Posts Tagged ‘Rock River’


Clouds Along the Rock

September 17, 2013
Clouds Along the Rock: Oil on Canvas 16 x 20

Clouds Along the Rock: Oil on Canvas 16″ x 20″

We experienced a couple days of partly cloudy days. Great inspiration. I took some time to get sketches and some color studies. Tough to capture a moving target. As I sketched, I thought about incorporating some of these designs into a landscape. Problem was that the land in front of me was far less than inspirational.

I remembered that I had some sketches created at the Rock River which had less than spectacular skies. Okay, they were boring skies. I ventured back into the studio with my cloud sketches, dug out the river studies and married these elements together.

Background sky is a mixture of Titanium White with Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue. The clouds have combinations of Ultramarine Blue, Alizaron Crimson and Cadmium Yellow.


Rock River and Whitman – 2

August 20, 2013
Rock River North of Whitman; Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

Rock River North of Whitman; Oil on Canvas Panel 8″ x 10″

It rained through the night. Thick clouds and occasional mist and rain falling in the morning. I decided to head over to Sinnissippi and see what I could find. First stop I made was in the parking lot at the north end of the rose garden. As I parked the car, I noticed the atmospheric effect on the trees across the river. It was even more dramatic as I looked to the south from the rivers edge.

Because of the heavy atmosphere, it was a simple composition. Sky and water were virtually the same value and color. The land mass, was a similar value with subtle changes to hint at details. First thing I did was make a sketch of the scene to lock in the design. While I was sketching, I noticed movement in the water. A raft (group) of ducks was making their way toward me. No doubt hoping for food. That would give me some action in the painting. I loved the shape of the landmass and especially the reflections in the water. Good thing that I took a few minutes to lock in the design.

After sketching the scene onto my canvas, I placed a pale wash of Alizaron Crimson in the sky and water sections. I made a grayish-green mixture for the landmass and filled it in as one shape. I spent a lot of time adding dark’s and white to refine and define the nuances of the land mass.

As I said, I was happy that I took a few minutes to sketch my design. Within the first fifteen to twenty minutes painting that investment paid off. Besides the duck factor, the weather made an impact. A slight breeze picked up wiping out all of the reflections on the water. Had I not sketched the design and therefore caught the reflection details, this would have been a much different and even boring painting.

My students are sure to hear this lesson a lot in the years to come.

Oh, another thing happened, or almost did. I was painting at the edge of the river. About two feet from rocks and another two feet to to the water. I was virtually in the river. As I was finishing the painting, I moved my painting hand the wrong way. My brush hit one of the brushes in my left hand and it did the most interesting twirling routine on its way toward the water. It happened so fast that I could only watch the brush spinning and rolling. The brush hit a rock, back into the air moving toward the water. It hit the rock one more time and spun back towards me before coming to a stop on the rock. I was able to get onto the rocks and retrieve this brush. Later I thought how funny andironic it could have been if I fell into the river while retrieving the brush. Nice to have a spot of good luck.


Rock River by Whitman

August 14, 2013
Rock River by Whitman; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

Rock River by Whitman; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 8″ x 10″

Crazy summer. The last week of July and I am bundled in a sweatshirt painting alongside the Rock River. This spot is about five feet off of the Sinnissippi Recreation Trail and two feet from being in the river. Busy, busy path this morning.

Hard to capture the clouds. As I started the work, the sky had clearly defined clods and eye leading patterns. I got the scene and cloud patterns sketched but by the time I was completing the block in, the sky had changed to being basically overcast. Cloud patterns and colors just were not there.

I forged ahead to capture the land mass, water and buildings in the distance. I saved the sky for last. I had to improvise and rely on my memory for awhile. An d then, it changed again. Clouds were more distinct. I moved quickly to get colors and values in place and adjusted. Before I could finish, it changed back to overcast.

Fortunately, I had enough of the color notes in place to guide me. Finished and headed home. As I neared home, you guessed it, clouds were back in force. Interesting day.


Plein Air – Castle Rock

August 11, 2013
Rock River at Castle Rock; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

Rock River at Castle Rock; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 8″ x 10″

This is a view from the observation deck at Castle Rock park along the Rock River, about 3miles south of Oregon

The weekly paint out of the Eagles Nest group. Only two of us showed up. Rather than split up, both of us decided to paint from the deck. Not much room left up there. Had been painting about an hour when I heard a noise.A couple was making there way up the long flight of stairs to the deck. They were almost to the top, when they realized that the deck was a bit crowded (two artists and associated paraphernalia). I indicated that there was enough room for all of us. They came up and enjoyed the view and then enjoyed seeing the paintings in progress.

