Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Plein Air Journey ~ Season Six and Seven

2008 and 2009 seasons of outdoor painting I continued to experiment with surfaces and washes to create my paintings.

"Path of Least Resistance" is on illustration board using water soluble colored pencils and dry colored pencils over the top. I tried to keep the fluid effect of the watercolor in this painting.

"Santiam Sunrise" is on Ampersand aquaboard. After the painting was completed I sprayed it with a fixative and then several light coats of lacquer. The painting is then sealed and does not require glazing.

I soon decided to start experimenting with the surface texture. The manufactured surfaces I tried had a very distinct uniform pattern and I wanted something more random.

"Where the Spirits Dwell" is on illustration board with tissue paper and gesso. This gave me a much more random textured surface.

2009 brought still more experimentation.

"Headwaters" was done on a sanded paper from UART. It comes in different grits and is made for use with pastels. It has been my experience that any paper that is good for pastels is also good for colored pencils.

"The South Forty" is on a very smooth light yellow paper called Pastelmat from France. Though it was smooth it seemed to take allot of layers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Plein Air Journey ~ Season Four & Five

2006 and 2007 mark a turning point in my plain air journey. I started out the 2006 season with the fluid acrylics on canvas as I had in the 2005 season but while I was at a retreat in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge I had an "Aha moment" and decided I would combine fluid acrylic with colored pencil.

I randomly brushed gesso onto some museum boards and then applied fluid acrylic in a equally indiscriminate fashion. This gave me a totally haphazaed surface as a "start" for my landscapes.

"Airley Vineyard" is one of my first successful attempts on this surface. The texture and color on the surface made it hard to do a lot of intricate detail thus forcing me to work faster and think more about shapes. (approximately 8X11~ private collection)

This becomes even more apparent in " Under The Vines". I used the technique of negative painting to create the leaf shapes. Original is 8" X 10" for sale ~ $300.00 framed. Custom size prints of this painting are available at Imagekind.

"Yin Yang" is a small 5 X 13 inch painting but it was a major breakthrough in my artistic journey. I was in a private garden and was inspired by the small clover like plants that were growing in a small pond. I worked on the painting and I remember thinking little about the placement of the plants and I did not intend to include the fish swimming among them. As the painting process progressed however the fish just seemed to manifest in the colored background. Viewed from a distance the painting reminded me of the Chinese Yin Yang symbol, thus the title. This painting is in my collection and I do not intend to part with it (one of my Hubby's personal favorites) but custom size prints are available at Imagekind.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Plein Air Journey ~ Season Three

Season three I decided to change my approach and try something different. I had some fluid acrylic paints from a workshop I had attended and decided I would give them a try. I proceeded to buy ALL the colors Golden paint had to offer and a fancy but inexpensive French type easel to boot.

My fist attempts were soon painted over but I did manage a few somewhat successful paintings.

"Farmers Market" was one of my first successes on a 12 X 24 inch wrapped canvas. It was painted in the studio from sketches done on location.

"Walk With Me" was painted on location but with great frustration on my part. It was a very hot day. The paint would dry almost before I could apply it to the canvas. It is also a 12 x 24 inch wrapped canvas.

"Blue Drifting Dreamily" is one I consider to be the most successful of that season. It was one of those rare occasions when as an artist you need only get out of the way of the process, for the painting moves through you and out onto the canvas. I worked with very watered down paint that day, so wet that I was a bit concerned the canvas might warp. Thank goodness no one was painting too close to me because I would apply paint and then rotate the canvas, sometimes flinging it to move the paint around the way I wanted. It is on a 8 X 24 inch wrapped canvas and hangs in my family room where I can enjoy it every day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Plein Air Journey ~ Season One and Two

I became interested in plein air painting many years ago and I spend a great deal of time during the summer months painting plein air (outside on location). My objective is to create a painting in a few hours capturing the mood or light on the given subject in natural light. I am not a purest, I do not think the entire painting need be finished on location but I do think my personal work is fresher if I can capture most of the subject in one setting. The seasons I've spent plain air painting are beginning to run together but I believe I began in the summer of 2003. I thought it might be fun to document my journey visually beginning with that summer.

Back in the late summer of 2003, I remember setting in a peach orchard. I could hear the thump of ripe peaches falling from the trees around me. It was hot, most likely August. This was my first season out painting and I was not very efficient or prepared. Prior to that summer I had been working almost exclusively with colored pencils. I knew that I could not complete a piece in a small amount of time using only colored pencils so I decided to combine water soluble colored pencils with dry ones. The group I paint with starts at around 9:00 a.m. and paints till around noon when we stop and gather for a critique of our work and eat our lunch. I remember having just a faint sketch done by noon and very little color on my piece. I started out using a half sheet of water color paper. The painting was enormous for the technique I was using!

