Friday, October 11, 2013

Alone on the Mountain

Papoose Pass Vista - oil on linen - 12x9"
Here, again, a ranger at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, took me to Papoose Pass, an area that would have been inaccessible to me otherwise. It's always scary, going to a new place and starting a new painting, I guess because it's out of my comfort zone. I spent a lot of time walking back and forth trying to get a different view and thinking, "How am I going to compose this? What am I doing here?" I actually saw that I had cell service and tried to call a friend, but she wasn't home. Finally, I just got to it and started putting paint on the canvas! It was so quiet, even birds weren't singing. Very hypnotic, really.

This is what the painting looked like by the time I had to pack up and meet the ranger for the trip back:
I am really happy with the end results! And the painting is SOLD!!!
If you like this, please share it with others. I love to have people enjoying my work! (Notice the little like and share buttons at the bottom of the page...)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shimmering Water

Oil painting by Linda Schweitzer
"Fetch" - oil on panel - 6 x 6"
So many streams flow into Whiskeytown Lake, and they flow year-round. Here I was really drawn to the beautiful shimmering reflections in the water, and to the whole mood: people out enjoying a beautiful day with their dog. It makes me feel good just looking at it. And that's how I want my viewers to feel when they look at it.

This painting is SOLD!! Yay! And that makes me feel good!

Monday, October 7, 2013

More Paintings...

Sunlit Falls - 8 x 8" oil on panel
 I seemed to be "on a roll" with waterfalls, so I decided to try Crystal Creek Falls. This is a smaller painting, and was harder to do--I don't know why. The sunlight was changing fast. It is easy to walk to this falls. Here is how it looks in a frame--
Afterwards, I went down to the marina with my (now dry) horrible painting from the first day; trying to see if I could rescue it. Well, just then, a sailboat came along, so I turned the whole thing around, from horizontal to vertical, and put the boat in!

Sailing the Lake - oil on linen panel - 10 x 8"

I know this is more hard-edged than most of my work. The reason is that I had to lay the paint on so thickly to cover the painting beneath. Those colorful things floating on the water are called wave attenuators.

Here are some more photos of Whiskeytown, which sadly, is closed now, due to the government shutdown. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Forgot to Take a Picture!!!

Morning at Oak Bottom (in progress) - 9 x 12 - oil on linen
I'm totally enchanted by the way the sunlight rolls over the hills in the morning, when everything is soft and dewy, hitting the tops of the tallest trees first. Here I was trying to remember to take pictures of my work at different stages, so I could show how the painting developed. Well, that's a good idea, except I forgot to take a picture when the painting was finished!

You can see how I started here, wiping out the lights and creating paths for the eye to follow around the painting. There is more detail in the finished painting. The two little vertical lines on the right are markers to remind me where to put the two white sailboats.

It turned out that this painting (the completed version), was the one the park superintendent chose as my donation to the National Park Service! (Well, we all have moments like this...)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Alone in the Woods

Boulder Creek Falls - 12 x 9" - oil on linen panel
Until today, I had been on my own as far a finding good places to paint. Well, now, the park superintendent offered to take me to Boulder Creek Falls, a place I would otherwise not be able to visit, because my car is not 4-wheel drive. The whole staff was so friendly there, and really went out of their way to make me feel at home.

We drove for what seemed like miles, up a road that would be impassable with my car, forded a stream, then walked through the woods, uphill (thankfully he carried my pack) to the site of this beautiful waterfall! Then, he left, and said he would send a ranger to pick me up at 3:00. There was no one there, no buildings, nothing. The sound of falls was so loud, it was all I could hear. This made me a little uncomfortable at first, but then I really got into it!

By this time, not only was I sleeping massive amounts, I was hungry all the time. Good thing I had food with me. I looked around for bears every time I opened something to eat!

When the ranger came to pick me up, all I had down on the canvas was an underpainting, which is the browns and grays you see here. I put in the green leaves and whites of the water after the underpainting had dried. That way, I could lay the white on, without it mixing with the brown underneath.
I hope you have a chance to get out in nature today and enjoy the beauty of this world!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Getting my bearings

oil painting
Babbling Creek - 9 x 12" oil on linen panel
Okay, it was second day. I slept about 10 hours. Then I spent the morning taking pictures of the beach, which amazingly, was deserted, probably because of the cold. Finally decided I just had to do something. I really liked Brandy Creek, and set up my easel along the bank.

Here is the set-up. Notice my coffee mug perched conveniently on a rock! The locals say that during the salmon runs, this creek is full of Chinook.

I was happy with this painting! And relieved! Maybe I can do this residency thing after all!!



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Artist Residency

I just returned from an Artist Residency at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Pictured above is the Artist's Cabin, where I stayed. It was a fantastic experience! I did not have internet access there, so I will report retroactively.

First, some background... Whiskeytown was founded back during the gold rush. The story is that some prospectors were crossing a stream, when one of their mules slipped, and the kegs of whiskey spilled into the water. So, they named the stream, Whiskey Creek. Afterwards, they called their town, along the creek, Whiskeytown. By 1959, the town only had about 200 residents. They moved out, and the town was flooded, by the construction of a dam that formed Whiskeytown Lake. This was part of the Central California Water Project.
This is Whiskeytown Lake today.

