Wednesday, June 17, 2020

First Plein Air Painting of the Year

The weather here has been quite variable this June.  We had high temps drop all the way down into the 50's for a couple days accompanied by crazy wind and thunderstorms so dark it felt like late evening.  Then it got warm for a few days., then if got real cool again. This week has been on the cool side but not uncomfortably so and most importantly it's been at least partly sunny.

I took advantage of the finer weather to get out and paint outdoors (plein air) for the first time this season.  I've sketched outdoors a few times but this is the first time I took the whole painting set up out. I decided to take out the pastels because acrylics can be difficult in our dry climate but I might give the acrylics a try later this week.

landscape painting pastel nature art

I set up at a trailhead on the Jordan River Parkway near where I live in Taylorsville, Utah.  The parkway runs through the whole valley and is full of scenes ripe for the "canvas".  I took a couple short live videos on my Facebook page.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Catching Up

Well, I've been a bit derelict in my blogging duties, I have a few new paintings to catch up on here.

art painting landscape acrylic rural impressionist
The Road
This one is a small "6x8" paint over of an older painting.  The old one was a bit overworked, too detailed and dull for me now but I liked the composition so I painted over it in a looser, more vibrant style, much improved I think.  The reference is a photograph I took in the small rural town of Willard, Utah.

art painting abandoned tractor farmall rural farm machinery antique
Abandoned Farmall Tractor
Painting number two is also an impressionist brush painting rather than my usual more abstract knife paintings.  The subject is an antique "unstyled" early Farmall tractor rusting away in a field.  The painting is based on a photograph I took at the Erickson Ranch in Wallsburg, Utah.

art painting landscape spring nature mountains
Cardiff Spring
Another paint over, this time with the knives though and a little more abstract.  The painting was originally painted on location a few years ago in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah at the opening of Cardiff Fork.  It was spring and the wildflowers were abundant. Again, the result of the paint-over was a more lively, vibrant image.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Leaning towards Abstraction

I'm sure many artists can relate. Sometimes you get an idea in your head and just can't shake it, and finally it doesn't matter what's currently on the easel, you have to set it aside and get that thing out of your head and in paint.
I experienced a bit of that this week.  The poor tractor painting has been on and off my easel for over two weeks, it came off again a couple days ago. I kept having in my head the idea of pushing abstraction even further while staying representational and using knives.  It's no grand idea, but it seemed like it might be a new development for me, so I couldn't wait.  I took the tractor painting off the easel and took a small painting I did years ago but was in an older impressionist style I don't really do anymore and painted the same thing over it but with knives and thick paint while keeping in mind to make it as abstract as I could but still recognizable.

art painting landscape autumn nature aspen tree fall
Dreaming of Autumn
Like I said, this one is small, just 8" X 6".  I kept the same name "Dreaming of Autumn".  When I painted the original version it was August and it had been an especially hot and dry summer.  While I love summer I was feeling a need for a break and so I took a break mentally by painting an early autumn scene featuring a colorful field and aspen trees in the background.  The reference photo I used was taken at a rest area on the Monte Cristo road (state highway 30) in Rich County Utah.

I think I like where this is taking me, I'm sure there will be more experiments to come, maybe even a larger version of this painting eventually.

Oh, what about that tractor painting?  Here's a work in progress photo.  As you can see I'm using brushes, not knives and keeping it more impressionistic than abstract.

tractor art abandoned painting work in progress
Tractor painting WIP

Monday, June 1, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 31

It's finally the last day of my daily sketch challenge. What better way to top it off than to head up Big Cottonwood Canyon and do some sketching in the mountains. I picked kind of an unusual subject for a mountain sketch but I couldn't resist it when I saw it. Mountain homes have always intrigued me, they usually have a very distinct design and usually an interesting interaction with the natural shapes around them. I never noticed this house before, I suspect before long the foliage will be full enough that you can't even see it from the parking lot of Brighton Ski Resort which is where I was when I sketched it.

pen watercolor sketch mountain house aspen tree
Day 31 - Mountain Home - Daily Sketch Challenge Day 31
When I was young I seriously considered pursuing a career in architectural rendering, I'm glad I didn't for several reasons, the primary being that computers took over and took all the fun out of it.

