Meeting Notes APRIL 2014

At today's meeting Loretta, Kay, Peggie, Tim, Tedd, Joanne, Kristina, Char, Dave, Mark, Renita, Za, Stephanie, Vicki, Susan, Jim, Ron Shepard, Jeanne, Chris, Eunice, and me (Celeste).

Today's suggested table topic: “more” on the focal point / also called the center of interest.

Celeste: I took a workshop with Kenn Backhaus who taught to start with the center of interest (often an area of with the darkest dark and lightest light) and work out from there. I showed two paintings where I “missed the mark”. (Sometimes I forget what I started out to do, and then I wind up in all middle values). I also showed a recent painting (a "moonscape") where the center of interest is obvious.

Eunice: I have been taught that because we read from left to right the right hand side of the painting is a good place to put an emphasis. Eunice brought in a painting from the desert.

Chris forgot to bring her painting today!(But we were happy to see her anyway!)

Jeanne:  If I paint on a very gray day ....I have some difficulty finding and describing something interesting. If there is “no hook” to a painting the painting doesn’t seem to have much to offer. (Jeanne showed an example of what she meant).

(New person) Ron Shepherd. Welcome! Ron is new to the group and paints and watercolor and oil. We hope he'll come back next week and perhaps bring a painting.

Jim did not bring a painting today. He quipped:  “If I knew that today's topic was about bad paintings I could've brought a lot of them”

(Ha ha! Not true, but funny nonetheless).

Susan: If I do a thumbnail sketch I am more equipped to stick with my original idea. I use a value viewer application on my phone to see values better. Susan brought in two books one from an artist that showed strong lights and darks. Another the landscape book by Mitch Albala.

Vicki: I don't believe that every painting needs a specific center of interest. Sometimes a pattern in just as pleasing as something quite obvious. Vicki brought in a sunflower painting.

Stephanie: I agree a painting doesn't always need a center of interest, per se. Personally, I do look for strong rectangles and strong contrast. I like to vary the sizes and shapes of things. When painting plein air I sometimes get distracted and I don't plan properly.  Stephanie brought in an example of this together with an example of a nicely placed element.

Za:  I believe that a best way to achieve a center of interest or center of focus is to rely on pursuing what excites you. What makes you want to paint the thing before you? What is the best way to describe your excitement? Is it to paint the thing close up, at a medium distance or at a small scale or at a large scale? Is it the sky that excites you... then make sure that you paint the sky above. Is it the river that excites you...then be sure that the river is on your canvas is placed in the lower third. Edgar Payne is a wonderful artist to study.  “Center of interest” can be considered a compositional situation. Look for the compositional armatures like L-U and S... steelyard etc. These are guides, not necessarily rules. Composition is important and you should study it. A hazy day can actually make a great painting.

Renita: Over the years I have had a frustration with my hands shaking (due to medical condition). Recently a Dr gave me some new medication that alleviates the shaking. I'm very happy about that and I've bought in a painting that I painted without my hands shaking!  (Applause!!)

Mark: In school I actually put clear acetate over old Master paintings in order to understand composition and key issues about the center of interest. However, when I am painting now, I try to forget all of that and just respond to what is before me. I misread the topic today and thought perhaps what we were going to talk about was “point of view”. Point of view is a more interesting subject to me because it has to do with individuality. I am using painting to find myself. Mark brought in two paintings.

Dave: Recently while painting outdoors and a passerby said to me “wow, seeing you painting makes me feel like I am in Europe”! I painted a painting where I had to chase the light a lot. When that happens, I can lose my center of interest. Dave brought in two plein air paintings.

Kay: I am going to be taking Za's workshop and Thomas’s workshop (in Italy). In preparation, I got a supply list from Thomas and I used some of his colors to produce the paintings that I brought today. (These colors are new to my palette). I also brought in a wonderful magazine that I just discovered called American art Review. I bookmarked nearly every page. It's a wonderful resource. I am trying to get much more paint onto my canvas.

Char: I brought in this painting that I originally did for my mother. It is of a bonsai tree.

