Archive for June, 2009

One of the questions I get asked most as a daily painter is how do you find something to paint everyday.  And the answer is fairly easy.  I live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and am lucky enough to have a little cabin in the mountains of West Virginia on an old apple orchard so I see things everyday that I want to paint.  And I never walk out the door without my camera. (Well, sometimes I forget and then I see something I need a photo of and I have to beat myself up for a while which is never any fun!)

Across the Bridge

This is a view we see almost everyday as we come across the Shenandoah River into our town.  I snapped this while driving along (don’t tell Allen) so it’s not the clearest photo ever but it will work fine as a reference photo.

Road 3



And Truman, Jed and I drive down miles of roads all over the old apple orchard in search of great views. 


And Jed and Truman are both experts at sniffing out a great location to set up and paint!

Sniffing Out a Location JedSniffing Out a Location





Old Truck 2

And sometimes when you least expect it you drive around a bend in the road and there it is, serendipity!  The thing you least expect to see but can’t wait to take photos of so you can preserve it to paint later.  Or maybe because you just can’t believe your eyes…..

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We love going to the cabin at Twin Mountain so the “boys” can run and play and I can paint.  And that is just what we did this past weekend.  Here is the result:

Twin Mtn Hay Bales 1 Ref Photo


This is the spot we chose to paint from that morning.  A gorgeous view of the West Virginia mountain range and the hay had just been baled and the aroma was strong.





Twin Mtn Hay Bales 2


As usual I start with a loose sketch of where I want to place the objects in the painting.  The great thing about being a painter is that you can always move things around on the canvas to make it fit and to make a pleasing composition.




Twin Mtn Hay Bales 4


Next I start putting color on the canvas.  One of the difficult things about painting outdoors (or on location) is that the light changes quickly.  The sun rises, clouds pass over, etc.  So you must mix paint quickly and set the tone of the painting.




Twin Mtn Hay Bales 5


I keep adding color and building the painting.  Again, you have to work quickly or the shadows move.  I often leave them out until the very end of my work and then add them.





Twin Mtn Hay Bales 8



And here is the finished product.  I am happy with the result.  This is a 9″x12″ oil on canvas panel and is available.  You can contact me at kwalker@doubledogdesigns.com if you are interested in collecting any of my paintings. 

And the best part of painting en plein air is that I have helpers.  Jed was off making the area safe for us to hang out…but Truman, as usual, was watching me work.  Truman is too old and distinguished to run around like crazy young Jed does.  Notice he cleverly lays just in the edge of the shade but close enough he can help make judgments about my work.  Thanks Tru!

Twin Mtn Hay Bales 7 Truman

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You have just got to love summertime.  There is no other time of the year when “Farmer’s Markets” open in small town and you can run down on Saturday morning and pick up fresh produce.

Farmers Mkt 1

Just look at these peaches!  Yummy.

Farmers Mkt 2

And have you ever seen cauliflower like this?    I was amazed to see the color purple in this veggie.  Really?  Is this what we are doing with our vegetables these days to make them interesting to eat?

Farmers Mkt 3

And all good markets have beets and basil, don’t they? 

Farmers Mkt 4

Just going to the market can give you so many ideas of ways to shake up a dull diet.  Not to mention great reference photos for painting if you are an artist.  🙂  If you don’t know where there is a little farmer’s market near you, try to find one.  It’s entertaining, enlightening, not to mention helpful to the farmers trying to make ends meet.

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Marsh Paintiing KellyAnother great day of painting on location at Hilton Head.  I discovered a really nice town park right on the marsh and set up there to paint about 8:15 a.m.  Boy, did it get hot fast this morning.  Not a lot of breeze blowing and within an hour I was burning up.  But I kept painting and got a nice little 9″x12″ oil painting completed.   I took photos at different stages so you could see how I work. 

I always take a reference photo in case I need to complete the painting in the studio…or in case I want to post it on the blog.  🙂Marsh Park Ref Photo

To start the painting I thin a dark color, ultramarine blue in this case, with turpentine and sketch the major shapes on the canvas.Marsh Painting 1

 After the basic shapes are sketched I start laying in the sky color and the darkest parts of the trees. 

Marsh Painting 3

I continue to work the colors in the trees and the reflections in the water.  I also add the background trees at the distance and start on the marsh reeds and the water.

Marsh Painting 6

Finally I complete the water and add the foreground reeds and grass.

Marsh Painting 8

I enjoy working on location even when it’s burning hot.  (Did I mention that it was really hot out there today???)  People often stop by to ask questions or just to watch and it’s always interesting to meet them.    And as usual, my paintings are available by emailing me for more information.  The paintings I did at Hilton Head this week are both oil on canvas panel, measuring 9″x12″, and are available framed for $225.  Contact me at kwalker@doubledogdesigns.com .

