Friday, January 31, 2014

River's Pause.

The past couple days have been spent doing a field study and then studio work. The sunlight was tugging on my sleeve to get outside and soak it up a bit yesterday. Though a bit breezy to sit awhile outside, I opted for painting briefly in the truck -- a neatness challenge! It was fun to study the scene though and just get down a few preliminary strokes before heading to the studio.

There's a lovely sheltered path that passes under a high embankment of trees along the Columbia River off Columbia River Park Trail. Perhaps you will recognize it. The river laps the shoreline, nourishing the abundant eco-system there. I was thrilled to see a figure in bright yellow walk into the scene, and got a shot of him before he disappeared into the shadows.
This is the brief field study done while sitting in my truck. No solvent, and lots of rags in a cramped space. I only spent about an hour -- just enough to suggest the scene and lay in some color. I did capture the yellow coated stranger, who looks more dominant here than in the final.

"River's Pause", 8x10 oil on board, ©Laura Gable
(The scene was refined a bit, small strokes added, focal point adjusted, colors and value adjusted.)
The awarenesses for the month:
• I realized that I didn't forget how to paint. That was bothering me, as I am wanting to move forward with new projects and ideas.
• It's vital to keep it enjoyable, and brushes are laid down when frustration sets in. But this is usually a brief pause, as the mind keeps noodling it through until resolution comes about. (Usually it's deciding what color goes "there".)
• Getting the fire back into the belly is a huge driving force.
• But the biggest most vital awareness is how much I have missed dropping deeply into the creative process. Moving into that space where time seems to be suspended.

Thanks for journeying with me this past month. I enjoy the creative interaction, seeing what others are up to in their processes, and value the comments we've shared. Thanks so much to art-a-day.blogspot's challenge leader Bobi, and Leslie Saeta for encouraging so many artists in their 30 in 30 challenges. Though I didn't paint 30 paintings, I spent 30 days immersed in the creative process.

Follow me on daily paint works, imagekind, the art-a-day blog, and my website:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Just down the road, reprised

"Just Down the Road" 8x8 oil on canvas, ©Laura Gable
On the edge of our group of cities here in eastern Washington, there lies this amazing Red Mountain Viticulture area (AVA). Tucked onto the side of this rosy colored treeless mountain, is a plethora of fabulous wineries that craft some of the most amazing wines from family and estate vineyards of unique plentiful grapes. The Hedges Winery has the most appealing entrance, with rows of fragrant lavender bordering the drive and edges of the vines. This fragrant scene called for a small vignette painting, with it's lovely color juxtaposition of light violet, pale green and the reddish toned hills behind.

My awareness for the day-- reprising old paintings with a few brush strokes seems to give them new life. However, a judicious eye is needed, as some are better off left for "dead"with their failing compositions and no amount of new brushing will rescue them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


"Grey-Scape" 6x4 oil on card, ©Laura Gable
We live in a basin where 3 rivers come together (the Yakima, Snake and Columbia Rivers). Because we are so low, our winter months (especially January) are spent under quite a bit of cloud cover. Temperature inversions, grey days, mist, freezing fog, hoar frost, intermittent flurries are all weather features we are now experiencing ... for over a week now and several days prior to that. Many people start to crave the brilliance we are so used to -- the star of the show which brightens our days and gives us so much to study as artists. LIGHT!! Count me among them. My new "happy light" is helping while I work here at home.

My painting friend and mentor pointed out the other day that even on cloudy days the sky is actually lighter than it is when it is full of brilliant blue. Amazing to realize this, yes, but it does make sense that light grey is lighter and brighter than the cerulean and ultramarine blue skies we crave. Yet the colors and tones of things become a bit more uniform. The value scale for these grey days is really in the middle - 2, 3 & 4 on a scale of 1-5. Missing are the bright highlights and the deep shadows. So with this in mind I painted our local hillsides and waterways from memory. I know I would do better with a photo reference, but this moody landscape is emblazoned into my psyche. It is lovely really, when you grey up every color that goes down. The yellows in the foreground were even greyed. Compared to the other colors they seem so bright. The cheat grass and other nimble brushes within the marsh take on some varied and interesting colors.

