“Art is infinite, there’s no way you could learn all of it in our lifetime. When you go out and paint with ten people, even if you are all standing in a line painting the same thing, you all paint something different… and you learn so much from seeing another way that another person sees the world.” — Michael Hopcroft
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.
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!
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.
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!
I reestablished some of the tree shapes and then redesigned the pattern of light and shadow on the path.
I’m liking how it is developing, but feel the shadows in the foreground seem a bit overworked.
Afternoon painting in the shade at Kirkland Watershed Park.
My plan was to do an underpainting and then come back another day to finish up.
After about 30 minutes, things were looking good, so I just started painting the next layer.
Here it is after a full hour of painting.
Not sure whether to stop and call it a study or keep working on another day.
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.
Many people have asked me what I carry with me into the field to paint, so I thought I’d do an inventory. Here’s the whole kit:
On the left is a knapsack with sun hat. It holds a garbage bag, a roll of blue shop towels, a box of nitrile gloves, and a bottle of water. Not shown are my lunch and sunscreen. In the middle is a tackle box with paints, palette knives, brushes, a brush washing tank, and a ViewCatcher. On the right is a pochade box. It sits on the tripod in the foreground.
Usually, I wear the backpack and sling the pochade box over my shoulder, leaving my hands free for the tripod and tackle box. Sometimes I will put the pochade in the knapsack, but this can be problematic when I get paint on the outside of the pochade. If the painting site is more than a few minutes walk, I put everything into a large frame pack, or I use a hand cart.
The tackle box cost about $15 in the fishing department at Target . Recently I have been using water miscible oils – Holbein Duo and Royal Talens Cobra. I typically use a very limited palette, so I could save myself some hassle by leaving three quarters of the paint tubes at home.
I store my brushes in a bamboo roll which fits perfectly in the bottom of the tackle box. I bring a variety of sizes, mostly bristle, lots of filberts, some flats, one or two rounds, and a liner.
The brush washing tank has a leak proof lid, so I fill it with clean water before I head out.
The ViewCatcher is an invaluable composition tool. I try to bring it with me everywhere.
Here’s the pochade box on its tripod. It’s an EASyl Lite from Artwork Essentials. It has a 10″ x 12″ mixing area which I’ve covered with glass. This pochade has room to carry two wet panels up to 10″ x 12″. I usually use 9″ x 12″.
The tripod is a Manfrotto 055XPROB. My understanding is that this exact model has been replaced by the more affordable 055XPRO3. I chose this tripod because it is light, sturdy, tall, and easy to adjust. One thing I really like about it is that the legs can be spread really wide for extra stability.
The tripod is fitted with a Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head with quick release plate. I chose this head for ease in leveling and adjusting the pochade box. The quick release plate stays on the pochade box allowing me to snap the box on and off the tripod in seconds.
Some people bring an umbrella to block the sun. I don’t have one so I just try to set up in the shade if at all possible.