Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Farmers' Market Canandaigua

Farmers' Market Quick Paint Competition
Framing Quick Paint Entry
This was the seventh and final painting done at the Finger Lakes Competition and Festival.   It was a little different from the first six paintings in that this was a timed "quick paint" event.   Painters were given two hours to complete a plein air painting plus a half hour to frame and walk it over to the Town Common where it would be on display with the thirty other entries.

That morning, I still had not decided what and where to paint when I heard someone mention that the Farmers' Market takes place each Saturday morning.   After checking into the quick paint event I pulled into a parking space right next to where the farm vans loaded with produce were pulling in.   The rows of vegetable and flower flats near my van caught my eye.   There was a nice large bucket of tall peonies, a reminder of the peonies from day before.   Farmers Doug and Walt had backed their red van into their space and were working out of the back of it.

Once they realized what I was doing they occasionally came over to check progress.   I decided to include Doug who wore a yellow shirt that stood out despite being in full shadow.  Walt lamented that he wasn't in the painting so I explained about the yellow shirt.  He then proceeded to tell Doug that they should switch shirts.   Haha!

It turned out that the person who bought this painting knows Walt and Doug, and further, her grandfather was one of the first five farmers who started the Canandaigua farmers' market.   The painting is with the right person!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Peonies at Sonnenberg

Peonies at Sonnenberg
Painting Six of the Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition was an afternoon experience with a 12x24 inch canvas panel.    I chose a long white arbor that divided the formal gardens and a fifty foot peony border at beautiful Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens.  The dimensions of the canvas seemed just right.   Peony blooms are short lived, yet they happened to be peaking on this glorious June day.   The mild scent of the hundreds of pink and white blossoms occasionally drifted my way, an extra bonus beyond the beautiful visual.  A large painting at this point in the competition was a self-assigned stretch assignment.   If it turned out well, it would look nice in the pale silvery frame I had planned to use.

Peonies at Sonnenberg
This was the last day to paint for the main competition, and I would be turning in the best three paintings this evening.  I decided that this painting would be one of the three to be submitted for judging.   And although it wasn't selected for an award, I was satisfied that it was good and that I stayed true to how I paint.    Under time constraints a person's true signature style is probably more pronounced!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Seager Marine

Seager Marine - Stage One

There is no denying that I am a morning person.   I think my stamina is good all day, in that I can work/play/paint for long durations, but it seems that my results in the first four hours of the day are better.   I should use this self knowledge more wisely I guess!

Seager Marine - Stage Two
I set up along Town Pier Road at the northernmost tip of Lake Canandaigua.    This was Painting Five at the Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and Festival.   Being along the water with a marina to my right and docks all around put me squarely in my comfort zone - and it was a sunny dazzling morning.

Seager Marine - Canandaigua
There were some small buildings that were illuminated by the morning sun, which in turn were beautifully reflected in the water.   Many boats at various angles complicated the scene, but I ignored everything except for the sunlit canopies and a few chrome railings.   These painted shapes and colors also got dragged down into the reflections.    At just the right moment a fellow entered the scene with a gas can.   He walked to the gas pump and began filling.    This is the challenge of plein air!   He would be there for - maybe -four minutes.   It was just enough time to capture the essence of his posture leaning over to pump gas.

This one was my favorite painting of the whole week.    I was delighted to learn that it was sold to a local woman and art lover who would be giving it to her husband for Fathers' Day.

Midday at Granger

Midday at Granger - In Progress
This was Painting Four of the Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and the second painting of the day. Painters were invited to the historic Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum to capture scenes that the "Friends of the Museum" may like to own.   The sun was already high in the sky by the time I got started on this painting.   A woman in 19th century garb was posing in an antique carriage and several painters worked on the scene from various angles.

The museum hosted a nice reception that night and several paintings were sold (including mine).

Heron at the Pond

Painting Three for the Finger Lake Plein Air Competition and Festival was done at Lagoon Park, a
Heron on the Pond - Getting Started
What Are You Painting?
pretty recreational area adjacent to Canandaigua Lake.  It was sunny, which was a relief after yesterday's cold and moist paint out.  The waterways and walking paths snaked in and out of the lagoon.   I chose an area that had lots of green underbrush and a relatively calm stretch of water.   I liked the reflections of tree trunks that were bent over almost touching the water.   The warm shadows looked nice against the various shades of green.  

