Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tree Study 7

Tree Study 7, 7 x 5 in.

I think sometimes that I'm a little off.....I enjoy these small tree studies so much. Perhaps I should paint an orchard--ha. Here, I focused on loosening up the edges more than usual, and working with the trunks last--applying them on top of the tree's form rather than exclusively underneath. Still thinking about active and passive sides.

-julie davis

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tree Study 6

Tree Study 6, 6 x 8 in.

Another in the tree study series.... Scott Christensen consistently reiterated variety of line in a composition. No matter the line--horizon line, a stand of trees, the top of a mountain, the edge of a creek, even variety of line in the grasses or shadows of the ground plane. This plays into the active/passive side of individual trees as well.

-julie davis

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tree Study 6

Tree Study 6, 8 x 6 in.

It may seem redundant to do the same subject over and over, but trees are something I adore painting, and their importance in a landscape cannot be underestimated. Any new manner of approaching them that I come across, I want to play with it until it becomes second nature. In addition to the active/passive side I've written about, Scott stressed the importance of the core of the tree being the darkest, and painting toward the core as you address the shadow and light aspects of the tree.

I'm not sure I subordinated one side of the tree here as successfully as I could have, but these studies are learning vehicles for me as much as anything--so go easy on me as I try to absorb and incorporate it all! :)

-julie davis

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

more tree studies / panel comparisons

Wind River alkyd primed linen, 6 x 8 in.

RayMar oil primed linen, 6 x 8 in.

Several of you wrote and asked which panel (cotton or linen) I preferred from my last post. First, as you know, there are so many variables, and you should really test them out yourself--your personal style and materials will affect your opinion. With the medium I use (refined linseed oil), the brushes (natural hog bristle or bristle blend, mostly filberts), and my paints (generally Gamblin), at first I really liked the way the paint glided across the linen panel, while I noticed the cotton really grabbed the paint. And I always love the way linen looks as a finished product. But, I also love to apply a thicker paint--often with my palette knife, and I felt the cotton held the paint better for that. So, I'm still experimenting, and like them both, perhaps for slightly different approaches.

That said, today I tried two linen panels--the same Wind River 359 alkyd primed linen that Scott Christensen uses and that I tried in my last post, and the RayMar Claessen's double (oil) primed linen that I've used before on occasion. What I noticed today was that the alkyd primed had a little more tooth than the double oil primed (as billed), and I did like that. So, I should try the single (oil ) primed for the sake of completeness--it would not be as smooth and may be a better apples-to-apples comparison. I know both of these companies sell a variety or sample pack, for just this type of experimentation.

-julie davis

Sunday, July 24, 2011

active/passive side tree studies

"active" side - shadow side

"active" side - light side

One of the many points Scott made in his workshop was that when painting trees, always subordinate one side of the tree. Obviously, in ideal light, a tree will have a light side and a shadow side. And clearly, the way an artist handles the point at which these masses meet is vital. I think an equally valuable point, which Scott made again and again, is that a tree should have an "active" side and a "passive" side. I believe that some trees are more naturally inclined to reveal which side to subordinate:), but that's where the artist comes in. The eye loves variety, and this applies to trees as well.

In these two ten-minute studies, I was doing two things:
1. Testing panels : the first is a Wind River Arts linen, and the second is a RayMar cotton...
2. Subordinating a particular side in each. In the first, it was the light side that I played down in order to play up the shadow side. I attempted the opposite in the second study. I pretty much did these simultaneously, so that I could focus on both objectives at once.

-julie davis

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Workshop friends

July workshop participants

Finally, I'm home! My husband and kids came up to Idaho for the last two days of the workshop, and we all stayed on in the Jackson area for a few more. Since then, we've been to visit my sister's family and their new baby, and we're home at last so I can post and paint.

Scott's studio sent this photo we took from the final day of the Intensive workshop. We all look like a bunch of happy painters--surprising that we were smiling after all we had been through.....:) Such abuse! Honestly, the positive takeaways will be soaking in for months, and I'm fortunate to have a super-supportive family that allowed me the time to attend!

