Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin Study

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Very quick little study from an older photo. This pumpkin doesn't get swallowed up by a giant wave, but there were times it seemed possible.

Just keeping the brushwork loose and the composition simple.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pink Rocks

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

This is two days worth of studio painting. The little 6"x6" plein air study is energetic and lively. The goal is to translate all of that into this piece, which is a bit bigger - 12"x12".

Really don't know if this is done yet.

Pink rocks against bright blue water is a favorite relationship around here. You probably realized that on your own...


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rocks in a Hurry

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
 
The afternoon light is dramatic in the early autumn. We experience most of the drama visually - brilliant golds, pinks and purples, bright jewels suddenly highlighted in the water, glowing green in the grass and trees.

When we try to paint these tempting morsels, we find even more excitement than we expected. All these colors last for about 10 minutes, to start. And during that 10 minutes, they dance around, shifting value and hue as much as any wave. Then, all at once, the sun drops behind the trees or rocks and we stand in darkness, ankle deep in seaweed, surrounded by tidepools and we still have to find and pack up the gear we have carelessly strewn about ourselves.

Sometimes, we may have gotten a solid start with the rocks and missed out on the water. And we think, "I am going to post this anyway and keep it because maybe next time I can work on it a little."

Just a short fable for you. I doubt this ever really happens.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Friday, September 25, 2015

That Rock Again

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Surf's up! Last time you saw this rock, the water was flat and calm. The other day, when I painted this little guy, the waves were gorgeous, colorful giants.

At first, I was going to paint something else, but when I saw the view looking beyond this formation, I was hooked into painting it again. The heart wants what the heart wants and I apparently have a thing for this hunk of stones.

I still set a timer for about a half an hour, but I reset it twice. Hey - they are my rules and I can overthink and overpaint if I want to.

Tomorrow, you will see a start of a second painting from the same day.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cutts Island Marsh

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
 
Here is a second painting from a different sketch done on site on Cutts Island, Kittery Point, Maine. As you know from the Maine Marsh post, I painted this scene a lot one September week a couple of years ago.

All that intense study helped me create this little piece. I remembered clearly the colors and energy of the grasses, trees, sky and water even though I was in my studio.

As the late Yogi Berra once said, "You can observe a lot just by watching." As an artist friend pointed out yesterday, that is great advice for painters.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Valentine's Day, St. Kilda West

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

St. Kilda West is near Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. That means that February is sunny summer.

I was there a quite few Valentine's Days ago and I painted a quick sketch out of the window of my host's apartment. Not Airbnb - a family member. For someone who has lived surrounded by pine trees nearly her whole life, it is hard to believe that anyone lives in what to me are "vacation areas" - palms and beaches and all.

There is a specific reason that I chose to paint from that reference now, but I am not going to share it with you quite yet. Mostly, I wanted to share a little sun with north east USA people who, on this Equinox, are beginning to have nightmares about the coming winter.

New Englanders - Enjoy this beautiful day and capture some warmth in your hearts and minds in case you need it later!


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hattie Sketch

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

It is always tempting to paint the dogs when they are seemingly motionless for hours. Of course, even during their longest, hardest naps, they move around enough to wreck a painting.

Hatrick, my Golden Retriever, left her head in this position for about 10 minutes.... I worked on some other parts of the composition for a little while longer - the background, her paws, some of the crazy fur sticking up from the top of her neck - and then just stopped.

I started a few more pieces with her head to side, but quit on them. This sketch is the only survivor of the session.

While it isn't a "great work", there is a solid sense of "sleepy dogginess" that is accurate and true.

Isn't capturing truth why artists create in the first place?


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Treetop Right

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

This tree is next to the one you saw yesterday. The titles of these are not correct - this tree is really to the left of the other one. What can you do - many artists are not good at their directionals.

More trees are in your future, but not pines. Wait and see.

