Saturday, October 30, 2010

I'm Back!

I've decided to post here and on my website....

Last night was supposed to be the night of Killer Frost but it  was somehow delayed. Today dawned fair and mild and my garden plants were unscathed.  And from the news of frost and my own personal sense that it was in the air,  I expected today to be a day where painting outside would be cold but do-able, but never expected that it would be as fair and pretty a day as anyone could want.  I arrived at the farm  around 10:30 and this is all I got done by noon, when I quit and went to have lunch with my mother.  I painted alone this morning as D had business elsewhere.

I knew I could have gone painting at 9 but decided to deal with some household issues before I left and gave up the time I would have liked to have spent on the pleasure of doing a few drawings before I tried to paint a picture.

This painting is a 7.5x11 med grade wc paper.  I’d thought to enjoy the pleasure of drawing on my foundation with brush and paint but discovered to my horror that I’d forgotten to bring my Pringles canister filled with necessary tools which meant no painting unless I could find a stray brush somewhere in my backpack or car.  The possibility of a stray brush in either of those locations is highly probable so I looked on my forgetting my tools as some kind of ‘happy’ accident, some kind of message from the Universe and me willing to be flexible with my plan.

Minutes later, without having to remove my blanket and go to the car,  I found a decent brush in my closeby backpack, so was able to paint today.  It was a #10 round, and relatively unused, so a brush with a fine point & good luck for me.  As I realized I’d forgotten to pack the Pringles can, I also realized that I’d forgotten to bring the bowl of Kale Slaw I’d intended sharing with my mother.  Some days are like this....

I parked on the right side of the road just past F’s house where there is sun without shade as well as a great view.  My car shielded me from the wind and I had a spot in all sun and never a moment of shade from a passing cloud and felt blessed.  The moment I sat in my lawn chair and looked about I felt my worries melting, the way I sometimes do when I’m in church.  I felt grateful to be where I was – not only in that spot of sun but in my life – and thank you for bringing me all this way.  The hour and a half of joyful drawing & painting went by as if in a heartbeat.

I know I’ll probably work on this painting more, but not for awhile.  I’m going to keep it around where I come upon it often as if by chance & will be aware of any thoughts and feelings I may have about it when I do.


I’ve been reading Edgar Whitney’s Complete Guide to Watercolor Painting and enjoying it very much.  I’ve read it before, but never had the understanding to ‘get’ some of his advice and technique.  I’m finding his philosophy and his technique a harmonious blend of emotion and logic to which, quite often, I relate.  I’m going to be reading it more and will report any more findings.  My father studied from this book and referred to it frequently.  I inherited the book from him, read it and sold it on eBay.  Later, I wished I hadn’t but also felt it had served me well in that I think of Edgar Whitney quite often when I draw, as he’s very encouraging that way.  One of the reasons I was interested in learning from Tony Couch was that he’d studied for quite a few years with Edgar Whitney.  One of the things I found interesting about Tony Connor’s work is that he studied with Tony Couch, which was when I decided to see if I could locate an inexpensive copy and read it again and the beginning of an Edgar Whitney experience or ‘thread’ in my mind & thoughts.

I’m in the process of going through my art books and weaning out the ones I want to keep and the ones I’m going to offer for sale on eBay.  The pile is about 2 feet high.  I’m trying to winnow my art instruction books down to very few.  I’m planning to spend most of tomorrow listing my Quilting Books and many Craft books, too.  I’m looking forward to lightening my load and maybe getting a little cash for it, too.    


Saturday, October 16, 2010


Painting Outside is moving to www.

Oct 14, ‘10 -- Last Community Center Class

This last class at the Litchfield Community Center ended where it began, at our home base.  Our first class was held on the lawn outside but yesterday was windy & chilly with occasional spats of rain,  so we worked warm and dry in the shelter of the Activity Room.   This little tool shed tucked into a corner of the LCC property was our best available landscape from the windows of the Activity room.  Because there’s so much color in the foliage, it was a colorful gray day.

Because this little tool shed has been the subject of past paintings done from the Activity Room, I didn’t bother to do a preliminary sketch as I feel I ‘know the route’.  And because I’ve seen & been excited by a few watercolor paintings in recent weeks that included pen and ink, I decided to start my painting off with an Ultrafine Sharpie.

I actually didn’t work too much on my painting because I spent a lot of time with the 4 ladies in my class talking about their work.  Everyone in this class had a lot of talent and interest in painting & our discussions were of great interest and a lot of fun.  And as with every past class, I felt sad that this was our last day, glad that we had the time together.  I know I'll treasure the memories. 

