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Daily Oil Paintings of Kathryn Townsend. The paintings posted on this blog are a journal of process. Daily practice, exploration and experimentation are the life blood of the artist's way.

All images are copyright of Kathryn Townsend Website: http://KathrynTownsend.com

“A man learns to skate by staggering around making a fool of
himself: indeed he progresses in all things by making a fool of
himself.” --George Bernard Shaw


Monday, May 31, 2010

Harstine Island

5/31/10 "Harstine Island", 8" x 8", Oil
A break in the incessant rain brings paradise in the Pacific Northwest.  Thank you again to everyone who voted for me on the Daily Painters Contest.  I made it to the top 10 and this round of voting is open until June 8.  There are some artists way out ahead with votes, but if you'd like to help me give a good showing, then go to the contest page and vote for me.  Remember that it is the number of votes that count, not the star rating.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yellow Pot with Spoon

5/30/10 "Yellow Pot with Spoon", 10" x 10", Oil
This painting was basically a big experiment in pushing paint around--just pushing it with a big bristle brush, over edges, up to edges, sometimes up and down, sometimes quick strokes, sometimes just letting the brush stay on the panel smushing the paint.  No expectations.  I'm also a liberal scraper of paint.  If there is an area I don't like or I get too much paint on, I just scrape it and do it again.  If the ground is absorbent, this allows interesting threads of color to develop.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

White Pitcher

5/29/10 "White Pitcher", 14" x 10", Oil
This painting started out as a much more complicated design, with flowers and additional pots, but gradually over the afternoon it was reduced to this--the only thing in my studio full of objects that I really had any feeling for today. Sometimes it feels like I am trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat and I have no idea if it will really be a rabbit or something else.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pot with Yellow Apple

5/28/10 "Pot with Yellow Apple", 10" x 10", Oil
My yellow apple is about to dry up completely and I have to go to the store and buy a new one.  What an amazing yellow color.  I was experimenting with paint and edges and as it turned out, with complementaries of yellow and violet.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Harrington Lagoon

5/27/10 "Harrington Lagoon", 10" x 12", Oil
This painting is a re-do of a smaller plein air piece.  I've often thought that painting from a sketch is difficult  because it has already been abstracted, and painting to me is largely a process of abstraction and simplification.  So I am trying to abstract from an abstraction.  The original, however not quite right it is in composition, color or value, always contains some element of freshness of the moment that is almost impossible to recapture, so its necessary to think of the new painting as different and introduce elements of difference.  I am still working out to to do this successfully.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bailey's Pots - SOLD

5/27/10 "Bailey's Pots", 10" x 12", Oil - SOLD
I bought two pots from a classmate of my daughter at their "sorry Mom, I'm going to do art instead" graduation party. Bailey graduated in chemistry and my daughter in environmental geology, but the impulse towards art and music apparently runs deep. Listen to two of Liz's songs Maybe There is Light and Gold and Fire

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Girl with Blue Skirt

5/25/10 "Girl with Blue Skirt", 14" x 11", Oil
This is a semi-limited stroke exercise.  After the graduation ceremonies and parties and the long drives each way, I needed a focused painting exercise to get back into my routine.  This might be a good sketch for a larger painting.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Block Study with Orange

5/24/10 "Block Study with Orange", 8" x 10", Oil
This is another block study exercise in direct sunlight. I don't try to make these exercises perfect, but one way I check the general balance of the composition and the perspective is to check it with a mirror or flip the image in Photoshop.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blue Bottle with Orange

5/23/10 "Blue Bottle with Orange",  14" x 10", Oil
Since today I am at my youngest daughter's college graduation, this is a painting from one of the two days last week when there was actually all day sun in Olympia.  Last summer I painted 50 block studies out on my deck in both direct sunlight and overcast conditions.  This is my first block study of 2010.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summerland

5/22/10 "Summerland", 8" x 10", Oil
This is a case where a photo can only act as a reference to memory and feeling. This is a favorite place of mine--a four mile hike on the Wonderland Trail from White River up to an alpine meadow on the eastern slopes of Mt. Rainier. The peak is Little Tahoma and the dome of Mt. Rainier itself is behind the trees on the right, towering over the little peak.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Little Tahoma

5/21/10 "Little Tahoma", 8" x 10", Oil
This painting is, of course, of an icon of the Northwest. Little Tahoma is one of the landmark outcrops on the slopes of Mt. Rainier, which is traditionally called Mt. Tahoma. But mainly this painting is about creating a simple value structure. Sometimes when I take a photo of my painting, I check it in gray scale in Photoshop to see if I managed the values. Here is the gray scale image:
Possibly the foregound meadow could have been a little lighter, but the rest works pretty well because the focus is the aerial perspective.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Man in Yellow

