There is a gallery in the Rockfish Valley Community Center (RVCC) not far from where we live called Rockfish Gallery and Gifts. I’ve had several pieces in the gallery for quite some time. Some have sold. Recently, the founder decided to retire and it changed hands and is now owned and operated by the RVCC. They are having a Grand Reopening Open House this Sunday, October 30, from 1 to 3 PM in which I will be participating.
I plan to bring some additional paintings to display in the RVCC auditorium for the event. The new operators suggested that people like to see recent work and to learn about an artist’s process. With that in mind I finished two paintings this week. They are from a photo of the same autumn scene taken right around the corner from where I live. The first one is mostly watercolor with a little bit of white ink. The second is watercolor washes with gouache for the more detailed foliage. I’m still assessing the differences. The colors in the gouache definitely pop more, which is to be expected. The foliage in the watercolor has some nice shapes and detail. I was hoping to do a third version in fluid acrylic, but I don’t think I will get to it.
I will also have a few other paintings including two from the Plein Air Paint Out a few weeks ago. If you are in the area this Sunday please stop by.
The Rockfish Valley Foundation’s Plein Air Paint Out 2022 was held on October 7th, 8th and 9th. We had spectacular weather with clear crisp fall days. The colors were changing before our eyes. It was a wonderful experience. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, much of this will be a repeat, but there will be some additional commentary.
Day 1 – Morning
We started on Friday. We were asked to check in at the Rockfish Valley Foundation Museum between 9AM and 11AM. I checked in at about 9:15. There were a few other artists there and I’d already seen some out painting.
I went to my first scouted location. I had a wagon for my stuff, but I knew there was a bridge with a step up and a step down between me and where I was going, so I decided to put minimal supplies in my backpack with my easel and grab my chair. As it turns out, this was a good warm up location, but I really didn’t like the work I did there. Here is a photo of the scene and the two paintings (one is really just a sketch) that I did while I was there.
Day 1 – Afternoon
I had chosen a setting overlooking a field with hay bales, and foothills in the background, one with a higher elevation field. I later learned what I was looking at was Glenthorne Farm. We had a dinner up there on Saturday evening. It was open to painters, but I didn’t know this till I’d already planned my activities. It has stunning views and I will definitely paint from there next year.
Once I got set up in this location, I realized that about 90 degrees from where I was facing there was another nice view so I decided to make that my sketch and the original site my painting for the afternoon. I’m really glad I painted this scene on Friday, because at the end of the day they started picking up the hay bales and they were gone by Saturday. Artists love hay bales and we were incensed that they took them away.
Here are the photos of my afternoon set up and scene, and my paintings.
Day 2 – Morning
We were told that artists were gathering at the Camille Trailhead in the morning. That was already my planned site, so I was happy to oblige. I set up in the field facing Three Ridges and did a sketch and a painting. I struggled with this painting but I was okay with the final result. One challenge with painting fall in watercolor is that the colors mix together on the paper. Green and red are complementary colors, so if you let them mix together you get a muddy brown. I worked hard to prevent that. My mountain isn’t particularly realistic, but the effect is nice.
Here are photos and paintings from my morning.
There were a lot more people out walking around watching us paint on Saturday. Everyone was nice. I talked to a reporter from the local press, and I also saw our friends Kate and Mike. Once I was done with my first two paintings for Saturday rather than moving, I turned to face a scene that had been catching my eye all morning. It was the roof of the Elk Hill house peeking through the brilliant fall-colored trees that surrounded it. I decided to do this in fluid acrylics, which resulted in very vibrant colors. In hindsight, I realized I will need to bring my wet pallet into the field with me if I ever use fluid acrylics for plein air again. The paint in my wells dried very quickly. But I did get a nice little painting out of the exercise.
Here is the painting.
Sunday morning there was a quick paint exercise, but I needed to frame my work so I skipped it. I barely had enough time as it was. I took five paintings to the show and sale, and I sold three of them… Yay! The five I took included three that I’d painted in the field, and the two that I painted from my scouting exercise. Both of the fluid acrylics sold. I will take this as a sign that I need to keep painting with them.
