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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


Sunday, July 25, 2010

In the Sun - NFS

7/25/10 "In the Sun", 12" x 10", Oil
This is a limited stroke/limited time exercise.  I love doing exercises like this--the abstraction and the lack of finish.  Maybe it is because when doing exercises like this I feel most like I am in the unfettered state of my childhood mind--without preconceptions or second thoughts and there is freedom in that.  However, I didn't do this entirely without a plan. I took Peggi's advice and made a line down the middle of my palette with darks on one side and lights on the other--I painted everything in sunlight from the light side of the palette and everything in shadow from the dark side of the palette.  More than one artist has said that everything in the painting is a reflection of what is on the palette.  If you are wondering about the shoes, they do look a bit like flippers, but actually they are my oversize green crocs. 

During the next week I will be on Lopez Island for the Plein Air Washington paintout, and then the following week off to Alaska to paint in Denali.  I've heard there is bad cell coverage on Lopez and last time I went to Alaska there was no cell coverage at all outside of Anchorage.  If there is not an in-house network, my broadband computer connection will be kapput, so I may not be posting much for the next two weeks--yikes--a posting vacation!  Maybe on the weekend when I will be home for a couple of days.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blue Dress - NFS

7/24/10 "Blue Dress", 12" x 8", Oil
My daughter was willing to pose for me so I took the opportunity to again try the PKR exercises.  Since my daughter is a violinist, we have many conversations about the parallels between music and painting and one of them is the need for structured practice related to specific skills.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mt. Stewart

7/23/10 "Mt. Stewart", 6" x 8", Oil
Today was spent entirely in a process of experimentation--of trying to figure out how to re-do a painting and actually make it different. Several tries were scraped off. Above is one of the results.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mt. Stewart

7/22/10 "Mt. Stewart", 8" x 10", Oil
This was the first painting I did last week up in Cle Elum.  There was wind gusting to maybe 30-40 mph, it was cold and I had some phthalo's on my palette.  I tried re-doing this painting today with a different palette and different size, but after that effort, I decided that there was some energy in this painting that was hard to duplicate.  This is the spot where the West Fork of the Teanaway meets the North Fork--some ways behind where I was painting.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peoh Point - SOLD

7/21/10 "Peoh Point", 8" x 10", Oil
This little painting won first place at the High County Artists Fresh Air Painting Competition last week.  My friend, Pat Clayton, won Best of Show with a wonderful horse painting.  The group of artists who put on this show are so generous and welcoming and the area is one of the finest places to paint I know of--because it is beautiful, it is the gateway to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and it is sunny most of the time!  Peoh Point is an icon of the town of Cle Elum and so it is always a "must paint challenge."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bank on Box Canyon Creek - NFS

7/20/10 "Bank on Box Canyon Creek", 8" x 10", Oil
I was so frustrated with my first two attempts on this painting day, that I decided to do timed paintings--one I posted a couple of days ago.  This is the other one that is a 35 minute painting.  It is amazing to me, as I mentioned before, how limiting the time for a painting both focuses the mind and prevents the second guessing that is the ruin of many a painting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tucquala Meadows - SOLD

7/19/10 "Tucquala Meadows", 9" x 9", Oil -- SOLD
After painting all morning at Salmon La Sac, my friend and I drove up a long, dusty and bumpy road to a high meadow just at the entrance to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.  This was the study I did before we packed up and headed back down.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lake Kachess #2

7/18/10 "Lake Kachess #2", 8" x 10", Oil
Do you ever want to just slap the paint on and not be so careful?  This is such a painting.  I just wanted to let loose and paint in a more abstract way and not worry what it looked like or if it looked like anything.  It took probably less than 20 minutes.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cle Elum River

7/17/10 "Cle Elum River", 9" x 9", Oil
This is another quick study from a Salmon La Sac campsite on the Cle Elum River.  The camp manager was so excited that we were painting in the camp ground that she brushed aside the fact that we had two cars parked at the site and one of them was off the pavement, an "offense" apparently strictly prohibited by the Forest Service.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Box Creek -- NFS


7/16/10 "Box Creek", 9" x 9", Oil -- NFS
We went up to Lake Kachess Wednesday, a large mountain lake-resevoir created by a dam in a series of Cascade Mountain lakes that feed the Yakima River.  Standing by this creek in the mountain air, my brain began working again with some of the concepts that I studied the week before.  What got it all going was doing timed paintings with a friend--a strategy that focuses the mind and frees the hand.  At 35 minutes we stopped, 5 minutes past the goal.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lake Kachess

7/15/10 "Lake Kachess", 9" x 7", Oil
I'm up painting at the Cle Elum "Fresh Air Paint-out".  This is one of my all-time favorite places since childhood--alpine lakes, mountain air, sage brush country, small western towns including Roslyn, where Northern Exposure was filmed.  Last week at the workshop, I felt I literally forgot how to paint.  I felt paralyzed and incompetent.  This painting was sort of the last of that struggle, but since I'm entering the ones that came after that--the ones where a couple of things began to sink into my brain--into the competition, I'm waiting to post those.

