Friday, December 22, 2017

Winter Studio Work

I know this is a plein air blog but a lot of us do catch up on studio work in the winter, and as a way to get some new posts during the winter months maybe we can share some of our studio works.  Here's one I did today that was based on a November sky where Six Mile Creek flows into Lake Mendota.  Although this is a studio work I painted it with the same degree of "painterly" finish that I strive for in plein air pieces.

Please feel free to post other studio works.  Let's see what everyone is doing.

Happy Holidays,  Tom

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Lodi Ice Age Trail

Had the last official outing of 2017 today.  And I was cold (!) by the end of this painting.  Those of you who are up for winter outings should feel free to use our group email list to seek painting companions.  Thanks to everyone for a good year of painting and hanging out together.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Last Outing of the season (?) Lodi Marsh Segment Ice Age Trail 2 pm Wednesday Nov. 8th

We will meet at 2pm in the southernmost parking lot on Lodi Springfield Rd. (you can see a great map on this site ) for the last scheduled plein air painting event of this season.  This photo looks like early spring but we should still see some later fall color yet.  I suggested maybe going to the Harmony Bar on Atwood Ave. after for food and/or drink for any interested parties.  Bundle up and come out and paint at this beautiful spot!!  Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Bluff Strokes Plein Air Paint Out in Dubuque Iowa October 2017

Congratulations to our leader, Tom Gilbert, who took 1st prize in this year's event!!!  It was the 2nd year this event has been held in October in Dubuque.  Unfortunately I don't have an image to post and I could not find any images or list of other winners online but hopefully they will be posted.  Tom thought there may be an image in an upcoming Plein Air Magazine so I will be looking for that.  Well done, Tom and well deserved, I am sure!!!

Door County October 2017

I spent the last couple weeks in Door Co. at peak color time and it was just gorgeous especially out on the tip of the peninsula where I stayed.  We were blessed with perfect weather the first week and lousy weather the 2nd.  It really was still beautiful even under cloudy skies but one day what felt like gale force winds blew constantly for about 36 hours.  Saw lots of deer and heard the coyotes calling every night and a Screech Owl which I don't hear often in Madison. 

The first week I painted with pastels and sketched with ink outdoors and then took a 6 day "Watercolor Techniques" class at the Clearing in Ellison Bay which is near where I stay.  I had taken this class in 2004 and 2005 when I was watercolor novice.  It was gratifying to see I had learned a few things in the meantime but the cool new thing I learned was a way of doing monoprints with watercolor.  I was able to pull 2 off the 2nd one.  Both prints were painted based on my plein air ink sketches from the previous week.  The colors in the both the prints and pastel are a bit off as I don't have as good of lighting as I need for taking photos of my paintings so I do think they look a bit better in real life. 

I look forward to doing more monoprints with this process this winter when I am too big of a sissy to be outside.  At least I can manage to sketch outside (or in the warm car) and turn the sketches into prints.  The process is very easy using a medium called Createx, Plexiglas and a big serving spoon for burnishing the back of the print.  Apparently there are You Tube videos about it.  I used the paper recommended by one of our 2 teachers, Strathmore Aquarius which is a bright white and dries perfectly flat. 

My first monoprint (I forgot to reverse the image so instead of Sunset at Rowley's Bay it could be titled Sunrise at Toft Point)

First print of Rowley's Bay from the Nature Conservancy property

2nd pull from the remaining pigment on the plate

Soft pastel on Diane Townsend paper - she doesn't make this paper anymore but is making a new dry ground product with pumice that you can work into your paper before using pastels; I am going to order some as there are some handmade papers I want to try that might work well with that.  I will do a post about it once I have experimented.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cam Rock Park

Had a nice fall day at Cam Rock for today's outing.  Just a few people but we had a good time painting and getting warmed up by the early morning sun.  Tom

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Stewart Lake County Park - Demos - Saturday Oct. 7th

Many thanks to Jan Norsetter and John Ribble who both did great painting demos on Saturday.  We had a great turnout despite the cloudy conditions with reasonably comfortable seating in the nice shelter at the park.  Also thanks to Carolyn White and the Friends of Stewart Lake Park who hosted our group and provided some great donuts.  She said that 40 to 50 observers stopped by that morning including about a dozen high school art society students.  Several of our painters also came and did some plein air painting so hopefully they will post some of their work, too.

Jan did an oil painting demo of the lake that morning and also brought a lovely small study of the lake she had painted previously.  I was sorry not to get there in time to see her demo but I heard it was excellent as always!  Jan can make an interesting painting even on a gloomy morning like we had.

