Sunday, January 31, 2016

Late Afternoon in the Snowy Forest Code #012116 12x12

Painted this on a really cold, snowy day - temperatures in the mid-20s all day with some sun and light, thin clouds.  I painted it between 3-6 p.m., finishing in the twilight hour.

"Late Afternoon in the Snowy Forest, January 21, 2016", oil on panel, 12" x 12", c. Charlene Marsh

I forgot to take my camera phone when I headed out to paint in the forest so I don't have any photos of the painting as it progressed.  I'll admit, I am not a big cell phone carrier or user.  In fact, I had an old Tracfone cell phone operating on the 1G network and was perfectly happy as long as it could dial 911 or AAA.  

Well, last September, when my cargo van broke down in downtown Chicago on a Sunday morning at a show, I found out that my phone was dropping calls with AAA and the garage, cutting out, and generally, NOT doing it's job!  

Four days later, I was heading to a show in Alexandria, Virginia and needed a phone that works!  So I upgraded to a Tracfone compatible Samsung Android Stardust smartphone I picked up on the fly at Best Buys for $100.  The best feature is the camera!  I love it!  

After I got back from Virginia, I found out the phone could be found on the internet for $50 so I went back to Best Buys and got a $50 refund for their "price match guarantee"!  Great deal!  The reviews for the phone were all really good so I totally lucked out!  

Now, I just need to remember to pack it in the breast pocket of my winter coat when I am heading out to the woods. And remember to UNPACK it before throwing my coat in the washing machine!  Yeah, learned the hard way

Friday, January 29, 2016

Forest sculpted from cardboard

Eva Jospin, a Paris based sculptor, makes some really incredible forest sculptures entirely from cardboard!  Check them out.  Amazing!  

Hope you are staying warm this winter!

Happy trails!


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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Warm Weather Flowers Code #011916 12x12

I shot some photos of this painting in progress but they didn't turn out too good so I deleted them.  Hey, I'm a painter not a photographer!

"Poppies by the Creek", 12" x 12", oil on panel, c. Charlene Marsh, Code #011916 12x12
I just love painting these beautiful flowers in the studio with the wood stove burning brightly and the weather outside is cold and snowy!  

Thanks for tuning in!

Happy Trails!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Poppies by the Creek" Code #010716 S 12x12

I goofed!!  I shot pictures of this painting as it progressed but then accidentally deleted the pictures from my camera before uploading them to my PC!  Drats!  So all I have is the final result.
"Poppies by the Creek", 12" x 12", oil on panel, c. Charlene Marsh, Code #010716 S 12x12

 Thanks for checking in!  



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Monday, January 18, 2016

Frame Suppliers for the Artist and Collector

Frames are the bugaboo for an artist.  The challenge is selecting a frame that best complements a painting while satisfying a wide variety of tastes and decorator ideas of the collector while balancing the budget.  And finding suppliers that actually have frames in stock!  So many are back ordered for six months or more.  That is an unacceptable wait time either for the collector or the exhibiting artist.  

