Saturday, October 08, 2016

:: A very good day ::

Earlier this week my friend Barbara and I packed up our painting gear and went to a lovely location in hopes of getting some plein air work done. We both thought this was a perfect location with views in every direction.

Looking east you see a couple of apple trees that still had plenty of apples on the tree … and on the ground. Yes, they made a great snack.
To the north were some huge fir trees.
East were some mature aspen trees as well as some young less developed trees.
And then to the south were the majestic Olympics Mountains and some grazing milk cows.
Dungeness Cows © Nancy Van Blaricom
Dungeness Valley Cows, 8" x 10" Oil on Canvas ~ ©Nancy Van Blaricom
I haven't done many plein air paintings but as I started to set up I realized I had forgotten a few things.  I forgot my phone, that meant no in progress photos.  I also forgot to bring a bottle of water, that alone makes a person thirsty, lol. And lastly I forgot my tripod mount … what attaches my easel to my tripod.

All was not lost. Fortunately I had a small blanket that I carry in my car to set anything on that might soil the carpet in the car.  I spread it out on the ground between the apple trees and had a great view of the cows and mountains.   It was a rather perfect place to be and sitting on the blanket instead of standing was just fine.

As I mixed my paint I tried to remind myself of all the steps I needed to take ...  things I really wanted to remember that would help this be a successful painting day.  I took my time.
  • Do a few thumbnail sketches to make sure I would be happy with my design.
  • Using a neutral paint color to sketch my design on the canvas.
  • Block in my darks ... shadows. Once that is working add some light and color.
  • Try to get my values right.

Anyway, you get the idea .. I didn't hurry when working on my canvas.  

After two hours my I felt very happy with what I had accomplish.
I think I am getting the hang of this stuff.

Once home I gave the cows a little more detail since they were quite far away while I was painting.

Wahoo … I'm calling this one a success ! What do you think?

Friday, September 30, 2016

:: Moving Forward ::

One day last week as I was thinking about the end of summer and how it seems to be hanging on, I decided to do some cleaning up on our patio and was greeted by a geranium that was flourishing. 

When I planted it I was worried that it might not make it.  It was looking very sad, dried out and very spindly.  

Then in a few weeks after that I noticed it was looking better and out of laziness I decided to leave it in that spot since it was very late in the season.

When I went to the patio recently I saw this beautiful healthy geranium in a flower bed.  What?  Could this really be the same plant that was hardly alive earlier?

I grabbed my oils and started painting. 

I had a great time painting this 'en plein air'.

I tried to remember that I wanted to use bigger brushes, plan my values,  and only one or two brush strokes per loaded brush. I think all in all I was successful.  2 hours well spent.

I think I'm kinda like this geranium plant ... I'm moving forward with where I want to be.  I may not see the growth as fast as I'd like, but, before you know it I just might flourish.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

:: Without Plans ::

I love to plan things.  I like goal making … task lists etc.  It motivates me as a rule.

Recently we decided to take our travel trailer for a weeks get-a-way to the coast.  
Yippee, I'll take my oils and paint a bunch of small plein air paintings.  Of coarse I'm hopeing the weather will cooperate, but if not, I can paint out the window.  Maybe I''ll even take my watercolors and sketchbook just incase ...

And, the weather was beautiful.  Walking on the beach could not have been better.  Fall was in the air but the sun was giving us the impression that summer would hang on a lot longer.

And then out of the blue I hurt my shoulder.  Bursitis maybe?

The Group - Nancy Van Blaricom

Anyway I just need to stop making these plans ... its like the universe says "You are not in charge, I am in charge".

So, once again I did no plein air painting. 
This has to change ! I need to work thru these obstacles that I keep running into.

Last week before we left with the trailer I decided to work on a small study of some tangerines that I had purchased earlier in the week.  So,  just for practice, to see if I can remember to use big brushes and more paint,  I gathered my tangerines and a lovely blue and white saucer & arranged them on a tall plastic roll-around cart I have in the studio. Its a perfect height for a still life  set-up if standing at my easel.

After I had blocked everything in the light had changed to some degree and I decided to change the black to look more like a wood table top, from imagination. The black just wasn't working for me … 
  • Had I used big brushes? YES but I still was too nit-picky.
  • Did I mix enough paint so that I didn't end up scrubbing the paint into the canvas? NO
Even though I didn't remember everything I wanted to accomplish while working on this little study, 
I do think the painting session was a successful one because I will take notes and re-read my them prior to my next session.

