A break from the rain: a view of the mountains from Juneau

The weather was not very cooperative during the Alaskan cruise, as it rained much of the time. But that is part of the fun and challenge of plein air painting! Living in the Seattle area, working around the rain is an important skill to learn; but I did have to give up a painting or two during the cruise because of it.

Mountains from Juneau

We had a bit of sunshine in Juneau though, which allowed me to paint these mountains from the deck of the ship. My new found friend and cabin-mate Jonathan Luczycki did a painting from a similar vantage point, and won 2nd place in the competition that was part of the trip. My painting is not quite as strong, perhaps, but I am happy with the rendering of the mountains and how they recede.

I feel fortunate to have been Jonny's cabin-mate for the trip, I really admire his dedication and skill at painting, not to mention his ability to wolf down all that free cruise food! :) Jonathan, and others like Larry Seiler, Jennifer Bowman, and Catherine Gill freely gave advice as I was painting (and after the paintings were done). I believe my work is stronger for it, and I am grateful.

Santa Cruise

I'm proud to say that this little portrait of Santa, painted from life (!!!), won an award on the cruise. The award was called Carl and Sarah's pick. Carl and Sarah Judson, of course of the guerrilla painter, and Judsons Art Outfitter fame.

Santa Cruise
How did I end up doing a portrait of Father Christmas on a plein air event? Well, there was actually a Santa convention on the cruise ship! It was somewhat surreal to see a bunch of Santa Clauses walking around the ship in full costume, along with Mrs. Clauses. They were on the ship to learn to be better Santas, including learning how to twirl their moustaches, and what the proper posture should be to avoid injury when holding kids on their lap. I didn't realize that being a Santa was a serious serious business!
Anyway, the painted ladies (the trip's fabulous organizers) somehow managed to convince one of the Santas to pose for us in a life drawing session. And thus a truly unique opportunity to paint a real-life Santa Claus.
In other good news, the painting below "Towards the Blue  Mountains" was accepted into the Northwest Landscapes Grand & Intimate exhibit this July. Now to figure out how to frame it properly!
Towards the Blue Mountains

Alaskan Painting Cruise

Just got back from the Great Alaskan Plein Air Retreat/Cruise. It was a great adventure, and so much fun to meet so many wonderful and nice artists. The weather didn't cooperate as well as I would like, but that is a minor thing. The instructors were great, the organizers were on top of everything, and of course, all the other artists were lovely.

painting cruise
The trip started in Vancouver BC, and sailed for 7 days with stops at various ports til we reached Whittier, Alaska. Along the way, we painted, ate a lot of food, drank a lot of drinks, and shared a lot of stories and knowledge.
I am quite fascinated by the massive scale of these cruise ships. They are floating cities, almost. They carry more passengers than the year-round population of some the towns that we visited. Sometimes they threaten to overwhelm even the Alaskan landscape. But eventually the land wins out; Alaska has some of the most breathtaking views.

Lemon coke bottle

Lemons are difficult to paint for me, I think because darkening yellows with paint is pretty tricky. On the other hand, I really enjoy painting glass things. The key, I think, is to focus on the shapes and colors and paint those, and the bottle will just emerge. It's no different from painting anything else, really, but glass forces me to be more observant and careful.

lemon coke bottle
Tomorrow, I head off to Vancouver BC, to go on a painting cruise! It's a combination 1 week cruise and painting workshop. I will be taking a workshop with Larry Seiler, whose work I always liked seeing on wetcanvas. I'm quite excited, and as usual, not quite packed!

Two Cokes

I really like painting coke bottles and cans. The bottles are iconic of course, and I love the bold red cut off lettering on the cans of Diet Coke.

While hanging out with Melanie Thompson and Laura Gable in Walla Walla, the subject of my Daily Paintworks membership came up. Apparently both Melanie and Laura are on there as well. It dawned on me that I haven't put anything new up for sale there since September! And it doesn't make sense to keep paying the monthly fee if I don't put anything for sale.

So I thought I should either cancel it, or put more stuff out there. I think I decided to put stuff out for auction, starting with this one. I'm not always happy with how my paintings come out, but I really like this one, I like looking at it, I like how it's not very fussy. I even like the weird shadow on the right.

Walla Walla Postcards

I am having a lot of fun doing these small 6x4 postcards. They make me think harder about composition, color, and value. These ones are from Walla Walla, on another Plein Air Washington paint out. Walla Walla is known for its vineyards and wineries, but I was there to paint; so I didn't get to do any wine tasting. I've already mailed the top painting, thinking of what to do with the 2nd one.

Barn at Whitman Mission
Barn at Whitman Mission

hills at rooks park
Hills at Rooks Park
Huge thanks to Melanie Thompson for facilitating, it was a blast. I'm back home now, exhausted but happy to have done these.

Postcards from Redmond

I painted around town today. I think Redmond actually has many areas that are quite interesting to paint. It feels like a small town starting to grow up. So I set out to paint some 8x10s... but I realized that painting buildings is really difficult! I found the many buildings and architectural details so overwhelming and confusing.

Going smaller gave me more success. These small ones are on 4x6 watercolor paper, they have postcard lines printed on the back. I think the small format helped me simplify the shapes, but also forced me to find simpler compositions that are not too complicated. The paintings are still not that accurate, but I do feel they at least depict a sense of the place.

Redmond Fire Department
Redmond Fire Department
Since these are postcards, I think I'll put a stamp on the back and mail them out! One goes to my parents in Cotabato for sure. The other one I'll send to Mae Rose, who's probably the only person who has ever sent me a postcard (so old fashioned!).