COPA Plein Air Painters at Angel Oak

COPA (The Charleston Outdoor Painters Association) painted on location at Angel Oak today. The artists withstood bombardment by falling acorns in windy and damp weather to paint en plein air at this ancient tree.

The subject proved especially challenging in the morning's frequently changing light conditions. During breaks from painting, the painters enjoyed sharing plein air tips and helpful critiques on the works in progress.

Karen Silvestro's use of warm and cool colors added depth and color harmony to her painting.

Ryoko Miller started her painting with large abstract forms which she refined into a more detailed artistic statement of the tree.

Lisa Willits,
worked fast laying in her composition quickly with a warm tone on a linen panel.

Teri Bastian used a grid on her canvas to develop her composition.

Visitors to Angel Oak added appreciative remarks as they watched the artists creating unique paintings "en plein air" of the majestic live oak.

Kay Schneider's painting of this misty morning at Angel Oak.

Robert Genn sums up the feelings of many plein air painters -
"I used to hate painting outdoors. I became confused and the results were generally sub-standard. When I started treating plein air as a minor event with lower expectations I began to better understand my motivation and to pick up on the spirit. A curiously satisfying activity."

Painting surfaces and supports - How to build a better painting

I've been preparing canvases and painting panels this week getting ready to create new paintings for several upcoming shows. I hope today's post about the preparation of painting surfaces will be helpful for the students in a high school art class whom I've been told read this blog.

The quality of a painting and it's ability to withstand environmental damage depends in large part on the materials used under the surface layers of oil paint.

For smaller paintings and plein air works, I prefer the strength of wood. A painting on a properly prepared wooden surface will last indefinitely. Since the 6th century BC, wood panels have been used as painting surfaces. The major drawback to using wood as a support is it's ability to hold moisture. Modern plywood panels eliminate many of the problems of warping and cracking associated with older wood panels. (Canvas on a wood panel is also good.) Any wood panel over 16"x 20" should be cradled (reinforced) on the back to prevent warping. Applying gesso to the sides and back of the panel will also reduce warping.

First, sand the panel to remove imperfections.

Next, apply a good quality gesso. I use the Gamblin or Utreck brands because they are both highly pigmented. More pigment in the ground reduces the dulling effect on oil paint and seals the support (wood or canvas) from chemical and environmental deterioration.

Allow the gesso to dry. Apply at least 2 to 3 coats of gesso , sanding between each layer. This ensures the gesso has coated and sealed the painting support making a stable foundation for the layers of paint and varnish in the final painting.

I like to paint on a toned surface. Here I'm applying a warm burnt sienna undertone to the panting support. Using an undertone layer of paint reduces the absorbency of the surface and can be used in many ways to enhance the final painting.

I use a warm toned surface for my plein air paintings and landscapes. The warm tone enriches the cool blues and greens found in nature. Notice the warm undertone showing in the "etched" lines of the path, bench, and grass.

For portrait painting, a cool green-gray undertone works well to complement warm skin tones in the finished painting.

Whether working on wood panels or canvas, it's good practice to apply at least 3 coats of gesso, a layer of oil ground (if desired for oils on a rigid surface), and a thin undertone to build a strong foundation for a painting that will last many years.
"Autumn Gold Marsh"
Oil on canvas panel

Face to Face with Art at the Coastal Carolina Fair Youth Art Show 2008

Face to face with art.
A brightly painted face was seen enjoying the brightly colored paintings at the Coastal Carolina Fair Youth Art Show.

Wesley King (lf to rt) and his cousin Arianna sported festive face paint as they picked out their favorite artwork during the last night of the 2008 Youth Art Show.

Justin Disher, Christopher Martin, and Taylor Childress (lt to rt) came to see the painting

"Four Way Still Life" by their friend Pinewood Preparatory School artist Samantha Freedman.

Lori Zinger- show attendant answers questions about the artwork for visitors. With over 600 entries in this years show, Lori was helpful finding artwork for the many visitors to the Show.

The Youth Art Show is a wonderful opportunity for local art teachers and student artists to exhibit their talents to a large audience. Last year the attendance at the Coastal Carolina Fair was over 200,000 visitors.

Bright lights and high spirits shine at the end of the 2008 Coastal Carolina Fair.