This morning the temps were in the teens at 7:00 am and 35 by noon. A perfect late winter day. It was gorgeous! I headed over to the York River after our errands in York Village were finished. A friend came by to sketch with me . Good company and spring weather made it feel like a party.
It’s late February and I could have hung out in a lawn chair in the toasty sunshine. That is as long as I stayed out of the wind. The tide was going out the entire time we were there. We parked the car with the nose headed up stream and I stood behind it with my easel. It was perfectly wind free in the spot behind my car.
For me the big challenge was there was no snow along the river. They had a rain storm here last week while we had a snow & ice event at home. No luscious blue shadows anywhere. I had to hang for a bit and look around at the midday light on a brownish landscape. See how spoiled I am? With sharp blue water, dusty ocher marsh grass and inky green pines this scene would be drop dead gorgeous to anyone else wandering upon it. And I’m looking for patches of snow!
Truth is there were a ton of things to choose to paint. Its just that I’m emerging from of a month of nocturne painting and my mind is still thinking about soft, dim landscapes. Maybe instead of going out so early in the day to paint I need to paint more of that nocturne series. We change the clocks in 15 more days. I might be the only person dreading that. These nice early sunsets help me keep my work day shorter.
It was about 30 degrees when I started painting today. I promised myself this morning I was going out to paint. It was -11 at 7:00 AM. I worked indoors until it warmed up. Then I headed out to the marsh to paint snow and shadows. Oops, no snow on the marsh. So we went up the road to Laudholm Farm. There was a bit of snow there and some nice shadows. And it was an hour or so till sunset.
I think the big problem with winter is we don’t get outside often enough. It makes you feel good to to spend a few hours in fresh air. That’s why kids have recess. Adults should have it too. When I was going outside to paint everyday in January it was great. As soon as February rolled around I slid back into my habit of diving into the pile of “things to be done.” Now I’m focusing on not doing that. I’m shaking it up and moving plein air into my schedule. If I put it in my “to do list”, I will go out.
This was the last painting I did during the last week of the month of daily paintings. I was so happy to have warm temps this night that I just kept painting one panel after another. It’s so nice to paint outdoors in winter and have mild, comfortable temperatures. This means any temp above 32! Oil paint behaves differently in really cold temps. Often its stiff and acts like concrete when its well below freezing in the single digits.
This past month I painted close to home. I stayed in town and my neighborhood. It was a treasure trove! I had no idea that I would see so many paintings in my backyard. The biggest thing I learned was that this little piece of landscape was always changing. The changes in light, weather and snow cover made a huge difference in how the neighborhood looked. I mostly painted in the afternoons, evenings and at night as that was when I had a chunk of time and I could usually rely on the light being most interesting then.
This night the neighbors had floodlights on lighting their driveway. A car was sitting parked in the pool of light. During the whole month of painting I hadn’t seen this area lit like this. While I was painting the scene the back porch door opened and a couple of people came out. Oh,oh I thought, I hope they don’t drive that car away. I painted the car quickly. They walked to the car, turned the headlights on, then slowly drove it out of the driveway. I painted the headlights, the tail lights and the light beams on the snow. As I was finishing up the last strokes on the canvas they were already gone. It was fitting that this was the last painting in this series.
Thank you all for following me during this month! It was great to get messages from you and hear which paintings & stories were your favorites!
SHOW ~ 31 PAINTINGS IN 31 DAYS : NEXT MONTH I will be having a show of all the little jewels that were painted during the month of January. You are invited to come by for tea & celebration ! As soon as they are all dry I will post a show date !
It was a nice warm night. I went out and set up my easel in my back yard near my studio. I looked at the cluster of houses across the field. I started painting them and the different lights that were on. My paints were behaving normally, flowing smoothly off the brush. It was great!
I work with a limited palette so it was very easy to grab a dark or a light and find my way with my brush around the different shapes. My headlight was getting dim. The batteries were worn out. No problem, I moved my easel closer to my studio flood lights. I just kept painting and guessed at what I was seeing.
I notice when painting in the dark it actually helps to not see very well. Hard and soft edges are easy to discern. If I can see it clearly and it is really bright it must have a hard edge. If its subtle and dim it must have a soft edge. When I paint it that way all the shapes emerge and all these lights appear. There is a beautiful mystery to it all. I liked this view of a back porch light, warmly lit windows and other random outdoor lights. I could see the different lights in the dark but I couldn’t tell you what they all belonged to ! The warm glow, the bits of scattered lights and lit windows were enough to hold my attention in the darkness.
I was able to paint more than one painting on a couple of days during my daily painting challenge in January. This painting was painted on one of those days. It was a warm evening with temps around 35 degrees.
After a full day of work again I was finding the only time I could squeeze in a painting was at dusk. I walked out into the back yard next to my studio and looked around. The neighborhood was quiet as I set up my easel. Not that I mind, dusk and evening are becoming one of my favorite times to be outside painting. This evening the neighbors had a light turned on that was right next to the window. It was shining out brightly onto the snow.