As I mentioned before I said I would share my larger sketch kit that requires a backpack to carry around.

sketch kit pencil graphite eraser pen water brush
Pencil Case
The first photo is my pencil case full of not only graphite pencils but pens, erasers, a water brush and a sharpening pad. 

watercolor palette paint medium cup painting
Watercolor Palette
In the second photo is my watercolor palette. I don't know who the manufacturer is, it's a clamshell type and has a rubber seal but doesn't really seal all that well. I screwed a piece of aluminum to it that I can clip medium cups to. The paints are all Holbein.

watercolor block easel board tripod painting
Easel and Tripod
In the third photo you can see my watercolor sketch block resting on a board that I installed a 1/4-20 nutsert on to allow it to be attached to the mini tripod below.

sketch kit watercolor brushes Jack Richeson
The last photo is my brushes, a Jack Richeson portable brush set. 

I also sometimes use a 6X8 mixed media sketch book (spiral bound) and set it on the lid of the watercolor palette and just hold it to the palette with my hand doing away with the board and tripod and use a water brush instead of the medium cups and brushes for a more simplified setup.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 29-30

Two more days of my daily sketch challenge in the books and only one more to go.

ink watercolor autumn rural landscape barn sketch
Day 29 - Rural Landscape - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
This one was experimental.  I saw a video on YouTube by Dave Cusher where he used a stick sharpened to a point to put down some lines with ink, and then also scumbled ink with the side of a brush to create textures.  This technique intrigued me so I sharpened a piece of balsa wood I had and had a go at it.  I think I really needed to use a worn brush for the scumble technique.  My reference was a photo I took somewhere in Cache County, Utah late autumn a few years ago.  The barn wasn't in the photo but the top of a house was sticking up in that area which gave me the idea to add a barn there from my imagination.  Here's a photo of my stick and ink pot;

The penultimate sketch of the challenge was not a very happy one.

charcoal pencil sketch abandoned truck Mack
Day 30 - Abandoned Mack Truck - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
Maybe the less said about this one the better, I'm really only sharing it out of an interest in transparency since I'm not happy with it at all.  This was a mixed media sketch using watercolor, charcoal and pastel pencils and the subject is an abandoned antique Mack truck.  We'll leave it at that.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 26-28

A good variety of sketch styles in this post, from graphite pencil, to charcoal pencil to pen and watercolor.

pencil sketch graphite classic car junkyard wrecking yard
Day 26 - Stripped Junkyard Car - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
I kept this one simple, just a quickie using graphite pencils and mostly hatching strokes. The reference photo was taken In Mcbride's Auto Wrecking in Grantsville, Utah.  This wrecking yard was full of classic cars, mostly from the 1950's however they were mostly stripped of useful parts, in this case stripped almost bare, I believe that's a 1956 Mercury Montclair hardtop . Mcbride's is gone now, another victim to dirty politics to push the little guy out in favor of lucrative development. I was fortunate to be able to spend a couple hours there several years ago taking photos, little did I know it would be gone in just a year.  That's a warning for any artist I suppose, don't put off that painting trip or that sketch or photograph that old barn or truck or whatever else you find interesting, it might not be there when you go back if you put it off too long.

charcoal sketch spring city utah barn rural
Day 27 - Spring City Barn - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
Sketching with charcoal is simple enough, but I went larger on this one and with a more involved subject, this one took a while.  My reference was a photograph I took in Spring City, a small rural town in Sanpete County, Utah.  I liked all the angles provided by the barn shapes and that it was surrounded by the abstract shapes of foliage.  I toned the paper with sepia watercolor first, for some reason I really enjoy that warm undertone on charcoal drawings.

pen watercolor line wash sketch antique toy truck life
Day 28 - Antique Toy Truck - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
For day 28 I decided to grab one of the antique toy trucks from my collection and set it on the kitchen table for a life sketch in pen and watercolor.  Every toy truck in my collection is older than me, one by about 30 years.  Why have collected these toy trucks?  I really don't know, I just think they're cool, back when toys were made to last, out of pressed steel, not junk plastic.

watercolor sketch kit water brush pen Sakura
Mini Portable Watercolor Sketching Kit
Here's a photo of the mini portable kit I sometimes use for life sketching on location.  Included are; a mechanical pencil, two pens (.1 and .05) two Arteza water brushes, Strathmore 5 X 8 sketchbook, a Sakura 24 color watercolor kit and a paper towel.  The colors in the Sakura kit are a bit weak but this is a very convenient kit as it fits in a regular fanny pack so it can be taken anywhere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge - Wheeler Farm - Day 25

You might have noticed that I skipped day 24, that would be because I didn't make a sketch on day 24.  I had a couple things come up that took up too much time and didn't get around to sketch, but never fear, I made up for it on day 25.

sketch pen tractor john deere wheeler farm
Daily Sketch - John Deere Tractor - Day 25
I took advantage of a beautiful Memorial Day morning and went to historic Wheeler Farm, a park owned by Salt Lake County that just reopened after being closed for nearly two months due to the pandemic. My first choice to sketch was an early "styled" John Deere tractor, I'm guessing it's from the early 1950's going by the disk wheels with rubber tires.

pen sketch shed tree rural wheeler farm
Daily Sketch - Shed and Box Elder Tree - Day 25
Next I sat on the ground leaning against a tree next to Little Cottonwood Creek and sketched one of the sheds at Wheeler Farm that had an old box elder tree next to it.  The shed isn't old, but the tree sure is, it was probably there when the farm was active many years ago. I used a fiber pen and brush pens for both sketches to keep it simple.