5/20/10 "Man in Yellow", 12" x 10", Oil
Sometimes the only way to find inspiration is to completely change the subject matter.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Elk Heights Clouds

5/19/10 "Elk Heights Clouds", 8" x 10", Oil
This is another fast painting--a "try not to be perfect painting." An instructor I had one time recommended doing 24 paintings a day. The most I have done out doors is seven paintings 5x7 to 8x10 in about two hours--my roof top paintings in San Miguel. There is something amazingly freeing about painting at this speed--all expectations are discarded.  I am remembering a class I took with Kim English years ago where the models would change the pose every one or two minutes.  That was harrowing!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Elk Heights

5/18/10 "Elk Heights", 8" x 10", Oil
This is from a photo I took near Cle Elum when coming home from Walla Walla last week.  Sometimes when I start thinking my paintings have to be perfect, I make myself paint fast in order to forget about "the perfect."  This is a fast painting. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Clouds over Escalante - SOLD

5/17/10 "Clouds over Escalante", 10" x 12", Oil
This is another painting in my cloud series.  Even though the Escalante is pretty colorful, this painting is mainly about trying to create color harmony with subtle warm and cool grays.

On a whim I entered the Daily Painter's Contest and I managed to get into the top 20!  Now it is up to the voting public to narrow the field and finally choose a winner.  I am competing against some good painters, but I think it would be fun to win and I hope you click on the link and vote for me!  Remember that it is not the star rating that counts, but the number of votes compared to the other contestants.

The best part of entering the contest has been meeting new people, both art lovers and other like-minded artists.  Thank you to everybody who has signed up for my blog or has become a "Follower."  I hope we all have a chance to exchange our thoughts about painting!  Contests are fun and networking is good, but the driver is the desire to go into the studio or out into the wild and stand with a brush in hand before nature or a vision and see it to completion with all the dogged persistence of a crazy painter.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Zangle Daybreak

5/16/10 "Zangle Daybreak", 10" x 12", Oil
This is an early morning sketch of the view from my studio--the tree filled bluffs on the other side of the Cove and the sky with morning color. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Zangle Sunrise

5/15/10 "Zangle Sunrise", 10" x 12", Oil
My sister is moving to Australia so I will be in Seattle today collecting the family relics.  This is one of my "extra" paintings, done in early morning of the near view of the Cove outside my studio window.  This is a study in greens.  One of my favorite landscape painters is Isaak Levitan, because he was so successful at painting the brooding greens and overcast skies of his native county.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blue Flowers - SOLD

5/14/10 "Blue Flowers", 11" x 9", Oil SOLD
This is another painting that is more abstract than detailed, done outside on my patio. I was trying to capture the values and create harmonious color. I am still struggling with the brightness of the light and the consequent distortion of color and value even under my umbrella. Everything that I put on the panel looks warmer and more saturated in the intense light--until I take it inside--so I have to compensate for that until I get use to the light. I've been in my studio all winter under two 4 x 4 foot opaque skylights that give a more or less even light that is similar to an overcast day. One time I saw a guy at a workshop painting while wearing sun glasses, and I thought--that would be a totally interesting exercise!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Candytuff

5/13/10 "Candytuff", 12" x 10", Oil
This is the first day of clear blue skies and dazzling sun and it is a hard adjustment for the eyes!  I use to know the names of all the flowers in my garden, but it took me a while to remember this one: "iberis" or CandyTuff. It doesn't really matter what the name is, because the painting isn't about the detail, but about color and value.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yellow Flowers White Pitcher

5/12/10 "Yellow Flower White Pitcher", 12" x 12", Oil
I spent most of the day working on a larger painting outside in direct sunlight on my patio.  I had to scrape it.  Then I tried a smaller version but it still had the same problems, so that one was scraped as well.  For one last final try before the sun went down, on the smaller panel, I combined two Peggi Kroll Roberts exercises--using black and white paint only with limited strokes.  I like the abstract quality of this exercise, the interesting way the colors came through and the finger-painting kind of paint application.  The tendency to second guess everything while doing a painting is often the ruin of it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dry Falls Bluffs

5/11/10 "Dry Falls Bluffs", 10" x 12", Oil
Once I am finished with an outdoor painting, I almost never change it, except for an occasional minor adjustment, because I can never recapture the immediate response to the scene in front of me in the studio. However, sometimes an outdoor painting doesn't quite work out and it is interesting to try it again in the studio--a new painting, not working on the old one. This is one of those cases.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dana Passage Clouds #6

