Terry Miura • Studio Notes


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Color Games







I host figure painting sessions at my studio once a week, where artists can come and paint from the model. The model is sometimes nude and sometimes clothed - I try to mix it up. Usually we have one long pose (with breaks) so there's plenty of time to study the figure.

In these sessions, my aim is just to practice. I'm not trying to do a gallery-bound painting because the poses have to be based on what works for a roomful of people viewing the model from different angles. That has to be the priority. I can't just have the model pose based on a concept that I may have for my own paintings, because that usually only gives us a limited range as far as good angles go. 

For example, I may want a reclining figure, but then some artists will end up with extremely foreshortened views. That may be exactly what they want, but usually, nobody wants that. 

So as I said, these are practice sessions for me. I may do a portrait study, or a value thing, or I may focus on a particular approach, or may be I'll do an anatomical study of feet, say. It all depends on what I'm in the mood for and what I feel like I need to work on more.

Sometimes, I like to set up challenges for myself, and this color game that I do is a great example. Basically, I take myself out of my comfort zone by using colors I don't usually use. I may ask to borrow a red, a yellow, and a blue from the others in the room - to make sure I'm getting colors I don't have. 

The painting above is done in Phthalo-zinc blue / Hansa Yellow / Brilliant Pink / Titanium White.  These are colors I don't own, and therefore very unfamiliar to me. But if you have the primary colors and white, you can pretty much pull it off. Theoretically, anyway.







All three images I'm posting here are from the same session. You can see that they're the same pose. So I spent may be 45 to 50 minutes on each one.  Fairly quick and sloppy attempts but like I said, they're studies and I was specifically interested in color games, not in finished paintings.

For No.2, I believe I had Cerulean / Indian Yellow / Alizarin / Titanium White. It's not quite a scientific comparison because I wasn't trying to match colors or anything. I was just trying to work with unfamiliar colors.

I could easily have mixed a much more intense green with Cerulean and Indian Yellow, or matched the background green in example No.1, but I didn't even think to try. 







This last one has more colors. I think I used colors from both No.1 and No.2,  and tried to push the intensity a little bit.

It's a fun exercise. When I do this as a demo, I do it to make the point that it doesn't really matter which tube colors you use. If you have a few different colors, you can do a believable figure painting. It's not about specific ingredients or brands, and it's not about recipes. 

I get questions like "which blue did you use?" and I answer "Ultramarine" (or whatever I was using at the time) but then  I follow up with "but I could've used Cobalt, or may be Prussian or Phthalo, Cerulean...Paynes Gray..."  

In the beginning, it's probably a good idea to stick to one set of colors and really learn how they behave when mixed with each other. And you do start to have favorites. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but if you really want to learn color mixing and how color works, exercises like these are really helpful because you are forced not to think in terms of recipes and formulas, but focus instead on color relationships. Get good at that, and you will have a lot more control and freedom!

If you live in the Sacramento area and would like to come to my studio to join our (uninstructed) figure painting sessions. (or short-pose figure drawing sessions on Monday afternoons) , just email me at terry@terrymiura.com.   The sessions are $12 /person

As of this posting, I also have a couple of spots open in my weekly figure drawing / painting classes. I don't often have openings, so if you've been thinking about taking my classes, this is your chance! Please email me and I'll be happy to answer any questions!







Monday, June 5, 2017

Value Studies





I like doing value studies.  When I'm out in the field, I always do at least one thumbnail sketch in my sketchbook using a ball point pen. It's a great way to visually organize the value structure and think about what's important, and what should be edited out.

If I'm in the studio, I still do these pen-and-sketchbook thumbnails, but sometimes I like to do them with paint. I have a lot of scrap pieces of canvas which are perfect for these little studies.






The idea is not to copy the photograph, but to figure out how to simplify the value structure and tweak if necessary to come up with a design which, with very small amount of information, communicates the sense of time and place in the original photo. 