Next, a doggie.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Treetop Left

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Been meaning to paint this for a while - the very tops of pine trees surrounding my yard. When the sky is an unabashed blue, the greens and purples and browns seem to vibrate with energy.

This subject begs for more study, but it feels good to just try something I've been wanting to do for years!


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Maine Marsh

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Another copy of an old painting. This is Cutts Island, ME. I did the original during an "artist retreat" when a painting buddy of mine rented a house there. I painted those trees in this marsh about a dozen times that week. Sometimes I ended up with completed pieces, like Late Summer Marsh. Other times, I got "great little studies to copy later." Now is later and here you go.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Friday, September 18, 2015

More Snow

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Not much to say about a snow painting in September. I know you all don't want to look at it and it makes you a little upset. So I will just say:

Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Look at an Old Buddy

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Yesterday was my first opportunity to plein air paint on the coast since my return from Appledore Island. Unfortunately, there was no surf at all, but that just gives me more time to deal with rocks.

This rock formation has served as a model for quite a few paintings in the past. Normally, it plays second fiddle to a wave study. This time, it is the main event.

As I was working on this piece, I thought about zooming in on other parts of these rocks just as carefully another time - the sections that didn't make it into this composition. Then, with  a bunch of small, detailed studies, composing a larger piece with all that information. This is what one of my favorite artists, Neil Welliver, did with his giant landscape paintings.

Will I really do this? Who knows, but it may help me focus when I return to this spot this autumn. As you know, I like a bit of structure when I paint.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First of the Fallen

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Another copy of a plein air attempt. Last year, I took my painting pack into the woods and painted this fallen tree.

The dogs and I explore these woods nearly every day and the trees are very familiar to me now. The most striking are the giants lying on the ground, victims of some violent storm. I have a loose goal to catalog more of these characters. This happened to be the first - a tree with such strong branches that they can prop it up off the dirt after the attack.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Remembered Beach

 © 2015 Hannah Phelps

Over the years a collection of about ten billion beach photos has grown in my studio. Some of them served as references for this painting. I simplified things - there are really some houses amongst the trees.

The real reason for a beach painting verses trees, snow, or waves is getting a color study done for a possible companion jigsaw reduction woodblock print for Sand Pools. This painting shows a semi-imagined view looking to the right of Sand Pools. It would be cool to add one to the left as well.

I could plan a print directly from photos, I suppose, but working from a painting is sort of my modus operandi. Painting a scene first helps me simplify and solidify my ideas and it is fun to translate brushstrokes into carved shapes.

There are still more painting to do before any printmaking starts, but it feels good to plan for it now.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Woods One

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Today, we are remembering that the point of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge is to paint, not to create great art. We all wish they were the same thing, but, alas, they are not.

The good news is that "just painting" is the only way to get great paintings, which makes this a step in the right direction. Earlier this summer, I did a sketch in the woods that was alright but unfinished. I copied it and this is alright and unfinished. I think I will need to try again sometime.

Not tomorrow. Tomorrow is a beach day.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Winter Warmth

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Two years ago, I saw a similar scene to this on my daily snowshoe. The drama of the fiery orange sky verses the purple-y and greenish snow intrigued me.

I tried to paint it a few times from memory, and really never got anywhere with it. I found the most successful little sketch and copied it a bit bigger. I like this one!

Tomorrow we will return to summer, I promise.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Wentworth-Cooldige Mansion

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Quite a while ago, I painted on the grounds of the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth, NH. The result was a decent study that I ran across last week in my studio. I cropped the image to fit an 11" x 10" canvas panel I had and copied it. The goal was to stay loose and free with the brush and keep some of the bright colors I had captured in the original.

Voila! The bright yellow house on a hazy summer day.

Summer still here, but there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow....


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Calm Mid-morning

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
 
Sigh. The last day on Appledore Island.

The surf died down, so it was time to work more on some rocks and calm water - not something I normally bother painting. Which is why I needed some practice. I also found a lovely shady spot. Comfort first.

