Saturday, June 6, 2020

31 Paintings From May

I love capturing the change of season in my paintings. The month of May was beautiful this year. The trees started the month bare and now they are full with summer leaves. I decided to paint as much as I could in the Spring, to capture the transition that the landscape is going through. I ended up completing 32 paintings, and I am sharing many of them with you in this post, along with a couple from the last week in April. 

I read somewhere recently that the meaning of momentum is having an idea and not talking yourself out of it. That is a good way to sum up my month of painting. If I saw something with good shapes of color, I set up my easel and I painted it. 

May 3 - Park Street, Reedsburg - 16 x 20" $500
I was surrounded by beautiful things to paint on this Sunday afternoon. There was a backlit scene with blossoming trees to my left, and another subject to my right. I decided to paint the light falling onto Park Street and the Queen Anne house. There were buds forming on the trees which gave me some lovely spring greens, and also great contrast of light and shadow.

May 4 - Cornerstone Building with Pink Sky - 9 x 12" - $175
This was the second painting that I worked on on this day. On my way home, I noticed the shape of the yellow tree on the left hand of the painting. The leaves were brilliant yellow, and the tree had been cut back so that it wouldn't grow into the power lines. This shape was enough to peak my interest.and I  painted one shape of color next to another, creating a abstract and simple painting that is a lot of fun to look at.

May 7 - Pawlisch Magnolia - 12x16" oil on panel - $350
There are some signs of Spring that appear before the pink magnolia trees, such as fresh chartreuse grass and bright yellow forsythia, but the magnolia is my favorite sign of spring. I paint them every year and I learn more about them every year. I have painted this particular magnolia a couple of times, once from the porch of the house, and once very close up. On this day, the tree was lit up by the afternoon sun, while the house behind it was backlit. The contrast of bright pink magnolia against the blue/grey house made me want to capture this magnolia again this year.

May 8 - Loganville Barn and Vista - 16 x 20" oil on panel $500
The rolling hills come to life with color each year in the springtime. For this scene, I was looking into the sun, which created a dramatic contrast of light and color. I used a broken color technique for this painting, to capture the shards of light.

May 9 - North Freedom Farm under Morning Light - 16 x 20"  $500
This was painted under morning light, and the contrast is much softer than the afternoon light of the painting from the day before. The painting shares the broken color technique, but this one has a more restrained pastel palette. The effect of the atmosphere decides how my paintings look, I simply have to stay open to whatever the day brings.

May 11 -  Backlit trees in the Marsh - 12 x 16" $350
I am surrounded by fields, farms, the river and marsh. In the springtime, when the light shines through the budding trees, they become so illuminated that they look like they are on fire. The way that I capture the light, shining through the transparent buds, is by using a wash of thin paint to create the shapes of the trees. The thin paint works almost like stained glass, the light reflects off of the white canvas, and gives a brilliant and rich color. If I was to mix white with the yellow/orange of the trees, the color would become chalky, and not have the radiant effect of light. Capturing these sorts of fleeting effects, and learning how we see the light, makes painting challenging but more enjoyable.

May 12 - 8th Street Plum Tree in Baraboo 12 x 16" $500
Baraboo is full of flowering trees in May, and when the sun shines, there is so much beauty in the neighborhoods. I stood in a bank parking lot, and painted this white house and plum tree from across busy 8th Street under mid-afternoon sun. I was starting to pick up a lot of momentum, by painting every day, and I think it will come across that I was in a great mood on this day.

May 12 - East Street with Flowering Serviceberry trees, Truck, and St. Joe's Church 8 x 10" $175
In Baraboo, East Street is lined with Serviceberry Trees, which are a delight to observe and a fun challenge to paint. I can remember painting these same trees 10 years ago, and discovering that Prussian blue (lightened with white) and Naples yellow light created the color of the Serviceberry trees on my palette. Of course the light of the day affects this color as well, and on this day the bright afternoon sun made the lit up masses of trees, road and church even warmer. Two of my students  hung around while I painted this. They remarked that they couldn't tell what I was painting, and that might be true, but I reminded them that sometimes the subject is the color and the light of the day vs. recognizable subject matter.

