Saturday, August 24, 2013

Autumn on the Canal, step 7

I worked my way into the foreground, basically just refining areas. The reddish tree I made a little brighter and a little shorter and on the far right I added a deep shadow which I felt the painting needed for balance.  In the foreground grass, I added a few highlights and shadows to define the area more.

Where I accentuated some of the trees, I painted corresponding reflections in the water near the towpath.

As the painting nears completion, I am debating about whether to add some people in the far distance. In my source photo, there are two cyclists in the distance who may be candidates. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Autumn on the Canal, step 6

I began with the sky again, defining the shape of the cloud and adding sky holes to shape the trees. I fondly remember an instructor one time saying that the trees should allow the birds to fly through. I refined the very distant trees, that are not really that vibrant blue.  I'm using my regular Nikon but still that blue is disturbing. I use a mixture of permanent madder deep (alizarin crimson), phthalo green, and white to make the color.  Perhaps its the phthalo green pigment that is throwing off the camera.
Then I made the sun come out on the background trees differentiating each tree allowing a nice contrast with the trees on the left.  I lightened the grass at the very back o really pop the light value.
On the left, I worked into the trees to suggest where one ended and the next one began.  The entire focus of this painting is to convert a July scene into an autumn scene with the gorgeous colors of that season.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Autumn on the Canal, step 5

I finished up the first color layer by painting in the reflections.  I lowered the tree line in the far distance to allow more sky. I felt it was important to have some sky reflections in the water to add interest and break of the area. 

To paint the reflections I used vertical strokes and then added a few horizontal blending strokes to suggest the movement of the water. 

The next steps will be refining what I have done to bring it up as close to a finish as possible. There are probably many parts of this painting that are finished. There are also parts that need work.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Autumn on the Canal, step 4

This picture I took with my Nikon and you can see the difference in the colors from the photos taken with my cell phone camera.  These are much more accurate.

I moved into painting the foreground adding the towpath and grasses along it.  Keeping the colors warm with bits of orange and burnt sienna is important to keep the overall tone of the painting in an autumn flavor.  I am particularly fond of fall colors with all their variations and warmth.

The shadows on the towpath are painted with a combination of cadmium orange and a mid-value blue-violet. The light on the towpath is a tint of cadmium orange. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Autumn on the Canal, step 3

This photo I also took with my cell phone and the colors, especially the shadows in the trees are much bluer and brighter than in reality. It's very misleading. Sorry.

I began painting the trees on the right that are catching the light. I used slightly different colors suggesting the brilliant autumn foliage: variations of burnt sienna, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, cadmium orange and my premixed greens. I add the blue-violet mixture to the shadows. (Fomulas for the greens and blue-violets are in my book shown at right, Secrets to Composition, as well as my painting procedures.)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Autumn on the Canal, step 2

I began painting the sky using a warm white for the cloud and  combinations of pale ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, and phthalo green for the sky, carving out some starter sky holes to shape the trees. Then I moved on to the tops of the back trees with a darker bluish color. Moving forward I added bits of yellows and oranges to the mixtures to suggest more background trees. I added blue-violet to the shadows to make them recede.

I took this picture with my cell phone which shows the shadow colors under the trees much brighter blue than in reality. 

Along the edge of the canal, which will be my focal point, I added tints of orange and yellow ochre.

On the left shadow trees, I used lots of blue-violet added to greens, burnt sienna and cadmium red for the different trees. I want to make each tree a slightly different color, since the original scene is full of July greens.  These dark greens will contrast with the focal area of the canal lights.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Autumn on the Canal, step 1

Since three artists and myself will be having an exhibit at Bucks County Gallery of Fine Art in New Hope, PA in October, I wanted to have some local scenes. 
I went there for a couple of days to gather resource material for paintings in the Bucks County area.  I did several plein air sketches and some photography where sketches weren't possible.
The Delaware Canal runs approximately parallel to the Delaware River as it wends it way between New Hope and Lambertville, NJ.  I was excited by the light hitting the far end of the towpath where it turns behind the trees on the left. This will be a great painting for the exhibit, once I change all the July greens into October fall colors.
 I will be demonstrating this painting here on my blog, and this is the burnt umber underpainting to establish my values..  I am working on Belgium linen, which I prepared and then toned with a warm gray.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cherry Blossom View

This is another example of a before and after. The bottom painting was done from photos I shot from a cruise boat, which my husband and I took see the cherry blossoms along the Potomac River. Painting it plein air from the boat was definitely not an option.  This is a great view, but of course, it was a gray day and you can see the result above.  I think it even rained and the painting looks like a gray, gloomy day.

After looking at this painting for a number of years and finding it totally blah, I decided it needed help.  Especially the sky.  I thought a sunset painting with the Washington Monument silhouetted against it would be quite dramatic.

I began by sanding the surface of the painting so it would take the new paint well and get rid of any bumps from previous brushstrokes.  Basically the drawing is unchanged.

By using other source material that I have accumulated, I changed the sky into a sunset.  What a difference!
I darkened the trees and the cherry blossoms, and  made the water smooth with reflections.  The colors are more purple in the shadows.  I really like the painting now.  This is a good example of painting what you want to see, rather than painting what you see.

