Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Reviewed

Wow, did that year go fast or what? Nonetheless, 2015 was an enjoyable and relatively productive year. There were some terrific workshops with great painters, humor, and inspiration. My book was finished, designed, and sent to the printer. And throughout the year I made time to paint, experiment with new paper, try a few new pigments, and create both imaginary and representational work. Perhaps 2016 will be as fruitful.
Here are most of my paintings that I did since the end of last year, in no particular order. I've never done such a compilation before. I hope you enjoy. I realize they are a bit small, but Blogger won't allow me to make them bigger. If you would like to see one or more larger, let me know and I'll show them singly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays

Wishing everyone the best in 2016.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Final Proofs

Over the years, I've had mixed results when reproducing my work. Poor scans, uncalibrated monitors, and problematic printers have often led to completely unsatisfactory results. Sometimes I would luck out. More often than not, I wouldn't.

However, I just received two amazing proofs of some of the images that will be in my book. Needless to say, I'm wowed. These are some of the best prints I've ever scene. If this is the quality in the book, I will be very pleased. The quality of this scan doesn't do them justice.

When I started out as an illustrator many, many years ago, reproduction of color work was quite rudimentary. Usually you sent your work out to a photographer to get a negative. Then a print would be made. If you remember some of those bad Kodachrome photos you got from the local photo place, then you may be able to picture how bad these prints were. Green? forget it. Color reproduction has come a very long way. The images above are testament to that.

The book was sent to the printer this week. It's been a long yet rewarding process. It's an understatement to say that I'm really looking forward to seeing the final product.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two More

I just noticed that I haven't posted since July. No real excuse, other than summer plans and then a series of workshops. I have thought of a few ideas, but never got around to it. 

So, given that my last post was about imagined landscapes, here are two more that I've done over the last couple of months. I've always enjoyed painting water, so I decided to feature it in these two views. I call the top one, Corfu, and the one to the left, Placida.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Imagined Landscapes

Imagined landscapes are one of my favorite painting subjects. Untethered to reality, I can invent any landscape I want.
During my many years as an architectural illustrator, I worked on numerous projects that were almost purely imaginary. One of my last clients, a sheik in Dubai, rarely sent me plans and elevations. Almost always, his architect sent images and a visual description (usually all in one Photoshopped conglomeration) and let me go to town.

I found this way of working so satisfying, that I began to use my imagination in my own paintings. My approach was influenced by an accomplished painter and illustrator, Ron Love. Ron's way of working was described in an article in the newsletter of the American Society of Architectural Illustrators. After making very small abstract thumbnails he transforms them into something that resembles reality. Intrigued, I tried this for myself.

I made a grid of 1" x 2" rectangles and started to draw abstract shapes, trying not to be mindful of their pictorial possibilities. Each one takes about a minute or so and often leads to other ideas.

I then choose one that appeals to me and double it in size and begin to sketch architectural ideas that might lead to a picture. I typically use Italian hill town imagery. As an illustrator, I did a lot of "Italianesque" work for my resort clients and was quite comfortable with this look. Besides, the orange/red tile roofs were a nice counterpoint to the landscape color scheme.

For "Elica", above, I chose the thumbnail on the left. You can see it in the lower left of the Thumbnails grouping. I was primarily attracted by the white curve. Wanting to increase the horizontality, I lowered the bottom of the frame a bit. While sketching, I noticed the shape of a  helix, hence the name (elica is Italian for helix).

I also stayed mindful of compositional elements, such as background, middle ground, foreground, and focal point.
I did stray from my thumbnail and changed the road at the bottom. Too much thinking.

When I enlarged this to the final size, 25" x 10", I changed the road back to its original layout. At the final size, I added details and made any necessary adjustments. I then transferred it to the watercolor paper and painted.

Below left is my first imagined landscape from 2005, entitled Toscana. Since then I have done around 15-20 of these. After a brief hiatus, I started a new series this year. You can see a couple of them, Gubbio and Le Vieux Pont below right.

I had forgotten how enjoyable they are to do.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Finally-All the Text is In

I just sent the book Introduction, the final installment for my book, to my editor. It's been a long journey that started last May.

Writing and organizing the book has mostly been a quite enjoyable experience. Since watercolor is a subject that I'm quite comfortable discussing, the content wasn't too problematic. Explaining the concepts clearly required some creativity and numerous rewrites however. Nonetheless I have found the process quite rewarding. It forced me to rethink some of the ways I teach and think about watercolor. 

