Cattle in November-Catherine

It’s November, and I’m back at Seawind Meadows, in Dennis.  Lucky to have a chance to paint Nicky enjoying a pumpkin breakfast this close! IMG_2548

I decided to focus on the cattle and not a full landscape today.

IMG_2544 IMG_2545 IMG_2556Focusing on only what was in front of me gave me a chance to have fun painting the cattle.  The stone wall and tree trunks were added at the beginning for color notes and composition.  I believe this study breaks the rules “two trees, two cattle odd numbers.. etc.. funny how that happens!!  Thank you!  Catherine

Longhorn cattle on Cape Cod -Catherine

This week I visited Seawind Meadows farm in Dennis and practiced painting longhorn cattle.

Seawind Meadows Dennis, Ma
Seawind Meadows Dennis, Ma

I first met Laura, who is a vender at the Orleans Farmers Market, for link click here.  Laura’s family farm is named Seawind Meadows, for link click here.

Seawind Meadows Dennis, Ma
Seawind Meadows Dennis, Ma

Here is my painting of Sileas!

Seawind Meadows Dennis, Ma
Sileas at Seawind Meadows -Catherine

The cattle were moving, but thanks to their curiosity, and the hay, they stayed close.  Fyi… still loving my Strada Easel and my ArtCocoon!!!  -Catherine

Strada Easel
Strada Easel and ArtCocoon

Plein air fever! Lake Champlain, Vt. -Catherine

My husband Philip is also the person who started me on my plein air journey…

On a trip traveling  through the beautiful state of Vermont, Philip and I stopped along Lake Champlain.  The view was amazing… Philip set up his easel and surprised me by setting up a pochade box on the picnic table for me.   He said “don’t over think it, just have fun!” (smile).

Before I knew it, Philip started patiently and methodically cleaning his palette, he was in his element, outdoors and calm.  In a short time, he had completed an amazing painting… Looking at my painting and looking at Philip’s, I didn’t feel intimidated, I felt exhausted, two hours had slipped by unnoticed… I was hooked. I wanted to learn everything I could about plein air painting.

I  love coming across that painting.   I will never rework or finish it.  Some paintings  like the one I painted that day are becoming my “travel journal” in oils.  That day in Vermont, we painted together for the first time, and we still are… and this week we will be celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary!

I’m glad I found the courage to paint that day and catch “plein air fever” from Philip! -Catherine

“Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently”.                                                          Maya Angelou

Out of the Archive Box! -Catherine

This year, one of my plein air painting goals is to try to work out of my “archive box” of unfinished paintings.  To be able to say “TA-DA!” (smile).  These paintings, for one reason or another, I brought home unfinished, they have potential… learning potential.

So, this year, before I revisit a plein air location, I riffle through my archive box of unfinished paintings, looking for one from the same location.  

As I spray the painting with retouch varnish I ask myself what I liked about the painting and how I might improve it.  I don’t concern myself with the weather or season changes… only to attempt to improve the painting.

Out of Archive Box came the Jonathan Young Windmill in Orleans.

Jonathan Young Windmill -Catherine
Jonathan Young Windmill
Jonathan Young Windmill -Catherine
Jonathan Young Windmill -Sept.,2014

Above is the painting I brought home September 2014.

Jonathan Young Windmill -Catherine
Jonathan Young Windmill -June, 2015

Here is the painting after I reworked it yesterday, June 2015.  It still might need work, but hopefully you’ll agree I improved it!

I find that being able to finish a painting in 2-3 hours outdoors is an amazing accomplishment.  Until I can get myself up to that speed, this practice is the next best thing!  -Catherine

 

Wow! That is some color

 

Blocking in
Blocking in

Those are the words that my daughter, Ashley, stated when I sent her this photo. “Wow, that is some color.”   It is nice to receive comments that can go either way!    This was an early morning paint with just Rikka, my German Shepherd, and me.  Catherine was busy becoming famous as a movie extra in a movie, so she couldn’t paint.:)

This morning was a combination of thinking about a former post in this blog about being bold and laying in color and of “you better get out and paint something”.   What I learned from this morning is that the choice of location matters.  It matters in the sense that I need to find something to paint that conveys something to me.   Hopefully, one day I will be able to convey the feeling that I get from the location onto the canvas.

This cranberry bog caught my eye early one morning as I sped by it in my car.     The morning of this painting I drove to  a couple of familiar sites close to my home, but the memory of this cranberry bog stuck with me and I drove out to it.  It was unfamiliar and I wasn’t sure about the parking, etc.

We (Rikka and I) had a wonderful experience attempting to capture the reds of the bog on a beautiful spring day.

Cranberry Bog off of Route 124
Cranberry Bog off of Route 124

 

 

Bumps along the way

What we (I) think is so fascinating in our painting journey and its creative process is the difference between beginning this creative endeavor, plein air oil painting, and other creative things that we have done in the past.  Take for example, knitting. When one  first learns to cast on and make a, oh, I don’t know, a square dish cloth, and the stitches are not even or the lines straight, no one said, “Uh, you really should not be a knitter.”  Or when we were first learning to cook, folks didn’t say, ” Ummm, cooking – really not your thing.”

It is different for some reason when you share a painting. I’m not sure if it is because of the museum type experience where art is to be critiqued  and judged at first glance either ” I like it or I don’t like it”, or if there is little leeway for “critics” to understand learning and improving as one goes on.

