening weather days. It makes for hastily painted canvases and quick visits. I've come to enjoy these experiences, though. I mix my blues, burnt sienna and white for a stormy sky-plop the colors down in the sky part of the composition and swirl my brush around till I get a dramatic look-perhaps a bit more dramatic than the sky in front of me, but so much fun.
This is the second time I painted and sold this scene.This time I was commissioned by a man whose wife's great-uncle and grandfather built the house many years ago. They were from Columbia, PA,
originally. Their family name was Glatfelter or Gladfelter. It is to be a Christmas present for her. I am so pleased to be part of this thoughtful gift.
This was a commissioned painting. The client wanted a view of the Susquehanna River that was different than the one from her condo window[ seen in the upper left]. I took several photos from both sides and up and down the river. I emailed her all of the digital images [ hooray for technology]. She chose this vista in a populated area. She wanted a lot of the river, bridges, her condo, but did not want too many other buildings in the painting--nor any trees in the foreground. I convinced her that some foreground trees keep the river from "running off the canvas."
I kept her posted as I continued to paint, but she has not come to see the painting yet. This is the nerve-racking time for me--worrying and hoping the client will like the painting.
I "discovered" Mechanicsburg forty-three years ago when my family moved to Camp Hill,PA from Tarrytown/Ossinng, NY. Though both locales are as old--Mechanicsburg early 1800's,Tarrytown, middle 1600's-or older than our nation and are in northeastern states, their historic architecture have different looks and styles. I fell in love with the color of the brick buildings, with their heavy wooden doors and window trims, their arched passageway, narrow alleys between houses, leading to charmng back yards. All of these features reminded me, and still does, of the architecture that appears in Dutch genre paintings. Main Street in Mechanicsburg was lined with mature trees which provided restful shade and created rich shadows. About 25 years ago, the State cut all those trees down to widen the road. People, including myself, were saddened, but happily the skinny "twigs" they planted as replacements have have grown and Main Street looks charming and inviting again.
It was a long time between sales. Then suddenly a sale, followed by 2 others and a commission to paint a large River vista. The best thing about a sale for me, is not the money earned, but having someone like your work, to want it enough to spend their money for it.
These are two young painters participating in the Quick Draw in Willow Park during the Camp Hill Plein Air Event. As a retired elementary art instructor, I love seeing young people engaging in any artistic endeavor. I chuckled at the positions, on the ground and the wall, they took to view and paint their subject--not sure if the apple was the subject or a snack or both, but I snapped their picture, and painted them from my photo.
Both of these paintings were done en plein air in my neighbors' yard. Feeling no pressure to finish in one sitting, I returned two and three times to complete each painting. The proximity to each location in their yard made this easy. There are many other nice spots here and I am welcomed to return whenever I want.
As a claims adjuster, several years ago, my husband travelled to Perry County to handle a farmer's claim. Just as he stepped inside the barn to interview the man, a barn owl swooped down at him. He jumped a mile. Chuckling, the farmer said to him--"You, must be one of them city fellers."
I recalled my husbands's amusing incident after a paintout to Adam's Cattle Ranch, 65,000 acres of grazing lands and forests in Florida. I was so anxious to paint there, but became alarmed when I read the cautions involved with the day. They included a reminder that we would be in the wilds--so beware of"red ants, snakes and alligators [really big ones]".
I arrived, got some brief instructions and a map. I was allowed to drive around, but had to stay on the dirt road and not go beyond any closed gates[ no chance of that]. Heading off, alone, no other cars in sight, on a rutted path toward what looked like Jurassic Park, I drove carefully, not wanting to damage the underbelly of my car--scary thought, getting stuck in the wilds.
I finally stopped near a pasture, where beautiful red brown cattle were grazing,
opened the car door, scoured the landscape, and cautiously stepped out, still looking for snakes, red ants, and alligators. I had decided that I would not use my French easel--difficult to pack up when you are trying to escape from alligators. I had heard once that they move quickly--and I move slowly. So I set up in the front seat of the car, pulled out a tiny canvas, and quickly composed the above painting. At one point I ventured a bit from the parked car to take some photos. When I looked up, a small band of cattle was in front of me, heading toward the car. I scurried back to the car , slightly frightened, but was able to quickly get a picture of them just as they turned to move in a different direction.
There were some artists who stopped to chat on their way to find a paintsite. One of them pointed out a red ant hill near my car--never noticed it.
There were no sightings of snakes or alligators. I discovered, when I returned to sign out, that the weather was too cold and overcast--snakes and alligators don't appear when the weather is too cold and overcast and that small band of cattle was probably more frightened of me than the other way around.
I will return to paint at Adam's Cattle Ranch next winter, acknowledging that when it comes to painting in the "wilds", I am definitely "one of them city fellers".
I love a garden path as a subject for a painting. They can suggest adventure or mystery, as well as a casual stroll or peaceful journey. This path is in Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce, Florida. I went there with other artists to paint, twice this past winter. There wasn't much in bloom, but I did spy this twisty tree with curvy branches and foliage, hanging over a shaded path with some sunlight streaking across it.
An artist tries to move a viewer's eyes all around his painting. He wants them to see everything, starting with the most important and eventually all the details.Paths are such natural/easy way for the artist to lead a viewers eye "into" and around a painting. Also assisting this journey in this painting are the trees trunks, branches , and foliage. They twist, wiggle and move up the side of the canvas, across he path, down the other tree ,and across the path again to the twisty shadowsin the lower right corner and up and around again.
I used three different blues, Ultramarine, Prussian,and Manganese, Alizarin Crimson, some dark green, some Cad Yellow Light, some black and lots of white to create the somber look of this land and waterscape on the dark, overcast day we took this cruise in Alaska. Amazing views, but somewhat brooding and many times, oppressive.
The first version of this segment of woods at Samuel Lewis State Park is closer in mood and atmosphere to the actual time and setting. When I paint en plein aire, I usually try to create the actual "plein aire", the lighting, the weather conditions, etc. We were completly "fogged in" that morning. There were no shadows or lights, just gray skies and trees receding in the mist. I liked the first version a bit, but I wanted to show more sky and to "punch up" the foreground a little. So I brushed over some of the branches, creating more negative space around, and therefore, more focus on the foreground trees. As the morning wore on, the fog diminished a bit and the sky lightened up. I reflected this slight change by adding some more white to my sky color.
"Willow Weep For Me" is the old "torch"song that always comes to mind when I see a willow tree. It was sung by many artists, like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. The lyrics use the physical characteristics of the weeping willow to convey the" weepy" sentiment of a lost love....."Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me." But mostly I love the wispy, gracefulness of this tree, especially when a breeze blows across and through its branches.
This is one of only two glorious sunrises that have occurred this January in Florida. It's been warm, but also windy and wet. Mornings have been continually overcast--a bit disappointing. I am an early riser, so I have my camera ready to catch the colorful cloud formations. It's still dark as the sun rises and the wind is constantly changing the sky. The colors in the sky are garish, but so unbelievably breathtaking that I find them too irresitable to ignore--hence, another Florida sunrise painting from me.