October 28, 2009
My show of plein aire paintings of Hamilton County Parks is officially over, but there are still a few on display in a case outside the gift shop in the Sharon Centre. These are available for purchase. While many of the paintings were sold, some of my personal favorites are still available.
There was a good turnout for the October 18 opening. I did a small demo painting of the view out the window of the exhibit room during the reception. I think some people are curious about how such plain aire paintings develop, so I thought people would like to watch one happen. As I expected, I failed to finish it at the opening… too many people waiting to talk to me!
I will continue to paint in our county parks and elsewhere, so check back here and at my art website, http://www.johnnagnew.com for new entries & new plein aire paintings.
John doing a demo painting during the reception.
A view of part of the exhibit
There was a good turnout at the opening.
October 13, 2009
My exhibit of plein aire paintings of Hamilton County parks opens this Sunday, October 18th. There will be a reception from 1-4 pm, where I will be doing a demonstration painting. The opening is at the Sharon Centre in Sharon Woods Park, on Rt. 42 south of I-275 East (north of Cincinnati).
I’ll be exhibiting some of my plein aire paintings from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along with my paintings of our own Hamilton County Parks.
I hope to see you there!
The Lake at Miami-Whitewater Forest, 10 x 20, acrylic on panel
West Entrance, Miami-Whitewater Forest, 11 x 14 acrylic on panel
West Entrance, Miami-Whitewater Forest, 9 x 12, acrylic on panel
Wetlands Trail Meadow, Glenwood Gardens 11 x 14, acrylic on panel
October 13, 2009
I had been thinking for some time about doing the lake at Miami-Whitewater Forest, but I was waiting for the right time. I think it came with the Fall. I set up on the sidewalk next to the lake amongst the fishermen just outside the park visitor center. Looking across the water, the trees were coming into their full fall blush of reds and yellows. The lake was alternately smooth as a mirror and then ruffled into hammered metal by the breeze. This time I modified a masonite panel to make a wide format painting, 10 x 16. I felt that this would help emphasize the wide expanse of water. I worked a lot on the reflections and surface texture of the water as this is often when fall impresses me the most, seeing the colors reflected in water.
Painting in such a public spot elicited lots of comments from passers-by. Virtually all of them were positive (people are usually too polite to say anything negative), and the interruptions were minimal. Normally I paint in somewhat out-of-the-way places so as to avoid interruptions, but I did enjoy the interactions with people today. A plein air painter’s supply company sells a T-Shirt with all the answers to the questions people usually ask printed on the back: “Yes, I am an artist,” “Yes, I did take lessons,” “I’m sure your Aunt Jane paints wonderful pictures,” and etc. I guess I’m too polite to wear one.
"Fall Lake" 10 x 16 acrylic on panel
October 12, 2009
The last time I painted here, I was looking for some late summer wildflower color in the scene I had painted twice before, the west entrance to Miami-Whitewater Forest. Now I was here looking for some fall color. The trees were still green, but the goldenrod in the field was in full bloom. Actually, it looked like I had missed the peak, but not by much. The color was still there if only slightly muted. There were even some New England Asters, a vivid purple flower, that contrasted nicely with the goldenrod. So, I set up to paint and the gray, misty sky that was present when I arrived gradually morphed into a vivid blue. The one blot on the day was the presence of some very aggressive yellowjackets. They seemed to come in waves, not bothering me for awhile, and then suddenly there would be a half dozen buzzing my face and crawling over my brushes. I tried to ignore them, but eventually got stung while defending myself.
The painting worked out pretty well despite the distractions. I don’t have a photo of my work site because my camera’s battery was dead, but you’ve seen it before. If you’re familiar with Miami-Whitewater, you’ve probably seen the spot: Just inside the west entrance, next to the Bluebird nest box on the right hand side of the road just before you pass two trees. You should be able to recognize it from the paintings. I left out the road and entry station, as I normally leave out human constructions from my paintings.
West Entrance, October 11 x 14 acrylic on panel
September 25, 2009
I took a break from painting in Hamilton County Parks to fulfill a post as Artist In Residence at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 20 days I did 12 paintings, often hiking miles to get to specific locations. Pictured Rocks is a gorgeous piece of Lake Superior’s southern shore, with 200 foot high sandstone cliffs looking out over the crystal waters. Fall colors were just getting intense when we left on the 23rd. We could hear wolves at night, and saw a Black bear and plenty of bear sign, so I did look over my shoulder occasionally as I worked. I don’t mind people looking over my shoulder nearly as much as I would mind having a bear standing behind me.
