Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Skagit River Sunset

Skagit River Sunset. ©2011 Lisa McShane. Oil on Linen. 12" x 24".
The sun setting over a bend in the Skagit River. This is a painting that I started last September and finished last week. There are many layers and I experimented with reflection, light and composition.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Along the Ridge at Dusk

Along the Ridge at Dusk. ©2011 Lisa McShane. Oil on Linen. 24"x36".
I finished this painting today at noon, after working on it nearly every day for about 3 months. For a time I was posting daily images of it on Facebook, which you can see here, and I wrote about it on my blog here and here.

After awhile I stopped posting the images daily for a few reasons. It seemed that the changes were too subtle to be really interesting and for most, they might be wondering why I was posting the same exact painting every day. And then at one point I needed to make corrections and lighten up and change an area and that makes the painting temporarily seriously ugly. I didn't want to alarm friends who might wonder why I was ruining my painting.

While this was in progress I went back to sketch Rattlesnake Mountain and when I was in the studio the next day, quickly added what I needed to make the mid-ground work for me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Perigee Moon

Perigee Moon. ©2011 Lisa McShane. Oil on Linen 20" x 12"

The day we had the super moon this March it was oddly clear in Bellingham. I picked up another artist, Donna Auer, well before dawn and we drove to Lake Samish to watch the moon set and the sun rise.

We chased the moon a bit as we struggled to find the right viewing spot what with trees and houses blocking our view. We stopped at one point on a dead end road and saw the moon high through the branches. Lovely. I've placed it lower but remember well how it looked.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Remington and his amazing nocturnes. Wow.

I'd seen a few of Remington's paintings over the years that pretty much knocked my socks off. Yet I'm surprised with each one I see because I think of him - still - as an illustrator. The last few paintings I saw changed that. I now see him in a whole new light. Night.

Two weeks ago I visited the Gilcrease museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Great paintings there by artists I was unfamiliar with, like William Jacob Hays and his painting Herd of Buffalo on the Bed of the River Missouri. Unfortunately they don't allow photographs and they sell very few reproductions in their gift shop. This one isn't on their website, nor is their fine Remington nocturne online. I've got nothing to show you. But there was a Remington Nocturne and it was amazing.

Then the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth which, happily, allows visitors to take photographs of their permanent collection. After all, why the heck wouldn't a museum allow that? So sensible. Here's their Remington with closeups:

Frederic Remington, The Grass Fire (Backfiring), 1908, Amon Carter Museum of Art, Fort Worth Texas.

The National Gallery of Art has some very good Remingtons and they've put together this great website with his nocturnes and other paintings. Click here for that.

Friday, May 6, 2011

3 fine painters in my corner of the world

There are some wonderfully fine and kind painters up here in the NW corner of the US. All of us braving the months of drizzle for the long summer days.

David Ridgeway is new to the blogging world but definitely not new to painting. I had the opportunity to visit his home and studio on a bright snowy day in December. Click here to see his new blog and a post with a great painting of Orcas Island.

John Stinson paints NW Washington and the Palouse (yes! like I do!) but with a somewhat different approach. I love his work. The first time I saw one of his paintings it was of a field near Coupeville Washington. I'd tried (failed) to capture the same scene a few months prior. He'd really nailed it. Here's his blog.

And Kat Schneider. Lovely, lovely abstracts. Hilarious sense of humor. Here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kansas City has a great museum and more!

As part of my extensive tour of museums and BBQ joints in the south, I also visited Kansas City. I'm pleased to report that they have a really fine museum: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The museum is free to visit, has a wonderful collection of American art to study and allows you to take photographs. In fact, one of the museum guards had a nice discussion with me about how close I should be from the surface of the painting for my photographs. She approached me and said that she understood what I was doing but perhaps they'd be more comfortable if I was about 2 inches farther back. Can do, very nice.

The collection included a very good Inness, a lovely small Homer and a Sargent. There were many others but those were my top favorites.

George Inness, Old Farm - Montclair, 1893. Oil on Plywood.
This was one of Inness' last paintings as he died in 1894.
Note the wonderfully layered textures.

George Inness, Old Farm - Montclair, 1893, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Below: Winslow Homer, Gloucester Harbor, 1873

Winslow Homer, Gloucester Harbor, 1873, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Below: John Singer Sargent, Fisherwomen Returning, ca. 1877.
Sargent was 21 when he painted this in 1877.

John Singer Sargent, Fisherwomen Returning, ca. 1877, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

And a final note on Kansas City: don't miss Oklahoma Joe's for the best BBQ burnt ends I've ever had. And you might want to stop by Creative Coldsnow art supply store to stock up on all those things you need.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thomas Moran at the Amon Carter

Thomas Moran,  Cliffs of the Green River, Amon Carter Museum,  Fort Worth Texas
First, thank you Amon Carter Museum for allowing people to take photos of the paintings in your permanent collection! Artists learn from studying artists and without the freedom to take a photo to look at later, again and again, it is difficult to study paintings.

For me it's important to look closely at the surfaces to see the hand of the artist. For instance, here are three closeups of the Moran painting. With the top photo I'm interested in his trees and the edges of the hill and sky.

Beautiful clouds here and nice darks. The warmth and dark values in the foreground are interesting to see.

But this closeup is what I'd wanted to really nail: the reflections in the water in the lower left of the painting. Thinly painted; very nice.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Printmaking with Deborah Paris

Deborah's printing press
Etching lesson

Deborah's Prints
I have wanted to learn how to make prints for about 25 years. I longed to take printmaking in art school but I was a double major in metal sculpture and oil painting and loved my art history and drawing classes so there just wasn't time.

I love the line and the inky blacks. Fortunately Deborah has a printing press and taught 5 of us how to etch one afternoon. She gave each of us a small zinc plate, some etching tools and we furiously worked to create small prints. Then we heated the plates, rubbed ink on and rubbed it off and each of us made a print.

Mine wasn't good but I absolutely loved the process and can't wait to do it again!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Amon Carter Museum & the Heade painting

On Friday our workshop group hit the road and went to the exhibit, The Hudson River School, Nature and the American Vision, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth Texas. It was about a 3 hour drive from Deborah Paris' home and studio in Clarksville, Texas.

The Hudson River school exhibit was very good and I especially liked the work of William Hazeltine. Because it was a traveling exhibit, we weren't allowed to take photographs.

However the museum's permanent collection is terrific and I took photos, including closeups of several key paintings.

Here is Martin Johnson Heade, Marshfield Meadows, Massachusetts, ca. 1866-76.

And here are the closeups I took because I'm working on a painting with rain:

Tomorrow: more paintings

Deborah Paris at her easel

Deborah Paris at her easel, April 2011.
One of the very best things about Deborah's workshop is the opportunity to see an artist at work. She uses her own paintings to demonstrate technique and talk through ideas for us. In several years in art school I don't believe I ever saw one of teachers painting. I took one other workshop and again, didn't really see the teacher paint (other than on students' work...and that's just not the same thing.)

Because Deborah teaches an approach to painting that's technically challenging - indirect painting - she spends time each day demonstrating for us. She also often simply works in the studio while we're painting in the afternoon. And that's really fun too. So here she is at the easel.

Deborah Paris' palette, April 2011
And here is Deborah doing a paint mixing demo on her palette. That's seriously fun to watch and the discussion about transparent, semi-transparent and opaque is interesting.