Tag Archives: Plein Air Convention and Expo

Sunrise plein air!

Lately, I have been going out to paint super early. Getting up at five in the morning is painful but once I am out there painting in the hills and it starts getting light…there’s just nothing like it! Forgotten is the battle to get out of bed.

The main reason I am doing it is because I am trying to get better painting a scene that is changing literally in minutes. It is kind of a self test. So, I get small canvas papers taped up on my board, no larger than 5by6 and give myself 10 to 15 minutes to paint the scene. Usually, I have time to do one before sunrise and then one more of the same scene once the sun is up.

 

These last two came out alright. I am not too concerned with exactly what I am painting, it’s more about the process itself. I also enjoy being out in nature, so witnessing a sunrise is a privilege that most of us miss every morning. Anything to improve my painting skills!

This is just the latest wacky idea I had so I thought I share it here.

On another note: Check out my newly updated website: http://www.frankeber.com
I am slowly starting to put up oil paintings and drawings, so check back frequently! Website is updated on a regular basis.

 

Watercolor vs. Oil

This is a scene I have painted many times. It is near where I live and to me, represents our area to the dot. Rolling hills, pastures and a barn setting. Since I started more oil painting again I thought I’d give it a shot in that medium. The watercolor was painted two years ago.

The oil is from a slightly different vantage point and it is also a different time of the year. The watercolor was painted in mid winter, when it is ‘greenest’ around here. That’s right, in California, it gets green in the winter because most of our rainfall happens then!

The oil was just recently painted in the spring. The green on the hills has already changed, turning a red-ish brown. That happens pretty much as soon as the rains stop. This is, however, my favorite time to paint them. In the winter, it is sort of a carpet of intense green (think New Zealand) and is quite difficult to do in a painting. The painting can become overloaded with sameness. To me the watercolor was harder to do for that reason.

Both mediums convey their own mood and feel. This will be one of those places that I’ll paint
over and over. Different times of the day and in different seasons.

Painting plein air, I believe the goal should be to capture something of the scene and not ‘make up’ something different. It is true that sometimes we have to change things around a bit, because mother nature just put too much information there. However, to me there is no point in painting plein air if I don’t really paint what’s there. In this case, it was the study of the hills and sky that make the painting. The interaction of it all. How it’s all one! If I change everything, why go out at all? I can take a picture and do all that in the studio.

To get the color and value right it is essential to observe right. The hills have colors of the sky in it and if the clouds are low enough, they will have some of the hill color in it! Notice how the greens change. The shadows, the sunlit parts, the foreground field. All different! I am so blown away by little things like that! It really excites me, such a miracle…well, not really but I find it endlessly fascinating! I can almost feel the scene…

To say it in the simplest most straight forward way: to paint well, all you have to do is observe right, mix the right color with the right value and put it in the right place. Done!

Value studies help when there’s a gunfight!

The unexpected always happens when you’re painting on location. I have had anything from flies, annoying onlookers, bank trucks blocking the view to complete weather changes! I never had a ‘gunfight’ until a few days ago, that is!

While painting at Old Tucson as a faculty member of this year’s plein air convention, I was suddenly approached by a cowboy with a Winchester rifle. He told me I had to leave my painting spot because there was going to be a gunfight at noon (actually it was 5:30pm, small detail).

He had a fierce look, kept spitting and carried a gun. I thought it better not to argue. Luckily, I had done my value sketch and could finish my painting in the studio later. So, there you go! That’s why we do the value sketch, because you just never know for how long you can paint at a certain spot!

This is what I should have said in return: “Stranger, this town is not big enough for the two of us…”, but I wasn’t that quick witted, plus I was unarmed!!

Old Tucson was the set of many well-known Western movies and shows, i.e. ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Bonanza’, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and others.

Composition: a path through the painting

 

We’ve all heard of the rule of thirds, but there is also another good way to create a focal point:

A path through the painting. That refers to the way line work creates a dynamic path that leads the eye around the painting. I often use it as it makes for a very interesting composition. When out in nature we have to look for these things. I think they are almost more important that the subject itself! A good painter can create a great painting out of the most drab and boring subject, i.e. a junk yard or an intersection with nothing much there but ugly buildings, just by making use of this!

That brings me to another point: it’s easy to get lost in the subject and neglect the composition. In this instance, dry docked boats with men working on them is great subject matter in itself. However, if we just show a boat on stilts and nothing else that can be a bit underwhelming to look at. After all, we just have our pathetic, two dimensional piece of paper or canvas to capture it all! So I tried to create a path to make it more interesting. I also created big areas with, what I call abstract painting. The entire hillside behind the boat and the entire foreground has an abstract quality to it. I always say, in representational painting, 80% of every painting is non-representational!

Finally, ‘pardon the dust’, so to speak: my website is currently down because it gets a much needed revamp. Hopefully it won’t take too long. Stay tuned!!

 

Monterey Plein Air convention Recap

I was definitely impressed by how well organized it was. Despite the amount of participants (over 700) there was never a problem.
Initially, I was a bit skeptical about the size of the event first, but the organizers tried hard to accommodate everybody. The catering company did a tremendous job, there was always food and drinks, so nobody had to go hungry.
The best part were all the great demonstrations by internationally known artists! If anything I come away inspired after seeing the presentations of Quang Ho, Antonio Masi or George Carlson, just to name a few.

Another highlight for me was meeting and spending time with fellow watermedia painters. Many painters whom I admired greatly when I first started out, like Eric Wiegardt! I also met Jean Haines, Michael Reardon, Robin Purcell, Andy Evanson, Georgia Mansur, Stewart White, Francesco Fontana and many others. We all hung out together at night to present a united front against all the oilies! Just kidding! We all got along and a few oil painters even took the time to complement us and admitted their admiration: ‘watercolor is just too hard’, was what I heard more than once!

Painting outside was great fun and there was room for everybody. My job was to also help out, if anybody needed guidance or had a question about how to approach a subject. We carried around flags and wore faculty hats to be of assistance if needed. Overall, I never felt pressured and many participants were experienced outdoor painters who really didn’t need much help.

Next year this event will be held in Tuscon, AZ, a very different environment. I am happy to say that I will be invited again as a faculty member. My presentation on the watermedia stage was well received and my painting in the Atrium exhibition sold!

Upcoming exhibitions

 

Just a quick post about some exhibitions and events I will be part of this spring:

April 13-17, Plein Air Convention in Monterey, CA
April 24-26 The San Dimas Art Festival  in San Dimas, CA
May 22-24 The Paso Robles Art Festival in Paso Robles, CA

Please consider visiting if you’re in the area and see some of my work in real life!

 

The 4th Annual Plein Air Convention, Monterey California

Frank Eber

Frank Eber

I am happy to be invited as a contributing artist at the Plein air convention!
This is the fourth event and according to the webpage, it is going to be big:

‘Join over 700 artists for the Woodstock of plein air painting.’

April 13-17, 2015 in Monterey-Carmel at the Monterey Conference Center.

In April 2015, join over 700 hundred painters of all levels, including over 60 of the world’s best, for the 4th Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo on the dazzling Monterey Peninsula. The next event promises to be the best yet, with full program tracks focused around three of painting’s most popular media — oil, water-based, and pastels. You’ll work and play with your favorite painters while attending lectures and demos, and this year, you’ll have more opportunities than ever to paint with them, as we’ve scheduled ample time each day to paint Monterey’s extraordinary scenery.