Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Under The Palms" - 30x30 Oil by Tina Bohlman


"Under The Palms" - 30x30 Oil on Canvas

"Under the Palms" is my most recent oil painting..... the result of a request from my daughter for "something beachy" to fill a 40" space on her living room wall. This was no small request! Her favorite place is in the Caribbean so she knows the subject well. I don't usually photograph a project in it's different stages, but I thought it important to document progress for my daughter as a record to accompany the painting when it passes to the next generation in her family:

Photo #1
With a thin mixture of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue, I blocked in the light, medium and dark values in the composition. I really liked the strong "grayscale" rendering and was tempted to stop and go no farther! But.....even though this was a nice "sketch" I knew my daughter had somthing more "colorful" in mind....

Photo #2 I mixed up a big puddle of cobalt blue, thinned it with Gamsol & washed in the sky including a thin veil of blue over the distant island.

Photo #3
Working alternately between the foreground and mid-ground, I began developing the wide variety of greens. The greens in the foreground are darker in value and "warmer" (more red), while the greens behind the cabana are lighter in value and "cooler" (more blue). Separating colors from the foreground by "temperature" creates depth.

Photo #4

In Photo #4, I worked on the background first by painting the distant trees and enhanced the island mountain. Moving forward to the middle ground, I painted the beach, the 1st layer of color on the hut, and added highlight definition to the palms & foliage behind the hut.

Photo #5
Photo #5 shows about 1/2 day's work; Added more color to the sky at the top, gradating down through cloud formations ending with a cerulean (greenish-blue) at the horizon. Painted the water & added a shoreline in the distance. Brought the sand color forward as far as the trees and around the hut. I worked a little more on the hut; shaped it up, added texture, and defined the support poles some more. Painted the 1st layer of color on the palm tree in the right foreground.

Photo #6
Now it's really beginning to take shape! I finish all the foreground trees; palms, their trunks and all the darkest darks & lightest lights that gives them depth. More work on the thatch roof; softened the shadow edges and added more texture to the thatch. Worked a little more on the horizon, especially in the area where the mountain recedes and softly disappears into the blue sky. This stage of the painting was another 1/2 day - palm trees are no easy task! The application as well as the direction of the brush stroke makes a difference....If the brush stroke is wrong, then the frond doesn't take on the right shape.....and there are so many varying shapes with one upon the other. The shapes - as a whole - have to give the viewer a sense of "motion".... there's always a breeze on the beach. Then there are the bright, clear colors.....oh, my!..... ranging from red to green to yellow.

Photo #7 - "Under The Palms" - 30x30 Oil on Canvas
 Photo #7 is the finished painting. The "gallery wrap" sides aren't visable. Painting the sides, top & bottom involved another couple of hours with "drying time" of 2 hours between each side. While working on the sides, I decided the cabana was a little too "perfect" so I created a hole on the edge of the roof and repainted the shadow below to show sunlight coming through. Repainting the shadows under the hut led to working a little more on "edges" between the sunlight and shadow on the sand - making some softer & lighter, others harder and darker.

I delivered the painting on Christmas Eve and judging by her reaction I think she liked it!!!  Of all the "commissions" in my career, this one gave me the most pleasure; it was a special request from my daughter, a subject that gave me a bit of a challenge (very different from a Texas landscape) but most importantly, it's a painting that (I hope) will remain in my family for a long, long time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Painting Big Bend National Park

The past 2 months have been "crazy busy"!  In between paint out & exhibition events, I traveled to Graham and Mount Pleasant (on different days, of course) and gave a watercolor demonstration for each art group.  In mid-November, the Pecan Plantation art association in Granbury invited me for a demo and the following weekend, I taught a 1-day greeting card workshop to their group.  It was very much fun & everyone completed at least 3 cards on that day.

