Saturday, February 4, 2017

beauty is in the eye of the beholder..

I've been thinking a lot about subject matter in the last couple of weeks.  And what makes something "beautiful".  I've always been interested in not quite "beautiful" things.  Old peeling paint on furniture makes me giddy.  The more run down an object is, the better I like it.  Give me an old house any day over a new one.  I like to see the possibilities in things.  Look for opportunities in the passed over.  Maybe I just like an underdog.

It inspires me.  The idea that everything is beautiful, like the song goes "in it's own way".  Maybe beauty is a personal idea or sense, or maybe it is just a frame of mind.  I like to think it's just a frame of mind.  Or maybe an "open" mind would be a better way to put it.

The art of "seeing" is what painters strive for.  The edges and shadows, the color and the light.  But what if it's not the "seeing"?  What if it is just the "looking" that is the key?  Maybe just absorbing what is in front of us not for what it is but for what it could be.

Last spring, I headed to Apalachicola, Florida with some artist friends to a brand new event "Plein Air South".  We didn't know what to expect and having no expectations is a wonderful thing.  It usually means everything is a happy surprise.  And it was.  Along with all of the wonderful painting opportunities and watching some of my favorite artists work their magic, I fell in love with the little town of Apalachicola.

I'm not sure Apalachicola is on anyone's list of "beautiful" places.  It is a fishing village on the Florida Panhandle that feels like a step back in time.  Beautiful in places but rough around the edges. Freshly painted and well rigged boats docked next to vessels that hardly seem seaworthy.  A well taken care of turn of the century mansion right next to a run down fishing shack with 50 years worth of collected and curated junk strewn haphazardly around it.  In a grocery store aisle you are just as likely to run into a  hardworking, hard living fisherman as you are a well dressed businessman.  It is a place that feels real.  It reminds me of where I grew up on the coast.   I love that kind of place. So compelling....all of those contradictions.

There was a house there in town that was famous for more than it's share of "stuff". Boats, on top of trailers next to lumber piled on old vehicles with buckets and ropes and wheelbarrows and a few trashcans thrown in for good measure. Rusted objects strewn around that no longer represented anything useable or identifiable.  But when that beautiful Florida sunshine filtered through the oaks and palms and lit everything up....It was a marvel to behold.  It was beautiful.

This house and yard was well documented in the paintings of the artists that had been there all week.  From just about every angle.  It captured my imagination but I never got a chance to paint it that week.  I left feeling a bit disappointed that I didn't take a shot at it.

Last week I booked my hotel for a trip back to Apalachicola in May.  I started thinking about that house again and decided to paint it from some of the photos I had taken.  I wanted to try and recapture the magic and the beauty of the rundown objects that I saw there.  Bring the feelings back that I had when I was observing it last year.

Here is my painting of a little area of the yard.  Just shapes and color and light and shadow.  But all woven together to create a sense of place and maybe beauty.  That is, if your eye can behold it.

"beast of burden"
20" x 16" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Day 31 ... "sunlit bungalow"

Tybee and I headed out to a local park this morning to paint with my plein air group.  We got there way earlier than everyone else and I just couldn't find anything within the park that inspired me.  I was looking to paint something different today than what I had been painting all month. The park is bordered on all sides by quaint bungalow homes and it was there that I found my inspiration.  They were catching the morning sun and I thought that would prove to be a fun challenge to paint.

I set up my easel and put Tybee on her tie-down and started painting.  After a few minutes, she brought me an orange, which she thought was a tennis ball.  I couldn't imagine where she had found an orange, but tossed it to her, happy that she had found something to occupy her besides digging holes.  As I painted, every so often she would hand me the orange to throw and I would toss it to her.


As I finished up my painting and started gathering my stuff together to leave, I happened to look down and I discovered that all this time, Tybee hadn't been bringing me the same orange.  She had found a stash of oranges.

I guess maybe someone had tossed them out for the squirrels or the birds and she had uncovered them among all the leaves.  It was pretty funny.  And it goes to show why I need someone with me when I paint.  I'm so focused on painting that I am absolutely unaware of what is going on around me!  It's so nice have my partner in crime to keep me company!


Here is my painting for today.  The last one of the challenge.  I can't believe how quickly this month has passed. I have truly enjoyed almost every moment painting outside.  Even in January.  I'd like to continue to try and paint everyday outside for the rest of this year.  I'm going to allow myself to skip some days here and there when I am traveling but I want to try and continue this practice.  And I'm also going to try and blog more.  I have gotten so out of the habit and it is something I need to get back to doing.  Thanks for sticking with me during the challenge!

Here is a little better shot of my painting:


Monday, January 30, 2017

Day 30 ..."the golden hour"

Another beautiful afternoon to paint.  Late afternoon today.  That time right before the sun starts to drop....when everything turns golden.  I set up facing west which was the best view but of course it was the most blinding.  No pain, no gain.

And yes, those are grocery bag handles again....I left my panel carrier at the studio.  The handles work so well though!  Last day of the challenge is tomorrow!

"the golden hour"
12" x 12" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Day 29 ..."unremarkable beauty"

It was a chilly and beautiful day with blue skies and clouds for days.  But the wind!  Wow!  It felt like March.  The wind was blowing about 20 miles per hour but the gusts were incredible.  I had to grab my easel several times before it went down. After the second time, I anchored it with my bag and extended the legs of my tripod so it would sit a littler lower and not catch the wind so easily.  Despite the clouds the sun was out most of the time... thank goodness.

I had a question yesterday about how I could find something to paint in a subject that lacked much appeal.  And at first glance, the subjects that I have painted the last couple of days aren't what most people would call beautiful.  Sometimes you have to look for the beauty.  It's always there.  The more you look, the more you see.  Subtle things make all the difference in painting just as in life.  It's all in how you frame it.

"unremarkable beauty"
16" x 12" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day 28 ..."golden afternoon"

I headed back to the creek today with a bigger canvas.  I contemplated painting the same view that I did yesterday but decided to do something different.  Subtle is hard.  And right now the colors in the landscape are a bit washed out.  Values are close and it's much harder to paint.  I decided to try and take on the challenge.  I painted for a couple of hours.  I may be done or I might not.  I will look at it tomorrow and I may take it back to refine a few things.  But for now I'm happy with it.


I didn't have a panel carrier big enough so I taped grocery bag handles to the back so I could carry it. That's what you see on the left side of the panel.   Lugging gear and a wet panel and a dog on a leash requires some thinking :)

Here is Tybee contemplating the creek.  She really wanted to go swimming.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Day 27 ..."downstream"

It was a beautiful sunny day to paint and I waited till this afternoon so it would be warmer.  The high today was 50 which seemed warm enough, until I got out there to paint.  It was the coldest 50 degrees I've ever painted in!  The sun was out but the wind was steady and blowing out of the northwest and it was cold! I painted by the creek and I'm sure being near the water didn't help with the temperature. I am still thawing out!

I went a little larger today, 11x14,  since I had a couple of hours to paint.  The underbrush is such a challenge this time of year with all of the bare sticks and vines.  If I hadn't been so cold, I would have stayed just a little while longer and tried to paint another one of just the water rushing over the rocks. But my hands and ears were cold and Tybee was whining and ready to eat dinner so it was time to leave.  

This is the only photo I have, as it was too dark to photograph the painting by the time I got home.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Day 26...."winds of change"

It was a beautiful, sunny 75 degrees yesterday.  My kind of January weather!  A cold front is moving in today to take us back to more winter like temperatures.  I don't think I have ever kept up with the weather quite as much as I have this month.  Only 5 more days left to paint in this challenge.  Crazy how fast it has gone by!