May 13 - Young Birch Trees and Stream on Terrytown 12 x 16" $400
This stream is near Baraboo Hills campground, and I drive past it often. I started to notice that the early spring birch trees are quite lovely last year, but never got around to paint it then. On this day, I got a chance to paint it, and I am glad that I did. The blue of the sky was reflecting off the little stream, and the yellow/green leaves on the young birch trees were shimmering in the afternoon breeze. Everything was fresh on that day, with spring light and color.

May 15 - Baraboo Neighborhood - 18 x 24" $700
I painted this neighborhood a few years ago, and returned because of the beautiful light and color on this afternoon. There was a bright red cherry tree in blossom next to the blue house, and behind that a large magnolia in front of the grey house. Some painters feel like green is a harsh color and they try to tone their greens down. To me, there is very little that is more beautiful than bright green grass on a spring day. If I was to subdue the green, some of the poetry of Spring would be lost.

May 15 - Baraboo Church  8x10" $175
The golden hour effect of light flattened the shapes of the trees and the church on this afternoon, which made them very graphic and fun to paint. On the right hand of the painting is the Little Village Restaurant and the Al Ringling theater. I was visited by a fellow teacher on this day, and also someone who was picking flowers on the square. The abstract shapes that make up this painting were painted rapidly, and as the light faded I was pleased that I was able to capture the fleeting effect in the language of paint.
May 20 - Baraboo Porch, Gazebo, and Cherry Tree 16 x 20" oil on panel $500
This was a beautiful, sunny afternoon which came after 4 days of clouds and rain. I originally went to Baraboo with the idea to paint near the library. On the way, I saw this scene, and stopped to paint it instead. It's easy to make plans of where to go and paint, but it's often better to just go out and keep our eyes open for subjects.
My goal with this scene, was to have the yellow of the house and gazebo remain in shadow, while the railing on the porch was in light along with the blue shed and pink cherry tree.

May 20  - Rock Springs Flowering Tree and Shed 12 x 16" $350
Corbin joined me on this evening painting session, and I always enjoy it when she comes along with me. I think I paint better when she is along because she is always giving me such good compliments as I'm painting. She knows that I'm pushing for more abstraction and it's never a bad idea to have a second set of eyes on a painting. This backlit scene was very dramatic, and the light was changing quickly as I observed, mixed, and painted the flowering tree that was in front of the shed. Backlit scenes make for dramatic and easily seen shapes, and there were plenty of sparkles of color on the edges of shapes for me to play with. 

May 21 - Dandelions 8x6" $100
It seemed like the dandelions came out all at once, when we had our first hot days of the spring. I had a good time simplifying the dandelions into orbs of grey and blue and violet. These were on the side of the driveway at the farm, and I sat on a milk crate to be closer to them while I painted them.

May 22 - Reedsburg Cherry Blossom 16 x 20" $500
I set up and painted on the sidewalk by Main Street in Reedsburg on this cloudy afternoon. Whenever I paint in an area where I am highly visible, I know that I am going to have plenty of interaction with people and I like that. It's nice to get into the neighborhoods and talk to people and hear how they are doing. On this day, I was visited by an old co-worker, from my days of stocking shelves at Pamida, as well as a dozen other people. Everyone was in a good mood on that day. I suppose it was because it was a Friday, and the Cherry Blossoms were in bloom. 

May 23 - Lightning Storm  - 8x10" $175
We started getting some hot weather on this week, and on this day the storms rolled in. It was sunny when I went out to paint, but there was a strong, warm breeze, and then the storm rolled in. I painted quickly on this day, and made it back into my car by the time the storms came crashing down. I've never painted a lightning bolt into a painting before, and I won't make a habit of it, but it seemed like the right thing to do on this day. 
May 25 - Lilac Still Life 12 x 16" $400
It's good to measure the success of a painting only on how good it feels while painting. On this day, the fragrance of the lilac bouquet was so fresh that it would have been hard to make something that I wasn't satisfied with. I love impressionism and I love broken color. Painting is at its best when you are perceiving the subject through all of your senses.

