Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mt. Meeker en Plein Air

Mt. Meeker by Scott Ruthven - 8x10" Plein Air Oil

Over the Christmas holiday I headed up to the Colorado mountains for some painting!  Mt. Meeker is located between Estes Park and Allen's Park along Hwy 7.  I drove into the back country until the climb and snow were too much for my car then hiked another mile to get this view. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

1940's Christmas - Shiny Brite Demo Part 3 of 3


Here's the wrap up of my little 5x5" painting titled "Shiny Brite".  I wanted to capture the warmth created by Christmas lights on a cold winter's night.

"Shiny Brite" by Scott Ruthven 5x5" Oil on Canvas

At the stage above, I finished the ball and it's reflection.  I tinkered with the reflected lights for a long while.  Then I painted the metal cap and hanger.  The top of the cap reflected light from a yellow bulb while in it's refection, more light from the red bulb can be seen.

Here, I painted the bulb in the box.  I kept it simple and made the reflections of the lightbulbs a bit smaller and less intense so the ball in the box doesn't pull too much attention.  I also darkened the hanger hook and added a highlight.

Here is a quick time lapse of the steps:

I learned so much painting this and really enjoyed the whole process.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1940's Christmas - Shiny Brite Demo Part 2

It's getting cold here in Colorado and the snow is falling!  I'm more than halfway through this little painting and today will show you the next few steps.

Here I've painted in the reflection using a darker, lower chroma version of the reflected light on the box.

With the box done, I had to start the ornament.  The more I look at the ornament, the more subtleties I see.  Not really knowing where to start, I just begin laying in easily identifiable shapes of color.

Here I further refine the subtle color blends from the lights.  I like the golden reflection of the box edge on the back of the ornament.  Once I got that in, I felt the shape and 3D nature starting to come to life.

I'll wrap this up in my next post!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1940's Christmas - Shiny Brite Demo Part 1

Picture of my still-life setup
Since I'm totally in the Christmas spirit and hopelessly attracted to shiny things I took a shot at painting this still life.  These "Shiny Brite" brand ornaments were made in the U.S.A. back in the 1940's.  

For the still-life, I arranged Christmas lights around the box of ornaments to create this wonderful warm and cool glowing light. 

To get a feel for the composition and color, I taped up a 8x11" sheet of canvas and painted these quick sketches.  I did them quickly and experimented with color and paint application.  The wording on the box required some trial and error to find a way to paint it so as to look flat, like printing on a box rather than hand painted lettering.  I also realized that the reflections and multiple colors of light on the ball required careful study.

10-30 minute color sketches
Simple underpainting with initial values laid in.
Once I found the layout I liked, I drew it out onto this 5x5" stretched canvas.  Hopefully the viridian underpainting will help me create that flat effect I want on the green lettering.  The underpainting also helps establish the cool shadows and when the thicker, warm yellows and reds are painted on top they will really radiate.  Using thin, transparent grey (Ultramarine Blue + Burnt Sienna) I laid in the value structure.

In the three pics above you can see how I used white to bring out the highlighted areas then scrubbed in pure paint (without medium) for the lettering.  Then I painted the cool blues and greens in the right side of the box and shadow from the ornament.  Lastly, the warm yellow to orange tone was worked into the front of the box and painted around the lettering.

I'll keep painting and show my progress over the next couple of posts.  Gee, I hope I don't mess up the painting...that would be embarrassing now that I posted the beginning.  So, if there are no further posts that might indicate that I ran into a problem ;-)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Old Man Johnson's Farm

"Old Man Johnson's Farm" by Scott Ruthven
5x7" Oil painted en plein air
Here's a plein air oil painting study I did of a local barn.  For me, barns represent the hard-working past generations of people that grew food on a small scale for themselves and their communities.  Of course farming is alive and well, but the industry has evolved to big business now.  I  like to capture the personalities of these old structures before our towns overtake them.

Unfortunately, some construction trailers have recently been placed on this property which is usually the first step to tear-down and development.  I'll need to capture a few more portraits of it soon.

If you like my work and blog, please click on the Facebook "Like" and "Share" buttons below so your Facebook friends can come and check it out too.  Thanks, I appreciate it.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Plein Air Fly Fishing

My trunk says a lot about what I love to do.  On any given day I load it up with everything I need to get out of doors.  There is so much to do here in Colorado and I love being out in the sunshine hiking, fishing and painting.  I usually head out with the intent to either paint or fly fish but I've been known to change my mind so I usually take along both my fly rod and pochade box.

  • For plein air oil painting I have my pochade box (between the tool box and the poles) and my backpack in which I carry my tripod, paper towels, snacks and gloves.
  • For fly fishing I have the fly rods of course and my waders (in the upper left corner).

On this particular day my sons Jake and Nick fished and I painted.  We hiked a half mile down to this nice spot on the river and I decided I wanted to try and capture this nice rock and it's reflection while the boys targeted some rainbow trout upstream.  Their day fishing was more successful than my painting I'm sorry to say.  Oh well, you win some and you lose some.  Chalk this one up as field practice.

