Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to School Special!

Today, Doug's Club went to the Fort Worth Stockyards to paint.  This August is unlike any other, almost cool. overcast and breezy.  We painted just in the morning as it began to sprinkle. The painting on the top was painted at the Stackyards and when I got home I really wanted the yellow cab to be important so I painted it in the front.  It is a little more believable, but not sure it made it any better.

We had a good group as you can see! We thought we were adding to the tourist attraction thing, but one of the T-shirt sellers did not approve of us in front of his tables.  Guess we were obscuring the flying pigs just a little too much  There is much to paint here.  When I arrived at 8:30 AM there were very few cars and fewer people.  I need the color of the Yellow Cab in my painting.  I added it in the studio afterwards along with the "Fort Worth Stockyards" - too much gooey paint to do it on site. Only one painting, but a great day with good company!

Below is a view of the courthouse
as you drive away from the Stockyards.  I have always wanted to paint this view.  When I figure out how to get there without being killed I will do it.  It is in the middle of a bridge that is usually heavily with traffic.  Loved the skies today!  Rain precious rain!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sweet Sixteen

We are definitely under-apreciated at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden!  No painting!  Not even pastels or watercolor are allowed into the Japanese Gardens.  Fortunately they are not banned form the rest of the park.  We had a model posing in the shade of huge live oak trees today for a change of pace.  While we were waiting for the model to come I started a painting of the pagoda entrance to the Japanese gardens.  Lush in spite of the heat, the materials and style of the architecture makes you wonder if it could be anymore beautiful in Japan itself. 

Wendy brought our model.
Painting outside is hard enough, but painting a model or portrait in two hours in the changing light requires mental gymnastics!  It is not easy for the model either, the sun moves around and shines in her eyes, the mosquitoes bite (with west nile fever prevalent, that’s not acceptable) and it’s just not easy to sit for 2 hours.  Lunch at the Kimble was our reward.  Many of us follow Valerie Pirlot’s blog with herfriends in England.  The latest blog from August 8th showed them with hats and coats under overcast skies with puddles everywhere.  Alas they just don’t know what they are missing.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chandor Gardens

It's still over 100 degrees here.  There is one place where the cool breezes can be found!  Chandor Gardens.  I wonder if they have notices how many new memberships they have enjoyed with all of the plein aire artists from Doug's Club coming to paint? Today was no exception and we enjoyed the beauty from open to closing time.
Koi Pond, Beautiful reflections!
Love Chandor;s circle

There were five of us, TK, Doug Clark, of course, Tosca and Sarah. Deciding what to paint is the hardest thing.  There is so much it is really hard to narrow it down to something you can handle in a couple of hours.  I have admired the trellis every time that I've painter here.  The contrast of the brilliant sunlight and the cool shadows is the story here.  I am still a novice at such things, but you get there by practice, right?  Getting the darks dark enough and keeping the lights is hard.

We had lots of wipe offs today.
I rarely allow myself to do that.  If I did I would never finish a painting.  Instead I barrel through and paint over it later if I cannot pull it off - which is all too often.

Top is Tosca with her paintings, then TK going after the Caladiums!  Sarah is getting ready to paint a doorway into a courtyard.  Doug is putting the finishing touches on his Foo dog.

Below is a doorway that is the most delicious shade of green.  The charming oriental lantern hanging next to it deserves it's own painting.  The turquoises bounce all over the place.  Soft salmon colors reflect from the sun drenched brick below the door and bounce up onto the wall to mix with the shadows.  The green of the follage mixes in with all of the above to make an amazing assortment of colors.  The longer I looked at trying to paint is the more challenging it became.  The Gardens close at 3pm on Saturday so I did not quite finish.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Heatwave Relief in Texas!

This week has been fantastic.  Every evening the clouds bubble up and it cools off into the eighties!  Probably sounds funny to those of you in Oregon or some other "cool" place.  Well the "Relief" I'm referring to is the cool atmosphere in the Chandor Gardens - in nice, otherwise hot, Weatherford, Texas.  It is well worth the 62 mile drive to paint there basked in the breezes, the shade and the cool mist from the well water sprinklers.  Doug's Group, about 7 of us this time gathered yesterday for another painting session.

This painting is of an area called the bowling alley.  It's a long shady submerged terrace with a gazebo and three fountains at the far end of it.  The ferns and a sone wall covered with ivy frame the "bowling" part of it.  There are gates in the green hedges along either side that let the light flow across the lawn. The temperature where i was standing had to be at least 15 degrees cooler that the parking lot.  Thus the name of this blog.  Everything is crawling with some sort of green stuff.

