Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Studio Show, Dec. 12, 2013

~Holiday Studio Show and Open House~
Please join me Thursday December 12, for this very special evening of art and cheer in my studio!
Where:  St Croix River School of Painting
242 North Main Street Stillwater, MN 55082
When:  Reception and Spirits - Thurday December 12, 5:00-9:00PM
Artist Talk by 'Me' and Short Poetry Reading by friend Chuck Bransford at 6:30pm.
Chuck and Wife Diane traveled to Tuscany with me last year where he wrote a piece of poetry on my painting "Tuscan Broom Brush".  He will be sharing that piece on this special evening!
Extended Studio Hours:  Friday December 13, 11:00-5:00
and Saturday December 14, 11:00-5:00

"Evening Song" 18x24

"August Bee-Balm" 12x12

I look forward to sharing my latest works and adventures with you!  Hope to see you soon.  Until then, I wish you and your family a safe, warm and Happy Thanksgiving!  So much to be grateful for!  -Kami

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Scarlet Sumac

"Scarlet Sumac"
11x14 oil on linen
This is a piece I painted from my front yard.  The colors this year are intense, love it!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Bear Story!!

Summer has come and gone, and fall has certainly arrived full of color this year!  The St Croix Valley truly is an incredible place to live and paint.  I have many favorites where I frequently visit and haul my paints to 'the spot' where I attempt to capture the fleeting colors of the moment.  I love that I never quite know what is going to happen, or what I will end up with after a trip out painting.  Plein Air painting is so full of discovering, strategizing, observing, experiencing, revealing, translating, the list goes on and on . . . . however, along with all that, can certainly come with a healthy dose of frustrations and challenges along the way.  With that said, any day out painting is a good day!  
I'm sure if you were to get together with any group of serious 'plein air' painters you'd hear some pretty incredible stories of their crazy experiences out painting, and if you gave some of them a beer in a pub after a long day out painting the stories would probably grow.  The 20 degree winter day out painting suddenly may turn into now 50 mile an hour winds, not snow but ice, pelting the side of their face, fingers so frozen they are like popsicles stuck to their hands, now 20 below temps, but "I stuck it out for the sake of the painting" kind of stories . . . . .you get the picture!  I often hear from people how 'lucky' I am to be a painter, and how 'relaxing' it must be . . . . ha!  :)  I don't believe it has anything to do with luck and I'll tell you, it's far from relaxing, but I do love it and wouldn't trade this life for anything else!  
Now for MY recent plein air 'story'!! 

One of my 'favorites' in the Valley is William OB. State Park, (above).  The day I shot this picture was a good day, I went out with a few of my painter friends, we met at the coffee shop in Marine and headed up to our location, then hiked into the park (about a 1/3 - 1/2 mile hike with gear up hill each way!;)  It was cool and a little rainy which provided a nice blanket of rich color in the sky, and the land was saturated in color from the wetness, and soft light which allows the eye to see color so completely without great contrast of harsh sunlit areas.  Loved it!  What more could a painter ask for I say!

