Saturday, June 28, 2014

Coach Barn - Duke Farms

A few weekends back I had the opportunity to visit Duke Farms and see the Coach Barn, which was open to the public for the first time in a long while.  It is a rather impressive building, complete with stables and working clock tower.  Constructed in 1900, the Coach Barn is where J.B. Duke conducted his day to day business.  The clock is over 100 years old, and has never broken down or failed to tell the correct time.  

The painting started on location and finished in my studio (I just like writing that) since the day was getting late and the bugs were biting.  As you can see below, it was still a bit rough and unformed.  I used several different pens to vary the line weight, trying hard not to "over work" it with unnecessary detail.

                          Watercolor, Pen & Ink on 140 lbs block 12x16

I set up with the en plein air easel and my niece joined me, creating her own painting.  It was fun.  Several people stopped over to watch us paint and ask questions, which is certainly something that never happens when I sit on a bench with a pad in my lap and sketch.

Here is the un-inked version of the painting.  I had to leave it a little too rough to call it a finished work.  The ink adding just the right amount of detail and clarity.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Don't Get Cocky

Ahem. . .watercolors are tricky.  Every time I think I understand what I am doing, they bring me back down to earth.

There are certain technical points to this piece that I quite like, and of course, some that I do not.  The copper tea and stump pot came out as I hoped using a glazing technique to give more depth to the colors.  I mixed the greens of the grass instead of using pure tube sap green pigment.  There is a nice gradation to the greens, with spots of yellow, raw sienna and darker blue-greens flowing throughout the foreground.  I also drew a half inch border around the paper before starting because I have always liked how that looks in other artist's work. 

Compositionally, the rooster and the teapot/stump are too close together, I think there needed to be more space between them to draw the eye around the painting. And I definitely over worked the rooster too much, the details of his feathers are lost in the layers of dark colors.    

                                      Watercolor on 140 lbs block 9x12

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Boat House by the Duck Pond

I often admire the legions of Urban Sketchers in their cool European cities as they dazzle with their eye popping work of old world buildings and parks.  One day I will join them on an urban sketch crawl.  But in the interim, I will contend myself with painting more locally.  I think that Central Jersey has its own charm and appeal.  That is why I am challenging myself to start my own Central Jersey Project to help me grow, but to also showcase the beauty of Central Jersey (and I will be taking a liberal view of where that actually is).  Plus, it forces me to use my en plein air easel and tripod set up.

This painting is of the boat house by the Duck Pond, which is a small park (less than 2 mile area) that meanders around the Ambrose Brook, complete with its own little waterfall.  This area is prone to flooding, especially after the last two big hurricanes.  And, as its name implies, is home to many ducks, though none were to be seen this weekend.  I think I was able to actually achieve a nice contrast between light and dark, especially in the bushes in the far ground.  

                        Watercolor on 140 lbs watercolor block 9x12

                            The view up from the docks to the boat house

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Rhododendron aka Rose of Sharon

Despite teaching biology in college, I have been accused of a having a willful ignorance of local flora (there is a running joke that I call all small flowering trees dogwoods).  While that may be true to an extent, I am not that bad.  But here is where I fail to disprove that hypothesis.  In our side yard, we have both rhododendrons and rose of sharon growing.  And of course, I call them both rose of sharon because, well, it amuses me (sad but true).

Below is a painting of said rhododendron in said side yard.  This painting is a rather large and has the distinction of being the first painting on my new en plein air easel and tripod set up (see below).  I was very excited to finally get to use my new kit, it makes me feel like a real artist.

                            Watercolor on 140 lbs watercolor block 12x16