Sunday, February 16, 2014


@2014 R.L. Delight, Petunia, 6"x8", oil on canvas panel
As a rule, I don't use photo references to paint from. However, sometimes a painting needs to be created and the rules must be ignored.
When my dog Twill crossed over the bridge, I wanted something physical to remember her by. I searched around until one day, on Facebook, one of the animal rescue groups I follow posted a beautiful piece of dichroic jewelry that contained a tiny bit of the ashes of one of their beloved dogs. It was lovingly made by the creative and talented Carolyn whose company is called Sacred Embers.
I knew I found my keepsake. I contacted her and saved up the cost of my own keepsake for Twill. When the time came to order, I found out that Carolyn had lost her beautiful and beloved cat of many years, that very day. To make a long story short in the process of her making my keepsake, I offered to paint a portrait of her kitty. Her name is Petunia.
I have never painted a pet portrait before so this was new territory for me. The following pictures are of the work in progress. I did not use any single photo but combined a couple to achieve the end result. The background in the painting was inspired by a beautiful wall hanging in one of the photos I was sent. Here is the process:
Petunia, sketch

Petunia, block-in
Petunia, adding detail
Petunia was a bittersweet joy to paint. I swear I could hear her purring as she came to life in the painting.
In other areas of my life, I had an unexpected milestone. I found myself, for the first time ever, recording music for a new CD with the band I am in. Here is a parting picture of me and a band mate laying down a cello track. It also serves as a hint for what is hitting the canvas next!
Recording a cello track for The Sedona Fire Band
And yes, the plein air painting has been going on too. More on that later!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Climbing Up a Learning Curve

Indian Beach, Ecola State Park, 4:30 pm
I am working on a few specific things in my painting technique and process at once. I might need to narrow it a bit as I occasionally slip down that learning curve! The sun is back so I went up to Ecola State Park to paint today at Indian Beach. The tide was just coming in to high tide so there wasn't much beach to paint on. I was perched high on a bank of cobbles.
I am trying to refine a process approach to painting. I have been studying and trying to take more care in the composition I choose, create a thumbnail, do a quick drawing and block in, etc.
Well, it was a struggle today. I also added painting a larger size to the mix. I wanted to give up several times and, after looking at the time, kept on painting until the light was just too challenging.
The light was indeed challenging. When I started the sun was well hidden behind clouds but was shining brightly through thin cracks in the cloud. I figured it would come out eventually, and it did.
Unfortunately for me, I didn't realize that the low hanging winter sun this far north would burst out and shine directly in my eyes from behind my painting. The sun is still pretty low on the horizon this time of year and the colors, while beautiful, make it hard too see anything. I just couldn't see the colors accurately. It looked like my painting was in silhouette.  
I painted nearly two and a half hours before deciding to stop. I also decided to wipe the painting off. I rarely do this, preferring to keep the studies to learn from. I thought this time I would take a picture and wipe and reuse the panel.
So here is what I painted today on 11"x14" gessobord panel. A bit larger than my usual 6"x8" size.
Ecola State park plein air, Indian Beach. 11"x14", oil on gessobord.
In spite of wiping the painting away, there are a few things I was happy with. I liked the composition. I put some thought and care into selecting what and where to paint. Believe me, there is a life-time of painting on this beach to be done and it was challenging to choose! I simplified some of what I saw and included the smoke from a campfire. There were a lot of surfers in this spot today, being a weekend and having calm weather. I felt the smoke (blocked in on the far left of the painting) added a timeless element.
The painting was at the block in stage with a few details started. I am still struggling a bit with getting it all blocked in properly before adding details. Some I had to add as they were changing second by second but then I would forget to pull back to the block in. This picture was taken at an angle due to the sun.
The first photo is a parting shot from the upper parking lot and picnic area. The clouds are all but gone and the sky really was that amazing blue!
Tomorrow I plan to head back to Short Sands to paint. I bet there will be plenty of surfers in spite of the Super Bowl. High tide is at 1:30 pm. A bit of an awkward time for painting but I am just going to roll with it!
I will try the 11"x14" panel again and keep hammering away at those skills.

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