Here is a photo of the paintings I showed.
It was a great experience. I got to meet several other local artists which was nice. I will definitely do it again next year.
So, back when I was at Nimrod Hall this summer I had a great plein air outing with my classmates. Fresh off of that high, I signed up to paint in the 2nd Annual Rockfish Valley Foundation Plein Air Paint Out. It seemed like a wonderful idea at the time, but now I’m stressing over it. I’m not really a plein air painter. My OCD engineer’s brain doesn’t like the uncertainty and primitiveness of painting outside of my studio. The thought of painting on the RVF trails with people watching me is unnerving. All of that said, it will be good for me, but I feel it’s important to be as prepared as possible.
With preparation in mind, I’ve gone scouting on the trails twice to choose some locations. I’m trying to pick places where the sun and fall light will be good at certain times of the day. I’ve also tried to find scenes that fit my style. They have done a very good job of prepping the place for artists. They have mowed the fields and created and left the hay bales. I think there will be plenty of fun things to paint.
For those of you in the area, below is a map of the trails where I’ve indicated where I will be painting on each day. Of course, these are subject to change. The weather is supposed to be very nice, although some days will be cool. It’s a three-day event and we will paint on Friday October 7th, Saturday October 8th, and Sunday Morning October 9th. On Sunday afternoon the works will be on display and for sale in the Tuckahoe Clubhouse in Stoney Creek. Here is a link to the web site.
Here are a few photos I have taken that align with some of my chosen location.
Finally, I’ve also done a little bit of practicing from a couple of the photos. This first one is a scene near where I plan to paint the afternoon of Day 2. I did this using fluid acrylics on paper. You may recall from my earlier fluid acrylics post that I was planning to experiment with other techniques. This one is done on hot press watercolor paper. It was very different from working on canvas because surface of the paper is absorbent. I liked it.
The second one I just finished today and it is also near where I plan to paint on Day 2. This one is all watercolor. I was going to do the highlights in gouache, but it wasn’t necessary.
I plan to paint mostly using watercolor, maybe highlighted with gouache. I will have some fluid acrylics with me in case the mood strikes me.
Stay tuned for the report after the fact. I’m nervous. I hope I produce some work I can be proud to display on Sunday.
I mentioned in a post a while back that a B&B in Harrisonburg Virginia approached me with a collaboration opportunity to hang some of my art in their inn where it would be for sale to guests and anyone else who might be interested. I saw it as a great way to increase my name recognition as an artist, so naturally I said yes.
The Friendly City Inn is in a beautiful old building that was previously known as the Stonewall Jackson Inn, but new owners Becca and Joel chose to change the name and minimize the Civil War theme. This required renaming and changing the themes in each of the rooms to something more focused on the beauty and landscape of the Shenandoah Valley. One of the big changes needed was to replace the Civil War themed art with something else, which led to an idea of collaborating with local artists. I am flattered and pleased to have been chosen.
They asked me to focus on local landmarks and mountain landscapes so I chose six paintings that I thought would show well. Then I was faced with the daunting task of matting and framing them all. This took a little time but I finally had them all ready to go so I took them to Becca last Thursday and she busily went to work looking for appropriate places to hang them.
I think most of the pictures I provided have already been featured in another post. Since I carefully matted and framed them all I thought that I’d photograph framed pictures for the post. It’s hard to photograph framed watercolors because of the glare from the glass, which you will notice in some of the photos. Still, I think you will get a feeling for each finished product.
So several years ago when I first started experimenting with watercolor Falls Church Arts did a 6×6 to 12×12 show where they wanted all works to be square and in that size range. I painted two 6 inch x 6 inch paintings from photos taken in Wintergreen and Italy and entered them into the show. They were accepted, which was nice, but when I look back at them now I think how far I’ve come.
I decided I wanted to reuse the frames, so I set out to paint two new 6×6 paintings. I didn’t like the first two I did so I started painting more and before I knew it I had seven 6×6 watercolor paintings. All have good and bad points, as with all paintings. I can’t decide which two to put into the frames. I thought I’d share them all and let my readers help me choose.