The main challenge in doing these is to reduce the number of values to three or four. Dark, medium dark, medium light, and light. Sometimes a simple composition only needs three values, sometimes as many as five. But no more than five. If I need more than five, I probably won't develop it into a full color painting because it would be too fussy and will lack a clear statement or impact.

You may see more than four or five values in my value studies, but when I start out, I only have three values. I may end up with a few more due to softening of edges or transitioning one shape into the next, and these "in-between" values are ...not exactly incidental... but just minor enhancements to make a design make visual sense. If you were to squint down, they simplify back (or they should, anyway) to four values. 





In the above example, you can see that the shadows on the ground are much lighter in my sketch than in the photo. This is a decision I made consciously, to make good use of the four values I had at my disposal; since I had to use my darkest value for the tree silhouettes and the windows in the doorways, I wanted to distinguish the ground shadows (and the same shadows creeping up the side of the building) by using a lighter value.  A couple of benefits in making this decision - the shadow areas are much more luminous, which is fitting because we are outside where a lot of ambient and bounced light make everything lighter. (the contrast in the photo was looking too much) Secondly, it allowed me to separate the paved walkway from the grass (?) area flanking it.

So the point, again, is not to copy the photo, but simplifying and organizing the value structure - how best to convey a given light/shadow situation with just four values?





While doing these studies, I often have ideas about editing that I hadn't considered before starting the study. And this is an excellent place to try these ideas out, because well, these are just quick small studies–most are 5 x 7 or 6 x 8 ish and only take 10 to 20 minutes.  If I try out an edit and it doesn't work out? Big deal. I'll do another study or keep working on it. I don't feel like I've wasted hours or days of my life trying things out (which may be the case if I were to be making these decisions on a big, full color painting).






There's no need for detail, or subtle modeling. It's really easy to see what's going on in the study, even though it's very simple and crude. What does that tell us? We really don't need much to make a scene "believable". So why do we feel the need to put more stuff in a painting? Hmmm. something to think about, eh?






Painting, especially painting en plein air, is sometimes intimidating and frustrating. Often we may talk ourselves out of trying to paint a certain scene because we feel like it's too difficult. Or we have a hard time seeing anything worth painting, even though we are surrounded by a ton of potential paintings.  

I find that these quick value studies are incredibly helpful in getting over that fear and tackle a task that seemed at first to be too difficult. The reason is that these are first and foremost, exercises in simplifying the problem. If we can simplify the problem, we can simplify the answer, no?








If you can get into a habit of doing these quick value studies in limited values, you have a great advantage over someone who's trying to paint every little thing in view. Simplifying forces you to consider what's important and what can be ignored. It forces you to make a clear statement, and it forces you to think about hierarchy of impact in your composition. Without the awareness of which, you really don't have a statement. And without a statement, what is the point of painting this scene?





This last pair shows a value study, and a color one, both done from observation. Thanks to the simplified value study, I was able to maintain a simple structure in the color one, and not get caught up in the little details in the background - and there were a lot of visual activity there which I didn't bother to include. The value study told me it was OK not to paint them.

I encourage you to do these kinds of studies when you don't have a whole lot of time to devote to bigger painting projects. They only take 10 to 20 minutes, and you only need black and white paints, and scraps of canvas or some other surface. Don't think of them as little masterpieces. Don't even think of them as something to keep. Crappy composition? So what. Do another one and make improvements. A lot can be learned by doing these studies using snapshots as references - photos that were never particularly well composed and were never meant to be made into frame-worthy paintings. They're just studies and practices, much like a musician practices his scales.

My musician friends tell me it's boring but necessary. Here we artists are better off; these are not boring to do! Far from it. I really enjoy doing these, and you will too. Don't believe me? Just try it.






Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Free Demo this Saturday, June 3!


This Saturday, June 3rd,  my friend Paul Kratter and I will be doing a dual (duel?) demo at the Holton Studio Gallery in Berkeley! It starts at 2 pm, and the admission is free, so come see us sling paint and divert all our trade secrets! 





Paul is a great painter and we've been friends a long time. We are currently showing our works together at the Holton Studio, and the demo is part of the exhibition. We don't paint the same way, but we often paint similar subject matters, so it's fun to see them side by side.

If I weren't actually doing the demo at the same time, I'd love to just sit and watch paul do his demo!





Knowing Paul, I think the demo will be quite entertaining and will be full of good information on techniques, methods, and just how one may think about various aspects of solving visual problems.





The event is free, so come early and get a good seat. We'll start at 2 pm and take a painting from start to... I don't know, may be we'll even finish. 

Holton Studio Gallery is located at 2100 Fifth St. Berkeley, CA
Their website is http://holtonframes.com

Paul Kratter's works can be seen on his website; http://paulkratter.com



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Color of Reflected Light




I just had this conversation with a student in my class, so I thought I'd do a little post. It's a simple, basic lesson on the color of the reflected light. 

The question was, "what color is the shadow?"  The answer: "Depends."  On what? A few things. The color of the thing itself, and the reflected light.  

The reflected light is the primary light source bouncing off of some surface and illuminating the shadow side of the object. If there were no bounced light, you can't see anything in the shadow.

So if you can see anything - color, detail, value changes.... then something is illuminating it. It's either the reflected light, or the ambient light.

The ambient light is the secondary light that's not obviously a reflected light - say, the blue sky on a sunny day, or the diffused florescent light that's illuminating the studio in addition to the strong direct light on the model. 

One can argue that cool ambient light provided by the sky is in fact reflected light, since it's sun light bouncing off of condensed water vapor and other particulate matter in the atmosphere, but for the sake of simplifying the point, we'll just limit the definition of reflected light to something that's caused by a surface near the object and facing the planes in the shadow side. 

It's not complicated. In the painting above, the direct light hits the red couch, which bounces off and illuminates the back of the model, causing it to appear red. Her leg isn't affected by the red bounced light, because it's not facing the lit up red couch.

Her arm too, is not as red - it was receiving a lot of cool florescent light, which made it appear more violet. Note her breast is getting a lot more red bounced light than the arm.






In the painting above, the couch is blue. You can see I snuck some blue reflected light into her arm and the leg that's in front. Her left leg doesn't get the blue reflected light, because it's not facing a blue lit surface.

I'm not a strictly realist painter so I do use subjective colors a lot, but when I want the shadow colors to make sense, and am looking for luminosity, I pay more attention to the color of reflected lights.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that sometimes the reflected light appears really light and bright, and you may get excited about the intense color in the area, but the value of that reflected light must be darker than anything in the lit side (of the same surface). The rule is, the darkest light is lighter than the lightest shadow.  Or, the lightest shadow is darker than the darkest light. You can also say it this way; Everything in light is lighter than everything in shadow. 

Why is that? Because the light bouncing off of something can't be as strong as the original light source.

It's a simple rule but one that is often forgotten by beginning painters. The next time you're wondering about the shadow color, you might just ask yourself, what is illuminating that plane?



Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Current Palette


I've been using a variation of this palette for many years. From time to time, I switch out a color or two, just to shake things up, but it's always been a primaries palette, basically.

I have three variations of each of the primaries, plus white. I don't have any secondaries - I just mix them with this set of colors.

White - Titanium White. I like the opacity and the coolness of Titanium White. Nothing against other whites, but I got to know Titanium pretty well, and I don't have a problem with it so I haven't really had an incentive to get to know the others.

Blues - In the picture they all look pretty dark, but they are Ultramarine, Prussian Blue, and Payne's Gray. Ultramarine represents the violet-leaning blue, Prussian the green-leaning blue, and Payne's Gray the low chroma blue.

Yellows - Cadmium Lemon for my cool yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep for my warm, and Yellow Ochre is my low chroma yellow.

