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Camping and Plein Air Painting in the Forest

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:

Composition changes

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!

Much Love,

Rhonda

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New Work

New WOrk

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 St. Joe River “Raging Waters of the St. Joe.”


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 Coeur d'Alene River

“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!

Much Love!

~Rhonda

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Decorating with Fine Art

Studio Wall

Decorating with Fine Art adds a level of sophistication to your space, whether it be in your home or office. One of a kind, original paintings as part of your decor, says something about who you are. Are you playful, romantic, high energy or calm in demeanor? Art can help express these qualities and enhance your life. If you are the playful kind, you might enjoy abstract, colorful fine art. If you are romantic, then perhaps floral genres, make you happy. If high energy is your style, then landscapes are for you. And the calm of spirit would enjoy still life paintings.

Whether you purchase a piece that is grand in size to display on a focal wall or a small piece to add as part of an overall collection, you can create an interesting design that commands attention. Here are a few examples of good ways to use Fine Art as part of your interior decor ~

 

Ocean Wave oil painting
“Ocean Wave”

 

Somebody put some fresh flowers in the vase oil painting
“Somebody Put Some Fresh Flowers in the Vase!”

 

 

Clouds and Moon oil painting
“Clouds and Moon”

 

The above three mini paintings sold to my collector, can be seen on her wall as part of the overall design. They add a pop of color to the  neutral tones of the collection, leading the eye around and through the other pieces. Her clever placement of the beach scene at the bottom of the wall provides a final landing space in which to gaze upon.

 


 

Small works of art can easily be changed from room to room or with the seasons. Large installations are rather permanent and can become stagnant after time. This is why I love painting in smaller sizes, to give you the benefit of creating collections that can be part of a larger statement.

 


Here are some ideas for decorating a baby’s room with fine art. All four pieces, are my original 16″x16″ oil paintings:

Baby Room Wall

This collector installed a wooden letter L on the abstract painting, representing the family’s last name.

Baby room decor

The Teddy Bear painting is my favorite! And the playful whale is super cute!

 

Baby Bear Oil Painting
“Baby Bear”

 

Whale oil painting
“Playful Whale”

 


And as a final example, if you are a pet lover, then you too can enjoy a collection of pet themed fine art! The possibilities are endless.

 

Art Wall 3

 

This collector placed her cat collection on the wall above the staircase, making an eye catching focal point. She used her small works of art to make a pleasing composition as an overall statement, combining prints, photographs and two of my oil  paintings, (of her cat that passed.)

 

Shota
“Shota”

 

The Cat is Really Bad at Selfies
“The Cat is Really Bad at Selfies”

 

I hope this post has given you some great ideas for personalizing your space with Fine Art and making a statement with your art collection. Perhaps you will find something in my gallery that will delight and inspire you to grow your collection.

(As a side note, the Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original paintings. This is done for online purposes only.)


If you like my work and would like to be notified of super secret sales, and personal behind the scenes stories, you can join the Tamarack Mountain Studio community and receive quarterly updates, and weekly blog updates by clicking HERE. As a member you will be entered into the year end giveaway of an original small works oil painting! You can unsubscribe at any time!

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Plein air painting, trail riding and a public service message ~

This last weekend my husband and I spent the day out in nature, riding the trails in the back country on the wheeler. It was a beautiful day with threats of rain, but we decided to pack a picnic lunch and my painting gear and go for it anyway. I made a little video to share my day with you:

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Yes we ate junk food for lunch, but it was delicious! We typically follow a healthy diet, but splurge on outings like this cause it’s fun to cook hot dogs on an open fire. We did buy the non chemical laden dogs, and the chips are the healthier version of the chip world, so it was a less guilty meal.

After lunch, I set up my painting gear and wondered if I should even do so, because the sky was growing ever darker.  I said to my husband who was fishing on the bank, “Time me for one hour and I’ll see how fast I can lay in my base colors”. Wouldn’t you know it, just as I hit the 45 min. mark, it started to rain. First a few sprinkles, as I loudly voiced my disdain, “It’s starting to rain!”, then harder and harder until it was full on pouring. My husband held a trash bag over me as I quickly put away the gear trying to shield my painting from the rain. We got it all packed up in the nick of time and decided to call it a day. I did manage to lay in all the base colors and took reference photos in order to finish in the studio. We had a great time in spite of the weather.

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On the way back, we came upon the second of an unattended camp fire! It was Memorial Day and all the campers were in a hurry to head home. At the beginning of our ride we came across the first smoking camp fire and stopped to put it out. The river was right next to their camp too! Not cool!

The second unattended camp fire was smoking even more than the first one!

And there go the campers!

And of course there was water not more than 100 ft. away!