Port A Invitational Coastal Paint Out the last weekend of October was not only fun, but very rewarding.  My quick draw painting of the Marina and a popular local seafood restaurant won the People's Choice award. 
"U Hook 'Em - We Cook 'Em"  9x12 Watercolor
This painting will appear on the 2013 Port A Coastal Paint Out event poster!
Following my trip to the coast, I participated in the Kerrville Paint Out event along with 50 very talented painters.  Very honored to have won the People's Choice award with my quick draw painting
titled "Cool Shadows".
"Cool Shadows" - 9x12 Watercolor

I spent the last week of November painting in Big Bend.  I painted in the park last March with watercolor.  This trip I worked in oil.  I tried to capture Santa Elena Canyon in both mediums and there just isn't any way to give that awesome scene "justice".  You just have to go there & see it for yourself.  Standing on the banks of the Rio Grande with Mexico just a stone throw away, you're at the foot of  canyon walls that go straight up....bathed in bright sun on one side and deep purple & blue shadows on the other.  Totally overwhelming...even for an experienced painter.  I gave it my best shot....but just couldn't "pull it off"; the painting (along with the watercolor painted last March) will go into my "source bin" with the hope that I can use it to make a good studio painting one day.  I wasn't alone in my endeavor....14 other painters were out there with me.  I liked the paintings the others did, although most of the painters felt as I did: just can't do that canyon the justice it deserves on canvas!  But the day was wonderful; 80 degrees, clear blue skies - In the photo below, I'm the painter on the far left.

Santa Elena Canyon - Big Bend


In a few days, I'll post some of my value sketches and share my color studies....along with a couple of paintings that I think are destined for the Plein Air Southwest 2013 show - deadline is Jan 6th... all entries must have been completed - plein air - in 2012.....time's running out!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Cool Shadows" Wins Peoples' Choice in Kerrville, TX

This past weekend, I participated in the Kerrville Outdoor Painters' Event in Kerrville, Texas.  In the 2-1/2 days on location,  I managed to complete 4 paintings.  We were allowed to submit 3 to the exhibit judged by nationally known Albert Handell.  Included in my 3 paintings was my Quick Draw painting - which won the Peoples' Choice award.
"Cool Shadows" - 9x12 Watercolor - SOLD
Winner:  Peoples' Choice Award
The Barn - Kerrville Hills Winery
9x12 Watercolor
The Well House - Kerrville Hills Winery
9x12 Watercolor
The painting, "Cool Shadows" sold at the evening reception Saturday night.  The other 2 might still available - the exhibit will continue until November 3rd.  This event was a "1st Annual" and it was evident that the organizers definitely did their homework on how to host an outdoor painting event.  From the moment of check in on Thursday until the final hour of the Saturday night awards presentation, the event was staffed with helpful and knowledgeable people.  I definitely will add this paint out to my calendar for next year. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

HOME "PORTRAIT" COMMISSION - 201 East University

"The Fowler Home - 201 East University"  16 x 20 Watercolor

Home portrait commissions are hard work.  Most go together pretty quick; the elements are easily defined and arranged into a pleasing composition.  If it's one of the quick ones, the "research phase" only involves 2 on location sessions for color notes and sketches of architecture details that are lost in the shadow areas of a photograph. The "drawing phase" is about 4 hours and the "painting phase" takes from 4 to 6 hours.  Then there are commissions that take a bit this one; "The Fowler Home".  As you can see from my reference photos below, this is not a small house!  

This 2-1/2 story home is a 100+year old beauty sitting on a 1/4 acre lot in a historical residential district of Waxahachie.  Mature trees surround the house and in the summer the dappled light adds to the charm.  One tree on the north side is probably older than the house.  On the south side toward the back is the carriage house.  The home and carriage house have been through many phases of restoration which involves a lot of time, patience, and expense. After many happy years of raising a family, the owners are now "empty nesters" and have decided to down-size.  They commissioned the painting as a memory to take with them and will pass the painting on to the children.

This is a close-up detail of the front door.
View looking north toward the 100+ year old tree
View of the front from the street
The carriage house

During my interview with the owners, I quickly discovered that the carriage house and the big tree were important to them.  In order to include both in the composition, the "angle" of the house had to be "straight-on" with the tree on the right and the carriage house on the left. Oh, and the brick walk was important too; they laid it by hand themselves. 

