Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How to Paint the County Fair, August 3, 2017

This is the third and final plein air painting of the county fair.  You can see the first two HERE and HERE.  I decided to get to the county fair venue a bit earlier than the past two evenings and catch more of the daylight and setting sun.  I really liked the vantage point I had selected and decided to set up in the same spot.  I think it really helps to explore a subject in depth and to paint it multiple times.  Since the county fair is such a time limited event, I wanted to take full advantage while it was in town.
I did a quick sketch of the scene using a brush dipped in oil and magenta pigment.

The picture makes it look like it is really light out but dusk is closing in quickly.
I began with the dark trees in the background and then started on the sky.  I mixed a light cerulean blue for the top of the sky and mixed a rosy sunset color using Cadmium Yellow Light and Cadmium Red Light and Medium plus white for the bottom.  Then I mixed the two hues to get the middle ground where the sunset colors meet the fading blue sky.  The cerulean blue and the orangey rose color are complements so they make a beautiful ethereal neutral where the two meet and mix. I then blocked in the foreground with the green grass and road.

This time I thought I would paint in some of the lights before painting in the background, negative space, right behind the rides.  A bit of a reverse from the two prior evenings when I painted in the ground and falling night and popped in the lights at the end, on top of the dark ground.
After putting in the lights, I popped in the dark and light negative spaces around the ride lights and then pulled back out the lights on top.  You can still see the last remnants of light in the sky.
I finally finished up by 9:00-9:30 p.m. and packed up.  This time, I headed home without walking through the fair.  I knew the exhibits would be empty and the rides and food vendors would be shutting down shortly and I decided to get home to dinner.

Here's the final painting:
 "County Fair, August 3, 2017", plein air oil on panel, 12" x 16", c. 2017, by Charlene Marsh.

Which of the three county fair paintings is your favorite?  You can see the first one HERE and the second one HERE.  Let me know.  I'd love to get your  opinion.

Thanks for following along!

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How to Paint the County Fair, August 2, 2017

This is the second of three plein air oil paintings of the county fair.  You can see the first one HERE and the third one HERE.

I set up at the same spot as yesterday because I really liked the view and the composition with the rides and lights.  You can see yesterday's painting and how it was done HERE.  I arrived, again, half an hour or so before sunset to get started. As I was setting up, I found my paintbrush from the day before that must have fallen onto the ground, unbeknownst to me!  Good thing I found it, because I usually only carry one brush for laying out the initial drawing and I would have been lost without it.

Heavy rain earlier in the day around 3:30 p.m. meant there was a bit of mist in the air giving a bit more depth and dimension to the hills and tree.  My waterproof boots and wool socks were still wet from my earlier walk in the woods.

So I got set up around 8:30 p.m., at dusk, with the sky turning some nice sunset colors.  I love the lights of the rides against the dusky sky and think I will try to get out there earlier tomorrow.  Once the sun sets, it gets dark quickly!  I forgot my headlight so I knew once it got dark, I would be very limited, mainly going for the values more than the hues.
After the initial sketch, I quickly laid in the basic large values and shapes.
While immersed in the painting, a young lady ran up from behind me, so excited and thrilled to see I was painting the fair!  She had a dollar bill in her hand that she tucked into mine.  So sweet!  I dug out a postcard and a business card and told her she could sign up for my newsletter and follow my blog.  Her excitement was contagious.  She then ran back to the car loaded with her friends on the road behind me.
So I went back to my painting, adding more details and popping in the lights and action of the fair in the darkening night.
Later, as I was bent over packing up, I heard from the road behind me, "Are you all right?" "Huh?" I turned around and saw the local police in their SUV.  The young man asked again if I was okay.  "Yep, just packing up my painting and gear."  Earlier, another gentleman walking by asked if I was painting again -- he must have seen me the night before.  So, I seemed to attract a lot more attention during this session which is great!
After I finished the painting and put my gear back in my van, I walked back to the fair to tour the exhibits and chat with friends.  There were more people this evening than last so the rides stayed open later, until the Ferris wheel shut down at 10:33 p.m.
While waiting for the Ferris wheel lights to shut off(which signals all the other rides and vendors to shut down), I stopped to talk to the lady than ran the fried cheese food truck -- cheese curds, I think they are called.   Turns out she does six events a year, all local fairs and festivals in adjacent counties to her home, and makes ten times what she made as a full time nurse!  She says she will still do some nursing on a "as needed, when available" basis.  She has her own camper, with her dog, she prefers to stay in rather than drive home each day.  She leaves the running of the household to her family while she works the show, hanging out and shopping when off duty.  She said she was the only independent vendor in the show -- the rest were all owned by Fun Times.
I am always amazed at how these mini-villages appear in a few hours and disappear just as fast.  The cheese curd lady said that they pack up late Saturday night after the show closes for good and are wrapped up in just a couple of hours.  Just like the art fairs I exhibit in.  Three hours after the closing bell on Sunday, you wouldn't know there was ever a show there.  