Raymond Logan has been kind enough to include a wonderful review of my blog on his Daily Painter Review. I feel honored that he selected my blog for review and I hope you will all go and sign up at Daily Painter Review.  It is always so interesting to get a perspective on your work from the outside.  And by the way, Raymond is not only a good writer, but he is also a fantastic painter, so check out his website  http://www.raymondlogan.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Columbia Gorge Tree


7/13/10 "Columbia Gorge Tree", 10" x 12", Oil
This is another painting from last week's workshop--on a hot, hot day by the Columbia River.  You can see I was experimenting with using big flat brushstrokes--laying them on.  This is the first time I have used a "bright" bristle brush in years, so it was interesting compared to filberts and flats.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Benson Park


7/12/10 "Benson Park", 9" x 9", Oil
I'm still on the road, so I don't have the best conditions for photographing paintings.  This is from the Elio Camacho workshop last week.  It was so hot, I set up my easel on a little gravel bar in the middle of the stream.  I learned a lot at the workshop, but its the kind of thing that takes experimentation and practice to really know what I learned.  There is often a delayed reaction in the learning process and sometimes a big step backwards because to make a leap, its sometimes necessary to re-shuffle the deck of the known and the habitual.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Columbia Gorge


7/8/10 "Columbia Gorge", 10" x 12", Oil
This was an overcast day on the Columbia River.  The rest of the week has been 95 degrees or higher.  This was one of the first paintings of a learning process--the point where you have a lot of new information and yet the hand still operates in more or less the old way.  By yesterday, some things so new had come into my head that I wanted to go into my cave and contemplate my next move--the last thing I wanted to do was post a painting!  I'm on my way to a college reunion, so probably for the next couple of days--no postings.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mt. Stewart

7/08/10, Mt. Stewart, Oil, 10 x 12
This is a sketch from a photo along the highway between Ellensburg and Cle Elum, where Mt. Stewart and the Stewart range are big as life.  I believe I've heard that Mt. Stewart is the highest mountain in Washington State that is not volcanic. Anyway, after what I've been learning this week, there are some parts of this painting that I would probably never paint this way again, but I love the colors--so here it is.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Zangle Cove #21


7/7/10 "Zangle Cove #21", Oil, 6" x 8"
This small ten minute sketch of the sky over the Cove was one of a series done last week early in the morning.    I didn't write down the exact time, but the land was dark and muted.  Right now I'm in Oregon painting along the Columbia Gorge--more of that later.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In the Shade - NFS

7/5/10 "In the Shade", Oil
This was one of the last sketches in Peggi's class and it was the exception to the rule I mentioned earlier about keeping shadows in a light area darker than light in a dark area.  This was a 40 minute exercise, but I only painted 20 minutes because I was following the rule and made the shadows areas on the white sheet much darker than this.  Peggi stopped me and did a little demo to illustrate how based on your impression of the subject, the rule should sometimes be broken.  In this case, after the demo, I lightened the shadows on the sheet so they were lighter or a similar value to the sunlit grassy areas. In Peggi's demo, the shadow areas on the sheet were more definitely lighter than the sunlit grass areas giving a wonderful glow to her sketch, but we moved quickly to another exercise and so experimenting with this will be for the future.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Head Studies - NFS

7/5/10 "Head Studies", Oil
One day of Peggi's workshop we went into the studio to work on portrait and figure in studio lighting.  By 5 pm it was 97 degree outside, so it was a good thing!  These two head studies were basically 3 values in black and white and color and I think were 20 minute sketches--so don't look too carefully at the anatomy!  I have an urgent desire to fix the shoulders in the B&W (hard to figure how I could have made that big of a mistake), but its more about the values than anything and when the timer went off, we went on to the next study.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Making Marks #2 - SOLD

7/4/10 "Making Marks #2", Oil SOLD
This is another sketch from Peggi's workshop using the procedure of "making marks" without prior drawing.  This is a wonderful way of training the eye and hand to think in a more painterly than linear way--to think in terms of shapes and masses rather than filling in the lines.

I've got one more sketch to post from last week's workshop and I'm off to another workshop today so this coming week I will probably be posting a few Zangle Cove sketches I did last week in between this storm of events.  I got one comment from one of my friends that he was tired of the Zangle Cove paintings, but they are sort of my bread and butter--the thing I do that is a never ending challenge--that keeps me mesmerized by the ever changing view of the same place and that finds me continually trying to see it in a new way.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Making Marks #1 - NFS

7/2/10 "Making Marks #1", 8" x 8", Oil
The concept for this sketch in Peggi's workshop, besides the limited values in sunlight, was the idea of "making marks."  In other words, don't draw, just paint.  It was just putting strokes of paint on the canvas as if you were putting together a puzzle--without any prior line drawing.  As Peggi and many others have said, the mileage of the canvas is what brings success.  I have two thoughts about this--1) I've read or heard that to master a subject requires 10,000 hours of working on it and 2) in Art and Fear they talk about how quantity rather than quality brings success.  I also think that Peggi's concepts of working on one thing at a time makes it easier to progress faster.  This little sketch also illustrates another thing I was just beginning to get into that Peggi talked about--making form changes using color rather than value in order to maintain the integrity of the value.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Massing Shadows #2 - NFS


7/3/10 "Massing Shadows #2", Oil
This was another quick sketch done in Peggi's workshop using an arbitrary dark color to mass the shadows.  I really like the graphic nature of this type of exercise.  It shows how you can create a 2-dimensional design that will read from far away, which is a goal that Peggi and other teachers urge students to think about.  It was one thing that Jove Wang emphasized when I took classes from him--the concept of dark, light and gray as the large schema pattern for the painting.  As Peggi pointed out, you can either use the shadow/light patterns for this 2-D schema or in the absence of strong shadow/light patterns, use the local color values to create the pattern.  This sketch is pretty much a 2 value scheme.

PS--Right now I'm in Powell River, BC, visiting my daughter at an orchestral music festival--two ferries and driving up the coast of BC took all day yesterday.  Here, the internet is intermittent.