Thursday, September 25, 2014

30/30 Challenge-Day 25:Art Studies and Organizing an Art Life

Neahkahnie Morning After the Storm 
Fall has finally arrived with a bang. The first storm of the season blew in the other day. It has been way too long since we have seen a good rain here on the Northern Oregon Coast. For a place renown for its rainy gray climate, it has been a bit spooky. The upside of all the sunshine is that I have taken advantage of every moment I could to get out to paint. I have neglected quite a few things in the process.

I have also taken advantage of these rainy days to work on correcting my discovery that this challenge has unearthed. To refresh the memory, I discovered at the beginning of this challenge that I did not have my life organized to focus on art full time. It was a bit of an eyeopener to me. I am correcting that this month. It has not been an easy process for me but little by little I am making progress.

I have using the time spent inside due to the stormy weather to get a few basic life systems in place to free up more time. One of these is food and cooking. Good healthy food to nourish the mind and body without taking too much time away from the day. Being organized is not exactly a natural state for me but I have seen the necessity for it.

It hasn't been all chores and organizing though! I have also been putting in time for study, sketching, and building my drawing skills. This morning during my morning walk I took my sketchbook and spent a bit of time sketching out an idea for a painting. Here is the sketch even though it is more of a road map rather than picture book. It is the beginning step of this piece.

© 2014, R.L. Delight ,Neahkanie Fall Light sketch, water soluble pencil on paper
I am taking this painting through a deliberate process. I will be elaborating on the process and painting in a future post.

I have been studying the Hudson River School painters. I have always loved Luminism style of painting that this particular group of painters were known for. The landscapes they painted were majestic and rather romanticized. I don't feel called to paint in exactly the same manner but would like to get my colors as luminous as theirs and some of the detail. It is their art process that I find particularly interesting.

At the moment, I am reading these two books that I got from our library system.

The first book is the older of the two. The pictures aren't as nice but I am finding the text more informative. There is a section on each of the Hudson River School painters along with associated works. The second book has stunning pictures but doesn't delve into each artist in depth. I am learning a lot about how these artists worked from the first book.
Since I left school I have been busy not only teaching myself how to paint but how to paint en plein aire. It has been a struggle at times, but I am always wanting more! I have neglected my drawing and sketching a bit but not entirely. I need to bring that back into balance and push my drawing skills further. This month I have been remedying that. It doesn't make for interesting blogging at this point but I will talk about it more in the future.

Saturday is forcasted to be partially sunny. I plan to get out and paint if the conditions allow.
More on the above topics to come!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

30/30 Challenge: Day 20: Wave Study #77?

Wave Study #77?, 9"x12". oil on canvas
I have lost track of what number wave study I am on! Part of the problem is my wave studies and coastal/beachscape studies sort of blur the lines. I do consider a painting that only has waves a wave study. Others that have wave and rocks I determine by the intent or focus. I will have to check a bit more carefully and give the official number of this wave study later.

We had a wonderful few days this week enjoying the company of a dear visitor whom we have not seen in many many years. I took yesterday to regroup after our visitor left and we took a rare morning this morning sleeping in a bit. It was too late to get out to get the morning light as it hits the waves so I decided to go for an afternoon painting.

It is the last day of summer and unusually warm here on the northern Oregon coast, again. I went down to the beach at 4:00 pm to paint and there wasn't any wind. It was beautifully warm and misty. The waves were fairly large, 7.5-8 ft. I had a brief moment of deciding between painting Neahkahnie mountain or the waves. Neahkahnie was obscured by a bright mist so, waves it was. The waves probably would have won out regardless as they were quite stunning.

Color is a bit challenging to see as the sun sinks behind the waves. I also didn't have much time to get this wave and spent about an hour and a half on it. Tricky lighting. As I was working with a 9"x12" canvas, I had to work pretty fast. There are several things I am not exactly happy with. I didn't quite nail the atmospheric effect the warm sun was causing. I also didn't quite get the dazzling bright light on the water to my satisfaction. The wave shadows were quite dramatic and the color and tone is not quite right. The edges also need to be softened.

I am pleased that I captured enough of the scene to give me good information for future use. I am fairly happy with some of the detail elements too in spite of not really having time for much detail. I had fun experimenting with subtle color in the shadows and I am enjoying working in the slightly larger format.

The tide had turned toward the end and was coming up at a rather alarming rate due to the large waves. The tide and light pretty much limited the length of painting time. What a beautiful day!

Painting afternoon at Neahkahnie Beach

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 13: 30/30 Challenge

It was a beautiful day to get out and paint. It wasn't as hot as the last day I painted at Short Sands but it was still quite warm. I used my easel umbrella as there was no wind until the end when it started gusting. I just closed the umbrella while I finished that last five or so minutes.

This is an hour and a half study. The shadows change so dramatically in such a short time. This is not a great painting and I would certainly not consider this a finished painting. It is a good working study. I also learned quite a bit. I was working on not only catching the stunning shadows and rock shapes but starting to get a bit of texture and form. Here is a close up photo and then a photo of it on my easel.

 The last picture was taken as I was packing up. Note the difference in the shadow shapes between the painting and the actual scene in the background. Please ignore the drawing. It was heading south as I was struggling to nail the shadow shapes and keep them there in my painting. I was working so fast that when a trio of gentlemen came over and asked if they could peek, (I said of course and explained that I was just starting the painting out), I never saw what they looked like as I never took my eyes off the scene I was painting!

Short Sands Study, 9"x12", oil on canvas
Short Sands Study Shadows
I used larger canvas size than I usually paint on. I want to try painting a little larger plein air studies too. I am actually liking the larger format. It will take a bit of adjustment though.

To finish up my post about my road trip to the Coos Bay Art Museum I will say I had mixed feelings about the exhibit. It really was educational to see other work up close but I was a bit disappointed. I have had the opportunity to see the work of a few artists that I admire tremendously. My goal is to get to the same level of skill and quality that they are. I will note here that I am not trying to copy their style. They have worked at art much longer than I have and worked hard. It shows.

There was good work at the show, again by artists who have been working a long time. I was disappointed because it was pretty obvious that all most of the work was painted from photos. I have mentioned before that I believe that using photos as reference is a personal choice. I don't use them because I love painting from life and I believe I personally paint better when I am responding directly to my subject. To me the paintings made from photos looked, well, like photos, rather flat. They also looked too stiff.

I don't know exactly what I was expecting but I did think there would be some plein air paintings and paintings made from life studies, etc. That said, I came away with a few important personal observations. I also enjoyed looking at the art. That all makes it completely worth the trip!

One more unusual week to get through and then hopefully settling into a routine. I am working hard on getting a routine down and am determined to make good progress in my skills.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Road Trip!

I am back from a wonderful thee day,  two night road trip. I wanted to see the Maritime Exhibit at the Coos Bay Art Museum put on by the American Society of Marine Artists. I missed the international one that came through last year. This year is the regional one. I am pretty isolated up here and it was good to get out and see what others are doing.

Coos Bay is about a 5 or 6 hour drive down the Oregon coast from Manzanita. I decided to make a couple day trip of it so I could check out the coast with an eye for good painting spots and also to have a chance to do a little painting as well. I stayed two nights in Yachats, one of my favorite little towns on the central Oregon coast. All of the Oregon coast is beautiful but I find the central coast particularly so.

I took a scenic detour on the way down and swung by Pacific City which is off of Hwy 101.

The Beach around Pacific City
 My next stop on the way south was at Boiler Bay which is on the north end of Depot Bay. I had an unexpected treat as there were migrating gray whales passing by. I was in no hurry so I spent a while watching them swim by. They were so close you could hear them spouting.
Thar be Whales at Boiler Bay
A close up view of Boiler Bay
Hotel fun.
I made a few more stops along the way but finally arrived at my destination, The Fireside Hotel in Yachats. I got the least expensive non-view room but I could still see the ocean from the side of the front window. The rooms were clean and comfortable. I would recommend this place to stay.
It sits, along with other hotels and houses, right on the bluffs above the ocean. Beautiful!

Beach in front of hotel.
I had a nice long walk before dinner along the historic 804 path. The path is dotted with memorial benches and tables to enjoy the view. It was quiet at night and I slept well, lulled by the familiar sound of the sea.

The next morning I took another walk as the sun rose over the coastal mountain foothills. The moon was still hovering over the ocean as the sun came up.

The start of a beautiful day.

I left at 8am and drove down to Coos Bay. I got there just at the museum opened and enjoyed looking at the exhibit all by myself.
The exhibit was very educational for me. I will talk about it in a bit more detail in my next post.
After I spent a good long time at the exhibit, I drove a little further south to meet with a friend and classmate I haven't seen in 30 years! It was quite a treat and we had a good time trying to catch up.

On the way home, I started having car troubles. A radiator leak to be exact. The engine was starting to run hot. I stopped to get gas and then pulled over to have a look as the gauge was starting to look alarming. What a mess! It wasn't at critical yet so I nursed it along to the nearest Fred Meyer store where I was able to buy radiator fluid, and a stop leak additive. I must mention, I was also on the phone to my mate periodically who talked me through the whole thing. I added some fluid to the overflow tank which the car manual said to do. The sun was going down and I didn't have time to wait for the engine to cool down unless absolutely necessary. I decided to make a shot to get back to the hotel room which was about 18 miles or so up a winding, narrow coastal road.

