What about the PNW? I was born there; lived there most of my adult life; have my closest friends and some family there; it's beautiful even if rainy; and I love going back at least once a year for several weeks. Now when I go back I spend a fair amount of my time with a paint brush in my hand and understanding, supportive friends encouraging me on. This past July/August was no exception. Here are some paintings from that trip:
One longtime friend that I love staying with lives in the "north county", a couple of miles from the Canadian border. Dairy country...and all that goes with it: barns, tractors, manure, pastoral fields. She also has an amazing view of Mt Baker when the sky is clear. Very inspiring! So I paint there pretty much every time I go. This year her little raised garden was brimming with success so I set up my easel and did this small sketch, keeping it bright and painterly. I love the "BEANS" sign and thought it was a great little structure to balance out the verticals of the barn.
Semiahmoo Spit was at one time the site of busy salmon cannery and many of the old buildings are still standing. It's a lovely place to go for a walk on the rocky beach or have lunch at the Semiahmoo Resort. I found a good spot to set up my gear slightly off the beaten path and I even had some old pilings to use as a table for my paints. It was sunny and hot and the tide was coming in. Normally an outdoor painter has to avoid "chasing the light", but I was challenged to resist "chasing the tide"! By the time I was satisfied with the result, the waters were well up over the building footings.
Another dear friend who graciously houses me while I'm there has one of the sweetest hidden gardens ever! We've been known to consume a fair amount of wine in that quiet retreat. She is an avid gardener and has a collection of these beautiful glazed ceramic pots in the most saturated cobalt blue color... an entire row of them on her garden wall! Well! I got busy. This painting makes me feel so happy.
So I am quite the vagabond when I go "home to Bellingham" and am filled with gratitude for the deep and meaningful friendships that have only grown stronger in the years we are living in Tennessee. Me and my suitcase are welcome in the homes of so many friends. Now I have a new slew of reference photos waiting to be painted from this great trip.
Thank you for reading! Please comment!!
If it's summer in Tennessee then you must be sitting on your porch! And so many different porches there are: we have a back porch, covered but not enclosed, and we have spent many lovely hours reading, visiting, eating and just listening to the cicadas and songbirds this summer. Some good friends of ours have both a front and back porch large enough to do some good old country living on. With just a little pleading they let me come over and do some plein air painting of their sweet Southern porch life.
I really enjoy painting structures, but what a challenge! Finding a compelling focal point, getting perspective close enough to not look wonky, eliminating unnecessary details...whew! Plus, I was hot and sweaty and standing next to a tree with a little poison ivy climbing up. Needless to say, the painting was incomplete when I packed it in so it got more attention later in the studio to finish. My friends liked it so much that they bought it and commissioned a second painting of their back porch!
Once again, I painted what I could within a 90 minute time period and then refined and finished the painting in my studio. One technique that can be really helpful is to edit the reference photo into gray-scale and let it be a guide for developing accurate values in the painting. I am much more excited about my figurative paintings when there are fewer details and more light/shadow suggestions.
I have struggled for hours trying to get a face exactly right when what pleases me most is just the suggestion of a cheek, nose, or chin. So with "Back Porch Life" (and with the wishes of these dear patrons) I kept the details on Charlie's face and body and let Eban be more mysterious.
The other challenge I faced was choosing what things to leave in and what to leave out. Charlie had a career as a newspaper reporter, so I wanted to add the element of folded newspapers on the table and eliminate the bottles of bug spray. 😜
Here are the finished paintings! You can see where I added and took away details, such as putting their cat, Taboo, on the Front Porch swing to strengthen the focal point and adding the spots of red on the Back Porch to move your eye around the painting.
Thank you for viewing my art!! And thank you to Charlie and Eban for all your support!!
Hello! My name is Wendy and I am passionate about oil painting! Whether in the studio or out in Mother Nature, I get lost in the experience of capturing on canvas the moment and the feel of what I am painting. I pour my love and energy into every single piece of artwork and I hope it shows! This blog is a place where I can use words to talk about art, painting, life, faith, things that make me laugh, and things that inspire. I love every response, so don't be shy about leaving a comment...