This morning dawned cloudy with lots of change in the sky.  Although overcast, the clouds were moving quickly across the sky.  I thought about waiting until the sun comes out later today to paint but the turmoil in the sky was too tempting to pass up.  This one feels wintery to me.  Even though it was a balmy 60 degrees outside while I was painting.

"winds of change"
8" x 10" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 25... "everyday miracle"

So some days, the sun just rises.  The sky brightens gradually and the sun comes up.  No fanfare.   No purple clouds or bright pinks or oranges.  Just night to day in a normal everyday miracle.  It still amazes me.  No matter how many times or ways I paint it.  Another morning to paint is a beautiful thing.
"everyday miracle"
8" x 10" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Day 24..."tree study"

Today was my off day.  Every so often nothing comes off the brush right.  I taught most of the day and then had to do a lot of "stuff"...shipping, billing, etc.  Lots of left brain stuff.  By the time I got home I had a little less than two hours before sundown.  Plenty of time, or so I thought.

The dogs, we have four, had been cooped up all day and were wild by the time I got home.  I went out onto the back porch to paint and that was my first mistake.  I should have grabbed my easel and went somewhere to paint.  The dogs knocked over my easel twice in their efforts to get closer to me.  I wiped my painting four times and before I knew it, the sun was sinking fast and my light was fading.

I ended up painting the top of a pine tree that the sun was hitting.  My brain just couldn't connect to my paintbrush and I just couldn't settle in and focus on painting. Sometimes it just goes that way.   There is always tomorrow right?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Day 23 ..."neither here nor there"

This morning was magical.  As I walked on to my front porch to paint, the waning crescent moon was visible in the east above the trees.  It was already getting bright low in the sky and I was caught between waiting on the sunrise and painting what was in front of me at the moment.  I blocked in the sky and trees and by the time I was done, a few clouds had moved in and the color was beginning to change.  Although not a fiery sunrise it was beautiful in that soft, dreamy way.  The moon was still visible, although not as bright as before.  I would love to take more pictures of my progress but the color changes so quickly that I can't put my brush down to take a picture.  I'm sure I look like the mad scientist, painting frantically in my pajamas on the front porch.   There's absolutely no telling what the neighbors think. 😜
"neither here nor there"
10" x 8" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 22... "cloud studies"

I am teaching a workshop this afternoon and really didn't have time to paint this morning.  In fact, we are supposed to have thunderstorms tonight so I was going to wait and paint a nocturne in hopes of catching some lightning.  I've never tried to do that before!  But the clouds were moving and changing so fast this morning, it was a painter's dream sky.  I just couldn't resist.

I used an old panel and divided it into 4 sections and painted some really fast little studies of the sky.  So much fun!

Here they are:




Saturday, January 21, 2017

Day 21 ..."heavy fog"

We've had a couple of other foggy mornings but I haven't had a chance to paint them.  And I really didn't have a chance to paint this one as long as I would have wanted to.  I've got a hectic day today and only had about 30 minutes to spare this morning but I wanted to get the fog down.  I picked the simplest scene I could find from my yard and tried to get down the color and shapes as quickly as possible.  I loved the contrast of the warms on the immediate foreground with the cools of the atmosphere.  Fog makes everything so interesting.  It's almost if you threw a sheet over the little trees and shrubs in the background.  The overall color cast of the atmosphere to me seemed almost a blueish lavender but even that seemed to be changing as I painted.  Have a lovely Saturday!

"heavy fog"
8" x 10" oil on linen 
©2017dottietleatherwood

Friday, January 20, 2017

Day 20 ... "dawning dark and stormy"

Heavy cloud cover this morning,  The light in the sky just barely above a mid-vallue gray.  The more I looked at it, the more orange I saw in the light areas of the sky.  But very, very subtle.

"dawning dark and stormy"
8" x 10" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Day 19 ..."cool and bright"

Another sunrise painting this morning. Not as dramatic as yesterday though.  Only a few high thin clouds this morning and not a lot of color change.  What struck me most about the sky this morning was the cool color.  Even the yellow of the rising sun seemed cool.  So interesting.
 
