What! You've got to be kidding me.
I see this all the time. Some group that wants to raise funds for their organization hires a company that brings in framed artwork along with their own auctioneer as a package deal for the organization and sells it off during an evening of the traditional wine and such. Best to get everyone a little drunk for this for sure. Here's why...
The promotion in the newspaper reads: "Art selections may include works of art by Chagall, Picasso, Neiman, Peter Max, Karkay, Rockwell, Wyeth, Delacroix, Renoir and other artists. Most opening bids range from $35 to $300, with collector pieces in the price range of $300 to several thousand dollars"
Perfect! Be there and you might be able to pick up an original Renoir or Andrew Wyeth for as little as $300. Sure! I think it's an insult but I guess people without any knowledge of art whatsoever must fall for this. It certainly doesn't help working artists to have companies out there convincing others that genuine works of art by well known artists can be had for so little. Why would anyone in their right mind want to buy a piece of artwork from you for $300 when they could get an original Delacroix for the same price?
Those paintings by artists who paint every blade of grass are often less complete than those who can depict many blades of grass by using one large well placed and well handled brush stroke. It takes very little skill to paint one blade of grass at a time. It takes a real master can create fields with just a few brush marks if they are handled just right. Look at John Singer Sargents work as an example.
The painting on the left is one of mine with very little detail but the painting was much stronger because of it.
Sunday is a day when a few friends get together to do some plein air painting. I set up one camera to shot this short time lapse video and using only three colors on my palette plus white. Ultramarine Blue, Indian Yellow, and Alizarin Crimson. When using just three colors it was important that they were all transparent colors. If they had not been transparent the rich dark tones would not have been possible.
Here's an example of working outside on a day that was extremely hot and uncomfortable. I almost didn't take the time to paint but at the last moment decided to do a small piece which ended up as quite a special experience.
Before returning to Florida, Sarah and I spent a few weeks in our Flat Rock, North Carolina studio after returning from filming new episodes of our PBS television series "Painting and Travel" in Montana and Wyoming. It had been a wet summer in the North Carolina mountains and the greenery was quite intense. I tried to get the feel of that dampness in this new painting.
I started with a 16x20" Masonite board and sketched the house in charcoal.
Then I began to lay in the large shapes and dark values and also added a warm sky with very little color to represent the overcast quality of the day.
More colors were added to begin the block in of the house and roof with a combination of warm and cool colors to give a subtle indication of where the light was coming from.
Here I began to refine the painting and tighten up the details in the trees by adding negative areas. There was little detail in the grassy areas and I wanted to leave that portion simple so as to bring more attention to the small details in the house. I used my Tri-Art acrylic paints from the Jack Richeson Company. I believe a combination of Chromium Oxide green and various warm colors like burnt sienna and reds were used to get the darker grass colors. Then a bit of Cadmium yellow light was used in the grass to get a warmer patch of diffused sunlight in the finished piece. The acrylics have a great advantage of being to scumble over areas of dry paint as opposed to oils where those colors would mix.
This is the reference photo I used for the painting taken on my iPhone.
This short video talks about
the benefits of painting on location as opposed to painting
in the studio especially when it comes to working with
The plein air painting was done just a block
from our studio here in St. Augustine, Florida.
What is the golden hour? Put generally,
it's the first hour after sunrise and the last hour
before sunset, the time of day when the sun is lowest in
the sky making shadows soft and color temperatures warm.
The light that the sun gives us during the golden hour
gives landscapes a rich hue not found during
There is an app for scheduling a painting
session around the golden hour called Golden Light. It uses
your location and global weather data to tell you exactly
what time the golden hour begins and ends.
After opening Golden Light for the first
time, it will ask you for permission to use your location.
If you agree, the Golden Light map will center on your
location and you'll get the golden hour times right away.
If you disagree, you'll have to choose your location
manually. To select a future date to base your painting
schedule on, tap the calendar icon in the upper right
Golden Light is free and works on an iPhone
or iPad. Type in "Golden Light" in your iphone app
store icon on your phone to find app.