So the awareness of the day, is when I open up and really see with these two treasured eyes of mine, I can find beauty even when things are gloomy and grey. Find the mystery in the misty days.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Family Time

This is a series of portraits I did in 2012 of a very handsome local family, which I realize I had not posted back then. The small paintings were 6x6 in size and the larger was 9x12. The portraits were all done based on photography - I had only met 2 of the people (and the dog ;-). The client provided a plethora of photos yet not all were of the best quality, nor were they all of the specific pose we were after. It is really difficult to create a face from elements in different photos -- especially if you've not met the person. I wouldn't advise it. In fact, if I was to do this over again, I would request a sitting with each person and factor the sittings into the price of the portrait. 

I do enjoy the finished quality of the paintings with the juicy loose brush strokes. I had just come back from a workshop by Dreama Tolle Perry and studied her bright use of color and transparent paints. Her influence is very evident in these paintings. 
He had a lively personality from the photos "Lassez-Fair" 6x6 oil on board, ©Laura Gable

The youngest son, 6x6 oil on board, ©Laura Gable

The son who was in the military, 6x6 oil on board, ©Laura Gable

The daughter, 6x6 oil on board, ©Laura Gable

"Piercing" The same daughter (in a different pose), 6x6 oil on board, ©Laura Gable

The fun loving and very driven parents, and a sweet old labrador (SAM?), 9x12 oil on board, ©Laura Gable

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cloud Scape

"Cloud Scape" 8x10 oil on board, ©Laura Gable
Painting clouds can be challenging as there are no hard edges. This is an attempt doing so from a photo of a distant horizon and the earth curving away above. I'm not sure I've captured the curving away of the sky, as this was very vast. I do like the feel of it though, and the bits of orange that crept in on the left side of the lower sky.

Today's awareness: I have this wanting to create scenes from memory, yet I find I do much better if I have something to reference in front of me while I paint. Seems like a simple awareness, but it is powerful none-the-less.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Clover Island Stroll (sold)

"Clover Island Stroll" 11x14, oil on board, ©Laura Gable
Today was the perfect day to complete this unfinished plein air study. It was started on a lovely September day on Clover Island here in Kennewick, WA. The island has been going through a facelift over the past few years, with the addition of the lighthouse and these lovely foliage lined curving paths with boardwalk viewing bump outs. Though it was a breezy day that started out with intermittent sprinkles, it turned into a bright sun filled afternoon ... perfect for painting lighthouses. This pair of friendly walkers happened by at the right time so we can get a sense of scale of the vertical shapes.

Today's effort involved adding the figures, and refining the shape of the trees and clouds, plus altering the colors on the lighthouse and pathway. I'm wanting to do more in this series. Hopefully it will warm a bit so an outdoor excursion is possible ... or I will dig through my photographs to find a worthy candidate to paint. So that's the day's awareness ... paint in a series.

This was shared by my friend recovering from hip surgery, and it feels very fitting for this painting: "God is good, He widens our path so we don't stumble." May you have wide clear paths today. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lofty Peaks

"Lofty Peaks" 5.5x5.5 oil on board, ©Laura Gable
 My plan to work in a series didn't quite pan out today, as I was not able to find any suitable lighthouse or Clover Island photos to work from. And the day was cold and windy with a spattering of snow about the city, so I didn't drive out to the island to paint out doors. So studio work it is ... at least I'm still actively painting in a series of Colorado scenery landscapes.

We took a trip long ago to the Maroon Bells outside of Aspen, Colorado. They steeply rise up from  the distant mountains -- their sides carved with repetitive grooves that hold bits of snow to dramatize this characteristic. It's as though they were sliced repeatedly with a razor blade. The mountain lake below, holds such a lovely shade of green. And the dramatic slide area on the mountain's side had me recalling similar paintings by artist, Robert Genn. He has painted similar slides in the Canadian Rockies. His have a dynamic, almost abstract quality. So this is my homage to dear Robert Genn, and his "Love Letters to Art". You can find his The Painters Keys website here, it is chock full of valuable information for every artist.

Today's awareness is a bit silly ... keep the brushes wet and keep your nose clean. And don't try to look at an ipad with paint on your fingers. (Referencing ipad photos while painting isn't ideal, as the screen goes to sleep too quickly, leaving painted fingerprints on the surface).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

.. a journal page

A journal page, plant dyed paper, with watercolor pencils added. ©Laura gable
Today was a day shared with fellow artists. We had a mini session spent working with watercolor - colored pencils. I used a journal page I had started, from the summer, adding the colored pencils to the fairly lightly toned paper. It had been eco-dyed with local plant material from my yard. The paper I used was Velin Arches, and the leaves were tucked into the pages, bound and boiled several hours in water with a touch of vinegar to act as a mordant. If you were to look at it closely (though difficult in this photo), you can actually see the impression of the leaves into the paper.

