Friday, December 13, 2013

Getaway to Zihuatanejo

"Fishermens Beach - Zihuatanejo"
9x12 in. plein air oil on panel

Just got back from a very nice trip to Zihuats on the pacific coast, in the state of Guerrero. It was fabulously hot! I completed the one above in one go the second day we were there. I did another one the next day but the result was a bit marginal so I scraped it. I like this one a lot though. The fishermen were really friendly to us but didn't bother us too much. We had throngs of tourists and towns people watching us from behind the bench we chose to paint from............... we ignored it all rather successfully and soldiered on. We plan to return in April when most of Donnas students are gone for a longer stay - can't wait!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Back in Back Bay

"Back Bay Boats"
6 x 6 in.  oil on panel

We used to live in a small fishing village south of Halifax, Nova Scotia for ten interesting years. I had a bad cold this week and couldn't get out plein air painting, so I decided to re-visit the place - if only in my mind. I used to sail on this bay all the time, so it was a lot of fun doing the painting and I always did enjoy doing boats as a subject. So much fun it was that I think I'll make it a regular habit and probably take a painting trip back there when the weather improves - from what I recall that would be about June!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cool Painting

"Winter Morning , San Miguel de Allende"
9 x 12 in. oil on panel

I say "Cool" because it was a cool painting session - cool as in Cold! Donna, Luc and I met up at the plaza principal about 9 am. on a foggy morning last week. We knew it would clear during the morning so we chose a spot in what would be the shade of the historic Casa Allende. Well, it was cold to begin with in that damp fog and it was cold after the sun broke through and this chilly wind came up from calle Umaran at our backs. It was a cool morning indeed but all the onlookers (and there were plenty) were friendly and encouraging and we too got pretty excited about our paintings, nonetheless. I tried to warm up in the sun around the corner a couple of times but of course the light was changing and I was drawn each time quickly back into the fray ..................... once started you really can't stop, can you?  We have decided to switch to afternoons next week. It takes all morning to warm up during December and January here in the mountains of central Mexico. Of course it becomes summer again most afternoons between noon and six. That's one of the primary reasons I moved here to paint in Mexico - sort of endless summer - a plein air painters dream. (the other major reason was color) 

I completed the painting minus the people and a little detail work on site. I feel I have to give very careful consideration as to the placement of bodies in my pictures and it's enough of a challenge to hit all the hues and values correctly on location. I spend a lot of time thinking about the overall color and composition as I begin placing the first elements on the panel and I have a rough idea of where a figure or two might be helpful to the design but with the style I prefer to work in I can't see how I'll ever be able to complete a complex scene with a convincing smattering of hominids in 2 or 3 hours. But I don't fret about it much -I enjoy leisurely dropping volunteers into a scene at a later date. I like to give the characters the consideration good characters deserve. They're part B of a two part creation and possibly the hardest part. Also, I place them when part A is still a bit wet. That demands a little more decisiveness but they blend into their scene a lot better. I hope you like the result. If the air looks a little cooler than the last few dozen ones I've posted that's because it was and as I say .........we're switching to afternoons for a couple months. Stay tuned for the "Golden Hour" ..............

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A trip to Guanajuato

"Sunny Morning - Nov. 2013"
9 x 12 in. oil on panel

Auction ends 11/27/2013   8 pm

"Guanajuato Centro"
12 x 16 in. oil on panel
Auction ends 12/05/2013  8 pm

This painting was begun mid July as a short demonstration of how to get off to a bold start. - you can see that start on the July 17th blog entry. I meant to get back to that picture and finish it but somehow didn't until this past week. I thought I would put an hour or two into it .................... Well, I got caught on it and ended up putting quite a lot of effort into it. If Donna hadn't wrestled the brushes out of my hand I'd probably still be working on it! At any rate - I guess it's complete now. It certainly is a very active picture. Well, I wanted it to be pretty active as central Guanajuato is an active place. What you see here, is about the spot you emerge at street level, after trying to navigate their totally confusing, ancient underground roadway system in the dark. The feeling is always one of shock - you're suddenly hit by this blinding light and sea of moving people. It's almost always hot, hot, Hot. The main part of the city is built in a canyon bottom and there is really only one main drag. It's a very interesting place -  the capital of the state of Guanajuato. It was a very wealthy city back in Colonial times due to gold and silver in the surrounding hills. There are lots of large old domed churches, winding back streets and peaceful squares to paint. Most of the residential part of the city is built on the steep canyon walls and beyond, up and down the slopes of the surrounding hills. Most people have access to their casa via very narrow foot paths, of the switchback variety. If they have a car at all, it's parked somewhere far, far away. Needless to say, they all have strong legs! It's only about 50 miles from here but it has a totally different feel to the place.