Heron at the Pond
Although this was a beautiful spot, it needed a little something more.   Once this great blue heron started moving around the lagoon area, I decided to make it the center of interest.   I placed him in what I thought was the painting's sweet spot for the final com-positional element.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cavern at Japanese Garden

Cavern at Japanese Garden - Stage One
This was the second day of painting at the Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition and Festival.   One of the main supporters of the event is the Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens.   Juried painters were given admission passes for the week so that we could paint on the property.   This was plein air heaven! There was no searching for an appealing scene; they were everywhere.   We walked the entire property first, and I found myself declaring on multiple occasions that this was the spot, only to find the next area even more enticing.

Cavern at Japanese Garden - Nearly Done
Unfortunately it quickly clouded over and the end product reflected the day, and didn't result in a painting that I liked.   In packing for the trip to New York, I almost removed my long down parka from the van, feeling so sure I would not need it, but elected to leave it behind my seat.  So glad I did!   It saved me from the damp wind and mist. Furthermore my knit stretchy gloves were in the pocket, also put to use.

I can't resist rocks and a full value spectrum, both of which were present in the Japanese Garden.  I stood along a pathway below the main thoroughfare.   There were twin caverns built from boulders where water trickled down into a green mossy pond.   It would have been relaxing if the paint-out was going well.  :)  But being down in this low spot also sheltered me and my set up from the harsh wind.

Cavern at Japanese Garden
Spring greenery was everywhere, just not as bright and illuminated as I had hoped.    Ironically, this painting took the longest to execute, nearly four hours (two hours longer than usual), and yet it was my least favorite.   Two paintings down, four to go!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lake Canandaigua from Onanda Sky

Eager to Get Started
This was the first painting done for the Finger Lake Plein Air Competition and Festival in Canandaigua, New York.   My blank canvases had just been stamped, meaning that coordinators mark the back, a verification that no work had been done ahead of time.  Next stop? Painting location number one.

The organizers had provided a list of scenic spots from which to paint, and we decided to start at the furthest point, the southernmost tip of Lake Canandaigua in the town of Naples.   It proved to be a great place and the property owner generously shared not only this fantastic vista but use of her home while we painted.   The twelve acre parcel was situated high above the west side of the lake.   It had a couple of barns, a pond. flower beds and of course, the amazing view looking north along the lake.  
Onanda Sky - Stage One

I began with the most distant lake shore and sky.   I locked them in while they were pale blue, pink and naples yellow.    The blue hillsides dipped down to the water, a distant gray-blue hue.   At certain spectacular moments, the hills were illuminated with stripes of sunlight turning them golden green.  Dark trees and shrubs anchored the scene across the middle third of the painting.   The foreground grasses were warm and sunny yellow - that is - when the sun peaked out.  The stark white canvas did prove to be a bit of a challenge, since I inadvertently scraped the paint down to the white with my palette knife.   It necessitated being even thicker with the paint, which, in retrospect, probably gave a better result.
Onanda Sky View - Stage Two

The weather?  Very variable - rain, mist, sun, overcast, and most of all windy.   We pushed through the process, mine taking a bit of extra time since this was a larger canvas at 12" x 24".   The final steps were to make sure all the bare white canvas spots were painted and to ensure that the lighting scheme was consistent.  One down, six to go!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Chicken House

Hen House

A little crooked, but the chickens don't mind.  A wind swept farm scene done as a quick study.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Tidal River Morning

Igo Dock - Stage One

The Green Harbor River feeds into the Atlantic Ocean just on the other side of the dyke depicted in this painting.   When the tide is rising, the salt water pours into this basin and at ebb tide the fresh water pours out of the basin into the river channel and onto open ocean.

Igo Dock - Stage Two

I was standing on the brand new dock at the Peter Igo Recreational Park in Marshfield, MA.   The dock's low water level afforded a unique angle of the shoreline all around.    I used bungy cords to tie down the easel to the bolts that connected the dock sections, and other than some gentle rocking caused by the waves, the gear felt secure.

Igo Dock - Stage Three
Tidal River Morning
The term bird watching paradise came to mind with egrets, swans, ducks, geese, red winged black birds, and of course seagulls.   The color scheme had an overall grayness because of the milky skies and the silt under the salty riverbed.   The starring role had to go to the snowy egret that spent so much time with me.  The egret actively fished standing at the edge of the water.   It recoiled its necks into the letter S and in a flash, stabbed its beak into the water, most times coming up with a small silver sliver.   When the breeze came up, its long white feathers floated up catching the light - a gift to see.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Front Fence and Lilacs

Large lilac shrubs mark the property line between two old antique homes in Duxbury.  I was set up across the road in a little park.  The ornate white fence on the left led to the old granite retaining wall of the property on the right.    It was an ordinary scene but once something becomes the subject of an oil painting, it doesn't seem as ordinary.

Front Fence and Lilacs