I wasn't the only artist at Wheeler Farm that day.  There was a plein air oil painter working on a very nice little painting of one of the many historic structures on the property.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 22-23

Two intricate pen and watercolor sketches in a row for Day 22 and Day 23

pen watercolor sketch autumn rural shed chevy truck
Day 22 - Old Chevy Truck and Shed - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
This rural scene is based on a photo I took somewhere in the rural part of southern Utah County, probably near Spanish Fork.  However, the original photo was taken in summer, I decided to change it to fall.  I also added the old Chevy truck from another photo, it was red, I changed it to blue.

pen watercolor sketch dodge dart junkyard abandoned
Day 22 - Junkyard Dodge Dart - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020

This one is a rarity for me, a sketch not based on one of my photos or from life.  I saw the reference posted on twitter by someone I follow and who follows me.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to sketch it, and I also knew that the woman that posted it had taken the photo herself so she could give me permission and did.  If you are into old cars, especially Mopar you might want to give her account a follow: The photograph was very well composed, the only change I made was to simplify the background. The other thing that drew me to it was that grill, even a perfectly preserved 1960 Dodge Dart grill is pretty wild looking, but this was all bent up and took it to another level.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 19-21

Again, three more days, three more sketches.  I think this is the longest I've ever stuck to a challenge like this.  It hasn't been easy and it has eaten into my painting time but I think it's been worth.

pen sketch art abandoned dodge farm truck
Day 19 - Abandoned Dodge Truck - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
I decided to stick with a fine pen for this one, a Copic Multiliner .05 except for the darkest parts where I used a .1.  This means all shading was done with hatching.  I found this old abandoned Dodge farm truck in the rural central Utah town of Loa.

pen watercolor sketch art country store abandoned gas pump
Day 20 - Abandoned Country Store - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
I stuck with the fine pen for this one but then colored it with watercolor washes. The old country store actually exists, at least it did the last time I visited Boulder City, Utah. The vintage tow truck out back was taken from another reference photo.

pen sketch art rural winter barn abandoned snow fence
Day 21 - Winter Barn and Fence - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020

Time was short this morning so I had to keep today's sketch simple, so I went with a winter scene, the fact that most of the ground is covered in snow helped keep it minimalist.  The composition as it sat in the refence photo was almost perfect, everything leading to the focal point, the abandoned barn.  I especially liked that wrecked fence gate in the foreground, it pointed right up the snow ridge and to the barn, I did add a little tuft of grass in the lower left to point to the fence.  I found this scene in the small rural farming community of Eden, Utah in Ogden Valley.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 16-18

Another three days, three more sketches.

abandoned sketch watercolor building
Day 16 - Abandoned Feed Store - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020

I'm not a watercolorist, I generally just use watercolor to just color pen sketches.  I decided to try a pure watercolor sketch to take a shot at improving my skill with watercolor.  I think it will take a lot more sketches.  This building is an abandoned feed store in Castledale, Utah.

pen watercolor nature jordan river parkway sketch art plein air
Day 17 - Jordan River Parkway - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
Sunday I decided to take the sketching materials outdoors and down the street to the Jordan River Parkway to sketch this scene in pen and watercolor.

charcoal sketch drawing barn rural winter
Day 18 - Rural Winter Scene - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
I got the black dusty sticks out again but this time I left the paper white.  It might be hard to tell but this is actually a winter scene, based on a photo I took somewhere west of Provo, Utah. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 14-15

This post is black and white, as in the art materials used, or more accurately, shades of gray.

art sketch pen drawing abandoned bulldozer
Day 14 - Abandoned Bulldozer - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020