The pastel demo that followed was done by John Ribble,  a Madison artist and teacher who works exclusively en plein air and usually with a huge selection of soft pastels.  He brought a large selection of pastels made up of all the best brands:  Terry Ludwig, Unison, Sennelier and Schmincke.  He had a set of greys made by Great American that he said were his go to box for light greys in the landscape.  He also had the full set of Terry Ludwig Greens and Intense Darks which are beautiful and really helpful in our Wisconsin landscape.  His preferred paper is Art Spectrum Colorfix paper that he gets mounted on board exclusively by Dakota Art Pastels which I totally agree is the most specialized pastel retailer in the country.  After giving us a quick history of pastel and plein air painting John got to work on a fairly large (12x16) Colorfix board in Terra Cotto and rich mid to dark red/brown color.  I was interested to see how he grids his paper first to help with accuracy when sketching his drawing on the paper.  He had many interesting tips for us and stressed that plein air painting was all about the light and that even is cloudy days when the light was diffuse it was still the  most important influence on both value and color.  I really liked seeing what a great tool a straight-edged razor blade can be for taking off unwanted layers of pastel or scratching out the thin lines needed for tree limbs.

I shared a handout about pastels supplies for plein air painting and brought my smallest plein air pastel box, the Heilman Double Sketchbox which weighs only 2 lbs when fully packed with as many partial sticks as I can get in it.  Taking a small box like this is the other end of the spectrum from John's kitchen sink supply of pastels but it is much more portable so I can go hiking and paint just about anywhere.  The down side is I have many fewer colors to work with so I pick the colors that I am relatively sure I will need for wherever I intend to paint and I probably use about the same amount of colors per painting as John does but I often have to make due with a color that is not just what I want but is similar and the right value.  It also takes considerable time to choose the colors I think I'll need but no time to set up and pack up.  So it is a trade off and there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.  I also brought some paper samples.  Currently Pastelmat is my favorite paper; it is not gritty like sanded papers such as Colorfix but it holds a lot of pastel and can take wet underpaintings with water, alcohol or solvents.  I prefer alcohol which is cheap and dries fast outdoors.  I also brought the 6x9 painting below to demonstrate that you can paint small outdoors as well as large as John likes to do.   The larger the painting the better painter you need to be and that is NOT a problem for John who paints wonderful quite large pastels outdoors.

Thanks to everyone who came and participated.  Stewart Lake County Park is a great place for plein air painting!!
Autumn Afternoon at Stewart Lake
Image result for heilman pastel boxes
Heilman Pastel Double Sketchbook and Backpack size

Monday, October 9, 2017

Barrymore Theater

I went yesterday during the Packer game to finish this. A restaurant owner came out to see what I was doing now I get to do his place. :)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cherokee Marsh Outing

We did have a few painters at Cherokee Marsh Park last Wednesday.  Here's my painting of the marsh plus a painting of the Yahara River that I did last week painting at the Evansville Plein Air event.  The fall color is still not out that much, but thankfully, I can exaggerate my colors (somewhat) as I please.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Stewart Lake County Park - Saturday Oct. 7th - Live demos!!

The Dane Co. Plein Air Painters Association is meeting to paint at Stewart Lake County Park Saturday morning and Jan Norsetter will be doing a plein air oil painting demo at 9:30 am and John Ribble will be doing a demo with soft pastels at 10:30 am in the shelter near the main parking lot.  The park is easy to find by driving down Main St. in Mt. Horeb and following the signs.  Also see map on Events calendar page.  The shelter is very nice and will provide enough shelter from the rain that so far is forecast for Saturday morning.  It will be chilly so dress accordingly.  This is a great chance to see 2 excellent professional painters in action.  John taught art classes at MATC for many years and is a great teacher.  Jan regularly teaches oil painting workshops which are very popular.  She is great at packing a lot of information in a short amount of time and I am really looking forward to what both these artists have to say about their preferred media.

This event is part of Mt. Horeb's Fall Festival which also is worth the drive.  There are lots of great shops and eateries there (my 3 favorites are the Sunn Cafe, the Grumpy Troll and Schubert's).

Monday, September 25, 2017

A few more paintings from the Wexford Plein Air Festival

Just a pile of wood, oil, 12"x16" . Tried to hide from the rain, hence the choice of subject. :-)

Bridge in Enniscorthy, oil 12"x16". 

Wexford quay on a rainy afternoon, my first painting at the festival, oil, 14"x18.

Enniscorthy, 12"x16".

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall Art Tour

From October 20 to 22 the Fall Art Tour will be happening in the Mineral Point, Spring Green, Dodgeville and Baraboo areas.  Two of the participating artists, Kyle Martin and Marlys Greenhaigh have painted with our group. Should be a great time of year to get out and visit artist studios.  For additional information go to:

Tom Gilbert

Monday, September 18, 2017

A few paintings from Wexford, Ireland

I am sorry, I haven't joined the group for some time due to summer traveling and beginning of school year. In early August I spent a week in Wexford, Ireland at the Plein Air festival. It was a great event, attended by about 120 artists from Europe, Asia and the US. There were daily paint-outs, workshops on location, a quick draw event and a final exhibit at the Green Acres Gallery in Wexford. The festival was very well organized with a major focus on painting. Spectacular Irish scenery and generally good weather, fantastic food and excellent company of so many wonderful artist made this event truly special!  I managed to complete ten paintings at the festival altogether. Here;s a sampler. :-)  They are all oil on Raymar board, 12"x16", except for the boats (10"x12").