Here's the finished painting:
"County Fair, August 2, 2017", plein air oil on panel, 12" x 16", c. 2017 by Charlene Marsh.

I have one more county fair painting I managed to paint before the carnies packed up and left town so stay tuned.  

Let me know which one you  like the best.  You can see the first one HERE and the third one HERE.

Thanks for following along!

Happy Trails!



Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to Paint the County Fair, August 1, 2017

This is the first of three paintings of the county fair.  You can see the second one HERE and the third one HERE.

I recommend you set up approximately 1/2-1 hour before dusk, to paint the county fair.  Once it gets dark, it gets impossible to see.  I don't really like using a headlight because it attract bugs to my face but you can try it and see if a headlight or some other type of lighting works for you.  Personally, I like to keep things simple and direct when I am painting.


I scoped out different vantage points and settled on this view.  I have my palette already laid out with the paint before I leave home so it is just a matter of setting up the tripod, attaching and opening the pochade and accessories, and I am ready to go.  


Quickly lay out a drawing of the painting with a brush dipped in cold pressed linseed oil and pigment. 

Using my favorite palette knife, I block in the ground and sky as the sun sets.  Working quickly, capturing first impressions, painting the values(lights and darks), makes for a loose, energetic painting.  I am near sighted and like to take off my glasses when I paint "en plein air" which eliminates a lot of picky, superfluous details that can bog down and suffocate a painting.

Block in the sunset colors of the sky before they go black.  You can see how quickly night falls.
Once the entire ground, sky, and negative spaces are blocked in, start adding the detail of the lights and colors of the rides.  A couple of the rides would rise up and twirl whirl through the air and then lower as the ride ended.  I wanted to capture those activated shapes and lights and colors as they added more excitement and variety to the painting. 

Finish up by putting the final touches of lights, colors, and details on the painting, adjusting between the negative and positive shapes.  I had a headlight I would turn on to see how it was progressing but relied more on mixing the colors and values based on where I knew them to be on the palette and the value of the colors on the painting.

When finished, I slid the painting into a carrier case, packed my backpack for the hike back to my car parked a few blocks away.  I would wait until I got back to the studio to see how the painting turned out because, in the end, I was painting blind, in the dark.

After stashing everything in the car, I walked back through the fair, visiting the exhibit halls and then walking the midway.  By now it was going on 10:00 p.m. and the venue was almost empty.  I stopped to talk to one of the carnies. 

I guess it fascinates me how a mini village with these fantastic rides and side shows and food trucks goes up, and subsequently down, in a matter of hours, especially given my experience doing the art fairs which also go up and down in a matter of hours. 

There was a large semi with a mammoth generator that the carnie said ran all the power for the carnival -- rides, side shows, bunk houses.  Bunk houses?  Yep, most stay in the bunk houses while long termers with the show have their own RV.  This particular carnival, Fun Times, runs in three states:  Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio -- from mid-April to mid-October.  This young man I was talking with, goes home to Washington State when the show ends in October.


I noticed all the ride operators were at their posts, lights on, ready to go, but no customers.  The Midway was virtually empty.  The carnie told me that they close around 10 p.m. but that they wait for the lights of the Ferris wheel, the biggest ride, to go off before they shut down for the night.  Someone radios the Ferris wheel operator when it is clear to turn off the lights.  Sure enough, while chatting, at 10:12 p.m., he springs into action, shutting down the lights and closing up as soon as the Ferris wheel went dark.  


I slowly walked back through the venue as the last lights went out and truck walls slid shut for the night.  