 Chompin' at the bit to get out and do another study of this same place before the colors changed too drastically, I headed out at 7:00 AM a few days later, arrived on location around 7:30 AM.  I had told my friend Diane that I would be heading out there to paint if she wanted to join me.  I got out of my car and stepped into the crisp, cool, fall air.  I saw my breath for the first time this year.  I stood and listened before grabbing my gear from the back of the truck and heard lots of animal activity in the woods that morning and thought "sure . . . this would be the morning I'd see a bear".  You see, it's been nearly 15 plus years that my Dad has been telling me I need to start carrying Bear Spray (don't worry, it causes no harm to the bear).  I blow him off every time and tell him, I'm good, the wild life love me, they think I'm like Snow White out there, 'We Hang Out!".  Deer lay by me and graze, and the turkeys come visit to see what I'm up to!  It's true, they do!  So, I hike up the hill, get set up, squeeze out my paints, put up a fresh new canvas, envision the possible potential for this painting that does not yet exist, feeling completely exhilarated still watching my breath as now the sun is brazing the damp foggy valley, looking miles out into the distance with my back is to the wooded tree line just 2o feet from where I stand, when my peace is suddenly jolted by an incredibly abrupt sound of what must be a very large tree branch forcefully cracked just behind me.  In my 20 years painting out in Nature this is the first time I've ever heard this sound.  I clap and make some noise, now breathing heavily and heart beating out of my chest.  I hear nothing but complete silence.  I calmly place my keys in one hand and phone in the other (remember I'm about 1/2 mile away from my vehicle) I don't see anything yet but I know it's a bear.  What else could possibly make that sound?  In an instant I make the decision to leave my equipment, to not go deeper in the park, but to walk back out to the road on the path that goes back towards where the sound came from.  I speed dial my Dad while heading out (who I know is 50 miles away and could do nothing but to know where I am just in case. . . ).  As I'm telling him my location I look up to my right and a 100 year old oak tree is moving like I never knew an oak tree could move, and I see the bear in the tree shaking the tree branches letting me know he's not happy I woke him up!  I am now hyperventilating as he's only 2o feet from me in a tree and I'm on the phone with my Dad who I'm telling him repeatedly in a panic "I have a bear in my sight, I have a bear in my sight . . . .and close, in a tree!!"  My Dad asks me over and over "is he still up there??  Are you past him yet??"  Finally I am past him and my Dad says "Well, get out of there FAST!"  Great idea Dad!  Good thinking!!
 The bear did not come down to greet me, thankfully!  I safely reach my car and he says, "NOW are you going to go buy some Bear Spray?!"  And I did, TWO cans!!  I love bears and I think they are amazing creatures but I don't care if I ever see one that close again in my entire life!  Sounds much more fun than it actually is!  Yes, such a relaxing life!!  :)  Did I go back again?  Of course I did!     
Now to get my equipment.  Diane and her sweet husband Doug showed up minutes later, and I tell them we can't go back in yet, "there's the largest bear in the entire United States waiting to eat us in a tree!!"  Brave Doug feels confident and leads the way back in the park, the bear is gone, we get my equipment, I even did a quick study and survived another day painting!!  Like I always say, "it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it!"   Embellised?  Well . . . it may not be a documented fact that he was the largest living bear in the USA but as far as I remember he WAS!  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Inspiration On The Island!

I just returned home from a week long trip on Madeline Island WI where I taught a 5 day Plein air workshop, painted, and brought my two teenage kids (13 and 14 ages)  and each a friend to create some warm summer memories!  Seems kinda crazy when I see it in writing, :)  but it was all good!  Actually, much better than 'good', it was inspiring!  Madeline Island School Of Art provides the perfect palette of hospitality for painters to completely engross themselves in inspiration and productivity.  

My students capturing the shapes and colors of the lagoon from Town Park early in the week

The ferry docks looking towards the 'mainland'

On my way out at 4:45 AM, yup that's right!  We did a 'sunrise' painting one day

My two biggest critics, my son Nick eating his ice cream cone and his friend Brandan 

My view hiking into the sunrise. . . I spotted an early bird photographer hard at work already!  Wonder if she knew she herself was 'art' :)

 . . . and the sun comes up

 . . . .the half of my class that decided to show up to experience this incredible morning

6:00 AM, painting number 2 of the day!  no joke!

 . . . me working to capture early morning light before our 7:00 breakfast. . . . 

   .  . . next day . . .painters working in the afternoon light, I just love painters!

down at the beach standing in the shade catching the colors of high key light

is that Monet??  :)  oh, no it's his look alike!  :)  

evenings were filled with family and friends enjoying the flavors of the island, life is good!

not only water and beach scenes but also lovely meadows and prairies right from the MISA school grounds
my 'crew' all cleaned up and ready for a much earned lasagna dinner in the barn

Me and my girls!  Paige and her friend Olivia watched me paint my evening demo for my class, ice cream was the  next stop!
Thanks to my awesome students for working hard and being a constant inspiration on my journey as a painter!  
my Wednesday evening demo from the ferry docks looking in, sold.  