About twenty minutes later, different couple, same scenario. Paintings completed, we had lunch in the park before heading our separate ways.


Edge of the Rock Plein Air Competition Day 4

June 16, 2012

Plein Air June 2 – East of Turtle Island: Oil on Canvas Panel 16″ x 12″

Edge of the Rock Day 4. Saturday morning and Helen decided to come with me. We got to the park a little after 9 and saw one other artist at work. We walked around so that I could show Helen some spots in the park and we settled in this area. It offered shade for me and some flower arrangements near by which were of interest to Helen. We were near the playground which offered some additional entertainment. Busy day at the park as a fishing tournament was also being held.

The painting was moving along when something happened. First to my hat, then my shirt,  my palette and eventually my painting. Red Winged Blackbirds were enjoying the berries from a nearby tree, then flying over to the branches above my set up and, well let’s just say that they were offering their opinion. Not extremely messy, but gross and an inconvenience. Stubborn artist. I moved my set up a bit and decided to tough it out. A few more incidences, but I think that I won out. Incidentally, all my clothes went into the wash that evening.


Edge of the Rock Plein Air Competition Day 3

June 15, 2012

Plein Air June 1 – Friday Morning at the Park; Oil on Canvas Panel 12″ x 16″

It rained on Day 2. It rained all day. Rather than venture out to paint in the rain, I stayed in Rockford and worked in my studio.

I ventured out Friday morning, Day 3, and found a spot alongside the river. It was chilly and windy. Working in the shade of a tree made it even cooler. The painting was moving smoothly when I realized that one of the maintenance workers was making his way towards my spot on a riding mower. He worked his way closer until he was within about fifty yards when he turned and went back to his base. I assumed it was some sort of break time. A short while later, I noticed the mower coming back, but good news, he drove past me and went about fifty yards past before he started to mow again. Nice guy. After awhile, he drove back near me, then turned and drove away. I assumed that he was waiting for me to finish and leave so that he could finish his work.

I finished my first painting shortly after noon, took a break for lunch then set off to find the next painting spot. I settled in for a view of the lagoon. I was in a more visible locale. I had several visits from curious onlookers as well as volunteers from the organizations committee. Although it was still windy, I was in the sun and was enjoying the afternoon of painting.

I was about three quarters of the way through my painting when I experienced a head shaking moment. It was a comment from another artist. From any non-artist I would have let the comment roll by, but from another artist? Realize that the details are the LAST thing that you put on the painting, this artist looked at my incomplete, unsigned work and said loudly enough so that anyone within fifty yards could not help but hear, “Oh, aren’t you going to include the spray from the fountain?” After taking a m0ment to carefully craft a response, all I could come up with was, “Unlike some artists, I like to wait until the end of the painting to include the important details.”

I finished the work by including the spray from the fountains, packed my gear and headed home.

Plein Air June 1 #2 – Toward the Gazebo; Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″


Edge of the Rock Plein Air Competition Day 1

June 14, 2012

Plein Air may 30 – Toward the Pump House; Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″


I registered to participate in the Edge of the Rock Plein Air competition. The competition was in Beloit Wisconsin. The town is about 20 miles away, but with this areas  competence at coordinating the timing of traffic signals, it takes more than thirty five minutes to get there.

On the first day, I had to stop by the visitors center to get my canvases stamped. Stamping the canvases is their way of verifying that the painting was created during this competition. One challenge is that the center is open for stamping canvases between 9am – 11 am, a prime time for painting. So after getting checked in, canvases stamped, getting a map of the official areas to paint, I headed off to find my subject and get painting. So after cruising the sites, finding a spot for today’s painting, and setting up to paint, it was a little after 10am.

The spot I located was quiet, so that was nice. Occasionally people would walk or drive past, but otherwise I was able to work undisturbed. A challenge occurred. The sky was changing constantly and somewhat dramatically. It went from a few clouds, to thick cloud cover and back again. It became difficult for me to hold my initial vision. Then, because of the lateness of my start, as I got past the noon hour, the lighting on my scene also changed.

After another stop at the visitors center to use the restroom, I ventured over to Beloit College to scope out the possibilities there. By now the clouds were moving on and the sun was making it’s way through. I stumbled around the campus and finally found a spot which I felt could work. I started on the painting, but after analyzing the block in, I determined that this design would not work (could have worked as a watercolor, but not an oil).