Kristina: I did a painting in Hillsboro that  came out in all middle values and I believe I lost any center of interest that I had. I brought a Nocturne painting to show today. It seems easier to find an interesting "high point" in a Nocturne. Perhaps that is because the values are so dark and/or close together and there is a lot of opportunity for contrast.

Joanne: I knew an artist named Robin Rickenbaugh.  He used to do crazy things like fling things on a support on the floor. He would key off of this random act and make something interesting out of the randomness. I brought in a book that is about that very subject. Patterns can be found in everything. I think I am partial to  focal points that came about “after the fact”.
Joanne brought two paintings, one of her son done from life and one floral painting.

Tedd: I brought in this painting that I did from life. The lips of the person were very dominant... to me obviously a center of interest. I also brought in a painting of a panorama view in California.

Tim brought in the painting that he felt didn't work. (But there's a new one on the wall that does work!) He is using thicker and thicker paint with a pallette knife.

Peggie brought in a painting of a tulip field. This is one of the paintings that will be in her solo show at the West Linn Bank.

Loretta brought in a painting that she did while following a demo by a workshop teacher.  It employs a lot of color and has an obvious center of interest.


Alla Prima Portland will have a group show at the Art Factors Frame Shop (on Macadam). It is a beautiful space. The reception will be the first Thursday in June. All details will follow soon. Stephanie is doing press releases and publicity. This is a show that will include anyone who is an Alla Prima Portland member (one painting each, maximum size, 18x24) and selected (invited) artists will have an opportunity to show an additional larger painting. On Tuesday, May 27 you’ll bring your painting, turn it in (to Art Factors) and have (optiona-for-fun) breakfast at the Buffalo Gap right next door. This in a non-juried show and if there is a small fee, it will be for printed cards. Details are being hammered out. Your painting can be any subject.  Big thanks to Mark Larsen for organizing/arranging this show. Plans are to make it an annual event.

Dave will be giving a talk next Thursday at Oregon Society of artists. It will be on the subject of plein air painting and painting in unusual weather circumstances. Please come and watch his demo!

April 18 (5-8pm) is a reception for the Portland museum rental gallery.

Renita tells us that she has several months opening for shows at US Bank at 16th and Wilder please contact her if you'd like to have a solo show at the US Bank.

Peggie Moje':  Solo show. A reception Friday, April 11, 11 AM to 12 noon at the US Bank, 19060 Willamette Dr., West Linn OR 97068.

Joanne says that Jim Lommasson is having and first Thursday at Chargill Communications. It is photography; about prizefighting. (editors note: I couldn't find specifics about this, but here is Lommasson's website:

IMPORTANT: We love passing the paintings around, and many people bring in just finished (wet) paintings. One of the wet paintings got smudged today, even though it was in a substantial frame. We don’t want to stop passing paintings around, so let’s not become complacent ... let’s always be careful handling all paintings in the future. J

Thank you for bringing your ideas and paintings today. See you next time

Next weeks topic. How many paintings do you work on at one time?

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Meeting notes: April 10, 2014

At todays meeting Anna, Mark, Loretta, Za, Tim, Judy, Tedd, Ron, Kristina, Stephanie, Jim, Eunice, and me Celeste.

Today's suggested table topic: Do you work on one painting at a time or do you work on multiple paintings at one time? 

Celeste: I am a direct painter and that suits my personality. I pretty much work on one painting at a time. Maybe I am impatient or restless. I just don’t like long drawn-out projects. Of course, I can make minor alterations and adjustments when I realize what might improve a painting.  I brought in two landscapes today.

Ron: I had a studio for years and during that time I worked on multiple projects. I also like to work “one at a time” and outdoors.  I was in Hawaii once for a month. It is so nice to look out, see the scene and translate it into paint. I brought a watercolor (from Hawaii) for you to see. I remember I painted it while my girlfriend read her book.

Kristina: I like to do studio still life. I will set them up and work on them for an extended period of time, often over several days.

Recently, I went to MtTabor and did a plein air painting. I just wanted to get down the color notes. Doing that painting really excited me...because after I painted it I had a clear idea of what I would do next. I used it to do a second larger studio piece. I know if I’d painted this scene from a photo it would not be nearly as successful.

