Mar 25, 2011

Still looking for red buds

Eastern Redbud, 6x6" oil on panel
In conversations about spring blooms in North Carolina, my brother frequently mentioned Redbuds. I never knew what he was talking about because I wasn’t seeing trees with red buds. I have since learned that the Eastern Redbud is the tree we see in the Carolinas in early spring that has a brilliant magenta bud and flower. It grows in the wild, but it is also used as a planting in many commercial and private landscapes. Here I have depicted one on a commercial property. Truthfully, I think these trees are most beautiful along the highway in early spring when their intensely magenta buds contrast so radiantly against the still grey backdrop of winter.

This was my third painting on a paint-out in Raleigh on Tuesday. I’ll be  posting many new landscapes I’ve done en plein air in Hot Off the Easel, my other blog. For a while at least, I’m reserving On the Plein Air Trail for my tree paintings.

Mar 24, 2011

Spring smorgasbord

Yoshino Cherry, 6x6" oil on panel
Like yesterday’s Weeping Cherry, I painted Yoshino Cherry from the comfort of my car on a gusty day in Winston-Salem. The blossoms of both trees are predominantly white with a touch of pink. Here in North Carolina it’s almost impossible to keep up with the trees that are coming into bloom right now. I may have missed an entire peach orchard in bloom just twenty miles down the road. A non-artist needs to know that being stimulated such as a plein air painter is by surrounding visual beauty is comparable to feeling really hungry, then being offered a smorgasbord. You want it all, you don’t want to pass up the opportunity to capture it all. We’re visual pigs is what we are.

Mar 23, 2011

Grieving Japan

Weeping Cherry, windblown, 6x6" oil on panel
When I first tried to identify a Weeping Cherry, I assumed it was a willow. It wasn’t in bloom, and it looked very much to me like a willow. What a marvelous tree, what delicate branches and flowers! On Monday, a windy day in Winston-Salem, NC, I painted this one in the comfort of my car. The name of the tree speaks to the catastrophic events that have so devastated Japan.
I have plans to donate proceeds from the sale of this painting to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Bids will open at $100.

Mar 21, 2011

A close calamity

Tulip tree, 6x6" oil on panel
Right down the street from Friday’s fabulous paint-out was a lovely tulip tree. We didn't have this tree in Minnesota. Long before the tree has leaves, it bears a large flower that closely resembles a purplish pink tulip. I remember my first experience painting a tree like this. The tree was large enough that I could sit under it as I painted. The petals fell down all around me as I painted, some of them into my palette.

I was well into the painting on Friday when I was approached by a worker on the street.“We’re going to be coming through, so I hope it won’t disturb you,” he reported.

When I looked down the street and saw what was headed my way, all I could say was, “Oh, stop it.” The bearer of bad news gave me a strange look.

When you check out the photo below, you’ll see why my painting and all my gear had to take temporary shelter in my vehicle. Wet oil paint acts like a magnet to even the smallest amount of dust.

Leaf Busters

Mar 18, 2011

Lakeside paint-out

Willow, 6x6" oil on panel
Wow! My very first blog entry from my new laptop! I'm lovin’ it. If my x-techie-husband could only see me now!

Got to a Paint NC* paint-out this a.m. at about 7:30. This is why you didn’t hear from me earlier. The temp was 83º when I packed up to leave at 4:30. it was the kind of day of which plein air dreams are made.

Seems like weeping willows grow in most areas of the U.S. I'll have to Google them. The deeper blue behind the willow is the picturesque lake on which the host of today’s paint-out lives. If I were thirteen years old and saw the painters in such a setting and the epicurean lunch that was spread out for us, I‘d be thinking without a doubt the life of an artist is an easy one. Wrong!

*Paint NC is a group of North Carolina artists, mostly in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill), who spring through fall each year, get together twice a week to go on paint-outs at various designated locations. If you’re inclined, read more about us at Paint NC.

Mar 17, 2011

Lucky stars in North Carolina

Star Magnolias, 6x8" oil on panel

 I may have captured the shape of the tree better had there been only one tree. But this is a MamaBear/BabyBear relationship between two trees, and honestly, I didn’t see Baby Bear there until after I’d chosen the format and begun painting.

