I'm a full-time oil painter living in the North Bay. Can be painting vineyards in Napa within 30 minutes of leaving my home or paint within walking distance of where I live on Mare Island. Impressionist Plein Air painting is my passion.
Being a full-time painter can be isolating if you let it. To counter that tendency, I have pushed myself to paint with "paint partners" and now groups such as the North Bay Plein Air Painters group. I've painted twice with them and like the group organizers and location choices. Egos are checked at the door and participants seem to have a good time while maintaining the professionalism of what the group is about.
China Camp was one of the spots for a recent group outing. I plein air painted this 10 x 8, Seaside Village.
Later, in my studio and from photo, I painted this 16 x 20, China Camp View painting.
One of my goals is to create paintings that look effortless (easy), which is quite difficult to do. A broad brushstroke made once with confidence adds impact to a painting. Below is a close up which hopefully illustrates my point.
I visited family over Thanksgiving and saw one of my paintings dated 12-10-76, my senior year of high school. Seeing this 34 year old 24 x 36 painting brought back many memories as I had forgotten I had even painted it. For my age then, I'm okay with the sky and mountains, but I've certainly come along way from painting single pieces of foreground grass. After high school, I went on to earn a B.A. in Art at the University of Utah. To make a living, I had a long career in architectural illustration and did not begin fine art painting again until 2002. I am serious about my career as a full-time painter. Seeing this painting from when I was 18 made me pause and think about the decades of lost time not focused on fine art. In the end, I realized that at least I'm painting now. No more looking back and wondering what if....
I paint as small as 4 x 6 and as large as 36 x 48. A canvas size requires an execution of the painting in a different manner such as:
Time Investment: A small plein air piece can sometimes be completed in 1 to 2 hours. Whereas, I can spend periods of time every day for a week or more on a large canvas. The challenge on larger pieces is to know when to stop as they can become overworked. All painters have "scrappers." It's how we improve. The more hours invested, the more difficult it is to face reality and scrape a large piece. When it happens, I do my best to remember, it's all about the mileage.
Drawing: I spend much more time drawing out a larger canvas. Smaller pieces are more forgiving when dimensions need adjustment.
Brush size: Larger paintings require larger brushes. I use between a #6 flat up to a 1 inch brush for my larger pieces. Not only does the paint apply quicker, it assists you in staying loose.
Information: Often, my smaller pieces will not have as many details as a larger piece. It is important to have an editing eye and take artistic license on every scene, but especially on small works.
Reference: Plein air studies are often used to compare colors when completing larger pieces back in the studio. Many times, the studies are discarded once the larger piece is completed as I may not complete them. Their purpose primarily serves as color reference.
I received several emails from my October 17 blog post wanting to see what I painted at Huihan Liu's workshop. Below is a 20 x 16 painting which isn't entirely finished, but was the culmination of the last four weeks of Saturday classes. My goal to be a well rounded painter is one reason I study from accomplished figure painters like Huihan Liu and still life painters such as Jean Chambers and Robert Johnson. The more I study figure and still life painting, the better I become with those compositions as well as in my landscape and plein air paintings.
Huihan Liu has a great instructional style in that he demonstrates a portion of the painting followed by students working on the same area. He recognizes educational levels of his workshop attendees and provides the appropriate level of individual attention.
The face close up demonstrates my emphasis on shadows and soft edges. In addition to feeling more comfortable painting figures, I've already made adjustments to my landscape paintings. My edgework is more refined and I'm layering more with my paints.
On Saturday, November 6, at 10:30 a.m., I will be giving a two-hour painting demonstration at Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, Texas. I have done several demonstrations in the past and enjoy the interaction with the audience. Questions are always welcome as I am able to paint and talk at the same time, not something every artist is comfortable doing. A French scene with architecture is my preference. However, I'm not sure which photo to use. Which one do you think would be the most interesting to watch me paint?
Despite the rain, I had a wonderful day at the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The 2nd part of the Masterpieces from the Musee D'Orsay exhibit is open through January 18, 2011 and well worth the visit. For bargain minded folks, you can buy 40% discount tickets which includes headsets at Costco. To be honest, some of the featured artists are not my favorites, but seeing Van Gogh's Starry Night alone made the trip worthwhile.
Those of you from around here may be familiar with Check Please! Bay Area. It is a KQED local program that features three everyday people per show describe their favorite restaurant. The other two guests visit and rate the restaurant as well. This week, Woodhouse Fish Co. was featured. It is a seafood restaurant at the edge of the Castro. The Lobster Rolls are better than many I've eaten in Maine (they use Maine lobsters) and the stuffed artichokes with bay shrimp and dungeness crab are absolutely delicious. If you go to the museum exhibit and/or Woodhouse Fish Co., please let me know what you think.