Practice, practice, practice !
But its not a plan …...

Friday, September 09, 2016

:: Lazy Autumn Days ::

Fall is definitely in the air here in Sequim.  Leaves are turning color and the warm and sunny days have a crispness to them that only fall can have.  

Maybe its just the changing of the season, but, I find I'm less inclined to hurry on to different projects. Maybe instead lay around and read or maybe take a nap.

One project I managed to accomplish was to hang two pieces of my work in my studio.
I always have to give the act of hanging any of my work a lot of thought. 
So up until yesterday my studio walls were bare.  

Below are the two that I hung.  Both is Floater Frames.

Now I have two small 6" x 6" paintings hanging on my studio wall.  It actually looks nice to have some work on the studio walls and maybe now I'll be more inclined to frame a few paintings and hang them.

Fall is a perfect time to get out and do some plein air painting.  I had ordered a few Signet Bright brushes that arrived in the mail and now I'm packing up a few panels and my tripod and pochade box in anticipation of some autumn plein air painting.

I hope the lovely fall days gets you outside and you can enjoy it before winter arrives.
Happy painting.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

:: Value vs Cost ::

I had a lengthy post written for this week, but shortened it at the last minute. The subject is interesting to me because often people will talk about the cost of a painting as being too expensive.

I recently read an article on this subject that did a pretty good job of explaining the difference.
One thing the author used as an example was that its like spending $125 for a hair cut and color may sound expensive, but, if it makes you feel like a million bucks, it was a good value.

I love that analogy don't you?

When I sell a painting I hope that the work makes my clients feel good, makes them smile or maybe brings back some good memories of a place they had seen. I want them to feel like their investment was a good value.

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see". ~ Henry David Thoreau

On The Street Where I Live - oil on canvas-NVanBlaricomPen & Value Markers Sketch - NVanBlaricom
Standing at my easel in the studio and looking down the street … I grabbed a scrap of canvas and started painting … too bad about the wrinkle.  "On the Street Where I Live" © Nancy Van Blaricom
On another note, Paint the Peninsula 2016, The 4th Annual Paint the Peninsula Plein Air Competitions was held in the nearby town of Port Angeles on the August 22 thru the 28th.  My husband & I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the show on the last day of the event.  We saw some beautiful works of art by some very talented artists.  it was amazing to see so much beautiful work at one show.

Seeing all the beautiful work at this show has inspired me to make sure I find time this fall to get out and do some plein air painting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

:: Always looking for inspiration ::

I'm seldom without inspiration for things to paint and recently we took a road trip down the Washington coast and it seemed that each place we went I found some beautiful scenes that were very inspiring to me.

It seems, after all, I am always looking and finding inspiration without realizing it.

Oysterville store - NVanBlaricom

The top photo is a location known as Oystervile on the Long Beach Peninsula. Its rich in history.  The day we were there the Oysterville Sea Farm was open (I think its open 7 days a week right now). The sun was shinning and I found the old cannery buildings very inspiring.

Beach Grass - NVanBlaricom

While still on the Long Beach Peninsula we were able to take long walks on the smooth looong sandy beach you see in the photo below.  It went for miles without many rocks or driftwood in sight. Seeing the sign and the grass before getting to the beach was inspiring to me.

Looong Beach - NVanBlaricom

The photo above was the typical morning on the Peninsula.  Long deserted beaches and lots of sand.

Puget Island Ferry boat ride - NVanBlaricom

A fun way to travel from Washington to Oregon is to ride the local ferry boat from Puget Island Washington to West Port Oregon.  It is a short ride and on a calm day it is very scenic and enjoyable.

I came home filled with inspiration.  It seems I am as inspired by so many local scenes that I should never run out of painting material.

Do you find painting inspiration everywhere you look like I do?

Thursday, August 04, 2016

:: Light on the Meadow ::

Light on the Meadow - N. Van Blaricom

The painting above, Light on the Meadow, practically painted its self.  I often wonder when a painting goes that easy if there wasn't a reason I was drawn to paint it.  Maybe some hidden message I should look for.  

I loved all the light in the field and the light coming thru the trees, landing on the pavement.  Maybe that alone was the reason I felt drawn to get this down on the canvas.  