Trout hunters Nick and Jake

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tree Ripened

"Tree Ripened" by Scott Ruthven 11x14" Oil on Panel
My neighbor has a pear tree that didn't produce any fruit the first few years of it's life.  Then for several years any fruit it bore was snatched up and savored by the owner.  Now, some ten years later, this wonderful tree produces enough pears for everyone in the neighborhood.  Since I work from home, of of my favorite things to do is to go outside in the summer and "pick" my lunch from my garden and the fruit trees.  I usually grab some peas, a handful of cherry tomatoes, some lettuce, a carrot, and of course, a pear if they are ripe.  There is nothing like biting into a slightly soft, tree-ripened pear.  The smell of the fruit on the tree, the sweet juice in the pear, and the connection I feel to the earth and the magic of it all.

Pears are frequent subject matter for artists but most of the time, they are bruised and beat up during their long journey from farm to supermarket.  I wanted this portrait to capture the pristine, colorful flesh of these pears and the life still vibrant within the very leaves that provided the energy to grow the fruit.

This painting took several days to complete.  Once finished, I sat down and ate every last bite of these pears...just as they would have wanted.

"Tree Ripened" in progress with model and a crowd of admirers

Winter's Warmth - Framed and Ready To Ship.

Winter's Warmth 5x7" Oil on canvas board - Scott Ruthven
Well, it's Sunday and I didn't paint at all yesterday so I better get on it!  However, I did get this piece framed and thought I would show you the final product.  Since the painting is only 5x7" I decided to float it in a 6x8" frame.  This simply means that I mounted it first to a 6x8" panel painted black and then placed that into the frame.  The black panel provides a nice border between the painting and the frame and none of the painting is hidden behind the frame edges.

This ships to a collector in Oregon Monday but I hung it in my dining room for the weekend to enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Daffodils - Oil on Panel

Daffodils 11x14" Oil on Panel - Scott Ruthven
Daffodils are a favorite of mine.  Oddly, I don't have any in my garden so this past spring when I wanted to paint some I covertly "obtained" these from the entrance to a housing development.  Delicate to look at but sturdy in structure, the Daffodil makes for good subject matter.  I wrapped these stems in wet paper towels and they kept their form for four + hours while I worked out my composition, laid in my drawing and completed the color block-in.  While most of the painting was completed Alla Prima, I did go back in once it was dry to scumble in the cool highlights from the Northern light and to build up some of the shadow areas to help the stems recede.

I just varnished and framed it and I'm really pleased with the deep, rich color and the contrast between warm and cool.  This piece really commands attention from across the room.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pochade Box Envy

Pochade Box by Scott Ruthven

Not sure what kind of Pochade box you want?  Well there are a lot of great options out there for you.  Whether you build one or buy one, check out the links below to get an idea of what's available.

The main decisions you will need to make are:
  1. Do you want a fully integrated box complete with wet panel carrier and storage for paints and brushes or a streamlined painting support and palette with separate solutions for carrying paints and brushes.
  2. What size canvas / painting supports will you want to paint on outdoors?  This will determine the size box you order or make.
  3. If you make your palette / mixing surface a standard size you can insert inexpensive pre-cut glass from the home centers.  This makes mixing and clean up much easier and your palette will last longer too.
Links for ideas:
  • Jim Serrett - Detailed instructions and materials list for an Open Box M style box and a wet panel carrier -  Jim Serrett's Post
  • David Gluck & Katherine Stone - Simple, inexpensive, Open Box M alternative but with bear combat accessory ideas! - David's Post
  • Alla Prima Pochade - Artist Ben Haggett makes and sells wonderful boxes - Ben's Video and Ben's Website for ordering
  • Charley Parker at the Lines and Color Blog - Charlie has put together an extensive overview of available pochade boxes, tripods, supports, and DIY links. - Lines and Color Pochade Post
  • Judson's Art Outfitters - Wide variety of rugged painting kits including the Guerrilla Box. - Judson's Web Page
Also, a search for "Pochade Box" on YouTube returns lots and lots of videos.  Before building my box I looked at many different setups and incorporated the features that fit my needs best.

Happy painting!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Frozen Brushstrokes

"Winter's Warmth" by Scott Ruthven 5"x7" Oil on Linen Panel - Painted En Plein Air
As we approach Thanksgiving here in the USA I'm thinking about all the gifts in my life.  One thing I'm so thankful for is the time I get to spend outdoors painting.  This barn really called out to me.  The air was crisp and cold but the sun made the red barn and the golden willow tree just radiate.

Photo by Scott Ruthven

This barn is set back quite a distance from the road.  With the snow coming up over my boots, I was sure happy I didn't forget anything back at the car.

Even though the temperature was quite cold, I never even thought about it while I was painting.  Painting is a wonderful meditation.

p.s.  When painting on site you can see into and paint the shadows in a scene like this.  A camera simply can't accurately portray both the bright lights from the snow and the delicate colors in the shadows when the contrast is so great.


Monday, November 21, 2011

My Homemade Pochade Box - Video

Painting en plein air forces quick decisions and makes me to paint instead of over-thinking everything.  When I decided to paint outside in earnest, I researched Pochade box options and decided I could make my own, custom box....a downside of having to be creative in every aspect of my life.  Although it took longer to make and cost more than I thought, I have a nice kit for oil painting outdoors.

Later, I'll post links to sources that inspired the design.

Let me know what you think.
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