Eventually this will be added into one of my art journals. Words may be added next. It was great fun.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hearts Afire

"Hearts Afire-revised" 12x12 oil on 2.5" cradled masonite board, ©Laura Gable
I can't get too far into the year without doing a sunflower painting. This few day's effort was actually altering an old painting that sat around the studio too long. The concept was there, just needed a bit more for the execution - two flowers almost combined together to make one. One a bit bigger and stalwart, the other a bit closed in and nurturing. I enjoyed the way this painting has moved closer to my original intention to portray the two hearts afire. So I've added more juicy paint and muted grayish areas, lighter and darker tones, more definite shadows.

This is painted on a 2.5" deep cradled masonite board, so will require a bit more for shipping costs.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Misty & Destiny

I want to share a few "progress" shots of a painting that I'm still working on, using the Dorland's Cold Wax Medium mixed in with oil paints.

I started with a balsa wood board that was primed with gold gesso. The first few coats of oil paint mixed about 50:50 with Dorland's cold wax medium were applied with spatula (soft turquoise and wax); Another layer troweled on (soft green and wax); and then with a brayer (white and wax). These colors did dry between coats. A small amount of scratching happens at this point. That is the Step 1 (not pictured).
Step 2 (one is not posted)
Step 2: Once this dries for a few days, I used an oil pastel crayon to draw out the figure. A rubber tipped tool moves wet paint around, making hash motions. She is ethereal and made of the clouds and ocean waves. A bit like a Mary Oliver poem I've read recently --

"Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves - you may believe this or not - have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers."

Step 3
The figure is defined a bit more a few days later (again with oil pastels) and bits of the background start to take shape.
Step 4, almost there
This time I decided her head needed some attention so oil paint without wax was brushed onto the face and parts of the background. More oil pastel were also drawn on. Next step will likely be another bit of wax/oil paint applied and some scratching through to reveal the under layers. I did that a bit on step 4, though not as much as the last painting that I did.

She will yet evolve a bit more ... stay tuned.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blue Spruce in Miniature

"Blue Spruce" 2" x 1" oil on board, ©Laura Gable

Today's little effort ... A miniature landscape painted in oils.

My personal creative goal was to be effortless and avoid struggle.

Using fairly small brushes and juicy oil paint, this little gem came about.
Even though small, it speaks volumes.


Saturday, January 18, 2014


"Tempest" oil paint and cold wax medium on 9x12 golden gessoed board, ©Laura Gable 
Today's goal is be expressive and try new techniques. I've been experimenting with cold wax medium for a bit and still have a lot to learn. When mixed about 50-50 with oil paint, it can be worked in layers. The wet or dry layers can be manipulated with scratching tools, and the paint sometimes goes on with knife, spatula or brayer. It gets messy.  Today I introduced oil pastels for the squiggly strokes (some blended with fingertips), added more white mixed with wax, and scratched through dried color. The bright gold tones peeking through is the base coat of gold gesso.

It's great for experimental work, the "fat over lean" philosophy can be ignored. When dry, it can be buffed when totally dry for a waxy look.

Even though this is non-representational I see the suggestions of a landscape back in there, so I chose "Tempest" for the title. I love the word. It's my grandmother's middle name. She was a force to be reckoned with.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Golden Canopy at Zintel Canyon

"Golden Canopy at Zintel Canyon" 11x14 oil on board, ©Laura Gable
An autumn day's sojourn into the thickets and pathways of Kennewick's Zintel Canyon, had me stop awhile before this majestic tree. Painting in the Fall is so enjoyable, with it's mixture of wetness and heat, and the various odors marking evidence of the underbrush's nubile composting process. The occasional rustling and clatters from large golden leaves falling behind me, keeps my awareness sharp as I stand intently painting off the path.