Reds - Permanent Red is my warm red. It's a Cad Red Light alternative. It's much cheaper and does what I need it to do. Less toxic, too, which may be a plus, except I use other Cads so I don't have a leg to stand on.  Alizarin Permanent is my cool red. I've been trying other cool reds like Venetian, Terra Rosa, Pompeii, etc. But haven't found one that works for what I'm looking for. So until I do, I'll keep using Alizarin.  My low chroma Red is Transparent Oxide Red. every brand has a different name for this color and I most often use Transparent Earth Red from Gamblin. It's like Burnt Sienna, but transparent, more intense, and goes down cleaner when doing washes.

The palette itself is a shot of my 10 x 12 (?) Open Box M, which I love. I use a 16 x 20 surface in the studio, but in the field, I like my Open Box M if I'm traveling or if I have to hike to get to a spot. If I'm painting near my car, I use my Soltek or a half-box French easel so I can have a larger palette to work with (12 x 16).


Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Language of the Land: Landscape Paintings by Paul Kratter and Terry Miura


Take the Shortcut,  12 x 21 inches, oil on linen




I have a very special exhibition coming up! My good friend and fabulous painter Paul Kratter and I will be showing our landscape paintings (many, if not most, are done en plein air) at the Holton Studio Gallery in Berkeley, CA.

As you can see in these pictures, all of the paintings will be presented in these very special frames, all hand-crafted by master frame-maker Tim Holton and his team. 

Each frame is a response to a specific painting. Tim studies the painting, picks out the grain of the wood to reflect something - a textural quality, directional cue, etc - in the painting, and continues on to create a masterful frame for each. Every decision along the way, whether it be the style of the frame or what type of carving to apply, or what color stain to finish the pieces with, is in response to the painting. "Custom framing" doesn't get more custom than this!




 A Path Through the Woods, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen





I'm really excited to have my own paintings presented in Tim's frames,  because they really elevate the pieces to a higher level.  





Standing Alone, 12 x 9 inches, oil on linen




As I mentioned, I will be showing with my friend Paul Kratter. If you're interested in landscape painting, you probably know his work. He paints beautiful Northern California (and beyond) views in a very distinct style, superbly designed and with really tasty harmonies. This will be the first time the two of us are showing together (that is, not as a part of a larger group show) and I think our styles look great sharing walls, especially all framed by Tim Holton.




The Packer's Trail, 12 x 9 inches, oil on linen




But don't take my word for it. Come see for yourself!  The show opens Saturday, May 6th. The opening reception is from 4 - 6 pm. Come on by and check out this very special show, and say hi! 








Alpine Meadow (Ediza) , 12 x 9 inches, oil on linen




And if that isn't enough, Paul and I are doing a "Dual Demo" on Saturday, June 3rd, at 2pm at the gallery. We will each set up an easel, and take a painting from start to (may be) finish. You can watch us live as we each develop a painting, and talk about our approaches. Ask us questions, and we'll answer them. You want tips? We'll tell you how to mix that special shade of green and how to flick that brush to get that flippity edge on that pine tree.  

And did I mention the admission is free? Can't beat that!





Golden Hillside, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen




So if you are in the Bay Area, I hope you can make it to the opening. And the demo. If not, the show runs till June 10th. If you're a landscape painter, this show is a must see!


A Language of the Land: Landscape Paintings by Paul Kratter and Terry Miura

Holton Studio Gallery, 2100 Fifth St. Berkeley, CA

May 6th - June 10th, 2017

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 6th, 4 - 6pm

Dual Demo: Saturday, June 3rd, 2pm





'Hope to see you at the opening!!

Terry









Friday, March 24, 2017

Same Pose, Different Angle







I host a weekly figure painting session at my studio. It's three hours of the same pose (with breaks of course) so that we can really slow down and take our time painting the figure. 

I do like taking it slow and spending the time necessary to develop a painting, but most of the time, I really enjoy quicker sketches in these sessions. I used to have the model do two or three different poses in the three hour period, which I thought was just great for doing exercises in being decisive about colors and strokes, not to mention there isn't time to overwork the painting.




But it turns out, most of the artists who come to the sessions wanted more time on a pose, not less. So now we just have one pose. To satisfy my needs, I just move to a different spot each time, and voila! I have a new pose.






Sometimes I stay at the same spot, but shift my focus so that I'm doing a different study. In this case, I did a full figure sketch, and then a head sketch. 

I may try a different color scheme, or different materials, or a different process. I really think you get a lot of bang for your buck when you do quick studies. 






The above black/white painting and the two following are from the same session. I decided to work only in black and white. The first one is a 9x 12 sketch, using Ivory Black and Titanium White on oil-primed linen. I was basically interested in organizing the values into simple categories. No time was spent on modeling, really. 





And then for the second study, I switched to a 20 x 16 sheet of cheap cotton canvas. This is more of a drawing than a painting. I started out drawing the figure with the brush, liked what I saw, so I stopped there. 






And then I wondered how it would look if I kept going, so I did another sketch, from a different angle. It's still a quickie, may be 40 minutes on this one. Again, the value structure is kept very simple - no time to do anything more than simple.







Another day, another session. A simple color scheme, simple shapes. It's easy to fall into the trap of overdoing the details, especially of facial features. We feel like we have to make our painting look like the model. How many times have you said, or have you heard others say apologetically, "it doesn't look like him/her, but..." without being asked?  Sure, likenessess are important, if you say so. 

But since I'm not all that interested in painting likenesses, it doesn't bother me too much if my sketch doesn't resemble the model.  I'm more interested in simplifying the shapes and forms. I'm more interested in not putting in details. I'm more interested in trying to get away with as little as possible. (I often paint only one eye, or omit painting the mouth all together)  

If I end up with a nice painting that doesn't look like the model, that's far better than a poorly executed painting that nevertheless looks like the model. 





Needless to say, a great sketch that also captures the likeness of the model would be ideal, but that doesn't happen to me very often.

Doing these quickies gives me a lot of opportunities to explore many aspects of painting, and I learn a lot from doing them. Pursuing detail or the likeness for three hours is not for me, unless I have a specific time-consuming problem to solve.




Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Maui


Across the Water, 16 x 12 inches, oil

OK so I had more sketches from Maui. After having them spread out in my studio for a week or so, I decided to work back into them. This is what happens to most of my plein air paintings if I hang on to them a while. I start playing the "what if?" game. What if the sky was lighter? darker? smaller? larger? What if the green was yellower? Bluer? Grayer? What if there were more detail? less?

In this way, I think about other ways I might have approached the painting in the first place, and once I have a new idea, I have to try it out. What if it didn't work? Well, that happens a lot and I end up throwing away the painting, but that's not a bad thing because I will have taken risks and tried something. I may have learned something I otherwise never would have. 

If I'm willing to kill it, I can take greater risks, and sometimes I get the best accidents this way. And yes, sometimes, it devolves into a mess. 

I didn't change too much on Across the Water, but I did add more paint on top and grayed down the water. Sorry I don't have the "before" picture to compare against - didn't think to take pictures. 







Honokeana, 9 x 12, oil   sold

I painted this one from my friend Jean's balcony overlooking the Honokeana Cove in Napili. A beautiful little cove with turtles gliding around in the water.

This was a quickie - I spent may be 45 minutes or an hour? The green stuff originally was really bright (as in high chroma) which I didn't like much, so back in the studio, I knocked down the chroma quite a bit. At the same time, I simplified the rocks. 

What I like about this little study is the colors in the sky. It's not literal, but a green-bias imposed upon it. The idea being achieving a tighter harmony with the ocean and the bushy stuff. 