I arrived on a Saturday evening, and met my roommate, Heidi Marshall, a wonderful pastel artist from Michigan. She had been there 2 1/2 weeks and had seen two bears! I never saw any... (Probably a good thing.) Normally, an artist is alone for their residency, but in our case, we overlapped by three days. Being alone, and without internet, sounds almost monastic, and I did find that I felt differently being there. At first, I slept 10-11 hours at night. I wandered around admiring everything on the first day and was not able to decide on anything to paint. My mind was just blank. Finally, I went down to the marina and started a painting, which was not working out at all. Then, Jim Milestone, the Park Superintendent came over, and introduced himself and took my picture, with the horrible painting! He was so nice, and I was so embarrassed. I was asking myself why I ever applied for this!!! What ever made me think I could do this?

(spoiler-it gets better tomorrow)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Child's Portrait

Ricker - oil on linen - 14 x 16"
This is the first oil portrait I've done in years! I could not believe how difficult it was, and how long it took. I really was out of practice. I worked from photos that I took myself. It is difficult to get a child this young to hold still for a photograph, let alone a painting. Here he was talking to me, and see how happy and animated he is!

It was worth the effort. I am happy with the end result! And the boy's grandparents love it! That's what's important!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Closing of SFMOMA

 The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will be closed for two years while an addition is added to the present building. There will still be exhibits, but they will be in other venues around the Bay Area. They decided to close with a celebration! Above is one artwork, which hangs over the main hall. It is made of human hair from around the world.

 Here is another artwork, painted on the wall. To see how big it is, notice the size of the stand holding the rope in front of it.

 This is a model of the present museum.

 On the backside of the above model, is a model of the new addition. Lots more space.

 They had things going on all day. One of the last activities was making tin foil hats. They put out tin foil, glue, scissors, pipe cleaners, etc., and invited people to design their own. Unfortunately, there were no mirrors, so I didn't know what mine looked looked like on my head, but I got lots of complements on it!

 The final performance of the day was a group called Soul Motion. My daughter, Shanna, is one of the dancers!

At first the dancers were mixed with the crowd; gradually they formed a circle in the center. At the end of the dance, they proceeded outside, with the museum staff asking everyone to follow and form a line around the building. About half of us were wearing tin foil hats! Some in the crowd started chanting for us to look up. Then, a drone flew over to take our picture! Quite a finale!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

John Cosby Workshop

oil painting, 14x11", Linda Schweitzer
Yellow Truck - oil on canvas panel - 14 x 11"
Painting  is a process of continual learning. Each painting is a learning experience! And, in order to accelerate the process, I try to take a workshop with another artist every now and then. The painting above is one I painted during the John Cosby workshop in Lodi, CA. John is an excellent teacher, and there were some very advanced painters in the class, but he made all of us stretch ourselves!

John teaches a painting process that can be adapted to most painting styles. He starts by mixing four or five color puddles that represent the different values in the scene. Then, he mixes all the rest of the colors from those puddles. Also, he really stressed drawing and composition. I drew the truck in this scene by first drawing a box, which had the same proportions as the truck, then drawing the truck inside the box. And the composition is a three-point, with the three main elements being the truck, the palm tree, and the telephone pole. Can you see it? I really had to subdue the bush, which, in reality, was a bright, bright green! And I used shadows to balance the composition. Just making my own reality... Fun!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Painting at Napa Country Iris Garden

Goddess of the Rainbow - oil on museum-quality panel - 6x8"
The iris is the goddess of the rainbow, according to classical mythology, so I thought that would be a fitting title for this painting. I had gone with a painting group to the Napa Country Iris Garden. We have been having a lot of cool windy weather here by the Bay, but up in the wine country, of Napa, it was warm and beautiful! There were so many wonderful irises, it was hard to choose which to paint. But I liked this one because of the subtle warm/cool color shifts. I had decided beforehand not to rush with the painting, because so often when I get in a hurry, I end up with a painting I don't like. This one I do like!

Irises only bloom for such a short time, which makes them even more precious. All the irises here are ruffled varieties which are newer than the plain irises. Here are some more pictures of the irises for you to enjoy--


The iris garden was open for business while I was there, and many people were strolling through, picking out their flowers. Even a bus stopped, and people got out and were enjoying the scent and colors. The owners were very friendly and talking with everyone. They welcome artists, and said classes from some of the art schools come to paint!

I hope you will get out and enjoy the springtime! And if you enjoy reading this, please forward it to your friends. I love to have my work shared!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Remembering Susan Shatter

watercolor by Susan Shatter
I only recently learned of Susan's death, and thought I'd share some memories of her. I met her in 1998, when she had an exhibit of her wonderful watercolor paintings at the Huntington Museum of Art in WV, and I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with her.

watercolor by Susan Shatter
Some of her large watercolors were 12' long! She liked to put the paper on the floor and just go for it! They look pretty abstract up close, but if you step back about 10 feet, they snap into focus. The viewer is just surrounded by them.