Stephanie: Sometimes when a painting is unsatisfactory I will go back into it. Recently, I have been starting to go over old acrylic paintings with oil. I often have two paintings going at the same time. I also like to work on series. I brought a painting of rocks... it is from one inspired by my Smith Rock series.

Jim: I generally work on one painting at a time. I do a thumbnail of what I hope to accomplish and I work with something in mind. I have a bad habit of overworking, so I have learned to stop just before I'm finished.  The next day I will make a final decision about whether or not I need to do anything else to the painting
Currently, I am working on a still life that involves western artifacts, a saddle and I've added a bushel of apples. I am also working on portraits on toned paper.

Eunice: I have found that boredom leads to sloppiness, so I don't want to get bored! I LIKE working on several paintings at one time..(often 4 or 5) so I can experience variety. I can run into problems...I can wind up working too much on paintings and if I realize that is happening...  I will put them away so I don't work on them.

Loretta: I like to work on one painting at a time. Once I am involved with the painting I like to stay with it as long as I retain interest. (I do not want to “break the dream”).

Za: I will work one at a time or on multiples. It all depends on what projects/events I am doing and my end goal.

Recently, I was told by a painting friend “you fall in love with your subjects”. Well, that is true!  If I fall in love I can see the potential. I’ll sit back and let it dry and do more with it later if the painting needs something.
The thing is... I either fall in love or I don't and I will know which way it is going within three minutes of starting a painting. I really enjoy the act of painting. I have produced miles of paintings and I seldom go back into them.

Tim: I only work on one painting at a time. I think I have a short attention span. If it doesn’t pan out I can paint over it and take my signature off of it and give it to Goodwill. Maybe someone there would like to have a painting support. Recently I have been playing with thick paint. I brought in a painting that I did with a palette knife.

Judy: (New person.... welcome!) I just moved here from Alaska. I now live in Newberg. I am a former graphic designer. I brought in two paintings that I did in Alaska. I generally paint what I see and paint one painting at a time. I am very happy to find this group and I hope to come back. (We hope you come back too, Judy).

Tedd: In the winter I would paint two or three models at a time. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked painting that could seem confusing, but after awhile I came to really like it. I like going back into a painting after letting it sit for awhile. I brought a panoramic painting to show today.

Anna: I used to paint in layers, but now I paint plein air. I put all of my paintings up. There are lots of them. I have them up around me so that I can see the progression in my work. I brought in two paintings today. One of the paintings is from Rowena Point and the other is from Thomas Kitts’ workshop.

Mark: Currently, I am working on a very big painting. I am trying to learn a tonalist style. It is not plein air. I like to learn from others. I have always been that way. I like to see something and say, “I like that. I can try that. I can do that”.  I am always struck by some of the words that Za uses like “love” and  “blessing".  These are words that are in keeping with creation and with being human.
Painting is all about love and connection.


At the end of the meeting Za showed us her new cart for painting. It is a bike cart made by a company called Travoy (the Burley model). When she first saw one, she thought it looked way too clunky and too big....but on the is VERY lightweight and a snap to break/down and collapse. Za showed us how it folds up for easy travel. She also showed us her Soltek easel and the palette she had custom made that fits on top of her easel.

Today David McBride gave a talk at OSA about plein air painting. Chris Lally took this photo. The lecture demonstration was very well received!

There is still time to sign up for Eric Jacobson still life workshop this Saturday (4/12/14) at Art on the Boulevard. Details are found here: 

Have you been following the Facebook posts about the Plein Air Convention in Monterey? Here is a photo of the Portland Contingency. It has been so much fun to follow their adventures!(Photo from Brenda Boylan):

Karen Ilari is starting a Tuesday paint out group. The home base will be in St. Johns. Are you interested in finding out more? Please email Karen. karenilari(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thanks to Kay Elmore for doing our roster. We’ve learned that more people want to be listed. Are you one of them? Email your email and phone number to celesteobergin(at)gmail(dot)com.
The Alla Prima group show is in June! You can find out more from the call to artist on our facebook page.

Thanks to all for coming today and sharing your ideas and meeting: Thursday April 17. Suggested you paint with a scheme in mind (complementary, split complementary, Triadic, Analogous) ?