Friday, July 5, 2013


"Garden Peonies"
18x22 oil on linen

Once again, another year and time to paint the peonies!  Each year around this time I'm chompin at the bit for the white peonies to open so I can paint them.  This year they were a month behind usual blooming time and the blossoms were acting kinda funny.  This piece was my third attempt at capturing this yearly event for me.  The first two attempts were scrapped by the second day because when I came back for a second sitting on my paintings the peonies were completely melted and petal-less!  Every single petal was on the table top!  Finally my own garden peonies opened, I cut them myself the same morning, headed to the studio, arranged the setting and painted for two days until this painting was born.  Now I'm packing and heading to Madeline Island where I am teaching a workshop for 5 days.  Can't wait!  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My week on Madeline Island, 2013.

"Dusk At Bear Pond"
8x10 oil (sold)

"Evening At Bear Pond"
10x8 oil

"Island Wetlands"
8x10 oil

"Madeline Island State Park"
8x10 oil

"Lagoon Shoreline"

"Madeline Moment"
8x10 oil (sold)

I just returned home from eight days on Madeline Island painting, resting, and I guess 'retreating'.  :)  Oh, almost forgot to mention collecting sea glass!  There's something very therapeutic about walking along a quiet beach finding little treasures, makes me feel like a kid.  The weather was a little wet and cool, but I didn't mind.  It created an even more serene quality to my week and the scenes I was capturing with paint, quiet subtleties.  
I remember seeing a program on Mary Whyte a few years back (an incredible water color painter from Charleston) and was so inspired by her as an artist and a woman.  The story was about her carving out time each year to rent a little house in the middle of nowhere to be alone and completely engrossing herself in her painting with no other distractions.  I love my life and am so grateful for all that makes it full, but I will tell you, I feel so recharged and inspired by getting away and having time alone with no other distractions.  I had a few people tell me how lucky I was to be able to do that, but it really has nothing to do with luck.  I made it happen!  Now I'm back home and everyone survived without me and are even more appreciative for me.  It's kinda nice.  :)   
The top 2 pieces which I titled 'bear pond' were painted two consecutive evenings at the same time with completely different light effects, so interesting.  I guess the second one might have been a little bit earlier, but it was close.  Sun was just down on both accounts.  Notice that if the sky is warm then the land is cooler, if the sky is cooler than the land is warmer.  Same exact scene, totally different paintings!    Making "much out of little, not little out of much" right?  (Hawthorne)  I could paint that simple little pond every day!  Lucky for me the next night I was NOT painting that sweet little pond, because while I was safely inside looking out there wandered HUGE black bear slowly moving across the meadow from the pond.  Hence the title, Bear Pond.  
At least a couple of these paintings I plan to make into large studio pieces.  This trip was just what I needed for a break and renewed inspiration!  Now it's time to paint the St Croix Valley, so lush and green right now!  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lovely Tuscan Tree

"Lovely Tuscan Tree"
11x14 oil on canvas board

Almost one year ago I traveled to Tuscany Italy where I taught an 8 day plein air workshop.  Before arriving in Tuscany my daughter and I took an extra week to visit and travel through Rome and Florence.  It was my third time traveling to Italy to teach and paint.  Italy is one of those places that I have been where it feels like home to me, so comfortable and so beautiful and full of inspiration!  I always tell my students that it's life's experiences that brings richness to the canvas, not just technical knowledge (although very important as well).  Having the experience of being in Italy, breathing the air, eating the food, hearing the sounds and absorbing the sights through our eyes richness the soul of the artist.  This experience will never leave me and as time goes by it seems to rich en.  So, one year later I am now painting my memories and experiences of this life enriching trip.  "Lovely Tuscan Tree" is my recent studio piece of this Lovely Tuscan Tree overlooking Sienna.  I loved and will forever remember the beautiful weight and form of this tree and it gracefully opposed the distant cool blue recession.  
Good news!  This painting will be traveling to The Small Works Show at the Bennington Center Of Arts in Bennington Vermont.  I'm hoping to make it to the opening of this show in June, 2013.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Some March Color

"March Still Life"
14x11 oil on panel

Sometimes a painter just needs a little color!  We still have snow here, a LOT and today I just needed some color.  So, I went to the market to find some inspiration.  Look what I found!  As deep as my passion is for painting landscape, I LOVE painting flowers!  Obviously I'm drawn to their vibrant and rich color but I love their life and vitality and when I paint them I'm just happy!  Pretty good reason to paint flowers I'd say.  :)  This is what I did today in the studio.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Reflection Studies In March . . .