"cool and bright"
8" x 10" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day 18 ..."waking up on wednesday"

I couldn't shake the cobwebs this morning when I woke up.  Two cups of coffee later, I was sitting on my front porch waiting and hoping for a sunrise.  There were some great clouds in place but there was also a good chance that the clouds would close in and there would be no sky to light up.

Prayers answered though.  Beautiful change in the clouds from gray to pink to purple as the first light in the sky showed itself.  These sunrise paintings are done fast and furious.  I usually have about 10 minutes to get the light and color in and then it fades from the sky.  After that it is just a matter of refining what I have on the canvas.  Although they may not be the most "finished" paintings, I love the freshness of these sunrise studies.  And they are a great way to shake away the cobwebs :)

"waking up on wednesday"
8" x 10" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day 17 ..."breaking up is hard to do"

The clouds are socked in today.  I taught this morning and had appointments all afternoon (wearing my "mom" hat today) but I squeezed this painting in between appointments.  I really thought the sun was going to break through as the clouds seemed to be breaking up and light was getting brighter.  But instead, I did get to paint the sun through the clouds.  I was trying to capture the halo that surrounded the brightness of where the sun was and the surrounding layers of clouds.  There was hardly any contrast in the layers, just shifts in color.

I'm hoping for a little change in the cloud cover tomorrow.  There is a little sun beside the cloud in the weather forecast.  AND a 70 where the temperature is located :)

"breaking up is hard to do"
8" x 10" oil on panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Monday, January 16, 2017

Day 16 ..."western sky at daybreak"

The month is halfway over and I think this is the least stressed that I have ever felt at this point with the 30-in-30 Challenge.  Because I am painting everyday at different times of the day, it has taken the stress off.  During every other challenge, I have painted a day ahead and sometimes a couple of days ahead to be able to post first thing.  This time around, I'm just working my plein air painting around my existing schedule.  The photography is a challenge, because wet paintings are harder to photograph but I have enjoyed the challenge so much more.

Cloudy and foggy again this morning but the western sky had a wonderful purple glow that I just had to try and capture.  I blocked in the sky first just for a change and I'm glad I did because the purple quickly faded as the sun rose higher.


Here is a little better photo.  

"western sky at daybreak"
10" x 8" oil on panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Day 15 ..."study of reflections"

Beautiful afternoon to paint. 65 degrees and sunshine.  I painted beside the creek today and did a study of the sky.  The sky as it was reflected in the water that is.


And Tybee dug a hole.



And she kept digging.


Until she could dig no more.


I think since she couldn't get to the water, she was trying to dig to it.



I am not putting this study up for sale yet because I want to keep it as a reference but here is a better shot of the finished painting:



Saturday, January 14, 2017

Day 14 ..."simple and subdued"

Spring left in the middle of the night and the day dawned cloudy and cool.  Back to winter.  It's looking like a cloudy week so I will get a lot more practice in on my grays.  Everything has a season and soon enough the landscape will be bright green.  I actually enjoy the subtle shifts in color right now and the challenge of trying to mix what I see.  It is easier to paint than it is to photograph though.  My camera misses all the soft color changes and instead sees everything as a gray.  Frustrating.

Tybee enjoyed the afternoon and worked hard at digging holes, chewing sticks and barking at everyone that passed.  She doesn't seem to realize that barking makes people walk away not come closer.  Although I want her to bark to alert me if someone is approaching, we are working on the "quiet" command now.  As vocal as she is, it is proving to be a hard one to learn.  We did have a few brave souls come by to take a look at what I was painting, including an old friend I hadn't seen in years and the cutest group of young boys with their skateboards.  They reminded me of my son when he was that age.  They were equal parts astounded that I was painting outside, perplexed as to why I was painting the subject I chose and enthusiastic with the finished painting.  😀

"simple and subdued"
10" x 8" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood


Friday, January 13, 2017

Day 13...."bridging the gap"

Wow!  What a beautiful Friday the 13th!  On Monday, it was 19 degrees when I painted, today it was:
That's right!  77.   Instead of 3 layers of clothing, I wore a t-shirt and shorts.  Tybee and I were both  hot and thirsty by the time we hiked to where I wanted to paint.  58 degree difference in four days, one of the many reasons I love the south.  