Meeting April 17, 2014:

At today's meeting Loretta, Jeanne, Tim, Tedd, Joanne, Kay, Char, David, Marty, Susan, Eunice, Peggie, Renita, Mark, and me Celeste.

Today's suggested table topic color schemes ....what do you know about them do you use them?

Celeste: I generally don’t think about themes, though I know that we all must know what is complementary, triad, anallagous etc. I noticed in the Sergei Bongart book that whenever he uses a lot of green he always adds one red element. I showed a book called Color Theory by Patty Mollica. I showed two analogous paintings.

Eunice: I am working on paintings from Jackson Hole. They are 16 x 20. Whenever I see that something is getting too orange I modify it. I seem to like the color scheme of green orange and purple. It is a Triad color scheme.

Susan: In the past I have laid out the colors that I am going to use in pastel, so in that way I have used color schemes. I am now learning about color mixing in oil. I brought a painting that is done in blues.  I was experimenting with warm and cool and transparent color.

Marty: I have brought in a color wheel to show you (pictured on front page). I am aware of complementary colors and I like to take advantage of them. I brought in a painting that I did at Studio 30.

Dave: I like complementary colors. I also like to mix greys into almost all my paint.
My demonstration at Oregon Society of artists was last week. Thank you all for coming. I brought in a painting that I did there as my demonstration. I also brought in a painting that I did Plein air in a location at 102 and Foster. It was a good spot.

Char: I brought in a painting that I did with acrylic and palette knife. I like working with palette knife.

Mark: On the Artist Daily website there is a very good color theory section. I did this painting in a complementary scheme (it is of yellow daffodils and my background is purple). The main assignment that I gave myself with this painting was to not overwork it.

Renita: I have been working on a painting of my daughter. I have a new camera and it does stop action type photographs. I am taking lots of pictures of my horse. I will be able to paint from these pictures and if you're interested in painting from my horse pictures let me know.

Kay: I have taken a few color theory courses. One of my favorites was with Amiee Erickson. It is very comprehensive and has helped me think through some good color combinations for successful paintings. I did a painting of the Hollywood Palace Theater. I put it into Photoshop to show myself how it would look in cool colors as well as in warm colors. I brought in this book Color and Light by James Gurney. He uses something called color gamuts. Gurney is an illustrator, so most of his paintings have something to do with shifting moods. I have been doing tonal studies. I am trying to train my eye to see the world and three values.

Joanne: I highly recommend this book by Ted Goerschner. All the color schemes are there. I have sometimes thought that it would be a good idea to paint each one of the color schemes from Ted Goerschner's book but then I, don’t do that! I rely more on information like from Hawthorne on Painting. I know that it is wise to start with a monochromatic underpainting and then go from there. This is true whether or not you're doing classical painting or direct painting. Think about it, you paint an underpainting in one color generally to mass in the big shapes when you're classically painting,  plein air or direct painting.
I brought in some of the color studies that I've done and some of the bigger paintings I've done from the color studies. You should keep in mind why are you doing what you're doing. I am not going to paint flowers in little still life boxes if I have natural light. Henry Hensche said that if you get the proper light key everything will be beautiful. I ask myself often while I'm painting do I need to exaggerate something? As always....relationship is what is most important.

Tedd: Recently I saw a Bob Bertrum video. He paints with only three colors. I showed a portrait in his colors last week. It is so surprising that those colors provided such perfect color harmony. This week I am showing a panoramic view of Lake Oswego.

Tim: I generally paint what I see. I don't think about schemes. However, sometimes when I'm putting in highlights and shadows I am aware of complementary colors and how important they are for the painting to read correctly. Recently I went to Whitaker Pond at Cathedral Park. I brought in two paintings from those places.

Jeanne: When I first took up painting again I went to the Multnomah arts Center for classes.  The teachers there gave me a list of the colors that they thought I should be using. I still use those colors. (a warm and cool or each primary and a few earth colors). I saw a show at the Froelick gallery with Thomas Prochaska. All the paintings are done in black-and-white. I really feel that you should all go see this show because it's a great reminder about how a painting can stunning ....with no color at all.

Loretta: I use a limited palette and I add colors to that from time to time. I am aware of complementary colors. I like to paint often with just two colors and white. That is because I am mostly after mood instead of realism.