Armed with my timer and my practiced ability to focus quickly, I got to work and ended up capturing quite a bit of good rock information. The water is ok too. That is what I was trying to say the other day - that after a few days in a row of getting down to business I was able to pick a small assignment for myself and learn something from the experience.

The trick is to continue with this energy in the studio. Printmaking took over the spring and summer and while I don't regret that, I did miss painting. I am glad it is back. As I told you yesterday, September is all about painting, so printmaking will have to wait a few more weeks.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Morning Obsession

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
 
Oh yeah - this painting is next. We'll finish yesterday's conversation another time.

It would be nice to say that I completed a painting every morning before breakfast while I was on Appledore Island, but I didn't. Usually, I woke up and got out the door with enough time to get to the rocks and draw a little. When I did that, I drew these rocks. Over and over.

Wendy Turner, the head instructor for our class, forced all of us to work on our drawing skills with some contour exercises. That got a bit addictive and I started some of these slow, meticulous drawings in the field.

With the information from my pencil drawing, I carved a piece of pine salvaged from a bonfire pile on the island to print as a white-line woodcut. While printing it, I realized that I needed some color information, so I DID  get up one morning before breakfast and painted this.

This month, the blog is about paintings and not prints (for no good reason, but sometimes we need rules), I won't go too much into it or show you the one print I was able to make out there right now. You can see a picture of it on my facebook page.
 
Tomorrow, you will see the last painting from my trip.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Emersion

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
 
This painting could be called “Immersion” or “Emersion”, what with the waves repeated cycles of dousing that grey rock and letting it up for air.

And either word could describe the painting trip to Appledore – immersed in and art retreat type of life, I emerged a better painter. “Better” is also a weird term to use here… how about “improved”?

Let me think about that and get back to you tomorrow. I have some other things to tell you about anyway and I will try to make them all fit in a cohesive discussion.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Blue When The Waves Swarm

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
 
Last week sometime, a buddy of mine shared this TED talk with me on facebook. Artist Phil Hansen talks about how neurological damage that made his hands tremble nearly ended his art career before he had even finished school. Eventually, he went to a doctor who suggested that maybe he could "embrace the shake" - see what kind of art he could create with less motor control.

Hansen shares some of his pieces and projects during the presentation and it is all wonderful stuff.

His point is that limitations, like a physical handicap, need not be limiting at all. In fact, he found that working with a set of guidelines was liberating and fun.

That is the boring recap version of the talk. I recommend that you watch it yourself for some inspiration.

The message really resonated with me, especially since I had just been on a sparsely populated island painting seascapes from life. The whole experience is thriving within constraints, some hardly noticeable and some uncomfortable. Small communities like the one on Appledore are isolated without being private, water restrictions are in full effect (think intimate living with limited bathing), meal times and swim calls are scheduled.

On top of that, I had established rules for my paintings: I was allowed to spend 30 minutes on establishing a solid composition and painting moving water. I set a timer and when it beeped, I was allowed to reset it for another half hour to pay attention to the rocks. Usually, I was satisfied after only 10-15 more minutes.

Why did I do this to myself?

There are two main reasons. The first is that within a half hour, the tide change is noticeable. Either the water disappears or the rocks do. That means that after 30 minutes, I am not painting what I see anymore - I am either painting what I would like my painting to be about or I am painting from my memory. Both of those things can be done in the studio, so there was no need to practice that on the side of a cliff.

Secondly, I have learned the hard way that I can focus for about 45 minutes. After that, I tend to just move my brush around, make half-hearted color choices, and, really, get a little lazy. Laziness doesn't often lead to great paintings.

With the foreknowledge that I only have to pay full attention (and bake in the sun) for less than an hour, I was able to get to work quickly in those first few days after the students left.

Because of the impending buzzer, I relaxed and focused and that led to some work that I really like. I can see some prints from these paintings in the near future.

The time limits - both the half hour and the number of days in the trip - made these paintings possible.