She loved painting plein air landscapes because she said it "put her in accord with the vast mystery."
She liked high viewpoints which make the middle ground the foreground, and the background the middle. The high viewpoints also tend to pitch the viewer forward into the painting.
She liked to have the light in her paintings appear to come from the land, and to use a diagonal or serpentine division of space.
She loved the Isabey squirrel quill brushes.
Her small plein air studies were painted on conventional watercolor blocks and were used as a reference for structure and color, along with photos, when she worked on her large studio paintings.
She preferred painting deserts, canyon lands, rocky coasts, the patterns created by water... (no green pastures for this artist!)
Often the local color of the rocks in a scene was gray, so she'd make up her own  colors. In Peru, she used the colors of local native weavings for the rocks.
She said it took about a month (yes, you read that right!) of adding layers of paint on her large watercolor paintings to get colors as rich as hers are!

Charles Le Clair, in his book, Color in Contemporary Painting, says that her work has "a structural quality that takes its cue from the repetitive forms of Cezanne's late landscapes. Thus the rock formations... set up rhythms that read as pure abstraction..."

She was elected as president of the National Academy of Design, and was represented by one of the finest galleries in New York: quite an accomplishment for a woman artist, working in watercolor!

painting by Susan Shatter
After her diagnosis with breast cancer, she said she had been looking a lot at x-rays, that were dark, with a white spinal column in the middle, and it was influencing her work: It was like a dancing white line in the ocean. Bones returning to their source. See the spinal column in the painting above... She spoke quite a bit about the transitory nature of life. She also began experimenting with acrylic inks and monoprints at that time.

For more about Susan Shatter, check these links:

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and if you are an artist, maybe it gave you some ideas for your own paintings. Please forward this to any of your friends who might be interested.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Eye Highlights

Eye with highlight
Eye without highlight

Other eye with highlight
Here's what I'm working on right now. Almost done! I just put the highlights in the eyes. I love flake white for portraits: it is translucent, just like skin. But for the highlights, I used titanium white. I wanted a white that would be opaque, and stay that way.

I like it when portraits seem to come alive! Then, I can talk to them!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Girl with the Pearl Earring - De Young Museum

The Girl with the Pearl Earring has come to San Francisco, and I got to see her at the De Young Museum! Going to museums and seeing works by great artists always has a renewing effect on me!

According to the signs on the wall, this painting is not a portrait of an actual person, but instead is a tronie. In other words, the artist was trying to capture a facial expression or historic character, but not the likeness of an actual person. (Wow, how disappointing for those of us who saw the movie, Girl with a Pearl Earring, starring Scarlett Johansson!)

Works by other Dutch artists of the same time period were also part of the exhibit. One thing that immediately stood out was the simplicity of this work. Many of the works by other artists were so highly detailed, it looked like the artists used a 3-hair brush, and maybe a magnifying glass. That was the predominant style of the day. While The Girl with the Pearl Earring was painted very simply, with wide brushes, few strokes and minimal detail. The pearl itself was painted with three brush strokes! The earring probably was not a real pearl, but a glass bead painted to look like a pearl.  

The Girl is the only painting by Vermeer in the show. She looks like she has just turned her head and is about to speak to us. There is a feeling of life and movement in the painting, and her gaze seems directed toward something to the right of us, which makes it even more mysterious.

The painting itself appeared much lighter than the picture above, and the skin tones looked somewhat chalky. The lights and shadows were both painted with cool colors. This gave the painting a modernist look. I wondered if the recent cleaning and removal of yellowed varnish might have changed it. But, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to see it!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spring Greens

Here is my plein air painting from last Sunday. Okay, I know it isn't spring yet, but this is what the grass looked like! The yellow in the distance is wild mustard.
Here is is, about halfway complete. As you can see I was in the shade and behind a fence. I added the sky color to the background hills, because really, it's all about painting the air, and the further away something is, the more air there is between you.

Hope spring comes soon for you too!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Painting in Suisun

Suisun Sparkles - 8x10" - oil
Yesterday, I painted in Suisun with "DaGroup," a local painting group. This is the tidal marsh at the edge of the city. Tidal marshes are difficult because not only is the light changing, but because the patterns of the grasses and water change as the tide rises or falls. I totally love sparkles on water, and there were lots of sparkles in this scene! And we had nice weather (unlike last week, when it was so cold.)

I hope you are having good weather and can get out and paint!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Photographing large paintings

Photoflood light with polarizing filter
Yesterday I took pictures of some larger paintings. It is always a challenge to get good pictures of oil paintings because of the shine and texture of the surface. Smaller paintings can usually be photographed in the shade or in a lightbox. But, if you want a really good professional quality image, it is necessary to use a polarizing filter on the camera lens, and on the lights! Here is one of the lights with the filter gel clipped in front of it. Looks crude, but it works! The filter is just a sheet of plastic that will melt if it gets too close to the heat of the light bulb. Now I have some good images for juried shows!

Have a good new year!