Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tools Of The Trade

The weather the past couple of days has made it impossible to paint on location - actually, I haven't left my house in 3 days! I used the 1st day cleaning my studio - the 2nd day was spent re-organizing & sorting out plein air paintings to use as source for larger work.  Sometimes I forget that I have plenty of subject matter right here in the studio. If you follow my work, you know that I don't do many still life paintings.  This one started out as a quick sketch just to "warm up"....and it started to develop so well that I decided to put a little more effort into it. 
"Tools Of The Trade"
11/14 Watercolor
Initially, I started with the cup, then I decided to put brushes into it - then I thought it needed a tube of paint.  After all that, I decided to put the cup in a window with just a hint of trees in the distance.
The cup, by the way is my favorite; an Artists Of Texas mug.  Anyway, many of my studio works begin with just an idea - nothing special in mind; just "doodling".  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  This time I think it did.....what do you think? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

FAST WATER - Oil on Paper

Fast Water - 9x12 Oil 
 Last week I traveled to Estes Park, Colorado to attend the Women Artists Of The West exhibit in the Cultural Arts Gallery - (Very proud to have 3 paintings accepted into the show).  The itinerary for exhibiting artists was a full one, but I was able to "escape" up into Rocky Mountain National Park for about 4 hours.  On my last trip to RMNP about 5 years ago, I remembered a pull-off on Bear Lake Road where I could have easy access to the Big Thompson River.  This is a painting I've been thinking about for 5 years. The river was running a lot faster than I remember it before - a lot of snow melt still making it's way downstream. Above is the finished plein air painting after several changes.  Below are a couple of photos of the work "in process".

On the banks of the Thompson River  (Photo taken before changes)
 It didn't take me long to decide that the colors in the background were too "high key".  I scraped the greenish yellow off and applied muted greens - the photograph doesn't show much color in the water; a lot of brown and green rocks just below the surface- so I added more under-tones.
Detail of Boulders before changes
 I carry a can of Krylon Quick Dry for oil paintings, an acrylic spray finish - a quick coat allows me to paint a new layer or apply a glaze within minutes.  I didn't like the shape or design of the big boulders - they seemed to distract from the water.  After breaking up the big rocks into different shapes and "pushing" them more into the background, it was time to add the "fast water" and try to capture the power of this magnificent river.
Detail of Boulders after changes

Detail of Water
In order to keep the white "foam" from mixing with color already there, I applied another coat of Quick Dry.  This stuff really works great - in about 5 minutes, I was able to paint in the white water and apply soft glazes in the foreground to give the illusion of the water running by in a blur.  Painting moving water is a challenge to say the least.

  I wanted to show and discuss the changes I made after the first layers of color.  I made decisions that would result in a good composition and "tell the story"...FAST WATER!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

AM I BLUE? - Eastern Bluebird

"Am I Blue?" 8x10 Watercolor
I love birds...and one of my favorites is the Bluebird! This little guy is all "puffed up" against a cold north wind. From 1983 to 1986 I lived in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  In addition to mountains, pine trees and rishing rivers,  my subject matter included birds of all types...songbirds, gamebirds, ducks, geese, hawks, eagles....if it had feathers, I painted it.  When I moved back to Texas, my subject matter turned more toward the plains, Hill Country, farms and ranches.

In the application of the final few strokes, I realized how much I've missed  painting these joyful creatures - So, look for more of my feathered friends on my blog and website! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Out To Sea - By Tina Bohlman