Back in the studio, later that night, I pulled the painting out of the carrier case to see how it turned out.
"County Fair, August 1, 2017", 12" x 16", plein air oil on panel, c. 2017, by Charlene Marsh.

Here's a detail of the final painting so you can see the energetic, heavy, impasto, knife work:

I like how the painting captures the energy and the spirit and the joy of the county fair.  What do you think?  I'd love to hear your opinion.  Which is your favorite?  You can see the second one HERE and the third one HERE. 

Thanks so much for tuning in!

Happy Trails!




Sunday, August 13, 2017

Haan Mansion Museum Reception, August 4, 2017

Two of my plein air oil paintings were accepted into the juried show, The Many Faces of Indiana Art, held at the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art in Lafayette, Indiana.

"Blizzard Snow, January 3, 2013", plein air oil on panel, 18" x 24", by Charlene Marsh
 "Blizzard Snow" in the museum, in a bedroom.
Me with the painting, "Blizzard Snow", in a bedroom of the Haan Mansion Museum.  Don't you just love the early 20th century wallpaper?

 "Spring in the Forest, April 19, 2017", plein air oil on panel, 16" x 12", by Charlene Marsh


"Spring in the Forest" (far right) hanging in the "billiards room" with quilts on display on the pool table in the middle of the room.


The Mansion was originally the State of Connecticut building at the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair and was designed to be dismantled and moved after the Fair.  Mr. and Mrs. William Potter moved the mansion to Lafayette, Indiana and lived in it until Bob and Ellie Haan bought it in 1982.  The Haans lived in the mansion until 2015 when they donated the home to the museum and opened it to the public.


This is the second floor where you can see and hear down to the first floor from the balcony.  Mrs. Haan commented that it was a great home to raise a family in and everyone was able to feel connected throughout the home due to the open balcony.  The chandelier is original to the mansion.  The Haans were careful to maintain the mansion in it's original form.

Mr. and Mrs. Haan love and collect early, historic Indiana art and the walls are filled with fabulous T.C. Steeles, Otto Starks, Ada and Adolph Schultzs, Otis Adams, Will Vawters and more from the Hoosier Group of artists.  They also collect American ceramics, sculpture, and Renaissance Revival furniture from 1860-1890 which all filled their home and, now, museum.  The collections are fabulous and worth a trip from anywhere.

Bob Haan (left) and Ellie Haan (next to him, right) address the crowd assembled for the reception on August 4, 2017.  Mr. Haan had a short essay questioning the meaning and differences between "art" and "craft" before going around and introducing the exhibiting artists.
 Me with some fabulous paintings and furniture!
 Local artist, Dan Annarino, studying one of the paintings on exhibit.
Painter and Sculptor, Jeff Klinker(right), in a spirited discussion with visitors during the reception. 
A lovely evening in an incredible museum.  Visit for more information and to plan your visit.

Thanks for following along!

Happy Trails!



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Monroe Lake Paynetown Beach Painting Demo, 080517 12x12 #2

This is the second painting I did as part of my Arts in the Parks painting demonstration project at Monroe Lake Paynetown beach on August 5, 2017, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.  The second painting ran over the time slot but I wanted to finish the painting so kept working.  You can read about the first painting HERE.

I started with an initial sketch using a brush dipped in cold pressed linseed oil and the magenta pigment which is a transparent color.
Then I blocked in the dark line of trees.  I mixed the sandy color using Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Light and Medium and Titanium White.  I also mixed a violet, the complementary color of yellow, using Primary Red-Magenta and Cerulean Blue, and used the violet to tone down the sand color and add shadows.


Then I added the sky and water.  Once the ground was painted in, I dashed in the tents and people on the beach.

You can see the rich glow on the parchment paper palette.  Most paper palettes are made with a waxy paper that just doesn't work for me.  Scrapping the palette with my palette knives eventually leads to bits of wax coming off into the paint.  UGH!

The final painting:
"Monroe Lake Paynetown Beach, August 5, 2017", plein air oil on panel, 12" x 12", c. 2017, by Charlene Marsh.

Thanks so much for following along!

Happy Trails!


"This activity is made possible with support by the Indiana Arts Commission and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources OR Name of appropriate State Historic Site."