Saturday, November 21, 2009

SketchCrawl #25

My "minimalist" sketching kit

SketchCrawl, the international drawing marathon, took place today, and four of us participated. I decided to go "minimalist" and take the smallest set of supplies I thought I could get away with. Here it is: the smallest -- 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" -- of the Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks, a tiny toystore tin I filled with Winsor&Newton watercolors, a waterbrush, tissues, pen, pencil and eraser. What's so cool about this is I can tuck it all in the little pouch on the left and carry it wherever I go.

Our destination was the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Here's the overly-detailed study, but I was killing time waiting for fellow artists to show up.

The Henry Moore sculptures were still in place at the Garden. Set into rocks and vegetation, they looked like aboriginal totems.

The Japanese Garden is a tranquil place, and I could have sketched there all morning.

Just before lunch I dashed off this last sketch of the big fountain near the cafe where we all would soon be meeting for lunch.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Prairie Series continues...

"The Red Hill" - acrylic gouache on panel, 16 x 20

This is a hill of Big Bluestem, one of the tallest of the tallgrass prairie grasses. It can grow to 10 feet! In autumn it turns the most luscious wine-red. I came upon this hill after making the turn in the road shown in the painting below.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More from the Prairies

"After the Storm" - acrylic gouache on panel, 12 x 16

As part of my growing fascination with prairies, I traveled to Oregon, Illinois, last month to visit Nachusa Grasslands, an example of tallgrass prairie, a 2800 acre plant community of really big (some are 10 ft. tall!) grasses and wildflowers dating back to the Ice Age. In the mid-1890's most of America's prairies were turned into farms, bringing this unique ecosystem almost to extinction. Organizations like the Nature Conservancy are restoring many grassland remnants, and this is one of the best examples in the Midwest.

I thought it might be helpful to students who take my classes and to people who collect my work to see how I go about making a painting, so, for this painting, I photographed steps in my painting process. See them in the post below.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How I paint

I don't usually make a record of my painting process. I'm usually too engrossed in putting paint on the surface to take the time to stop and photograph each step. But since I teach landscape painting, I decided it would be helpful to my students to see how I go from a sketch to the finished painting. So, for what it's worth, here's my process....

Step #1: the pencil sketch on a gessoed Ampersand hardbord panel.

Step #2: the first big defining washes of color using Holbein's acrylic gouache -- over-bright because I know I will tone them down with subsequent layers. I find it's easier to tone down intense color rather than vice-versa. Besides, bright color is fun!

Step #3: the addition of the warm earth tones to play off against the cool blues and greens.

Step #4: More definition in the rain puddles and some initial layers of grass texturing.

Step #5: Ooops, big jump here. Well that's what happens when I get deeply engrossed in the act of painting -- I can't stop. But you can see I've added lots of layers of warm tones over the green under-painting, as I defined the grasses with long vertical brushstrokes. Voila, the finished painting.