Category Archives: Travel

Fayac farm estate

Fayac Farm estate 14x20

Fayac Farm estate 14×20

(click for larger image)

On my recent trip to France I was very much drawn to painting simple scenes with barns and cows as oppose to pompous, medieval fortresses built into rock formations. Sometimes, scenes like this have greater appeal and work much better as a painting.  What looks great as a photograph doesn’t necessarily translate into a great painting!

I was very intrigued by the shapes of the barns in the Aquitaine/ Dordogne region of central France.  France is very good in preserving their traditions while keeping pace with the modern life in the 21st century.  They have big box stores as well, but at the same time also manage to keep their small mom and pop stores alive.

This scene depicts one of said barns at the end of the day. The play of light on the rooftop,  the deep shadows of the foreground along with the grazing cows were just waiting to be painted!

Fayac farm estate
Media: original watercolor on paper
Image size:  approx. 14″x20″
Unframed/ matted
Please email me for purchase information

follow me on facebook

Plein air bliss – just for a while…

plein air bliss

plein air bliss

by frankeber

by frankeber

Yesterday afternoon, I caught some magic light. This location was about a two minute walk from the house we’re staying at. A quiet spot in the countryside, no audience, no distractions, nothing… plein air bliss, is what I call it. Even the weather cooperated, if only for a little while.

This trip has taught me many things, but most importantly, how to deal with all kinds of adverse conditions and still paint, no matter what! Terrible light, winds, rain, cold… I think I had it all in the last two weeks! While it is a bit frustrating to come so far and be subjected to the worst, weather wise, it is also a great learning experience.

The worst I have to deal with in California is that my pigment dries too quickly. It is simply always a sunny and mild day. In Germany, I was lucky to be able to save my painting during an unexpected downpour, half-way through, with temperatures dropping about 15 degrees within five minutes. Truly a different world!

When picking a plein air spot, I make sure I am in close proximity of some shelter. It could be an awning, a roof or even a tree in the countryside. You can’t start looking when the weather turns, it’d be too late! Another important thing is access to a rest room and lastly, to position myself out of the way. People can be very rude and you want to make sure no one keeps bumping against your easel while you’re painting.

Oh, and another thing: absolutely wear headphones! It is a must. Otherwise, you’ll get someone asking you for directions or any other inane thing…. As painters we are constantly mistaken for tour guides. I don’t know what it is that would make somebody ask an artist questions like that, but it is very annoying!

However, we shall not be deterred!

Europe trip – plein air impressions

kalchreuth views, web Nurnberg impressions Operahouse Regensburg sketch, web

Despite the crazy weather, I am trying to paint every day. Today was particularly adventurous as I had to pack it in during a heavy rain shower. I had the foresight to place myself under a tree, but still had to scramble to put my painting away before the rain got on it. To make matters worse, I did not bring my umbrella. Why? Because I was lazy and didn’t want to carry the extra weight. Maybe I should have…

I am currently in Regensburg, a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is situated at the Danube river and quite a sight. Hard to believe, but Regensburg was first settled by the Romans under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius in 179 A.D., and by Bavarian tribes even before then. 179 A.D. and earlier???

In any case, wish me luck with the weather—it’s awful and I am really sick of it! Time for a change..

Plein air in Austin, Texas

I was teaching a workshop last week at the wonderful Waterloo Watercolor group in Austin, TX. After the workshop was done at the end of the week, I was lucky enough to have had the chance to paint in this great city.
I was joined by a few artist colleges and we headed out to paint scenes by the lake and downtown. Naturally, after the weather was sunny all week the day we went outside turned out to be a bit dull and drab. Earlier in the morning the light was much better and  my scene with a rower and downtown Austin in the background turned out pretty nice.

Austin is a great city and everyone at the WWC group did their best to make me feel welcome. I’d like to especially thank Michele  and Marshal Missner, Eileen Pestorius, Kim and Gerry Hoerster, Anne and Barbara and Chuck Wallace for taking care of me in the best possible way. You all rock!

Austin lake, plein air by frankeber 2013

Austin lake, plein air by frankeber 2013

Austin plein air, Victorian by frankeber 2013

Austin plein air, Victorian by frankeber 2013

Somewhere in Europe…

City views, web by frankeber 2012

City views, web by frankeber 2012

This is a painting of…well, which European city is it?

Here’s a clue: An Italian painter named Bernardo Bellotto painted there a lot back in the 18th century. He was the student and nephew of the renowned Canaletto.

Here’s another: This city is also known for a controversial Allied bombing towards the end of WW2 where the entire city center was destroyed in what is commonly referred to as ‘the firestorm’.

You should have it by now…

This is a very dramatic painting with a very limited palette. I went to this city earlier this year and painted on location. This painting however, was not done plein air. It is sort of an experiment, actually.
Some artists think you can’t paint darks with watercolors and I have to say, it is a tricky business especially when it comes to layering. Two washes is the maximum with darks, I think. One of the hardest things to achieve in this piece is the subtle variety of values that *has* to be just right, otherwise the painting will not work!
The sky was painted first with a wash of cadmium orange all the way to the horizon line. The next step is a bit unnerving and maybe takes a few attempts. Basically, you wait about 40 seconds and mix the clouds( a purple wash in thicker consistency) while the paper wants to dry!
You have to work quickly and decisively, with the utmost economy of brushwork. The more you touch your paper, the worse you make it!
After that, I lift out some of the ‘silver linings’ of the clouds. Yes, while it is still wet and really, really wants to dry now….
As I say in my article in the watercolor artist’s magazine: Watercolor painting is risky business!
Wouldn’t it be nice to be an oil painter? sigh… hey, just kidding!! This is way more exciting!

detail shot

detail shot

In the detail shot you’ll notice that certain areas within the darker foreground are actually a lot lighter. This is where I dropped some water to have a nice variety in values. When the painting was completely dry, I scratched out some of the highlights with a blade. No gouache in this work anywhere. Well, what do you think?