Category Archives: Inspiration

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

 

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 .

Peeps! -Catherine

 

Scoop from the coop!
Hens, Fiona, Molly, Mona-Lisa. photo by Catherine

There is a bonus to raising hens that lay different colored eggs, especially in April, and my first painting class with Maryalice Eizenberg, at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham, was also in April (2010).

 

Click here for link to the Creative Arts Center.

 

 

 

My husband Philip emptied and cleaned a few eggs from our chickens, Molly (brown egg) and Fiona (blue egg), so I could bring them to class hoping the eggshells could be part of a still life.

Duck in a basket by Catherine Apr2010
Duck in a basket by Catherine Apr2010

Maryalice set up this sweet still life.  A soft, stuffed, ducking in a straw basket, surrounded by yellow marshmallow “Peeps”, jelly beans, and my real eggshells.  I hope the eggshells survived and are still being used in setting up still lifes at the art center!  Fiona is no longer with us, but I still have this sweet painting with her beautiful, blue eggshells. -Catherine

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

Foreground and distance -Catherine

This is a view of Mount Whiteface in Waterville Valley, N.H., from The N.H. Lakes Region.  MT. Whiteface, NHI new this would be a painting lesson in pushing the mountain back into the distance, far away from the trees in the snow covered foreground.  It was a clear day, and the clouds were casting dark shadows on the mountain range.  Not having my painting equipment with me, I snapped this photo and worked on this painting in the studio.

Mount Whiteface NH
I blocked in the darks, lights, and the cloud shadows

Mount Whiteface NH

I used the white birches and snow to show foreground, and muted colors in the mountain range to show distance.

Mount Whiteface NH
View of Mount Whiteface, NH, by 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