Here's a list of frame suppliers to suit a wide variety of needs.  Many serve both the wholesale and retail markets.  Wholesale only are listed towards the end. I'll continue to add to this list as I learn of new suppliers.
  1.  This company serves both wholesale and retail customers.  Good quality frames at good prices.
  2.  Serves artists and collectors.  Carries a beautiful Tuscany linen frame with a touch of gold I am in love with.  Popped this painting sample in it to see how it looked.  The proportions aren't right but I get an idea of how it would look with this painting.  I'm salivating.  Yum.
  3.   Affordable frames and art supplies.  For artists and collectors.
  4.  "Affordable, classy frames".  For the artist and collector.
  5.  Shadow box and floater frames.  For the artist and collector.
  6.  Quality plein air frames for the collector and artist.   
  7.  Floater frames for paintings.  For the artist and collector. 
  8.   Wholesale and retail art supplies and frames.  Free shipping if you meet  minimum order requirements.
  9.   This is a wholesale club with a membership fee and is best for artists who buy a quantity of frames and art supplies.  The catch is that the shipping fees can eat up any discount.  The same people own ASW and Jerry's (which often offers free shipping) so I usually compare the deals at both sites before placing an order.
  10.  Wholesale only.  Very good quality.  Check to see what they have in stock.
  11.  Frames for the wholesale market.  Lots of plein air styles to choose from.
  12.  Wholesale only. Very high quality, beautiful frames.  Frame moulding lengths or chopped and joined.  Regional delivery with their own vans - great for large frames that tend to get damaged with commercial shippers.  Based in Chicago and New York.
  13. Wholesale only.  Large selection of moulding (chopped and joined, if needed) from many suppliers.  Regional delivery with their own vehicles - great for large frames that tend to get damaged with commercial shippers.  They are based in Birmingham, AL.  
  14.  Just discovered this supplier and I still need to check them out but they have some different styles I haven't seen but have been looking for.
  15. This company, based in Indianapolis, caters to art galleries, frame shops, artists, photographers, interior designers, decorators, and art consultants.  You must have a tax ID number to purchase from them.
  16. www.San Diego Frame   This is a wholesale company of ready made and custom frames based in California. They own the factory across the border in Mexico and can custom make whatever you want.  They make the mouldings and can finish the frames to your specifications.  High quality.
Please let me know if you have a supplier with good, quality frames that I can add to this list.

Thanks for tuning in! 


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Friday, January 15, 2016

011416 12x12 Splish Splosh, Snow Melting in the Forest, Plein Air Oil Painting

"Splish Splosh, January 14, 2016", oil on panel, 12" x12", c. Charlene Marsh, Code #011416 12x12.
This is the same scene I painted two days ago and what a difference two days make!  This painting was a real challenge to paint!  Okay, I admit it, downright frustrating.  "Frozen Beauty" from January 12, 2016 was a challenge due to the bitter cold but the frustration trying to paint this painting was something else!   Frankly, I'm surprised it turned out as well as it did!  

I was so excited to get out and paint.  The day was one with the brilliant blue sky, warming temperatures, and snow on the ground, albeit melting.  So I packed up my gear and headed out to the forest around 12:30 p.m.  I waited long enough for the sun to be high in the sky and the temps going up to the mid-40s - it even felt downright balmy at times.  In retrospect, I should have waited another 2-3 hours to go out.  

I found out real fast that the snow, which had been thick on all the branches, was melting quickly.  And as it melted, the chunks of snow would fall onto my palette, pochade, painting, and me in big, wet sploshes.  And, as we all know, oil and water do not mix!  I was painting in a storm of rain snow drops!  What a mess!  What a challenge!  My palette was turning into a wet water oil non-mix. 

I tried to dab at the water drops with a paper towel to try to absorb a bit of it but the water was winning and turning my parchment paper palette into a big mess.  Even so, the snow crystals had some interesting effects on the paint and how it mixed.  

But the most frustrating was when I tried to apply paint to the panel with the knife and found it would not stick!  I would drag my knife and paint across the panel and find that nothing was there!  Grrrrr...  If the panel was wet with the water, the oil paint just wouldn't stick to it!  So then I was drying the panel as best I could with my paper towels.  

I have an umbrella but it is not too good.  The handle is too short and the clamp is too funky.  So I never carry it.  EasyL has developed a new umbrella design that looks very good and has good reviews.  I have resisted buying it because I am not sure I want to add any weight to my pack -- I have been working to pare it down!  But I may go ahead and get it because it is too limiting to not be able to go out and paint if the weather threatens any moisture.  

Today was steady rain and/or drizzle all day but it was so gorgeous out!  Remnants of the snow with some fog down by the creek and temps still warm in the forties.  I was itching to paint but knew the light drizzle would make it nearly impossible.  Soooo....time to order that umbrella!