Star Magnolias are another tree species native to Japan. I planted one on the north side of my house in Minneapolis and often wonder if it survived. It would make me too sad to visit my old house there. The Star Magnolias I’ve seen in bloom in Minnesota appear different than the ones here in North Carolina. In the North Country the blooms look like those flowers we made with tissue as kids. Or like wadded up toilet paper thrown on a tree. Maybe it’s the snow that gets to them up there. No offense intended, Minnesota.

Mar 16, 2011

Not illustration

Remnants of autumn, 8x6" oil on panel

It is not my intention to create an oil painting walking guide of trees indigenous to North Carolina. It is my intention to document in oil those trees that talk to me. For years I have passed trees and said to myself, now there’s your quintessential Live Oak, or there is the perfect representation of a Magnolia tree. These are the trees I want to paint. In some cases, I want to paint visual definitions of various tree species. Botanical artists do a good job of this. I want though to do this in my own style and hopefully, to bring more life to the work than I see in most botanical illustration. I want these to be tree paintings, not tree illustrations.

Mar 15, 2011

Our friend Japan

Cherry Tree, 6x6" oil on panel
A friend tells me this is a Yoshino Cherry. Over 3000 cherry trees, mostly Yoshino, were gifted by the Japanese in an act of friendship to the United States in 1912. In 1965 Japan’s gift was renewed with 3800 more cherry trees. Our nation’s capital turns into a fairyland each spring when these trees bloom and are celebrated at our annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.

I don’t know that this is a Yoshino Cherry; it may be a Kwanzan Cherry, another tree native to Japan. I cannot mention this country right now or look at this painting without being reminded of the devastating triple tragedies that have recently wreaked havoc on that country’s mainland.

Keiko Tanabe is an artist whose work I have collected. I just placed a bid on another painting by this remarkable San Diego watercolorist. Please join me in her generous effort to help her native country. Several of her beautiful paintings are up for auction on her blog at Disaster Relief Fund.

Mar 14, 2011

Another year older

Bradford Pear, 6x6" oil on panel
Not a tree whose fruit you would eat, I always think Bartlett before Bradford comes to mind. For me, the appearance each year of Bradford Pear trees is like a birthday. I know how old I’m getting by how well I can remember the name of this tree. The rest of the year, it’s just another green tree to me and I don’t give it a second thought. But every late winter it is one of the first trees in North Carolina to bloom, announcing beautifully that spring is just around the corner.

$100 plus shipping.
PayPal available upon request.

Mar 12, 2011

One, two, tree

Tree No. 1, 6x6" oil on panel
Spring is definitely in the air here in Carolina so it’s back on the plein air trail for me. I don’t know how long I’ll be posting trees but will paint and post them for as long as they inspire me. Don’t know the tree species of this first one, but the new orange growth on a rainy day was too good to pass up.

$100 plus shipping.
PayPal available upon request.

Mar 2, 2011

Ever get the feeling you're being watched?

Artist types, electronic composite of three 8.5 x 12" watercolors
Just more “quicker” sketches of the people who showed up at my demo at Jerry’s. The lady to the right of center is Adele (think I got her name right). She’s 92 years old and still painting. She looks great, due to her art no doubt. I’m encouraged and inspired by folks like this.

Mar 1, 2011

Quick and quicker

Spencer quick, 9x6"
See my most recent Dr. Sketchy paintings by clicking Birthday Bash at the Black Flower. Not having made a post there for some time, Hot off the Easel, my other blog, had grown a bit cold and so I decided to warm it up by adding some fresh work.
Saturday, Jerry’s Artarama Raleigh store had me stop by for a couple of hours for some FREE product demos. Know that I am totally opposed to artists endorsing products that they would not otherwise use. In this case however, I helped Jerry’s promote their DaVinci line of watercolors, a brand that comprises most of my full palette when I’m working from a full palette. This brand was first introduced to me when in 1995 I took a workshop from the late, great Robert E. Wood, California School master watercolorist. To date, he’s probably the most famous of all the painters under whom I’ve studied.
The paintings here are a quick and a quicker watercolor of Spencer, one of the folks who stopped by to watch me demonstrate my fast gesture approach to painting figures in watercolor.
Quicker Spencer, 6x3"