I managed to nurse the car along with one eye glued to the heat gauge and another to the sinking sun. Both eyes on the road of course! Yes, I know that makes four, I got out the spare pair. : )

I made it back to the hotel room not long after the sun went over the horizon. It as a bit tricky through some spots. Needless to say I was very relieved and exhausted too. I got back a little before 8 pm.
The car cooled overnight and this morning I added all the fluids. I had planned to paint this morning but the car was too much of an unknown factor still. I was completely distracted and I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate due to worrying about the drive home. I packed up and left.

It was a very hot (for the coast) and beautiful day. I stopped at an auto part store to pick up radiator hoses as we figured they needed to be replaced anyway.

The car ran fine! Apparently the stop leak additive worked like a charm. I made another stop at Boiler Bay to enjoy the migrating whales and then headed north again to home.

It has been an enjoyable little trip overall. I am disappointed I didn't get to paint as I had planned but I will just have to go back. I did achieve my main objective of the trip and got in several bonuses too. It has been a grand little adventure and I have a lot to think about.

Here are a couple of parting pictures from Yachats:


A touching memorial for two strapping young men swept into the cold water by a waist high sneaker wave. They were dead in three minutes. The memorial beseeches one and all to respect the power of the sea.

Sunset at Yachats

Goodnight all. I will be heading out to paint first thing in the morning!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Challenging Lessons

Painting at the foot of Neahkahnie Mountain
Here it is, only Day 7 of the challenge and I have learned more than any of the other challenges put together. Of course, with each challenge I am in a different place so it would make sense that I would learn different lessons.

I think the biggest lesson I have learned this week is this: Much to my chagrin, I have come to realize that  I currently do not have my life set up to paint everyday or even as often as I would like or need to. I will say right here, this needs to change because I understand the value and necessity as an artist to having ones life set up to revolve around the creation of art.

This seems like such a simple and obvious thing, but it isn't really. Like so many people, I have a busy life. On taking a good hard look at where the time goes, I have come to the realization that I really need a system to manage my time more efficiently, or a ritual.

I have to admit, I don't seem to be able to keep to a highly structured ritual. Life seems to throw in extra goodies such as the peaches at the Farmer's Market on Friday. How do peaches disrupt a schedule? Well, peaches are tricky to come by here on the coast. At this Friday's market, someone brought flats of organic peaches from their farm. We bought two flats, which meant I had to can and freeze them before they go bad. This all came to an unscheduled task tacked onto a long day, leaving me exhausted today after working at the store all day. I can hardly see straight, let alone think straight enough to paint at the moment. This also explains my not-so-polished off the cuff blog posts too by the way!

I could go on to list all the wonderful and not so wonderful things I get to do in this life but I think I made my point. Change is needed.

Yesterday morning I had a wonderful two hour online seminar which dealt with what it takes to create a successful art career. I know, there are a lot of these but this one was given by someone with the experience and track record to back it up. The seminar also brought home to me some of the issues and obstacles I have been discovering during this challenge and gave me a good roadmap to overcome them. Coincidence? Maybe but I think more like synchronicity.

I am not going to go over all two hours point by point but will start with just one, time management so I can paint.

The challenge continues of course but will shift. I started out with painting everyday as my goal. That is still my goal but in a broader sense. My challenge has been refined to creating a lifestyle that puts painting, drawing, and artist related activities into a daily practice.

I feel that I am putting this so poorly. It reads a bit like a cliche to me but that could be my tired mind and body. I will stop here on this topic and leave one last fun tidbit .

I am going on a short artist road trip! I will be leaving this week for two days to go down the coast to visit the 21st Annual Maritime Art Exhibit at the Coos Art Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon.
I will be staying at one of my favorite spots on the central Oregon Coast, Yachats (pronounced Yah-Hots). I will be taking my painting pack of course. I will also have time to think, plan, and reorganize so I can be on my way to having consistent time at the easel and continue to build skills and a body of work.

If you made it this far through a somewhat rambling and personal post, thank you! I promise I will have some fun things, and paintings, to share this week too. Here is a bit of the beauty that inspires me to keep at it.
Short Sands of course, as the tide is receding.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 5: 30/30 Challenge: Hot Sands!