The first one is from a photo I took several years ago of a stream running through a field not far from where we live. The photo was taken in the early spring, and the real problem with this one is that I tried to change seasons to summer, but didn’t change the large trees in the foreground. In the photo they were just barely leafing out, so they ended up looking like dead trees. I tried to add more leaves to one of them, but the result is not the best. I still like the peaceful feel of the scene.
The second painting, which was really done simultaneously with the first, was from a photo of Three Ridges from the valley. I changed the house on the right to a barn, but not a very good one. Plus it’s too far right which hurts the composition. In my opinion, this one is just ho-hum.
After I did these first two and didn’t like them I decided to try some things that were more ambitious. Both were scenes I’d done before, but not in this form factor. I’d also been practicing some techniques that I thought were well suited to these subjects. I like these two better than the first two, but don’t let my opinions influence you. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that art is very personal. People like what they like.
One of the things I’d been practicing was rocks, trying not to over obsess with the photograph and just letting the shapes and groupings form as I painted, sort of like doodling. So I did this scene of the stream that is in our backyard. It’s fun because of the light dancing through the trees. I used white acrylic paint to make the little rapids pop.
There’s a waterfall on Route 56 in Rockbridge County that is on private property but the owners have generously let people stop to photograph and enjoy the scene. I recently heard that they had stopped allowing this because some people had been destructive, which is very sad. In this painting, I had fun with the deep shadows behind the falls and the spatter of the spray, using white gouache. It was a happy accident that I got a misty feeling along the edges of the falls and the surface of the water.
Having done those two I was on a roll, starting to have fun with the small, square form factor. I liked the fact that I could knock them out relatively quickly, so I just kept going.
There is a barn that you can see from Route 29 in Greene County that is beautiful in the morning sun with a backdrop of the Blue Ridge. I’ve never gotten a good photo of it because there’s no place to stop. All I have are a few bad cell phone photos taken from a moving car. I used one of those as the inspiration for this next painting, but I modified the scene a lot. I added the cows, the truck, and the road. I also changed the trees in the front. Unfortunately, the resulting composition isn’t the best. The barn is too much in the center, breaking the rule of thirds. I like the effect of the mountains. They represent one of those situations where the watercolor painted itself.
This next one is of Afton Mountain Vineyards. I’ve done this in oil and watercolor before, but set out to do this one quickly. I took a very different approach with the sky than my usual technique. I let the hard edges define the whites. The result is more dramatic and less subtle than my usual skies, but I like the result. I may try to use it more often.
Finally, I decided to do the cub creek barn again. I recently watched a video from my favorite online instructor, Steve Mitchell from the Mind of Watercolor, where demonstrated using a nib pen to apply watercolor to detail a painting. I used that here. I really like the technique and I’m sure I’ll continue to use it a lot.
Those are the seven I have to choose from. Let me know which two you like best.
In other news (I really need to blog more often so my posts aren’t so long), I have two paintings in shows this month. The first is one I did a couple of years ago from a photo I took on Tilghman Island. This is in the Falls Church Arts All-Member Show, which runs through March 8th.
The second is in the Shenandoah Valley Art Center’s monthly member show, which is themed “red” this month. I painted this specifically for the show. The photo is the same one used for the painting of the cub creek barn above. It was taken in the late summer, so I needed to drastically change the seasons, and the color of the barn to make it fit. I’m pleased that I’m getting better at using some artistic license to change the material I’m working from, although sometimes I’m more successful than others. This painting is on display at SVAC through March 3rd.
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I have four paintings in two different shows in September and October. That’s a first for me and I’m very excited.
My painting Paris Barn, was accepted into a juried show at Falls Church Arts. The juror is Glen Kessler, a Rockville Maryland based landscape painter. I’m always proud when my work is accepted into a juried show.
The reference photo for this painting was taken by Breck Carter, and was posted in the Exploring Virginia group on Facebook. It was used with permission from Breck.
Paris Barn – 14×10 Watercolor
This show will be on display from September 14th through October 13th at the Falls Church Arts gallery located at 700-B W Broad Street in Falls Church City.
