Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lake Travis Peninsula

Lake Travis Peninsula, 9 x 12

Today in Calvin's workshop, we met at The Oasis, an Austin restaurant on Lake Travis. The Oasis is huge, with many levels of decks that overlook a western view of the lake, making it a perfect place to view the sunset. We weren't there for sunset, but this morning we captured this view of a peninsula that juts out into the lake.

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Color

Fall Color, 9 x 12

Last week, my friend Laurel Daniel and I went out to McKinney Falls here in Austin to paint. Fall is finally showing up here, and I took the opportunity to paint some of the color.

Calvin Liang's workshop met today at Highland Lakes Marina on Lake Travis. I didn't get home in time to get a photo and post from today, but will hope to catch up tomorrow.

-julie davis

Monday, October 25, 2010

Anderson Mill Study

Anderson Mill Study, 12 x 9

Working on 5 hours of sleep, today I started a plein air workshop here in Austin with Calvin Liang. Having spent an unplanned TEN hours in the San Francisco airport Sunday due to weather delays, and getting to bed at 1 a.m. Monday morning, I was not as prepared as I had planned for the morning, and inconveniently left my tripod behind. I did retrieve it, but missed some valuable demo time!

Today we painted at the site of a replica of the Anderson Mill, a mill apparently used during the Civil War. It's a lovely subject to paint, and Calvin's demo was a joy to watch--following his painting with my own of the same subject was kind of a bummer! I like some aspects of this, but when I do a larger one in the studio I'll make some adjustments to the wall in the foreground--indicate more water, or include less of the wall....don't know yet. It was a great day, and I'm looking forward to the remainder of the week. Thanks to Qiang Huang for getting Calvin to Austin!

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Field Guides

Field Guides, 9 x 12

These trees are down in a valley in Ashland, Oregon below Weisinger's Winery. Every time I'm there I am so drawn to them, and how they're beautifully backlit by the sun. I'm hoping to do this one larger and work on the composition to some extent, but I really enjoyed this one.

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Bougainvillea, 8 x 6

Last Thursday, Plein Air Austin met at a local favorite Tex/Mex restaurant on Lake Travis to paint. The spot is known as The Oasis, and has tons of small vignettes to paint within the courtyard of the restaurant. After a wipedown of a larger scene, I settled on this bougainvillea in a pot--did a fast study and was out of there--for Austin, it was chilly, and in my shady spot, I was quite cold! I think it was something like 59 degrees. :) Now you know what a tough girl I am.

-julie davis

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Fields

Fall Fields, 9 x 12

This is the foreground exercise that I feel like I relied too heavily on my palette knife. The muted colors make it work, but I think the texture that the knife adds begins to lose its effect if it's everywhere. I definitely like it as a tool in creating an interesting foreground, though.

-julie davis

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Distant Farm

Distant Farm, 9 x 12

Part of the fun of working on foregrounds is getting to play in the paint near the bottom of the painting. A little thicker paint, a little looser palette knife work....

-julie davis

Friday, October 15, 2010

Field of Hay

Field of Hay, 9 x 12
donation to Vanguard School, Waco, Texas

As promised, here is another piece in which I gave myself a higher horizon line in order to force myself to develop the foreground. It may be obvious, but to convey depth, it's necessary to vary the colors--and often values--as the ground plane recedes. Not simply a constant lightening of the ground plane as it recedes, but a variation back and forth within the context of a general increase in value with distance.

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Sunblock, 6 x 8

This backlit tree and field is the first of a few paintings I've done lately in which I'm experimenting with textures and temperatures in foreground. It's something I'm finally growing into studying, if that makes any sense at all, and I'm often captivated by how other painters handle foregrounds in paintings. This is a teeny, tiny bit of foreground, but I figured I'd start small. :) I wasn't focused as much on composition, and I can tell it, but I had fun with my brush and palette knife in this one, and have found myself using my palette knife--perhaps relying on it? a little more--in the ones I'll post in the coming days.

-julie davis

Monday, October 11, 2010

California Road

California Road, 16 x 12

Again, working "larger." For me and many, time is the enemy when I paint. It's pretty easy to wedge an hour of painting time in every day--mostly. But fitting three to four hours of pure painting time is less so; it's usually a once a week occurrence at most. And more than four right now--forget it! That said, this is a 3 1/2 hour attempt from a 6 x 8 I've "grown up" to a 16 x 12 for my show. My post from October 1 is the smaller version.

-julie davis

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Morning Light

Morning Light, 12 x 16

Austin was hopping this weekend with the ACL (Austin City Limits) Music Festival. The weather was unbelievable --it just couldn't be better here right now. Perfect for plein air painting, too. :) This piece is a larger version of the painting I posted on September 21. I'm creating some larger works for a show I'll be a part of at Wendow in Austin starting December 1.

-julie davis

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hill Country View

Hill Country View, 9 x 12

I always love a vista as subject matter in a painting, but I don't find I enjoy actually painting them as much. This is probably because I get a huge kick out of expressing trees in paint, and in a vista, there just isn't much to a tree....

This is the color version of yesterday's post. I admit, this feels like I missed it on the values, which I kind of suspected after doing my value study, but forged ahead anyway. Now I know.

-julie davis

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Value Study - Hill Country Fields

Value Study - Hill Country Fields, 6 x 8

Another quick value study--when I say quick, I mean 20 minutes--not something I take a ton of time doing. I guess it's almost like a sketch in my sketchbook. I'm still finding it shows me whether I have a viable/striking painting idea, and if so, if/where I need to push anything lighter or darker in value. I don't see doing this every time I paint now, but it's teaching me some things and preventing some mistakes, and doesn't take much time at all.

-julie davis

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Out to Pasture

Out to Pasture, 12 x 16

Here is the color version of yesterday's post. I used a little larger panel than I normally do, which is a time challenge for me, since my painting and all-things-painting-related time is typically 2-3 hours at a time on the days I get to paint. I also paint alla prima, so it's finished when time is up! It keeps me from fussing around too much and helps when I'm painting outside because I'm accustomed to making painting decisions quickly. This one and "Hay Bales" will soon be heading west to Sedona for a stay at Windrush Gallery before hopefully finding homes.

-julie davis

Monday, October 4, 2010

Value Study - Out to Pasture

Value Study - Out to Pasture, 6 x 8

I'm still doing a value study every now and then before I launch into a larger full-color version of a painting. Until I see that I'm really nailing the values instinctively in these I think it's a good exercise for me. It's not only a good warm-up, but ensures I stay loose and draft a good composition as well. This one appears more sepia-toned because I took the photo inside tonight--it had gotten too dark outside by the time I got around to taking it.

-julie davis

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ocean Overlook

Ocean Overlook, 6 x 8
donation, Trinity Valley School, Ft. Worth, TX

In Frank Serrano's workshop at Weekend with the Masters, we painted on an overlook above Doheny State Beach, where a surfing competition was taking place. First lesson, simplify what you see.....therefore you see no surfers here. :) Frank Serrano is a fine painter and a relaxed teacher, and made the most of our day, keeping those of us who could stay later than required for an extra demo.

Judging the mass of color for the distant hills was much of our lesson in the morning. His demo was of this scene as well. He stressed constantly comparing colors and values--squinting to see the average color of each mass, opening your eyes to compare values. Getting the proper relationships between the three rows of hills wasn't as easy as it he made it look, but I think I got close.

-julie davis

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guardians of the Road

Guardians of the Road, 8 x 6

Every time I go to California, I fall in love with its trees. I think these tall ones are eucalyptus--someone correct me if I'm wrong. Majestic and bathed in warm California sun....

-julie davis