A couple of weekends ago we did a camp out and had a great time. It was a spur of the moment, “let’s do this!” kind of deal, and our destination was up in the mountains at an out of the way campground. We arrived late on Friday and never thought to make a reservation at the campground. To our dismay, the camp was full and without a reservation, things didn’t look good for us. So we asked the camp host if he knew of a spot to camp down the road, and as we were talking, the owner overheard our conversation and came over to us with a wonderful idea! He said they had one spot in the overflow section and if we didn’t mind not having a campfire ring, we were welcome to use it. He cut the rate since it wasn’t a full on campsite, and we were over joyed.
We ended up in a secluded part of the campground near a multi event area which wasn’t being used and the whole situation turned out perfect. We set up camp, made dinner and settled in for the night. The next morning we rode out in the UTV, with the goal of finding a spot for me to paint, and my husband to fish. We rode all over the mountains looking for a place called Mirror lake, and never found it, but did however find a spectacular spot at the top of the mountain and the view was awesome! At 4200 ft. elevation it was a bit cool, and there was still snow on the higher peaks, so I was glad I brought a coat.
The wildflowers were abundant and beautiful and had just begun to bloom. The hillsides were covered in patches of daisies and poking up through them were these beautiful vibrant red flowers.
After, driving around all morning, and not finding the lake, we settled on a spot for lunch next to a creek in the dark and scary forest.
This is Latour Creek and you can see where some folks had camped and left their trash behind. This is just so annoying to me. “Pack it in, Pack it out” is written for a reason! The forest is not the city dump people! Geez.
Anyway, after lunch I brought out the gear and my plan was to fill the panel with a complete underpainting before I lost the light. The dappled light highlighting the stream was absolutely beautiful.
It was very cool and quiet, with only the sounds of the running creek and an occasional ATV driving by. The creek was too shallow for any fishing so my husband did a bit of hiking while I painted. All was going great, and then the inevitable happened… no, not rain… Mosquitoes. Seriously? For some reason bugs love to eat me and when the mosquitoes discovered I was tasty, my painting session ended, as I was rudely bitten on the chin. I took reference photos and made some sketches, then packed up the gear.
We arrived back at camp in time for dinner, and on the menu was campfire pizza and a nice glass of wine. So yummy. I made the dough at home and cut up the veggies at camp and didn’t even know if this would work, but it did.
I don’t know what it is, but camp food just tastes so delish. This pizza had onions, mushrooms, red pepper, tomatoes and Canadian bacon. After we ate, we sat around our little camp stove and gazed upon the fire, sipping our wine and having chocolate for dessert. The clouds moved in to give us a spectacular sunset and it sprinkled during the night which was so nice to listen to.
I’m having to paint from my reference photos since I wasn’t able to complete my under painting, and made some adjustments to the composition:
Don’t worry, I didn’t mark up the painting. This is an acetate overlay I use to make sure elements aren’t “dead center”. I use a dry erase marker to make notes for the changes. This piece will take me longer since there are so many rocks in the scene, and I want to get the dappled light just right.
I will be taking some time away from the easel and blog posts, as I work freelance for an architect and he has sent me some new plans to work on. If you want to stay in the know about when I put up a new blog post, you can sign up for weekly emails, which are delivered on Friday mornings whenever I write a new post. Click HERE to sign up.
See you next time!
Last month I shared with you some plein air paintings I was working on, that were started while out on a few adventures; one a camping trip and another a day trip riding the trails in our UTV. This first one I recently completed is from our camping trip in May. You can read the post HERE.
I’m loving how this painting turned out, and how it conveys the rich forest greens and the cool greys in the river. This piece is 8″x10″, painted in oils on linen panel.
The day was cool and overcast with the threat of thunderstorms, so the lighting was very flat to non-existent, and almost backlit at times. The river was swollen and raging with snow melt, and every once in awhile, birds would fly low over the river looking for a meal. At times the clouds would part and blue sky peeked through, allowing for that wonderful cool blue reflection in the water which I love so much.