This is the finished drawing.  I worked on "thumbnail" sketches for 3 days, which involved several trips back to the house to verify bits of detail.  My process is to first get the proper "scale"; the house compared to the size of the carriage house and the big tree.  Next is to accurately draw the house. "Getting it right" on a project like this requires a lot of drawing, erasing, and the original draft is on a piece of transparent vellum that erases easily.  Throughout the entire drawing process, I'm checking to make sure all horizontal and vertical lines are "true".  If those lines are right, then all other lines fall into place easily, such as the hipped roof angles.  When I'm satisfied with the drawing, I transfer it to the watercolor paper using a graphite-based paper - it's the artist's "carbon" paper.

 This is about 50% complete.  I've washed in the pale yellow color of the house leaving the white of the paper for the porch railings and trim.  Added some landscaping and part of the background on the right.  and lightly washed in the big tree's foliage. The Crape Myrtle tree and carriage house on the left are about 85%.

 I apologize for the "slanted" angle of this photo; the drawing is straight; it's my camera that's crooked -  This shows the washed in shadows and dappled light cast from the big tree on the roof & front of the house.  A little more detail is added to the trees and I've defined the brick walk and detail of the windows and doors a little more.  I will apply 2 or 3 more light washes to deepen the color of the house and finish the big tree & foliage.  The last is to finish the foreground'; I'll add shadows cast from the tree across the lawn and walk.  The home during different times of day is usually in "dappled light" and partial shade. It sits facing the east so this is a "morning" painting.

 I compare values and color against my photos and sketches - I allow the paint to completely dry to make sure there are no more value "shifts".  Watercolor when dry is usually 3 to 4 times lighter than when it is wet.  Since this painting is on 300# Arches paper, it takes about an hour to dry completely.  When completely dry and under low humidity conditions, I'll apply 3 coats of clear matte acrylic - front and back - to seal the painting and render it "waterproof".  My clients can make the decision to mat and frame it traditionally under glass...or (my preference) frame it without the mats or glass.

This commission was a lot of work - about 20 hours total; but it was joyful work.  I love turn-of-the-century homes...they just don't make 'em like that any more, and I appreciate people - like my clients - who take time and money to care and preserve them for the next generation.

Friday, August 31, 2012

DUNES CHAPEL - Oil on Canvas

DUNES CHAPEL- 9x12- Oil on Canvas
One of my very favorite places to paint on location is Port Aransas, Texas. This studio oil painting was created working from my plein air watercolor sketchbook and photos.  The little chapel is located in a residental district, high on a sandy dune hill behind a private home.  It doesn't matter which direction you're driving, you'll still miss it; I've painted on location 3 times in the past 2 years and still drive right past it...usually catching it in my driver's side mirror.  The path to the chapel is "paved" with flagstone and old railroad ties with Sea Oates, natural coastal grass and wildflowers on each side.   Guarding the front door is a gorgeous palm tree.  Mother nature provides a perfect composition without any "re-arranging" necessary.
The most compelling element that draws me back - again and again - are the late afternoon shadows.  The chapel sits an an angle with the west side in full sun and the front in partial sun shaded by the palm. In the warm afternoon light, the shadows are a brilliant cobalt blue falling across the stucco.  An additional element - though not visable in this painting- is the occasional visitor - someone is usually inside...praying, reading, reflecting....and this is very inspirational to me.
I'll be returning again in late October to participate in the invitational Coastal Paint Out.  The Dunes Chapel will be my first destination.  The desire to paint it once more is beginning to build......

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Lofty View - New

This is my newest painting, 11x14 watercolor.  I came across this old barn a couple of years ago, on a county road south of Hillsboro, Texas. I was on my way to a friend's house, rounded a curve & driving into the sun, I saw it in my rearview mirror after I was already past.  One good thing about gravel county roads is the absense of traffic....and there's no danger of causing a wreck if you slam on the brakes & back up a couple hundred feet to take a photo!  The huge bird landed & perched on top just as I snapped the shot. I couldn't have planned it any better! Anyway, I uploaded the photo then forgot about it until this week when I found it while looking through my reference photos. It's a great old barn that has stood for decades.....lots of character; with or without the bird.

Friday, July 20, 2012

105 E. University - A Family's Story

105 East University - The Traugott Home
9x12 Watercolor

My work in the studio this week was a "labor of love"....a home "portrait".  This painting is of a 1920's  bungalow on a quiet street in one of Waxahachie's historic districts. My clients purchased the home as newly-weds and as the family grew in numbers, it became necessary to find a larger home. 