I struggled through 2003 and 2004 trying to complete a painting in a few hours time. Heck, I would have been pleased to have one half done by noon!

"Just Peachy" and "A Gray Morn" are the result of those first few seasons. Both are rather large, about 14 X 20 inches and both are on hot press water color paper with water soluble colored pencils and dry pencils.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

YOU Are The First Filter

As artists we tend to have an emotional connection with each painting we work on. Something inspired us to paint the subject in the first place. As we work through the process of creating we reach a point when we must decide if it is finished. When that time comes is different for each of us. I like to live with a painting for a few days or weeks before I decide it is finished. I may "tweak" it a bit and then reassess. My final decision is based upon one question. Do I like it? If the answer is yes, it is finished, simple as that. If the answer is no, one of two things needs to happen. I must continue to adjust it or, I need to abandon it and move on. Sometimes making the decision to move on is not an easy one.

A few weeks ago I was out paining along the Willamette River. I was motivated by the river and it's bends and the way the light reflected off the water and banks. I especially liked the light on the cliffs. There was a tree at the top of the cliff that was bent over, barley hanging onto it's precarious perch. This intrigued me. I have worked on this painting, tweaked it, worked on it more and have finally come to the conclusion it is never going to be one of my better paintings.  I didn't capture the feeling that originally inspired me. I have fussed with it, adjusted the color, worked it over again and again. I just don't "like it".  I'll put a layer of gesso over it and hope the next painting turns out more to my liking.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Landscape Painting Workshop at Bald Hill Farm

Bald Hill Farm is the site of the 2nd western settler to the Corvallis area, Johnson Mulkey. The farm is 587-acres of strategically located open space and to help sustain the rural character of the Willamette Valley Greenbelt Land Trust is raising money to purchase the property. The goal is to raise $2 million in community contributions and private foundations to protect the farm adjacent to Bald Hill Natural Area, where public trails combine with cows, endangered wildlife and plants find refuge, and children come to learn about the natural world. This is an urban Farm that supports local food production, ecological restoration, recreation and education. There is nothing else like it.

To help in this efforts I was asked to lead a plein air workshop at the farm. It was a beautiful spring morning with a slight overcast so it was not too hot. I met about a dozen artists at the farm and gave a quick talk about how I approach an outdoor subject and then we dispersed for a morning of painting. I had a few people watch as I worked on my piece and we talked about the choices I was making and the birds and animals we spotted. At one point a flock of wild turkeys crested the hill top and we watched the tom's strut their stuff for the hens. Around mid morning a flock of sheep also appeared from over the hill and took refuge under the shade of a huge White Oak tree in the pasture. At noon we ate our lunch and shared the paintings started that morning as well as work the Greenbelt Land Trust was doing to preserve this magical place.

The top picture is my painting from that morning. I was far from finished with it, in fact one of the last things I did before lunch was to remove a tree I had placed smack dab in the center of my canvas! The only thing that remained was the top and it became the tree to the left of the barn. I placed the painting in my living room where I could study it for a while and decide what to do to finish it.

After looking at the painting for a few days I decided the pasture was too boring, and needed something to give it some intrust. I thought about adding some wild flowers and then remembered the sheep that morning at the farm. I live in the country and my next door neighbor has some sheep. One escaped through the fence and was happily munching grass in my pasture. Instead of running out to chase the beast from my grass I decided to grab my pencils and start sketching him into my painting. He was quite accommodating, first posing one way and then another till I had a whole flock of sheep grazing on the grasses in my painting.

The second picture is my final painting. I like it so it must be finished! I will be donating this to the Greenbelt Land Trust and they will auction it off as part of their fundraising. I am honored to be part of preserving this special place.

"Urban Farmland" 12" X 12" X 2"
For Sale Through The Greenbelt Land Trust auction

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sometimes You Get a Keeper, Sometimes You Don't

I was out painting today and I'm not at all happy with this one. There are a few things that are working for me but overall I just don't like it. I'll let it sit a bit and see if I can salvage anything. If not I'll clean the surface and do another.

Sometimes things work out and other times they don't. Clint Brown once compared painting outside to going fishing: "Sometimes you get a keeper, sometimes you don't".

Last week I was in the middle of the Willamette Valley painting and I got a "keeper".

"Almost Home" 12 X 12 X 2 inch $440.00

Monday, June 13, 2011

Plein Air Time at Last!