 Karen Ilari hosts the Tuesday paint group. Please email you her if you want to be on the email list.

Marty tells us that Kat is putting together a canvas panel-making party. If you are interested in making canvas panels with Kat please email her for details:

The rental gallery is having a reception on Friday, April 18 from 5 to 8. They are still taking applications for new artist until the end of the month.

If you're interested in applying for the Society of Washington spring show go here:

Have you signed up for our show at Art Factors in June? Email Stephanie Cissna

(Mark tells us that there is probably room to submit 4-5 paintings each...but it depends on the final tally....make sure the paintings are your best efforts. Also, you may bring in unframed pieces for bins, if you want also). Deadline: May 27. See the facebook page for the call to artists.

Thomas Kitts is in the current issue of plein air magazine. :)

Joanne Kollman will be featured at Blackfish Gallery in May.

Thanks for bringing in your paintings and ideas --Next meeting: April 21. Suggested table topic: More on edges....and "brushspeed". 

Meeting, April 24:

At todays meeting: Loretta, Stephanie, Tim, Jeanne, Susan, Brenda, Dave, Char, Kay, Peggie, Thomas, Marty, Jim, Joanne, Anna, and me (Celeste).

Today's suggested table topic:  Brushes (your favorite manufacturer and an additional tip if you have one).

Celeste: My favorite brush is the Robert Simmons Signet brush. I generally like flats. I learned from someone (I'm not sure who, I think it may have been Mitch Baird) that old crappy brushes can make intriguing random marks, especially in trees and foliage. Also, even though plein air painters use big is all right (when the subject warrants it) use a small brush! I brought two landscape paintings to share.

Joanne: I brought the book entitled Brushwork Essentials. I also brought the book Alla Prima by Richard Schmid. I like Daniel Smith brushes. I have learned that the size of your brush should go up with the size of your canvas. I also like what Richard Schmid says in his book about the negatives associated with what he calls  “licking the canvas”. Translation: don't go over the same area with your brush over and over! I brought in 3 paintings.

Jim: I went yesterday to see Craig Srebnik’s demonstration. I was inspired by him to work on the same photograph that he worked on for his demonstration. (He graciously gave it to me!) I hope to show that painting to you in the future. For bristle brushes I like Dick Blick or Utrecht. One of my favorite brushes is a number 4 flat. Recently I saw a DVD with Quang Ho. He recommended a  Langnickel Short handle sable-type brush. I prefer a long handle, but I do like the brush. When I clean brushes I use the Kevin Macpherson tip to shape the brush after cleaning with the tiniest bit of soap**. (This helps the brush hold its shape for next use). I very much appreciate Thomas Kitts and his blog. Thomas is always helpful to other artists and I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank him. (----applause).

Marty: I have been experimenting with filberts. I also like a brush that is called an Egbert. It is long and kind of flimsy. I like how it puts down a very long fluid mark. I struggle with splaying brushes. I like Robert Simmons brushes. I am going to be copying a master every month. Right now I am working on a Sargent painting. I have just finished “mapping” the drawing. I copied a Wyeth once. You get a sense of the man when you copy his painting. In the future I may want to copy a Sorolla and a Fechin. I brought in the Sargent start.

Thomas: I am back from Monterey. Brenda and I had a fun trip! It is true I fell ill one night, but still gave my demonstration the next day. I advise you all to get a copy of the Brushwork Essentials book that Joanne showed. When you look at that book you will see how many different types of marks you should know how to make.  It is important that you don't just let the marks happen. Your marks should be deliberate and you should have a reason for every brush mark you make. (This is if your main interest is representational painting). If you read through the Brushwork book you will widen your vocabulary of brushwork. In my opinion, you should use the biggest brush that you can for plein air. That keeps you from noodling too much. I like Rosemary brushes the best. As far as I'm concerned, they are absolutely the best that you can buy and they're not as expensive as you would think (even with shipping from Britain).  I also encourage you all to try to paint with a knife. A pallet knife can put down such a beautiful strong, sharp edge. ** I disagree with Jim/Macpherson (though, I’ll ask him) I don’t approve of leaving soap in your brush. I clean my paints paintbrushes with vegetable oil and Murphy's oil soap. The vegetable oil I use is safflower oil. I prefer cotton rags to paper towels. I also use hot water when I am cleaning my brushes. I brought in a painting I painted in Monterey (next to Dan Gerhartz)!

