A Year Later

As you can see, I have been absent from the site for almost exactly a year. I thought to check in, but I’ve been too distracted! So.Much.Going.On!

I painted through 2018, but probably about half as much as in 2017. I had tons of interruptions for one reason or another. I didn’t even take pictures or keep track like I did in 2017–I don’t see one picture from 2018 in my plein air folder. I should dig out what I did because now I AM wondering: What DID I do?

[ETA: I figured it out– I did start a folder for 2018, which has the first four or five months in it. I also took a watercolor class at the end of the year and have been playing with that.]

Dauntingly, this whole site needs to be moved to another host this coming November. There doesn’t seem to be a fast and easy way to move from WordPress to a different blog platform. Not sure how I’ll deal.

As for dear old Peter Strauss Ranch (last entry for 2018), much of it burned up in the most recent October/November 2018 fires. “My” tree is still there, but the companion trees are sooted up at least 4 feet, and the hillsides behind are black and bare. My husband and I just happened to go hiking there a week and a half before the fires, so, besides my two paintings, I have that.

End Check-in. I’ll be back.

Peter Strauss Ranch

Plein Air #43.07 / 02.25.18 / 10×8 acrylic
Peter Strauss Ranch, CA
“Afternoon at the Ranch”

Hubs and I went for a short Sunday drive yesterday, just to get out, and I took along my painting rig. I only knew about this spot because a good six-plus years ago it was the first place I met with the Thousand Oaks plein air group. (I washed out with them after about five outings).

This is pretty much the same scene that I did that time. The darkness of the trees against the mountain call me. Anyone who has been to Peter Strauss Ranch knows this tree.

(So now I wonder…where IS that way-too-big, did-not-get-past-the-block-in, I-must-have-been-crazy, plein air that I did then? I don’t throw anything away. At least, not in the first year… Hmm… )

Probably my second plein air attempt
c. 2012 (?) / 16″x20″ (!) / acrylic
Peter Strauss Ranch, CA

Found it. 16″x20″, I was a plein air noobie with no guidance, and had no clue that that was way too big. This scene is a slightly different angle, with the tree I did yesterday to the right. I don’t throw things away because the historian in me likes to keep me honest!

So, anyway, back to yesterday. As usual, when the light is all over, I rather wish I had a organizational scheme that could help me. Or, I come away thinking that I really ought to pair down my landscapes to one bush or tree and then work back up to large scenes like this. Another think is that I ought to be doing much more comparing of values. Still, after a day’s review, I’m okay with it.

Bell Canyon Park #3, with Valerie

Plein Air #42.06 / 02.15.18 / 10×8 acrylic
Bell Canyon Park, CA
“A Shot at the Rocks”

I finally wrangled my artist friend Valerie outside to meet for plein air. Quite a feat, because she has to be the busiest person I know. I used to set type for her, beginning  about 1983!

(How is it possible we’ve gotten so old, Val?)

We painted in full sun, so when I got home it was a lot darker than it had looked while working. The sun blasts your retinas out and the paint you mix is darker than you think. This means I should go back in and “add sunlight” to those mountains because there should be a higher, brighter value going on up there. (Not sure I will, I kind of like it the way it is now. Haven’t messed with it yet.)

Valerie started a larger canvas and only managed a block-in before the wind dried up our paint and we were scraping around our palettes. Still, we had a good time and, after a respectable length of time out, we packed it in and went to lunch at Stonefire Grill for a yummy barbecue chicken salad.

Thanks for lunch and for joining me, Val!

(Sorry I can’t seem to get these pictures to play nice and line up next to each other…   )

Linda, 02.15.18
Bell Canyon Park, CA

Valerie, 02.15.18
Bell Canyon Park, CA

Dogs, in Jane’s Garage

Plein Air #40.04 / 02.07.18 / 8×8 acrylic
Jane’s Garage #2, Porter Ranch, CA

Took January 31st off from painting—I had the end of the website update, two shifts at the pantry, and a long weekend at mom’s that week. Painting was not on my radar.

We met at Jane’s February 7 and 14 because it was windy one week and drizzly the next. This time I went prepared with references. For the first week, I came back around to Phyllis’ son’s dog, Djecko, the one I wanted to paint back on January 10 in her backyard. I had a photo of him staked out on the chaise lounge.

I got most of it on there and finished it at home. I don’t have the finished one to post yet. I am giving it to Phyllis to give to her son.

Plein Air #41.05 / 02.14.18 / 5×5 acrylic
Jane’s Garage #3, Porter Ranch, CA

The second week I did my daughter’s dog, Ranger. Her dog is really a light medium gray and not this dark, but I didn’t really care or worry about perfection of color. I was more concerned about working quickly. I still have to do my touch-ups on Ranger.

These both felt easier than doing landscape. Then again, I think even portraits are beginning to feel easier than landscape.

My New Year’s goal seems to be “think less, move faster.”

Orcutt Ranch #5

Plein Air #39.03 / 01.24.18 / 8×8 acrylic
Orcutt Ranch, Chatsworth, CA
“Painting the Women’s Room”

There’s a ladies restroom in this building, off canvas and up the stairs to the right. Phyllis walked by on her way over and asked, “Painting the women’s bathroom?”, so the title is on her. I thought I was painting the urn and tree.

I was able to get into this one fairly quickly. On the last two paintings I have tried using “sight size” to get started. That means I hold the canvas up at eye level and to one side of what I am aiming at. With a pencil, I roughly indicate the horizontals of the scene–in this one, the top roof line, the tile roof line, the brick line, etc. It takes 30 seconds and helps get the proportion of the scene in place. It all gets adjusted from there, but it has helped me speed up…at least so far.

I decided to lay in the big patches of color first and then go back and modify each patch…quickly, now, without thinking a lot. It still needs areas of bright sunlight and some bright color, and thicker paint, but I am not unhappy with it. Another one to play with on another day.