Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on 2 Comments

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

If you would like to receive my quarterly newsletter filled with super secret sales and be entered into my year end giveaway, click HERE to become a TMS member!

Posted on

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:

___________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________

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

 

____________________

 

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.

If you want to stay in the know when I post, you can sign up HERE for my weekly updates,

delivered to your inbox on Friday mornings.

Your inbox will never be crammed with tons of email, cause I don’t like that myself.

Your information is NEVER shared, and you can unsubscribe anytime!

 

 

Posted on

What I’ve Been up To ~

I’ve kind of been awol for the past few weeks, since spring has begun. I had cabin fever really bad and was looking forward to getting outside, and was so eager to plant my garden that I started my seeds indoors a month too early! Had to re-pot my seedlings to larger pots twice before it was time to plant outdoors. But all is good and the veggie garden and greenhouse plants are all thriving. I’ve been spending a lot of time working in the garden and my husband built me a very cool potting table. It was painted with my favorite colors, cerulean blue and lime green. Here’s a little video:


Last week I was able to finally paint plein air whilst on a three day camping trip with my husband. We had a great time but had to cut the trip short due to a change in the weather.

We had the campground to ourselves, since tourist season and camping season doesn’t get into full swing until Memorial Day weekend. We go every year to this beautiful spot on the St. Joe River in Northern Idaho; in the spring and then again in the fall after Labor Day.

The river was running so fast it was class 4 rapids due to all the snow melt, so fishing didn’t happen this time around. But we rode the trails in the UTV and a great time. We found a nice spot where the river was a little slower and I decided to paint after our picnic lunch. It was cloudy, so no lovely contrasts in lighting. I’ll have to use artistic license in the studio.




I was able to block in all of the under-painting before the dark clouds rolled in and threatened rain. I took reference photos and a video in order to finish in the studio. I’m pretty happy with the initial results:

“The River” oil on 8″x10″ panel

After we arrived back at camp, we bbq’d dinner and finished just as the rain started. The first two nights, it only sprinkled at night, which was lovely. But by the third day a huge thunderstorm rolled in right at dinner time! My husband had to bbq dinner over the fire, in the pouring rain and we ate inside the easy up tent. By the time we finished dinner, the easy up was leaking rain, and the water from the down pour was creating a huge mess! Luckily, there wasn’t cloud to ground lightning, just rolling thunder and no huge winds, which I was really grateful for. We were sleeping in the truck camper, so there weren’t any worries about lightening or getting soaked in a tent. As my husband says, “This builds character”! Indeed it does. 🙂

It rained all night and the next morning we awoke at 5 am to pouring rain and decided to pack up. So, we dawned our rain gear and got the job done and were on the road by 7 a.m. It’s been windy and cold ever since, with more rain on the way for the next three days, so I’m really happy we at least got one camping trip in this spring. I’ll share this painting when it’s finished, and another I started a month ago of my daffodils, which are now gone.

Thanks for stopping by. If you want to keep in the loop as to when I publish a new blog post you can sign up for weekly updates. I’m not a daily blogger and only publish when I have news to share, so if you become a TMS member, you’ll be in the know! ~Rhonda

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
Posted on

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 ~

Posted on

Review of Oil Painting Supplies

Plein Air season has arrived here in the northwest, as the temps are slowly rising to “comfortable”. I am rethinking my entire strategy for plein air painting, getting rid of what doesn’t work and adding new things I haven’t tried. I seem to fight with my tools a lot and I want to eliminate the fight so I can concentrate on painting and capturing the essence of a scene.

So, I gathered up the gear and took it all out on the deck to just paint and seriously judge all my tools. Here’s my set up:

Plein Air set up

Continue reading Review of Oil Painting Supplies

Posted on

Plein Air Painting

This past weekend we did the last camping trip of the season. The area was gorgeous with all the fall colors! Had warm temps the first two days but the last day the weather changed and became cold and windy. The next day when we were leaving we had to pack up in the rain! 🤪

I had to paint sitting inside the UTV because I forgot the connecting piece to my tripod. (Left it on the camera). It was all good because it protected me somewhat from the cold winds.

Painting beginnings

Here’s the beginning where I’m sketching the scene on a piece of acetate to lay out my composition.


Plein Air Painting

You can see how bundled up I was. Not the most comfortable way to paint!


St. Joe River

And this is the scene I was painting. It’s a part of the St Joe River. I got all my base layers in and took a good amount of reference photos to finish in the studio. All in all a great trip! 😊

Posted on

A little plein air painting

This past weekend we did a two day camping trip. I took the medium pochade box and found a perfect spot next to a whitewater creek in which to paint. The temps were a bit on the cold side since we were 3200+ft. in elevation. There was still snow on some of the shadow side of the roads. But all in all it was a great weekend!

Making a preliminary sketch of my scene.

This is the scene I used for my 8×10 oil painting.





I was able to lay in all the base colors and will bring up the light values in the studio. Will share the finished piece soon!

Posted on

The Bridge at Buttonhook Original Oil painting

There’s a lovely old footbridge which connects the mainland to a small island on our lake that’s fun to explore. At the top of the island is a small bench overlooking the bay where one can sit and watch boats come in and out. I love the look of this bridge with its old worn boards and the grasses beneath it. This is a small works oil painting on panel and is available in the shop.