As summer rolls along I am feeling pretty good about whittling away at my long list of books I wanted to read.  3 down and still more to go. Those that I have read have been enjoyable reads.  

The one I'm reading now, The Gaugun Connection, is proving to be different and keeps me looking forward to the next page. This is book one in a series of 9.  I'm not sure that I will continue to read all 9 but so far so good.


On another note.  We celebrated Miss Odessa's 12 birthday earlier this week. No hats or balloons, but a little roasted chicken for a lunch treat and a tiny bit of vanilla ice cream in the evening.   

Happy Birthday Odessa ... and many more.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

:: A Day at Crescent Beach ::

A Day at Crescent Beach-N.VanBlaricom
A Day at Crescent Beach, 8" x 10", oil on canvas board, © Nancy Van Blaricom

A month or so ago we were riding along the Strait (Juan de Fuca Strait ) and stopped at a well known beach on the Peninsula, Crescent Beach.  Usually there is a lot of people enjoying the sand and wading in the water, but this day there was only a handful of people.

It wasn't a particularly cold day, but we had an overcast sky that was touched with some pink.

I made sure and take some photos while we were there and although I tried to duplicate on canvas what I saw that day I never did get the results I was trying for.
I am continuing to practice the new to me painting methods I've recently felt were working for me.

It is a slow process.  Two steps forward, one step back it seems ... but I'm still feeling very positive.

Until I feel more comfortable with the new work  I will continue to share some of the work I've done since our move.

Pimiento in a Jar-N.VanBlaricom
Pimientos in Jar sketch

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

:: Growth Spurt ::

Recently, since our move, I've done some re-evaluating of my art.  I haven't been able to make the art I've been feeling or wanting to share.  Something is missing. 

Sequim Bay Water,  6" x 6" Oil on Canvas, © N. Van Blaricom
Sky at Port Williams,  6" x 6" Oil on Canvas, © N. Van Blaricom 2016

The work I want to produce is loose and more impressionistic.
Growth takes work and time dedicated to learning.

With a critical eye I'm evaluating my work. I see where I am weak and where I need to concentrate my efforts. I feel I'm up to the challenge.

Recently I found that I need to be brave and try things in my art that I hadn't before.  Maybe it was that I didn't have anyone to show me or tell me where I was going wrong.  Not too long ago I discovered a different method for me.  And I was happy with the results.

In the next few months I hope to share with you some growth in my work.
Until then ... the above photo is a painting from a couple of months ago.

I feel a growth spurt in the making. Wish me luck ... 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

:: How I pick a subject as a series ::

One thing I really love about living here in Sequim is that we get some of the most amazing skies!  
This area is known as The Blue Hole.  We can have beautiful sun and blue sky above us and if you look out at the surrounding areas you would swear that a storm was brewing.  

A lot of times when I decide to upon a painting subject I choose to do some studies of it first. I need to become familiar with the scene before I try to capture it in something other than a sketch.  

Sky overlooking Bell Hill - N.VanBlaricom
Sky to the southeast over Bell Hill

About a month ago I took this photo in the late afternoon.  It started getting dark out and looked like it was going to rain off to the south east.  If you look at the upper right hand corner you can see the blue sky ... the blue hole.

Ink sketch of sky to the southeast over Bell Hill - N.VanBlaricom
Ink sketch 
I wanted to see if I could create the same drama on paper using my pen and paper.  It just doesn't feel the same as what I saw in the sky.  I see lines with no drama.

Marker sketch of sky to the southeast over Bell Hill - N.VanBlaricom
Marker sketch 
Then I decided to try using markers to create some emotion that read like the photo and sky that I saw.

Sky Over Bell Hill - N. Van Blaricom
Sky Over Bell Hill, 6" x 8", oil on canvas panel, © Nancy Van Blaricom
Finally I got out my oils and decided to do a color sketch. My sky didn't show the drama I saw but I did enjoy getting my brush in the oils and producing all the color in the sky.

The sketching in pen, marker and oils can usually let me know if I want to continue with a series or not.

How do you pick a series to work on? Do you keep working on one scene until you feel you got it right and then move on?  Or ... do you even work in a series?

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

:: Summer Reading ::

Hi Everyone,

Are you in the full swing of summer yet?  Got plans for activities that differ from what you do in the winter months?

One thing I've noticed in myself is that I seem to do a lot of reading in the summer. Well, maybe not a lot, but more than I do in the other months.