Similiar apps are available on the web for
Thanks to videomaker.com where I
found this information.
One of the historic sections
of St. Augustine, Florida is called Lincolnville.
Sunday morning I gathered up my easel and paints and spent
the morning there painting the Bethel Missionary Baptist
Church as the church service was taking place. Here are a
few steps that were involved.
I was careful to get as
accurate a drawing as I could for this painting since it's
an historic landmark.
I began with this charcoal
drawing on an 11x14" piece of Masonite.
Roughly laying in the colors
to establish a base from which to build.
At this point I had all the
shapes in place but there was one problem that I would have
changed had I noticed it earlier and that is the tangent
where the top of the roof on the white building in the
foreground intersected with the sloping roof on the
building behind it. I felt it was too late to change
everything so I had to work carefully as I went along to be
sure that the roof on the second building wasn't confused as
a roof on the foreground building.
As you can see in the
photograph, that tangent causes some confusion. Things like
this are so much more evident in a photo or a painting than
they are in real life that it is sometimes difficult to spot
them when painting on location. I think I finally worked it
out well enough in the finished painting but it was a bit of
a challenge. I completed most of the painting in the field
but put some finishing touches on it with oils back in the
Sarah and I spent
the afternoon at the Vilano Beach boat launching area near
St. Augustine, Florida. I chose the back of this bait house
mainly because I liked the palms. Here's the progression of
This was a 9x12" masonite
board. I used charcoal to lay out the large areas.
I have found charcoal to be
really useful in getting started because I can easily
visualize the large shapes. In the first image (above) I
thought the house was too small for the composition and
with charcoal it can easily be wiped off for a clean start.
I began with the large shapes
and wasn't at all concerned with details at this point but
I was concerned with the brushwork, much of which can remain
and actually show up in the finished painting.
The house was actually a green
color but I decided to keep it in the yellow ranges to
maintain more harmony within the overall painting. I also
extended the roof so more of it was showing and wanted to
make it a tin roof instead of shingles. I wasn't at all
bound to painting exactly what I was seeing since it was not
an historic representation.
Then the sky was placed in the
painting along with a few subtle clouds. Putting the sky in
at this point allows me to put negative areas in those palms
later and by not putting the sky in first I was able to keep
those dark transparent colors on the dark palm tree areas.
The perspective would have to be attended to on the building
as well as it wasn't quite right.
Refinements began. Opaque
colors were applied over the original dark colors of the
The side of the buiding
bothered me. I didn't want to add any of the railings I saw
on the building but in the final painting I added some tall
poles just to break up that area.
Come to St. Augustine if you
have a chance. It's a great place to paint.
This painting of the Castillo De San
Marcos fort here in St. Augustine, Florida was painted
in acrylics on canvas. People often tell me they prefer to
purchase oil paintings instead of acrylics. One reason is
because many acrylics look as if they are done with colors
that are too vivid and unnatural looking. That occurs
because drying is so fast they don't get blended into one
another with the ease oils do and they can end up rather
garish. To avoid this I constantly put a fine mist
of water from a spray bottle onto the canvas so the colors
can be blended before drying occurs. A heavy layer of paint
will also help it dry slower. One advantage of acrylics is that textures
can be more easily made because once the acrylics dry,
consecutive layers can be placed over it as a wash,
splattered, and so on without it mixing into one flat tone
as oils would. The pace of painting can be kept up without
waiting days for drying to take place. The painting below is
an example of the variety of textures that can be made in
Here is what artist Jay Babina of Connecticut said on the subject.
paint with both oils and acrylic. I believe that acrylic attracts many
beginner artist because of the easy water clean-up and no fumes etc. I
think that a greater percentage of this criticism is because of the lack of color
and observation that comes with training and experience. There's just
less highly accomplished acrylic painters vs. oil. Also, oil painters
are constantly painting with contaminated pallets. The brushes are never
clean and there's a greying down of pigments that is occurring
constantly. Whereas with Acrylic, it's just easier to clean your brush
thoroughly with a few seconds in the water. The mixing on the canvas of
an oil painting goes on for a long time since it's always wet (for quite
often go to the library and take out the endless array of art books
especially in the winter and rarely do you see acrylic painters in the
books who are able to subtly use color. It seems to attract loud
painters and very stylistic painters.
