Hi! I’ve been keeping pretty busy with my three little ones and managing my print store, but when I find time to paint I’ve been working on some paintings from a trip we took to Death Valley, California earlier this year.
I ran the Death Valley half marathon in February, and we caught the very beginning of the wildflower superbloom, a rare natural event that comes after just the right combination of rain and temperature. The race went along Hwy 190 near the Furnace Creek Ranch, and was one of the most beautiful I have ever done.
We also did some stargazing, since the site is far out in the desert and away from light pollution. My daughter was really hoping to see a scorpion, although we didn’t find any. It was a wonderful trip and I had lots of painting ideas when we got back.
Before starting, I painted a few quick practice studies on small canvases to try out some ideas. Each took about 10 minutes:
I started on the uppermost scene, a field of flowers at dawn. It’s not finished but here are a few progress shots:
Stay tuned! I’m hoping I’ll have this one finished soon.
My husband and I took a trip to Tofino, British Columbia this spring, and I’m looking forward to making several paintings from the trip. We both grew up in different areas of Vancouver island, and I have painted manyscenes from this beautiful place. This trip, we went kayaking around Meares Island, hiked in Pacific Rim National Park, and did a lot of walking around Chesterman Beach.
I’m starting with this scene of Chesterman Beach, which I have painted before from a different angle. We stayed at the beautiful Wickanninish Inn, which you can see off in the distance on the right.
I started with my usual masking tape horizon, and started painting in the wet sand with Micaceous Iron Oxide:
I decided to enhance all the colors and go for an interesting sky, which I’ll probably still experiment with as the foreground takes shape. For the sky so far, I used mostly Smalt Hue and a bit of AnthraquinoneBlue, mixed with Titanium White and Titan Buff.
I removed the masking tape and started painting the land on the right:
Then I painted in the rest of the land, and added the surf area in bright white:
At this point, the painting is still in progress. I’m not happy with the colors of the sky and water yet, but the shape is coming together and I’ll add some transparent layers until I get it where I want.
This painting has been hanging on my wall in a half-finished state for quite a while, since I can’t decide what to do with it next, so I’m seeking feedback from you guys.
With most paintings, I have a natural moment where I sense that it is done, and I know I should step back before I overwork it. It is hard to find the balance between making your work precise and polished, and keeping the life and spontaneity in the brush strokes. I don’t have that sense with this painting yet, but sometimes it’s helpful to seek ideas from fresh eyes.
This is the painting hanging on a wall in my back yard, so you can see it in natural light. Overall I like the look and energy, but I’m wondering if it needs something in the foreground, or if it’s something about the colors that is not quite right. I wanted to try a painting that mixes my two landscape styles; the more abstract, linear hills with the more realistic starry sky.
What do you think? Should I stop here, or keep going? Just for fun I’m trying out the poll feature in WordPress, so you can weigh in:
Other artists, how do you know when your painting is finished?
I took progress photos of the second half of my Pacific Crest Trail painting, and turned them into a GIF, so you can watch the sky coming together:
After filling in the background colors with a large brush, I started putting in the stars. I had a breakthrough in my starry sky paintings when I stopped using mostly black, and used a mix of blues instead for the background colors. This painting has very little black. The main sky color is Anthraquinone Blue, a strong transparent blue, with some Phthalo Blue and Titanium White.
Another trick I’ve learned: use the handle end of the brush to make the stars. They come out rounder, and you can adjust the pressure to make bigger or smaller dots.
I like to vary the colors of the stars to add depth as well. For some, I used a mix of Titanium White and Phthalo Blue, then added white dots over top after the first dots had dried. For others, I used a bit of Titan Buff instead of white, to make the stars yellower.
After putting in most of the stars and letting them dry, I experimented with the colors in the sky by adding in a bit of Quinacridone Magenta and transparent Zinc White here and there over top of the stars.
I also added a bit of the magenta to the snow on the mountaintops below to tie it together. Here’s the finished painting:
I’ve been working on this painting of an alpine lake scene from the Pacific Crest Trail in the high Sierra mountains of California. This one is loosely based on the area south of Mather Pass. We encountered it on the PCT, but it is also part of the John Muir Trail.
I need to make adjustments to the composition of the foreground with the lake, but the basic colors of the painting are coming together. I’m really into starry skies right now and I plan to make a sky similar to this painting. I’ve painted alpine lakes several times and I enjoy the chance to use really intense colors.
This is where my husband and I camped just below Mather Pass, at just over 11,000 feet, our highest campsite on the trail. This was one of my favorite spots on the trail and I’ve always wanted to paint this amazing place, since the photos really don’t do it justice.
I’m working on a painting of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon. It’s not quite finished yet, but I put together these images into a gif so you can watch the process of using masking tape to make a crisp horizon line.
If the gif isn’t working, here are the step-by-step images below: