Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Day 4: A New Backyard: 10.20.30 Challenge


Labor Day weekend is always a busy time here on the coast. Not only are there a lot of visitors to the area but we are involved in a lot of activities. I spent an hour on Saturday doing a sketching demo for an event at our local art center. Sunday our band played a long, three hour gig at one of our annual local events. The band has a standing date to play there every year.

I will give a brief mention here, I play a 5-string electric cello in The Sedona Fire Band. My mate Bob plays trumpet, coronet, and flugelhorn. Click on the band name to get to the website. We will be recording our second band CD this winter. Playing music with my bandmates is one of the many joys in life.

It was a busy weekend. I did squeeze some painting in but did not have time to post. I will be playing catch-up this week. We still have a lot of work to do on our new house to get it ready for the winter as well as upgraded and renovated. We do have some beautiful views all around. We have a peek of the Nehalem river below us and of the river valley. The view from the front is framed with the beautiful coastal mountains. Behind us, we have a nice view of these trees. At least for now. The waning summer light was just beautiful this day. I didn't have a lot of time due to rehearsal schedules and celebrations and all but did my best to squeeze in a painting session. I was able to do the 10 and 20 minute part before I had to get going.

I am really enjoying the addition of focusing on values. It is really helping me to see how much I need to push them and spread out the different values in the composition. I still believe I need to push my darks and lights further apart.Here is the 10 and 20 minute paintings side by side:
The 10 minute painting looks very abstract but I am finding it really helpful to get me thinking about the design of the painting.

Here is a closer view of the 20 minute painting:

I know, none of these paintings look terribly exciting at this point. I am getting excited by how much I am learning!

Tomorrow I get to work on my studio. Currently it is stacked with boxes and needs the walls and floor painted, the switches and plugs repaired, and shelves and cupboards put up. We will be moving all of that out of the studio and I will work like crazy in the next couple of days to get all the painting done and what shelves and such I can get up. I can't wait to get all that done and get moved in!

I will probably not have time to post in the next few days but will catch up with the challenge soon.


Yours in paint,
-Renee

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Oregon Dreaming: Day 3: 10.20.30 Challenge

Yesterday when I was painting at Alder Creek Farm, this view was directly behind me. I knew I would be back today to paint this view too! This is the back view of Lower Nehalem Community Trust barn and greenhouse. We use both for the community garden, which is off to the left and on the other side of the barn. The view is framed by the beautiful coastal mountains. I never get tired of watching the clouds, light and shadow on all the surrounding mountains. The mists and fogs of rainy days are equally enchanting.

I started my painting a bit later in the afternoon today. I spent an hour before hand doing a sketching demo at our local art center which is having a fundraiser weekend. Our area is rich in natural beauty, and wealthy with a wonderfully talented and skilled community, particularly in the arts. Personally I think our usual rainy weather is somewhat responsible. It gives us all something to do while waiting for the sun!

I had my painting pack and painting clothes to change into. Right after I finished the demo, I went to the farm and got started on the Day 3 painting. I decided to call this one "Oregon Dreaming." Homesteaders and the Oregon Trail is part of U.S. history. So many left their previous homes to chase the dream in the new Oregon territory. Farming in this area is alive and well today, many of them owned and operated by women. We are also part of Tillamook County, home of the famous Tillamook Cheese. I even happen to personally know the current Dairy Princess! (Hi Kalli!)

Standing out in the field with the peace and quiet and the sound of the birds, from eagles on down to tiny song birds, gave me a tiny taste of what it might have been like to live here in earlier years. Of course, I must also mention that before the farms, there were thriving Native American tribes living here. They also managed and lived off this abundant land. Today the land felt like a dream. I could almost sense it slipping between time. Did I capture that? Not even close! But the feeling was still there.

Here is today's 10,20,30 minute paintings starting at the top left and going clockwise. I actually liked the 20 minute painting the best. I struggled a bit with the 30 minute painting as I shifted a few things around and sort of lost control of the drawing. I am still using black and white paint to work on values too.