The melting snow drops definitely had an affect on the paint which reflected the water and snow crystals in the final surface.  In my book, that adds to the authenticity of the final painting imbued with the essence of nature on that given day.  Here's the finished painting:

"Splish Splosh, January 14, 2016", oil on panel, 12" x12", c. Charlene Marsh, Code #011416 12x12.

Thanks for visiting!

Happy Trails!


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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

First Plein Air, Winter, Snow Scene of the Year!

"Frozen Beauty, January 12, 2016", oil on panel, 12" x 12", c. 2016 Charlene Marsh
We finally got some snow!  4 1/2" fell Saturday night into Sunday morning and more Monday night into Tuesday morning.  The snow is thick and heavy and weighs down all the branches.  So gorgeous!  The sun finally came out around noon and I was just itching to go out and paint.  The sky was a brilliant blue and the light was just fabulous!  The temps hovered around 21 degrees, "real feel":  one degree!  Brrrrr.....  Normally too cold to try and paint.  The paint freezes too fast.  But I thought if I didn't hike too far and took a smaller panel, I might be able to get a painting completed before my paint got too sticky and stiff.  

I lay out the paint in the studio before I head out so I can get started painting right away.  I also don't want to carry the extra weight of the tubes of paint.  As soon as I laid out the paint in the pochade and packed my Kelty backpack, I bundled up and headed out.

I stopped here to paint.  How much more beautiful can the forest be?  Beautiful but very difficult to hike through.  I got my pochade and tripod set up in quick time.

I am actually standing in the creek while I paint with the legs of the tripod in the water, too.  Luckily, I have some great, insulated, waterproof boots although I forgot to slip some toe warmers in them before heading out.

After laying out the scene with a quick sketch, I start by blocking in the dark creek and then move to the snow in the shadows.  I mix a violet-blue and add white.

Then I move to the areas lit by the sun and then the trees while working back and forth between the foreground, background, sky, and water.

Okay, I confess, I got so "into" working on the painting I forgot to shoot more pictures in progress.  I usually go into a trance state while painting and am just focused on what I am doing.  I was also trying to get it done while the paint was still workable. 

Finally satisfied with the finished painting, I packed up my supplies and break down.  My feet were really, really cold and I wanted to go ahead and take a hike and warm up.  So I left my painting gear along the trail by the creek and headed deeper into the woods, marveling at the intense beauty and peace and quiet. 

When I finally got back to the studio, three hours later, the temperature had dropped to 14 degrees with a "real feel" of MINUS ONE!!!  BRRRRRR!!!!! 

Here is the finished painting:

"Frozen Beauty, January 12, 2016", 12" x 12", plein air oil on panel, Code # 011216 12x12

Update:  January 27, 2018.  I recently finished a 24" x 36" version of this painting in the studio.  You can see it and read the blog HERE

Thanks for following along!

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Magic Lilies by the Goldfish Pool Code #010416 S 12x12

We got 4 1/2" of snow last night!  So it is a pleasure to tuck into the studio and work on lovely flowers and dream of spring.

Magic Lilies, also known as Surprise Lilies, magically appear in late summer after their green leaves have died back. In this blog I am including shots of my palette as the painting progresses.  I have a very simple palette of primary colors that I usually lay out in this order.  In this BLOG I have explained exactly what colors I use and how I lay them out.

I start by sketching the basic lay out of the painting with Cerulean Blue and Magenta with my brush dipped in cold pressed linseed oil. 

I use palette knives to start mixing the colors using basic Red, Blue, and Yellow primary colors.  The darkest green is mixed from Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow Light plus a little Cadmium Red Medium.

For the Magic Lilies, I use the Primary Red-Magenta plus a little bit of Titanium White.  The earth colors are mixed with Cadmium Red Medium and Light, Ultramarine Blue, and Cadmium Yellow Light.

For the Ironweed, I use add more Blue to the Magic Lily mix - either Ultramarine or Cerulean.  