I hope you like the picture. I tried to get that hot, afternoon feeling into it. I left out most of the people that are usually bustling through.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sunny Morning on Montes de Oca

Luke thought the view was better from the middle of the street! Here he is "risking it all for art".
He had some close calls but Luke is a dedicated plein airist and it seems to have been worth 2 hours of facing down the muzzle of death. Neither the many cars that crept slowly by scraping their fenders against those buildings on the right, nor the passing burro trains did any lasting damage at all. He ended up with a great painting! When we left he was priming up another panel - this time a little closer to the wall, enjoying a  vastly greater margin of safety. What surprised me was that only one or two dudes seemed to be the least bit upset with the situation. Sure, the ricos may have lost a little magnesium here and there. It was admittedly hard on a lot of tires!!! - I didn't much like that chafing/squeely rubber sound ............ , a lot of "commute time" was lost.
Maybe I'm just overly sensitive and shy. I don't even like being in the "limelight" much. Luke is a Waldorf school graduate and those people really know how to release the right side of a persons brain. Though only centimeters were between him and a trip to the morgue, he paid absolutely zip attention to all that passing metal.

Do not even think about trying this. To survive in the middle of the calles of San Miguel for more than a few moments requires a superhuman degree of  luck and optimism - don't say I didn't warn you.
Below is the one I did from safely against that orange wall on the left.

"Sunny Morning - Nov. 2013"
9 x 12 in. oil on panel


Luke was beside and behind me a couple of meters. The rest of Donna's students were at the top of the street - a good hike up the hill. One of them had one of 3 legs of her easel fall off when she tried to set it up for the first time. I lent her mine while I went dashing around town for a replacement - which I found but then it was missing a critical adjustment knob. These were brand new "in the box" easels so I was more than a bit annoyed ............... however ................. I took it home and fired a screw into the hole where the missing screw should have been, ran back down the hill and got a nice, very late start. So, needless to say, you are seeing a goodly amount of studio work in the one above. I like the result though - the color was all pegged pretty much in the calle, in the first hour. Maybe I'll do a larger version at some point, with some of those little burritos in it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On the Block!

update: sold  (Tuesday Nov 19)

"Mexican Fishermen"
12 x 16 in. oil on panel

Just to let people know - this painting is currently on auction at Daily Paint Works and has just under 3 days left in the bidding. It's the first time I've placed a painting up for auction anywhere but I like DPW and their auctions are quite active. There has been one bid of  $300. U.S. on the painting thus far. For this first go I set a pretty low threshold to "test the waters". It's worth a lot more than that, so if you'd like the chance of getting one of my originals at perhaps a rock bottom price - now is your chance!

By the way:  for all you San Miguel plein air painters - we'll be up on Montes de Oca Monday morning 9:30 - see you there if you can make it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Manana en San Mguel de Allende

"Manana en San Miguel"
9 x 12 in. oil on panel
$ 350. U.S.

I started this on Monday with Donna's plein air painting group in the Plaza Civica across from the Oratorio. Since then, every time I've walked by it I couldn't help but diddle with it until now it doesn't exhibit much of it's fresh plein air beginnings. I'm hoping it still has some vestige of the spontaneity it had in the beginning. It was a fun picture to work on and I guess that's why I couldn't stop working on it. I finally decided to STOP! this afternoon as it was starting to ask for a high degree of "finish" and I would rather reserve that for a larger version of the same scene. If I had persisted with this one I would have figured everything was solved and there would be no point in doing the theme over. I will set this aside and not look at it for awhile - when I do I'll decide if it wants to grow. 