Greenhouse Gallery came into my life when I was accepted into their 2005 Salon International. In 2006, they agreed to represent me. I am honored to participate in an annual three-person exhibit with 18 new oil paintings. The pieces are now on their excellent website which allows you to see each painting in many formats including high resolution and framed. The reception is November 5 and I will do a two-hour demonstration Saturday morning, November 6. I'm proud of the variety and quality of my art work for this show. You can link to the show here. I would love to know which is your favorite.
Yesterday, I completed 7 of the 8 Saturday sessions of Huihan Liu's Figure Painting workshop. Many professions require continuing education for their credientials to be renewed. As a full-time oil painter, I continue to seek improvement by taking workshops from respected artists. The monetary investment has been worth the price on many levels.
Huihan's class featured the same male model for the first 4 weeks. We have one week left painting the same female model. After his demonstration on a certain portion of the painting, students then work on the same area in their own painting. My take-aways so far have been punching colors even further and the need for a well executed drawing. Soft edges have always been important to me, but by watching Huihan Liu's use brush strokes, I've refined the process even further with the point of my brush.
I have heard complimentary comments at times on how I handle architecture in my oil paintings. For 15 years, I owned my own architectural illustration company. I've had years of practice with building percpectives. Some artists who come from a similar background have difficulty with soft edges. This video clip contains some of my oil paintings where architecture is a key element. Enjoy.
This 30 x 40 painting, Paris, is too large of a canvas for plein air work. However, by painting often outside, I understand shadows as well as light and dark variations in photos. This understanding enables me to create a plein air feel in my larger studio pieces.
Another key element to executing a large painting is brush size selection. I used the large 1" brush (size 14 flat) shown in the photo above in 90% of this painting. Using a larger brush forces you to stay loose and create soft edges.
The close up of the boats in this painting highlight how using a large brush creates interest, emphasizes brush strokes which are applied with intention and allows for paint colors to blend together.
It has been several years since my last French painting trip. Luckily, with a quality camera, photos serve as an ongoing reliable inspiration. While studio painting Paris, my mind was transported back to my on location Paris experience. I hope you agree the finished painting transports you to a strole along the Seine.
Back in April, I wrote on this blog about Apple Orchard Blossoms, a 12 x 24 painting from an outdoor experience I had in Fairfield. I enjoy having my own paintings on a wall in my home. Not only do they add beauty to my home, they also give me the luxury of time to think about changes that need to be made.
In the second image, you see how the clouds were altered to add greater interest.
In the final painting, the central tree was reshaped with additional sky holes. The plowed field was also altered to add wild flowers. There is a fine line between overworking a painting and taking enough artistist license to create a finished piece that provides the right amount of interest and color.
This is one of the pieces set aside for the Napa Valley Art Festival scheduled for Sunday, August 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This is my first year in the show. It is a perfect setting with it being so close to where I live and paint.
The American Impressionist Society, recently announced participants of the 11th Annual National Juried Exhibition. There were so many submissions that and I feel fortunate that Lobster Boat was chosen.
There are many wonderful advantages of being a full-time oil painter. One benefit is enjoying plein air painting with other artists. This week, I painted with Silvio Silvestri. We met at the La Quinta Arts Festival last year and since we live within driving distance, we had the opportunity to paint together. My 8 x 10 called House Shadows is one of two paintings I started that day.
They sell oysters at my local farmers market. I've wanted to paint oysters for a long time. With some recent rainy weather, the time was right. I'm pleased with the finished still life. I hope you agree.
My provincetown paint trip is still alive in my memory. Not only did I enjoy fantastic fish and chips for lunch at the Lobster Pot, a return visit for lobster was superb. This is a restaurant the locals go to so you know it's good. If you've ever been to Provincetown, you could walk to the downtown scene shown above.
Another night, I ate at Victor's which I highly recommend, especially the Deconstructed Ahi Tuna Napoleon. The Carpe Diem Guesthouse was a wonderful B&B. It has a great central location, delicious breakfast and serves wonderful wines in the evening. Enjoyed meeting couples from around the world.
I must have lived in the New England in a former life as I am continually drawn to that area. I recently returned from a nine day paint trip. I painted the St. Charles River several times (see above). I also went to Provincetown for the first time. It was a little early in the year, but two of the days had perfect weather.
My last blog entry was about the generosity of strangers. Unfortunately, not all strangers are created equal. Late this afternoon, I was kicked off “private property” while painting. After all the years I’ve been plein air painting, this was a first.