Now it’s back to work on Hamilton County Parks.
August 9, 2009
I headed out to Miami-Whitewater with the intention of painting the summer wildflowers in the meadows at the west entrance, but I was disappointed to find it not much different from the view I painted in June. There were some nice ironweed and black-eyed susan blooming at some places in the meadow, but not in the view I intended to paint. There was a lot of goldenrod coming up, but it will be a few weeks until it is in full bloom. Instead, I tried a view of Dry Fork, swollen from rains the day before. Looking downstream, I found a nice view with some good perspective. Late afternoon light was filtered through the trees, throwing shadows across the water.
My easel by Dry Fork
"Dry Fork After a Rain" 14 x 11 acrylic on panel
August 9, 2009
Today I decided to reprise a scene from Winton Woods. The last time I painted this creek with a shale exposure, there was ice on the creek and icicles on the cliff. Now the scene is draped in green. As I worked, a small butterfly (a Hackberry Butterfly, I think) landed on the post of my easel, and sat with me for over an hour while I worked. I guess he was tasting the salt left by sweaty hands.
My easel set up at the creek
A butterfly kept me company as I worked
Summer Creek 11 x 14 acrylic on panel
The same scene painted in February
July 31, 2009
I headed to Glenwood again to see if I could capture more of the spectacular wildflower meadow displays. Hiking out the Wetlands Trail, I was amazed to find that much of it had been mowed! I’ll assume that this was part of a management plan, and not just “maintenance,” as it definitely uglified the area. They spared the most spectacular displays, fortunately.
I ended up passing by the most colorful fields, mostly because it was hot and I needed to paint in the shade. I suppose I could haul an umbrella and stand with me, but when you’re walking miles to your painting site, it just isn’t practical. I picked a spot looking down into a field surrounded by forest, with a thick growth of Queen Ann’s lace in the foreground. It was very nice when the sun was out, so-so when cloud shadows passed by. I worked on blocking in the tree masses and detail when it was cloudy, and worked on the color when the sun came out again. I played tag with the sun all afternoon. Occasionally, I thought the thickening cumulus would turn into a thunderstorm, but that never happened. There were only a few hikers on this Monday afternoon. I saw more rabbits than people. It should be a good year for Red Tailed Hawks!
My easel set up on the Wetlands Trail
"Glenwood Queen Ann's Lace" 12 x 9 acrylic on panel
July 22, 2009
"Wetlands Trail Meadow" 14 x 11, acrylic on panel
I headed back to Glenwood Gardens to paint the meadows again. The wildflower display is spectacular now, so I might be doing this a couple more times. today I stopped along the Wetlands Trail, taking a service road a few dozen meters off the main trail. A hillside with some interesting trees loomed, glowing with Black-Eyed Susans, Purple Coneflower, Bergamot, Queen Ann’s Lace, and etc. The most challenging part of the painting was not doing the multitudes of blooms, but recreating the complicated mass of greenery beneath them. I think I managed it fairly well, using a fan brush and a sponge over a base color. I painted in individual leaves in the foreground, leaving the more distant parts somewhat impressionistic.
Indigo Buntings, Towhees and cardinals serenaded me as I worked. Insects sounds are starting to increase, headed to their peak in the last of the warm August weather.
Painting a meadow on the Wetlands Trail
July 13, 2009
I heard that the flowers on the Wetlands trail were getting good, so I headed out with my easel and pack. I walked along the trail, eyes peeled for a prospective composition. I came across some nice displays, fields of cone flowers, black-eyed susan and bergamot which were quite colorful, but there was no shade, no place to work comfortably other than setting up in the middle of the trail. I rounded the 1.3 mile mark, growing pessimistic that I would find a suitable place to paint. I did the spur trail off the Wetlands loop, finally coming to a nice view looking down on a pond, with fields full of Queen Ann’s Lace, yellow daisies, Bergamot, and cone flower. There was even a bench! It was in the full sun, but you can’t have everything. It was a beautiful day, and a dozen or so people walked by as I worked.
I also watched a pair of Red-Tailed hawks soar together, and listened to Towhees, Cardinals, Indigo Buntings, and Song Sparrows as I worked. On the walk back I saw a large Eastern Spiny soft-shelled turtle.
My easel overlooking a pond on the Wetlands Trail
Just getting started...
Wetlands Trail #2, 11 x 14 acrylic on panel