It's finally spring weather outside and that means going outside to paint! Plein air painting season is in full swing, not to say any season can't  be plain air but I am one of those fair weather plain air painters. I like the weather to be just right, not too hot, not too cold and defiantly NOT raining.

I have been experimenting with my technique this year. I start with a pre-made wrapped wood panel and then add my rice paper or tissue paper gesso sandwich technique to create a random textured surface.

Next I do a watercolor wash or value study in watercolor onto the surface and then apply my colored pencils. Usually I start with Prismacolor Art Stixs and then may add regular pencils since the stix colors are somewhat limited. Sometimes I use Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Water Soluable Pastels.

I was at a local nursery a few weeks ago and did this small piece primarily with the pastels, dry without wetting them. I liked the old twisted willow tree that greats guests as you enter the nursery and have long wanted to do a painting of it so, here it is! 

I then spray the piece with a fixative and then a few light coats of UV protective varnish to seal it and it is ready to hang on your wall or stand it on the shelf!

"Old Twisted Willow" 8 X 10 X 1 inches $160.00

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Pair of Spotted Towhee

I was setting at my computer this morning catching up on my emails when I heard a whack on the window. Oh no, I thought, a bird has flown into my window. I got up to investigate fearing the worst. To my delight the poor thing was setting upright, only dazed.

I then noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. It was another bird like the one lying on my deck. This one must have noticed my movement for it soon flew away.

I waited a few minutes and decided the dazed bird would recover so went to refill my cup. Out my kitchen window I noticed the second bird had perched in a nearby tree and seemed to be watching the dazed bird. I slowly walked back to the window where I could see the dazed bird, just to be sure it was still there. Indeed the dazed bird sat on my deck recovering from its bought with the window and perched in the tree was what surely must be it's mate.

The mate sat in the tree, watching.  It seemed to me to be talking, coaxing, reassuring it's mate. It stayed near for quite some time till the dazed bird recovered and started hoping about. Then the bird in the tree flew down to the deck and joined it's mate and soon they flew away together.

I take things like this that happen to me quite seriously. I do not believe in chance, I believe things happen for a reason. What is the reason for my experience this morning? Is it to show me the compassion the two birds had for one another?  Do I have a need for more compassion in my life? I don't know what the "Universe" is trying to tell me, I do know it will come to light sometime in the future if I am ready and willing to see it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Don't Be Afraid To Start Again

When I start a piece I have a mental vision of how the final image will look. I don't always follow my final vision. Sometimes I go with what the piece needs as I work and follow where it leads me. Not so in the case of the "Butterfly Ball".

My posting on February 9th talks about my plan. I worked on the piece till I got about 1/4 done. I did not like the way things were working. I wanted the butterflies to have more detail and in such a small space (8"X8") it was tough going so, I decided to start over!  Hard choice when you have hours invested in a piece.

The second time around I felt much better about how the butterflies were looking. I think the first start helped me understand how they needed to fit together. I used a lighter touch and built the layers up slower the second time.

I would only be able to work for a little less than an hour at a time and then take a break. My eyes would start to get fatigued from trying to figure out what was what on all those butterfly body parts.

Perseverance prevailed and I am quite happy with the final piece.

Colored Pencil

8" x 8"

"Fly Ball"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Teaching and Loving It

Yesterday I traveled north to Wilsonville for the Colored Pencil Society of America Portland District Chapter meeting.

Last week I was in Albany with the Coast to the Cascades Society of Decorative Painters.

Have I mentioned I love to teach! What a great time I had with both groups sharing some techniques with colored pencils.

The "Coast to the Cascades" group worked on some color theory and blending techniques then produced some beautiful cards from the new-found knowledge they gained.

The "Colored Pencil District 201" bunch worked on the color green producing some beautiful green hues by blending.

More importantly, everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time enjoying a few hours of creative retreat from the wows of the world outside.

Art is very therapeutic!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oh my, I have been super busy!

First off I would like to announce the long awaited launch of my new web site KRISMITCHELL.COM

I have been working since last fall trying to get everything together to get my site up and running and finally all the pieces have fallen into place thanks to a friend pointing me to a super easy WYSIWYG software program and a handsome techie guy to get my site onto the server.

Please stop by and look around and I do hope you enjoy your visit.

I have been working on my "Butterfly Ball" painting and hope to post updates soon. It got off to a rocky start and I ended up starting over but I'll save the details for when I get the posts done.

Next month is the Colored Pencil Society of America Portland District Chapter Show. It is in Corvallis at Oregon State University LaSells Stewart Center from April 1st to May 1st. I will have four pieces in along with another 130 or so from colored pencil artists around the state. Should be a very good show so if you are in the area or traveling through do treat yourself to some eye candy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Butterfly Ball step 1

My newest colored pencil painting is a ball of Peacock butterflies!

