Friday, October 28, 2011

"Autumn Canal" (oil on linen; 12" x 12")

"Autumn Canal" blocked in

"Autumn Canal" almost finished

Today a group of friends, now called the Art League Plein Air Painters, went to Widewater along the C & O Canal, just north of Washington, DC. It was a chilly day, but the light could not have been better. In one more week, most leaves would be gone.  Fall colors were absolutely breathtaking.  I walked around along the canal and down to the Potomac River, taking pictures.  Wow!  I was in a painters' heaven.

Remembering how cold it got last Friday when I painted outside, I was better prepared today with woolen socks, boots, leather gloves, and a warm hat.  Even so, my toes and little fingers became numb after a while.  As I am determined to paint some snow scenes this winter, I'd better get a serious winter gear.

After a few hours of painting, we all walked over to the historic Old Angler's Inn for lunch to celebrate the launch of our new group.  We are going to design the "official" hat, have a group show at a gallery, and do lots of fun things in the future.  When several students of Sara Linda Poly started painting outside of her class last year, we had no idea where it would lead.  Another group out of The Art League organized a plein air painting group this summer.  What we did was to combine the two groups.  As they say, if you build it, they will come.  For us, if you start painting together, more people will join us.  We are thrilled.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Autumn Woods" (oil on linen; 12" x 9") sold


Reference photo

I went to paint on the grounds of Madeira School in McLean, VA last Friday.  Before leaving the school, a friend of mine and I decided to take a walk to Black Pond within the grounds, most of  the 376 acres of land is wooded.  We got hopeless lost and ended up back at the parking lot!  The walk itself was lovely, though, as the sun had finally come out, casting dappled light on the path, grass, and trees.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I must say. 

I painted "Autumn Woods" in Bobbi Pratte's landscape class yesterday.  This term's focus so far has been trees.  I've noticed that you just cannot get away from trees if you are interested in landscapes.  Whether they are the center of interest or serve only as a backdrop, trees pop up in so many of my landscape paintings.  It will take many years of serious contemplation and practice, I think, to become truly at ease when it comes to painting trees.  Let the fun begin!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Katie" (conte crayon on newsprint; 18" x 14")

This fall I have been taking a figure drawing class with Lisa Semerad at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA as part of my figure/portrait self-education program.  Although I pompously said "self-education," there is no substitute for good teachers, books, and models, when it comes down to learning to draw and paint figure/portrait.  So I should have said "self-guided".  My apologies.

Today was the fourth week, with the focus on the head and torso.  The model arrived a little late; then about five minutes into posing, she passed out!  Lisa, an experienced teacher, took it in strides for this sort of thing happens in figure drawing classes once in a while, as tired models rush from one job to another, sometimes with an empty stomach.  The poor model was later struck (gently) by an overhead clamp light, too!  It's fortunate that it was not Friday the 13th, only Thursday the 13th.  I am grateful for the models who pose for really modest monetary compensations.

The above drawings were all ten-minute poses, no time to develop facial features or hands.  The top one was the second of the series and is my favorite.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Autumn Day at the Bay" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") sold


Lately the Washingtonians have been basking in a gorgeous weather day after day, as the Mother Nature is trying to make amends after earthquakes, torrential rains, and flash floods of past several weeks.  Which means--I MUST GO OUTSIDE TO PAINT!  So a couple of friends and I made an plein-air-painting outing to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Friday. 

This haven for migrating birds, nature lovers, and other creatures that reside in grasslands and marshes is located 20 miles south of Washington, DC, at the confluence of the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers, just half a mile off the hustle and bustle of the busy traffic on Jefferson Davis Highway (US Highway 1). 

None of us have been there, so didn't realize how much we had to walk lugging our painting gear.  Sure, along the way, we took lots of pictures of other scenic spots.  But when we saw the above view, our jaws dropped.  Lots of Canada geese were resting in the water.  We also spotted egrets and herons.  There were no clouds in the sky.  No bugs, no pestering onlookers,  just an occasional gentle breeze to cool down our brows.  Tranquility reigned.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"By the River" (oil on linen; 11" x 14") sold


Last month was probably the wettest September ever!  Day after day, week after week, we were drenched.  Good for the lawn, but bad for the morale.  It felt like I moved to Seattle, WA.  So when the forecast promised a break of one sunny day, a friend of mine and I arranged a small paintout and kept our fingers crossed.  Last Friday finally arrived, and boy, we were lucky!  Just for several hours in the morning, it was a beautiful, autumn day.  Then, by the time we packed up, the clouds rolled in; the rest of the weekend was the usual washout.

We went to a place called Widewater along the historic C & O Canal along the Potomac River.  We could have painted the canal itself, but nearby we saw this spectacular view from a small sandy beach.  We were on the Maryland side, looking out the Virginian bank of the river.  Look at those magnificent rocks!  Yes, the river was muddy thanks to all the rain, but we could still see colors of the rocks and trees reflected in the water.  Goody!  I painted fearlessly, not worrying about getting all the cracks and trees right.  Who cares?  We were just glad to be out there.