Tag Archives: plein air magazine

Plein Air Magazine Dec/Jan 2017

I am very pleased to be one of the featured artists in this month’ Plein Air Magazine! It is a four page article featuring an interview (done by phone) where I talk about my painting process and philosophy as well as some of my paintings. I want to thank the editor Steve Doherty, for including my work! The magazine is available at Barnes and Nobles book stores.

A week in Provence

I had the privilege to teach a class in the beautiful south of France last week. There were an interesting mix of painters from Alaska, Texas and California as well as Israel and Norway!
The trip was organized by Jackie Grandchamps of French Escapade.  Jackie knows her stuff, she was a pleasure to deal with and did everything she could to accommodate us painters! I highly recommend French Escapade!

We lived and painted in Venasque, which lies in the mountains just east of Avignon, Provence.
We also did excursions to different painting locations like Isle-sur-la-Sorge, Gordes, and St.-Remy-de-Provence, where we painted in the garden of a famous hospital: the same one where Vincent van Gogh checked himself in so long ago. Remarkably, it is still a hospital today! Only the section where van Gogh lived is a museum.

Painting en plein air is hard work when it’s hot and we had very warm weather. Better than rain, that’s for sure, so nobody was complaining. There was always a nice and shady spot where we could hide from the heat! How does one deal with the heat when painting outside? Arguably, it might be better to switch to another medium but when painting watercolors, it is essential to bring a spray bottle to keep the washes wet. In dry conditions, every brushstroke dries in seconds! The sprayer helps to extend the drying time. I also make sure my painting and palette is never in full sun. Before I start my drawing I always spray my wells and close the palette so the pigments are ready when it’s painting time!

In other news: Yours truly will be featured in the October/November edition of Plein Air magazine! I was interviewed by Steve Doherty, the editor, and I am very grateful for being included! Here’s my painting philosophy as the magazine printed it:

“Painting should go deeper than copying nature as it is,” says watercolorist Frank Eber. “I want to find an interpretation of the thing that’s underneath — what gives it life. In essence, I am trying to paint what cannot be painted.”

Maybe I overdid it a bit, eh? …But seriously, wouldn’t that be something!!

Value range in painting!


A big problem in painting is that we can’t achieve absolute true values. The actual bright light is much brighter than we can ever achieve with white paint or white of paper! After all, it’s just pigment on paper or canvas! The best we can do is paint the correct values from lightest to darkest to achieve a realistic feel. Once that is done the painting will ‘read’ right. It doesn’t matter if it is not the ‘true range’. Working against the light produces strong contrast and highlights on tops of objects. Working with the light produces close values within the object but contrast against the background. Watercolor lends itself better to the former, simply because we do not have to paint around so many objects to preserve light.

Values can only be analyzed by comparison. Any brushstroke will look dark on white paper because there’s nothing else there. Quality comes from correct value relationships which in turn express the true feeling of light!

Some painters paint with a b&w value scale next to their color palette to help determine what the values of various colors are in b&w. Color can be very deceptive as to value. Sometimes, when it’s vivid like a bright red, it can seem lighter in value than what it really is! During the impressionist era painters tried to paint true values by applying super thick paint on the theory that the natural light would catch and therefore raise it’s value. When this was first done, critics called it a trick. Does it actually work? You be the judge…

Artists can, through color and value, attach elegance to common subjects.

An artist once said: in painting, value does all the work, color gets all the credit! So true!

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.

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!

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.

Teaching at Yosemite Valley

This was my second year working for the Yosemite conservancy at the Art and Educational Center in Yosemite Valley, California.
The week went by like a blurr and my classes were exceptionally well attended. Painting locations included the Merced River, the Ahwahnee Hotel, the meadow across the Yosemite falls (unfortunately, w/o water) and the Horse stables.

I’d like to thank Aline Allen of the Art Center, for her organizational skills and filling my classes. It is a privilege to be a guest at Yosemite and I look forward to coming again in the near future!