May 25 - Lit up Dandelions - 8x6" $150
The long shadow, cast by the barn, was creeping towards me while I painted these dandelions. There were a couple of dandelions that were lit up in the foreground while I painted, while those in the background were overtaken by the long shadow. I enjoyed painting the contrast in color between the lit dandelions and those in shadow.

May 26 - Grandma's tulips 8x6" $100
There are so many perennials in my grandma's flower garden, and I get to enjoy them every year. It really is a gift to live on the farm, and I think of her out in her garden, taking care of the flowers whenever I paint a subject like this.

May 26 - Thunderhead 8x10"
This was the first day that the humidity turned the floating cumulus clouds into towering thunderheads . I watched a few of them float by, and finally found some shapes that made sense to me and painted as quickly as possible. 

May 28 - Sunset Sky 6 x 8" $100
As the sun set, the drama in the sky heightened above the spring green trees. 

May 29 - Monroe Street Volkswagen 12 x 16" $450
I was in Madison a couple of days on this week, and I noticed this shiny blue Bug parked in front of Percy's  VW service station. I came back the next morning, and the car had moved, but it still looked great. The owner of the shop let me know that the owner of the Bug was on the way, and that I had an hour and a half to paint before the car would move. I set up and worked quickly to capture the light falling onto the curves of the bug.
I met so many great people on that day! The owner of the Bug was happy that I decided to paint it, and I also spoke to a family whose house I painted near 3 years ago. I had a great conversation with that family, they said that when I painting near their house, there was a vintage Jaguar parked nearby, and they thought it was mine. That made me smile. The painting that I worked on that day happened to be a springtime scene of a magnolia in front of a white house, and the woman ended up purchasing it off of the easel. When I went inside, she had a great collection of art, including some work by Elliot Clausen.
 Adding to the challenge, was the weather. The sun would shine for a few minutes, and then clouds would roll in for a few minutes. I mixed the colors when the sun was shining, and painted when the sun was behind the clouds. I captured the essentials of the bug, and was able to finish just as the owner took the car home.

May 29 - Observatory Drive 6x8" $100
I have spent a lot of time on the University of Wisconsin campus, and I have created a lot of good memories there. When I was in my early 20's, just graduating college, the clutch in my Ford truck went out in the exact spot that I painted this from. I thought I could reverse the truck, into a parking spot down the hill, but ended up going sideways into the road, and had to stop traffic and wait for a tow truck. It's funny that I think of that more than all of the times that we used to skateboard down the steep hill. That's just my take on this location, and I'm sure those of you who have spent time on campus have your own stories to add.
May 30 - 40's Plymouth - 12 x 16" $350
I was leaving town, to go paint in the country, when I spotted some chrome and shiny paint reflecting the light. The owner of this car has won over 18 trophies in car shows for it, one for each of his Grandchildren.

May 31 - Rolling Hills Farm - 12 x 16" $350
On the last day of May, I found myself in a neighborhood that I hadn't painted in before. This is the Alt family farm outside of Plain. I stopped in and introduced myself to the farmer, and let him know I was hoping to paint the farm from the side of the road. He was very nice, and let me know that I could pull my car onto a field road, and drive up a hill, in between a hayfield and cornfield to paint if I liked. He was right, the view was even better than I had seen from the road. I'll be back to paint in this area in the future. The rolling hills and old barns make for great compositions.

April 27 - Mom's Backyard - 12 x 16"
This is the backyard, where I grew up. The magnolia bush is near where the treehouse used to be. This was a white magnolia, the first to bloom during the spring.  I had a great time mixing and painting the springtime colors.

Apri 26 - Morning Daffodils - 6x8" $100
My neighbor let me know that her daffodils were in bloom, and I went over the same morning and painted them. I sat on the ground, so that I could be near the flowers while I painted them.

April 26 - Daffodil Still Life - 8 x 10" $200
My neighbor even sent me home with a daffodil bouquet, so that I could enjoy the flowers even more. She had several varieties, some were cream colored and some were rich yellow. I enjoyed painting the flowers. They only last for a couple of weeks, but this painting will remind me of spring for the whole year.