This has been my experience as a beginning painter, and one that I wasn’t really prepared for.  I think this is really important to understand if you take up oil painting.   Be prepared or prepare yourself for those words that could possibly temporarily derail  you in your oil painting journey.

We have found several things that work for us  to counteract the unintended or intended criticism of a beginning artist.   The first is laughter.   Really, really important.  Every time we go out,  Catherine and I usually have a good laugh at some aspect of our work:  either the easel falls over,   an aspect of the painting appears to be painted on by a deranged person ( how does that happen??) or  just  laughing at the pure joy of being able to be outside and believe that it is possible to capture some of the beauty around us.

Another technique that works for me is to find a painting buddy or another person who may not want to paint, but could go out and read, or knit! with you.   The camaraderie and collaboration with another is really important to keep the spirit of patience and practice alive.

And finally, always, always find something in your work, even if it is  2 inch square that you like and focus on that .

Strada Easel and Kelty Redwing 44 Pack -Catherine

Here is my new Strada Easel and Kelty Redwing Pack.  I love them, (a birthday present from my wonderful husband, Philip!).   Click here to go to Strada Easel.  The Kelty Redwing 44 Pack is recommended by Strada and they know what they are talking about.  The pack is great and fits everything I need.  Many thanks to Orleans Camera for helping me find the right tripod.  Click here to go to Orleans Camera.

IMG_7966

Yarmouth Port -Catherine
Out of the archives!

A spray with retouch varnish and I’m going to give this July scene another try.  Even though this morning is barely 50º (degrees).

 

 

I wanted to use My Art Cocoon wet paint carrier with my Strada Easel.  Since this wet paint carrier is wider than the easel’s metal support bracket, I wrapped a small bungee around the My Art Cocoon and the Strada cavas holder.  Back to front.

bungee wrapped
bungee wrapped
back to front
back to front

The bungee hooks held nicely to the metal bracket at the top of the easel.  I was able to paint and then carry my painting in my pack without any mishaps!

 

 

Yarmouth Port -Catherine
Yarmouth Port -Catherine

 

 

 

Magnolia blossoms -Catherine

It’s hard to believe that at 6:30 a.m., the temperature is 39º this late in April!  Being an optimist, I thought to myself, “if it were early March, I’d be thinking it was a pretty nice day!”  The good news is that the blooms on the magnolia tree are a sign that spring is here!

After toning my 12 x 12 canvas panel, I decided to start painting the negative space with some sky color in the distance.

trying for better results with a toned canvas
trying for better results with a toned canvas
magnolia tree
magnolia tree

I’m only going to work with a few colors and hope I get a nice feeling.

I wanted to paint a group of blossoms with only a scattering showing details.

Toning my canvas is something I don’t always do.  I did today and I like the way I could map out the light and dark areas for my composition.

magnolia -Catherine 24apr15
ready to add some blossoms  -Catherine

I did have a mishap this morning…  It was windy, and I didn’t take the time to weigh down my easel (you know where this is going!).  After I picked up my stuff, and brushed off the sand and grass, it was time to pack up.   The blossoms with have to be added another day.  But, this was a great morning!

Fits and Starts

Although the title of this blog, Practice and Patience Plein Air, was thoughtfully chosen because it embodies our journey -this winter, I  haven’t been able to practice as much.

The lesson of practice and patience was reinforced again last Saturday morning at Salt Pond Landing.  Click here for Salt Pond Visitor Center information.

Because I haven’t been able to paint outdoors for a couple of months, I felt very rusty that first morning out and fumbled a bit getting everything set up.  Frustration set in as   as we attempted to capture the scene in front of us.  Thankfully, it was the first really spring day of the season and just having the sun shining on our faces and on the water  was a huge inspiration.  As I wrote in my last post, I wanted to try a palette knife in place of  a brush to practice layering color on the canvas.     Combining this “foreign” technique ( although with my level of experience, all of the techniques could be considered foreign) with being rusty painting outside  was daunting to say the least.

To overcome that feeling of “Oh brother, this is so hard”  we decided when we were both finished to say prop the paintings on the rocks and to each say one thing that we liked about our own paintings and one thing that we liked about each others.  Here are those paintings and a short transcript of what we said.  We then packed up our stuff and hiked back to the car with smiles on our faces.

IMG_1318
Catherine’s paintings
IMG_1317
Britt’s paintings

I said that I really liked the distance/perspective that Catherine painted in the left one and for the  right one, I liked the building and the water.  For mine, I liked the sky in both.

I love the use of Britt’s bold use of color, and for mine, I liked the wide brush stroke on the lower right of the painting, trying to suggest the curve in the shoreline.  -Catherine

Perspective Lessons in humility

IMG_1324
We wanted to paint a challenge.
IMG_1323
Attempt

Trying to keep true to our motto and our recent experience that practice is everything, we decided to go out the very next day to paint a more challenging composition.   Well… challenging it was.

And what this painting demonstrated is how even the ineffective results prove to be such learning and inspiring experiences.   After this day, I had to travel away again and all the time I was on the plane, all I could think of was how I would have tried to change the perspective of this: remembering the horizon line,  flattening out the rows of raspberry bushes, the garden, well actually repainting the whole scene.

What is redeeming though is that even these experiences of challenging scenes and unsatisfying attempts teach so much and reinforce the idea of continuing to practice.

painting at Marion's