It is hard to see the detail that one can see in person but the general idea comes through. I am finding it very helpful to paint in black and white. The true test will be how it influences me when I work in color!
We shall see what the weather does tomorrow. I haven't decided on where to paint yet.

A final shot of today's painting spot:


Yours in paint,
-Renee

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Texture of Green: Day 2: 10.20.30


We had a very stormy morning this morning and I was thinking I would have to work inside on a still life. By the time I was ready to paint it started clearing up a bit. I decided to head outside but stay close to home. I went to Alder Creek Farm, which is part of the Lower Nehalem Community Trust, and about 1/4 mile away. It was an old dairy farm and now has been set aside in a land preserve. This is where I also go to participate in the community garden which shares two acres of the trust land. The community garden is worked in community rather than in individual plots. We also harvest for the local food bank and for senior meals. I love being part of it and I really love the good food that I get every week.

The last time I painted in this spot, I was chased away by the resident elk herd! There was plenty of fresh evidence that the elk had spent the night there but none were in sight at this time. I really like this view with its many layers of green. There is so much going on here that it was a struggle for me to get something coherent down. That is just fine as it is part of the process I am trying to experience.

Even though it is hard to tell in the photo, the layers of greens in this view are intense. I am working in black and white which forces me to look at the different values of all these greens. It was a good exercise in spite of the struggle.
Here is a close-up of the paintings. This time the 10 minute is at the top right, the 20 minute at the bottom right and the remaining 30 minute at the bottom left.


Of course, the sun is ever changing, even in such a short time. One of my goals is to fill the whole picture no matter what the time. I am looking forward to seeing what is happening with this at the end of the month. It doesn't look like much, I know, but I am learning a whole lot by doing this exercise and am putting aside the idea of making a perfect pretty painting at the moment. As I mentioned earlier, when I have the time I will paint a full color painting now and then after painting the timed sessions.

It will be a busy Labor Day weekend for me but I will still be putting in my painting time.

Yours in paint,
-Renee

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Crossing the Sacred Between: Day 1: 10.20.30


Today a very special and beloved community member crossed over. She was a very special person and one of the first people I met, even before moving here. She was not only a supporter of the arts, but a wonderful artist herself. I met her when I showed up to our community's life drawing session on a visit here before we moved to the area. She, along with her husband, have been, and continue to be  huge supporters of our community and she will be very much missed. She leaves a wonderful legacy behind.
Hearing the news made me very sad and it was very fitting to honor her by going out to paint at the foot of Neahkahnie Mountain. I will miss this beautiful lady and will continue to be inspired by her art and life.

It was a warm but wet day. There was very little wind on the beach. I picked a spot where I would be alone and even had a bit of shelter to stow my gear. For this 30 day challenge, I will be painting at least three paintings a day, a 10 minute, a 20 minute,  and then a 30 minute painting. They will be of the same subject that I have chosen for the day. In this case, since I was painting waves, they aren't identical as the waves and tide continue to move.

I have three painting goals for this challenge and they are as follows:

          1. To get my painting habit and skills back up to speed after a long break.
          2. To work on improving my value relationships.
          3. To reflect and connect emotionally and spiritually to my subject.

Even though these are studies, I plan to give each day a title. Today, with its misty, flat gray colors, was very much an in between day. Neither dark or sunny but in between. There were no huge contrasts and the values were very subtle and close together. They were there though. I was in a very sad and serious mood as I searched for a title and idea to compose my painting around. The day felt sacred with our friend crossing over so my title is "Crossing the Sacred Between". The sea is eternal and is a fitting subject for today's painting.

Here are the paintings. Starting from top left and going counter-clockwise is the 10, 20, and 30 minute paintings. I set my timer and stopped when it went off. There was a gentle rain and things did get a bit damp but I hardly noticed. As each painting time got longer, I was able to add more information. I am a bit rusty but it felt like I was coming home, back to where I belong. What a relief...and a joy!


