Category Archives: Challenges

weather, nature, terrain, composition, time

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

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 .

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

Head & Figure painting -Catherine

I want to start adding figures of people to my paintings, but for me, capturing a likeness of someone on a canvas is very difficult.

Drawing by Jack Hamm
Drawing by Jack Hamm

Today I’m reading a book called “Drawing The Head & Figure” by Jack Hamm.  Click here for a link to this book.  Being a visual learner, Jack Hamm’s book does it for me.  His step-by-step drawings present good visual explanations of the structure of the head & figure and how to draw them.

I have a large sketch pad and am practicing what I learned from this book while watching T.V..  This way I have many opportunities to quickly draw the same face while it is changing expression and direction.

 

television and sketching
I filled the page with egg shapes facing different directions.

 

By filling the page with egg shapes and directional markings, I can quickly switch back and forth as the head turns.

This was a fun practice!

 

television and sketching
The woman I was drawing had many different expressions for me to practice. -Catherine

Flower arrangement paintings -Catherine

I like to remember flowers that are given to me by painting them.  Here are two flower arrangements that Philip gave to me that I painted.  Click here for link to Flowers by Mary.

White flowers -Catherine
White flowers – by Flowers by Mary, Orleans
White flowers and jug -Catherine
White flowers and jug  Catherine
flowers and candle stick -Catherine
New Years – I love my starfish candle sticks!

Continue reading Flower arrangement paintings -Catherine

Plein Air in the COLD

A fun day!

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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

 

“Patience” at Taylor-Bray Farm -Catherine

Sheep, goats, and cattle enjoying a warm morning at Taylor-Bray Farm in Yarmouth Port.

My mind was set on painting the sheep grazing in this pasture
My mind was set on painting the sheep grazing in this pasture.

 

My mind was set on painting the sheep grazing in this pasture.  Then I noticed the sunlight highlighting the foliage on the trees.

I went to work on the the foliage.  (This is were I only needed to make color notes on my canvas of the foliage so I could get back to painting the sheep).

The light changed quickly, and the sheep moved to the back of the pasture, ugh!  I didn’t take the time to block in a few of the sheep that made up my composition.  It was time to stop… WIPE IT OUT!  Yes, it’s o.k., it is my painting and there will be others… Continue reading “Patience” at Taylor-Bray Farm -Catherine

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

 

Monhegan Island, Maine – sunrise challenge -Catherine

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Monhegan Island, Maine Aug2014

“Accepting” Britt’s sunrise challenge was the easy part when I was on Monhegan Island in Maine .  The real challenge was capturing the amazing sky that morning.  You might see from these photos I kind of lost my way.

I kept painting past sunrise and eventually lost my focus.  Soon the sun was up, casting wonderful shadows, and I lost my dramatic sky.  I’ll keep my focus on the sunrise next time.  Click here to see how Britt captured and kept the dramatic sunrise colors back home on the Cape!

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Monhegan Island, Maine by Catherine

Thank you Britt for the sunrise challenge!  -Catherine