The sky right above the horizon is basically just a lighter version of the color of the water. The lit parts of the cloud mass is still lighter, with a little yellow thrown in to warm it up a bit. Essentially a monochromatic structure with a slight bend so that it doesn't look too monochromatic.





On Island Time, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen

On Island Time changed a lot. It had a road going up the middle of it, with road signs and fence posts and such. Fewer palms, and the mountain mass filled the background, no sky. It's an entirely different painting now. 

The original was just too disorganized. A little too snap-shotty and not designed thoughtfully. Sometimes it's OK to faithfully present the scene exactly, but in this case, I didn't think it worked. I liked the mood though, so I tried to hang on to that aspect. 





Passing Rain, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen   sold


I was interested in showing the palm trees lit up agains the dark sky. The painting originally showed a more active, dramatic sky with lighter parts as well as darker areas. I thought it was too busy and took away from the palm tree, so I subdued the activity in the sky. I also moved a few of the secondary palms around, tried changing sizes and how they were lit, etc. before arriving at this composition.





Hotel Street, Lahaina, 12 x 12 inches, oil on linen

This one doesn't look much like the original, either. This was actually a 12 x 16 panel - four more inches to the left side, on which a brightly lit side of the Pioneer Inn was painted. 

This (the original) was the very first painting I did in Maui, during the kick-off paint out in Lahaina. I stayed fairly true to the actual scene, which, unfortunately was why the composition was problematic. Too many statements competing for attention.

Back at home, I tried subduing all the other attention seeking elements - the brightly lit Inn, big contrast between sky and the green mountainside (the sky was a lot bigger), light and shadow patterns creating busy notes at the far end of the street, and the parked car with a lot more detail and hard edges.

Just lessening the impact on some of these elements didn't do the trick, so I decided to crop out the left side.

I added the figure crossing the street later, because the street was a big passive area after I took away the sunlight hitting its surface (again, too much impact) and I needed something there to break up the space. 

I think I can keep working on this one further. At this point, it's a playground for experimentation, so I'm not overly protective of what I've already done to it. I do like the abstract quality of it. If this painting allows me do this sort of abstraction more readily on my next paintings, that's a valuable "catch", even if the painting itself ultimately bites the dust!



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Two Upcoming Workshops!!





If you're reading this blog, you are probably an artist. May be you're a landscape painter, or you work with the figure, or may be your love is for cityscapes? Whatever it is, you know it's all  interrelated, and you know painting from observation is an important part of the discipline.

It's not easy, no. If it were, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog. You probably wouldn't be addicted to painting. But you are. I know I am.

It took me many years and thousands of paintings to learn some essential principles and techniques in painting, and I have been sharing those little nuggets of wisdom (not my wisdom, to be sure. But of the accumulated, collective knowledge of thousands that came before you and me) on this here blog.

But there are limits to what I can communicate with a few images and a bunch of typed up words. If you find the information on Studio Notes useful or interesting, but are frustrated because you're having trouble applying this knowledge to your own work, I have a couple of opportunities coming up where I will be able to show you exactly what I mean, and answer any questions that you may have about this painting thing. Or at least, I will do my best to answer them. I cannot tell you what Rembrandt ate for breakfast, but I can show you how to create that subtle edge, or that evocative moody gray sky.

Here are the two workshops I'll be teaching in a coupla months. They are both three-day plein air landscape painting workshops*.


May 19 - 21 Bainbridge Island, WA
Winslow Art Center
$425
Info and registration: https://www.winslowartcenter.com/workshops.php

Bainbridge Island is a beautiful little island just a short ferry ride away from Seattle. It's very green, and there are boats and water to challenge us. I taught here a couple of years ago, and I loved painting there!




October 6 - 8 Lowell, MI
Franciscan Life Process Center
$395
Info and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/terry-miura-plein-air-strategies-tickets-24439507224

Lowell is a picturesque farm country just outside of Grand Rapids. And I mean picturesque! Beautiful barns and silos, gardens and riverscape, old structures with lots of character... And the Franciscan Life Process Center has very comfortable accommodations for very reasonable prices. Gotta love that!