"Against The Pink Glow"
9x12 oil on linen panel

"Looking Across"
10x12 oil on linen panel

Here in Minnesota it's still very much winter and we've had a LOT of snow this year, and it's still coming!!  I love the snow and find so much inspiration from the harmony it provides but this time of year I am more than craving the river open, moving, and warm with the reflections of It's banks pulling down.  It's almost as if I need it more for my soul which as far as I know is where my art comes from.  Years ago I would not have imagined that my muscle memory for imagery would ever be as strong as it is now but it's even stronger.  Especially for images and scenery I have painted from life countless times.  On these two studies above, I used a couple photos I took last year along the river, the photos were used simply for memory 'joggers'.  The imagery from the photo supplies enough info to trigger my memory of the scene when I was standing there and I'm able to use the photo as a spark to make a painting.  As far as color reference goes the photo was virtually no help at all.  The greens looked as if they were green straight from the 'lime-green' Crayola Crayon.  The warmth and feeling of a place has everything to do with temperature and saturation of color, not so much the local color.  
I each of these paintings in my 2 advanced studio classes last week as a demo on how to paint reflections.  They were each painted in under an hour.  It won't be long before we'll be out on the banks of the river again painting the moving water from life!  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where I Paint, Demo!

I'm not sure where the time goes these days but I do know it go by quickly!  My issue is not so much finding the time to paint, like so many struggle with, it's finding time to keep up on all the other things in life, such as computer work and cleaning my house!  This morning when my kids absolutely could not find one clean sock and I got out of bed to trip on a pile of laundry I decided, okay Kami - A break from painting, clean your house!"  So, that's what I'm doing!  And to tell you the truth, I think of it as a way to clear my head so that next week I can paint even better!  :)  
Not to mention my 12 year old is in hockey!  Never thought I, of all people would be spending more time in a day at a hockey rink or driving to one, than along the river with my paint box, but I am, and now finally realizing this season of my life will pass and is passing faster than I want it to.  I remember when he was 5 years old, we were driving to the rink at some unGodly hour in February, I was grumping about it, I looked back at happy freckle faced kid with his stick across his lap and he said "Mamma, you don't get it!  This is my ART!!"  :)  Forever changed my attitude.  I watched him that morning on the ice, put down my Henri Art Spirit, and saw the hunger and passion in his eyes, just the same way I feel about painting, and GOT IT! Yup, it is his art.  This passion can be very inspiring if we let it be and hopefully we can bring it to and through our art.  All these pieces of our lives.
  Now to my poor deprived blog.  (FYI, I post almost daily paintings on my Facebook page. . . .)
 I've been meaning to make this post on the building of "It's Where I Paint" for a good couple of weeks now.  I've since painted many paintings that have yet to be posted, and started up teaching winter semester of classes at my studio and school, St Croix River School of Painting.  I promised weeks ago to my students I would have this demo here posted so here it is!  

The large studio piece is 24x24.  I worked from my plein air piece 12x12 and a really bad photo of the place.  All I can say is thank you Nature for revealing such absolute beauty through light and color!  I could have never done this painting without studying directly from the source last summer.  My photo was virtually useless where color and temperature is concerned!  A camera can record objects and color but not temperature.  If you want to paint landscape, you need to get your butt outside and paint directly from Nature herself.  
I start off by using Transparent Oxide Red with Gamsol and lay in a wash.  Partly to loosen up my arm and partly to get rid of the white canvas.  I do not always use an undertone (wash) but most likely if I'm painting a warm light source I like to use a warm tone.  For instance when I'm painting a winter scene I may just go directly into my white canvas or I might lay in a Magenta undertone.  
I always mark 4 marks on the canvas dividing 1/2 on all 4 sides so that I can see where the middle is.  I try to avoid putting any major lines of contrast in the middle of my paintings, generally speaking.  
Then I start right in with my drawing.  (note: I always do several composition studies, value studies and small color studies before I start a large painting)  
As far as I'm concerned, this initial lay in is the most important part of the painting, the rest is just painting.  The concept and composition really needs to be solid right from the start.  I'm so much more conscious of this now than I used to be.  I used to just start painting with little thought to my division of space and how I could best say what I'm trying to say.  