Peacock butterflies are named after the large eye-like patterns on their wings, which are similar to the magnificent patterns on peacock tails. The peacock (bird) is unmistakable thanks to the “eyes” that are visible when the male bird displays its tail as part of its mating display. The peacock butterfly is similarly unmistakable, although the “eyes” have a different function, namely to frighten off predators when the butterfly opens its wings.

Peacock butterflies are a much-loved and welcome sight in Britain, when over-wintering adults emerge from hibernation in February and March. They are immediately recognizable due to their vibrant red wings, punctuated by four unmistakable false 'eyes', positioned in the corner of each wing.

The Peacock butterfly lives a relatively long life, up to one year. During the winter, Peacock butterflies hibernate in large groups. They can create a hissing sound by rubbing their wings together if disturbed or bothered.

I have just started the paining and the faint outline of the ball is hard to see. The piece is rather small, only 8" x 8".  I am using the Strathmore marbleized paper I like so well.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Loreena Mckennitt

McKennitt's music has generally been classified as World / Celtic music even though it contains aspects and characteristics of music from around the globe and is sometimes classified as Folk music in record stores.
Before McKennitt composes any music, she engages in considerable research on a specific subject which then forms the general concept of the album. Before creating Elemental and Parallel Dreams, she traveled to Ireland where she was born, for inspiration from the country's history, folklore, geography and culture. The album The Mask and Mirror was preceded by research in Spain where she engaged in studying Galicia, a Celtic section of Spain, along with its abundant Arabic roots. The result was an album that included elements of Celtic and Arabic music. According to the jacket notes, her album An Ancient Muse was inspired by travels among and reading about the various cultures along the Silk Road.

It is this mix of world cultures in her music that I love and why I decided to add her music to my blog. We are all on this beautiful blue planet we call Earth together. I hope you enjoy her music as much as I do.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Humungus Fungus!

I have finished the "Turkey Tail Fungus" painting. In the final steps I worked to blend the edges of the painting into the surrounding background and make them interesting. It is important to keep the principles of design in mind and  move the viewers eyes around the painting slowly and allow them to discover the detail.

I think I will call it "Humungus Fungus". Did you know there is a Humungus Fungus Fest that takes place in August each year in the small town of Crystal Falls, Michigan. Several years ago a "humungus fungus" (a GIGANTIC mushroom) was discovered in the Crystal Falls area. It weighs roughly 11 tons and covers 37 acres. This makes it the largest mushroom (fungus) in the world. Based on the average rate of growth through the soil, the Humungus Fungus is probably more than 1,500 years old - imagine that!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Turkey Tail Fungus" Next Step

I have now finished the lower left corner. My original intent was to matte the piece along the sides where I stopped with the colored pencil.  I have changed my mind and have decided to extend the painting into the border region and let it vignette. (An unbordered picture, often a portrait, that shades off into the surrounding color at the edges.)

As you can see I have started working on softening the border.  It is important to stand back at this point and take a look at your work. It is okay to change direction or deviate from your original purpose or intent if that is what the painting needs. Be brave!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Accepted into CPSA Explore This 7 Show!

I just received word that my painting titled "Yin Yang" was accepted into the Colored Pencil Society of America's Explore This 7 Show! The show is an on line juried show and will be up starting Febuary 1st on the CPSA site. This show requires 60% colored pencil and some other type of medium as opposed to the 100% colored pencil show. "Yin Yang" was done with gesso and acrylic paint with colored pencil on top.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Turkey Tail Fungus" update

My "Turkey Tail Fungus" painting is progressing. I have only the lower left corner to complete. I am a bit stuck at this point in the painting. I'm not quite sure how to proceed. The forms in the lower left corner are darker like the one in the upper left. If I make them dark I am afraid the painting will be heavy on the left side. At this point I am going to think about the overall painting and work at making the composition tie together.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to work!

After the holiday season and a much needed rest it is time once again to get back to work. I am so fortunate that work is also play for me. I get to work with many talented artists in my teaching job. My students drive me to work harder at my own art. Working with them and watching them develop as artists is such a joy to me. I have said may times that I learn as much, or more, from them than I feel they learn from me.

This time last year I was in quite a slump. A "Dead Working Period". No drive, desire or motivation. This time of year it is hard to stay motivated. The short days and lack of natural light. The studio is the only practical space to work due to the weather. All these factors combine and make it hard to get inspired. This year is different. This year I cannot find enough time to work on the many things I have planned in my mind. So much to do , so little time! What a difference a year makes.

Happy creating!