Both of these workshops are open to all levels, but I highly recommend at least some outdoor painting experience before coming to the workshop. Never painted outside? Hey, you still got time to get out there and see what makes it so hard but addicting! If you're still unsure, sign up with a friend!

If you missed out on a previous workshop, don't miss out this time around - workshops do fill up, so if you're at all interested, don't wait!

Hope to see you in Washington in May, or in Michigan in October!







*In adverse weather, we will be working indoors using photos and sketches for references.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sketches from Maui





Tradewinds, 12 x 16 inches, oil on linen  sold


Last week I had the good fortune to participate in the Maui Plein Air Invitational event, where 26 artists from all over the place painted the beautiful island for several days and had a big exhibition at the end of the week. What a blast! As if it weren't awesome enough just to go paint on Maui, but to paint and hang out with good friends –my tribe!– day and night, immersed in artistic energy!  Well, it doesn't get much better than that!

I wanted to share some of the paintings that I did during the week. The ones I'm showing here are the ones I exhibited; that is to say, my better efforts. I had some stinkers too, which I've already scraped or thrown away. A few are still in my suitcase but I haven't bothered to photograph them.

Anyway, as usual, I'll just share a few thoughts about each painting. The painting at the top is my favorite. I did it standing on the rocks at Lahaina Harbor, at the end of a frustrating day– I think I scraped three that day– The dusk light changes rapidly, so I had about 45 minutes on this one. By the time the light was gone, I had a less-than-satisfactory painting. In my pursuit of rich gray sky, I had made it dirty.

But I didn't scrape it because I knew at that point exactly what I needed to do to make it work, so I went back the next day, pre-mixed some grays using what I did the day before, but making sure the colors didn't get muddy this time, and waited for the dusk light. As I already had the basic structure down, it didn't take long to finish it off. Another 45 minutes and I had what I wanted.

The limited time-frame actually helped because I didn't get a chance to noodle out the details.




Giants, 16 x 12 inches, oil on linen, sold

The West Maui Mountains shoot up right behind the town of Lahaina. I was actually set up at the tennis courts next to the parking lot, in the dugout (I don't know what you call it in tennis. In baseball it would be a dugout) 

This was also a second attempt. My first one the day before sucked so I scraped it. I think I was trying to say too much with my painting, which never works for me. Simple statements. Don't try to say everything. That's my advice to myself.

The clouds covering the tops of the mountains is very dramatic. I'd love to do a bigger studio piece one of these days.




Chillin' in da Shade, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen

I think it was something of a reaction to the big scale of the mountains. I felt compelled to do something more intimate. I found the truck and the boat by the beach, and they were perfect. I didn't have to alter anything, which is rare for me. I usually move things around a lot to make my compositions work.

As I was painting, a big, imposing figure of a man approached me and grumbled, "that's my truck." Sometimes we plein air painters have unpleasant encounters, so I braced myself for a "get the fuck outta here," and responded with what I hoped would convey my sincere appreciation, "...and what a beautiful truck it is!"

The dude just said, "'66 Chevy." and walked off. Whew~





Done for da Day, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen sold

Did I mention that I move stuff around to make my compositions? Well, the surfboard wasn't there. I originally painted this without the surfboard. The surfboard was actually blue and white, and it was next door, along with many other surfboards (it was a surf school and board rental shop). 

While I was painting (without the board), the owner came out and momentarily placed a fishing pole against the back of the car. I considered painting that, but then I thought, "you know what would be better? A surfboard! A yellow one!" So that's what I did. 

I was an illustrator for 17 years. Playing with the visuals to manipulate the narrative is something I did to make a living at. I guess I'm still doing it. 






The Artist and the Model, 12 x 16 inches, oil

The Artist and the Model, was painted during a scheduled, timed paint-out at the Montage Kapalua Bay. I wouldn't call it a QuickDraw because we had something like three hours, but same kinda deal. You paint it, frame it, put it up for sale right then and there. 