I painted this fountain last week from the other side.  Last time I painted up close and personal views of the fountain and a little statue.  This time I decided to try to get the feeling of a larger area.  It was not easy.  I could define some of the levels and different planting beds more, but not in the time that the sun allowed me today.  At lunch time the Gardens were having a catered 'sit down' lunch from the Wild Mushroom Restaurant.  We ate in Mr Chandor's former studio and had Brie sandwiches with berries and angle food cake.  Doug quoted appropriately from an old artists book, written in 1909, on outdoor painting explaining that what one needs when painting outside was a "Rustic" to carry all of their equipment.  This is just about as close as you can come in this day and time to having a "Rustic" - having someone fix a delightful lunch.  This is my kind of "Rustic"!

Here is a photo of the bowling alley.  It is really obvious to me that a painter planned this garden. While painting this view, I kept noticing different things that he did do make it visually appealing.  The three tall fountains at the end, arches and holes in the hedges.  There was no water in the bowling green area but it has the feeling of calm that water brings.  Really a delightful area.  The more I looked the more enjoyment I found.

I decided to plant some succulents after visiting Chandor Gardens.  So I photographed some of their plantings loaded with different kinds of cactus and succulents.  There are so many different shapes and colors, textures - like a painting in a pot!  I found one of the cactuses (seen at right in the upper right) at Walmart and when I picked it up a man who was also perusing the cactus and succulents, said on my you have really picked a dangerous thing.  That has thousands of little spines and you will have to use a magnifying glass to pick them out if you even lightly touch them!  I bought it anyway because I really like the look.  But I know to wrap it in newspaper and handle it with care thanks to him.

I'm still searching for a proper planter.  More later on the propagation of such plants.

Below is the fountain area that was the subject of my second painting.  These two paintings required more that the usual
amount of time.  The difference in the light when I started
nd finished is obvious by the shadows.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Painting memories from France

We recently took a river cruise up the Seine (down the Seine?)  to Normandy.  I had no time to paint, but I took lots of photos.  So here are some of my attempts to recreate what I saw. They kind of jump around.  The photo above is one that was left over in my mind from an earlier trip to Paris.  This  row of book sellers is one of my favorite sites in Paris.

This is a scene from Rouen.  It was a place that I had never visited before.  I  have not attempted the most famous object from Rouen, the Cathedral. Rouen is the place where Monet painted many pictures of this famous cathedral.  I was a little disappointed in the Cathedral actually.  Monet's versions of it are so beautiful. The Cathedral is a virtual encyclopedia of architectural styles. I immediately came home and looked up the paintings to see what he did with them that was so wonderful out of that mixture of carvings, towers and styles. Monet painted the play of light and shadows and he cropped into the cathedral to avoid an impossible collection of dingbats, geegaws and furbelows.  I may eventually give it a try, byt above and below are some of the timbered buidings and the most beautiful clock tower.

It was the weekend of the annual celebration of the burning of Joan of Arc.  Crowded is an understatement.  I hope that I captures some of the hubbub in the painting above.  Below is the entrance to a church that captured my attention.  Like so many towns in France Grey is the dominating color.  I love shades of grey.  (I'm not referring to "50 Shades")  The interesting thing about painting a location that is monochromatic is that as you stare at it and paint it, other colors come into play.  The grey of the roof is not really grey, but green, the walls are actually yellow with streaks of rust.  The bounced light turns the doors bright red and the mosses and lichens glow green and ochre.  In my photo it was for all intents and purposes a black and white photo - but I can still remember the colors I saw as I walked by, thinking,  "I wish I had time to paint that, that's beautiful."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Giverny, Texas Style

This past week with the temperatures around 100 degrees I met a group of intrepid painters in Weatherford, Texas at the Chandlor Gardens.  The Gardens are located near downtown in Weatherford which if about 25 miles west of Fort Worth.  The gardens were created by an transplanted Englishman who met an attractive red haired Texan and agreed to move to Texas only if he could have his gardens.  Over his remaining lifetime he turned a cow pasture into a series of walkways, stairs, pools, fountains, waterfalls and nooks that are nestled in among trees and waterways.  His gardens were created at about the same time as Monet's gardens with similar influences of Chinese and oriental motifs.  Mr Chandlor was also an artist, a noted portrait painter.  

He put together various materials to  form the elements for this highly personal garden.  There are latin phrases formed with bricks and stone, fountains made with touches of glass marbles, and various sculptures combined with tiles and stone.  He must have loved turquoise and there are many touches of turquoise and the bottoms of many of the pools are an unusual color or turquoise.  Those of you that have followed my blogs know that I love to paint at the Dallas Arboretum and the Fort Worth Botanical Garden.  But these gardens are different.  There are no vast lawn or planting of 5000 tulips to make you gasp.  There are just wonderful surprises around every corner that make you want to pick up a book and curl up and read.  These garden are intimate and reflect the loving care that makes gardening what is it.  Doug Clark summed it up when he said upon arriving that he did not know whether he wanted to paint of go go home and garden!