-julie davis

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Study 5 and 7-Lessons in Speed

Study 5, 8 x 6 in.

Study 7, 8 x 6 in.

This morning I headed out to the last day of Scott Christensen's workshop, and it's been such a formative experience, I'm sad it's over. A couple of days ago, Scott had us go out on our own to paint three studies in as many hours (not including travel and set up time), which proved to be a challenging, but very productive exercise. When you're thoughtfully considering composition and value and attempting to not make a complete disaster out of your painting, an hour per study isn't much time. :)

The first of these images is the first study I did that day. The second is not posted (a "complete disaster"), as I painted it in my car in a desperate attempt to avoid the bloodsucking horseflies that filled the air..... The other is my third study--completed in 15 minutes, as I took too much time on the first two and managed my time poorly.

Lessons learned: Painting quickly is an excellent way to force fast decisions based on first impressions and to train your eye to make value judgements quickly. I really found that my quick studies could be more competent compositions than ones I could spend hours on--a valuable lesson for any plein air painter.

-julie davis

Friday, July 15, 2011

Study 4 and hazards of plein air painting

Study 4 "Before", 6 x 8 in.
Christensen Workshop

Tuesday evening after class, several of us went out to paint in an aspen grove--to study what we'd be painting the next day. I did two small studies--I was pretty happy with this one--a little foreshadowing. The next morning we were painting in the same spot, so I had it out for reference--on the ground behind me against my backpack--admittedly not the best spot! As I put the last mark--literally--on my morning study, I backed up to look at it, and yep.....stepped right in the center of my happy little study! :

"After," 6 x 8 in.

Needless to say, I spent the next forty-five minutes in repair mode! (Lesson: never get too happy with something because it can disappear in an instant!!) It did have a nice abstract quality to it....

-julie davis

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Study 3

Study 3, 6 x 8 in.

Oh the poor photography! This little study was the first I did yesterday, and I got the mountain plane value too dark--a combination of bright sun and inexperience painting mountains....

Today we spent the day indoors sketching and studying composition, while Scott did a demo in the afternoon. And did I mention it poured most of the day? By 4:00 though, it was sunny and cool, and several of us headed for an aspen grove to paint.

-julie davis

Monday, July 11, 2011

Study 2

Study 2, 8 x 6 in.

Yesterday we watched Scott do a large demo--actually, he worked on two large pieces, so we didn't paint until late--and on our own time. We'll just say that after two days of taking in information and trying to process it all, the painting I did was an odd combination of everything I'd been hearing mixed up and spat upon a canvas. I lost me in there somewhere, but thankfully, today I came back, having distilled some of what I'm learning.

This is the second study I did today--I would've posted them in chronological order, but this one was in front in my little stand and I'm hurrying to meet new friends for dinner! I'm loving these trees--all of them--the pines, the cottonwood, the aspens....but I love darks, and I had a ball with this.

You might check out Scott's studio blog, a thoughtfully written and full-of-good-insights weekly post called "Flow," written by one of Scott's right hands, Kathy--you'll see me painting. :)

-julie davis

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Workshop Sketches

Sketches from the workshop

Today was a pretty intense day of lecture and learning--no painting--but all worth it and valuable. We worked a good bit on composition--these are a couple from class and a couple I did after. Again, apologies for the odd photo angles and poor I look back if you look at the first sketch just the right way, the shaded mountain in the back resembles a wooden roller coaster....hmm......

-julie davis

Friday, July 8, 2011

Study 1

Study 1, 8 x 6 in.

After a long and necessary absence from blogging (end of school, family vacation), I'm happily attending Scott Christensen's July workshop in Idaho and posting again. Today was the first day of the workshop, and I'm taking it all in. We had a little time this afternoon to do a quick study and try out what we're learning. I've included a photograph of the view I chose. Sorry for the poor photo of my work--hotel room photography--have to find a better setup!

-julie davis