Two weeks ago, on the day they sold the house, they contacted me and comissioned a painting.
Intimate conversations with clients are as important as sketches and photographs. As I snapped photographs and made quick sketches from several angles,  I listened carefully as they talked about the house - and after a short while, I began to see the home through their eyes. It was evident they are excited about the move to their new home, but at the same time, there's the sadness of leaving their first home; one filled with love and laughter and children.  A photograph gives me technical information, but there's no emotional doesn't share memories. It doesn't tell "the story".

Elements in the painting - the big tree and dappled light; the flower gardens; the red door; faces in the picture window - are all connected to a family memory. Everyone - except the family - will see a  painting of a house...but the family will see and remember "the story".

Commissions like this one give me great pleasure.  I'll deliver "105 E. University" tomorrow to it's new home with the knowledge that it will continue to tell "the story" in the Traugott family for generations to come.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Blogger App on the go!

I just downloaded a new app for my phone that allows me to blog on the go! Now I can post new paintings while still on long as I have a good "signal".
To start (and test) my first post from my phone, this is a painting recently completed in the studio..."High Plains Windbreak" -watercolor 11x14.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Friday Night at Uptown Village

Friday Night at Uptown Village
9x12 plein air watercolor
A couple of weeks ago, the Ellis County Art Association was the "featured non-profit" organization at the Uptown Village shopping center in Cedar Hill, Texas.  Every Friday night throughout the summer this upscale shopping center sponsors a music concert - the price of admission is a donation of money or supplies for the featured organization.  We were honored with a special location under a tent with a table for our information pamphlets and brochures.  

When the music concert started, another artist and I set up our easels and began a painting demonstration on the Uptown Village lawn. There we were - among more than a hundred adults and children - painting to the beat of a really good blues & jazz band! The scene was chaotic; children running & playing in a water sprinkler; the music was so loud it was impossible to carry on a conversation; adults singing along and dancing to the music. I've participated in many a plein air event with people looking on, but this was by far the most distracting painting situation I've ever been in.  It was about 7 pm so I only had about 90 minutes before the light disappeared.  I decided to keep the composition as simple as possible; an umbrella table with figures in shadow, a street lamp, a backdrop of buildings and a pedestrian couple in the sunlight.  Once I finished the drawing, the painting came together quite easily although this definitely tested my ability to focus and concentrate!

It was a fun evening which resulted in a very generous monetary donation to our association by Uptown Village.  As a token of appreciation, I gifted this painting to the Uptown Village Center's marketing director. She was surprised and delighted with the painting and promised to give it a place of "honor" in her office.  

I've mentioned this many times before, but it's worth saying again.... I really, really love what I do!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wash Day Relics - Watercolor 11x14

Wash Day Relics - 11x14 watercolor
This brings back a lot of childhood memories....I'd help Mama & Granny with laundry every Monday.  We'd load up the DeSoto and drive 3 miles into "town" to the laundr-o-mat and do the wash in what seemed like hours and hours.  As a reward for helping, I'd go to the drug store and buy a "funny book" for a dime and slurp up a coke float for another quarter.  I'd have 15 cents left over for the "dime store".  Ah.....those were the good ol' days!

This old wringer washer was cast aside in a junk yard in Jerome, Arizona.  I took several photos and made a couple of sketches...the rest is from my childhood memories.  This is available for purchase - check out my website for more information:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SOLD! Taos Steps has a new home!

Taos Steps has a new home! It sold recently on Daily Paintworks auction - This painting "lived" in my studio for about 3 years and I'll miss it....but it's time for me to begin a new one in this extremely "tedious" medium.   Once I begin, I'll post images of the progress - so, stay tuned - join my email list for new posts.
Taos Steps - 12 x 16 - Egg Tempera

Saturday, January 7, 2012

SOLD! Taos Steps - 12 x 16 - Egg Tempera

Taos Steps has a new home!  It sold recently on Daily Paintworks auction - This painting "lived" in my studio for about 3 years and I'll miss it....but it's time for me to begin a new egg tempera. The stages of a painting in this medium is slow so I'll post the progress - stay tuned! 
Taos Steps - 12 x 16 - Egg Tempera