Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Xotolar (Shotolar)

I didn't get any painting done today, I went riding with a friend. So, I thought that I would share some photos of where we went. Things are pretty dry at this time of year. The Mesquite and Huizache trees will be blooming soon and in the summer all of this will be green.

We started out pretty high up. San Miguel is across the lake at the top left.

Then we dropped down into this canyon. It is real steep and pretty rocky.

Once we made it down there was some room to ride a little faster. That is Felix, they are his horses. This one is a little blurry because we were galloping.

We came out on the bottom side of the canyon.

Had to stop and get a cerveza in this little town before the ride back up on another path. I really love all of these rock walls that are all over in this part of Mexico.

After the ride, Canguro needed a little dust bath I guess.
I'll try and get some painting done tomorrow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Plein Air Landscape Workshop in San Miguel de Allende, March 10th through 14th

I am have confirmed the dates for the March '08 plein air landscape workshop in San Miguel de Allende. The class will be from Monday, March 10th through Friday, March 14th.
The cost of the workshop will be $480. This includes daily transportation to and from the painting sites, some lunches, painting instruction and any fees needed for entrance to locations. These are full meals not bag lunches. People compliment the food as much as they do my teaching or the painting locations.

Mixing color with a limited palette, premixing colors on your palette, and choosing the best design for your composition are a few of the things that we will focus on in this workshop. An emphasis will be on getting a strong start to your painting so you don't need to waste time reworking the design later. Accurate color mixing is key to capturing the mood of a location.
I will do several demos, but the majority of the time will be for painting and individual guidance. There will be some quick painting exercises as well as time for longer painting sessions. Each morning we will be transported to that days painting spot. On at least three of the days we will be treated to a delicious meal prepared just for us by the owners of the beautiful properties where we will be painting. On the other days there will be a small restaurant available for lunch.

This workshop focuses on landscape painting. However there are lots of painting opportunities in town as well, and you might want to consider spending a few extra days in San Miguel to explore.
San Miguel has many lodging possibilities. There are many fine hotels, B&B's, apartments or houses to rent. Everyone will be responsible for their own lodging and transportation to and from San Miguel de Allende. The closest airport is in Leon, (airport code BJX), about and hour and a half ride from town. I can recommend a transportation service to shuttle you to and from the airport. Mexico City is about four hours from San Miguel by bus.

This workshop is for oil painters only. All levels are welcome, but you should have some experience painting on location. If you are interested, email me at frank@frankgardner.com for more details and the materials list.
The class size is limited to 9 or 10 participants.
For info on San Miguel and lodging visit portalsanmiguel.com
If you would like other lodging options or have any questions, email me at frank@frankgardner.com.
Please do not finalize any travel plans or lodging until you have confirmed with me that there is space available in the class.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Top Ten Books on Oil Painting- March Workshop

This is a list of Ten Books on Oil Painting that I recommend to students in my workshops.
I am only going to be offering one five day workshop in plein air landscape for oil painters this winter.
There are a few more arrangements to make before I list the dates and enrolment info, but it will be the first or second week of March '08. Monday through Friday. Five full days of painting landscapes around San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
If any of you are interested you can email me at frank@frankgardner.com. I will be posting the dates and more information here soon. Class size is limited.

I have read each of these books many times. My copy of "The Art Spirit" has been read so many times that it has fallen apart and is now just loose pages gathered together.
Emile Gruppe is one of my all time favorite artists and his book "Gruppe on Color" is the most cherished book in my oil painting library. His books are out of print but they are worth buying used.

1. "Hawthorne on Painting" Hawthorne - Dover
2. "The Art Spirit" Robert Henri - Harper and Row
3. "Gruppe on Color" Emile A Gruppe - Watson Guptill
4. "Gruppe on Painting - Direct Techniques in Oil" Emile A. Gruppe - Watson Guptill
5. "Brushwork - A Guide to Expressive Brushwork for Oil Painting" Emile A. Gruppe - Watson Guptill
6. "Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting" John F. Carlson - Dover
7. "Composition of Outdoor Painting" Edgar Payne -Payne Studios
8. " Landscape Painting Inside and Out" Kevin Macpherson - North Light Books
9. "Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light and Color" Kevin Macpherson - North Light Books
10. "Alla Prima" Richard Shmid - West Wind

I decided to limit my list to my ten favorites. Do you have other favorite books on oil painting techniques?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More "Morning Vista" Series

I have not finished any new paintings in the last few days so I am posting these two small paintings that I did last month. ( Actually, I did three others as well.)
You may have seen my previous post on the "Morning Vista" series. I revisited the same view of San Miguel with a slightly different take on the color and composition. My goal was to try and capture the light effect looking into the sun as it came up above the hills behind town. These are on small boards which made it easier to not get caught up in the details of the scene. I just wanted to think in terms of color.