5/10/10 "Dana Passage Clouds #6", 4" x 6", Oil
Today was the typical overcast day and I am tired of the blue--blue gray sky, blue distant islands, blue everything.  I wanted to start from a different color premise.  So after one painting done in the old way of thinking, I decided to do a series of quick sketches that were just experiments.  I scraped two and I kept two.  This is the one I like the best - very simple, just a few strokes in about 10-15 minutes time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Last Lilacs - NFS

5/9/10 "Last Lilacs", 14" x 18", Oil  NFS
This is my first still life for the year painted outside in direct sunlight.  And now the weather is socked in again.  I love the lilacs and that yellow apple!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dana Passage Cloud Studies

5/8/10 "Dana Passage Clouds 5", 8" x 10", Oil
5/8/10 "Dana Passage Clouds 4", 9" x 9", Oil
This is the view off my back deck.  I can see a lot more water than this, but my subjects today were the clouds, again.  Everything here is so blue--the sky, the water, the distant islands, the atmosphere--so it is a big challenge to paint, at least during mid-day.  I'm trying to fix the different characters of clouds in my mind.  Today the clouds started small near the horizon, but oddly, they came toward me, which is unusual--they usually go west to east. This is a view looking north and finally the breeze from the north is starting to become warmer, rather than icy cold.  I'm posting two of the cloud paintings today so you can see my observations.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dry Falls Shadows

5/7/10 "Dry Falls Shadows", 8" x 10", Oil
One of the days I was in Walla Walla was rainy, so I actually painted this from a Dry Falls photo on my computer in my motel room--a first for me!  I was so paranoid I laid plastic everywhere.  The main things I like about this painting are that its not tortured--its just a lot of big paint strokes, and I like the colors.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dry Falls Basalt

5/6/10 "Dry Falls Basalt", 8" x 10", Oil
Imagine a waterfall three and a half miles wide and 400 feet high, with flood waters from the massive Lake Missoula plunging every 50 years across an area that had been repeatedly covered with successive lava flows, in some places two miles thick, the second biggest lava field in the world now known as the Columbia Plateau.  What you see now beneath the dry head walls of the falls are big chunks of oxidized black basalt.  It is spring there now and there have been a lot of rains (it rained the day we were there after which the wind blew with substantial gusto).  So the desert floor is a dusky green.  A really beautiful area and a challenge to paint.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lake Lenore

5/5/10 "Lake Lenore", 8" x 10", Oil
Painting out of doors after being in the studio for most of the winter is a humbling experience.  Dealing with all the gear and nature's elements as part of the outdoor painting experience is both exhilarating and sometimes a great challenge.  This was the first painting I did on the trip to Dry Falls.  Lake Lenore is part of a long string of lakes and coulee's that were created by the Missoula Floods during the ice ages.  It is a dry, rocky, windy and deserty area with a lot of sage and usually a lot of sun.  I rushed off to SE Washington at the end of the trip because my daughter had broken her foot, so I'm not sure this photo I took of the painting is very accurate.  I can see some small areas I probably would have "fixed up" and I still might when I get back, but in the spirit of posting a daily painting--here it is!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dry Falls Cliffs

5/4/10 "Dry Falls Cliffs", 9" x 9", Oil
This is one of the paintings from Dry Falls this past weekend.  Dry Falls is the remnant of the largest known waterfall in the world that occurred as a result of the Missoula Flood.  Click here for a complete description of this incredible geologic event.  I've actually seen the wave patterns on the land of Eastern Washington from 30,000 feet above in an airplane.  The rock is a kind of blackish basalt and hard to paint as it is not luminous, but the land is beautiful and the winds over the weekend were fierce.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Farm Near Joseph

5/3/10 "Farm Near Joseph", 10" x 12", Oil
This is of the sky near Joseph, Oregon, a beautiful area beneath the Wallow Mountains.  On this painting day I set the timer and quit when it went off.  Just like being outside when the light changes, the time element focuses the mind.  Its a little rough, but I like the general feeling of it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Idaho Sundown - SOLD

5/2/10 "Idaho Sundown", 8" x 10", Oil SOLD
Eastern Idaho also has big skies that are beautiful at sundown.  I'm still in Eastern Washington, so this is another "extra" painting I did last week.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Escalante Hillside

5/1/10 "Escalante Hillside", 9" x 9", Oil
This is one of the Escalante cloud painting I did last week in my studio from a photo taken on an October day when clouds covered the big sky of Southeastern Utah.  I was interested in the cool tones of the hillside in the subdued light against the sky.  Right now I'm in Eastern Washington with friends painting in the scab lands of Washington State.  For those of you not from this area, these lands were formed by the massive Missoula Flood that occurred over and over during the ice age as the ice dam holding back a monstrous lake in Montana burst and flooded nearly all of Eastern Washington.  Hopefully I'll get a couple of good paintings and tell you more about the geology of this beautiful area.