I decided to call it a day and head home to clean off the last painting, my palette, brushes, and set a game plan for the next day.


Plein Air April 17

April 29, 2012

Plein Air April 17 - The Rock Near Meridian; Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

Traveled southwest of Rockford to check out the possibilities at one of the forest preserves. I could see potential, but nothing jumped out at me this day. After canvasing the area for awhile, I opted to move on. I decided to travel further south to the Rock River. I found a wayside along the Rock River. The passing clouds created a challenge due to the constant changes in lighting.


Plein Air October 15

October 28, 2011

Plein Air - October 15 #1, Oil on Canvas Panel 6" x 8"

Plein Air - October 15 #2, Oil on Canvas Panel 6" x 8"

Plein Air - October 15 #3, Oil on Canvas Panel 6" x 8"

After a busy Friday evening at Rockford ArtScene (yea – one painting sold), I was awake early on Saturday morning to get down to Grand Detour for the Eagles Nest OPA Paint Out.

It was sunny but chilly. I arrived in Grand Detour about 8:00am. A couple of the women were busy setting up a table to greet guests who would join us for this event. I checked in, grabbed my gear and set off to find a scene to paint. It was amazing how much the colors had changed in just the four days since we were last in Grand Detour. I ventured across Rt. 2 to the Rock River. A few cars were present at the park,  but no other signs of people. I found a scene and got busy painting. Hard to hold your concentration when the light is shifting as fast as it does in the early morning. You have to capture the notes quickly and then fill in the rest.

With my first painting complete, I thought that I would venture back to the John Deere Homestead to find another scene. Gear packed up, I was set to leave when I looked around and saw another intriguing view. A spot along the river caught my interest. Quickly set up my paint box again and set to painting. While working, I heard a series of noises. It sounded like firecrackers. About the third time that it happened, I noticed that  following the blasts, geese would fly past. Duh – hunting season.

As I was painting, I had the feeling that I was being watched. I looked around and realized a friend of the group had come to photograph members of the event at work. Bob does a lot of photography, so you can never be sure how much might be for documenting the event and how much may be used for his own artistic endeavors.

I worked #2 by starting with a magenta outline and block in. The color came through subsequent paint applications and really played well with the blues and yellows.

On to find scene #3. I stopped by the greeter to have a doughnut and some hot apple cider. Found out that Barb was being very enterprising and managed to move some of the treats for donations to visitors of the John Deere homestead. Barb must have run some very profitable lemonade stands as a child.

I moved up the street from the homestead with thoughts of going the three or so blocks to the turn in the road to check out the possibilities. Never made it that far. Found a spot of interest, set up and started painting alongside the road. About fifteen minutes into my work, I noticed something at the bend of the road and realized that it was Dan, a member of our group, busy painting. I wonder what view he has? Bob showed up again and began snapping more photos.

As I was painting, I had to move my set up several times to stay within the shadows of a nearby tree. This kept the sun from shining directly on my canvas and blinding me. #3 completed, I started to work my way back toward the homestead. It was near noon and I knew that the group would be meeting for lunch. A chance to view each others work and enjoy some fellowship. On the way back, I noticed several more choice scenes. Unfortunately, not enough time to capture them all. A few quick photographs may help, but will never replace the opportunity to paint directly from life.

Fun time during lunch. Bob showed up again (that guy was everywhere, although, to be fair, Grand Detour is not that big). More photos. A few members asked to see the works which I had completed. Ego boost. Pull the works out, one of which was still in my paint box, a Guerrilla Box. Ego crush. Several of the painters were more interested in my paint gear than in my paintings (way to go Judson’s Art Outfitters).

Lunch over, I packed up and headed home. On the way, a quick stop at the Soap Shoppe in Oregon. A few treats for Helen (Sweetest Day ya know). Home. Unpack the car, clean up my paint box and brushes. Shower, ate an early dinner and then on to Bennie’s for the second night of Rockford ArtScene ( Boo, no sales Saturday).

No trouble falling to sleep Saturday night.

Note: Good news – a few days after the paint out, I received an e-mail. Someone that had seen us at work was interested in the paintings completed that day. They purchased two of my works. Paintings #2 and #3 have found a home.

Alongside the Rock River, working on my second painting.

At work on #2

Not much gear required to paint these scenes.

At work along Illinois Street in Grand Detour

Also along Illinois Street. The folks of the town were nice enough to let us invade their yards without incident.

Painting #3 nearing completion. I had to move a few times to keep from having the sun shine onto my painting.

A photo of the hard core painters on this chilly day.