Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saint Paul at Dawn, Oil on Linen, 12x16 (SOLD)
After 23 years of living in Saint Paul, I still get a thrill from its old buildings and bridges along the mighty Mississippi. The bluffs surrounding the city on three sides afford the viewer unrivaled panoramas. When I first moved here, many of these views were choked off by buckthorn and weed trees. In recent years, there has been an asserted effort to get rid of these and plant native ground cover. Once again many of the panoramic views the cities founders were so careful to preserve, are enjoyed by all.

I arrived at this location right at sunrise while it was still cool. Later in the day the thermometer made it up into the mid nineties.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Wash, Oil on Linen, 11x14 (SOLD)
20 minutes before sunset I saw the light in our back yard and I had to paint it. I had enough strong notes to be able to paint until well after dusk. Still I came back the next evening and fixed some values.

This is one of 8 paintings I've painted in the past week. It's been a huge week for me, since some of them are 16x20s and 14x18s done on location. Depending on the weather, I've been getting up around 4:30am to be set up by sunrise painting. Sooner or later, I'll get around to posting some of them. I will also be going live with my website in the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Picking Up Two, Oil on Linen, 18x24 (Sold)
(revised 1/9/12, 1/12/12, 6/14/12)
As  a plein air painter, I have to admit I am not a purist. A purist starts and finishes a painting on location. The original field study for this painting was done two and half years ago. This is the third time I've worked on this studio version. The way I see it, is that if I think I can improve the painting, i'm going to try. 

The field painting was more of a mid day painting. The sun was over my right shoulder at an angle that obliterated just about all the shadows from the rocks and there was no tug boat. The tug came as I was finishing up, so I snapped a reference photo. On the original studio version, I wanted to get more of a late afternoon feel with long shadows on the rocks. So I put the sun over my left shoulder and reversed all of the shadows and warmed the colors from the previous painting. 

This time, I needed to deal with the fact that the barge is at a different angle than the tugboat and back barge. They are at a different angle because they have not been tied together yet. I have attempted to capture the moment that they make contact. I remembered that there was a barge hand at the fore ready to untie the cable as soon as another hand tied the two together. I felt it was important to put this deck hand on the painting so the viewer would understand what is going on. The barge is "picking up two" more barges.  So I took a photo of myself posed the way I remembered the deck hand looked and used that as a crude reference to paint from.

And of course, you can never fix one thing without fixing a few dozen other things, like warming up the sky, rocks and water and generally repainting the painting.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Where Night and Day Meet, Oil on Linen, 20x16
That fleeting moment in time when the trees are still shrouded in night but the sky is illuminated with morning light. The day has not yet begun to heat up and a cool breeze freshens everything. Later in the day it will be 93ยบ and humid with strong southerly winds. I'm grateful to beat the heat and to witness the beauty that is sunrise in Minnesota.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Rooster Crows, A Crow Caws, Oil on Linen, 14x18
Another dawn painting, this one was also painted over the course of two mornings at the same location. It's a great time of day to see wildlife. I saw deer, turkeys, hawks, an unidentified yellow bird that was not a goldfinch or an oriole, countless herons, and the reason for all the hawks - rabbits! Lots of rabbits. Did I mention I saw all this within the city limits of West Saint Paul.

The shadow across the foreground was a very fleeting effect. It lasted for only a few minutes. I used the second morning to verify my values. It's easy to second guess oneself. I turns out, I was pretty close the first morning and so I mostly added details on the second outing. Please forgive the glare in the photo. For some inexplicable reason, this painting was exceedingly hard to photograph.