By the way - some purists feel that a painting worthy of the term "plein air" must be executed, start to finish in one sitting. It's a matter of definition, I suppose. I almost always start small to medium size oil paintings on location. I finish them there, maybe about a third of the time. The others get varying degrees of "overtime" back in the studio - sometimes just a touch here and there and other times, here and there and everywhere. The important thing to me is that the work has been launched with excitement -the inspiration derived from being in direct contact with ones subject. As you work on the painting during those first hours, all the surrounding sights and sounds sink into your psyche and if that panel asks for more attention later, back in the studio, you find that any additional work you do on it takes you right back to the location again.In this state of mind you can continue the act of creation with what I would call the "right artistic attitude" and the piece will almost automatically retain a lot of freshness.
I have to say I like the spontaneous look of a painting done quickly and accurately. Less is definitely more. In the hands of the vary best plein air painters the results can be sublime. But even they don't get "five star" results every time. I think good advice to anybody journeying along this plein air route would be not to worry too much about purity of process. There are purists and there are purists. I might not measure up to one persons definition because I just can't let a little painting go without further investigation but take note of this;
I have painted with pros that rely on smart phone screens and special apps to help them compose and find colors ........................ well folks - most of the time I don't even pull out a view finder when starting a picture and I certainly have no need for color suggesting apps. So, what does that make me? - I guess I'm a purist too, right? I can't help but smile when I see the "shortcuts" people try to take. Shortcuts have no place in lovemaking.
Final word, - about the only thing I really find obnoxious, even fraudulent are the printer people that  pass dem photos through, dob a lick or two and claim them as originals. Oh, and come to think of it - how about those Chinese sending me emails that quote me a price for doing my future paintings for me??? Hey! - easy street here I come .........................

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Nice Morning on Cuesta de Loreto.

                        Cuesta de Loreto  9 x 12 in. oil on panel

(* UPDATE: This painting just won 1st. prize on Daily Paintworks for October!)

This was done yesterday on Cuesta de Loreto a few hundred feet from our door on "calle sin nombre" which goes off  about where this road leaves the picture on the left. Donna Lee and Elaine West painted in the same location and we all came up with  good but very different results. I'm posting Donna's below and I will include Elaine's later if I can get her to send me a photo of it. Elaine lives on a houseboat near San Francisco and is a very good plein air painter - we always enjoy her company when she's in San Miguel. I haven't got out to do plein air for a while as I've been doing a lot of color experimentation in the studio lately. It's been interesting (even a lot of fun) but after yesterday I would  say that the experience of painting on the street (so far) remains the best. I think it's a good idea to try different things though. It's not all that surprising when something you've discovered doing one approach pops up as a nice inclusion in the other - I think there's a little of that in the example above.

And here's Donna Lee's below ..................

untitled 9x12 in. oil on panel     Donna Dickson
There is some great and complicated drawing in this one and considering she spent just over 2 hours on it I find this painting really impressive. Cuesta Loreto really is that steep and Donna has the whole feeling of it just as it is. I love the feeling of height and distance overlooking the town, between the two buildings near center. Five BIG stars Donna !! ............. a very cool piece of plein air work.

   (untitled so far)  9x12 oil on panel     Elaine West

Another great example of  p/a work. Elaine found a rare flat spot in the shade and out of the traffic to work on this one. The guy with the rolled up straw rugs on his bike just happened to come by and made a perfect inclusion for the piece. I love the strong design and those saturated hues. Bravo Elaine !

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cuesta de Loreto 1

"Cuesta de Loreto  1"
14x18 in.  oil on panel
$550.  u.s.

My first painting since our move up the hill to our new abode. We went out with just one  student (Mary) on this last Monday and found a perfect scene not 200 feet from our door. We are just around the first corner to the right. This had to be one of the most enjoyable paintings I've ever done - I'm very happy with the result and the direction my work continues to take. Donna always tells her students " you have to crawl before you can walk " ................. I feel like I'm finally getting onto my feet after mostly half a century on all 4's............
I don't bother with a lot of detail anymore and make sure I only place it where it counts - when it has something to add to the theme and won't just be distracting.