They could have easily walked over to the stream, filled a bucket, or like we did, our empty water bottles, and put the fire out before they left. And look how close it is to the trees! This kind of stuff really makes me mad! I love camping, and spending time in nature, but this kind of carelessness ruins things for those of us who use the trail systems, campgrounds, and actually live in the forest! We almost lost our home a few years ago to careless campers who left their fire smoking when the winds came up. Here’s what that looked like:

Fire

 

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Cape Horn Fire

Within one hour, the fire, which had started on the other side of the mountain, came across the top and was headed straight for our neighborhood, out on the point. We had twenty minutes to evacuate! It was awful! Thankfully, by the Grace of God, and the quick actions of eleven neighbors who disobeyed the evacuation orders, and stayed to fight the fire, our neighborhood was spared. But we lost six other homes and cabins in the area and the entire top of the beautiful forested mountain.  So I say to anyone reading this post today who goes camping, PLEASE PUT OUT YOUR CAMPFIRES! That means dead out, with water and dirt until you can hold your hand over the fire and not feel heat!

Just because it’s cool outside, not windy and looks like rain, doesn’t mean the weather can’t change! The clouds can go away instantly, and the wind can blow hard, fanning your left behind smoking campfire into a full on fire, and bring devastation to everyone – not only in burnt down homes, and our forests, but the air is filled with toxic smoke lasting for days and weeks on end! It puts all emergency responders in harms way as well; when all you had to do was spend ten extra minutes, and dowse your fire. PLEASE PEOPLE! Have some consideration!

Well, that’s my soapbox and public announcement.

I will share this latest painting when it’s finished.

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Review of “Rainy Day” oil on paper plein air study ~

The weather has been soggy these past few weeks, which puts plein air painting on the back burner for a little while longer. So I decided to set up the gear inside by a window and pretend I was plein air painting. This worked out well, as I didn’t have to struggle with the elements and had all creature comforts available. I know, you’re saying “That’s cheating!” Well, you are correct, but I have to keep moving forward! I freely admit, I’m a lightweight when it comes to the elements!

I am still in the process of re-working  my gear to include only the most necessary items, which means going through and honestly evaluating all the equipment. In the past, I’ve carried way too much stuff. Plus, I have had to pack brushes and paint into my plein air bag from the studio, which was always a hassle. Now I am almost complete with having two of everything: gear for plein air and gear for studio. Now I can grab my bag and go when inspiration strikes.

It was pouring rain yesterday when I worked on this piece and fog was a problem, as at times it rolled in so thick I couldn’t see my scene. Here’s what I was looking at:


Forest and the road

Continue reading Review of “Rainy Day” oil on paper plein air study ~

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“Sunset on the Villa” #oil Painting

“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:

Coral colors on the 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!


“Sunset at the Villa”

(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

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Sunset at the Villa

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.)

Sunset at the Villa

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“Seattle Skyline at Sunset” oil on canvas

“Seattle Skyline at Sunset” is finally finished! It will be varnished, framed then given to the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane for their annual silent art auction and fundraising gala next month. Seattle was the place my hubs and I spent our honeymoon long ago. We had dinner in the Space Needle and watched fireworks on the 4th from across the bay. It was so much fun seeing all the sights. I hope there will be someone in the audience who has fond memories of Seattle and likes my work! 👍🏻😊


Seattle Skyline in the studio


Palette

The end of a painting is the best part for me since that’s when all the vibrant highlights are put on. These colors are lovely and I hated cleaning them off my palette! Here’s a straight view of the 18″ x 24″ painting on my easel:

Seattle Skyline at Sunset

(The TMS watermark is not on the painting)

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The Light at the End of the Road

This weekend we went Christmas Tree hunting in the forest for the “perfect” tree. It had snowed then rained earlier in the day so everything was a sloppy mess. The temps were in the mid 30s, just right for creating fog! After we found our tree and loaded it into the truck, this amazing scene revealed itself at the end of the road:

Light at the end of the Road

I just love it when I’m in the right place at the right time and the Lord reveals Himself!

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Fall ~ My favorite time of year!

Fall is my most favorite of the seasons, but sadly it doesn’t last! Each year is so different. Last year we had lots of rain just before fall, so the colors were spectacular and lasted quite a long time. It was absolutely unreal!

This year we’ve had very little rain and the colors are not as vibrant and the leaves are falling rapidly. The temps got cold sooner than normal, so no Indian Summer this year. Bummer! Here are a few of my favorite images:

Leaves in the Driveway oil painting

This is a 4″x4″ palette knife oil painting titled ” Leaves in the Driveway”.

It’s part of my fall decorating each year.


 

Bridge at Buttonhook

“The Bridge at Buttonhook” is a 6″x6″ oil on panel.


Aspens in the Fall oil painting

And this is my all time fave! An 8″x10″ oil on canvas titled “Aspens in Fall”

I hope your fall colors are inspiring and delighting you this year!