Day 5 : Demo

Today was a pretty full day of driving, I pulled off to explore the landscape countless times but only had the motivation to paint twice, and one of those paintings turned out to be a dud! 

Heres a small demo from a painting that I worked on during the afternoon. As I was driving, a small river and open field caught my eye so I pulled off ti the side and started painting (in 100° F)! 

 

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My oil painting setup is pretty simple, and I try to keep it as minimal as possible, everything can fit inside of that backpack on the ground.  

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I started by looking at the landscape and thinking about the composition possibilities and what I wanted to say with this painting. You can see some sketches in the sketchbook on the right.  

Once I had the sketch worked on and translated into canvas I laid in some very thin paint that would serve as an underpainting and roadmap for where I wanted my darks to be.  

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At this point in the painting, I more or less had it all figured out in my head. I had mapped out the process to the best of my ability and now I just needed to stay focused and be open to change.

I start with the darkest shadow shapes, which was the green of the trees and the river. Then I moved into the mountain, which was ill fated because I made it way too dark. I only had my darkest dark of the painting and the white of the canvas to judge it, so I got it wrong! But I fixed it later!  

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After the darks I made my way through the painting bit by bit. The sky being the challenging part as I had to take a mental snapshot of the clouds and get it right.  

After the sky was looking better I filled in the grass, but at this point I had been standing in the sun for over an hour and I needed to get back into the car, so I called it a day.  

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The next morning I took out the painting and revised areas of it that weren't working, like the mountain colors, the edges on a lot of areas as well as clarified the shadows and trees a bit.  

This painting was a phenomenal learning experience for me and I'm excited to get out and try some of the new things I learned on other paintings!  

Love, 

Nick

Day 4: Eureka to Crescent City

I had too much fun last night, this morning I woke up with a massive headache, and no desire to do anything but sleep. SO i slept in, and after waking up I went to a local coffee shop and waited 30 minutes for a "gourmet organic" cup of black coffee. Meh.

It's only a two hour drive from Eureka to Crescent City, heading up the coast line, but I took every scenic byway and local road I could find, so it took me about 8 hours. I was perfectly happy to drive throughout the redwood forests, see a herd of elk passing and hike through the forests and beaches.

I found a river and followed it into the ocean, decided that it was a perfect spot for a painting. Im not super happy with how this painting turned out, but it was a nice time.

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After driving through the redwoods I stumbled across an unlisted beach that sat on the 101 highway, I was very pleasantly suprised to find this wonderful place and spend a few hours hiking around and painting.

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Tomorrow morning I'll be heading to Truckee California, an 8 hour drive from Crescent City! AWWW YEAH

Love,

Nick

Day 3: Eureka

I was unsure of how to feel about Eureka when I came into town. It turns out that it's one of the best towns I've visited. Both nights I went out to the historic district and met some really interesting people, Thats a story for another day though.

I set a personal goal that I would do 4 paintings that day, so i left my hotel at 6am, after having breakfast, I headed north. I had a few points of interest I wanted to visit but most of my time was spent turning off at random drives and discovering hidden areas of the landscape that I might have easily driven by.  

My first painting of the day was done at the top of a sand dune looking over the salt marshes. I wanted to take the time with this first painting to really think about how I wanted to paint and experiment with brush strokes. It wasn't the most successful painting in the world but I learned a lot from analyzing.

The second painting of the day was done at Patrick's point state park, the Yurok Tribe had lived here once and there were all kinds of cool houses. I could have done two paintings here as I walked down to the beach, but the marine haze was still pretty strong, so I ended up sitting and playing in the sand for a few hours.

Painting two was by far the most successful of the days efforts, I revisited a beach that I had passed in the morning and it was completely transformed as the sun came out in the late afternoon.  

After spending a couple hours there and walking about two miles in the sand, I was beyond exhausted , but I wanted to do four paintings so I took the scenic route and found an unlisted beach with about 3 parking spots. I pulled off and walked down the nearly vertical steps. I wanted to try something new, so I didn't take out my painting medium, left with only raw paint I slapped in on in a mad flurry. 