Though painted in the fall, I did do some touch up today to unify things and work out the shadows on the troublesome dirt of the pathway. Today's goal was to work with golds and yellows in a lyrical fashion. Also while working, an awareness came to me about the necessity the artist has to design the scene on canvas -- to alter nature if necessary to make a more pleasing story in paint. This I believe will be a life-long pursuit.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Three Aspens

"Three Aspens" 5x7 oil on panel, ©Laura Gable
The rocks were shimmering in this outcropping from a photo I took a few years back while traversing parts of Colorado. I failed to label the location. The sky was crystal clear, air redolent with pine and clouds had that cotton-candy quality. Pristine! The aspen trees were just starting to lose their leaves. Crowds flock to the mountains in late September to see the "colors" of these golden groves of white barked sentinels.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Colorado Spring

"Colorado Spring" 6x8 oil on panel, ©Laura Gable
I still have a hankering for Colorado. And Springtime. This field of lupines and wild flowers was so pretty, from so long ago. The back hills were beckoning me into the scene.

I had a bit of struggle in this painting. I wanted to establish a hierarchy with the two trees so made the right one more dominate, and added a path so one could get into the painting. The lupines are still a bit troublesome though.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Autumn Trails

"Autumn Trails" is a small study for a cold and windy day. Guess I've got a hankering for a Colorado Autumn right about now. We traveled this path by bicycle many years back, going from Dillon Reservoir to the town of Frisco. The aspen trees were glistening with golden color. It was an idyllic time.

"Autumn Trails" 6x6 oil on 3/4" cradled textured board, © Laura Gable
These paintings are posted a day behind on my Daily Paintworks gallery. Check there if you are interested in purchasing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Golden Canopy Study

A walk through the foliage on an autumn day ...
This is a study based on another painting I did in Zintel Canyon here in Kennewick, WA. Painted in a short amount of time, this had the freshest color and I'm enjoying the stories of this gallant maple tree.

"Golden Canopy study" 6x8 oil on canvas glued to panel, © Laura Gable

Friday, January 10, 2014

Three Plums

Three Plums, 8x8 oil on board, ©Laura Gable

Revising an older painting that needed a bit of softening of edges, warming and brightening up of colors was what this day's studio effort called for. Just a few brush strokes for this quaint little French plum painting, originally painted last year.

After a long studio absence last year (both mentally and physically) it feels good to spend some regular time there now. Though I am not strictly challenging myself to do a painting a day, I devote a portion of each day to a creative goal that comes to me in the morning. Some have been: working effortlessly, trying new techniques, use a limited palette; revise, de-clutter, sketch, be "in" the landscape, work small, absorption. Some of these posts will show on the 2 daily paint blogs I'm loosely following this month, and also posting a bit more regularly to my dailypaintworks gallery. Those links are:

1. Slices of Life by Leslie Saeta, (Though I haven't posted everyday, I find her very encouraging. I returned to this 30 in 30 challenge having participated a bit last year too).

2. Art-a-Day, this blog started locally over 6 years ago and includes artists of all varieties who have challenged each other to create any form of art daily. I love the diversity of this group.

3. Daily Paint Works: my gallery is here ...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sage Land (sold)

This day's goal was to wallow in the oil paints and use a limited palette-- using only the paints I have here at home. Well it worked for awhile until I realized that the last dregs of white were not nearly enough. Landscapes need a lot of white!! I do love the blues I was using here -- cobalt teal and another softer King's blue from Rembrandt that my niece recommended. Anyway this one is based on our land here in the shrub-steppe region of eastern Washington. Oh and it was painted from a photograph taken earlier in the first wisps of the Autumn season. I like the composition and may consider it for a larger painting later.
"Sage Land" 5x7 oil on canvas, ©Laura Gable

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Icy River Sketch

Iced River--Columbia River @ the Richland Y.
I loved the melodious movement of the young branches.

The day sunny and the temps warmer than usual, though still not warm enough for this fair-weather artist to paint on an icy Columbia River shoreline near the Richland Y. I always sketch before painting anyway - gives me a better opportunity to work out composition. As you can see by the boxes inside the sketch, the image kept growing and went from vertical to horizontal format. It's a great view of Rattlesnake Mountain, all lavender and shadowed, peeking above the horizon line while the low water in the foreground was still frozen over. The breeze off the icy surface chilled my fingers in fingerless gloves, and I knew my easel would likely rock about so I'm saving painting for another day. 

My day's goal was to "be in the landscape" and so for about 30 minutes, I was. I did paint in the studio afterwards for a bit too. Will post that painting at a later date.