Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tornado Weather Today

The weather has been cloudy and rainy since Sunday. Today was particularly bad. This morning I could tell as soon as I looked out the window that it was a "blustery" day. I went out walking with the dog to enjoy the wind, not knowing at first that tornadic weather was on the way. Orange leaves were whirling across the streets and spiraling up to the treetops. I saw a house with a strip of aluminum hanging off roof, beating the side of the house in the wind. Countless inflatable Halloween decorations were tossing violently against their tethers.

I went to the bank around 11:30 am today. Look at those storm clouds...looks like multiple funnel clouds getting ready to descend! I was wondering if I should stay at the bank and hope we could hide in the vaults if tornados started plowing through. Luckily the storm cell passed over my immediate area without major incident. There are still warnings ongoing around middle TN right now.

Here are two short videos from Suntrust Bank in Hermitage. One of the videos has some incongruously languid jazz music in the background.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fun with Backlighting

I decided to do a morning painting today so I could catch backlighting on the foreground trees. Backlit fall leaves create intensely saturated oranges and yellows. I walked up and down the walkway on the dam until I found a scene that included a suitable clump of backlit leaves, with a softly glowing hillside in the background.

The water was doing interesting things today. During the first 15 minutes I was scouting for a scene, foamy, undulating patterns of duckweed covered the entire lake. The sun reflected so harshly off the cloudy film that when I squinted down, there appeared to be ice on the lake. Not good for painting...I could imagine how confusing the result would be. The wind was blowing hard, and before long, all the scummy duckweed was cleared away, and the water was corrugated with sparkling ripples. This is definitely not a good day for painting reflections...the wind-chopped surface was a leaden blue, not picking up any of the fall colors. This is just as well, because in the scene I picked out, there were enough golden leaves breaking up the surface of the lake, that reflections would only add chaos to the mix.

So, here's the result. Next time I work with a large amount of backlit leaves like this, I think I should "mass" more. That will probably bring out the feel of illumination; breaking up the masses introduces more darkness than what I would like to see.

 Windy Morning - 8x10

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nocturnal Painting

"Many demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark poolly places..." –Martin Luther

Amped up on a cherry Coke and a cherry moon pie, I went out to Radnor Lake to do my second ever moon painting. (Only now is it occurring to me that I had a moon  My first moon painting, completed about 2 years ago, turned out to be a turquoise and fuchsia disaster upon indoor viewing. But I love being at the lake at night, so that alone was incentive to try it again.

I started out with a twilight moon scene, which seemed less daunting than full night. The last red stains of sunset had just disappeared from the hilltops when I started painting, and it was pitch black when I finished. Here's a blurry photo, on location, of the result:

Twilight Moon - 6x8

The values look accurate in this nighttime photo, but indoors, the sky and water are way too light. I'll have to pump the values down a bit.

Then I painted the moon on its upward journey through the branches. I noticed things about moonlight I've never noticed before. It does have an orangey hue in real life, not just in Halloween cartoons (or is it just pollution?). Also, the moon creates a thin, sharp, white glow along the edges of nearby branches, which are black except for this razor edge of white.

Upward Journey - 5x7

One reason my moon paintings came out better this year is that I'm using good lighting. You can see my nocturnal set-up here ... the little light on my easel is a book light purchased at Barnes & Noble.

Being outdoors tonight was wonderful. I saw and heard otters swimming in the water and crashing through the brush along the shore. I didn't need my iPod because I had bickering geese, screeching owls, and a ghostly, unidentified forest sound to keep me company the whole time. That last sound was either an owl or a distant, howling dog...a very sad, eerie sound. I can completely understand why people at one time believed the woods were filled with demons.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall at Radnor Lake

This painting is from my trip to Radnor Lake this past Saturday. I also went Sunday, and plan to go again today. I feel so lucky to be out in this dry, cool weather and enjoying the incredible views. Middle Tennesseans have to enjoy this weather while it lasts ... it comes and goes so quickly.

"Autumn Intensity" 8x10 - Radnor Lake

This is the place to go for intense fall colors. The colors shift from green to gold to orange almost before your eyes as the sun moves by. The reflections deepen the colors of the hills, and stretch the molten hues brilliantly across the lake surface. I took a photo at the height of this amazing performance of light:

Click to enlarge

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Painting outdoors brings out some strange behavior

My last few days of painting at Radnor Lake attracted some interesting characters.

"Brazen Morning"  6x8 - Radnor Lake

• I'm painting with Kevin Menck. A teenage boy walks up to him and says over and over, "I give you five peanuts if you paint my picture."

• A guy asks his girlfriend to take a picture of him posing with me in front of my easel. 

• Another guy walks up and asks if he can stand in front of me for a few minutes so people will think he's getting his portrait painted.

• A guy starts talking to me enthusiastically in an Asian language. I feel compelled to say "thank you," but I can't assume he's being positive. Then he walks on.

Blue Moon 2010

I was in the Once in a Blue Moon 10 art show earlier this month. The Blue Moon fundraiser supports the Tennessee Land Trust, which protects natural landscapes from getting developed. I entered 7 plein air paintings and one painted from a photo. I have posted the plein air pieces below. I sold everything below except the barn. I'm happy to support a great cause that allows Middle Tennessee to continue enjoying this beautiful land.

"Hidden Cove Vista" 8x10 - near Sewanee

"Weathered Memories" 8x10 - Triple L Ranch - Fernvale

"Traveler Grazing" 6x8 - Hunter's Hill Farm - Hermitage

"Bathing Beauties I" 5x7 - Triple L Ranch - Fernvale

"Bathing Beauties II" 5x7 - Triple L Ranch - Fernvale

"Summer at Glen Leven I" 6x8 - Nashville

"Summer at Glen Leven II" 6x8 - Nashville

"Harvest Fields" 8x10 - Fernvale
photo reference by Kevin Menck

Colorado trip 2010

I went to Colorado for a week this past September. (My third painting trip to Colorado, Kevin have some catching up to do.) I spent half of that week in Boulder doing city things, so I had very little time to paint. I still cranked out 5 paintings, but I only feel like posting one.

This was a gorgeous little area in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park. The next day, this area was flooded with a herd of about 25 elk, mostly females. Two bull elks were locking antlers over all the lady elk. (so I heard...I was busy "trying" to paint a sunset)

"Sunny Day in the Valley" 8x10 - near Estes Park, CO

I had better luck with photography: (click to enlarge)

A nuthatch, high above timberline, in sprinkling rain.

A lone fisherman.

A close-up of a bull elk...I was about 50 ft away.

Dream Lake ... appropriately named!

A picture taken by my dad.

Let's Forget About Catch-up

One of the things hanging me up in the blog is all the catch-up I have to do. I have over a year's worth of painting and drawing activity not yet updated. Yet time keeps moving keeps cranking out...and I get more and more behind. Forget the catch-up...the time is now.