This morning I decided to finish the painting from where I began yesterday.  I’d spent the most time in the middle ground so had that to ‘key’ from.  What I did today was to go over everything and intensify tone, heighten color.  I didn’t touch the front of the building or the ramp.  I’m satisfied that when I look at this painting in the future, I’ll re-experience the nature of the day and remember fondly the last few hours working in the Activity Room with these wonderful women.  As with all my past classes, I hope to see everyone in the future.


This will be my last entry in Painting Outside as I’ve decided to continue this blog on my website.  I just don’t have the time to manage 2 blogs, so am going to move Painting Outside to    Many thanks to my loyal followers for your continued support; I hope you’ll continue to follow me on my website.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bantam River, White's Woods

Today is chilly and cloudy & not a particularly inviting day to be outside but since I unexpectedly had the morning off, I decided to do a few things around the house and then have lunch and an hour or so of painting on the banks of the Bantam River at one of my favorite locations.  I think that I would have done better if I’d gone out to paint this morning and saved the household tasks until noon but that’s a case of hindsight being better than foresight.

I’d planned a more leisurely approach to my lunch and painting but around the time I set out, the weather was changing and not for the better.  I’d planned an ‘order out’ sandwich from a local restaurant but decided, as I drove to Litchfield, to grab a fast $2 sandwich from C*mb*rl*nd F*rms instead of waiting around for 15-20 mins for a sandwich at a local deli.

It felt great to be at my spot but not comfortable.  To keep warm while sitting in my lawn chair I wore a hat, wool scarf, windbreaker over my jacket & warm pants and a blanket wrapped around me, too.  I did a quick thumbnail as I ate as well as talked to a guy who was driving by & stopped to see what I was doing.  I wasn’t comfortable with the guy, either, so kept working & hoped if I didn’t give him much attention that he’d go away.  Which he finally did.  He was kind of creepy in that he had a penetrating stare and asked a lot of questions to keep me engaged.  Of all the days to have forgotten my cell phone.

Because today isn’t the kind of day to be sitting outside for very long, this is a very small painting done on a 5 ½ x 7 ½ pc of Strathmore student grade  watercolor paper.  I started drawing my design on the paper with a Sharpie fine-point but gave that up after a few lines and painted in the rest.  The trees with color and the area in front of the trees I called my middle ground and did those first, starting with a light density layer of UB into which I worked the tree colors in slightly thicker mix of color.  After that, I did the background in medium density & very wet UB and then worked thicker color and tree shape into that.  I used a much lighter wash of the background color to do the reflection of the trees in the foreground and a lighter version of the tree color into the wet reflection.  Then I did the sky in a washy bluish-gray made of UB and BS.  I used a tint of Prussian Blue in the little area of blue in the sky and added in a stronger bit of UB near the top of that patch of blue, just to strengthen the blue a bit.  After that, I flipped the paper and did the blue sky reflected in the water nearest me.  The blue in the reflection was pure blue, medium density and graded out to wet and white near the bank of the river where I dropped-in a mere tint of CY.

For me today, the cat tails were an achievement.  I like the way I got the underneath layer to take on the shape of the bank and then, after it was relatively dry, with heavier, more colorful paint, did the foreground leaves & cat tails, then using a grayed-down & thinner mix of the foreground leaves I put in the receding (& smaller) leaves.  I did the cat tails pretty much the same way. I used a grayed-down and thin mix of the middle ground of the leaf/cat tail section to do the reflections of the leaves in the water.  I’ve done this scene countless times but it’s the first time I’ve gotten the cat tails in to my satisfaction.

I think it didn’t hurt to hurry and that by doing so, I automatically discarded everything that wasn’t important.  In thinking fast and working fast, I got a painting that looks fresh,  spontaneous and that I really like.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday October 8, ‘10 -- Lourdes Shrine, Litchfield

Lourdes Shrine, Congregational Church Steeple
Our view

What a great Fall morning to be painting outside!  The class met this morning at Lourdes Shrine – a place of great serenity –  in Litchfield, CT.

A place close by for many years where I’ve never been.  Just driving up the driveway to the parking lot I spotted many great painting possibilities and felt greatly enthusiastic.  The sunshine enhanced my mood as we’ve had 6 days of cold, gray and rain and a heavy heart at the thought of daylight savings time being over and winter coming so soon.  When the class assembled, we strolled around a bit, trying to find a place of inspiration where we could sit in the sun, as it was cool and windy this morning.  We strolled in one direction, then another and finally settled on a place to sit and paint pretty much where we started from.  At the edge of the parking lot where we could see the spire of the Congregational Church poking out over the trees a little to the west of where we were.  Go figure....