I started the painting and it occurred to me that I’d better paint a little faster, as this might not last long. Bingo, a few minutes after I had this thought they turned off the light. By that time I had painted it the painting. This reminded me of all those times when I’m out painting a boat in the harbor and someone shows up and drives it away!
This past month has been a challenge. Not just to paint every day but to fit in time to paint into a day full of dozens of other deadlines. I managed to do it this past month. I scheduled painting and blogging into my day ever day. I have completed this challenge of painting 31 paintings in 31 days in the past . I have painted 100 paintings in 100 days. But I’ve never shown them to an audience every day nor have I written about the daily experience of painting. Writing about painting every day was a real eye opener. I remembered more about my experience as I was writing about it immediately after I finished the painting.
This past month I noticed I made some big changes with how I painted and what I painted. Temperatures in the single digits forced me to use different mediums, different brushes and a different substrate. I started the month with linen panels and after very cold temperatures made my oil paint act like concrete, I didn’t touch linen again the rest of the month. I continued with oil paint, changed my substrate to mat board,multimedia board, canvas panels or gesso board. I changed my brushes to medium and soft synthetics. I used OMS and just straight oil paint, no medium. I painted at dusk or after dark when compositions were really interesting. Then things really began to come together nicely. So nicely that on some days I painted more than one painting.
The painting Dusk Lights is from one of those days when things were going so well I painted another painting after the first one was finished.
It might be because this is the 30th day of painting with only one more to go, but I broke loose and surprised myself today. As usual It was another day full of things that had to be tended to. I was out and about all day and by late afternoon, when I was originally planning to paint, the light didn’t look very interesting.
So when I got home I worked in the studio until after 5, then went out to look around as it got dark. I walked into the back yard and looked toward my studio. It was all lit up like a birthday cake, light was pouring out of the windows. In the dark blue sky just above the studio rooftop Venus was peeking down at me. High up overhead was the crescent moon all wrapped in a misty layer of light.
I grabbed my easel, and placed a tall vertical panel on it. I wasn’t planning on painting a picture of my studio and the moon. t was just that kind of night. The sky was this lovely deep blue, the air was still and quiet and the stars were twinkling. Distant planes flashed their lights across the sky. I could hear a girl singing and laughing in her back yard across the field. It felt like a chilly spring night. And I was in the right place at the right time.
It was a busy packed day. Taught a class to a great group of enthusiastic painters this morning then came home to work in the studio and get it organized. I stepped outside around 5 to see the moon rising into the misty clouds that moved in this afternoon. We are getting snow tonight.
I originally planned to paint my house after dark from the back yard. Then I saw the moon over my neighbors house and little lights in the street beyond. That was it! I set up my easel in the side yard next to my studio and went to it. It was still, calm, cold and quiet. Within minutes I was just so happy. It is so awesome to be outside painting in winter. It’s the quiet season. I could hear my neighbor the next block over letting their dog outside to run around the yard. He was dashing around in the cold having a great time. Everything was a deep shade of blue and violet. It was beautiful. Tomorrow is another great day to paint. See you then….
Today was a lucky day. I was planning to go paint at the historical society where there are big open fields and hopefully no big snow piles to block the view. Before heading out to paint I needed to stop by the church to check out the room specs for my class there next week. When I walked back to my car after the meeting I noticed the light on then snow and the barn next door was gorgeous. I decided to stop right there and paint from the parking lot. As I was taking my easel out of the car I noticed the back lit pine tree on the edge of the driveway. With about 20 minutes left before the sun set behind the trees I painted the pine and snow shadows.
As I finished the first painting, the light was getting even better. It was after sunset, the sky was a bright golden color and the snow was lavender blue reflecting the sky above. I painted the elementary school with the lights on in some of the classrooms. It was a very fast painting. I didn’t put on my head lamp. I just guessed at the colors. I used a slick substrate and one soft dagger brush to paint it . I think I’m going to try some more paintings on slick surfaces with soft dagger brushes.
Happy New Year Everyone! Wishing you health, happiness & peace in the New Year.
I don’t know if your past year has been like this but it feels like time is racing by and I’ve been playing catch up for the last 3 months ! I am finally almost up to date with all the important things on my calendar. It’s been a whirlwind year with little time off. Whenever I did have a few open days it was to regroup or catch up or prepare for the next event on my schedule. The good news? Its been fun, rewarding and so enriching. And I’m being recruited to teach painting in lovely places like Italy. Would you like to come with me to Italy to paint near the birth place of Raphael? Or maybe take a mini vacation to sketch and paint for a long weekend in Quebec City? These are a few possibilities of sketching & painting adventures for 2020.
Plus, due to popular demand, I will be releasing one of my first online classes, “Color” in 2019. The filming and production of this is one of the extra things I’ve been trying to fit into my already active schedule. Also, I will be publishing my first book & color mixing guide in 2019 ! I promise , I will try to post more regularly to my blog to keep you updated on everything. My blog might show up from time to time as a vlog as I am able to post my painting & plein air videos quickly and easily. It’s been harder to find the time to sit down and write. I hope all of you are catching your breath after your adventures of 2018 and looking forward to a enriching new year. I want to thank all of you for your friendship, support and positive messages in 2018. I’m wishing you all the best for 2019 !