This road is really steep! We keep seeing our new neighbors striding by on the uphill moving about the speed that most hominids would only reach going down. Some of these folks are well over 80 and still are not wasting any time on the incline. Donna and I are in pretty good shape but keep getting overtaken - it's embarrassing. They remind me of the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon fame. Most of them have spent all their life overlooking the town of San Miguel and they don't think anything of skipping down to el centro and back with their market bolsa's.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

From Last Week

$350. u.s.

This was the first demo for a workshop we did last week for 2 students from New York, one of whom has decided to move to San Miguel permanently! - the other is strongly considering it. Donna has posted a photo of this one mid way through - when it was mostly greys, on her blog site. I haven't given this a title yet. We're in the middle of a big move up the hill to a larger abode with a fantastic rooftop view of the whole town and beyond. I hate mooooving with a passssion but it's going to be worth it this time.. I thought I better post something now or I won't for the next few weeks as we'll be totally consumed up there for a while.

This one was the second official demo for Mary and Dan. It's not completed but almost so. I want to add some figures and a couple of other things. I'll get to that as soon as I can. We had fun with the demo thing and both of them seemed to feel they learned a lot, which I find gratifying. It's hard to verbalize and paint at the same time - a big challenge to say the least.

$350. u.s.

This one was done on Monday during our regular plein air class. Dan and Mary joined us - this time not as students - and they both did really well. They have really gotten in touch with those greys over the last week. 
There is a nice old man who lives on that corner ( behind and above the fountain ) - he really seemed to appreciate us painting up there. He's lived there all his long life - he told me he is 86 but when he talked to Donna he only admitted to 78 ...................... hmmmmm .............
When it came time to leave Mary gave the viejo Senor her painting !!! - he was delighted and amazed.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Un Dia Brumoso y Dos Soleados

$1800. u.s.

"Un Dia Brumoso"
24x30 inches, oil on canvas

The "wet" season has come to San Miguel and I love those big summer clouds. It's a nice change from the mostly unbroken sunny days of "winter". This painting is obviously done in the studio from reference photos and lots of observation from our patio deck, overlooking part of the town and broad plain beyond. The actual painting view is from further up the hill from where you can see the entire center of town.
This painting was tricky. I didn't want to get too "picky" with detail - I wanted the whole thing to remain a bit fuzzy - misty in fact. The effect of the passing beam of sunlight was very important to me, as was the shifting light and cloud shadow over the plains, so I had to get the values and color temperatures just right. It was a bit of a challenge but I managed to keep enough control to get the proper mood, I think. Yes and it was a lot of work. The next studio painting is going to be a lot more relaxing for a change ...........................

"Calle Recreo desde el Chorro"
9x12 inches  oil on panel
$350. u.s.

This plein air was from last Tuesday and was a lot of fun. I had been working diligently on the big studio piece (above) for many days and it was great to get out on location and really "cut loose"! The morning started out kind of brumoso - it's summer after all - but the sun did break through for a few instants early on and we did our best to note the position of any light and shade we could put to use. The spot we painted from was excellent. However, there is usually someones car parked in that location. This time somebody had parked an old clunker half in this spot and half in the next, so they left us a safe place right by the corner with a very nice composition. In some ways it's really hard to paint in San Miguel as the streets and sidewalks are sooo narrow. The best views are from the middle of the street but impossible to do plein air work from.

"Morning at Espino's Corner"
9x12 inches on panel
$350. u.s.

.............and this one was from Monday. In reality there was a lot more traffic passing us by but you can almost ignore reality sometimes when you're a painter. I didn't want the painting to be about cars, buses and taxi's after all. I can remember a San Miguel from 46 years ago when there was hardly a car in town - in this respect it was a lot more the quiet, sleepy paradise than now! But you can't go back, can you ??
................... So mindlessly on to oblivion we go ........ seemingly whistlin' all the way ...................

