Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn Plein Air Painting Workshop

It's an new kind of Workshop that Silvia Trujillo and I have concocted, with an "Overview/Preview" talk two days before the class and then, the two day on site lesson. She instructs the oil and acrylic and I do the watercolor. Our end of summer version was a success at Lithia Springs Resort, so we jumped at the idea to do a late evening paint out as Autumn approaches.
We choose Eden Vale Winery( not only because its got numerous delectable painting possibilities, but also because the management has been nothing but generous and helpful!

The first afternoon I arrive, the day is warm, sunny with clear vistas out back the tasting room. Everyone chooses their favorite vantage spot and begins sketching. I've selected a view including the Potting Shed and the vineyards with rolling hills in the background. I begin first with a pencil sketch and then sketch a smaller replica for doing my value study.

Here's a participant, busy at work with a strongly successful start accomplished by the evening. We did brief reviews as all work progressed and, after painting for nearly 5 hours, wearily but, satisfied, we packed up and headed home. A good day
with the paintbrush!

The second of the two day workshop dawned with grey, cloudy skies, but at least temperatures were in the 60s, so comfortable. We'd inquired with the management the day before, asking if we could come an hour later, from 2pm-6pm, hoping to catch some of the sunset. They'd agreed so we all arrived a little later that next day.

We all seemed attracted to and challenged by how to approach those dark clouds in the landscape. So we all worked in close proximity looking out over the vines. Once I got my sketch down, I did a brief demo of how I'd work the sky and blend it into the landscape.

I wet my paper from the sky area down to the tops of the grapevines. Then, combining Thalo Blue, a bit of Indigo and alternating dropping in some Brown Madder and Yellow Ochre, I used horizontal bands across the sky. The mixing a purple (Alizarine + Thalo Blue with some Yellow Ochre) and then some muted greens, I began to drop in the most distant mountains. The middle mountains and farthest trees on the right were what came last as the paper began to dry.

We all continued painting as the skies began to clear. It was a challenge bouncing back and forth from the grey muted colors and shadows that we originally started with and the present brilliant sun and sharp shadows that now were in front of us.

But it was a glorious way to close the day, packing up and closing up some meditative hours spent in nature. Ahh, the joys of Plein Air Painting!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Settled Back In . . .

Yes, I have now, finally gotten settled back in and relishing my charmed life at home. I'm updating my journal . . . attempting to catch up all the incomplete pages from my "Women's Journaling Retreat" at Lake Alpine Resort ( in California. Here's one I just HAD to re-do.

This was from a Mandala exercise and the image I received was of a hawk. He was very up close and direct, not necessarily confronting, but honest. Boy, have to tell you, on the spot, my mind could NOT conjure up the face of a hawk.

So, I did my best. I wrestled because I wanted a closer viewpoint, but ended up with this sad rendition of what looks like to me, a parrot with a "bad bead" day. I was further bother by my use of wax crayons, making the image speckled because of the cold press watercolor paper. ARGH! I just kept apologizing to the "Hawk Spirits" and as soon as I got home ... one of the first things I did was correct the vision of what I'd REALLY seen.

I did keep available for viewing the under drawing ... just to remind myself that I've not mastered the memory of a hawk and need pay more attention to creatures of nature. I hinged the left corner and then, using a thin ribbon, made 3 slits. One slit was in the edge of my new piece and the other two are in the journal page itself. Tying a knot under the new piece, then threading the ribbon thru the bottom up, affixed the ribbon to the movable piece. And then I could weave the ribbon down into the first slit of the journal page, coming back up thru the second, forming kind of a "tension" fastener.

The sweet lil Aspen leaf was from the hike my co-instructor, Jean Warren (, and I took. It was our first full day at Lake Alpine and we'd wanted to drink in the lusciousness of the area. I knew of a mild hike (4 miles) that took us to Duck Lake. There were the gorgeous beauties of Aspen trees that had inspired this image many years ago. All of them had gained much circumference, just gaining power and beauty in my opinion. As we were leaving the meadow, I found this sole yellow Aspen leaf and, of course, had to revere it in my journal. I used "Mod-Podge" to seal it into the journal and preserve the leaf.

It's a perfect way to punctuate the ending of one of my journals . . . on to many more . . .