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I'd sure love to see everyones artwork on here

Happy Sunday all. There used to be many artists posting there work and I know when I first started it was a little difficult to figure this out. Do new members know to contact Pat to get access? It seems to be Tom and I's mutual admiration society, lol. Here is an Indian Lake painting I started a month ago and just got around to finishing it. There was a double sun  and an ice cloud rainbow for a while. Such a cool day.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Belleville Park

The park is really in nice shape. It was hard to find a bad spot. I picked a shady spot with a nice breeze. Sure would be nice if I didn't need a few hours of touch up to have a painting. Someday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Belleville Park

We had a nice day for the outing yesterday at Belleville and surprising enough there were fall colors in the trees and fields across the lake  So I went a bit crazy with the color on this one.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Food for thought

Happy Saturday. I just wanted to share something cool that I think many of you would appreciate. I might be the last to realize this. If you're like me you have accumulated a lot of plein air paintings, some better than others. As a group they look better though. I approached Cool Beans Coffee CafĂ© on Tuesday and by Thursday I had a dozen things hanging with sale prices. All I had to do was ask. We all do his for our own reasons. For me it's to improve my overall abilities and spend hours in great locations doing it. I like to think of the paintings I create in a few hours as practice as nice as some may be. Nothing would please me more than to sell enough to pay for my supplies.

Is art really art if no one sees it? Commence finger snapping.

I encourage everyone to get their art out.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Indian Lake

We had a really beautiful morning for our outing at Indian Lake yesterday.  It amazes me with how often I've been there, that I still find exciting new scenes to paint.  Well, not drastically new (the lake is still in many of them) but there's always something new to strive for in each painting.

Rick says he wanted to go home with a completed painting.  I couldn't manage that myself but here's mine after some fixing at home.


Indian Lake 8-29

My goal today was to leave with a finished painting. It was close. I'd change so much given time but I did add a few saturated colors in the foreground and called it done. I want to work far more deliberately with a loose feel. I waste so much time pushing paint around and not getting what I want.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Holy Wisdom Monestary

I regressed at bit this day, lol. I spent the whole time painting a value study for some reason and it really wasn't good. I added color at home.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Holy Wisdom Monastary

Just a few painters at Holy Wisdom yesterday and the weather was a bit touch and go, but we managed to get about a two hour window for painting. The sun even came out for ten minutes so I could define the highlights in my landscape.  The photo shows Rick Yanke painting a view of the pond.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mineral Point Plein Air

I just returned from the Paint the Point event at Mineral Point.  Others there from our group were Jan Norsetter, Diane Washa, and Jim Faecke, who, amazing enough, all won awards.  Jan won 2nd place, Diane 3rd, and Jim the Quick Paint.  And there were many quality painters who produced a lot of good work so it was quite competitive.  But apart from the competition, there was some great (but varied) weather, great scenery, good food, good painting friends, and just a fun experience, at least when I wasn't too stressed out about painting.

I'm adding an image of people viewing the quick paint paintings outside the gallery space.  And also one that shows the character of the nearby countryside.  I didn't win anything, but, darn it, I'm posting my painting just because I like it.

Check out the Arts Mineral Point Facebook page if you're interested in more info on the event.  There really is some great scenery in that area and even if you don't participate in Paint the Point, if you get a chance to paint there, be sure to do it.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Donald Rock at Donald Park, Mt Vernon, August 1, 2017

Donald Rock at Donald Park, Mount Vernon, WI; August 1, 2017 - oil on board, 12x18", by Jan Norsetter
A beautiful, hot, sunny day at Donald Park. The morning sun on Donald Rock is usually irresistible to me.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Donald Park 8-1-17

I'm leaving my cruddy tree as a reminder I need to find a better way to do it.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Donald Park Outing

We had a beautiful summer morning at Donald Park.  Lots of flowers coming out in the fields to add color.  But somehow my painting is still mostly green, but, green or not, I liked the view and the mosquitos didn't find me at all.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Prairie by Cherokee Marsh

Thank you, Marla and everyone else for a great outing and pot luck lunch! Yesterday's effort, oil 12"x16", needs a few touch ups.

Painting at Cherokee Park and Pot Luck at Marla's

Many thanks, once again, to Marla and Russ for graciously hosting the group yesterday.  We always enjoy your beautiful home and garden.   Several of us painted from Marla's porch while others went to the park.   And thanks to everyone for all the great food!!  Sorry for not getting more photos (I was too busy eating!) but below are a few and a random selection of the morning's work. I thought they all captured the feeling of a midsummer morning.
Marla with one of Jan's oils

The Viewing Tent

Gretchen's watercolor

Tom's painting

Sarah's value study in oil

Sarah, Doug and Marla's wonderful porch

I did a few corrections before posting my watercolor & soft pastel

Darya's oil painting at the marsh