Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Plein air in Castine Maine and more studio tips

Castine, Maine Plein Air-

Yesterday was a beautiful crisp morning for my first trip to Castine, Maine. I set out to scope the area and of course to paint the Dyce Head Lighthouse.
No one around so I had the whole place to myself.
The snow was trying to hold on but the sun did it's magic, by the time I left most of it had melted.
Of course the sun also eliminated the clouds.  I was fiddling with this one too much and not making any progress so I quit and went exploring for future subjects. Found a bunch too!
Castine Maine lighthouse
Back to my ten best suggestions for supplying your studio from thrift stores.
Tip Number 4 - big big extra big jeans for paint rags

Blue jeans make the best brush wipes because they are rough textured and absorbent. Here's the tip though. Wait for the best sale at the thrift store. (.99 cents) then take advantage of this country's obesity problem and buy the biggest pair of jeans they have. Bring them back to the studio and cut them into pieces. You'll have several months worth of brush wipes for around $1.

Tip number 5 - Art shoes 
For a few dollars you can have studio shoes and plein air disposables. Get them roughed up and covered with paint and mud... who cares they only cost me $4 a pair.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Top Ten Studio Supply Tips from a Thrift Store - Number 2 & 3- old frames and mirrors

Supplying your studio from Goodwill or a Thrift Store  Tip Number 2 - Old Frames

The reason to keep a list of things I need or could use ( notice they are different) in the studio, is that stalking thrift stores takes time. The list is the only way to remember these quirky ideas.
Old frames are found in abundance in thrift stores and are cheap. I'm not talking about frames for artwork that you will take to a gallery or show.  Don't  do that or the art police will revoke your artistic license.

I hunt for frames that can be used in still life set ups.
Bookseller's Favorites
I did this one a few years ago. The frame cost me about $2. Rembrandt's portrait was not in the frame I added that. But....
The Bookseller
this print with his portrait was in this frame  I purchased for $3.50.

Of course you could use these recycled frames to hang them in your own studio. ( perfectly legal if used for observational purposes only.) This 5x7 has seen better days but it's nice to pop a daily practice painting in  every so often.
  Tip Number 3 - Mirrors
 Mirrors are an important tool to check accuracy and values in  your work.  Nothing finds mistakes quicker in your drawing. If you don't have space to hang a larger mirror on the wall in your studio, you could use an extra easel set up behind you or some times you get lucky at a thrift store and find two  supplies for the price of one.

Like this little hand held mirror I removed from an old frame. (99 cents) 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Best Tips for supplying your art studio from Goodwill or thrift stores -Tip Number 1 the Plein Air Pack.

First day of spring in Maine -

I guess that means wild turkeys at the door step.

But onto a less serious note:
My top 10 ideas for supplying your studio from a thrift store...These lists are just fun to try and put together because they always generate more lists and more ideas. 

The idea for this post came about because last week I upgraded my original thrift store plein air pack (cost me $2 a few years back) to a new and improved carrier. ( cost me double, but I get twice the space)... and it comes in red so I can't possibly misplace it!

It not only holds twice as much stuff but is has all the options...

Wheels and a handle...
You can carry it on your back, and it even holds a tripod...
This is the best part. My pochade box, brushes, turps, hand cleaner and Liquin are all easy to pack and remove. 
( I have no idea who made this bag but if I owned the company I would market it to plein air painters)

The small bag($2) that holds my tubes of paint just happens to be red also.
So my number 1 thrift store supply is the Plein Air travel kit -  Total price $6.

This was a rather long post so  I'll post the other nine tips  over the next week. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Painting Bluebirds and Purple Finches- a work in progress

Work continues on the set of 6 bird paintings-

My progress is very slow with these bird  paintings, not because I paint every feather and polish the detail, but because I pause a lot and try to capture an attitude in the birds and give each their own personality.
Progress follows the  one step forward and  1/2 step back method.
I like how an expression of thought can be conjured by a few brush strokes and painting a single eye.

I need to warm up the shadow in the grass and work on the main bird, but I am enjoying how this this one is shaping up. It will be fun to come up with names for these.
These purple finches are a bit tricky. I want to keep the brush work loose and my edges varied but also keep the color fresh and not pasty looking.

I am posting these photos of the purple finches to show you some of the little steps in the process rather than jumping farther ahead to a near finished piece.( click on the photo and you will be able to toggle the photos back and forth to see the little changes)  It gives you some idea of the  back and forth method I spoke of earlier. 

I deliberately started with more intense and darker reds than I will end up with. This is an experiment to see if it is better to have the color underneath and gray it down as opposed to trying to build up the intensity. We'll see if it works.
I am watching the character of that top bird at the same time I am figuring out the background design. Then I am working back from the head to the tail looking at  larger shapes and thinking of the light hitting the form.
I don't think about feathers and details. It's more about answering questions: What should the overall design  be? How do small color shapes interact with their neighboring shapes, and does the bird's attitude show up?  Lots of questions as I try and keep the paintings moving forward.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Plein air painting in Maine - Lincolnville in March

In March -Don't paint into the wind

The last week for my grand kids to come along with me on my plein air painting day.... and it was a cold one again. 12 degrees on the beach.
Didn't bother them much though. But I couldn't face the wind and paint so I turned around and caught a scene across  Route 1.
Lincolnville, Maine, in March
Everything up to the  hedge row and pine trees were there. I didn't want to paint a parking lot so I had to be inventive and make up the fore ground.
Winter's Retreat
Plein air painting  -9"x12"
Lincolnville, Maine