Out To Sea - View from the Betzel's - 36 x 48 Oil on Canvas

First let me say that a good commission doesn't come along very often....nor does one often have a "story". This commission is one that resulted from being in the right place at the right time; I'm a true believer that things happen when they're supposed to. This story began last October during my participation in the Invitational Coastal Paint Out in Port Aransas, TX. On the last morning of the event, there was a Quick Draw event - it was cold and the wind was coming off the ship channel about 30 mph...but I persevered & painted a nice one in spite of the uncomfortable conditions. After the Quick Draw, my husband & I wanted to grab some coffee to "warm up" & decided to have a late breakfast at a local cafe`. It was very crowded with only 1 table available, so it was good to be seated and not have to wait. About 10 minutes later, another couple came in - no table available, so my husband (who never met a stranger) waved them over to share our table. We exchanged names...the usual chit-chat about "where we're from" and "why we're here". Bill & Jeanne were from Ft. Worth and purchased a 2nd home in Port A. Long story short, they invited us to see their home and to discuss a commission painting for a large wall in the living area. Their home is located on the entrance of ship channel to Corpus Christi Bay just about 1/4 mile down from the ferry landing. Lovely home; gorgeous view. Bill & Jeanne's favorite past-time is watching the dolphins "playing" out in front of the ships as they come & go. commission was to replicate their "view"....the channel, the ship, their pier....and the dolphins.

So, my journey began with creating a composition that would include these elements, with a huge orange tanker (they gave me a photo of "THE" ship) as the focus. Problem #1: I have never painted anything (that floats) bigger than a shrimper. Problem #2: The canvas is 36 x 48...almost taller than I am...and when on the easel, it is definitely above my head. Problem #3: The tanker is really, really big and the elements had to be "to scale" in comparison. Problem #4: This ship is a bright, eye-popping orange!

From December until the end of April, I spent almost as much time planning & thinking as I did re-mixing a slightly different color than the one previously applied. One "adjustment" lead to another, and another; layer upon layer until the final stroke almost 5 months later. I put the painting on my fireplace mantel and after 2 weeks, decided it was finished & signed it.

"Leading the Way" - Dolphins 12x12 Oil on canvas

One of the issues I had with "scale" is that the dolphins had to be very tiny in the painting - and the dolphins were the source of a lot of fun for Bill and Jeanne...watching them jump and "challenge" the ship to catch them. Off and on over the last month, I painted this small "close-up" of the dolphins as a surprise gift for them. Now, this is a FUN painting! It makes me smile.

Meanwhile, as I was struggling with the usual problems that accompany a large commission work, Bill and Jeanne were going through struggles of their own; Bill had open heart surgery (doing fine & recovering nicely) and she was scheduled for rotator cuff surgery in about 2 weeks. So when I let them know the painting was ready, they were thrilled and excited to see it. My husband and I delivered both paintings last Sunday afternoon. They love well as the little dolphin painting...and the timing is perfect - with Bill still recovering and Jeanne scheduled for surgery soon, their trips to Port A have been put off for at least 2 or 3 more months. The painting is hanging in their patio room which is kind of "tropical" and they can enjoy the "view" of the ship channel as if they are looking through the windows in their home in Port A.

I'd also like to mention that this commission is very special....but in a personal way - my husband and I now have 2 new friends; and it all began with sharing a breakfast table with strangers in Port Aransas, Texas.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that I really do love my job?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

En Plein Air GO!

Terlingua Creek - 10 x 12 Oil
Today I'm excited to share a new adventure - I've been asked to be a contributor to a new plein air website EnPleinAirGO!  This is a sister-site to Eric Michaels' En Plein Air Pro blog and website.  The site will publish reviews from different plein air artists of favorite painting destinations. Those of you who follow my plein air "travels" know that my field easel is the En Plein Air Pro   My first review is Big Bend National Park.  Included in the review are photos of the area - photos of paintings completed there along with suggestions on how to get there, where to stay, eat, ....and, of course...paint!  

  Old Mine Shack - Watercolor 9x12

The 2 paintings in this post were painted in 2012  just outside the west gate of Big Bend National Park - Terlingua, Texas.   I will be writing a review (complete with photos) on a favorite "destination" about every 2 to 4 weeks.  I'm really going to enjoy being a contributor to the site.  Writing these reviews will take me back - allow me to re-visit the sights & sounds and the joy of painting on location.   I'm looking forward also to reading reviews of other artist's favorite destinations and add to my "bucket list" of places to paint......Anyway, click on this link and take a little trip with me....