Peggie: don't like the Dick Blick masterstroke brush! It seems to fall apart. I brought in 2 paintings from the tulip fields.

Kay: I have had several different teachers. They all have different choices about what they like best. Some teachers have like flats. Some have liked filberts. Now Thomas wants me to get some rounds! What I've learned about myself is that if I use too much gel medium with my paints (to try to extend my paints) I can run into trouble. I use Magic soapHere are some links about brushwork I found on YouTube: (Thanks, Kay).

Alla Prima Brushstroke Exercise by Larry Seiler

David Leffel Painting Workshop - Making Brush Stroke

Learning How to Paint Part 9 - Brushwork

Dave: I have brought in three paintings. One of Reed College, one of George Rogers Park and a portrait of Storm Large. I like to use up pallet knife for foliage.

(Char also likes to use a pallet knife. Since she works with acrylics she often uses hydrogen peroxide to finish cleaning her brushes). (??)

Brenda: I came back from Monterey to a problem... identity theft! I have not painted now for two weeks and I find that difficult. I had a great time at the Plein Air Convention. My demonstration started off wrong when I dropped all my pastels on the stage. However, I “recovered” and was able to still do my demonstration and the attendees gave me great (positive) feedback! I loved painting the desert and the entire desert colors. I am going to go to Carmel Los Gatos and Door County this summer. I am giving a pastel workshop May 2, 3 and 4 at Studio 30. There is still room. Please contact me if you are interested! I am showing 3 plein air pastels from the desert.  (Editor's note: It was fun to watch your adventures on facebook, Brenda. What a good ambassador you are for "our" area. We are proud of you!)

Susan: Since I am new to oil painting I have very few brushes. This is a wonderful topic for me. Recently I was painting outside Nehalem State Park. I had a man come up behind me and tell me to "punch it up”. I eye-rolled, but I also understood his point. Dakota art supplies is having a brush clear out. I brought in three of my plein air paintings.

Jeanne: I learned from Za that filberts are a really good brush. I like the Robert Simmons Signet brush. I painted at the Arboretum and brought in the result. It is an inspiring place!
Anna: I took a workshop from Jennifer Diehl. She introduced me to different brushes. I still like impasto and to use glazes, though now I understand other types of paint application better. I brought in a brush container to show you how I transport and clean my brushes. It is actually a soldering rod container. It can accept liquids.

Tim: I like palette knife. I brought in a painting that I did from George Rogers Park.

 Stephanie: I like flats and brights because I like to see the brushstrokes. I like variety and texture. At first, when I tried filberts I didn’t like the oval shape that seemed to show up in my work. I understand better how to control that nowI brought in 2 paintings from the Arboretum. 

Loretta:  My favorite brush is a Windsor/ Newton filbert. I also like bad brushes and inexpensive brushes for a variety of reasons! I like very very soft edges so I use this (a mop brush) for soft edges. I recommend ending a brush cleaning session with cold water. 

Announcements: Portland Art Museum will be having an event August 8, 9 and 10 to celebrate plein air painting.  You will be able to submit via to be an official participant. More information will be forthcoming about this. (The official call is not out yet). 

Thomas has several workshops coming up.  He will have a workshop in Hood River in July. (Information to come). He will also have workshops in May, August and September:

The Lake Oswego Plein Air event is coming up. The participants have all been selected. It is in May 10 and 11th and May 17 and 18th. Locations will be posted, so that the painters can be "found".

The Alla Prima group show for Alla  Prima Portland members (that's you!) will be in June. All information about this show is in the call to artist listed below. Have you signed up? The Deadline approaches!

Save the Date: Sept 2,3 and 4 (and 5) Hood River plein Air (Juror Kathryn Stats)
Sept 12 & 13 Hillsboro plein air

Thanks all for coming and sharing your paintings and ideas. Next meeting, May 1. Suggested table topic: Painting “revelations”. Share a painting-related idea or technique that you “finally got” and/or something that you learned in a “watershed moment”.

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