It will be at American Painting Fine Art for the exhibit "Images of Washington DC."  The gallery is located at 5118 MacArthur Blvd. NW, Washington, DC.  The reception is Saturday, June 8 from 5-7 p.m.  I'll be there with other participating artists in the Washington Society of Landscape Painters.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Signs of Spring

Recently, as in the last year or so, I realized that I had a lot of paintings that I didn't really like, but I didn't know why. I think that is one of the most difficult things to do as an analyze the work. Periodically, I would take them off the shelf and study them, trying to figure out what I didn't like about them and what I would do with them to make them better.

Over the years, every spring I would do a painting of daffodils. This year I had a bumper crop of daffodils, and I decided to pull out the bottom painting and see what I could do with it. The new painting on the top is "Signs of Spring" while the early painting on the bottom is&;"Daffodils and Apricots." I felt there was nothing actually wrong with the apricots, but I just didn't like the color. The orange was driving me nuts. I believe the problem was color harmony. The blue and orange were strong complements and I felt the color distracted from the more subtle yellows of the daffodils.

Some of the green leaves were nandina, which I finally decided were ugly. I didn't like the drape of the blue scarf either.

So I replaced the apricots with limes, removed the nandina, redraped the blue scarf, brightened up the oriental cup, and redefined the table. I replaced the nandina falling over the table with another daffodil, which helps move the yellow color around. About the only thing I didn't touch was the blue pitcher. I am quite pleased with the result. I think it is much classier and elegant.

Future blogs will be in this same vein, where I take what I consider unsuccessful paintings, and revive them. If I can show step-by-step, I will. To see more of my still life paintings, go to my still life page on my website. Check out my FaceBook page to see what I'm up to. You do not need to belong to FaceBook to see what I'm up to.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Award of Excellence

Sunny Meadows, pictured above, is still showing at the Arts Club of Washington in the Washington Society of Landscape Painters' Centennial Exhibit.  
However, I entered it in an online exhibition sponsored by NOAPS (National Oil & Acrylic painter's Society).  I just learned that it received an Award of Excellence.  I am really tickled.
This painting is a composite from several plein air sketches done in Virginia, New York, and Maryland.  Hopefully the viewer can feel the sunshine and the warmth on the fields and distant mountains.  It is an oil on linen, 20 x 24. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Since I last posted my blog, I have become one of the artists at the Bucks County Gallery of Fine Arts in New Hope, PA.  I am very honored to be a part of this gallery of top-notch fine artists. I hope this will be a long and successful relationship.

When I knew I was going to take paintings to the gallery owner Howard Cooperman, I rummaged around in some old photos from my previous visit to New Hope, about ten years ago.  Often I have done paintings of doors and windows in historic areas and this particular building had caught my eye. I loved the way the shadows fell across the brick and bay window.  So I did this painting for Howard to review.  My dear departed cat Theodore is in the window checking out a bird on the sidewalk.  It was a lot of fun to paint and Howard said he loved it.

To see my work at Bucks County Gallery of Fine Art, click here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunny Meadows

The Washington Society of Landscape Painters is celebrating its Centennial this year.  Founded in 1913 by two government workers painting on location (probably in Rock Creek Park), the organization is one of the oldest painting groups in the United States.  

During the 20s and 30s, they were very active with meetings, paint outs, and exhibits as far away as Wisconsin and Louisiana. World War II and the emergence of various modern art movements put a damper on its popularity during the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  But in the last several decades, landscape painting and plein air painting have practically become a national pastime. 

In the early days of the society, the members held an annual banquet at the Arts Club of Washington, which had been the elegant home of President James Monroe. Following in that tradition, the Centennial Exhibition will also be held at the Arts Club of Washington.

As president for the last six years, I am extremely proud to be a part of this prestigious organization. I have seen it flourish with the inclusion of the best landscape painters in the Washington Metropolitan area.  For more information, click here for the WSLP website where you'll find a link to the exhibit and the article in American Art Review.

The above painting, Sunny Meadows, is my exhibition piece.  The exhibit opens Friday evening, April 5 with a reception open to the public from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Click here for more details.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Spring Pastures

For a workshop demonstration several years ago I did a sketch of this scene. The farm was fairly typical in that it's a lovely place but when you get right down to the nitty-gritty, there's not a whole lot to paint without extensive editing. Of course, that's usually the case. There were several interesting sheds and barns, but none of them had the distance and peaceful quality that I was looking for.  

When I do a demo, I try to find something that not only will appeal to the workshop participants and give them an opportunity to learn but also to me and what I find appealing.

In this painting, I put in different trees on the left, changed the direction of the road, which had been entering in from the far left and added the rocks for some contrasting texture. I wanted this to look like a place that I would want to go for quiet reverie..

I was pleased with the result and submitted it to the Salon International exhibit at the Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, Texas.  It was accepted!  In about three weeks I will be sending it off to the exhibit, which runs from April 13 to May 3.  For more details, check my  events calendar.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Along the Canal


During January and February I am exhibiting at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The exhibit closes March 1, 2013. The above painting is in the exhibit. To see more details of the exhibit, click here to go to my events page on my website.

After trying "daily painting" for about a week, I decided it wasn't my thing. I will instead keep you up-to-date on my latest paintings, as above.