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


16x20 ins. oil on panel

What they say is true .............. there is a lot of esperando in Mexico

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

High on San Miguel

"Late Afternoon - calle Hernandez Macias"
24x30 ins. oil on canvas
This one is a studio painting done with the palette knife. I didn't want to get too fussy with this one and the knife generally insures that you don't. I was going for that 5 pm. atmosphere and I think on the whole it came out pretty well. I'm no expert with the knife but I like the effect. I've been putting little dashes in with the knife for some time now but haven't done too many dedicated knife paintings. This was fun, so maybe there will be more "down the line". 

The painting below was started as a plein air last Monday. There was a huge eucalyptus on the right at the start of the session ( note shadows on yellow wall ). As we painted a work crew came along and felled the tree !! I just couldn't concentrate on the tree with this guy with a chain saw, swinging around on ropes dodging "widow makers" as they came down. Most of the group were down the street about 50 feet from me - much closer to the action and indeed in some measure of peril. However, the senor was an expert and there was no loss of life. The group showed good plein air metal even as they found themselves blanketed in a fairly constant snow of saw dust.

I've said it before:    as you set out to paint in the morning, you never know what the hell is going to happen to you. We've watched and admired that beautiful tree growing the whole time we've lived here and wouldn't you know - the vary day we chose to paint it, it drops in the sidewalk, piece by piece before our startled eyes. However, I must mention that Les did a nice, historic as it were, painting that day in which the tree figures largely, in all it's prior majesty. Les works pretty fast sometimes .....................

"High on Montitlan"  12x16 ins. oil on pamel

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tectonically Mexico

"A lo Largo del Rio" 30x40 ins.  oil on canvas
..... this photo is a little on the dark side - sorry, sorry, soorrry ..........

This is a largish studio painting inspired  from one of our plein air painting trips into the countryside of Guanajuato State. The rising hill on the left is actually a spur of an extinct volcano and the river is running around it's base. The whole region is peppered with these things. In fact, where we live in San Miguel is at the base of a rather large one! We don't lose any sleep over it as the vent has been inactive for over 10 million years but it does give you a sense of "the Living Planet" you're parked upon. You don't really have to go all that far from here to find some warm to hot ones either. Paricutin for example (a couple hundred miles from here) arose out of a corn field in the '1940's, buried nearby towns and is now a quarter mile high ......and there is of course, famous old Popo smoking away outside of Mexico city - plus lots more - about 1400 in all, scattered around central Mexico. Can't complain - they make for great backdrops to an exciting landscape! - Love It!

"Evening Vista, San Miguel de Allende"  24x30   oil on canvas

Looking north at sunset - the other direction from that nasty Volcano.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Monday Morning on calle Aldama and YES, that is the backside of the Parroquia.

"The Parroquia from Aldama"
12x16 ins. oil on panel
This scene has been painted thousands of times in San Miguel. I myself did it years ago when we first moved here permanently. I remember it was in the afternoon (this one is morning) and from a slightly different vantage point on the street. I saw the photo of that painting a couple of months ago and if I could find where I filed it (not in the obvious place) I would post it alongside. When I saw the pic of the old one I was pretty shocked at the tightness of approach. If I come across it and remember to do so, I'll sneak it in to this post - would be an interesting comparison. I'm a lot freer in my handling of the paint these days. My colors are more vibrant too - I like the direction things are heading. And just when I thought old age was going to be boring!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On a scale of Ten ?

ESQUINA SOLLANO 9x12 ins. oil on panel
 This one was from Monday's plein air session in which Donna and I had absolutely zero students show up! Yes, the busy season is really winding down. - must confess though, we enjoyed the peace and quiet. Donna located about 30 feet away and had the park car wash (north park side) guy watch every stroke she made - business was a bit slow for him that day too I guess. Her painting did survive the close scrutiny - the Sr. gave her a 10 on the scale and assigned me a niner ................. oh well, there is always room for improvement.