"Morning Vista, Into the Sun", 6" x8" oil on board, 2007
Private Collection

"Morning Vista, Radiant Light", 6" x 8" oil on board, 2007
Private Collection

James Gurney describes this light effect well in a post on his blog Gurney Journey.
Looking toward or into the sun is something that pops up again and again in my paintings. With enough practice I hope to be able to get better at it.
In the top painting I reversed the standard cool colors recede principal and put my warmer colors where the sunlight is starting to break into the scene and the cooler colors are in the foreground. In the second painting the sun is a little higher so the light has radiated out into the whole view.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Value Board - Subtle Grays are not Mud

I love playing with color. On my palette I have a limited number of tube colors, but from these I can mix endless varieties of subtle grays. Some of these mixes can be classified as blue green, reddish purple, salmon, mauve etc. Others are harder to name. Because I mix my colors like this there is a harmony even among all these subtle grays.
Each of these subtle grays has a hue ( what color it is) and a value ( how light or dark it is). They also have chroma ( the intensity of the color).
As I paint, my palette fills with leftovers from my color mixes. To keep my mixing area clean I occasionally scrape leftover piles of similar color together and save them along the top of my palette. I'll use these grays to tint my new color mixes. (I'll write more on that and my palette in a separate post).
I have a little 6x8 board in my studio that I have been playing with. At the end of the day I'll take some bits from these piles of grays that are left and place them on my little value board. There is no real method to this madness, I am just playing. I want to practice matching different hues that are the same value and at the same time play with new color combos and see how they affect each other. I have been trying to place them in a kind of value scale from light to dark. It is not something super serious like mixing color charts. Sometimes I get them in the right spot, other times I really miss. It may look like a certain value to me when it is on my palette knife, but when I place it among the other colors on my board, it looks different than I thought it would. You see value is all relative. It all depends on the other colors that are surrounding. Sixty Minute Artist, Jerry Lebo, has great posts on relative value and learning to see values. If you are interested in learning more about this you should read what he has to say.
Some of these grays have a high chroma or are "purer" and others are "duller" or more neutral. when a high chroma color is placed amongst the "dull" ones it really pops. Like that orange one on the middle left or those lime greens along the top or that red on the top right. When seen in the black and white image they fall into place value wise. If I were to put a pure color straight from the tube imagine how it would look compared to all of these grays.
Along the bottom of this board I mixed a simple scale of ten values from black to white. My subtle grays are placed from light to dark in the opposite direction. There is no reason for that it is just how I did it. I have shown the same board in black and white so you can see the values without being distracted by the color. The ones I got in the wrong place really stand out huh?
I'll be writing more about my color mixing and limited palette soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Painting from Today (updated)

I added a few more brushstrokes and here is the finished piece. I thought that it might be interesting if I left the image from yesterday for comparison.

"A Glance to the Left", 6" x 8" oil on board, 2008
Private Collection

"A Glance to the Left", 6" x 8" oil on board

I only had a little time to paint today, so I started a new 6x8. Here is how I left it.
There are a few things that I want to adjust tomorrow. Then I will sign it and re post the photo.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"La Capilla, Fading Light"

"La Capilla, Fading Light" , 14" x 18" oil on linen, 2008
Private Collection

I started this painting in December, but got working on other things and never finished it up until now. I started with the idea that this would be mostly low (dark) values, but to get the light effect I wanted there had to be some higher (light) values thrown in here and there.
It was a difficult painting for me. I strayed from the original plan a bit, but sometimes you just have to be willing to go where the painting is taking you. The focus is on the church and the fading afternoon light, but the tree and cacti in the foreground are important to the setting too. I painted just enough detail so you would get the feeling of looking through them, but not get caught up in them. There are lots of horizontals and opposing verticals, and then the contrast of the organic vs. man made structure. It ended up being a complicated piece.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Valley View"

"Valley View", 8" x 16" oil on linen, 2008
$930. Framed, Available at Galeria Gardner

This is the second small painting in this series that I talked about in my last post " Into the Valley".
In this one I wanted a broader view of the valley and mountains beyond. To force myself to work quickly and deliberately, I gave myself a limited amount of time to complete the painting. Details were kept to a minimum. I worked for about two hours before it was time to go get Erin from school. That was my time limit.
In the afternoon, I returned to the studio with a fresh eye and pulled a few things together for about another half hour or so.

