Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sometimes "busy" is necessary

(Posted by Bill)
During a recent visit to the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, near Placerville, California, I wandered up and down the American River and shot some great fall scenes. While there, this old, moss covered tree caught my eye. Light sparkled through the surrounding trees and occasionally flashed on an orange or red leaf.

I felt that the thick complex of trees and branches was an important part of the feel of the place. The challenge, on this little 5x7 board, was to simplify without losing the busy effect. I hope I succeeded. I worked on a black Richeson Gatorboard surface.

When Leaves Fall, 7x5, pastel, ©Bill Canright, $75

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chamisa Challenge

(Posted by Maggie)
In New Mexico, the colors of fall are mostly gold: golden aspen, golden cottonwoods, and golden chamisa. The chamisa are more plentiful across the valley in and near the foothills of the Sandia mountains, but there are some here and there on the west side of the city. We have access to a wonderful trail that begins just across the street about a half block away, and we try to walk there nearly every day. There aren't many trees, but the views of the mountains are wonderful, and we frequently see quail, roadrunners, jack rabbits and bunnies. Once in a great while we see a coyote, but it's more common to hear them than see them. About a mile along the trail, there's an area where a lot of chamisa grow. We watched them turn from their summer colors of bluish-green to the fall greens and the spectacular yellow blossoms.

I painted this mostly with a brush, but saved the chamisa blossoms for the palette knife. I like the texture of the blossoms that the knife created. The ability to create surface texture is one of the things that's luring me back into working with oils.

The chamisa are fading fast and the cottonwoods are turning brown. It's sad to see the brilliant stage of fall ending, but there's always the anticipation of snow on the mountain and the chance to paint it.

Above, Chamisa, 5x7, oil/panel, ©Maggie Price, $75

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Painting rocks under water; no snorkel required

(Posted by Bill)
Okay, bad joke. But painting underwater rocks is fun, especially when they're under some relatively clean, shallow water. You can achieve a believable effect with just three values of the same hue. In this case, a cool green. You can also use a little of a warmer color picked up from the dominant local rock color.

Addendum, by Maggie:
I've learned a lot from watching Bill paint underwater rocks over the last few years. I think the most important thing you have to achieve is a feeling of layers—the underneath layer of rocks and river-bottom, the layer of water, and finally the layer of the surface.
In this painting, the water is shallow, as Bill notes. So there's really just the bottom layer of rocks and sand, and the top layer of the surface of the water. He's created that top layer with just a few marks to indicate the movement of the water.

This river in northern California is very beautiful, especially in the early spring when it runs deep and fast. It's also the greenest river I've ever seen. Bill caught that color perfectly in this painting.

Above, Smith River Shallows II, 6x9 pastel, ©Bill Canright, $95