I created this series of clouds to bring peace and a sense of hope. We all need a little hope right now. It is crazy out there. A few weeks ago we were just worried about the novel coronavirus. Who knew those would turn out to be simpler times .
Well, let’s forget about that for a minute and talk about art. The clouds are starting to pull my interest away from all the waves I have been painting. It is too hard to paint waves from photo references alone. I need to be at the beach and seeing the water turn into waves and roll towards me. Actually, it’s more than that. I need to be irritated by noisy gulls, hot sun or overcast skies. Anything except air conditioned, well lit rooms.
The problem with painting inside is it doesn’t help with a sense of urgency. Fear of getting sunburned, or sand in my iPad are real things I have to contend with and it makes me work harder! Well, for me, that is a ways off since I am still recovering from damaged lungs due to painting in oil. I can almost walk two blocks. Yeah, it IS going to be quite a while.
So, I am looking up and up and up. Clouds don’t care if you are quarantined, they are still there. They are accessible and challenging to paint. Right now, I am painting them digitally. Later I will explore acrylics and gouache. I really do like painting digitally because I can carry a whole studio in my iPad Pro.
If you can, take a hike and cloud search. Pay attention to the subtle color changes and see if it connects you a little more to the present. That is what it does for me. My cloud paintings are now available in my shop with some of them also available as prints and some smaller sizes too.
It is true, this is one of the last oil paintings I have because I no longer paint in oils.
I loved painting in oils. The gooey, squishiness and luminosity were the things I loved most about it. The things i didn’t like was how hard it was on my lungs.
In order to get the effects I liked, I tried a lot of different mediums to increase the transparency, build texture or build glazes. Unfortunately, oil paints didn’t like me. Slowly, over time it became harder and harder for me to breathe. So I modified my set up, painting indoors for 3 hours max, then 2 hours, then one hour with the windows open and a fan going on high. Nope, my chest just tightened up again and again.
Finally, I tried only painting outdoors. At times, a hysterical sight: long johns, jeans, sweatpants, double socks and ugg boots and that was just the bottom half! That way I could paint outside on the side of the house at night, with a strong cross breeze going. Sometimes, there was no breeze and then my lungs would close up. Boo.
So, I made the ultimate sacrifice and gave all of my oils, cold wax and various potions to a friend in February. I knew if I didn’t, I would sneak out and use them again. So goodbye oil. Goodbye to teaching in oils too. I can’t even be around them, the wicked things. Copd is a rare condition but I developed it. Georgia O’Keefe had the same problem and had to lay off painting for a year. That is impossible for me. A year? Nope!
Art about Agriculture
Here is a painting of where I live. I live in the tiny city of Fillmore, population 37,000. We are know for our avocados, oranges, lemons, limes, honey, antiques, bread, trains and small town feel. Films are shot here all the time because we are so darn cute. So when there was a competition for Art and Agriculture at the Santa Paula Art Museum, I had a lot of places to choose from. I decided to paint my first impression of Fillmore, how I saw it driving by before I moved here.
Paint what you know
So I did. I started with a warm wash of burnt sienna as a sketch. That way it unifies the colors and imparts a warm glow. Painting fruit trees in a simplified manner with rim lighting is what I chose to do. I did three plein air studies of the fruit trees at a friend’s farm to get the grouping and mountains right. Plein air is when you take a small easel and paints out and paint on location. A tradition started with the Impressionists. Before that, artists would do sketches of trees they had seen or remembered and then paint them in their dark studios. It is really quite amazing seeing the Traditionalists, next to the Impressionists, it is really something to see.
Painting on linen is a luxury for me and I will have to do it more often because it is a lovely, pleasing texture. This painting was in the last fully run show at the Santa Paula Art Museum before the coronavirus hit. Aw, how young we were back then! This painting comes framed in an Italian dark wooden frame with gilt edging. The story of the painting is on the back with a certificate of authenticity as well. I enjoy this painting but it is all ready to go to a new home and I hope it will be yours.
This painting was chosen for the 12th Annual Art About Agriculture show pamphlet at the Santa Paula Art Museum, in Santa Paula California. I wish someone had told me my painting would be the cover art because I almost fainted when I came to the reception. I get a little keyed up about showing. Anyways, thanks for stopping by and ask me anything about painting and I will happily answer you.