While I was on vacation in Capitol Reef National Park in central Utah a few years ago I decided to take a little side trip to Hanksville, Utah.  Now, there isn't much reason for a vacationer to go to Hanksville, it's a small town in the middle of nowhere.  The only recreational opportunities remotely close to Hanksville besides Capitol Reef is Bullfrog Marina about 60-70 miles south at the northern end of Lake Powel.  Because of that there is a small airport there and a small motel, as well as a place to store and repair houseboats but not a whole lot else. That is unless you're an artist who enjoys rustic scenes of old buildings and vehicles.  I spoted a few of old trucks and tractors in front of an old run down shop and also noticed a couple men talking over a tractor under repair.  I pulled into the lot and went over to ask permission to take photos.  Not only was I given permission to take photos of the stuff you could see from the street I was also given permission to roam the property out back and that's were I found this small bulldozer just sitting there with the blade propped up on a log and backed by a bunch of what I think are alder trees.  I know, it's a very odd subject for a work of art but artists like odd things.  This image has been sitting in the back of my head for a long time and this daily sketch challenge finally gave me an excuse to get it out and on to paper in pen.

art charcoal sketch drawing abandoned shed rural rustic
Day 15 - Derelict Shed - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
I broke out the black dusty sticks for this sketch, ie charcoal.  I first toned the paper with sepia watercolor.  Just one of those odd rustic subjects that artists love.  I found this scene in Mapleton, Utah, a small rural farming town between Springville and Spanish Fork.  The shed seems kind of small to me, I don't know what the farmer used it for but he apparently spent a fair amount of time in it judging by the fact there is a stove pipe coming out of it.  Maybe it was his "man cave".

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 12-13

I'm nearing the halfway point of this challenge and I've actually kept up with it and am generating plenty of future painting ideas along the way, however right now it is cutting into the painting time a bit but I think it's worth it.

rural landscape pen watercolor open land shed
Day 12 - Country Driveway - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
This sketch is based on a photograph I took a few years ago in West Mountain, Utah. It's interesting how many towns you discover that you never knew existed while exploring rural areas.  The photo was actually taken in autumn, I decided to give the trees summer color.  Also in the reference there wasn't so much open field in the background.  That shed at the end of the driveway is awfully small, I wonder what they use it for. I've attempted to make a painting based on this before and essentially failed.  With the composition adjustments I made in this sketch I think I might give it a try again some day since the sketch seems to work pretty well.

rural granary pencil graphite sketch abandoned farm
Day 13 - Two Granaries - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
I took to the pencils for day 13.  I think graphite is especially effective for rendering rustic rural scenes like this one.  What is interesting about this scene is what you are seeing here is two very different types of granaries.  How do I know the wood structure is a granary?  Because the studs are on the outside of the wall.  To make it easier to clean out all the grain, old style wood granaries were paneled from the inside so there were no obstructions getting in the way of the shovels to clear out the grain.  The granary behind is a "newer" style corrugated metal pre fab type.  I found this little scene in Hennefer, Utah.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Another Abandoned Truck

Please forgive me for painting yet another abandoned truck.  I'm not sure what it is about the rusty, dilapidated state of vehicles in the state of being recovered by nature that I find so visually appealing.  However I appear to not be the only one, I've done fairly well in sales of abandoned truck paintings, as well as abandoned cars and tractors.

abandoned truck vintage Chevy rusty rust
Derelict Chevy
I found this truck on the Erickson Ranch in Wallsburg, Utah during the Antique Power Show.  The truck is a 1935 Chevy which is unusual.  Even though Chevrolet outsold Ford for most of the 1930's relatively few Chevy's have survived.  I painted this almost entirely with palette knives to lend it that highly textured, semi-abstract look which you can see better in the details below.

I painted this on a deep cradled panel and painted the sides black which means this painting can be hung without a frame, or even set on a shelf or table.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 Day 9-11

I really should post these updates more often, but at least I am doing it.

pen watercolor sketch daily scrub oak nature
Day 9 - Scrub Oak - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
On a summer evening some years ago I ventured up to the east bench of the Salt Lake Valley with a small set of pastels and hiked a little bit up the Mount Olympus trail and did a bit of outdoor painting.  I also took some photos and this sketch is based on one of those.  There really isn't much red rock in northern Utah but there is a bit on the east bench of the valley.

charcoal drawing sketch abandoned granary overgrown
Day 10 - Abandoned Granary - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
I toned a piece of hot pressed watercolor paper with sepia watercolor before drawing this little scene of an abandoned metal granary with charcoal.  You see these little cylindrical metal granaries all over rural Utah and they are often abandoned, left to be reclaimed by Mother Earth, or maybe cut up for scrap some day.  Looks like the former is the case for this one, as the vegetation appears to be slowly swallowing it.  I found this little scene in some small farm town near Tremonton, Utah.