"Hot Sands" work in progress
The unusually hot weather continues and I did indeed go to Short Sands. I went in the morning and took a liter of electrolyte enhanced water with me. It wasn't as windy at Short Sands as it was a couple of miles down the road where I live. If I would have known that there would be almost no wind, I would have taken my plein air umbrella. More about that in a minute.

This is a work in progress. I was already quite warm when I got there, set up, did a few sketches. When I started painting I soon had rivers of sweat running down, all over. It was hot. We are not used to heat here. I know many artists live where it truly gets hot but then I usually read that they either go out at the crack of dawn or stay in a cool studio. Judging by the temperature reports coming in from folks around here, I am guessing it was in the 90-95 degree (F) range. The sand and surrounding cliffs were also radiating heat. I was sorely tempted to plunge into the ocean but did not relish the hike back through the forest and drive home in wet clothes. It might be worth taking something to swim in if I find myself heading to Short Sands in the heat!

I only lasted two hours. Which was OK as the light had changed too much to continue. I had drank all of my water and was starting to feel ill from the heat so I packed it in. I have decided that I will work on this tomorrow and try something I have been meaning to try for a while now. I think I will work on this, from memory, and push it around a bit. You can learn a lot from playing around with a painting. I meant this to be a study anyway so it is done on a canvas sheet. I might ruin the painting but that is OK. Maybe I will take pictures of the progression.

I have a BestBrella plein air umbrella which I have written about before. It is a decent plein air umbrella but it just wasn't made for coastal conditions. Most of the time it is windy or we get sudden, unpredictable gusts and gusts that change direction from one minute to the next. My BestBrella lasted two weeks before a one of those sudden gusts of wind hit me and sheared off the brass connection. They were made from a granulated rather than cast material. At the moment I have Tinkertoys holding the connections together and I only use the umbrella where I know there will be no wind, such as the last workshop I attended in the Sierra foothills. I am learning to compensate for not having my panel and palette shaded. Unfortunately, there is no shade available at Short Sands on the beach. Turning into the sun usually means putting your back to the sea, not a good idea. Any other shelters I have though of have similar drawbacks to the umbrella or will not let me see well.

Tomorrow I have an online art seminar and I will work on the painting above to see how far I can push it. I also just brought home veggies, two flats of organic peaches, a 1/2 flat of raspberries, and several local pie apples from our Farmer's Market. I will need to get them either canned or in the freezer. Life is good!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Days 3 and 4: 30/30 challenge

© 2014, R.L. Delight, "Red Flag Morning", 6"x8",  oil on canvas panel. SOLD! Thank you!
I painted yesterday after work but I didn't feel the progress was worth posting for Day 3. Today, Day 4, is a different story. The weather conditions here can change so fast that I have signed up for email alerts and warnings so that I can be informed when I am planning my day, a shopping trip up the coast, or a day painting on the beach for example. Last night a red flag warning popped up. The red flag warning indicated a dramatic shift in the weather that creates extreme fire conditions and increases problems for existing fires. That all translates into a hot dry wind.

This morning was incredibly clear and golden so I went out to paint on the beach that fronts our little town. I went, of course, to my favorite wave painting spot at the foot of Neahkahnie mountain. Sure enough, there was a warm offshore wind from the southeast blowing the waves around. The spindrift was flying off the waves as the wind pushed them around, and the morning sun was hitting the face of the waves. The ocean colors were breathtaking. I sat for about 20 minutes watching the waves with my sketchbook in hand until I formed an idea of what I wanted to paint.

The wind was so erratic I filled my tripod bag with rocks and hung it from the tripod center to keep it from being blown over. It worked but I had to hold onto my paint brushes as the wind tried to send them flying.

When I started painting the wind was mainly from the southeast and smelled hot and dry. It would come blowing a wall of sand and I would have to duck and hold onto my hat in spite of a tightened  chin strap. There is a bit of sand from the northern Oregon coast included free of charge in this painting!

One of the hazards of plein air painting that I hadn't considered before presented itself today. There are often dead birds and other sea life on the beach. It is sad but part of the cycle of life. I had carefully placed myself upwind of a dead pelican, where I also couldn't see it. Unfortunately, the wind shifted around to the north and I would get the occasional odor of death wafting over me now and then. I toughed it out but would have to occasionally cover my nose with my arm when it got too bad.

It was a beautiful day today and I am glad I got to paint the morning waves. Tomorrow I hope to head to Short Sands in the morning.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 2: Painting at Night

I worked at the store today. Usually by the time I get home, make dinner, clean up, and finally sit a bit after being on my feet all day, I don't want to move. It is even hard to get up and get ready for bed.