I didn’t get too far on my painting because I was busy helping one of the ladies who was somewhat stuck.  I think she had a breakthrough, so we’re both happy.  I really like what I’ve done so far and will probably leave this painting alone and try for a more ‘complete’ painting in the future.

While we were working, a man wearing a clerical collar and workman’s clothing approached, introduced himself and welcomed us.  One of the priests representing the order that runs the shrine.  He also obliged and snapped a few photos of us with my camera and another woman’s camera.  I’ll bet he’s used to that.

It was a pleasant place to work for the views, the serenity, the welcoming priest and atmosphere in general.  The parking lot was almost full by 10am with cars and a few buses filled with schoolchildren.  Soon we heard the sound of Mass being held in the Grotto.  Mass outside, Painting outside – a lovely way to work and I’m not even Catholic.

I always leave a class feeling good but the feeling good today was over the top.  I like it when that happens.

Painting Outside! at Lourdes Shrine

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oct 2, '10 at the farm

Oct 2, '10 -- sketch with paint and brush

It’s apparent today that Fall is in the air.  After 3 or 4 days of warm weather with high humidity and a lot of rain,  today is sunny and cool with a predicted high of 61-63 degrees.  There’s a lot of color in the changing leaves and the freshly harvested pumpkins displayed alongside the Storage and Sales building at the farm.  The grass was a vivid green having been well-watered & invigorated by the 3 days of rain.

Also, wind was a factor today.  The place we chose to sit was somewhat out of the wind as we were protected by the bulk of the apple storage facility close-by but wind was still a pesky factor to be dealt with.  I can’t recall how many times the wind blew down the stalks of corn leaning against the building and at one point, I had to retrieve my painting when it was blown out of my lap and landed a few yards away.  I wore shoes with socks, (no sandals today) and a warm vest over long-sleeve shirt and jeans and a windbreaker over all.  I also wrapped my small blanket across my lap and legs as I sat and painted.

Still, a great day to be out and engaged in capturing a moment in paint.

I got to the farm about 20 minutes before the others and had a little time to warm-up with a few thumbnail sketches that I did with a ball point pen because I couldn’t readily come up with a pencil.  By the time I sat down to paint, I felt confident that I could simplify my painting process by doing my initial drawing/value pattern on watercolor paper with brush and thin mix of Burnt Sienna.  Which I did and enjoyed the process.  I saw my middle ground (trees against the horizon, boxes for apples) as being cool and dark, which is why, in the original sketch I darkened those areas with Burnt Sienna.  When I was ready to paint in that area, I used some of the Burnt Sienna mixed with UB and CY and filled in that area with increasingly thicker mixes until the wetness of the area was covered and well saturated, which is my interpretation of something I learned in the class I took in North Bennington VT last weekend.  

Today’s painting is done on Arches 140# hot press, which is quite smooth.

As far as I've gotten by Noon....
I did the sky next and started out with a very wet tint of Cadmium Yellow, starting at the horizon and grading out the CY to the top of the paper.  I left most of the CY at the bottom.  Before that layer was dry, I started working a wash of UB from the top of the paper to the horizon, then worked in a thicker mix of UB into the top and let it blend into the layer I’d put down initially.  The area near the horizon was still quite wet, so I mixed a very thin mix of UB and Alizarin Crimson into the wet & yellow area near the horizon and lucked-out in that my thin mix was somewhat thicker than the water/paint in that area and blended in smoothly.  The UB and AC made a violet which, when blended into the yellow gave me a bluish-gray and settled the sky into the right plane.

I thinned (lightened) the mix I’d used in the middle ground to use in the fore-middle ground and ran it down into the foreground, adding lighter colored and more thickly mixed pigment to the foreground while the area was still wet.

I gave the storage barn a washy tint of orange mixed from CY and CR.  After it dried, the barn glowed a little more from the orange and in contrast with the blue of the sky.  When that wash was fairly dry, I used a darker (thicker) mix of the violet I’d mixed for the sky over the tree line in the shadow cast by the corn.  I used Burnt Sienna (BS) and the orange + some CY from the tint I’d mixed to indicate the shadow and light area of the pumpkins.   And BS and UB to heighten the color and shadow of the corn.  And that’s as far as I got before it was time to pack up and go.

It was a social morning not only between me and my 2 fellow painters but from people who’d come to buy Produce and stopped by to see what we were doing.   At one point, an apple customer called out my name and I was very surprised and pleased to be reunited with a woman who I’d known since a child – from school and the schoolbus and in later years as a fellow employee at a newspaper where we worked for a number of years.

This is week #8 for painting at the farm and we've had nothing but good weather every Saturday morning -- so far!   I've committed to another 6 weeks, which will be interesting.