Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mountain Maryland Plein Aire Competition May 30 & 31, 2012

During my first day painting in the Mountain Maryland Plein Aire Event, I decided to paint on Washington Street, up on a hill looking down at the town, the railroad tracks, the historic buildings, the local newspaper office, and the churches.    The weather was perfect, although a little hot, and I stayed out all day working.  The painting of the town "Washington Street," turned out very well, I think.

After finishing the urban scene, I decided to switch to a rural situation and I found a gorgeous little red barn along 220 South.  The barn had some lovely swinging lines, but my favorite thing about the scene had to be the little holes in the planks where you can see through to the other side.  Light was popping through those cracks, and I just had to paint it.

While I was in Cumberland, I was interviewed by a photographer and...I woke up this morning to my picture on the front page of the Cumberland Times-News.  What fun plein aire painting is!

I discovered that there's a lot to paint in Allegany and Garrett Counties.  I could work for several years before I'd feel satiated.

Tip for the day:  Be sure to set yourself up for comfort when you decide where to paint.  Find shade, bring food and water, and set up where you can easily find bathroom facilities or anything else you might need.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mountain Maryland Plein Aire Event

Catch me this week painting in a plein aire competition called "Mountain Maryland Plein Aire," in Cumberland, MD.

Here's a plein aire tip:  I'll be walking through the streets of Cumberland first, taking pictures, smelling the breezes, and talking with people, to find scenes that I think will capture the spirit of this historic town.  Walking around and taking time to think (who does that anymore?) is the very first thing you might want to do before deciding what location you'll paint from.

Who knows where you might find me?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Congratulations to my daughter, Elizabeth, on her graduation from Smith College on May 20, 2012.
I'm so proud of you, Elizabeth, and I wish you great success in the future.  The video above is Jane Lynch's commencement speech: funny and witty and on the power of saying "Yes, and...".


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Painting in Italy

So much to do, so much to prepare for, and lots on my mind as I prepare to head for Italy and teach a workshop to a group of really wonderful painters, who happen to be wonderful people, too.

I'll soon be teaching in Tuscany, Italy, and I'm currently researching some of the towns we might see and paint in.  It's great to have a variety of locations:  colorful markets, wineries, mountainous towns and little villages.  I'm coming to the end of my usually scheduled weekly classes, exhibits and plein aire competitions and publication contests, so that I can focus on this plein aire adventure.

I'll be participating in a plein aire competition just before I leave for Europe.  While it's extra pressure to compete just before leaving the country, it's also good practice and will hep me to keep my skills honed, fast and ready to go.

So, for you plein aire painters out there, I think practice is about the best way to prepare for painting outdoors.  Just like any other skill, the more you work, the better you become.  Learning to select a location that will translate into a beautiful painting is, of course, the first thing on the agenda when the artist is outdoors.  After that, drawing a nice thumbnail sketch is a must; why waste good paper?  By designing your thoughts carefully in a sketch pad, you can instantly discern whether the composition you have in mind will work.

So, happy painting.  A.lot of art and observation everything else...practice.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I was so excited to go to New York City a few weeks ago.  I saw the American Watercolor Society show and I took hundreds of photographs.  I'm also using Adobe Photoshop to make changes to my pictures before I paint from them.

Here's my latest painting, based on photographic references from New York.
The iris have been in bloom for the past several weeks. Now that they're fading, I'm working fast to try and capture these beauties in watercolor paint.  I think that a series of iris botanicals will make nice prints..everyone likes the iris. 

I have just two weeks before I participate in the "Plein Aire Mountain Maryland" competition in Cumberland, MD.  I LOVE competition:  I welcome it and thrive in this sort of environment.  Deadlines and pressure are two things I understand and enjoy.  The judge for the Cumberland event is Steven Dougherty, who was once editor of American Artist Magazine and he selected my work for publication in 2006.  I'm so pleased that he's selected me for this plein aire competition. I hope to do well.  I only began competing in plein aire events last year, although I've been competing in watercolor competitions for decades.  This is different.  Plein aire takes quick thinking, drawing, designing and painting. 

So, I'll paint iris for a few more days, but I'm going outdoors to practice every chance I get.

Tip for the day:  "Don't let reality ruin a good painting."  My weekly classes have been focusing on this theory.  It's quite amazing to see how many times an artist will dislike their work because it doesn't look exactly like their photograph, or they're unable to let go and let the watercolor paint move and flex like the fluid matter it is.  So, forget about details and making everything "look like the picture."  If you allow the paint to work, you may be in for some fortunate surprises.