I mix the lighter, brighter greens with Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Yellow Light plus Titanium White.  I use more blue in the background greens and more yellow in the foreground greens.

My mixing palette evolves with the paint as I work.  I mix the paint as I work and generally use all that I mix, working over the entire surface at the same time.

The sky color is mixed from Titanium White and Cerulean Blue.  I also paint it into the water at the same time.

I've added branches and stems with a rubber tipped implement and the edge of the palette knives.  Here is my palette as the painting nears completion.

The finished painting, "Magic Lilies by the Goldfish Pool", oil on panel, 12" x 12", Inventory Code #010416 S 12x12

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Paint Colors and Palette

Hello there~

I want to share what paints I use on my palette and what kind of palette I use.

I lay out my paints around the edge of the palette and use the same basic palette each time I paint.  I limit my palette to a small selection of warm and cool primary colors plus white.  Then I mix everything from these basic colors. 

The colors I use on my palette include:

Titanium White laid out in the two front corners of my palette.  One white is for warm colors and one is for the cool colors.
Cadmium Yellow Light - one for mixing with the reds and one for the blues.
Cadmium Red Light
Cadmium Red Medium
Ultramarine Blue - one for mixing with the reds and one for mixing with the yellow.
Primary Red-Magenta
Cerulean Blue

Here's my palette in the middle of working on a painting. 

I use a parchment paper palette that I make myself from paper I buy in the baking section of the supermarket.  I used to be able to buy the  parchment paper palettes from Tara when they made it in Georgia a few years ago.  Unfortunately, they wanted to focus 100% on canvas and discontinued all their other products including the parchment palettes.  I have looked high and low and even had a major supplier look into getting it, all to no avail.  I see where it is available in Europe and Australia but I cannot get it here in the USA.  I love the way the paint mixes and makes the parchment paper "glow".  I like the little bit of "give" on a thick pad of the parchment paper.  I tried other paper palettes with the waxy finish and found them totally unsuitable.  The wax eventually comes off in nasty balls while mixing the colors with the palette knives.

Thanks for tuning in.  I appreciate you following along!



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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lilies and Coneflowers 112815 S 12x12

Lilies and Coneflowers

Today I am sharing how I made this lovely little 12" x 12" flower painting featuring lilies, coneflowers, and wildflowers from my garden.  I start with a tinted panel and then loosely sketch out the scene I want to paint.

Then I begin by painting darkest darks of the forest, trees, and green leaves of the flowers.  I pop in some of the color of the flowers.  I want the colors of the flowers to vibrate against the greens.

I start to add the lighter greens in the background and middle ground while adding more flowers and stems.

The lightest leaves are added in the foreground.  I mix up the sky with Titanium White and a bit of Cerulean Blue and block that in last.  I use a bit more of the same blue in the water that reflects the sky and put that in at the same time. 

I loosely criss cross the panel with stems and branches using the edge of a palette knife and a rubber tipped implement.  I add more leaves and stems and more details to the flowers.  I work quickly and intuitively adding flowers and dancing fairies to the painting.

I continue to work over the entire painting, pulling foreground flowers forward and pushing background elements back while adding more branches and leaves and flowers.  I step back often to see how the painting looks from a  distance and make adjustments accordingly.

Here is the finished painting:

Lilies and Coneflowers, oil on panel, 12" x  12", c. 2015, by  Charlene Marsh.  SOLD

Happy trails!


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Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year 2016 Musings

Happy New Year!  Wishing you and your family many blessings in 2016!
Romanesco cauliflowers dressed up with raspberries to make mini Christmas trees.
I hope you had a fabulous holiday season and were able to make and share many happy memories with family and friends.  I know I did.  In fact, today, taking down the Christmas decorations, it was with a bit of nostalgic sadness.  Some years, I am relieved to finally take down the decorations, open up the space, and get back to normal.  Back to business.  I would get frustrated over the holidays when my suppliers and contacts were out of their offices and closed for days on end.  Not this year.  This year, I embraced the holidays and didn't even try to do any business. 
Picture from 2014 - so far no snow this winter!