"Valley View" detail

Monday, January 7, 2008

"Into the Valley"

"Into the Valley", 11" x 14" oil on linen , 2008
$950. Framed, Available at Galeria Gardner

I have worked two days on this painting and it is time to stop.
For now at least.
My plan is to do a few small paintings along these lines. I think that this will make a nice larger painting, but I want to work with a couple of different compositions first and then go from there. I consider this a sketch for a larger painting, but also a finished painting in itself.
I like the opposition of lines in this one. I tried to emphasize the different directions of the hills and lines in the fields. I left the sky out completely. I am thinking that I will do another that pans back a bit to show a little sky.
Often, I will do a series of a few small pieces that might lead up to a larger painting. One of my reasons that I like to work this way is to be able to try a few different things without having to cram all of my ideas into one painting. It REALLY frustrates me when I overwork a painting. Once you go too far, you can never really recapture the freshness that was lost. I know this from having done it so many times. Working on a few versions of a piece can sometimes free me from feeling that I need to get it ALL just right. I can show a little restraint knowing that I can try it a little differently on a separate canvas. Another way that I try to keep myself from overworking a painting is to try and stop when I "THINK" it is about 90% "FINISHED". I'll set the painting aside for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. Usually I will find that what I "THOUGHT" was the remaining 10% is not really necessary.
Does that make sense?

Friday, January 4, 2008

"Light from Above" Plein Air

Untitled Plein Air, 11" x 14" oil on linen 2006

These are two paintings done on location at the same spot on different days. The top piece is more about the fields, trees and what is going on across the fields, so I pushed the sky way up to the top of the canvas. I like the way that this painting turned out, but I have kept it in the studio to use as reference. I have had a larger version or two of this scene on my mind for a while.

The painting below was the inspiration for "Light from Above", yesterday's post. The effect of the sunlight coming through the clouds did not last long. I thought that the sky in the plein air was less dramatic than I had remembered, so I reworked the idea in the studio from memory and using the sketch. In the 11" x 14" studio version I added some darker colors to the surrounding sky and ground to really make the light coming through the clouds pop the way it was on that afternoon. The fields of alfalfa were really amazing looking, so I worked that color a bit too to try and get it right. You can also see that I moved the trees around some to suit my needs. They are spaced more like they are in the top painting.

"Light from Above" plein air, 8" x 10", 2007

Thursday, January 3, 2008

"Light from Above"

"Light from Above", 11" x 14" oil on linen, 2007
Private Collection

I did not get to paint much today, but this is a new painting that I just finished up. It is a studio piece based on an 8x10 plein air painting.
I don't often feature the sky in my landscapes, but the sky on this particular afternoon was extra special so I gave it center stage and two thirds of my composition.
I paint this view often, there is something about it that attracts me. There is a slightly elevated spot where I can look down onto the fields a bit as they spread out in front of me toward those trees. There is a brick maker's place over there and always some animals, but that was not the focus of this painting. I'll post some other paintings of this spot on another day.
I like this one a lot.
What do you think?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

"Daily Crossing"

"Daily Crossing", 8" x 16" oil on linen
Private Collection

I like the simple design of this one and how the goats all link together. The shapes of just a few of them are enough to fill in the blanks and let you know about the others. I did not count legs, and I don't think that is important.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I have picked up the brush again after a bit of a break from painting. I am almost done with my projects around the house and we have been enjoying our holiday together relaxing and playing.
The New Year means it is time to get back to work though, and I have been itching to get back to painting. Here is the my first painting to post for 2008. It is not quite finished, but done enough to post here for you to see.
( It is finished now and I have changed this to the finished painting 1/15/08 ).

"Rastrojo", 14" x 18" oil on linen , 2008
Private Collection

Some of my favorite stuff to paint these days are local landscapes with people and animals. This man leads his loaded burro home with cornstalks that he will feed to his animals. This subject was just right for a loose painting with subtle color and lots of variety in the edges. I wanted to have fun with the paint and push and pull a few details out of a pattern of brushwork.

I wish you all a great year. I am not real big on New Year resolutions, but one goal I would like to aim for is to try a few things to push my comfort zone a bit with my art. We'll see what I come up with.