Tomorrow I'll be heading to Crescent City!

-Nick

Day 2: SF to Eureka

I love lazy Sunday's, one thing I wanted to make sure of with this trip is that I would not make painting the only thin that I could think about. I've done that before and ended up missing out on fun experiences because I was so singularly focused. I made a conscious decision to just go with the flow during this week long road trip.

I woke up around 7am, despite going to sleep at 2:30. My wonderful host and author of our soon to be extremely successful children's book slept in until around 10 am, as was his right, there had been a lot of drinking the night before. This meant I had some time to relax, I wandered around the neighborhood a bit, played with Quinn (the worlds nicest and best doggo) and ended up watching a couple episodes of Broad City, a show I had never heard of until that morning because it was auto playing in my friends Hulu que. Turns out, that show is wonderful and hilarious! I'm looking forward to watching more when I return home.

I left for Eureka at 1pm and spent about 4 hours on the road. The highlight of my drive was taking the scenic route of the Humboldt redwoods state park, a long winding drive that weaved in and out of unmovable redwood trees that looked as if they could swallow my car whole. I wanted to pull off and paint during my drive. But it was about 104°F! Anytime I opened my windows I was transported into a boiling oven with hot winds whipping across my face.

Anyways, I made it to Eureka and checked into my airbnb – a beautiful old Victorian house. I thought about going out and painting since the sun wouldn't set until 9:30 and I went to drive around aimlessly around town. I found lots of really beautiful buildings and cool places but nothing provoked me to paint. Possible because I actually hadn't eaten for the entire day and I couldn't focus. I know myself and I know that if I can't focus I won't be able to do a good job painting. So I headed into the lost coast brewery and enjoyed my evening with beer and tacos. 

tomorrow will be a full day of painting and I hope to get at least 4 done as I travel up and down the coast, so I'll speak to you then!

Love,
Nick  

DAY 1 - LA - SF

Driving for long stretches of time is routine to me at this point. Once I drove from Alabama to Los Angeles–only stopping to sleep. I'm pretty sure part of me died on that trip-but another part was also born, the part that loves long road trips.  

Driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco is only six hours. It's not as if driving goes by faster for me after doing the extreme 3 day drive, but I've become more accepting of "this is what I am doing for the next 6 hours" Although good music, funny podcasts and sad audiobooks make for pretty good time passers. Chocolate and coconut covered almonds are pretty helpful too.  

I arrived in San Francisco around 3pm, just enough time to do two small paintings before meeting with my friend at 6pm. 

I wanted the two paintings to be a kind of warm up, they are definitely not my best paintings and they were done very quickly, but they were warm ups for the days of serious painting to come ahead. 

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Its day two now, and I am sitting on my friends couch cuddling with his doggy at 8am as I type this on my phone. Next stop is Eureka City.   

Love,

Nick

Digital Painting Process

I am leaving for my plein air road trip tomorrow, for now just finished a digital painting study and I want to share some of my thought process with you.

Here is the final image, I spent about 2-3 hours painting this.

This is the reference I used for my painting, The composition lighting and many other elements have been changed, but you can see where I drew my inspiration. 

It's important for me to not copy the reference exactly, I like to spend some time studying my reference while I am sketching but once I get into the painting process I want to put the reference away so I am free to make my own decisions.

I made two color comps which are not exactly what the final painting looks like. I always feel more comfortable when I plan through an image before actually starting the final painting. Even if it's just a mental plan, that helps me make more confident decisions and I can still improvise at any time.

Lastly, I wanted to talk about the values in this painting. From the beginning of the process I am thinking about what kind of value structure I want in my image: what direction is my light coming from? How strong is the lighting? Is it an overcast or sunny day? etc...

Basically I ask myself a lot of questions, partly because it helps me feel more familiar with the scene and partly because it opens up my curiosity and allows me to have more fun while I paint! 

If I was not having fun while painting this, there is no way I would have continued, this is my personal work and the goal is to have fun and relax.

ANYWAYS, I'm going to a live podcast taping of TAZ, this evening and I hit the road tomorrow late morning so I will talk to you then!

