Category Archives: Britt

posts and paintings by Britt

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 .

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.

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Catherine’s paintings
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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

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We wanted to paint a challenge.
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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

Plein Air in the COLD

A fun day!

image

Of course, you can’t tell from this photo, but it was about 32 degrees this morning.  We wanted to see what it is like painting in the COLD.   We actually were able to last  about 2 hours.  As you can see we really bundle up with layers and then try to have everything all set before we go out – paint on the palette, handwarmers, and foot warmers.

Coldest painting day ever
Set up – can you see the handwarmer package??
Cold and windy
Skaket Beach

 

Frigid morning! & The Cape Codder – Catherine

As expected, there were not many out painting on this windy and cold 32º morning.  David Farquhar was surprised, and it was a fun surprise to find this picture in The Cape Codder, December 12, 2014 issue!  Thank you David for your enthusiasm!  -Catherine

Catherine photo by David Farquhar - The Cape Codder 12/12/14
Photo by David Farquhar – The Cape Codder, Catherine painting at Skaket Beach 32º
Britt painting on that 32º morning at Skaket
Britt painting on that 32º morning at Skaket

 

Taking a risk – painting in Provincetown

Provincetown
Captain Jack’s Wharf, oil by Britt

The point of this post, for me, is that as we have ventured out into the “art” world, painting outside in public places really opens one up for all sorts of things.  One of those interesting things is when people walk by your set up easel and want to see what you are painting.  As a beginner, it is really sort of intimidating in a way because the silence can be deafening.  Anyhow, this particular day we set up in the West End Lot in Provincetown, looking out over to the wharf and here is the result.  Britt

From this lot we had great scenic views and subjects to paint.  We ended up facing different directions.  I painted facing the open water, and Britt painted Captain Jack’s Wharf.  The clouds on this day were amazing.  Enjoy the gallery!  Catherine

Continue reading Taking a risk – painting in Provincetown

Blocking in the darks and the lights

Darks and Lights
Again trying to show contrast between lights and darks

As part of the  plein air group, and as a definite neophyte in this whole arena of oil painting, I have tried to be intentional about learning more about oil painting through reading books, watching videos, and just by doing it.  There is so much information on the internet and in books that I found that I was sort of overwhelmed by all of the information.  To direct my learning during the group plein air experiences, I have chosen to focus on one thing in each of the sessions.  This particular day, we painted in Orleans at the windmill.  My focus was blocking in the darks and the lights.  I have read that that is what you are supposed to do — so this time instead of rushing to get a picture on the canvas that remotely looks like what it is “supposed” to do,  I instead took my time to really  look at the shadows:  the darks and lights,and paint those in first.  It really helped me have one important thing to focus on.  One of the books that I use as my “manual” is Oil Painting for the Serious Beginner, by Steve Allrich.

Darks and Lights
View from Orleans
Working on lights and darks
Trying to show contrast between lights and darks

 

I tried to block in with a tone that was darker than what I thought was to be the final color.

Blocking in

Taking my time at Taylor Bray farm, Cape Cod – Britt

BM2014 Taylor-Bray Farm
Taylor-Bray Farm October 2014

Sooo, as I attempted to explain in my previous posts, I am working on a specific technique that I have either been reading about or someone has explained to me — last time I was concentrating on not just hurrying and almost panicking to get paint on the canvas and tried to block in the darks and the lights that I saw.  This day we were painting at the Taylor Bray Farm and I wanted to  add one more layer to my study.

 

That layer is to think about where the light source is, where it is coming from, and what color is it.

View from Taylor Brae Farm
Scene from a distance

I really don’t get yet how to determine the color of the light — I think I am getting there, but this study is about continuing to take my time to block out the color AND to think carefully about the light.

 

Painting Taylor Bray
I actually was brave enough to give this to my daughter, Ashley

 

BM Taylor-Bray Farm
Britt at Taylor-Bray Farm