Some artists painted the beautiful scenery, and some painted the model in traditional island outfit. I decided it was more interesting to paint one of the artists painting the model, so that's what I did. The artist is John P. Lasater - a really good painter, too. 

There was a bunch of other artists painting the model, and many spectators, coming and going, checking out our progress. More often than not I had someone watching John, blocking my view. But I managed. I wanted to include some of these spectators, but they never stood still. At least not in convenient locations. I finally grabbed my sketchbook and went looking for some people I could add. I wanted either swimsuits, or sundresses, or kids. You know, something beachy, rather than golf-attire.  I found a couple of kids off to the side and quickly sketched their gesture, came back to my easel and dropped them in.

By then I was looking directly into the sun, so I couldn't really see anything even if they did actually stood there for me.  I love painting backlit subjects. May be I'll do a post on that at some point.




Heating Up, 16 x 12 inches, oil on linen  sold

I painted Heating Up from the public parking lot in Lahaina. Seriously, Maui is such a beautiful place that you don't really need to go looking for subject matter. Just park your car anywhere and look up!

Where I deviated from the actual view on this, is 1) the palm trees behind the red roof were much closer and bigger in actuality, and 2) the ground was asphalt. 

I changed the palm trees because the masses were too similar to the other big palm tree masses, and therefore repetitive and boring. By making them small, I was able to add variety to the sizes of the shapes, but I also discovered that I had more of a sense of depth, and opening up the sky shape made it a lot more airy. 

This airiness and the harsh sun light, along with my color choices contributed to the feeling of something of the old Hawai'i, so I just went with it and took out the asphalt, repainting it with dirt on the ground. 




Cool Blue Maui, 12 x 9 inches, oil on linen sold


Every day, I set out while it was still dark and set up at a location where I thought I could catch a nice morning light.  I tried painting at this spot a couple of times and this is the one that came out. 

A few things in this painting where I deviated from the literal. First, the lower palm tree mass was actually more or less right beneath the main one. They were stacked vertically, which I first painted as they were, and later realized that I could create a much more interesting shape if I moved one to the side so that I didn't have one on top of the other.

Secondly, the lower palm (the one I moved) is pretty much painted in blue. (mixture of paynes gray, prussian blue, white, and a little bit of red to knock down the chroma) This is not because the tree looked blue (I could actually see the local colors pretty clearly) , but because the sky and the water were mostly blue, so in the interest of a tighter color harmony, I painted it blue.  Which leaves only the sunlit parts to have obvious higher-chroma, non-blue colors.  The blues in the background and the moved tree set up the "star" of this show, you see. 

Third, the lower part of the picture is kept dark. In reality, the ground and the car, and the rocks were much lighter in value. I could see them clearly. But again, I wanted to make a simple statement about the sunlight on the "star", so I kept everything else quiet.






Quiet Morning, Canoe Beach, 9 x 12 inches, oil on linen sold


This was my QuickDraw on the final day of painting. We had two hours, which was plenty of time for a small, simply designed painting. Not a lot of complicated perspective drawing here. Except for the Canoes (which are pretty much just stripes) everything is organic so very forgiving in terms of drawing. 

It was a gray morning and I wanted to keep it that way even after the sun came out.  I didn't know whether the sun would come out during the two hours, so I just placed my bets against it and committed to painting the gray day. The sun did come out, but I resisted chasing the light. 

I also decided early on that I needed to lower the key of the sky a little bit, in order to show off the white canoe. It would still have worked if my sky was lighter, but it would definitely have a different mood.  I still had the lowered-key sky of the painting I did earlier in the week (Tradewinds) on my mind, so it was an easy decision. 

That's all I have for now. It was a wonderful week of painting the beautiful island and connecting with old friends and making new ones. I hope I get to go back to do it again!