I seem to have amassed a small collection of deer ornaments and this year decorated my tree, albeit a small tree, exclusively with the deer. As I packed them up, I wanted to find a place to put them out on permanent display.  I also imagined how they would make lovely little paintings for the next Christmas season.  And how wonderful and special it will be when I unpack them next year.  And so I kept packing them up in their box for now.

I tend to look forward more than I look back.  This fall I took two online marketing classes now that I am finally on high speed internet and have learned so much!  My brain is still processing and absorbing all the information!  I am so excited about the possibilities of how to structure my art business to better serve my collectors and would be collectors.  I am also excited to expand the possibilities of art to create and places to travel to paint.  

For the past fifteen years I have traveled extensively throughout the USA to art shows to exhibit and sell my paintings.  I love doing the shows and will continue to do so this year and in future years.  But it is hard to get back to every city every year where I have collectors who want to see the newest and latest paintings.  And it is hard to combine painting on location and exhibiting in the shows in the same trip.  And the shows take a lot of time and energy away from painting.

I have a farm with animals and gardens back home and am not one of these vagabond artists who likes to leave home for weeks on end.  A week away from home is about my maximum although there are times I have been gone longer.  Truth be told, I am a homebody.  So I am hoping, as the future unfolds, I can increase the availability of my paintings to my collectors, both new and old, via the internet. 

I look forward with excitement to 2016 and hope all the best for you and your family!  Eat good, healthy, fresh, organic, raw fruits and vegetables, get out in nature, in the fresh air, detoxify your home(yeah, I mean all those aerosols, scented candles and plug ins, bug repellents, toxic cleaners, air fresheners, etc.), do what you love and love what you do!  Take time to pray, think, and meditate.  And, last but not least, spend time with good people, both family and friends. 

I appreciate your encouragement and support over the years and value your friendship.   I look forward to seeing you again in 2016 either in person or online.  Thanks so much!  



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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Wet Panel Carrier Boxes

Someone recently asked:

"This is very amazing, how you create "en plein air".  I have a question, though.  Since you use oils, how do you transport your beautiful work back home without smudging, smearing, or downright destroying it?  Looking forward to your answer."

Great question!  I have special carrying boxes made by Raymar that have slots to slide the wet panels into for safe return home.  They come in all sizes and I have most, if not all, of them. The boxes are made with a water repellent foam core type board with air cells and are very sturdy and lightweight.

Each box can carry several panels but the weight will add up.  I only carry what I want to use on that painting expedition.  Many artists use the boxes while traveling and fill them up.  
A well used Raymar box.
I also just bought a new kind of carrier, ezPak, from, that is a thin wood frame with a 1/4" thick dividing rabbet.  Two wet paintings, face to face, can be carried.

ezPak wet panel carrier

I also made an 18" x 24" carrier myself from foam core because no one makes a box that big.
18" x 24", Artist made box.

18" x 24", Artist made box, open, with a panel inside.  Kelty backpack in the background.

Many of the boxes and frame carriers can accommodate more than one size. 
For example, a 12" x 16" box, being 12" wide, can also carry 12" x 12" or  9" x 12" panel.  Raymar came out with a 9" x 12" box that is smaller since it is a popular plein air painting size and reduces the bulk and weight of using a 12" x 16" box. 

The smaller panels and carrying boxes will fit inside my Kelty backpack while the bigger ones I carry by the strap slung over my neck and shoulders. 

Some pochades also come with slots on the backside for carrying wet panels but I prefer a separate box for the panels.  The slots can be limiting and add extra weight to the pochade.

I'd love to hear if anyone has experience with a different kind of carrier.  I know there are some other brands out there  that are more suited to specific needs like getting your paintings home when traveling by plane.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year and many blessings in 2016!  


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