Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An Update From Plein Air Rockies 2013

I'm very fortunate to be one of the 34 artists from the USA and Russia competing in this year's "Plein Air Rockies" event in Estes Park, Colorado.  We paint from August 10th through the 22nd and all our paintings go on display and for sale on August 25th.

I've been painting in Rocky Mountain National Park and in the town of Estes Park and have thoroughly enjoyed it!

Here's I'm just setting up to paint a boat scene.  I had to really focus to complete this big painting before the afternoon storms rolled in so no in-progress shots.  

 This is my finished painting at Milner's pass...10,000'+ elevation in Rocky Mountain National Park.

In progress shot of the Estes Park Aerial Tramway:

An Estes Park native!

I'll post more as the event wraps up.  Wish me luck on the competition and sale!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Juried Shows and Positive Affirmations

It's a busy time of year and I'm so blessed with the opportunities that have come my way in the past year.  I dropped off three paintings for the PAAC show opening in Denver this coming Friday night.  As I looked at the other art being dropped off I realized how incredible it was and just how lucky I am to have three paintings juried into this peer group.

In addition, I've been accepted to paint in the Plein Air Rockies 2013 in Estes Park Colorado.  This event starts next week but participating artists were allowed two paintings to display / sell in a "Prelude show".  This gives patrons an opportunity to see some of our finished work while we are out painting for the plein air show.  I took two additional paintings with me on the day of the drop off and mentioned to the show chair I had extra paintings if they needed to fill more wall space, to which she replied "well, bring them in with the others and we'll take a look".  After having unwrapped only two of the four she said "oh ya, we'll take all four!"  This kind of positive affirmation about my work feels so wonderful.  Let's face it, our family and friends will always offer kind words of encouragement but acceptance into juried shows, positive comments from strangers and of course, sales really provide me the unbiased feedback that says I must be doing something right.

I'll post more on these events as they come and go.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Three Tips For Painting Better Nocturnes

As I paint more nocturnes I'm learning more about what works.  Here are some key learnings I want to share with you.

1. Have a good light - I use a book light with two LED's and two stages of brightness.  The clip end houses the 2 AAA batteries.  Get a light with a balanced light color...not too blue or yellow.  New, high output bulbs produce a nice white light. 

2. Pre-tone your canvas a dark color.  I'm still experimenting with this but find that if I tone my canvas black or some dark mix of an earth tone and ultramarine blue and let that dry it is much easier to start the painting.  If you start with a white surface you have to lay down a lot of darks...which will muddy up your lights when you go to put them in.  Much of this struggle is eliminated if you begin with a dark, dry surface.

3. Slow down and enjoy the painting.  Take time to let your eyes acclimate to the darkness.  There is so much subtle variation and there is no hurry since the light sources are fixed (signs, street lights) and you don't have any moving shadows.  Basically, depending on the scene, you might have all night so take your time to really see the color and value relationships and work to get those right on your canvas the first time.  Having said this, I have been happily painting a scene when all of a sudden the main lit sign in my painting shut off for the night.  Oh well, that happens....just pack it up and try again another night.

I painted this scene of a railroad crossing out in the country.  It took me about 3 hours and I wrapped it up at about 1:30AM.  I parked off the side of the dirt road and painted from inside of the bed of my pickup.  One car passed me in three hours...otherwise there was no other light source and no people anywhere around.  It was so peaceful and relaxed.  I learned a lot by taking my time on this one.

"1AM at the Crossing" © Scott Ruthven
8"x10" |  Oil on linen panel

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