Marsh Painting 9 Complete

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South Beach ViewI spent a little time painting yesterday morning at the bend going to South Beach yesterday…  South Beach at Hilton Head Island, SC.  It was early but there was still quite a few people out walking and I talked to some very nice people from Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as locals.  People are always curious when they see you painting.  Some will come over and ask questions. This is the scene I painted.  The three little lines you see (one at the top and two at the bottom) are the metal prongs that hold the painting on the french easel.  I took this photo while still wet on the easel so I could get it posted right away.  SouthBeach Ref Photo(This painting is SOLD.)

This is the reference photo that I took just in case I couldn’t finish.  You never know what the weather might do so it’s good to get the reference in case you have to complete the painting in the studio.  But yesterday was perfect for painting.   A nice breeze was blowing, the sun was hot but not unbearable, and I got to paint on location.  Does it get any better than that???!!!

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Plein Air Painting

Twin Mtn PastureThe painting that I am posting today is one that I started while at the cabin this past weekend.  It was a beautiful weekend for plein-air painting.  I am often asked just what that means. 

En plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air”, and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.  Painting in “natural” light became very popular in the mid 19th Century and was made increasingly famous by the works of Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Pissaro.  One invention led to the popularity of plein-air painting and that was the introduction of paint in tubes making it much easier to carry supplies. 

Twin Mtn Pasture ref photo

I love working outdoors and painting on location.  It is fun to find a great subject and to set up the french easel and paint in much the same way the impressionists did in the mid 1800’s.  Of course, they didn’t have a Ford Explorer and bug spray!  There are a few hazards to overcome.  One of the worst is trying to keep Truman and Jed from finding all the dead animals laying where ever we end up.  If  its been there a while then they will find it.  Yuck!

I begin the painting on location and often take a photo and finish in the studio.  This was where we set up for the day.


Jed at Rest

And here is Jed after a hard day of work!  What a boy!!!

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Back from the Cabin

Tru with Girl 1We were out at the cabin for an extended weekend.  The weather was beautiful and  I got to paint on location everyday.  A real treat!!!  I am finishing three paintings that I started out there so I will post them soon.  In the meantime I wanted to share with you Truman’s big adventure. 

When we got back from painting one day a pickup truck loaded with children (and adults) pulled up to the little pond in front of the cabin.  It is stocked with HUGE Koi fish and the people who lease cabins from the other end of the farm sometimes come down to feed the fish.  This day there were 8 children all under the age of 9 and several adults.  One little girl was more interested in Truman than feeding fish.  He sat down and she hugged him…..

Tru with Girl 2 (Small)

And hugged him…..



Tru with Girl 3 (Small)


And hugged him while the other children tried to pet and play with him…..



Tru with Girl 4 (Small)

And then she explained to the other children that she wanted to hug him some more.  While Truman really loved all the attention, he finally got tired and walked up to the gate to be let into the fenced yard where the other dogs were waiting rather impatiently because they were not getting hugged.


Tru after Girl 5 (Small)

And this is how Truman looked after the truck pulled away taking his new found friends with it.  Truman, you are such a good boy!!!

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Strawberry Bowl (Small)Strawberries in a Bowl is one of the entries that I have in the Blue Ridge Arts Council’s Member Show that opens tonight.  The reception is from 5:30 – 7 p.m.  This is the largest member show that BRAC has ever had with 80 entries and 25 artists represented.  Please come this evening and enjoy the art and artists!

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There is so much going on with art this month in our community.  First of all let me invite you all to the Blue Ridge Arts Council Member Show Opening Reception, Thursday, June 11 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at 305 East Main Street.  This is my favorite show of the year.  There will be 80 pieces from 23 artists shown at this year’s show and the work is always varied and wonderful.  So please join us for the reception and support these local artists.     

The Gazebo Gatherings have also started on Friday evenings in downtown Front Royal.  Every Friday at 7 p.m. there is a free concert at the gazebo with wonderful entertainment.  You can contact the Arts Council for the schedule at www.blueridgearts.org .

Olives on Teal I (Small)Today’s painting is Olives on Teal I measuring 8″x10″.  It is an oil on canvas and is available for $145 (unframed).  Contact kwalker@doubledogdesigns.comif you are interested in this or any other painting on the blog.

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The new blog is up and running.  It is a lot more difficult to use than the last but hopefully it will remain online and I won’t lose everything again.  So back to painting.  Yeah!Down the Lane V

Down the Lane V is an oil on masonite measuring 9″x12″ and is SOLD.  I am still working on the “Down the Lane” series.  We are even painting one in the Wednesday night art class at Blue Ridge Arts Council.  Anyone interested in class just contact me at kwalker@doubledogdesigns.com .

Hope you are as glad as I am that I have a blog going again.  🙂

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