Love,

Nick

 

 

My Oil Painting Materials

The most Frequently asked questions I receive is about my materials, “what brush is that” “what paint is that” “what are you painting on”. 

I do not want to scold those people for asking those questions, when I was a younger student I often asked the same questions, but as you gain more experience you learn that the materials dont matter as much. As long as you purchase quality materials, it mostly comes down to personal preference that has been gained through experience.

I always enjoyed the thought that if you gave Michelangelo and bucket of mud and a broom he would still be able to paint masterpieces. Great skill does not happen in the materials, it happens in the artist.

Trust me I understand, the pros make it looks so effortless, when they use a pen it looks NOTHING like when you use that exact same pen, and that is usually because they have been drawing and practicing their stroke for longer than you and they can achieve a similar effect with almost any instrument.


THAT BEING SAID, I want to share some of my materials for oil painting, these are by no means the correct materials. and they certainly will not be the same materials I use for the rest of my life, but I am still learning the medium so these work perfectly for me.

My Colors are arranged the same way I like to arrange them on my palette, basically is consist of a warm/cool version of each primary color with a few outliers that I could mix with my primaries, but since I use them so frequently it is time saving to just get them out of the tubes. Titanium White ( The best white) Lemon Yellow ( A more subtle and warm yellow) Cadmium yellow Light ( The only yellow I really need) Yellow Ochre ( This one is often left off my palette) Cadmium Orange ( A shortcut color, I can mix this easily but I use it so often) Cadmium Red Medium ( The warmer of the cad reds) Cadmium Red Dark ( The cooler of the cad reds) Alizarin Crimson ( A must have on any palette) Cerulean Blue ( The warmest Blue) Cobalt Blue (A cooler Blue) Ultramarine Blue ( A standard for painting) Burnt Umber ( A great shortcut color, but i dont use it often) Dioxazine Purple ( a great purple for mixing into shadows) Permanent Rose ( I dont use this color much) Viridian ( Great for mixing greens) It is also worth noting that I use Windsor and Newton Artisan water soluble oils, I do not plan on using these paints forever but for now they are affordable and I have no problems with the quality.

My Colors are arranged the same way I like to arrange them on my palette, basically is consist of a warm/cool version of each primary color with a few outliers that I could mix with my primaries, but since I use them so frequently it is time saving to just get them out of the tubes.

Titanium White ( The best white)
Lemon Yellow ( A more subtle and warm yellow)
Cadmium yellow Light ( The only yellow I really need)
Yellow Ochre ( This one is often left off my palette)
Cadmium Orange ( A shortcut color, I can mix this easily but I use it so often)
Cadmium Red Medium ( The warmer of the cad reds)
Cadmium Red Dark ( The cooler of the cad reds)
Alizarin Crimson ( A must have on any palette)
Cerulean Blue ( The warmest Blue)
Cobalt Blue (A cooler Blue)
Ultramarine Blue ( A standard for painting)
Burnt Umber ( A great shortcut color, but i dont use it often)
Dioxazine Purple ( a great purple for mixing into shadows)
Permanent Rose ( I dont use this color much)
Viridian ( Great for mixing greens)

It is also worth noting that I use Windsor and Newton Artisan water soluble oils, I do not plan on using these paints forever but for now they are affordable and I have no problems with the quality.

Most of my brushes come from [rosemaryandco.com], a fantastic supplier of affordable and quality brushes. I prefer to use an assortment of Brights (square) and Filberts (round) as well as some old hog hair brushes for texture. I carry them in a bamboo brush sleeve, simple and easy, It's important to note that I clean my brushes after each use or before each use. A dirty oil brush is essentially useless.

Most of my brushes come from [rosemaryandco.com], a fantastic supplier of affordable and quality brushes. I prefer to use an assortment of Brights (square) and Filberts (round) as well as some old hog hair brushes for texture.

I carry them in a bamboo brush sleeve, simple and easy, It's important to note that I clean my brushes after each use or before each use. A dirty oil brush is essentially useless.

