A Still Morning at Ellery Lake

This is a view from near our campsite at Ellery Lake Campground on Tioga Pass, California.  It is a 24 x 36-inch oil on canvas.  

I used a different approach for this painting which is on gesso primed canvas.  I first made an underpainting using acrylic paint consisting of the major color blocks.  This allows me to set the approximate average value and color of each block so that atmospheric perspective works easily.  Before I start any oil painting I adjust each major block.  In the progress photo I have done each major block except for the water (that will consist mostly of reflections) and the highlighted area on the peak at the right side.  

After the acrylic has thoroughly dried (overnight), I begin modifying each block with oil paint working from distant to close.  Here is the result. A larger image is in the gallery.

 


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Posted on: 7/18/2016 at 11:24 AM
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Finley

Finley is the new "kid" on the block.  He is a really rambunctious young brearded collie recently acquired by our great friends Teri and John.  His favorite thing is to play ball.  This portrait is a 20 x 24-inch acrylic on canvas.  The painting is titled "Throw it Dad!"


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Posted on: 2/9/2016 at 1:42 PM
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End of 2015

The year is ending without any new posts, so here goes.  I have been painting a lot and received awards in several shows this year, including a people's choice award, artist choice award, a first place, second place and third place, and an honorable mention.  The plan is to continue entering shows in 2016 and maybe obtain gallery representation.  I have been painting several days per week including both studio and plein air. The toughest task has been preparing for the Santa Rita Art League Masters Show.  This year I produced a 1/3 scale copy of Albert Bierstadt's "Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains".  It is an oil on canvas measuring 48 x 28 inches.  This required much of my spare time for 3 months to complete.  Here it is ready for the January 2016 show. This as well as several other recent paintings may be seen in the gallery.

 


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Posted on: 12/17/2015 at 9:51 AM
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Summer Sunrise

Here is the view that greets us each morning in the summer from our patio.  I've been threatening to do this scene for more that a year so at last here it is.  This is a 16 x 20-inch oil on canvas board. A larger version is in the gallery.


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Posted on: 7/10/2015 at 12:40 PM
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Sandstone Country

I'm back to using my right hand for painting once again. Here is the latest painting, a 24 x 40-inch oil on mdf board of a scene in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.  I changed the lighting to low angle, back lighting for more drama.  A larger version is available in the Gallery.


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Posted on: 5/30/2015 at 3:33 PM
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Sunrise on Wotan's Throne

This is a 24 x 36-inch oil on gallery wrapped canvas.  Much of this was painted with my left hand while recovering from rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder.  A larger version may be seen in the Gallery.


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Posted on: 5/29/2015 at 5:43 PM
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Teton Creek

This painting is purely an experiment.  I'm right-handed but since I'm having a torn rotator cuff repair soon I won't be able to use my right hand for several weeks.  This 9 x 12-inch oil painting was done entirely with my left hand and seems to have worked out OK.  I find this strange as I cannot write with my left hand.


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Posted on: 3/3/2015 at 10:06 AM
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Falls of Madera Creek

It has been a relatively wet winter here in Green Valley so that nearby Madera Creek has had a steady flow for many weeks.  I took this opportunity to complete several plein air paintings along the creek as well as this 24 x 36-inch studio oil painting entitled, Falls of Madera Creek. This scene is in the early morning just as the sun is rising over the nearby Santa Rita Mountains.

 


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Posted on: 2/19/2015 at 8:19 PM
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I'm Back

Really I have not disappeared from the face of the earth, but have been remiss in updating this blog.  I've been painting a lot in the past few months, a mix of plein air and studio works.  The gallery is fairly up-to-date but I haven't seen fit to make any comments on my works.  Late in 2014 I started getting more serious about entering shows since I need to sell more of my painting inventory.  The results have been encouraging with awards in all four recent shows.  The most interesting has been the Master's Show here in Green Valley where the task was to duplicate a painting by one of the great masters.  I chose Thomas Moran's 1872 "Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone."  The original painting measuring 7 feet by 12 feet was instrumental in the creation of Yellowstone Park.  My version is significantly smaller at 28 by 48 inches.


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Posted on: 2/19/2015 at 10:51 AM
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Morning Glow

This scene is just west of Tubac, Arizona.  This started as a plein air but while blocking out a huge gust of wind dumped my easel and painting into the dirt so it was completed in the studio.  It is a 16 x 12-inch acrylic on canvas board.  A larger view is in the gallery.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 12/24/2013 at 2:58 PM
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Mt. Wrightson View

This is a view of Mt. Wrightson as seen from the balcony at Santa Rita center in Green Valley, Arizona. This plein air painting is a 12 x 9-inch oil on canvas board.  A larger view is in the gallery.