My dear friends and fellow artists, Amanda Fish and Larry Bates have been visiting since Thursday. We’ve painted several scenes throughout Sonoma and Napa. Several vineyard pieces from our time together are on my website’s fresh paint page.
But, back to the story. The three of us found a beautiful late afternoon vineyard scene. We were impressed with the “certified organic” sign at the property entrance. Missing was the “artists keep out” sign. The row of eucalyptus trees along the road made for shade and there was plenty of room for our three easels. No grapes were harmed in the making of this painting. Well underway and who should drive up the driveway, but a Lexus SUV. Mid brushstroke, the car stopped, the tinted window on the passenger side descended, and I began to think we might not be offered an invitation to explore the property fully like my apple orchard stranger. When a plump wagging finger poked out of the now open winder, we half expected the “this is private property” lecture that followed. We promptly left, but luckily digital camera shots were taken prior to starting the painting. Although I would have loved to have finished it entirely plein air, when there is a will, there is a way. No one was going to ruin this gorgeous Sonoma afternoon. When it is finished in my studio, I'll post it. Here is another vineyard painting, Rows and Rows, 8 x 6, I painted while Larry & Amanda were in town.
There are days when driving around to find the perfect composition consumes as much time as the painting execution. Fairfield has hidden beauty as found in Apple Orchard Blossoms above. While exploring recently, I met the owner of an apple orchard. When he found out I was a plein air artist, he generously welcomed me to paint throughout his property as often as I desired. Over three days, I worked on this painting and found it quite a challenge as I had never painted apple blossoms before. This view would not have been available to me had it not been for the generosity of the orchard owner. During my second outing, workers were burning a pile of dead tree limbs in the field of my painting. So that day, I turned my attention to this 5 x 7, Edge of the Apple Orchard. One of the many joys of outdoor painting is never quite knowing what you will find and remaining open to a plan B as well as the generosity of strangers.
I will be at the La Quinta Arts Festival from March 11-14. This is a wonderful show in the Palm Springs area of Southern California. I was the poster artist in 2006. Since I moved from the area, I have not repeated the show until this year. If you are in the area, it will be great to see fellow artists, collectors and friends. I have been preparing for the show for awhile and have many new pieces that will be on display for the first time such as the one below:
A well executed painting keeps your eye traveling through the painting without going off the side and out of the painting. To achieve this flow, composition, artistic license and knowing what details to include or edit all come into play.
Blue Boat, was a fun painting from my recent New Zealand trip. Notice the two boats (red and green) in the center of painting. They were in that position so I originally painted them that way. However, over time, I realized that the horizontal positions cause your eye to move across the painting rather than toward the focal point, the larger blue boat.
In the final painting, I took artistic license to alter the position of the two middle ground boats so they point toward the focal area. If you look at each painting separately, you can sense how your eye naturally flows out of the painting in the first version and toward the blue boat in the finished painting.
Once you find a compelling composition, editing the subject is another difficult process for many painters. I like to hang a painting in my studio or home for awhile. Sometimes, time allows me to realize what changes need to be made to a painting to improve it. Art is subjective and although a particular viewer may not agree with the changes, ultimately, the artist must stand behind his or her finished work. You may look at the before and after photos below and think, well of course the telephone pole should never have been in the middle of the painting. The point is there is a fine line between overworking and editing a painting. How much detail to include is a judgment balance I make with every painting.
I love telephone poles in country settings so the pole and wire was originally included in this 12 x 16 painting, Winter Colors.
Your eyes circle around in the final painting without the pole stopping your movement.
Shadow of Notre Dame, 16 x 12, originally included a woman in the center of the cross walk.
In the final painting, the woman was removed which balances the painting. I also added a warm glaze over the entire painting to give more of an old world feel.
Once in awhile, I receive a photo from a collector who lets me know how the "Brent Jensen" original looks in their home. This photo shows three of my paintings from one of my collectors in Atlanta, Georgia. I enjoy receiving these images as my paintings feel in some ways like children. I know they have to leave home, but it is nice to have a peek into the existence of the world in which they live. I was at a dinner party this weekend in Palm Springs at a home of another collector. I hadn't seen my paintings that collector had purchased for several years and it was so comforting to see them again in person. Not only did I enjoy feeling they stood the test of time, but it also hit home to me that my artwork will live on long after I eventually am gone.
I realize that people read my blog for various reasons and sometimes a post may not be applicable to your interests. This one is for plein air artists who may be looking for a workshop to attend in 2010.