Monday, June 30, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8. Oil on canvas board.

Wildflower season is down to the very last few flowers around here. I wanted to capture a bit of that sense of explosion, the way wildflowers don't grow in neat, tidy rows with every bit just so. The challenge on this one, frankly, was painting around the flowers (leaves, stems) with the dark background color. I love cutting in and letting a little of the base color show through (if it's not white), but it can look contrived if it takes too much effort. Also, it took courage for me not to refine the pitcher more. I wanted to perfect the curves and the shadows, but decided to let go. So, no, this doesn't look polished, but there's a slapdask appeal to it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8. Oil on canvas board.

I haven't been posting much the last few weeks, but I've been painting. I think I've been desperately trying to fit in paintings of spring wildflowers before they go away, while in final rehearsal for a show (I also do theater).

In this piece I was trying to paint more loosely. Of course, so many artists try to do that that we should just make it an acronym or number it or something: Artist's Goal 21-A. :) This one does a fair job of it, especially in simplifying the reflections on the glass. Below is the work when it was part way through. As usual when I do an underpainting, there's a devil-may-care noisiness to it that I like.
Connie Kleinjans fine artI wonder how many artists have tried to figure out how to keep that freshness? The nice thing about this particular draft is that it almost works as a composition. Nice trick, and I wish I'd planned it.

In other news, I live in Northern California, and we have a fierce start to the wildfire season, with more dry lightning coming this weekend. There's a constant smell of smoke in the air, and that's likely to continue for another week. At first it was creepy and felt dangerous. Well, we are tracking the fire reports, thanks in part to a Yahoo group devoted to our area, and we're having our shrubbery cut back. But also, now that sense of danger has settled, I'm wondering if I can paint the amazing visual effects the smoke is adding to the landscape.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8". Oil on canvas board.

I did this a few weeks ago. I had painted a daisy and still had some growing wild in my yard, so I did a couple more. This painting fame out in two phases. The first was below, and I found the colors to just be uninteresting. So I took a picture of it and mucked with it in Photoshop. I didn't get exactly what I got in Photoshop, but the colors are more unusual and more interesting. I especially like how the orange shows through the green.

Connie Kleinjans fine art

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

First plein air and I forgot my red paint

Connie Kleinjans fine art6x8, oil on canvas board

I recently found a plein air painting group to hang out with, and this was my first work in a long time. Heck, I think I can count my plein air paintings on two hands. But I'm not displeased, especially since I forgot my red paint. I guess if you're going to paint outside and you need to forget one color, red ain't bad. It's better than blue or yellow/ochre, which you need for sky and plants, which features are very common outdoors.

I did this piece at the Baylands, a protected marshland in Palo Alto. It's a wonderful preserve where critters who frequent brackish water have a safe haven. The white structure in the distance is the Sea Scout Building, built in 1941 in the streamline moderne style (not that I know what this is) and it has a colorful history. The day was, as you can see, cloudy overhead, with puffy clouds over the mountains. I don't know that I nailed the scene (I'm not happy that the composition is split in half so evenly), but there is goodness in it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Peering," 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine artThis is one of the best things I've done to date. I am really happy with it. (I hope this doesn't sound arrogant, but with most of my paintings I can see ways to improve them, or see that they need improving, but I'm not sure how.) This might look like just another floral, and it has its flaws, but to me there's a sense of physical weight and depth. Maybe presence? Naturally it almost painted itself. Like Tom Brown said in a workshop I attended, "I just held onto the other end of the brush."

How did I do it? Luck, I think. Well, that's not fair, really, given how hard I've been working, but sometimes things just come together. The interesting part for me is to look at what happened, so I can do it again (that's very important). After all, you consciously learn, then internalize:
  • The pitcher has a sense of heaviness to it. That comes from how thick the ceramic looks along the rim, as well as the fact that it's earthenware and people know how those feel.
  • The reflections on the lip and water edge add dimensionality. (That inner wall of the pitcher was the hardest thing to do.)
  • The flower shadow below the pitcher has a sense of sureness about it, coming from not fussing too much (a bad habit of mine). I must have gotten it pretty close to right in the first attempt. Also, the red underpainting shows through just enough. I did the shadow partly by cutting in , and I'm learning how powerful that is. And fun.
  • The daisy itself looks dimensional, partly because of the shadows. This yolk on this daisy stood out like a button, so it cast a wonderful shadow. A couple of other crossing petals cast shadows that add to the dimensionality. I've been experimenting with warm vs. cool shadows; these are warm and it works better, although I don't know why. But I just love the petal at 4:30. I guess I painted it in shadow, then did one stroke of white.
What else did I learn (or relearn)?
  • Sometimes an outline makes something look fuller. But you have to watch it a bit. A painting can look cartoonish in a good or bad way.
  • While I was working on this, I read somewhere that shadows should be full of color. I totally agree, and shadows were where I first started to add strange colors. But shadows also can have defined or fuzzy edges, and lighter or darker patches.
I'm not sure whether the blue reflected light works, but that's how it looked.

Anyway, I've done a couple more daisies since then, but not with as much luck.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"It's Twins!" 6x8, oil on canvas board

Connie Kleinjans fine art
After all the recent hot colors, I apparently wanted to take a break and play with a neutral. I do like the way the red looks against the taupy background. I'm working on getting better at neutrals.

I have been painting but not posting the last couple of weeks. There are times when I feel like I just don't have enough time to paint. At times like that I'll sometimes just eliminate what I can and paint. Of course, then I have to swing back and take care of the things that got dropped. Anyway, I'll be posting more of the paintings I did the last week or two.

Also, I found a local plein air painting group! I've done a couple of outdoor paintings. While I clearly have lots of room for improvement, there's enough of a germ there to make it encouraging.