Many times I reread sections and asked  "What am I trying to say here?". There's nothing like time and fresh eyes to improve bad writing. I found it worked best for me to just get something down, and then revisit it a couple of weeks later. That way, I had something to react to.

I have used my own paintings throughout the book to illustrate the ideas in the book. Two of those are on the right. Many were done expressly for the book, though for the most part I used existing work. 

North Light books places greater emphasis on images than text. To facilitate this, I designed the entire book in InDesign to ensure that the images and text work together. I can't imagine any other way to do it. Seeing the images and text together was a invaluable. I'm also hoping that this will help to communicate my intent to the graphic designer.

So I'm on a book hiatus until mid-August when I get the edited book for my final review. Kristy, my editor, now takes the text and does a "hard" edit. Until now, she has mostly just made sure that everything was turned in and complete. The serious work on her part now begins. She tells me that she is quite happy with what she has seen so far. I'm quite curious to see what she does. Again, some fresh eyes might do some good.

The final title will be determined soon. The working title, Painting Light and Color in the Modern Landscape, is no longer in the running. I've come up with a few alternatives and she is doing the same. Any suggestions for something snappier are quite welcome.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mendocino Workshop

Back-to-back weekend workshops can be a bit draining, but last weekend's worksop at the Mendocino Art Center was quite energizing. Although we never saw the sun, an fit was sometimes arctic outdoors, I had a very inspired group of 14 painters who were willing to face the elements.

I did have to do my demos indoors, since the morning temps hovered around 50 degrees and the fog was so heavy that it made standing around watching me too uncomfortable. Plus, the classroom had a mirror so everyone could see. I did do my studies and line work outdoors, but brought everyone back to the classroom for the final painting.

Both of these paintings are from basically the same location behind the center. One looking down the adjacent lane, and the other looking north toward the magnificent cypress tree.

The Mendocino Art Center is quite a vital venue for workshops. The center is undergoing something of a renaissance and there were many artists about. I'm looking forward to returning next year.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Point Reyes-First Workshop of 2015

Had a great workshop last Saturday at the Point Reyes National Seashore, at the Red Barn educational center near the Visitor's Center.

Fortunately the rain storm that rolled through Friday night cleared into a beautiful day for painting.

The group was particularly congenial. I'm always flattered that people sign up to hear my suggestions and advice on how to improve their watercolor painting.

Here are some photos of the participants along with my demonstration painting of the barn. Needlessto say, looking at the photos, we talked a lot about mixing greens.

Red Barn, Point Reyes National Seashore 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Plein Air in Monterey

 I just got back from the Plein Air convention in Monterey last weekend, and wanted to share some of the paintings I did while there. At the end of every day, the entire group went out to paint. Day 1 was Asilomar, Day 2 found us at Lover's Point, and the third day we were at the beach in Carmel.

 It's quite a scene with around 700 painters at work. I'll post more about the convention soon.
 Heres' my demonstration done at the convention. You can compare it to the source in the previous post.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Plein Air Convention in Monterey

I'm getting ready for a demonstration next week. I will be one of the faculty members at the Plein Air Convention in Monterey. I'll also be one of the demonstrators (at the ungodly hour of 8:15AM) next Wednesday. 

These images are a sneak peak of the demonstration subject, the Morgan Horse Ranch in Point Reyes. These were done as part of a plein air demonstration during a workshop last year.  In my workshops, I always emphasize the use of a study sketch, so I've included it too. Somewhat counterintuitively for a plein air convention, this demonstration will be done indoors.

I never thought I would enjoy these demonstrations, being a pretty shy guy. But I've come to really enjoy them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Workshops 2015

There are still spaces left in my SF Bay Area workshops in May. If you're in the Maryland or Whidbey Island areas, please consider the workshops in July and September.

April 25
Point Reyes National Seashore (wait list)

May 2-3
Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino

May 17
Preservation Park, Oakland

May 31
Washington Square, San Francisco

July 24-26
Chesapeake Fine Art Studio, Stevensville, Maryland

September 12
Berkeley Marina, Berkeley

September 25-27
Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio, Langley, Washington

October 27-30
New Mexico Watercolor Society, Las Cruces, NM (wait list)

Registration and more information for all of these can be found on my website, www.mreardon.com. I hope to see you there. They should be a lot of fun.