I also put three works into the member show at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center in Waynesboro VA. This is not a juried show, but SVAC represents many fine artists and I’m always proud to have my work displayed with theirs. I chose all travel pictures for this show.
Venice Canal – 9×12 Watercolor
The first is a painting I did of the canals of Venice. This was done from a reference photo I took in 2011.
The second is a picture from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The reference photo for this was taken during our visit in 2018.
Isle of Skye – 12×9 Watercolor
The third is of a church on Mykonos in the Greek Isles. This reference photo was taken on our recent visit in July of 2019.
Mykonos – 5×7 Watercolor
This Show will be on display from September 7th – October 30th at the SVAC gallery located at 126 S Wayne Avenue in Waynesboro Virginia.
I hope that if you live near either of these locations you’ll be able to visit the shows.
Last Saturday evening I went to the opening of the All-Member Show at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center. This is my first All-Member Show in this new venue. I was delighted to see how well attended it was.
Piper Groves, the director of the center, announced the awards. I didn’t win anything, but didn’t expect to. There were many fine works from which the judge could choose, and art is very personal. There is one final award, the audience choice award, that will be based on votes received from the viewers of the show. I don’t expect to win that one either, but I did see one lady stand by my painting and write down the title and my name on her ballot, so I know I got at least one vote and for that I am pleased. My painting looked lovely hanging in the hall.
Week after next I go to Nimrod Hall. I have not been for the last two years and this will be the first time ever I’ve been for a whole week. I will share my experiences here when I return.
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Since we’ve moved to Central Virginia full time I’ve been looking around for galleries and organizations with whom I can partner. I’ve had a great relationship with Falls Church Arts during the past four plus years, and I’ve learned so much from them. I will likely maintain that membership, and hopefully still show there occasionally when I can work out the logistics, but they are now 150 miles away, so I need to find something new.
The Rockfish River Gallery is in the valley just a little north of Nellysford in the Rockfish Valley Community Center. It is focused on showing the works of local artists. They are an easy stop along Nelson County’s famed “151 corridor” where there are many wineries, breweries, cideries and other sites to see. I have placed two oil paintings and four watercolors there and I’m looking forward to seeing how much attention they get. Below are the paintings that can be seen there.
In addition, I’ve joined the Shenandoah Valley Art Center in Waynesboro. They are an organization similar to Falls Church Arts. They have a gallery in downtown Waynesboro and run exhibits as well as provide space for member artists to show. I’ve just joined so I don’t yet have anything on display, but hope to begin participating soon.
If you are visiting Central Virginia, please take the time to drop into these two venues where hopefully you’ll be able to see some of my work on display.
I entered three recent watercolor paintings into the East and West Art Exhibitions at Falls Church Arts. This show will run from August 19th through September 23rd 2017 at the Falls Church Arts Central Gallery at 700-B W Broad Street, Falls Church VA. This show was a curated show and based on the number and quality of the works they received they could only accept two entries per artist.
The show opening is on August 19th. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend.
I’ve been absent for a bit. I actually have several posts I need to write, including one on my trip to Paris that included a trip to Giverny, but for now a quick update.
This weekend was the judging of the 8th Annual Falls Church Arts Plein Air show. I was only in town to paint two weekends for the timeframe of the show (mid-April to mid-June). One of those was cold and rainy, the other I agreed to gallery sit at the new gallery. I got creative and sat out in front of the gallery and painted Kensington Corner. The finished product was only minimally realistic because I only painted what I liked. I painted the clock and the bus stop and the trees and flowers, but not the roads and only minimal detail in the buildings. I kind of liked the result, and so did someone else, because the painting sold at the showing on Saturday. It was bought by a lovely couple who very thoughtfully viewed the show and chose two paintings to buy, one being mine. I hope they get many years of enjoyment out of it.
I have been so busy that I framed the painting in haste, and did not scan or photograph it. I will need to remember it from the iPhone photo I took of it in its frame.
This show has several cash prizes. I did not win anything, but below are the well deserving and very talented winners.