Today I also had to paint. At first, I didn't want to and my mind raced to find an excuse I could live with. I honestly couldn't find one I could live with. So, I got up and climbed the stairs to my studio. My mind kept saying, "I don't want to do this" or,  "you are too tired so you will probably have to wipe it off anyway." My body kept setting up to paint. It only takes a minute as I am using my plein air easel in the studio to make it easy to just move aside.

I started to paint. An interesting thing happened. My exhaustion receded, not entirely, but significantly. My mind snapped into creative problem solving mode, and my very tired feet forgot they were tired for a bit. Ahhh, much better. I ended up painting for just a little over an hour. An hour was all I was really hoping for.

I did discover that I really don't like painting at night. I much prefer the daytime.

So here is a work in progress. There is a story behind this still life which I will tell as the painting progresses. It isn't a fancy painting but will actually work as a study for a larger painting that I have in mind.

This a tiny part of the painting, which, as I mentioned above, is a work in progress. I am starting with a color block in for this one.
Day 2: WIP (work in progress for those folks who are not familiar) 1 hour 20 minutes..
Here is the first part of the story behind the still life:
The beach along the Oregon coast is a magical place. It is always changing, never the same from day to day. There is a particular beach on the Northern Oregon Coast that is, in my opinion, more magical than most. I go there a lot to paint, draw, and sometimes just hang out. There are a few creeks and small rivers that find their way to the mother sea and they carve channels into the sand on their way to rejoin the salty ocean. At one end, there is a waterfall that cascades onto the rocks, or into the waves, depending on the tides.
The sand shifts and can quickly cover a rock formation or build up into banks. It can all be washed away the next day and expose new rocks and sometimes remnants of human artifacts.
One day, near the spot where the ashes of my dog Twill are buried, the ocean left me a gift...

Both still life and story to be continued!

I work at the store again tomorrow. We shall see if it gets easier to do my stint of painting.
Please forgive any errors in the above post. I am cramming this in before hauling myself to bed.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Twisting a 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge: Day 1

Prepping panels for painting
I am once again participating in Leslie Saeta's 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Leslie is great at encouraging everyone to make it fun and change it to fit ones needs. I decided to do just that. First, let me back up a tiny bit before describing my challenge.

It has been a very busy summer with music, work, and painting en plein air every chance I get. The summer has been unusually sunny with very little rain for the Northern Oregon Coast. The visitors have flocked here and it has left many shopkeepers, and us employees, grateful for the customers but a bit frazzled.

Labor Day, which is today as I write this post, officially ends our summer season. The kids will be heading back to school and summer vacations are ending. Things will be slowly quieting down around here. I must admit, I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. It has been a bit too crowded and hectic for my introverted tastes.

Last September I did not participate in this challenge as I was recovering from surgery. My attempt at January's challenge did not fly as I suddenly went back to work a few days a week, to pay off the surgery bills! So here I am again.
I decided to do a few things differently this time around as I am in a different place in my drawing and painting now. Here is what I propose for myself for this challenge:

I work two days a week in a women's clothing store in our tiny little town. There are two such stores dedicated to clothing, in addition to a couple more stores that have a bit of clothing for sale, and they are both a destination for many out-of-town shoppers.
Did you catch that introvert reference? I like people, honestly, but they exhaust me and I need a lot of down time and solitude to recover after each work day. I have felt too tired to do much of anything when I get home from working at the store all day. I want to try to change that. I will not be completing and entire painting on my store work days, but I want to get into the habit of painting everyday.

So the first part of this challenge is to do just that, paint everyday even if it is for an hour. I have been building a daily drawing habit for a while and I want to continue to do that and solidify it.
The second part of this challenge is to focus on a particular skill building area. I have decided to focus on composition. I have been so busy building up skills piece by piece, that I have neglected the whole. It is time to put it all together.
A found item I won't be painting at this time, Velella,velella. A sea creature of the jellyfish persuasion.

Leslie suggests having a theme. I decided my theme is "Found". I will be using the many intriguing items that I find on the beach in various still life paintings. I am also including "found" beach scenes as I will continue to paint en plein air.

Given all of this, I probably won't have 30 completed paintings. I am not sure how many I will have. I will put any painting that I think worthy up for sale. Most of them will be small and will be $100 for the challenge month. 

I promise I won't be writing such a long post each time either! I am also asking Please, no critiques of the paintings, constructive or otherwise, at this time. They will be critiqued privately. I need the space to experiment, grow, and make a mess. I am willing to share the process but process is not perfect or perfectly finished paintings all the time. It is going to get messy!

Here is Day 1:
"Summer Green", 6"x6", oil on panel. Plein air still life, pyramid composition. Bottle, including sand, and floats found on beach. NFS

Stay tuned!
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