Mount Shuksan II

Here’s one more painting from Day 2 of the the PAWA Mount Baker Paint Out. We returned to Picture Lake before dawn and set-up in the cold and dark. As the sun rose to the left of Mount Shuksan, we painted the mists rising off the lake. One challenge I had was that my water miscible paints would freeze on the palette as I did my block in. Once the sun rose, the paint thawed out and everything was fine.


Artist Point

At the PAWA Mount Baker Paint Out, Day 1. In the afternoon I headed up to Artist Point. We had tried the location first thing in the morning, but it was completely socked in so we went back down to Picture Lake. By afternoon, the clouds had lifted a bit at Artist Point, but not enough for grand sweeping vistas. Undaunted, I decided to concentrate the fall foliage. It didn’t rain for this painting, but I had to beat a hasty retreat shortly after taking this picture when a hailstorm filled my pochade box with icy pellets!



Mount Shuksan I

At the PAWA Mount Baker Paint Out, Day 1. I painted Mount Shuksan in the rain from Picture Lake. I’m a pretty slow painter and over the summer I had the luxury of spending multiple of sessions on each painting. Different story at Mount Baker. With the fall weather, the light is constantly changing, making it hard to do a longer, multi-session painting. Instead I am learning to work fast. This painting was completed in just two hours.

A reporter for King5’s Evening Magazine stayed overnight with us at the lodge and interviewed a number of us while we were painting.



PAWA Mount Baker Paint Out

I attended the Plein Air Washington Mount Baker Paint Out this weekend. We stayed at the Mountaineers’ Baker Lodge across from Picture Lake and painted two days – one in rain and hail and one in sun. Great company, great food and great painting!

PAWA Columbia Gorge Paintout

This weekend I attended the Plein Air Washington Columbia Gorge Paintout in Washougal. I chose to set up next to the Fern Prairie Modelers runway, across the street from the transfer station. This is a great location because you can paint right next to your vehicle, there are trees for shade, and restrooms nearby at Captain William Clark Regional Park. The view is looking east into the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

When I started the under painting around 10am, the sun was in front of me to the right. It was very hot, but also hazy, and the haze was a good thing because it helped to keep the scene from changing significantly over the next 5 hours as I painted. During this time, the sun moved to a position directly to my right, so the main changes in front of me were the snowfields on Mt Hood (it went from back-lit to side-lit) and the form shadows on the near trees. Everything else – the distant hills, the barns, and the foreground meadows stayed pretty much the same.

I spent about 30 minutes on the under painting, using thin Burnt Sienna and then Raw Umber.


As often happens, I found the half-finished painting to be nearly as compelling as the completed piece. I really like the way the Burnt Sienna foreground plays against the Cerulean and Raw Umber in the distant hills.


Here’s the finished piece, a 9″ x 12″ canvas panel.


The paintout was a lot of fun and at the end of the day we all met for dinner at the Puffin Cafe, a Caribbean restaurant floating on the Columbia at the Port of Camas. All in all, an excellent trip with lots of painting, interesting people, and great food!


July 4, 2015

Awoke with the dawn for another session at Kelsey Creek Farm. This morning was all about modelling sunlight on the trees and adding sky holes and light and dark branches. I also added some more texture to the grass in the foreground.

If I continue to work on this painting, I will probably refine the trunks and then knock back some of the highlights, make the sky holes more natural, and figure out what to do with the large empty space in the lower left. Not sure if this will move the needle, though. I might be better off starting another painting. There are lots of other nice spots at Kelsey Creek . . .

June 26, 2015

This morning I returned to Kelsey Creek Farm to continue the painting I started on Thursday. The first order of the business was to lay down some branches with the rigger brush and bits of Raw Umber, Prussian Blue, and Titanium White. The poplars in front have dark branches, while the birches in the middle distance have light branches. Next came the trees on the horizon, made with a mixture of Cerulean Blue, Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson Hue and Titanium White.

Next I began adding the shaded interior leaf textures. The darkest values were a mixture of Raw Umber and Prussian Blue. Other values included Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, and mixtures left over from the trees in the background.

After the interior leaves, I felt it was important to add the large shadow shapes on the hillside and paint in the gravel path before modelling the sunlit sides of the trees.

In the end I decided it wouldn’t hurt to fix the color and value of the sunlit grasses as well. The next time I go out, my focus will be modelling the light on the trees, adding sky holes, and strengthening the shapes of the trunks and branches.

It feels like the composition would benefit from something more in the lower left. Either taller darker grasses, or perhaps a shadow form from a tree just outside the frame. I will probably add a splash of white flowers and a few dandelions as well.

Kelsey Creek Plein Air

I got up at 5:30am this morning to paint at Kelsey Creek Farm before work. Now I know from experience why I prefer to paint at the end of the day. In the evening, it gets cooler as time wears on and if you want, you can keep working on some aspects of the painting as long as it is light enough to see. You can enjoy the evening breezes as you clean brushes and pack up at your leisure in the fading twilight. In the morning, especially during a Seattle heatwave, it just gets hotter and hotter as you paint, and at some point you need to apply sunscreen, and if you get on a roll and don’t mind that the shadows have all disappeared, you apply sunscreen again – and then you pack up and wash brushes under a withering sun.

Still, I had fun, and I had wanted to return to this location to do a 9″x12″ version after a 4″x6″ study I made a few years ago.

Old study on the left. New painting in progress on the right. I’m using water miscable oils – some Holbein Duo and some Royal Talens Cobra. I started the under painting in Burnt Sienna, and then strengthened the darks with Burnt Umber and then Raw Umber.

I stayed long enough to paint the sky, but I forgot to soften the edges between the sky and the distant trees. No problem – I’ll do that tomorrow morning if I don’t sleep in.