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Posted on: 12/24/2013 at 2:53 PM
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Potty with a View

This scene is at Ironwood Picnic area in the Tucson Mountains.  I was really interested in the lighting on Golden Gate Mountain, but since the potty was there I decided to include it.  This is a plein air 12 x 9-inch oil on canvas board. A larger view is in the gallery.


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Posted on: 12/24/2013 at 2:47 PM
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Canyon Highlights

This scene appeared on our way back to the car from a hike in Aravaipa Canyon.  I really liked the bright green cottonwood tree and the highlights on the rocks.  This is a 24 x 36-inch oil on canvas. A larger view is in the gallery.


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Posted on: 12/24/2013 at 2:39 PM
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Canyon Wall

Here is still another painting of Aravaipa Canyon to illustrate the impressive volcanic cliffs above the canyon.  This is a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on canvas.  A larger version is in the gallery.


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Posted on: 9/6/2013 at 11:43 AM
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McKinley Morning

Last June we made a trip to Alaska and witnessed this spectacular view of Mt. McKinley (Denali Peak) from our hotel room in Talkeetna.  This is a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on mdf board.  A larger version is in the gallery.


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Posted on: 9/6/2013 at 11:39 AM
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Morning at Catalina Park

This is a 16 x 20-inch knife painting with oil on canvas based on a plein air painting I did a few years ago.  A larger version is in the gallery.


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Posted on: 9/6/2013 at 11:33 AM
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Granite Spires

I've painted these spires at Catalina Park several times and here is another one.  This is a 16 x 20-inch  knife painted oil on canvas.  A larger version is available in the gallery.

 


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Posted on: 9/6/2013 at 8:23 AM
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Upper Icicle Creek

This is a view of Icicle Creek near Leavanworth, Washington upstream from Eight Mile campground.  The day was hazy so colors are somewhat subdued.  This was painted en plein air using my new Rubber Band Easel.  It is a 12 x 16-inch acrylic on canvasboard. A larger version is in the gallery.

 


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Posted on: 9/5/2013 at 7:36 PM
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The Rubber Band Easel

Finally a new post! I haven't disappeared but instead have been busy with other things, like painting the Kirkland house and training for a very tough 2 week bike trip in Chile.  I have managed to complete a few paintings over the last few months and built a new plein air painting easel. I built my old one three years ago but it was too heavy for packing to remote painting locations and too wobbly on the light weight tripod.  

I started by upgrading my tripod to a very sturdy and light Redged RTA-428  tripod.  Using Josh Been's Prolific Easel as a model I set about making one that looked and functioned somewhat like his but is much lighter.  I call it the Rubber Band Easel because I use  rubber bands to hold it together. It is constructed of three shallow boxes, a central 12 x 15-inch box made from 1/8-inch mdf and 3/4 x 3/4-inch hardwood stock with a plexiglas bottom as a palette; and two 12 x 7 1/2-inch boxes made with foamcore and 1/2 x 1/2-inch hardwood stock.  Small hinges connect the boxes.  The boxes are attached to the tripod with rubber bands; one at the rear of the central box and two that hold hardwood braces extending from the central box to two of the tripod legs.  I sealed all surfaces with varnish and used silicone to seal the edges of the plexiglas to the box so I could use acrylics or oils without damaging the box.  

I added an additional flop down panel of foamcore to cover my acrylics when I'm not using them.  This will keep the acrylic mixtures wet for two or three days.  On my palette I place a piece of wet 140 lb watercolor paper with parchment paper on top.  I mix my colors on the parchment.  Enough moisture leaks through the parchment to keep the acrylics wet. Of course I still need to mist them with a spray bottle during use in plein air.

 

UPDATE:  After using this easel for two years I have upgraded it by replacing the plexiglas palette with glass for easier cleaning and replaced the rubber bands with velcro strips.  The rubber bands don't hold up in the sun.


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Posted on: 9/5/2013 at 3:20 PM
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Sweetwater Marsh

This is a view from the marshes at the wastewater treatment plant on Sweetwater Drive, Tucson.  It is a 9 x 12-inch oil on board painted in plein air using a palette knife.  A larger version is in the gallery.

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 2/27/2013 at 1:37 PM
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Aravaipa Charlie

I can't say enough about Aravaipa Canyon.  What a spectacular place!  Here is another painting from the western part of the canyon that includes one of its residents, a very large (about 4 feet tall) great blue heron I have named Aravaipa Charlie.  I took many photos of him on my last visit to the canyon.  A larger version is available in the gallery.

 


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Posted on: 2/25/2013 at 3:09 PM
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Bella

Our next door neighbors have the most delightful dog, Bella.  Bella is mostly a bearded collie and very good natured.  This painting of her is a 20 x 24-inch acrylic on canvas.

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 2/13/2013 at 11:21 AM
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A Place in the Sun

Once again I have been painting a scene in Aravaipa Canyon, Arizona.  This scene lies a short distance west of Horse Camp Canyon intersection with Aravaipa Creek. I was drawn by the brilliant cottonwood tree in its spring leaves blazing away in the afternoon sun.  This is a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on canvas.  Most of this was painted using a palette knife. A larger version is available in the gallery.

 


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Posted on: 1/30/2013 at 6:03 PM
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Beehive Peak

During last weeks's paintout with the Tucson Plein Air Painters I chose this view of Beehive Peak from the Starr Pass Trailjust west of Cat Mountain near Tucson, Arizona.  I especially likes the sharp contrasts in this backlit view.  This is a 9 x 12-inch knife-painted oil on mdf board.

Here is the in-progress painting:

 

And the final result:

 

I chose to modify the rock shapes to better lead the viewer's eye into the painting.  A larger view is in the gallery within the folder Plein Air Paintings.


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Posted on: 1/26/2013 at 8:00 AM
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Sunrise on Elephant Head

Although it is just a good sized chunk of granite I continue to be facinated by Elephant Head in the Santa Rita Mts near Green Valley, Arizona.  This is an early morning view of this feature from a point south of Proctor Picnic area.  It is a plein air 9 x 12-inch oil on mdf board painted entirely with a palette knife.  I continue to be impressed with the textures that can be produced using a palette knife, and I like not having to use any solvents or medium - just paint right out of the tube. A larger version is in the gallery under plein air works.

 


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Posted on: 1/9/2013 at 1:33 PM
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Tubac View

This is the product of another paintout with the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society.  This time we went to a ranch site just east of Tubac, Arizona.  I chose this scene of the Tumacacori Mountains across a large pasture which was just becoming lit with the warming morning sun (warming was a good thing since we were painting at about 30 degrees that morning). Once again I dug out my palette knives so this painting was done entirely with a palette knife.  I was particularly impressed with this approach after seeing two demos by Carol Swinney , who paints exclusively with palette knives.  In the future I will be doing more of these. The painting is a 9 x 12-inch oil on canvas board.

 


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Posted on: 1/7/2013 at 5:42 PM
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Ole Swimming Hole

This scene is from a popular swimming place on Romero Creek east of Catalina Park near Tucson, Arizona.  We happened to visit this area last year on spring break so the place was filled with kids.  It is a great swimming hole as it combines broad flat rocks for sun bathing, shallow water, and deep water to allow jumping off the surrounding cliffs.

 

The painting is a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on canvas board.

 


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Posted on: 1/7/2013 at 5:26 PM
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Old Sycamore

I've walked by this fallen sycamore tree near one of the picnic areas in Madera Canyon near Green Valley, Arizona, many times but the morning sun provided a striking scene for a plein air painting.  The tree has been on it's side for many years but is still very much alive.  This is a 9 x 12-inch oil on canvas board.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 12/23/2012 at 7:17 PM
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Aravaipa Canyon Afternoon

Here is still another painting that was inspired by my hikes into Aravaipa Canyon.  In my estimation this canyon is probably the most impressive hike in southern Arizona. I hope to make a trip into the canyon again this spring.  Last March we got as far as Horse Camp Canyon and made it back to the car at about sundown.  Though distances are not large, much of the walking must be done in about 1 foot of water so progress is slow and tiring.  This painting location is a short distance west of Horse Camp Canyon junction.  It is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper. 


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Posted on: 12/23/2012 at 7:03 PM
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Teton Creek, Western Wyoming

Here are several small (6 x 8-inch) paintings I completed in a plein air workshop held in July 2012 in Driggs, Idaho, taught by Joshua Been. His workshop was outstanding and he offered many great tips for expediting plein air painting and selling artwork.  These paintings were all completed along Teton Creek which is a delightful place where lots of deadfall crisscrosses the clear rapidly flowing stream.  Look for a large studio painting from this area in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Posted on: 12/10/2012 at 7:03 PM
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Linda Vista Sunrise

This is a scene I have noticed several times when driving north on Oracle Road toward Catalina Park north of Tucson, Arizona.  I finally decided to stop at Linda Vista Drive and capture the sunrise in Plein Air.  

 

 

This is a 9 x 12-inch oil on mdf board.

 

 


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Posted on: 3/15/2012 at 11:41 AM
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More Aravaipa Canyon

This time I chose a scene in the lower part of Horse Camp Canyon which is a branch off the main Aravaipa Canyon.  I especially liked the red-orange reflected light on the columnar jointed volcanic rocks.  To reduce the distraction I removed the many potholes in the tuff that makes up the canyon bottom foreground.  This is a 24 x 36-inch oil on mdf board.  

I've started doing more work with oils through the Tucson Plein Air Society.  I still find them much harder to work with than acrylics, but here in Arizona the rapid drying time of acrylics makes for a frustrating experience in plein air.  

Friday we are heading back to Aravaipa Canyon for a springtime look.  The cottonwoods should be leafed out again and I hope the water level is low enough so we can get a substantial way up the canyon.  The variety of painting subjects is almost unlimited in this slice of paradise.


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Posted on: 3/15/2012 at 11:20 AM
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Another Aravaipa Canyon Scene

Aravaipa Canyon is a painter's paradise - dramatic rock walls, stunning cottonwood trees, water year-round and abundant wildlife.  Here is another view consisting of a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper.

 


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Posted on: 2/6/2012 at 2:48 PM
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Aravaipa Canyon

View while wading up Aravaipa Creek in the Galiuro Mountains, Arizona.  This is a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on canvas board.  


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Posted on: 12/17/2011 at 6:48 PM
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Aravaipa Cottonwoods

Cottonwood trees shining brightly in the sun along Aravaipa Canyon in the Galiuro Mountains of Arizona.  This is a 9 x 12-inch acrylic study on watercolor paper.  This is truly a spectacular canyon for a hike. 


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Posted on: 12/17/2011 at 6:43 PM
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Romero Creek

Romero Creek provides a good reason to visit Catalina Park near Tucson, Arizona.  This is a view at the first creek crossing on the Romero Canyon trail.  Though not a roaring torrent like many streams in Washington, Romero Creek provides a welcome relief to hikers in the desert.   This is a 24-inch x 36-inch acrylic on mdf board.


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Posted on: 10/21/2011 at 6:52 AM
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Grand Park

I found this view from the northern edge of Grand Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, to be especially striking.  Mt. Rainier is truly "in your face" at this location with its immense size emphasized by the large open area of Grand Park.  This is acrylic on  24-inch by 48-inch mdf board.


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Posted on: 10/21/2011 at 6:45 AM
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Fallen Soldiers

This is a scene along the Mokelumne River in the central Sierra Nevada Mts of California.  This grouping of weathered logs immediately caught my attention.  This is a 29 x 21-inch acrylic on watercolor paper. 


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Posted on: 6/10/2011 at 8:48 AM
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Stairway to the Stars

This scene is looking across Lake Colchuck towards Aasgard Pass, the gateway to the Enchantments.  Aasgard Pass is a particularly steep (2,200 feet in one mile) and rocky hike to take into the Enchantments area near Leavenworth, WA. The intense blue of the lake is caused by fine glacial rock flour in the water.  This painting is a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on watercolor paper. 


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Posted on: 5/27/2011 at 11:03 AM
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Sabino Creek Springtime

It's springtrime in Sabino Canyon.  The Poplars and cottonwoods are all leafed out and there is still a good flow of water in the creek.  These pools are a great place to take off your shoes and relax in the sun.  This is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper. 

 


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Posted on: 4/24/2011 at 9:55 AM
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Madera Creek

This weekend I joined with the Tucson Plein Air Painters for a paintout at Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, Arizona.  It was a gorgeous day with a large turnout of painters.  I opted to try my hand at painting a small waterfall and pools along Madera Creek.  This is the result, a 9 x 12-inch oil painting on masonite.  Though I still find painting with oils in plein air a bit foreign compared to acrylic and watercolor, I'm beginning to have more success and generally enjoy the experience. Good things about this approach is that it is possible to capture the essence of a scene in about 1-1/2 to 2 hours and all the necessary equipment/supplies easily fit into a back pack.  This makes the approach ideal for doing on-location paintings at remote sites. 

 


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Posted on: 4/17/2011 at 2:36 PM
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Sycamore Morning

Here is another view in Sycamore Canyon in the early morning. 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper.  


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Posted on: 4/2/2011 at 6:57 AM
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Romero Pools

This scene is at our lunch stop on a recent hike to the Romero Pools at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona.  The main area of pools was crowded with kids on spring break so we instead hiked farther up the canyon to this set of small water falls.  21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper.  

 


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Posted on: 4/2/2011 at 6:14 AM
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Elephant Head - revisited

Here is another painting of Elephant Head.  This time right after a snow storm just as the sun is coming out in the late afternoon.  It doesn't have as much drama as I had hoped so its likely I'll make some changes later.  This is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper. 


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Posted on: 4/1/2011 at 7:40 PM
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Elephant Head

Elephant Head is a well-known small peak just across the valley from Green Valley, Arizona.  I have long been interested in this as a subject for painting.  First I tried a plein air painting in oils on a 9 x 12-inch masonite.   The first photo is my prochade box with the painting in progress; the second is the finished item.  I'm still trying to get the hang of using oils. 

 

 

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 4/1/2011 at 7:28 PM
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Categories: Landscapes | Plein Air
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Pusch Ridge Sunset

Here is another view of Pusch Ridge, this time late in the day.  The nearly white Catalina granite gneiss that makes up Pusch Ridge glows a brilliant yellow orange in the fading sunlight.  This is a 22 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper.  


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 11/7/2010 at 3:14 PM
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Categories: Landscapes
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Hukou Falls

Hukou Falls is a large waterfall located in Jinxia Grand Canyon on the middle reaches of the Yellow River between Shanxi and Shaanxi Provinces, China.  The Yellow River is named because of the yellow brown color of the water from the high silt content. The wide river is constricted into a narrow deep gorge making this very dramatic waterfall with a drop of about 50 to 60 feet. This extends from the head of the canyon and also pours laterally from the canyon sides into the gorge making a series of U-shaped falls.  Though the water is not clear, sun shining on the exceeding fast moving river  produces intense yellow-brown and reddish brown colors. This scene is based upon review of many photos and videos taken by various people visiting the site.  The location of the scene appears at the start of this YouTube video .

The painting is acrylic on MDF board and measures 49-inches x 25-inches. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 10/18/2010 at 12:45 PM
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Categories: Landscapes
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Acrylic Paint Surfaces

One of the properties of acrylic paints is their ability to stick to nearly any surface that is free of grease, oil or wax.  I've painted on a variety of surfaces with acrylics including regular cotton canvas, fine mesh cotton canvas, canvas board, smooth MDF board, mat board (all primed with acrylic gesso) and watercolor paper. I find that time and time again my best results happen using unprimed cold pressed watercolor paper.  Watercolor paper provides both a small amount of "tooth" on the surface as well as some absorbancy that is not offered by any gesso primed surface. This allows me to do very thin gradational wet on wet washes as well as having intense vibrant thick colors produced using a painting knife. I also can mix watercolor and acrylic paint on the same surface so long as the first layer is watercolor.  Since I do  a lot of painting of water scenes I find that I can get the illusion of wet surfaces far more easily by painting wet on damp using watercolor paper. I've tried using absorbant ground on my gesso primed surfaces, but the resulting surface still provides insufficient absorbancy. Acrylic placed onto a gesso primed surface has to be put on thick in order for the color to "stay put" on a brush stroke. The underlying surface is just too slick.  This results in very amateurist looking blocks of solid color unless one works very rapidly to blend in differing colors before the paint sets up. Generally I prefer to make many thin layers as opposed to a single very thick layer. I suppose this comes from my background as having first been a watercolorist.

When plein air painting I prefer to use gesso primed surfaces, either mat board or MDF. In this case I need to work very fast to keep ahead of the changing lighting conditions. I don't have time to wait for multiple layers to dry. Instead, I make a quick underpainting of the major value blocks then apply very thick paint and blend colors on the panel as I go, more like an oil painting approach.  I should add that acrylics work only as long as the air temperature is low and I'm not working in direct sun, especially in the Southwest. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 9/15/2010 at 11:41 AM
Categories: Tips
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Pick Up Sticks

I thought this was an appropriate name for this jumble of logs in Coquihalla Canyon gorge near Hope, British Columbia, Canada. This is a view from the Othello Tunnels that were cut through solid granite to allow a railroad to navigate the 300 foot deep canyon. The Kettle Valley Railway was built here between 1912 and 1918 to serve the bonanza Cariboo mining district farther north in BC.  Nowadays it is a hiking trail. Yes, the water is this clear, beautiful and wild. The painting is a 22 x 28-inch acrylic on canvas.  

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 9/15/2010 at 10:29 AM
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Categories: Landscapes
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Denny Creek Slide

This is a scene on Denny Creek near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington.  This area is a popular spot where kids congregate on hot summer days to play in the shallow pools and algae covered slides on the smooth granite outcrops. This is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 9/9/2010 at 3:54 PM
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