Friday, June 29, 2012

Painting plein air with a flash mob

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Haro Strait shipping lane
Watercolour and gouache
©2012 Charlene Brown

My April 26 post included a conversation with a roving artcritic at Copan  that led me to think a less defensive, more confident approach to The Drama of Painting Plein Air would be a good idea… and a pleasantly confident approach might be a great idea. 
I got a chance to test this thought when I joined a plein air painting group, the Al Frescoes at Willows Beach here in Victoria. The Al Frescoes operate on a flash mob basis… gathering anytime after nine every Friday morning at a location that’s been emailed to everyone a couple of days in advance.  During the morning, quite a few of us took time to wander around and look at other works-in-progress.
I should mention that when the following Drama of Painting Plein Air took place, Haro Strait shipping lane was pretty insipid, and the clouds were too dark and just about everything else was too light. I wanted to be open to input from anyone who offered a suggestion. So, for the first time, I resisted the temptation to display my expertise by launching into a listing of my painting’s faults.

Fellow watercolour artist (the best kind of roving art critic): Mind if I look?
Artist: Of course not – I’ve just been doing the same thing myself.
RAC: I see you’re still at the ethereal stage... pale Prussian blue is a great way to start Mt. Baker.
Artist: I wish I could be adventurous like the acrylic or oil painters. (I had noticed that a lot of them  kept painting over their pale but realistic starts with just about every colour they’d brought along.)
RAC: They have the luxury of being able to go back to ‘ethereal’ if ‘bold and dark’ goes wrong. But we’ve always got gouache! That cloud bank around the mountain cries out for gouache!
Artist: What a great idea!  But I didn’t bring gouache because I always use it fresh out of the tube and I don’t bring tubes on location.
RAC: Those clouds will still be crying out for gouache when you get home.  It’s better to wait until your painting is really dry anyway – then you get to decide how much colour to stir up with the stuff…

Friday, June 22, 2012

Experiments with painting cards

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Four winter cards
©2012 Charlene Brown

When I painted folding cards like this a couple of weeks ago, I taped them flat on the board – and when I removed the tape, a bit of one of the paintings ripped off.
So this time I folded the cards before taping them down, two of them with just the back of the card taped (and protected) and two with the whole thing taped, as shown in the picture on the right.
As you might guess from this picture, The top ones were more difficult to work on, with the paint finding its way over the flapping edges of the paper.  Besides that, I prefer the results of the bottom ones – I like the paintings to have a white border. So from now on, I’ll be painting with tape all round the folded card.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Virtual Paintout in Latvia

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Bank at the end of the Bridge
©2012 Charlene Brown

The Virtual Paintout is in Latvia this month. I’ve noticed that several people have found good Google Streetviews to paint in some of the smaller cities – but I headed straight for Riga as I know there are some great church spires there.  I was out on a bridge trying to find a spot with a panoramic view that might include two or three of these when I noticed the bridge itself and the building at the other end of it had arranged themselves in what I thought was a pretty terrific design.  Hope you agree.  It reminds me of a bridge I painted about a year ago  when the Virtual Paintout was in Japan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Masking tape with a mind of its own

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The Olympic Mountains
©2012 Charlene Brown

Did you notice the little cloud at the top of this? Have you ever had similar weather changes in your paintings?
When you’re pulling off masking tape, it’s a good idea to pull at an angle away from the paper… but when you’ve taped a card along the flattened fold, you have paper on both sides of the tape.  Apart from actually being careful when removing the tape, the odd cloud seems inevitable.
Next time I try this, I’m going to tape the card in the folded position.  Or maybe pay attention to the subtle message on the package of blank cards – all their illustrations are painted right out to the edge of the paper.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How to mend a sail

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Mt. Baker
Watercolour, marker and collage
©2012 Charlene Brown

This was painted with watercolours… and then pretty well ruined with felt markers, when I attempted to add tiny little spinnakers to the sailboats. That interesting three-dimensional effect I hope you noticed was created by collaging tiny little pieces of watercolour paper (cleverly cut to exactly cover each little blotch.)
I painted two of these Strathmore 5.25” x 7.25” Watercolor Cards,’ flattened and held down with masking tape, and will present the pros and cons of that process when I write about the other card.