Sunday, May 16, 2010

Word of the Day - Plein Air

Evening in the Park
Oil on Canvas 9 x 12

I packed supper into a bag, some wine into a thermos and we headed out to Barnet Marine Park again on Friday evening. Most importantly I took my new pochade box. After a quick supper, I scouted out a painting spot and got started. Several curious onlookers stopped by. I didn't mind as long as they did not stop for too long - I had to keep painting as the light was changing fast.

This painting took me about 4 hours - 2 hours in the park, another hour in Picard's studio where I benefited from exactly the tips I needed and then an hour dabbing on the leaves. This is the first of many plein air paintings that I hope to do this summer. 

En plein air is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.  Thanks to Wikipedia for that definition.  

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Word of the Day - Pochade

We recently had a picnic supper at Barnet Marine Park on Burrard Inlet about a ten minute drive from home. I was on the hunt for potential views to paint and I found at least one hundred. The image here is a photo, not a painting, so don't get too excited.

The next day I tried out my new pochade box. Pochade - pronounced pe-shod - is the French word for a sketch, generally used to refer to an outdoor sketch painted to catch the atmosphere and colours of a landscape. A pochade box is designed to carry the tools and supplies required to make such sketches and it has a built-in easel.  I can report that I felt trĂ©s French and definitively painterly using my pochade box, even though I was indoors at the time!  At least I was looking out the window to capture the feeling of the landscape.  
It was a test run on the new equipment. I learned to adjust the levers and wing nuts, used the sliding palette tray and I found the secret compartments. I am sure it will improve my paintings.
The photo here shows the pochade box sitting in my studio. The painted sketch is sitting in place snugly slid into the holder in the lid of the box. You can see my scene outside the studio window. In the background, top left corner, sits an unfinished still life on my easel.

The photo on the right shows the pochade sitting in my studio.
The painted sketch is sitting snugly in place in the lid of the box. Outside the window is the scene I painted.

The photo below shows the sturdy tripod with a 'rock skirt' in the centre of the legs. On windy days you can place a few rocks or a boulder in the skirt to hold the whole contraption down. My next steps: cut an inch off the tops of my long brushes so they fit into the brush tray and head out to a building supply store to buy a sheet of masonite and have it cut up into 9 x 12 panels to paint on.
More here on pochade boxes. I purchased mine online at Dick Blick. It arrived by Fedex in less than a week, a remarkable feat on shipments from the US to Canada. Now I'm getting really excited about the summer weather and painting outdoors.

Thanks Elsa for your tips on the pochade box.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Mixed Tapes and a Mixed-Bag Week

Pencil drawing,
(copied from an image provided in Picard's drawing class)

My first draft of this posting included a fair amount of whining about the letdown we can experience after a big event. I admit, I was in a blue state for a couple of days, but then finally had enough of it. There really is nothing for me to whine about when I look back over my last seven days.

I attended an art conference in Alabama where the air is warm and the vowels are long. Veeeery long.... try this in a somewhat high pitched, sing-songy voice "Thaaaang Keeew." 

I ate grits while there. It is just cornmeal! Who knew? Well, who north of the 49th parallel knew.

I heard inspiring words from Mark Carder, originator of The Carder Method especially his shoot-for-the-sky attitude embodied in his phrase to "paint like Rembrandt".

I found great kinship with like-minded artists who transformed from online forum buddies to in-person friends. And I had three paintings in my first art show.

Back in Vancouver ...I learned to use Camtasia to edit sound files for a YouTube video we are creating to publicize The Book. That is the start of fulfilling a long held desire I've had to learn to edit (beyond mixed tapes, which I used to tinker with endlessly for perfect transitions between songs).

What was that whining about anyway?

Web Finds
Interested in Vermeer? Check out this rich site

Can't sleep at night? Enrich your mind here.