I found TK Riddle standing in the middle of a walkway with sprinklers going like mad.  She had taken off her shoes and was enjoying the cool well water used to water the plants happily painting in bare feet.  After Mr Chandlor died in 1953 his nephews moved into the house.  They were not inoculated with the gardening bug like their uncle and the gardens fell into disrepair.  Eventually they were purchased and passed onto the City of Weatherford.  The home on the property is beautifully kept with examples of his portraits of local dignitaries and even the Queen.  (The original hangs in the British Embassy in Washington DC.).  His studio is to an artist's dream with a huge north light window overlooking a small bronze statue and fountain, below.

We were all so impressed that we promptly joined the friends of the Gardens and are planning a return trip.  Thanks to the generosity of the City of Weatherford.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Texas Summer Painting Celebration!

Painting in Waxahachie Texas is one of my rites of Summer.  The last week in May until the first week of June a paintout is held for plein air painters in conjunction with the Gingerbread House Tour in this little town.  Tina Bolhman is the driving force in this event and one of its best participants.

Sunflower faces up close and personal.  
About 40 painters, mostly from Texas
come and paint the turn of the century
buildings and elaborate "Gingerbread" houses.
You can see past year's efforts on my part on my website blog in the blog section.

This year's area was expended to include the fields of sunflowers that surround Waxahachie. They go on forever, just like France!  Their heads are taller that I am and a foot around.  Debob Jacob lead us to her patch of sunflowers that she had scouted the day before and the three of us squeezed out the cadmium yellow                  are were mesmerized for a couple of hours.

Dougs sunflower painting.  
Doug Clark painting sunflowers out of the sun!

I was planning a trip to France within this same time frame, but my friend Doug Clark convinced me to come and paint in the days before I left.  So with brushes flying I manages to get in 3 days before I left.  The first thing I do on a pain out is to survey the area.  Even a familiar area changes in a few months.  Last years paint out was plagued with wind and searing heat.  We were so lucky this year to have a fabulous cool (under 100 degrees) weather.

DeBob Jacobs painting sunflowers
 Enough of the Sunflowers the highlight of the Waxahachie pain tout is the "quick draw".  It is a 2 hour maniacal attempt to start and finish a painting which is sold in an auction at the end.  This year's  quick draw was at the Saturday market that attracts farmers, pie makers, honey collectors and arts and crafts from the area.  The residents come early to pick up fresh veggies and visit with their neighbors.

Below is my favorite farmer.  I have painted him for three years.  He even remembers me and his relatives have purchased my paintings each year.  This year, alas, he did not get painted. Instead with Cezanne ringing in my ears I chose some peaches.  They were drop 
dead beautiful!

Favorite farmer in signature red shirt!

I was practically standing on the peach display.  My goodness they were beautiful!  Next to them were some leaves of Kale, I think,  they had red veins and curly leaves.  Oh such fun!  I finished in time to look around for another subject.  There is a man that sells hats every year.  I had painted him a couple of years ago.  I made another attempt in the few minutes that were left.  Forgot to get a photo of my painting.  They both sold, both to other artists participating.  Doug got the peaches.  

During the quick draw a big BSNF train
came by and I rushed to get a photo of it.  

Trains and Waxahachie go hand and hand. There are two major lines that go through the center of town and there is constantly the rumbling sound of trains coming and going. I love the sound and it is one of the attractions at Waxahachie. Just  south of the market stand the restored train station complex.  It is a remarkable area which includes a feed store located near the tracks.  There is a lot of  room to store all sorts of stuff.  Usually it is fertilized and animal feed, but this year it a stack of train rails and rail road ties were stacked.  Wow, I just had to paint that.  See below.

All rusty and ready to be committed to canvas.  That's the neat thing about painting on plein air, there are always surprises.  

Back to the town square.  What to paint here.  I think France was already on my mind.  I wanted to paint the shapes of the most interesting architectural details around the square.  I painted the beautiful red sandstone arches of the courthouse and the similar but different arches on what was probably originally the towns prosperous bank building.  I kind of thought that they could have been found in an French city. Most of the buildings are designed to be seen from the front only.  That is where the elaborate decoration is usually confined.  

The exception to this frontal decoration thing is the courthouse which swirls upward in "Gingerbread" magnificance. It is truly a challenge - always - even after several paintings of this subject.  I had company while I  painted these towers.  I was standing in a small courtyard that had been exposed when a group of buildings burned last year.  There were several stray cats living there. Someone had left food and water for them.  This tiny yellow kitten seemed to not have acquired the fear that the older cats has.  They disappeared while this tiny thing watched from safety hidden behind the air conditioning.  I would have had another cat if it would have come out!  I managed to place second in the final "wet show" at the end of the paint out.  I was pleased that I had made the effort to pack early!