For my general Painting materials I have an assortment of tools that Ill talk about briefly here. Plastic Razor Blade - Great for scraping off my palette and keeping it clean. Small Metal Lid - For putting my painting medium in Small leak proof bottle - For holding my painting medium on the go Palette Knife - Great for mixing paint and for painting, a perfect tool. Painting Medium - This medium is proprietary to the type of paints I use Masters Brush Soap - Clean you brushes every time you use them Cup for water - That about sums it up, it’s a cup for water Not pictured : Paper towels - Lots of paper towels (preferable VIVA)

For my general Painting materials I have an assortment of tools that Ill talk about briefly here.


Plastic Razor Blade - Great for scraping off my palette and keeping it clean.
Small Metal Lid - For putting my painting medium in
Small leak proof bottle - For holding my painting medium on the go
Palette Knife - Great for mixing paint and for painting, a perfect tool.
Painting Medium - This medium is proprietary to the type of paints I use
Masters Brush Soap - Clean you brushes every time you use them
Cup for water - That about sums it up, it’s a cup for water
Not pictured : Paper towels - Lots of paper towels (preferable VIVA)

When I first started oil painting I mostly used cheap canvas boards that are not archival and were not very smooth. These boards were just fine for learning, but I wouldn’t want to sell my work on those boards because they will warp and degrade over time. As of now I exclusively use RAYMAR panels, both Canvas and Linen of various sizes.

When I first started oil painting I mostly used cheap canvas boards that are not archival and were not very smooth. These boards were just fine for learning, but I wouldn’t want to sell my work on those boards because they will warp and degrade over time. As of now I exclusively use RAYMAR panels, both Canvas and Linen of various sizes.

This paint box folds up nicely and fits in my backpack and has plenty of table space for all my junk that we listed above. For a long time I was using a homemade wooden paint box similar to the STRADA. But I saved up some money and purchased this as a gift to myself last christmas, It was a great investment!

This paint box folds up nicely and fits in my backpack and has plenty of table space for all my junk that we listed above. For a long time I was using a homemade wooden paint box similar to the STRADA. But I saved up some money and purchased this as a gift to myself last christmas, It was a great investment!

One of the complaints I hear about oil paint is that it takes forever to set up and get going. This can absolutely be true, but I take pride in my setup and it generally takes me about two minutes to unload everything from my backpack and get painting.
It’s also worth noting that all of this stuff fits nicely in my back pack, since I am primarily a plain air painter I needed to make sure I can be on the go quickly. Of course I did not choose all of these materials by myself, many of them were recommendations from fellow painters like Dennis Perrin, Richard Schmid, Daniel Keys and many more!
My tools and set up will continue to evolve with me as I grow as a painter and I look forward to that! 

Thanks for reading!


Best,

Nick

Welcome to the Chaotic Art Blog!

I have wanted to create a blog for a long time now, but lots of things have been stopping me. Mostly my own fears about not having anything helpful or meaningful to say to a reader.
Over the last few months I have been jotting down ideas that would be great blog posts and I am ready to start delivering these to you on a weekly basis, even if nobody reads this it will be helpful for me to put my thoughts into writing.
I am not a professional writer, so please bear with me if I include some run-on sentences or a typo. That is partially why I named this a chaotic art blog, I only really care about the information that I can give you.


CURRENT EVENTS
Currently It is 7:00am on a Tuesday, I am prepping to pack my bags and drive away on Saturday morning. I was gifted with a week off work and I will be using that week to road trip up and down California, visiting friends and painting all along the way. My goal is to write a blog post about my experience with the road trip and with painting every single day. I probably wont talk about any REAL current events, you can go to an actual blog for that shit. I’m here to talk about art, and painting! (and sometimes myself)

 

Anyway! Thanks for hanging out!
Heres a thing that I painted a while ago, for your entertainment.

OH I FORGOT TO MENTION - YOU CAN LEAVE COMMENTS! SO LEVE ME A COMMENT IF THERE IS ANYTHING SPECIFIC YOU WANT TO ASK ME ABOUT! 

Best,

Nick