I enjoy bringing my paintings to a certain level of refinement and always start in the field and finish in studio, so it takes awhile to bring a piece to completion. The layers must dry between sessions, and this allows me to build up the paint and create lovely textures that capture light. As soon as the piece is dry, it will be varnished, framed and available.
Here is the second painting I recently completed:
“The Lovely Coeur d’Alene River”
This one is also an 8″x10″ oil on linen panel and was begun in the field on a day trip with my husband exploring the back country in our UTV. You can read about that day HERE.
On this day, we again had the threat of rain, and after a BBQ lunch I set out to capture the scene and was almost finished laying in the under painting, when the sky opened up and it began to pour. Rain hit my freshly painted panel as I hurried to pack my gear and I was more than a bit bummed about the situation because I was really enjoying the session. I brought the painting to completion in the studio and was able to paint over the rain streaks, and am happy with the success of this piece. Since I live in the northwest, my subjects contain forests and rivers, and the main colors are green and green! Rarely the river looks blue since it reflects the surrounding forests, and every once in awhile if one stands in the right spot and it is a cloudless day, you can see the beautiful cerulean blue of the sky, reflecting in the water. I just love that blue and have to make it a signature color in my pieces.
These two paintings are now sitting side by side in my studio, drying, and look very much like a set. They will look fabulous displayed together on the studio gallery wall, and when ready, will be available for purchase.
Next post, I will share my latest plein air work in progress!
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“Skiffs on the Dock” is a 6″x6″ oil painting on gallery wrapped canvas. I enjoy painting small works because they are so portable. Small paintings can be used to decorate with the seasons and easily stored or moved around. You can display collections of small works with fine collectibles in an art niche, in a bookcase or on an office credenza.
“Skiffs on the Dock” is now available in my store. If you or someone you know loves small nautical works of art, won’t you share this post? Mother’s Day and Father’s Day will be here soon. Why not give a gift that lasts a lifetime?
“Sunset on the Villa” is officially done! I’m so happy to be moving on to other subjects. This is the very reason I enjoy painting small; large paintings take too long. The piece is 16″x20″ and was painted in oils with a limited Palette. Here’s a peek at my palette:
I recently decided to check out what Pantone’s Color of the year for 2019 is and was surprised to find out it is Living Coral! And look what colors are on my palette – corals!
I often paint intuitively with respect to colors and this happened to me last year as well with the Pantone Color which was Violet. I painted a lot of purple flowers last year and didn’t know what the Color of the Year was until late fall. Maybe I’m just in tune with my surroundings? So now I’m hyper sensitive to oranges. I’m seeing this color everywhere especially in Hallmark movies made this year! Even orange trucks are making their debut!
Anyway, Orange isn’t on the top of my list for favorite colors so don’t ask me why I chose to use this color palette on “Sunset on the Villa”. But I’m pleased with the end result.
I imagine the owner has had a hard day at picking grapes and worked until sunset. One box of grapes was forgotten by the road. Now it’s time for dinner as a warm cozy fire begins to crackle. What’s for dinner? Perhaps spaghetti and meatballs with a nice glass of wine. My fave!
(The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the painting. This is done for online purposes only).
Next up I’ll be doing some paintings of grapes and wine genres as a continuation of this Italian theme.
More later ~ Rhonda
“Fishing on the St. Joe” is an 8″x10″ oil on panel that I painted last fall while on a camping trip with my husband. I started it on location by laying in all my values, then finished in studio. It was a cold and windy day in late September when I painted it and so didn’t get as far as I wanted to because I was freezing! I’m a light weight when it comes to extremes of temperature.
Anyway, I use my husband as a model but he tends to not stay in one place long enough for me to really capture him. I always have to use my reference photos to finish.
I sat in our UTV to paint this scene, to try and stay out of the cold wind and when I looked up from my work, he was gone!
