Friday, April 30, 2010

Julie's View

Far Shore, 8 x 10

Here's the next in line of the the subjects from the PAA retreat. This is a look across the Guadalupe from Julie Davis' property in Hunt. It's a beautiful place, especially as the late afternoon sun reflects off the far bank. I hope she'll invite me back.

Camp Mystic

Camp Mystic, 8 x 10
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Another piece from the PAA retreat. This one was from Saturday morning at Camp Mystic, a girl's summer camp on HWY 39, which runs alongside the Guadalupe for several miles. 

An interesting note — Camp Mystic's property ends at the spillway indicated here by the abrupt end of the water at its top edge. Just out of frame to the left, about ten feet above the level of the water shown, there was a kayak lodged in the canopy of a tree. Since the tree in question was downstream from the spillway, which itself was at least seven feet tall, the kayak had to have been floating at least seventeen feet above the normal level of the river where the tree stands. Camp Mystic, indeed.

I later found out that several days before our visit, the area upstream had received about ten inches of rain over two days, causing the Guadalupe to flood far beyond its banks. Kayak mystery solved, but an awe inspiring sight, nonetheless.

Afternoon Drive

Afternoon Drive, 8 x 10
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Above is the first of several paintings I attempted on the Plein Air Austin retreat last weekend. Julie Davis knows the area around Hunt, Texas very well and she cheerfully shepherded the rest of us to some beautiful venues throughout the weekend. This spot is a few hundred feet from the entrance to Camp Waldemar, a beautiful children's summer camp along FM 1340. While I painted this view, Julie, Trish Seigel and Laurel Daniel stood directly behind me, painting a horse stable just across the road. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ingram Home

Ingram Home, 12 x 12
Here is the painting shown on the easel in the last post, after tweaking. I wasn't able to get to it, or any other paintings, until today. 

Tomorrow, PAA is painting just below Mansfield dam, which happens to be Texas' tallest. I've been looking forward to painting out there, but it now looks like it will be dicey, since I'll have my Irish Terrier, Major, in tow. He's fine until another dog shows up, but at that point focusing on painting becomes a whole other challenge. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 26, 2010

All Along The Guadalupe

This weekend, Plein Air Austin had its annual retreat in Hunt, Texas, along the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country. With one of Texas' most beautiful rivers full from recent rains, non-stop sunshine and temperatures in the seventies all weekend, the timing couldn't have been better for anyone interested in painting en plein air. The picture above shows the last venue of five I painted in forty-eight hours. That's probably no big deal for some, but for me, it is definitely a lot of painting. I'll be posting each one separately, after I've had a chance to make last minute tweaks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Riata Path

Riata Path, 6 x 8

Today, I painted across the street from where I live. The sun was strong, but the temperature was very nice. The birds were going crazy, so I'm guessing they liked it, too.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mohawk Lounge

Morning After at the Mohawk, 9 x 12

The above painting is from a not-so-well-taken phone shot of the Mohawk Lounge in Austin. Taken during South by Southwest a few weeks ago, the shot was almost totally in shadow in the late afternoon. To create a more pleasing light, I had to imagine the morning shadows. Below is the phone image I worked from.

Painting Michaelis

Painting Michaelis, 9 x 12 

The picture above is from a photo taken the day of the PAA paintout at Michaelis Ranch. I caught these girls chatting as they painted, as good a way as any to spend a spring day in Austin.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lost Creek No. 3

Lost Creek No. 3, 12 x 9
This picture was begun over a week ago at Laurel's second to last plein air class, and which I never had the chance to finish up until tonight. The sun was breaking behind the bluff, creating dramatic dappled light through the trees on top of the bluff. I found the scene quite captivating.

Bull Creek Trail

Bull Creek Trail, 8 x 10

Saturday morning's PAA paintout was in northwest Austin in a canyon near the source of Bull Creek. Spring has sprung in serious fashion at this spot, a good thing in most every sense. However, the wildly rapid growth of the of every form of plant life in the last couple weeks made for a venue arguably in need of a trim.

It was extremely difficult to simplify values and colors, with so many shades of green and the unwieldy shapes of the new growth. When I left around noon, I was not very satisfied and in need of a nap, feeling I had made little more than a good start after two hours of painting. Said nap seems to have helped, as I was then able to see the bright side, as it were, and finally come away with something I am pretty happy with.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Learning In Progress

View From Driftwood Winery, 9 x 12

I'm just back from a three day workshop with Jill Carver in Wimberley. Jill is super talented, lots of fun and full of valuable information, which I hope will percolate down through my very being over the next few months and be reflected in my work. There was so much to think about, I found myself time and again focusing on something Jill had emphasized, only to ignore other important things that I thought were already second nature. 

Take the field study above, for example. If you zoom in, you can see the canvas isn't even completely covered, because I neglected to complete the block-in at the beginning. The result — lots of annoying little white specks for one thing, and variations in color and value in areas that didn't need it, for another. Because of all that, the eye has to search more than necessary for intended focal point. Annoying, indeed.

Oh, well. Lesson learned. And now I'm going to have a beer.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Looking East

Michaelis Ranch Field Study No. 2, 8 x 10

The rising terrain to the right of this composition intrigued me after getting a close look at it earlier in the day. It's full of cactus, scrub oak, brambles and live oak, with pockets of spring grasses that just light up from a distance when the sun peaks through the clouds. This type of terrain is typical of central Texas, along what is known as the Balcones Escarpment. This study is another very rough one, but I think I did a better job with the values here, than in today's first attempt.

One other note worth mentioning. Sharon Michaelis, along with ONE long-trusted hand, for all practical purposes ranch this land and its two hundred plus head of cattle by themselves. She is an amazing and delightful woman — relentless in her care for her ranch and every head of cattle on it, yet at the same time lighthearted and extraordinarily welcoming toward visitors. THANK YOU, Sharon.

Silos and Old Barn

Michaelis Ranch, Field Study No. 1, 6 x 8

This morning, PAA drove out to the Michaelis Ranch, twenty-five miles or so from downtown Austin. This place had so many things to paint, it took a good hour just to look around and see what felt most inviting. Because of all these choices, I decided to try for two. This commitment to get two studies fully down on location is good for me, though I feel some anxiety about posting these very raw and imperfect efforts, which were, at least for now, the inevitable result. Hopefully, though, this will force rapid improvement, in which case the exercise will have been worthwhile.