Still working up drawing with only paint and thinner, no white.  I'll often times use a paper towel at this point to push and pull the shapes.

And I'll keep working the shapes until I'm happy with what I see when I stand across the room.  Then I start working up darks, I always leave my light areas until I absolutely need them to relate my darks to.  Just understand the reason is that the canvas is already in the key of light, the darks need to be developed by you.  Since everything is relative and we are simply manipulating our small range of value to create an 'effect of light' it's important to get as much of the canvas covered as possible.  

Okay!  Time to start massing in my averages.  I started with the back because it's pretty large and consumes most of the canvas.  It would be difficult to guess the rest of the color without it's 'support'.

Here you can see how I develop my pools of color.  I start by using a limited palette of Ultra Marine, Cad. Red, and Cad. lemon or Cad yellow light.  They are all mixed separately with white at the same saturation levels.  Then I begin to merge the 3 primaries together, this way I keep a clean mixture of paint, that I have control over.  I see way too many times students just grabbing paint and guessing and they make nothing but 'mud' as we tend to call it in the painting world.  Most colors I've seen in Nature of tertiaries.  This is where we have difficulty mixing color.  A tertiary is a color composed of each of our primaries, yellow, red, blue.  I think of each color as have a dominant primary, then a secondary, then the 3rd.  If we mix them equal or at different saturation levels, we lose control over our color and people get frustrated.  Try and identify what the dominant primary is in your color, then your 2nd, then your 3rd.  This will help you identify and mix your color with less frustration.  And if you want to know more about this you can take one of my color mixing workshops!  :)  

On with the painting!  You can see my plein air piece to the side here.  I just continue to mass in my large averages.

still massing but starting to get some opaque paint on the tree trunks.  I tend to work up my entire painting at once, meaning not finish one area but work up all the areas.

Starting to break into the large flat averages by noting notes of color shifts that would represent form and vibration within the masses.  

Thinking quite a bit about form within the island. . . 

"It's Where I Paint!" 24x24 oil on linen
So, as you see I got a little too deep in the zone once starting the water and forgot to photograph it. . . oops!  
Again, my pool of greens in it's different values and temperatures.  Each time I go into another mass, I clean my palette and start a new pool.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 12, full day painting Demonstration

Last Saturday I hosted a painting demonstration at my studio.  I had a very good turn out with lots of painters, some collectors and even a writer!  

It was a full house!  I started the day off with a discussion on how I came up with my concept for my large studio piece (20x24).  You can see to my left I have my Mac set up with a photograph of the scene, on the far easel on the right is my 16x20 plein air piece, and in the studio I came up with a small 6x8 color study to try and improve my composition and color in the 20x24 studio piece, that was the plan anyway!

I get started on a piece of C12 linen mounted on gator board, oil primed.  I begin moving a thin washy layer of transparent oxide red mixed with turps.  

After I play with the drawing a bit I always wipe it out to tone the canvas.

In this phase I'm still moving pretty freely but I'm more deliberate with my drawing and division of shapes.  Still in a transparent oxide wash until I like the drawing.  

I wish I had more photos of the stages of developing the painting but this is what I have.  You can see here my shapes are pretty much in.  If you were at my demo you would see me in this phase using my papertowel to clean up negative shapes until I'm happy with the drawing.

The color on this photo is not correct, it's not nearly as yellow but you can see how I start laying in color.

I move all around the canvas pretty quickly covering all large masses in averages.  

This is a close up of my green pools, they move from temperature to temperature.  

A close of my sky holes in the trees.  

A close up of the temperature notes as they move away into the distance.  

Very attentive onlookers!  

My 6x8 studio color study in hopes to achieve this same light in a larger version!

The final finished demo!  20x24, painted January 12, 2013.  
Thanks to all the 26 people who spent the day with me!