Sketch of books - N. Van Blaricom
Sketch of stacked books 

Some of the books on my reading list for summer are old familiar books that I've read before:
  • Art & Fear - Bayles & Orland
  • The War of Art - Steven Pressfield
  • Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting - Carlson
  • The Little Book of Talent - Daniel Coyle
I think those 4 will be nice refreshers.

A few books on my shelves

Then I also have some novels on the list:
  • Regarding Anna - Florence Osmond
  • The Gauguin Connection - Estelle Ryan
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
Right now I'm reading: 
  • Eleanor Roosevelt's Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of You Learn by Living 
  • David McCullough's The Greater Journey
I like mixing it up and reading both fiction and non fiction.
Summer reading is the best. Relaxing .. with no pressure.
Some books on my shelves
A few more books ...

Have you all heard of BookBub? I love it and the fact that I can purchase books at discount prices or even free ebooks is delightful. BookBub emails feature content from top-tier authors and publishers as well as from up-and-coming standouts, across the following genres:

  • Bestsellers
  • Mysteries, Thrillers, & Action
  • Romance
  • Other Fiction
  • Fantasy, Science Fiction, & Horror
  • Nonfiction  ... and more
I recently read on one of my online friends blog that she is joining some friends who started a  creative reading group.  Now that sounds like a great book club to me.

I'd love to hear what you have on you summer reading list, please share.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

:: Keeping the Momentum Going ::

Sometimes it's so hard to get back to work in the studio after a break. If you are an artist have you ever felt that way after you've been away for a while?

I have, but, surprisingly I haven't felt it very hard to get back to the studio since we've moved.  Maybe it is the new studio where I have light coming in from two walls with floor to ceiling windows. One north wall and one east wall.

Walking into the studio with this natural light is very inspiring to me. Or, maybe its because I haven't forced myself to be in the studio. Or, maybe it's not the studio, but, because it just feels right.

When I have been kept from my studio the last few months its because of things like new flooring, painting the house, landscaping & roofing.  Believe me these things are time consuming, but, things we felt we wanted done before we could really feel this was home, our home.

But even those things haven't kept me from being motivated.

Mum's - Nancy Van Blaricom

Since our move I've finished 4 paintings! I've done some sketching and continued reading art books. I've participated in 2 webinars & taken 1 online workshop. I've met a new art friend who I've painted with a few times and even attended the Sequim First Friday Art Walk. Yesterday was the last meeting of the Olympic Peninsula Art Association for the season. But, in September when they meet again I plan on attending and hopefully finding some more friends that I can talk shop with.  I am motivated !

What about you, when you've been away from your art for a while do you feel it is easy to climb back in the saddle?

Are you curious to find out if I stay motivated?  You might want to subscribe to my blog (if you don't already) to find out if this motivation lasts. Just add your email address to the subscription form to the right of this post .

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

:: Moving is such sweet sorrow ::

I can't possibly put enough emphasis on the words "I've been busy".  Not in the normal everyday sense, but in the pack up and move sense.

In January we decided to move, in February we gathered all of our worldly belongings and moved to Sequim WA.  Sequim, pronounced skwim - like swim only add the sk to the front of the word.  There is a lot of nice things about this area ... We won't experience the Lavender Festival until July but they say Sequim is the Lavender capitol of North America,  another nice thing is that we are in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and Sequim receives only about 16 inches of rain a year. Wahoo !

While there are plenty of things I could bore you with about the move, and finding a place for things I insisted on bringing with me, I'll just share with you that I've already found a painting partner who has told me a lot about the art community & events that I can become involved in.  Best of all as of last week I now have my studio all set up & I am committed to painting at least 4 days a week.  I hope most of these days will be spent doing some plein air work and also more painting exercises. 

Today my painting exercise was to try matching paint colors.  Last week I picked up a bunch of paint color samples from the local hardware store.  What fun ...  Not that it was real easy but that it made me think,  'should I add yellow to make it warmer, should it be cooler, more intense, grayer?'  It kept me on my toes.  I only had one paint sample that I couldn't duplicate even closely, it was a fuchsia kinda color.  I'll try again.

You can't tell very well where I put my paint dabs on the paint chip samples so in the below photo I've circled each area where I put my mixed paint.  I was very pleased with how well my paint mixtures  matched the samples.