I maximized my opportunity to be surrounded by the sea for a week. I know that I could not have done more with more.



Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Monday, September 7, 2015

More from the Headlands

© 2015 Hannah Phelps
 
This is basically the same view that I painted in Constant. I chose to focus more on the rocks in this one. It doesn't look very detailed, I suppose, but I got what I wanted out of it.

Since it is a holiday (Labor Day), you are getting another post light in text. Tomorrow, we will be back at work and I will tell you more about what I was thinking while I was out on the island painting like mad.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

After a Delicious Dinner on Appledore Island

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

Still at the dog agility event with Coast and Hattie. They deserve some fun – while I was painting and swimming and eating gourmet food, they were at home. Of course, a very special friend visited everyday to play with them and my husband was with them, but we needed some special time together now that I am home.

While we are off doing that, you can think about this piece, painted after dinner on the same day as Watching Water and Constant, between supper and sundown.


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Constant

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

The dogs and I are playing at a dog agility trial this weekend, so I will tell you only that this was painted on the same day as yesterday’s offering after a few hours break. Enjoy!


Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I’ll remind you every day.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Watching Water

© 2015 Hannah Phelps

I titled this painting "Watching Water" because that was what I was doing while I painted it. Specifically, I watched water more than I painted while I was painting. Confused?

I have the most fun painting outdoors when I focus on my subject and react to it - letting this rock and the surf swarming all around it tell me about itself. It isn't all about enjoying myself out there, of course. I also learn the most about color, shapes, brushstrokes, values, water, rocks, light, and everything else going on in the little scene I have chosen.

The alternative is to set up all my gear and allow myself to be inspired by my surroundings, but then paint whatever I think is happening - "rocks are brown, water is blue, foam is white" kind of assumptions. There isn't anything inherently wrong with this approach. Nice pieces can come from experiences like this. I know, because I occasionally find myself painting happily away without paying attention to nature.

On Appledore Island, I set myself the assignment to observe and learn. I was on a research mission, just like the scientists and engineers who study the place every year. I objectively looked at the rocks and sea to remind myself that the colors in water ranged from as black as an eight ball to mustard yellow to lavender and everything in between.
I always intend to paint this way when I work on site, so this wasn't really new. But it had been a while and I had missed it.

This was my first painting session after the students left us on Friday, and staying true to my own homework right away set the tone for the rest of my stay. This investigation proved to be a great warm-up for some very exciting stuff to come.

You'll see for yourself in the coming days.
 

Note: This is all part of Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I'll remind you every day.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

From Laighton's Porch

 © 2015 Hannah Phelps

Second painting from Appledore Island. At the beginning of my stay there, I was one of three instructors teaching an art class.  I did have time to do two small studies while the students were working on their own pieces. For the most part, they were busily painting and photographing during the day with Wendy Turner and Jim Coyer. Then they met me inside for some printmaking after a delicious dinner.

Boy, did some of these newbies to printmaking get into it! Prints and ink everywhere! It was fun to see people with no prior experience really attack a new medium and create some beautiful things. I gave them a few tips right at the beginning and then got out of their way.

The rest of the paintings you are going to see I did after the students left. Watching them paint and print for a few days made me itch to paint in a way that built up into some positive energy. When it was my turn to focus on painting, I grabbed it and ended up with some nice work, if I do say so myself. You can see a bit of it in another post.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Appledore Sketch

 © Hannah Phelps 2015
I just returned today from Appledore Island. I am a bit tired (really a lot tired...) but for better or ill, I signed up for a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge on Leslie Saeta's blog. Read more about it there if you wish, but it is pretty self-explanatory - do your best to do 30 paintings in 30 days and post them on her blog and your own.

On Appledore, I painted a bunch but I couldn't access my blog. So we are starting a day late with a bunch of paintings done. Here is the first one I did out there this year.

More details tomorrow when I post another painting, but for now, I need to continue unpacking and take a nap with my dogs.
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