en plein air


The hills surrounding Santa Rosa feel like kindred spirits.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Kenwood, California

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Kenwood, California

Live oaks and black oaks, solitary and in clusters,  populate the erratic hillsides declaring their uniqueness and beauty.  The winter colors are rich with muted blue/greens and red/violets, so different from the winter colors of New Jersey.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Kenwood, CA – watercolor on Rives BFK printmaking paper.  Limited palette: Winsor Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cerulean Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Carmine.

A delightful day spent painting en plein air at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, California!

Spring Lake Park, Santa Rosa, California

Spring Lake Park, Santa Rosa, California

The day was overcast with occasional bursts of sunlight.  I’m in heaven.

Watercolor sketchbook painting on Rives BFK printmaking paper – limited palette of cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, french ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, and carmine.

Bring The Color Scheme Game outdoors, even in the winter.

Fire Hydrant on Haywood Road, Asheville, NC

Fire Hydrant, Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC

When filming one of the videos, Twenty Steps to Better Drawing, for the upcoming series of online painting demos, I found myself beside this fire hydrant after my third round of twenty steps.  The fire hydrant wasn’t yellow.  It was a fabulous combination of bright blue, red and green.  For a quick application of color, I opted to use a limited palette with a basic color scheme of Near Complements, Yellow and Red/Violet. I wanted to make a strong statement using the extremes of color value. Reality doesn’t matter to me.

Sketchbook, en plein air sketch: Fire Hydrant on Haywood Road, Asheville, NC – drawn first in ink with a fountain pen, followed by washes of watercolor.  The sketchbook is a moleskin sketchbook with slippery paper surface.

Old York Cellars, En Plein Air Watercolor Painting

Old York Cellars, En Plein Air Watercolor Painting

My new website is now up and running ….. and along with it, a new blog that will focus on tools and techniques for both drawing and painting as well as weekly color exercises.

I will continue to post on this blog, with less frequency.  The feedback I receive from all of you who follow this blog inspires me to continue my journey deeper into the world of color and to create even better Color Workshops.  Thank you!

Please visit the website at ChrisCarterArt.com and let me know how you like it.  If you wish to sign up for the Website Blog on Tools and Techniques click on the ‘Blog” link at the top of the page and subscribe.  Please let me know if this is an easy process for you…. or not.

Painting:  Old York Cellars – En Plein Air Watercolor Painting.  I had forgotten about this little gem that I found when going through folders for image files to upload to the new galleries.

I have had two significant mentors in my life as an artist, Adolf Konrad and Betty Stroppel.  Adolf passed in 2004.  Betty passed this morning.  Both Adolf and Betty believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.  I now hold two batons in my hand.  Adolf, in many mysterious ways, has continued to be my guide.  I am expecting Betty to appear any time now.  It is clear to me that I will follow in their footsteps, sharing through conversation, teaching and example all I have learned.  The most basic lesson from Konrad was to draw every day …. every single day without exception.  From Betty, the most basic lesson was to paint every day ….without exception.

This blog is about Color……. however, I left my paint tins behind when I left by the light of flashlight on November 1st to catch a plane for California.  Hurricane Sandy ripped through New Jersey leaving us powerless.  I improvised.  Still, I ended up with mostly ink drawings.  That’s not such a bad thing.  As Adolf would say “Don’t ever stop drawing!”

Creative Color is about seeing, whether in black and white or full spectrum.  The important thing is to keep looking, keep exploring, keep searching and keep the eye and hand coordination in World Class Athlete shape.

United Club at Newark International Airport waiting for flight to San Francisco

Newark International Airport No.2

Newark International Airport

Cafe, Mountain View, California

California Transportation, BART and Cal Train

Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Hangar One, Moffett Field

Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park

San Francisco Streets

Warming up in a coffee shop by Golden Gate Park

Moffett Field and improvised palette

United Club, San Francisco Airport

San Francisco Airport

And there are more …….. I hope to pass on the excellent advice of my mentors …… draw, draw, draw ….. paint, paint, paint, be willing to share everything I know, be supportive, encourage good daily work habits, draw, draw, draw …. paint, paint, paint.

Sketchbook drawings: drawn with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink

Working on top of rejected, unfinished paintings is intimidating.

Altoid Tin Watercolor Travel Kit

Fortunately I packed a few empty half pans in a different bag, not the one I left on the table at home when making my way through the dark with a flashlight.  (Tom got power back yesterday morning!)

Leaves, shadows and telephone poles

Once pen touched the paper and I randomly drew leaves, shadows and the metal hardware that screwed into the pile of telephone poles I was sitting on, intimidation vanished and the game of creating puzzle shapes began.  Working on recycled paintings hijacks my brain and unforeseen possibilities present themselves ….. puzzles to solve ….. solutions to find.

en plein air sketchbook drawing: original recycled painting in pencil and watercolor… Today’s addition was created in two stages.  First I drew leaves and their reflections on cement in ink and watercolor. The second stage was drawn and painted in the woods while sitting on a pile of telephone poles at Moffett Field.  Limited palette of aureolin yellow, carmine and ultramarine blue.

As the afternoon passed, the sky became more animated, expressing itself in shades of gray…

Clouds over the Wicomico River, Maryland

My week painting along the Wicomico River in Maryland has been incredible.  Next October, perhaps I’ll schedule two weeks rather than one.  I’m already planning to spend one night on the sinking Holland Island.  Thousands of pelicans are now the only residents, roosting in the silver branched trees and lining the sandy shoreline facing south.  At one time there were 60 houses and a few stores.  Most of the residents took their houses with them when they left the sinking island around 1920.  The last house on the island succumbed to the water in October of 2010.

En plein air oil sketch of dancing storm clouds, 5″ x 5″, Sky above the Wicomico River, near Whitehaven, Maryland.

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