SPRING MORNING 9x12 ins. on panel

I missed last weeks plein air, so this was from 2 weeks back. I don't know where the Senor would place this one on his scale. It would be interesting to see his reaction. The style is quite different of course.
What is quite interesting about this scene is that the week after we painted this tranquil street a small contingent of mural painters was unleashed on the neighborhood, totally transforming the place. Everyone is waxing ecstatic about the result. Sorry folks - I find the effect of murals painted on walls abominable. To me, this typical, already colorful Mexican neighborhood, with a spirit all it's own has been trashed - it's prior identity submerged under something too loud and strident. People used to have more sense at one time.
.................So go crucify me...............

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A few of my paintings from the February workshop

 "Callejon Cruz del Pueblo"
12x9 in. oil on panel
from day 2 of workshop
I like this one a lot. I perched myself right at the very top of the steep callejon, with the rest of the group below me and it was so peaceful and calm - a great place to paint!

  "Umaran Corner"
9x12 ins.

"Magazine Seller"
12x9 in.

This one was a demo done inside the studio for the students when it turned a bit cooler on the 4th. day. I used a photo from Guanajuato and laid the color over a medium dark background. I explained what I was doing during the process and the students seemed to feel they got a lot out of it. I'm not at all used to talking while I paint so it was quite an experience for me. 
I've only included these 3 paintings as I couldn't bring any of the others I started any where near completion during the workshop - I'll maybe work on the others this week.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Photos from our 2013 San Miguel de Allende Workshop

Feb. 2013 San Miguel de Allende Workshop Students and Instructors

back row: Tom Lips,  Leslie Roundstream,  Gail Pendell,  Kathryn Boll,  Mary Li,  Lucie Michel,  Gary Heger,  Donna Dickson,  Tom Dickson,  Eadie Richards,  Ian Carter

     front sitting: Cynthia G. Smith,  Carol O'toole,  Elena Sacal

We had a great group and a wonderful week of painting. It's always nice to see impressive results and also gratifying to hear appreciation for the teachers efforts. I want to congratulate all of you for work well done. It would be a pleasure to paint with you again in the future.

We had quite a mix of media, techniques and even weather this year. It was warm the first 3 days but on the last two it turned quite abnormally chilly. Most opted to paint indoors at the gallery on Friday and Tom Lips was nice enough to offer the use of his beautiful home on Saturday. So, we ended up with some very nice interior compositions in addition to the street and landscapes done earlier in the week. 

Tom Lips and Mary Li tackling a very simple subject..... and tackled well it was, as it were, in their hands! Congrats - it was a tough one! Both paintings had a tremendous feeling of depth, good color and design. Obviously these two have got "the stuff".

Our first morning out, drawing lots of attention from tourists that can't be seen in this picture. The famous parroquia is just behind us but I think on this particular morning it was us getting most of the attention. How could we concentrate? - no problem for plein air painters - we ignored the crowd and had a great time learning about the principals of color.

Kathryn, Lucy and Carol in the studio building on that first cool day. They, Eadie and Gail picked the brightest location under the huge central skylight and painted with water media to their hearts content.

I'm giving some pointers to Tom Lips here, who soaks up information pertaining to oil painting like a sponge. He has made tremendous progress since we've known him and he claims our instruction has had a lot to do with it.

Leslie Roundstream with full plein air gear painting alongside some company in the form of an ancient Otomi Indian shrine in the middle of a field in San Miguel Viejo. Les got 2 terrific results that day in the space of about 3 hours!

from left: Kathryn, Ian and Carol, painting at Cruz del Pueblo

Gail with some new amigitos assisting her in the Jardin

Eadie painting at "the Cruz"

Gretchen and Cynthia higher up the "mountain" at Cruz del Pueblo. They were a little chilly in the shade that morning - their blood having been thinned by too much time on the tropical beach sands at Syulita.

Tom demonstrating oil technique back in the gallery with Gary and Mary.

Elena with her chosen terrace, mid-elevation at "the Cruz"

and Lucie a little further down-slope, at the end of another happy session of plein air painting.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

From last weeks workshop

....... from Monday morning. Cruz del Puebla 12x16 ins.

