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Oil Sketches

Going even smaller than a study, I have some Arches oil paper and I tried making very small (less than 4″ paintings on it to test colors or techniques.

I think the winter scene needs a bit more of a focal point. The kelp & fish: I brushed my hand over it while it was wet and blurred the lower left corner. Violet tree: I like it. I’m not sure if I’ll have trouble adding detail if I make it bigger, but probably not. Lower right: not happy with this at all, but that’s why it’s a sketchbook.

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Still Life

I’ve been sketching out some more horses, I have several photos that I’m inspired by, but I haven’t got a good composition yet. I’m also in the process of rounding up skulls and props to set up my own still lifes but for now i’m using some free online images.

6×8 oil on panel
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Pitcher Plants

Last year I bought a sundew plant to help with fungus gnats and fruit flies – and it worked great. I felt inspired by some of their photos (my house is already filling up with plants, but I still want more.) In any case, Predatory Perennials gave me permission to use some of their photos as reference.

This is a 6×8 oil on panel. Hopefully there will be more soon.

Pitcher Plants
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Still Painting

I’ve been spending a lot of time doing quick sketches and practicing monsters. Monday I’m going to swoop through the thrift store to look for oil paintings that look like they need to have monsters added to them, failing that I’ll look for inexpensive frames to use for other paintings. These are all very small. they still take me longer than just one day, but I’m working on it.

Maribel – the Fjord Horse. 6×6 oil on board
Glass cup. 6×6 oil on board
value study: for a future oil painting
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More attempts at ‘daily painting’ although this took me more than 1 day. I tried it because I think of flowers as being very difficult and I guess I wasn’t wrong, this gave me some trouble.

8×10 oil on panel

I got my brother in law to spend a couple hours cutting down new panels into tiny sizes and I hope this will encourage me to paint more often without worrying so much about ‘what if I botch it?’. Wish me luck.

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A Painting a Day?

As with most things, the way to get better at painting is to practice. I know this, but I’ve still been avoiding oil painting for a while. Why? Because the last thing I painted I thought was pretty good and then as soon as I start anything and I don’t feel like it’s going to turn out as well as that I abandon it.

Obviously I’m not going to improve this way. I’ve been watching videos for inspiration and hit upon Carol Marine who has a book called Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist. This isn’t quite a resolution, but I am going to try to paint small, but regularly. I’m going to try to not worry too much about making them perfect, but get them down and then move on to the next.

I had a watercolor of this octopus sketch already in my notebook. Here it is as a 6×8 oil on panel. Sorry about the glare, photographing the paintings is not my strong suit. And I haven’t figured out a good way to sign them yet.

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Inktober 2022

Something that Ian Roberts (artist) wrote in one of his books was that you should expect to produce bad art. If you go to museums you can see some of the really bad to mediocre art of very famous painters because when you’re that famous people dig up everything you’ve ever done and ship it off to a museum, even if it’s something you would have left hidden in your garage forever. Having a success rate of 50%, or even 10% is still good!

Because I’m relatively new to this, and because I don’t expect anyone to ever read this blog, I’m sharing a lot of my ‘clearly learning how this works’ and ‘didn’t work’ art. Enjoy! I’m hoping I can look back at this in 3 years and see a clear improvement.

Meanwhile! I’ve been trying to sketch a little bit whenever I can and have been sharing the results as part of “Inktober”. There might be some sort of official rules about that but I’m doing what suits me. Usually this means an ink sketch with a bit of watercolor over it or more of my grayscale sketches. None of these took more than an hour or so.

To be fair: none of these are my total failures. I’m not sharing the times I made big mistakes or I got halfway through and realize that I couldn’t tell what I’d drawn and it looked like some abstract design when it wasn’t. If you look back at images I posted of entire sketchbook pages you can see some.

Jug + Vase value study (unsplash)
Landscapes from unsplash images
Polar bear (pixabay image)
My dog being adorable
Larches at Maple Pass
Wonderland value study
Wonderland value study
A snowshoeing trip

Watercolors are all on a 5.5×8.5 Canson mixed media pad with a micron pen sketch. Grayscale are Micron pen, blick marker, and Sakura white gel pens on Strathmore toned gray sketch paper. Nothing is bigger than 5 or 6 inches in any dimension.

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Wonderland Trail – Postscript

I took a few notes along the way and these are the things I want to remember for later.

Highlights: Yellowstone Cliff & Windy Gap, Emerald Ridge, swimming at Golden Lake and St Andrews Lake, the ‘fairy hall’ like quality of lower Ipsut Pass in the fog, the Silver Forest south of Golden Lakes, the entire stretch from just north of Nickel Creek through Indian Bar to Summerland.

Should have brought: A dedicated bottle for the bidet – one that I don’t like very much. A sit pad (got left behind by accident), waterproof pants/lighter rain gear, more socks for S, neosporin, a safety pin in my med kit, more alleve, warmer PJs for S, ramen flavor packets to add to our food, miso soup, spices in general, more TP (N saved us), soap! (which somehow got left behind), a faster water purifier, and the pesto & parmesan noodles I’ve brought kayaking before but left out this time.

This was a great idea: bandana, pickles, snickers bars, dehydrated risotto, dehydrated panang curry, mashed potatoes, clothes that quick dry

Leave behind: extra fuel cannisters, my heavier raincoat (replace with something lighter). We never used the playing cards – so maybe?

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Wonderland Trail – Day 10

Summerland to White River (our last day)

We had word (from a bit of cell service back on day 8) that N, K’s sister was going to try to hike up to Summerland camp before sunrise on our last day to bring us breakfast and also to get some early morning photography. Thus we all got up super early to watch the show. My iphone wasn’t really up to the task, so trust me that it was far more spectacular than what you see. For starters there were, as you might imagine, so many stars. We sat in the darkness looking up at the mountain and I saw more stars! It took me a moment to realize that I was seeing the headlamps of climbers on their way to the summit. We were able to make out more the longer we looked, at least a dozen, and we could see that they were making progress and see a rough outline of the route all of them were taking. I also turned and saw another night hiker’s light up at Panhandle gap, where we’d been the day before.

The rising sun turned the mountain pink
Our campsite at Summerland
Searching for the best view

A bit after sunrise N turned up with, I kid you not, a charcuterie board. Not exactly a board – but crackers, brie, prosciutto – the works. You know how any regular food tastes like the best food you’ve ever had right after you’ve been eating, for example, rehydrated rice and beans for 10 days? This was amazing. Also that light I’d seen at Panhandle Gap? That was N. She’d gone past us all the way up to the gap to catch the sunrise, then hiked back DOWN to bring us food.

Best breakfast ever
N showing me how crossing bridges is done

Half of this hike was familiar to me. I’d been as far as Panhandle gap with K in the past, so it wasn’t until we passed the trailhead and kept going toward White River that I was in new territory. But I can see why K chose it – it’s one of the prettiest places in the park. The hike to White River was mostly deep forest, with only one ominous warning sign that the White River bridge was out and impassable. We deduced that this sign was old, since we’d seen the bridge when we started the first day and there hadn’t been any significant weather since then. Also, we spoke to almost everyone going the other way and you’d think someone would have mentioned it.

A bit of celebration at the last scary bridge (3 banana peels)

And we were done. Time to return to everyday life. On the one hand, I really wanted a proper shower, but on the other hand, I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the world and its problems.