My new home page | Where the painting party is at.

I finally launched the new online home for me, Minnesota painter, Jeffrey Smith! So what does the mean for you?  It means that there is a whole slue of new posts to read over at the Jeffrey Smith Art.    I promise lots of posts focusing on the artistic process and what I paint.

Jeffrey Smith's pochade box set-up
Jeffrey Smith's pochade box set-up. Don't you just love photos where you can see the painting and the actual environment?

I have spent the entire summer plein air painting, and working on my farmer tan.  I have lots and lots that I’d love to share about the process of painting, and the practice of setting artist goals.   Check it out.  If you like what you find, consider joining my mailing list.

Sunday morning plein air with my Mom
Sunday morning plein air. In the garden with my Mom

Sunflowers Plein Air | backyard outdoor painting

Sunflowers Plein Air, 8x10", oil on gessoed panel, by Jeffrey Smith
Sunflowers Plein Air, 8x10", oil on gessoed panel, by Jeffrey Smith

I remember how much I loved sunflowers when I was a kid. We had a patch of them growing along side the house, next to the kitchen window. As I recall, the height of those sunflowers was pretty incredible. When it came to arranging these sunflowers, I had to cut off about 12 to 18 inches off the stems.

I painted these sunflowers from life in my backyard. Of course I’d love to say that I grew these sunflowers in my own backyard, but I have to admit I bought this fabulous bunch at Whole Foods.

This painting is available. Click here for purchase information.

Plein Air Plan | 5 tips for better outdoor painting

I just finished a fantastic plein air painting workshop sponsored by The Atelierhere in Minneapolis. The workshop was taught by plein air artist, Brian Stewart. Go ahead. Click on over to his site and take a look at his work, I can wait. Welcome back.

I made a conscious effort that I was going to use this as an opportunity to learn as much as I could about  another painter’s process for plein air painting.

Here are my top 5 take-aways from Brian’s workshop

  1. Location, location, location. Choosing what to paint is just as, if not more important than how you paint it.
  2. Compose it well. How you place that well chosen subject on the canvas is critical to the emotion that a viewer feels or doesn’t feel when they look at your painting.
  3. Draw it out. Take the time to draw out you painting. This should be done simply, but as accurately as possible. Use a few lines, no more than 7 or 8 if possible. Starting with nothing or even worse, starting with something sloppy on the canvas just means that you will be spending your time later fixing what you just put down.
  4. Values rule. Once the drawing has been established, and you are starting out on a painting, there is nothing more important than getting your values right. “How light is the shadow side of this shape next to the light side of this other shape?” Move from shape to shape and ask yourself the question.
  5. Explain yourself. There reaches a point in a plein air painting where you need to stop simply putting down paint, and start describing the feeling of what you see in front of you. This is done through edges, brush strokes, color/temperature variations, and value shifts. “How can I manipulate the paint to give the view a better idea of what I experienced?”

What struck me as I was painting, is how these ideas could be applied to almost any representation painting done from life. There is nothing radical. No secret colors recipes for mixing up the prefect colors to use for painting the shadow side of oak trees. Just slow down, compare the parts to the whole, and paint what you see.

Trail Under the Pine Trees | gouachhe painting

Trail Under the Pine Trees, gouache on paper, by Jeffrey Smith
Trail Under the Pine Trees, gouache on paper, by Jeffrey Smith

Trail Under the Pine Trees
gouache on paper

Click here to check out this painting and more from Jeffrey Smith Art on Etsy.

I got out the gouache paints the other day, and did a little demo for my mother.  She has a dream of learning to use her paints. 

She has worked with watercolors in the past, but has always found them difficult to use because you have to plan ahead, and use the white of the paper for the whites in the final painting…  That’s part of the beauty of using gouache as a medium.  Just like with oil paint, gouache is an additive process.  The whites or light colors that you see in a final painting can be added  on top of other colors or layers of paint.  This allows for more flexibility as the painting progresses.  I love using gouache when I’m sketching or trying to work out an idea, or plan a painting.

Plein Air Sunflowers | backyard still life painting

Plein Air Sunflowers, 9x12", oil on linen, by Jeffrey Smith
Plein Air Sunflowers, 9x12", oil on linen, by Jeffrey Smith

Plein Air Sunflowers
Please click here to check out Jeffrey Smith Art on Etsy for purchase information.

I painted the above still life on a sunny Sunday in my back yard. I love the idea of taking a still life outside. The colors are so much more intense, and I think flowers look fantastic when they are lit form above. I also think there is something to be said for the shifting light that you get when you paint a still life set up in the full sun; it really forces you to make decisions quickly to capture what you see before it’s changes.

Front Yard Peonies | plein air painting close to home

Front Yard Peonies, 8x10", oil on linen panel, by Jeffrey Smith
Front Yard Peonies, 8x10", oil on linen panel, by Jeffrey Smith

Front Yard Peonies
Oil on linen panel
Check out Jeffrey Smith Art on Etsy for purchase inforamtion on this painting.

This has been a strange spring in Minnesota.  Over all, it has been pretty cold.  Plants are blooming much later this year than they normally do.  That’s okay. It just means more time to enjoy the flowers of spring.  I still have peonies in the front yard that are just starting, or are yet to bloom. 

I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to stay in your own front yard while painting.  I love going out painting in the deep woods and all, but there’s a great comfort that comes from knowing that you are only steps away from anything you might need

Dappled Sunlight | Sunday morning plein air painting

Dappled Sunlight, 6x8" oil on linen panel, by Jeffrey Smith
Dappled Sunlight, 6x8" oil on linen panel, by Jeffrey Smith

Please click here for purchase information for this painting.

Sunday is the best day of the week.  Things seem to move a bit slower… I spent my Sunday morning painting on the grounds of the St. Paul Seminary right along the Mississippi River. 

The weather has been perfect; not too warm,blue skies, and sunshine!  That sunlight and trees created an amazing dappled pattern across the grass..  I was fascinated by the number of different greens  I saw in the shadows as the lawn rolled down to the river.