abandoned pen watercolor Chevy truck pickup
I can't pinpoint exactly why but I really enjoy abandoned vehicle scenes. I find scenes like this one especially interesting, where the abandoned vehicle is so obviously slowly returning to earth, this one is even being hosting a small tree.  I discovered this little scene in Mcbride's Auto Wrecking in Grantsville, Utah.  I was fortunate to be able to spend a couple hours wandering their yard photography dozens of similar scenes. Unfortunately McBride's is no longer there, the victim of questionable city politics, housing developments pay much more in taxes than junkyards.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 Day 6-8

A couple more days have passed, time for an update, three more sketches to share.

pen watercolor sketch rural landscape farm
Day 6 - Rural Landscape
This sketch is based on a photo I took in Castledale, Utah, a small desert town in central Utah.  Obviously there's some water there too since there is some farming in the area, basically a bit of an oasis in the desert, this scene in particular is quite green, not just in my sketch but for real too.  While exploring the town I noticed an old, unused bridge at the end of a dead end street.  I went over to investigate, walked across the bridge and encountered this bucolic farm scene.  I think I'll have to make a painting of this one too.

pen watercolor sketch abandoned car Chevy
Day 7 - Abandoned Classic Chevy
I found this scene also in Castledale at the north end of town.  I liked how the dilapidated fence echoed the sorry state of the abandoned 1950 Chevy sedan and I even "enhanced" the disrepair of the fence in the sketch.  This one also goes on my "to be painted someday" list.

pen ink sepia hay shed rural farm
Day 8 -Rural Hay Shed
I kept this one simple and small, just used sepia toned pens.  This scene is in Wanship, Utah, a very small rural town a ways east of Salt Lake City just off I-80.  The Weber River runs behind this rustic old hay shed.  I've attempted paintings of this hay shed a couple times before and didn't care for the results, that was several years ago, maybe it's time to try again, this time using the knives.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020 - Day 3-5

pencil graphite sketch farm barn derelict dilapidated abandoned
Day 3 - Dilapidated Abandoned Barn - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020

The day 3 sketch is a graphite pencil sketch of a dilapidated barn based on a photo I took in Ogden Valley, in the town of Eden, Utah.  This one might make a good painting.

pen watercolor line wash abandoned ford truck
Day 4 - Abandoned Ford Deliver Truck - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020

The day 4 sketch is an abandoned antique Ford delivery truck rusting away in the weeds in pen and watercolor. Based on a photo I took at the Antique Power Show in Wallsburg, Utah.

pen sketch rural farm barn countryside
Day 5 - Rural Farm Landscape - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
The day 5 sketch is simple pen sketch of a rural farm scene to test the concept for a painting. Based on a photo I took in Oakley, Utah.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Daily Sketching Challenge May 2020 - Day 1-2

I've decided to challenge myself to produce a new sketch every day for the month of May.  Why?  Well, sketching regularly is just good practice for any artist and I've been very lax about sketching lately.  I'll try to post a blog about these daily sketches every day or two. Here's the first one,

sketch abandoned tractor pen watercolor line and wash
Day 1 - Abandoned Tractor - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020

Day 1 sketch is an abandoned antique non-styled Farmall tractor rotting in the grass.  The sketch is based on a photograph I took while exploring the "junkyard" out back at the Erickson Ranch in Wallsburg, Utah during the Antique Power Show. I used a Faber Castel Pitt Artist Pen which waterproof and watercolor paint to add color.

art autumn sketch landscape pen watercolor fall season
Day 2 - Autumn Landscape - Daily Sketch Challenge May 2020
Day 2 sketch is an autumn landscape, somewhere near a rural area with a bit of a fence line and a walking trail up the hill through the fields and trees.  Again I used pen and watercolor.  My reference photo was taken in Ogden Valley near the Pineview Reservoir in the town of Eden, Utah.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

And the Winner is...

Last week I posted this photo to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

I asked my followers which one of these they'd like to see me paint next.  By the time I was ready to start painting the Model T Ford roadster hot rod had the most votes, so that's what I painted.

art painting knife hot rod roadster automotive
"Little Hot Rod Roadster"
As you can see I chose a close crop as I often do. I also made the car blue instead of black and ditched the high rise tunnel ram intake and replaced it with a regular intake with small, round aircleaners. Of course I painted it with palette knives to make it a bit abstract and create lots of texture.

The rusty old Chevy truck came in second in the voting and I'm working on that painting now. The abandoned antique Farmall tractor got a couple votes also and so may be my next painting, or maybe just a sketch...or maybe both.

Here are a couple close ups of the hot rod painting so you can get a good look at that texture.

texture knife painting acrylic automotive art

texture knife painting acrylic automotive art

texture knife painting acrylic automotive art