This weekend I participated in the 1st Annual Calistoga Plein Air Festival. It was great to participate in an event so close to where I live. It's literally a half hour away from where I live. Napa Valley is beautiful at this time of the year. Even though it's raining right now, we had perfect weather the whole weekend. It was neither too warm nor too cold.
For this event I decided to start my palette from scratch, and not use any cadmiums or other bright colors. I put down white, a neutral cool grey, and ivory black. My primary colors were ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, and burnt sienna as my red. My secondary colors were Gamblin Radiant Yellow, viridian, and alizarin crimson. To finish it off, I added Winsor Newton Green Gold and dioxazine purple(which I used very sparingly). It's just way easier to harmonize color (if cheaper) and what you observe is usually way grayer than how people paint it. I've been looking at a lot of 19th Century landscape painters lately so it's been influencing what I want my paintings to look like.
I painted these next two paintings in Bothe State Park, which was on the outskirts of where we were allowed to paint. I'd never been there before, and I don't know why. It's a very underrated park, and a relatively easy hike. Most of the trail goes along a creek, which I bet looks a lot more impressive after some winter rain.
This painting I like, although it might be a bit abstract for most. I think the feeling of light breaking through the forest canopy on to the wet rocks reads well here. The inclusion of ivory black in some of the shadows worked well.
This might be my favorite painting I did of the weekend. I even put it in a frame. The reason I liked it so much was the way it came together in the very beginning block-in. Rather than what tends to usually happen in these situations, every stroke tended to strengthen the piece. There are parts where it got dangerously close to doing the opposite, but the balancing act that is trying not to ruin a strong start is one of the great thrills of painting if you ask me. This painting is 6x8 inches and I did this piece in about 45 minutes or so.
On the second day I started off by going to the outskirts of Calistoga and painting this view of Mt. St. Helena. I actually came back after the exhibity to work on it some more to try and fix the drabness of the painting that occurred when viewing it indoors instead of outdoors when painting. It's still one of the hardest things to honestly capture the feeling of midday sun in a painting. I constantly study how other painters tackle it. I think it has a lot to do with the sky color. I will say more about it once I learn more about it.
This was one of my least favorite paintings of the weekend. I had higher hopes for this scene, but it just didn't work out the way I wanted it to. Hills full of pines are still very difficult for me to pull off. It's something I still need to work on. That tree ended up coming out too generic.
This painting was the definite crowd-pleaser. It's another one I went back to touch up afterwards. I got some critiques on it, which I didn't totally agree with, but it was still strengthened by going back and painting on it the next day.
I actually included the older versions of the paintings that I ended up exhibiting. See if you think they were improved by extra work.
I won an "honorable mention" award (less than 3rd place), though 5 separate people came to me and told me I should have won 1st place. Go figure... Sales were good for a lot of people who had paintings under $500. Note to self: paint smaller next year?
Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale