Icicle Creek Rapids

This is another scene on Icicle Creek near Leavenworth, Washington. This is a spectacular wild river that is supplied mostly from melting glaciers in the Stuart Range.  The contained glacial rock flour provides a pale blue color to the otherwise clear, cold water.  It was near this scene where I slipped on an algae covered rock while taking reference photos in the middle of the stream.  In I went camera and all.  I managed to keep the camera dry by catching one leg of the tripod as I headed for my chilly dip,  then swam ashore with one arm while holding the camera tripod by one leg above the churning water. This is probably the closest I'll ever get to a mid-winter polar bear club swim. The painting is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper depicting the rapids just before sunset.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 9/9/2010 at 3:41 PM
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Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls near Snoqualmie, Washington is a popular tourist sight for those visiting the Seattle area.  It's a large falls dropping about 268 feet.  The luxurious Salish Lodge lies at the lip of the falls on the left.  This is a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on masonite painted largely using a painting knife with limited brushwork. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 9/9/2010 at 3:26 PM
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Snoqualmie River Reflections

This is a scene along the trail to Twin Falls on the Snoqualmie River near North Bend, Washington.  I was drawn to the play of light filtering through the trees onto the rocks. This painting is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 9/9/2010 at 3:01 PM
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September Morn

I'm planning a hike later this summer into the Enchantments area of Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington State.  This scene of Prusik Peak at sunrise in the fall is something I probably won't see as I'll be doing the long climb up Aasgard Pass through the morning on my way to this area.  Plans are to do the grueling 18 mile hike in one day so we don't need to obtain an overnight permit (difficult to do with the lottery system now used by the Forest Service).  At least the painting will inspire me to get in good enough shape to complete the hike.  The painting is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper.  

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 5/31/2010 at 5:22 PM
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Using Watercolor Paper without Stretching

I prefer to paint on a totally flat surface for both watercolor and acrylics, and my preferred surface is 140 lb watercolor paper.  Usually stretching will provide fairly flat paper but doing large areas with wet on wet will still cause some ripples on 140 lb paper.  Although 300 lb paper eliminates this problem it is very expensive.  One way around this is to bond a sheet of 140 lb paper to a piece of mat board using rubber cement.  Like most painters I have lots of scrap mat board as center cutouts so the only additional cost is for rubber cement.  Coat both sheets with rubber cement, assemble while still wet then weight it evenly for several hours to get a tight even bond.  Then, voila, you have 300 lb sheet for very little cost.

You must be careful to get an even bond across the paper,  otherwise large local bumps will form when the paper becomes wet.

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 4/20/2010 at 3:15 PM
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Sonoita Creek Roots

Last weekend I met with several other artists from the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Nature Preserve.  This a beautiful piece of real estate along Sonoita Creek owned by Nature Conservancy.  It is a real haven for bird watchers.   I was able to block in a nice scene while "off trail" on a sandbar along the creek before being runoff for not "staying on the trail".  The original plan was to paint plein air but I had to go to plan B and limit my on-site work to blocking in and taking photos for later use.  It would be really tough to stay on a trail as there are many walkers.  Here is the result as a 10 x 14-inch acrylic on mat board. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 4/19/2010 at 6:03 PM
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Easy to Use Palette for Acrylics

For an easy to use palette for acrylics, especially for plein air painting, use a piece of window glass taped to a white matboard backing.  I use a piece of glass 8 x 10 inches  and spring clip it to my French easel. The white backing allows me to see the true colors of each mix.  Just let the acrylic dry on the glass then scrape off with a razor blade for easy cleanup.  This tip is based upon usage by Rodger Bansemer.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 4/15/2010 at 6:08 AM
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Cochise Stronghold

Last week we hiked at Cochise Stronghold.  It was a gorgeous day with many sites that could serve as a model for a good painting.  This one I was especially taken by as it illustrates why Cochise, the Apache Chief, was able to elude the US Army so long by hiding among the large granite boulders in this area.  The painting is acrylic on watercolor paper and measures 21 x 29 inches. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 4/2/2010 at 3:21 PM
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Pusch Ridge

This painting is another result of my trip to Catalina Mountain Park with the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society.  In the afternoon I took off for a hike up Montrose Canyon and spotted this great view of Pusch Ridge.  With the recent rains it just so happens there was water in the wash to make the view even better.  This is a 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper painted in the studio.  

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 2/11/2010 at 7:05 PM
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Catalina Mountain Park

I attended a plein aire paintout with the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society.  I've not been a big fan of plein air painting because the lighting changes so fast.  This time I tried a smaller painting, 10 x 14 inches and it worked OK. This painting was done in about 2 hours using acrylics on mat board.  The rapid drying time requires that I paint very fast and use a misting bottle a lot but otherwise it was an enjoyable experience.  I met several other good folks who are old hands at plein air painting with oils.  Although it's difficult to show much detail while working so fast it's facinating to be able to quickly capture the essence of a scene in such a short time.  I plan to do a lot more of this.   


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 2/10/2010 at 10:04 AM
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Sycamore Canyon

Sycamore Canyon provides a delightful oasis in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona.  This scene is a lunch stop on a recent hike down the canyon from the Ruby road.  It is acrylic on watercolor paper 21 x 29 inches.  I was especially intrigued by the many irregular cavities in the cliffs composed of Atascosa rhyolite tuff as highlighted in the mid-morning sun.   


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 2/6/2010 at 5:07 PM
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Most Important Painting Elements

The five most important elements in painting or drawing regardless of medium are: shape, value, value gradations, placement and edges. 

Our visual perception of three dimensional objects on the picture plane is controlled by the shapes and placement of various blocks each having differing color values from those adjacent to it. Whether we perceive the shapes as being flat or curved depends upon the gradations in value within a given shape and the nature of its boundaries with adjacent shapes. An abrupt edge signals a sharp break between two blocks whereas a gradational edge signals a curved boundary.  Another element is texture which is really a type of value gradation that is repeated in some way.  By proper manipulation of these elements masterpieces have been created without any concern for color.  Making use of the additional color properties of hue, intensity and value certainly adds to the interest of most paintings and provide still more challenges for the artist.

Pencil drawings are particularly useful for new painters as they provide some simplification of subjects in that they only have to worry about  shape, value, value gradations, placement and edges.  Drawing is really just monochrome painting in shades of gray, so extensive drawing practice makes for better painters.  I will repeat what has been told by many good artists - If you want to paint well then DRAW, DRAW, DRAW.

 

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 11/12/2009 at 2:56 PM
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Us at a Younger Time

This portrait was inspired by a photo we had taken several years ago.  It was always one of Lynne's favorites so I thought it would be a good start for a portrait.  I have avoided doing people portraits for many years because they require exteme attention to detail in order to achieve a good likeness.  Lynne was sufficiently pleased with it that it will grace the wall of our master bedroom.  It is a 20 x 24-inch acrylic on canvas board.


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Posted on: 11/12/2009 at 8:52 AM
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Icicle Creek

I was impressed with the way the low angle sun was shining through the clear water in these rapids on Icicle Creek near Leavenworth, Washington.  I took several photos but they failed to show the brilliance of the sun on the water.  The first painting is a quick study to see if I could improve what was displayed in the photos. 

This is a 11 x 14-inch acrylic on watercolor paper created in about 1 hour.  It fails to show the wildness of the water and does not have enough contrast.  In the full scale painting I really want to emphasize the three main places where the sunlight shows through the water, and the turbulent water. 

The sun shining through the pale blue milky glacial meltwater provided an amazing array of colors for this 21 x 29-inch acrylic on watercolor paper.  I darkened the background and removed the distraction of the trees. 

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 11/10/2009 at 3:08 PM
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Methow River Rocks

A beautiful bright fall day on the Methow River near Winthrop, Washington, provided a very simple but interesting scene for this painting.  The river channel is filled with well-rounded granite cobbles and boulders which make a startling contrast with the clear bluish green water of the river.  This is a 22 x 28-inch watercolor.   


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 9/29/2009 at 6:01 PM
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The Sentinel

This weekend I finally got back to painting after several months layoff.  We recently went to Green Valley, Arizona, and purchased a townhouse in which to escape the wet Seattle winters.  The back yard of the townhouse is a desert wash filled with native plants including many varieties of cactus, and lots of Gambel's quail.  The quail are particularly cute to watch as they are very family oriented.  My latest painting is from a scene in the back yard where the male quail is watching out while the family feeds upon seeds in the wash.  I titled this The Sentinel.  This is a 22 x 28-inch acrylic on canvas board. 

 


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Posted on: 9/6/2009 at 3:52 PM
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Mt. Shuksan

Mt. Shuksan, in the Baker National Forest of northwest Washington is one of the most photographed mountains in the US.  Generally the photographer takes it with Picture Lake in the foreground to produce a spectacular reflection.  I chose to use a view from the Chain Lakes Trail about 2 miles to the west.  I was impressed with the interesting shapes of the large rocks in the foreground, especially the large boulder of volcanic breccia that serves as the focal point for the painting.  These boulders and the nearby ridges are composed of recent volcanic rocks from the active Mt. Baker volcano that lies a few miles behind the viewer.  Mt. Shuksan itself is much older consisting of Jurassic (150 million year old) Shuksan greenschist derived from submarine volcanics and sediments.

I took several photographs of the area on a hike a year ago that served as the basis for the painting.  Initially I made a quick watercolor 14 x 21 inches to test how the clouds would work partially obscuring Mt. Shuksan.  I was dissappointed with this (see below) in that it hid too much of the mountain and glaciers. 

 

The final painting, a 24 x 36-inch acrylic on watercolor paper, shows Mt. Shuksan much better.  Here is the final painting.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 2/16/2009 at 8:08 PM
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Sunrise on the Wall

This painting depicts a foggy sunrise at the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China.  The Jinshanling section lies between Miyun county of Beijing and Luanping county of Hebei Province, 140 km from Beijing. It is a World Heritage Site and a National Priority Protected Site. It is an important architectural treasure of the Ming Dynasty (1368 –1644 AD).  The Jinsanling Wall is 6.3 miles long and is joined on each end by other sections of the wall.   It has six cols (gates), 68 dilous(towers) of varied form and two FengHuoTai (high watch towers).  The wall is the main body for the whole system. It has a stone base. The wall itself is a brick shell filled with stone and earth. Where the landform is even, the wall is about 15 to 17 feet high. The width at the bottom is about 17 feet.   This section of the Wall has had less restoration than others such as the heavily touristed Badaling section. 

The various sections of the Wall were constructed at different times starting about 220 BC in the Qin Dynasty up through the Ming Dynasty and have differing designs.  The wall was constructed to provide defense from the "barbarians" in Mongolia to the north.  Subsequent to the Ming Dynasty Mongolia became part of China so the Wall no longer was needed.  Bricks from the Wall had been scavanged by peasants to build houses, pig styes and chicken coops before the Chinese government enacted laws to protect it in the 1980s.  You can download the following interesting report that includes numerous photos and an assessment of work needed to restore certain parts of the Jinshanling section at the link below.  

Jinshanling Report2005-08.pdf (5.88 mb)

The painting is acrylic on  1/4-inch masonite and measures 24 x 36 inches.  


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/31/2009 at 4:14 PM
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Stretching Watercolor Paper

For my approach to watercolor I need absolutely flat paper, ripples from expanding wet paper are not acceptable.   When wet, watercolor paper expands mostly in one direction (about 3/4 inch in 36 inches) so if it has not been prestreched you get ripples as soon as your watercolor dampens the surface.  These really create havoc with obtaining nice smooth graded washes.  The secret to making a good stretched paper is to use a somewhat flexible substrate like 1/4-inch thick masonite.  Wet the WC paper thoroughly for about 5 to 10 minutes then lay it on the masonite.  Let it set for a few minutes while more ripples appear then pull them out and follow with gummed tape and stapling every 2 inches on the edges.  the tension developed as the paper dries will bow the masonite somewhat so that the dry paper becomes like a drum - taught and smooth.  When the paper is again wetted by the watercolor the bow in the board will flatten somewhat but still some tension will be retained on the paper - no ripples form though.  The key is that the board must be somewhat flexible so the spring of the material keeps tension on the paper whether wet or dry.  Using a very stiff board  or an old hollow core door only results in partial release of tension as the paper tears slightly at the staples.  With these substrates I generally had problems with ripples when painting wet with 140 lb paper.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/22/2009 at 8:28 PM
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Atmospheric Perspective with Acrylics

One of the problems with painting in acrylics as opposed to watercolor is that it can be difficult to make your backgrounds appear to be distant (atmospheric perspective).  Items in the distance need to be somewhat out of focus, bluish, and show lower contrast than the foreground objects.  What I do is paint the background with somewhat thinner paint (mixed with medium) then when the rest of the painting is complete add several thin glazes of light blue thinned greatly with medium and water (containing acrylic flow release or just water with a tad of Spic and Span).  This adds the bluish tint and reduces the contrast in the background. 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/15/2009 at 8:01 AM
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Reference Photos

Most of us use reference photos in making realistic landscape paintings.  Although making an exact copy of a reference photo really contributes nothing to the art world, a well composed reference photo can save you a lot of time composing the painting.  Take a little extra time with your reference photos to get the composition right.  Maybe you will still have to move a bush or rock and add a few things but it it will save lots of grief later when your painting doesn't have much appeal because of poor composition.  Digital cameras really make this a simple process so you can take several "well composed" shots of your subject from which to select the best composition as a starting point. 

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/14/2009 at 10:18 AM
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Harvey

Harvey was a wild peacock who arrived in our neighborhood in August 2005 along with his bride, Henrietta.  The two remained in the area feeding off the seeds they could find, sunflower seeds we had put out and other food by various neighbors.  They didn't seem to care whether it rained or snowed preferring to stay in the area and roost in the tall douglas fir trees.  Henrietta and Harvey quit getting along in mid summer 2006 and she left.  Harvey stayed on enjoying the easy life he had here.  In Spring 2008 while he was pumped up and aggressive he took on a passing car and lost.  During his stay he had become sufficiently domesticated to come when he was called for food and would eat out of our hands.  His entire time here he was a free bird, and his own bird.  We all miss him, even his springtime "YEOWs" in the middle of the night. His portrait while resting on our deck rail is a 22x28-inch acrylic on watercolor paper.

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/10/2009 at 11:27 AM
Categories: Portraits
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Low Cost Acrylic Flow Release

A low cost subsitute for acrylic flow release is to use a pinch of Spic and Span in a glass of water.  This is a surfactant like flow release which reduces the surface tension of water allowing the acrylic paint to spread evenly and wet the painting surface.

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/4/2009 at 9:41 AM
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Petey

Ralph and Sue rescued Petey from the animal shelter two years ago.  When he arrived home Petey was a scrawny, scared little Yorkie who had been abused.  The little guy didn't know how to play and was frightened by any sudden movement.  Now he has developed a round belly and runs to get a toy when Ralph comes home from work.  His portrait is a 20 x 24-inch acrylic on canvas. 

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/4/2009 at 9:18 AM
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Acrylic mixing cups

Typically I use a flat metallic pan with a piece of greaseless baking paper over damp paper towel as a palette. This works great for mixing small amounts of acrylics but doesn't allow enough space or provide containment for larger quantities.   For large mixes I use styrofom egg cartons.  These are pure white, washable and do not absorb water based paint like the paper ones.  Just  spray the paint with a water mist then cover with foil to keep several days.  I usually cut the cartons into sets of 6 cups each to make a size that is more convenient to work with.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 12/22/2008 at 3:57 PM
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Prince - Tale of a dog

Prince's story began in 1996 when Steve brought him home as a frisky puppy for Dori on her birthday.  He was a lively little guy with huge feet that foretold how big this dalmatian puppy would grow to be.  As with most pups, Prince performed his fair share of messing on the floor and chewing the leather furniture, as well as harrassing the two cats whose home was here before Prince arrived.  Over the years Prince was a great companion and protector who loved to go for walks in the evening near his Arizona home.  Like most people who have dogs Steve and Dori considered Prince to be one of the family and their "child".

In November 2008, Prince passed on at a ripe old age of nearly 12 years.  As a rememberance of Prince I painted a portrait, 20 x 24 inch acrylic on canvas.  Hopefully this will help Steve and Dori deal with the loss of their best friend. 

 


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 12/20/2008 at 11:11 AM
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