I love this old bridge and have painted it a couple of times but never from this angle.  I wished that I had brought a larger panel though because I would have liked to develop this one a little bit more.  But it was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.  Top down on the jeep, watching the sunset as we drove home.... life is good.


"bridging the gap"
8" x 10" oil on panel
©2017dottietleatherwood




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Day 12 ... "moonset"

Three years ago I painted my first nocturne at the Plein Air Convention.  I, along with about 50 other painters followed artists Jason Sacran and John Lasater out to the wharf in Monterey CA.  (click on their names to see their wonderful art)  I had no idea what to expect and had never painted before outside in the dark.  It was hard enough to paint outside in daylight!  They shared some tips and techniques with us and painted along beside us.  I thought I had done a pretty good job until I took my painting inside and realized it was terrible!  But I was hooked and couldn't wait to paint another one.

I don't paint them often enough.  I guess because I'm not a night owl but I really enjoy the challenge when I get a chance.  The moon has been big and beautiful the last two days and I finally got a chance to paint it about 5:30 this morning while it was setting.  FYI...the moon sets just as fast as the sun sets!  It seemed like it was sinking so fast behind the trees.  I kept having to move so I could see it.  I don't have much of a progress shot, because of the darkness but if you look right above my easel you can see a bright light ...that's the moon.  Looks tiny in the picture but it seemed huge when I was painting it.  The halo was so big and bright.  I really never noticed that the moon had a halo until I started painting.  Sometimes it's golden like the sun, sometimes orange, sometimes purple.

There is a bit of glare on this photograph of my painting.  Sorry about that.  It's hard to photograph a wet painting, especially dark colors.

"moonset"
10" x 8" oil on panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Day 11... "waiting on sunset"

Rain and clouds again today but the forecast said it was supposed to clear by late afternoon. So I took a gamble and decided to wait until sunset to paint.  And this time the weatherman was right!  Gorgeous sunset.

Sorry for the quality of the photo but it's hard to get a good picture when there is very little light.  I will have to wait for tomorrow morning to take a better photo and then I will post it on Daily Paintworks.  Hope it will look good in daylight!

"waiting on sunset"
8" x 10" oil on panel
©2017dottietleatherwood

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Day 10 ..."looking southwest"

I taught a painting class this morning so I left to go paint about 3:00.  The sun was still high and the sky was blue but not very exciting.  So I decided to paint the woods while I was waiting for the sky to change.  There was a tiny bit of snow still on the ground and it contrasted nicely with the warm tones of the trees in the afternoon light.   I also liked the way the clumps of snow led back through the trees.  I worked on this one for about an hour but didn't quite finish it.  I'd really like to do a larger painting based on this study.  There was so much going on that I didn't have a chance to get to.  And although this one isn't quite finished, I did manage to capture the colors that I saw.



It was nice weather to paint today...I didn't even need my coat.  The temperature was up near 50 and after exploring everywhere my dog enjoyed lying in the sun.  Can you see her? She's almost camouflaged by the grass.

About 4:30 the sun had shifted some and was heading toward the horizon throwing a golden light on all the grasses in front of me.  It was a bit difficult trying to look directly into the sun and paint but I'm happy with the way the sky turned out.  I tried to capture the brightness and warmth of the late day sun before all the drama of the sunset kicks in.

"looking southwest"
10" x 8" oil on linen panel
©2017dottietleatherwood