I made rare use of my easel umbrella. It kept some of the rain off. I rarely use it because it doesn't do well in the wind, and it is usually windy.
Finally, I am using black and white paint to study value. If I have time, I will paint a small painting in full color after the timed paintings. Here is a view of my palette at the end of the session.


That is all for today! Tomorrow, Day 2.

Yours in paint,
-Renee

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New Home on the Oregon Coast!

I knew it had been a while since I posted on my blog but I was a bit surprised it has been almost 4 months! I seemed to have fallen down a rabbit hole. The big reason I have been absent so long is that we were finally able to buy a house! We have moved a whopping 1 and 1/2 miles to the south which puts us in the even smaller town of Nehalem, Oregon. The community we live in is a combination of three small villages clustered together. We have been living in Manzanita where the full-time population is around 750 people. Nehalem has a population of around 300 people. However, that hardly matters as we are all part of the same community. We have changed our home and neighbors but not our community. We take a lot of comfort in that!

The house is a 1973 fixer-upper with a need of a lot of fixer-upping. Buying the house was a journey and moving in has been quite a journey too. There was a lot that needed to be done in a short time for safety and comfort before moving in. I had to temporarily put down my paint brush and pick up my pipe wrench and wire strippers.

Yes, my tools. My mate has been busy with his business and bringing in an income so I took on the task of cleaning, painting, and repairing plumbing and electrical. I still have a ways to go but we are all moved in and chipping away at it. I do have a lovely room for a studio. I had to rip the carpeting out only to find the particle board subfloor is disintegrating and will need to be replaced. It is an old story that those who have bought fixer-uppers will be quite familiar with.

All of it has been challenging and fun (and sometimes not so fun) and will be continuing but, I need to get back to my work of painting. It doesn't take long to get out of practice! With this in mind, I am using Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30 challenge to get back into the swing of things. I am not totally crazy though! I am going to start small. My theme for this challenge will be 10.20.30. I want to work on certain skills, value being one of them so I will be taking an hour a day and painting a 10 minute painting, a 20 minute, and a 30 minute painting. The short painting time is to loosen me up and to sharpen my observational skills. I will be painting them in black and white or brown and white so I can focus on value or tone. If I have time that day, I will continue on to paint a full color version of my subject. As always, I will be painting from life.

The past four or five months have been spent making a couple of major life changes. These have taken all my energy and focus but I always knew I would be getting back into my painting. I will talk more on the new house and my last painting trip to Stehekin, WA over this next month. In the meantime, I have this wonderful challenge, and two painting trips this coming month!

Here is another view of the house, with the giant Monkey Puzzle tree in front:

Off to get my gear ready for tomorrow,
-Renee

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Clarno Unit

The full title of this post should read "Clarno Unit: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument". It is quite a grand title but, it is also a grand place. I am about to take off for another plein air trip and I suddenly realized, in all the crazy-business of my life these days, I haven't posted about last month's trip!

So to fill in a few details, I joined up with all the other artists in the Plein Air Painters of Oregon (PAPO) for a weekend of painting at the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Park which I will hereby refer to as Clarno. The link will take you to the National Park's website for more information. If anyone is curious, it is worth looking at. Clarno is a fascinating place to visit as well as paint!
We all stayed at the Hancock Field Station which is a research and educational station run by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The Hancock Field Station is not open to the general public.

I can go on for pages detailing the wonderful time I had. It was a bit like spring camp for plein air painters. We all got to pick which cabin to stay in. I ended up having a little cabin to myself which went by the sweet name of Rose Hip:


We were not allowed on the site until after 6:00 pm on Friday so the good folks could make the transition from one group leaving to ours arriving. Interestingly enough, the good folks were all biology graduates in their early 20's. They were absolutely wonderful, full of enthusiasm for the area and knowledge. My little cabin was very basic but I slept surprisingly well.

The first full day of painting we went out to a private old homestead in the morning. I never made it to the homestead proper as I was captivated by the massive scenery on the road in. Here is the painting spot I chose:


The river is the John Day River and must have been the lifeblood of all the old homesteads there. I am sure the few remaining still rely on it. The park has apparently gradually acquired the homesteads over the years. I never did find out how exactly they were doing that or for how long. The picture does not do the grand scale justice but if you follow the river into the photo the tiny lighter spots at the foot of the cliffs is the homestead. The scale of the area reminded me a tiny bit of Yosemite and its massive granite cliffs. Maybe not quite that big but the effect was close.

I did not get this painting finished. The problem I ran into with a scheduled event like this was that the meals were planned and scheduled too. We were miles from any town or store so we were relying on the camp for meals. I am not used to having to stop at a certain time for meals. Cell phone service is non-existent in this area too. That was interesting. I spent the entire weekend completely isolated from the rest of the world. I remember when that was a normal thing but now it isn't and even I felt the difference. I am not even that attached to my phone!

After lunch, we headed a mile or two in the other direction to the Pinnacles. There are beautiful rock formations everywhere but the Pinnacles are pretty spectacular.


The afternoon light was changing very fast and I took this picture at the end. The whole time we were painting there I could see and hear a pair of ravens who were nesting in this set of cliffs. It added a magical touch. Here is a close up picture of the painting:


The final day we packed up after breakfast and hit the painting spots on the way back to our respective homes. I decided to go back to the Pinnacles, and the ravens. Here is the painting I did there with a bit of additional work in the studio using my value sketch and memory:


This was all new country to me and also a very different light and landscape than I am used to here on the Oregon Coast. I had a beautiful drive home. I am always happy to be back at my beach:


Currently I am in the process of taking one of my paintings and making a larger painting from it using my sketch, notes, and memory:


Next up: Stehekin, Washington with the Plein Air Washington Association painters! I will be heading out later this week. It will be quite an adventure! I will be able to connect online from the area and will probably post a few pics on Facebook.

Happy Painting!
-Renee

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge


Let the paint-outs begin! My first paint-out of the season, and my first ever, was with PAWA (Plein Air Washington Artists) at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Nisqually, WA. The refuge is a 3 and 1/2 hour drive from my house, one way. I left my house at 6 am. and returned at 10 pm. It was a long day but totally worth it. I painted at a beautiful spot and got to meet a few people.

I am used to wetlands but this time of year the refuge is full of migratory birds, local birds, and birdwatchers from around the world. Yesterday there were plein air painters out there too. When I arrived, I poked around a tiny bit looking for people with painting gear. I am new to the group so I didn't know anyone. I did see a few folks with what looked liked painting gear heading out here and there. I grabbed mine and found a spot, out of thousands, to paint. Looking toward Puget Sound the Olympic Mountains were showing in all their glowing glory. I decided to try for a grand vista with the mountains in the background. I was glad I took a few minutes to prepare a preliminary sketch as the clouds were moving in. I also painted the mountains and sky in right away since I knew it would be changing fast. Here is a view of my easel and a bit of a view of my surroundings:

I was out of step with most of the group so I missed the lunch gathering while finishing up the painting. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one so I got to eat lunch and chat with another artist. After eating, I headed back to another spot that I had noticed when walking to the car for lunch. I loved the colors of the spring growth on the distant trees. They were nicely framed by the dark, evergreen trees behind and the water-logged grasses in front. I had several Canada geese keeping me company.

You can see a pair of geese in the distant upper left hand corner. They actually spent most of the time a few feet from me.


Looking the other way are a pair of beautiful old barns. I was sorely tempted to paint them too. Perhaps another time.


Finally, a closeup of the final afternoon painting. Both paintings will need a bit of work in the studio before I would pronounce them finished. I will probably keep both for studies for now. This week the sun will be coming out again. At least, that is what the weather app reports. I am continuing to work on skills in the studio: drawing, brushwork, values, composition, still life, and painting faster.

In two weeks, I will be heading out to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument with PAPO. I am looking forward to painting there and meeting more people!

-Renee
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