Now this is a huge pet peeve of mine because number 1, I don’t know where he went. Number 2, I don’t like to be left alone in the forest. What if a bear came? Seriously? Or what if some unsavory characters came by? Or what if he fell and got hurt and I had no idea where he was? Number 3, what if I was ready to leave but couldn’t because I had no idea where he went? I mean really! This is a big issue with us. I always say to him, “Stay in eye contact with me”. He says okay, but then always disappears.
So this year I plan on getting us some two way radios. Then when he disappears, I can call him and find out where he went. Or if one of us gets in trouble we can call for help. Mind you, we aren’t young, anything can happen! Plus I have a wild imagination and it makes my fears bubble up and get the best of me. I’ve had some eye opening stuff happen while I was out plein air painting alone, and won’t go by myself anymore. One time I was alone by the shore of a lake in the tall weeds and turned to grab a roll of paper towel only to find a man standing behind me watching me! I never heard him walk up and thankfully he was a park ranger, but it could have been a bad situation.
Anyway, I fussed and fussed with this painting and finally said “I’ve had it…I’m calling it done!” It’s been sitting in my studio since October waiting for me to “fix it” but I don’t want to work on it anymore. It’s good enough for me.
I’m ready for some new adventures and have cabin fever really bad! I’ve been cleaning the studio and getting my plein air kit ready to go in a moments notice, so when the warmer weather finally arrives, we can hit the road.
So here you go – the fourth in the Fly Fishing series with more to come. What do you think?
~ Rhonda 😊
In my last post I shared a 16″x20″ painting I’ve been working on depicting an Italian scene at sunset. I’m now at the final adjustment stages and am very pleased with how this piece is progressing. Just a bit of contrast tweaking, and some other little details and I’ll be able to let this one dry for a long while before giving it a good coat of varnish.
It was painted with a limited palette consisting of only four colors, yellow ocher, cad. red, white and black. I did however add just a touch of cerulean blue to the shutters for a surprise pop of color. One thing that is hard for you to see is that the sun is not as large as depicted. The camera cannot pick up subtle variations in highlights.
(The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the painting, but is instead signed with my maiden name.)
So it’s been snowing – ALOT! We had a very mild beginning of winter from Dec. all through Jan. Then things changed big time! First the polar vortex arrived the first week of Feb. and the temps dropped from the low 40’s to 10 for the day time highs with wind chills below zero. Whaaaat? It was sooo cold!
Then the snow arrived. And it dumped a foot of snow the other night! It’s been snowing constantly on and off for the past week. Here’s a peek at our backyard;
In the foreground are the table gardens, virtually gone. I did have some lettuce growing in the greenhouse but the polar vortex took care of that idea. No more lettuce. Next year I hope to have some kind of heat in place in the greenhouse.
In the meantime I’ve been doing some work on the painting I started last week.
I can’t decide how I’m going to lay out the foreground so I figured I’d better stop and work out the composition before going further. I imported the photo of the canvas into a digital photo editing app and played around a bit:
I’m thinking a path and a vineyard on the right. Maybe on the left a field of sunflowers. Some birds in the distance, a chimney, finish door and windows with a pop of blue on the shutters. Lots of work yet to do. I’ll share more as progress continues.
Here’s a new work in progress I’ve started! It’s a 16″x20″ canvas and it will depict an Italian Villa, cause I love all things Italian!
I’m using a limited palette called the Zorn Palette. The palette consists of only four colors – Yellow Ochre, Vermillion, Ivory Black and White. I know! It’s been quite interesting not having blue on my palette. So to compensate, this scene is at sunset! That works for me. I’m also using palette knives as much as possible to give nice juicy texture. There will be cypress trees to the right of the house and I’m thinking a vineyard in the foreground. Originally I under-layed the composition with a thin wash of “tube” green just to give me bearings as to where everything should be. You can see in the trees that I started working on to the left, how nice and true to life mixing your own greens can be, instead of using tube greens. I’ll be working on this for a while and will keep you posted as I progress!