Tag Archives: California Art Club

Painting In The Back Alleys Of Burbank

This past weekend I took a painting workshop with Frank Serrano, an Artist Member of the California Art Club, to learn urban plein air painting. I have been primarily working from photographs in my recent work, figure drawing is all I’ve really done working from life. I’ve painted outside a few times but never with any instruction. This was a great experience!  Here are some photos of what I did on Saturday…

Urban Workshop Paintings

The pictures on the left show my reference and on the right are the paintings I did. Frank demonstrated before each new subject and explained his process.  After the demo we were let loose to find our spots and whip out the paint. You can see in the first photo that I have 2 artists painting a different view sitting right in the middle of my painting. Thank goodness he told us we could leave stuff out!

In the early part of the day the light changed so much that you really had to nail down where your light and shadows were going to be so you didn’t keep changing things. By the time we left the first location it was 1pm and time for lunch. We moved to our next location in a more industrial section of Burbank. Frank really knows some interesting spots. I have to say I preferred the gritty industrial section of Burbank to the horse alley we started with. I love the little field studies I did that day, I didn’t have a chance to finish them as we ran out of light but I did learn a lot that day.

The main lessons I came away with were…

  1. Stay loose – don’t worry so much about the small stuff.
  2. Pick you focus and gray the other areas down.
  3. I’m the artist…if the picture is better with something left out or changed, do it!

If you can think of anything I missed or have any feedback, leave a comment I’d love to know what you think.

After just one day I knew I would have a different approach to photographs so I’m testing out my new skills…stay tuned!

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I’ve expanded my Agave Series to include some succulents…specifically some echeveria species.  All paintings are available for sale on my website: www.athenamantle.com

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Plein Air with a Little Flair

Last month I joined the California Art Club and attended a group paint-out at El Matador State Beach. It was an exhilarating experience to paint on the beach with other artists. Did I feel a little like one of the French Impressionists? Yes I did and I have to admit I was smiling all day. I made some new friends and broke in my new French easel in the sand.

I took out my 12″ x 24″ canvas and got a few comments on how large it was…this made me chuckle because I already knew that it might seem like a bit much to tackle for a 5 hour painting. As a teacher I would have discouraged using it but what the heck…I was there to make a painting and I was going to have fun! Of course I didn’t finish my painting but I took a few photos and brought it back to complete in my studio.

In the photo you’ll see that there is a very large white house that does not appear in the finished painting. The biggest challenge for me is remembering that I don’t have to paint things exactly as they are. The artists had the option of  receiving a critique from Sharon Burkett Kaiser the Chairman of the Malibu/Ventura Chapter of the CAC and I wanted to know what she had to say about my painting. She had mostly complimentary things to say about my painting but commented about the white house that I had put in the painting. She said to me, “You don’t like that house, do you?” I had to laugh because I kept thinking it reminded me of a hotel and how it ruined the view of the beach. She said, “Leave it out.” I let that sink in a bit…I didn’t have to put in everything I saw?

Wow….what a revelation! Taking out that monstrosity made a world of difference in my painting and I’ve been reminding myself ever since that I have that thing called an “Artistic License”. My challenge is using it  every day in every painting!

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