It’s been a while since my last post. I have been busy with art and other life activities. I will try to catch up a bit.
First, I completed my commission of Brian’s view in Afton. This one was quite different because the medium was fluid acrylic. I ended up doing a composite from many reference photos. As with all of my commissions I worked with Brian, doing several prototypes, to understand what resonated with him. Then I went to work on the final painting. It is 22×18 and is on hot press watercolor paper. This is smoother than cold press, which is what I use for my watercolors. We experimented with many seasons before we settled on summer. Brian really liked the flowering trees in the spring scenes, so I made them crape myrtles to keep true with the season. I worked hard to make sure Humpback Rocks was clear, because that was important to Brian. Here is the final result. Brian was happy. I’m waiting for him to share a photo of the painting framed and hung in his house.
I have been accepted into the Waynesboro Fall Foliage show that will be held to be held October 14th and 15th. I will be in the emerging artist section which will be inside the gallery on Main Street. I will post more about this when it gets closer. It would be great to see some friends there.
Finally, I just returned from a wonderful cruise traveling from Amsterdam to Bordeaux. It was wonderful to walk in the footsteps of some of the great impressionists. While in Amsterdam we visited the Van Gogh gallery which was excellent. I highly recommend it if you are ever there. Here are a few photos I took of some of his magnificent works.
This one of a church is quite famous.
I really loved this landscape of thunderclouds over fields.
I found it quite moving and emotional to be in the presence of the palette he left behind when he died.
I always plan to paint when traveling and I take supplies and a sketchbook with me. I find that I have limited time, but I did manage to do a few sketches.
I have a few more exciting things that I’m working on to share and I will be doing that in subsequent posts soon.
The show was well attended. We only had two short rain showers and the drop cloths worked well to protect my paintings. Many people said very nice things about my work. And most important, I SOLD FOUR PAINTINGS! The following are the four that sold.
I am very pleased! I am also encouraged to do more shows.
Tomorrow is the big day! I will be participating in the Shenandoah Valley Artfest 2023 in Woodstock Virginia! The weather this week has been terrible, and for a while it looked like the festival would be a wash out. Things are looking a little better, so fingers crossed.
I assembled all of my racks, which was a bear, and staged my setup in my garage. I think this will look fine.
I will be showing about 20 pieces. There are a few that I don’t have good photos of, but here is a gallery of most of what I will be showing.
I just got confirmation that I was accepted in the Shenandoah Valley Artfest to be held on 24 June 2023 in the town of Woodstock VA. I am so proud as participants were selected by a jury and I submitted my application as a complete unknown. I have a busy month ahead of me to get ready! Stay tuned and I will share more info when we get closer.
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.