Every Sunday afternoon
several artist friends get together here in historic St. Augustine,
Florida for a couple hours of plein air painting. Yesterday we visited The Mission of Nombre de Dios
which traces its origins to the founding of America’s oldest city, in
1565. On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed and
proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church. It was on these grounds
that Fr. Lopez would celebrate the first parish Mass and begin
the work at America’s first Mission. The statue I painted is St. Francis
of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the ecology. I used acrylics on this 8x10" board
and my palette consisted of 4 colors. Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin
Crimson, Indian Yellow, and Cad Yellow Light and of course white. The
photo below shows the painting partially blocked in. The values were all
close so I would have to rely on the nice highlights that rimmed around
the back of the figure to bring it to life. The hedge in the foreground
was a cool green in reality but I warmed it from what it actually was
because I wanted to bring it forward so it would not recede into the
background where it might get lost among the other greenery.
The painting was finished by adding more negative
areas in the trees and adding the lake in the background which gave it a
nice touch of additional color from the otherwise warm late afternoon
Here is a
question emailed to me and I thought I'd answer it here.
It's from Lynn in Sikeston, MO.
Lynn says, "I have a question on sunset paintings. Each
evening on my way home from work, I watch these beautiful sunsets with
vivid colors. Silhouetted against the sky, the trees and buildings
seem very dark, but I cannot find the color answer to paint them.
While they appear very dark, painted dark looks very harsh and
unbelievable. Any advice?"
The subject of sunsets is often selected by students when I do
workshops. Generally, I'd say stay away from doing them but if tackling
the subject I try and remember a few things.
1. Try and make notes
of color either mental or better yet with a very quick thumbnail sketch on
location to record the colors in the sky and use those color notes when
doing the painting.
2. Remember that when using a photograph of a
sunset, the camera will not see even a small portion of the colors that
the eye can see in real life especially when looking at a high contrast
subject such as a sunset. The photo will either wash out the sky colors
and leave you with the land portion exposed correctly OR if the camera is
exposed for the sky, the photo will leave you with a black landscape.
Chances are you aren't going to get a good exposure on the sky and the
land in one shot. This puts any artist at a disadvantage when painting
from a photo.
3. I never use black on a sunset painting. A sunset
painting is all about color and black will kill it. I use a mix of
transparent colors such as alizarin crimson and thalo blue or ultramarine
blue to give a very dark color. I stay away from using any opaque colors
when trying to make these darks or at least I might use them very
sparingly. For instance maybe a small touch of burnt sienna in the dark
areas as in the painting below. When I use black it is always to make a
color greyer and not necessarily darker.
4. Remember the landscape
becomes very secondary in most sunset paintings and usually ends up as silhouette. Detail usually becomes soft.
TO SEE MORE OF THESE "FLORIDA WILDERNESS" PAINTINGS
5. Consider doing a sunset painting before the last minute
of sunset when the landscape still has more light on it. Here's an example
6. I try and stay away from bright colors when painting a landscape.
Maybe a touch or two of a pure color is fine but using too many pure
colors will give the painting a false and harsh look like the one
7. Remember that a sunset painting needs more to it than a horizontal
line across the center and some clouds and sun at the top half. It needs
to have a subject and just dividing the picture up into those two areas
like the photo above leaves the viewer with little or no real interest or
subject matter to enjoy. There are always lots of people at the beach at
sunset taking such photos but a good photo or painting needs more than a
split screen of sky and water. It's also not a good idea to divide the
canvas right in the middle.
I often get asked questions
about the selection of paints I use and there is often
confusion about the use of transparent and opaque colors.
Here is a short explanation. Click on the picture below to
view the video.