.......from Monday afternoon in the Jardin Principal 9x12 ins.
(unfinished - needs some bench sitters)

"Iglesia San Antonio"  12x16 ins. oil on canvas
........ form Tuesday morning (completed)

......... from Tuesday afternoon at the Jardin  12x16 ins. on panel
(completed but untitled so far)

The restaurant owner apparently wants to buy this one. He stood at my shoulder for a while and watched the process. He gave me his card and I seem to have lost it somehow. I walk by his place all the time but can't remember the restaurant name. When I find out I'll grace the picture with a title and let him know it's ready. Our group attracted a lot of attention that final afternoon. For some it was a bit nerve wracking. We couldn't have parked ourselves in a busier location. The attention comes with the territory - you just have to get used to it. Some really get off on it - they either like the showman part or they love talking to all the people. Personally I can't say as I like either of those aspects, so I just about totally ignore the crowd and immerse my consciousness in the process. Some probably think I'm pretty grumpy but it's actually a case of total involvement. I can't imagine how anybody can paint plein air and talk at the same time - amazing -

I made the mistake of smiling at a little boy who seemed particularly enthralled and hung behind my back for a while. When I packed up my gear I couldn't find my "wet painting separator strips" and I fear this ninito had something to do with it. I'm always pretty careful with my stuff but it shows you can't be too careful. The strips of course are worth about 1 centavo and will be totally of no use to the kid - just made the carry home a little miserable for us. Anyway, I was happy with both the paintings I did on Tuesday and it was a really good group to share two perfect days with. I hope we can do it again some time.

All next week is our yearly San Miguel workshop so we'll be doing lots more plein air and I'll post the results along with group photos the following week. It's a large group and some are pretty advanced painters - the weather coming up looks great and I'm looking forward to having  another exciting week!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

for those mid-Feb. blahhs

"Watching the Surf" - Syulita
24 x 36 ins. oil on canvas

This one is from Syulita, a small fishing/surfing beach just (far enough) north of Puerto Vallarta. I'm working on a few with similar theme at the moment. I like this one. I think you can almost hear Bob Mally in the background. If so, I really hit it right because of course, Bob was omnipresent and always is at a surfin' beach - I wonder how long Bob will "live on"? ............ another 50 years? ............ another hundred??
I remember the first time I heard Bob - It was "I shot the sheriff" - I must have been about 10 years old. Well, I heard it again about a week ago and it still sounds great! - must get back to the beach soon!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Plein air from Sunday

"The Church at San Miguel Viejo"
14x18 ins. oil on panel

This picture started out fairly well but quickly turned into a disaster and it was embarrassing because it was a paid demonstration (of my masterly technique) for one of Donna's students . I had trouble visualizing it. I had trouble drawing it. I had trouble applying the paint and I had some trouble with the color. I had lots of  poorly timed trouble......................

For the benifit of those few of you who have any interest in the matter, I'll point out the main avoidable problems that were throwing me off and maybe we can remember what not to do in the future. .........maybe.........

 By the way the picture you see above is a bit of a rebuild - I worked on it today for about 3 hours. I'm actually happy with it now. I think now it's the most interesting painting of that church I've done to date. Those flags were worrisome to say the least!
Firstly I was distracted by the circumstances of the event. I've got to totally concentrate when choosing a scene and planning the execution of the painting. There are just so many factors to keep in mind. A good instructor can blot most distractions out - I'm not a good instructor.
Secondly the wind was blowing like crazy and we took a little longer to set up because of it. We tried to find the best protection but the scene precluded total escape.

Thirdly, the worst of it was we were standing under some very dark trees and looking out toward the light. Not only that but the view was up-sun, in the afternoon, making the contrast of light to shade even worse. We couldn't judge our values and colors that we were mixing. I've run into that one lots of times but this was the worst case yet. On top of it all I've been experimenting lately with dark, primed panels. It would have been bad if the surface had been white. It was all too much for this painter. Some of it was fun but there was a point at which I was tempted to scrape.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

.........Evolve/Devolve/Whatever ?????

"Late Afternoon Light S.M.A. 
14x18ins. oil on canvas

"7 p.m." 
14x18 ins. oil on canavs

"Mexican Fishermen"
14x18ins.  oil on canvas too