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Blackwater Gold Wild Goose Farm Side Light Red Barn at Massey
Colhouns Barn Standing Stones II Soy Field Saxtons River View

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July 23 & 30

We were supposed to paint at Browns Bridge on July 23, but the forecast record heat (101 degrees, with a brutal heat index of 106) led me to move the session to Monday, July 26, when were expecting more moderate temperatures (like in the high 80s). Unfortunately, Ive since learned that most of us including me! cant be there Monday, so well have to skip this session. I also wont be around to paint out on July 30 (Lake Kittamaqundi), as Ill be in California at the CPSAs 18th Annual International Exhibition and Convention. So my next blog will be a report on the August 7 plein air session (assuming the weather cooperates).

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July 16

Mt. Gilboa Chapel

Barbara, Brenda, Rita, Maria and I made our groups first painting venture into Oella, small town on the east bank of the Patapsco River, across from Ellicott City, built 200 years ago to house local mill workers. This was a VERY hot day that we thankfully spent in the shade of Mr. Jay Patels Country Corner Store (Mr. Patel also very hospitably allowed us to park in his lot), painting the Mount Gilboa Chapel. This is a small stone church built in the mid 19th century by freed African Americans; it is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Since I was not entirely sure how long Id be able to stay out in the 90-degree heat, I chose a piece of Wallis paper on which Id previously laid in a very dark brown wash in acrylic (covering an earlier unsuccessful painting that Id brushed off). I really love the effect of pastel on a dark dark surface, but there are some tricky things you have to take into consideration. First, even mid-value pastels look quite light against the dark surface, and if youre not careful to adjust for that, your finished work can end up in far too low a key, especially when working outdoors. So its a good idea to start by popping in one or two of your lightest lights (which youd normally save till last) just to help you gauge your remaining values correctly. Second, brushing light pastel off a dark surface will leave ghost traces, so if you want to preserve the crisp freshness of confident strokes of color against the dark underpainting, you need to get it as right as possible the first time and be willing to accept what you lay down. Its for this reason that I chose the dark surface for this particular session: I knew it would force me to work as quickly and as surely as I could: no doodling or re-painting allowed! The result, Mt. Gilboa Chapel, is certainly no masterpiece of realism, but I am basically pleased. I will probably re-work it some in the studio I want to soften the hard edges and perhaps darken the shadow side of the chapel a bit but for illustration purposes, Ive posted here, anyway.

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July 9


Instead of painting at Lake Elkhorn (still a goopy brown from being dredged), we went back to the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum always a favorite spot. There were 5 of us: me, Barbara, Brenda, Rita, and Maria, braving the heat and the dust (Maria in a skirt and low does she do that??). I have to admit my mind was overly occupied with planning for the opening reception of my Artists Gallery show that evening and not focused enough on painting: it took a real effort of will to concentrate. The light changed frequently as clouds paraded by overhead, and it was a good day to do sky paintings. As an earth "anchor" I chose a small grouping of trees that Ive been wanting to paint for a while now, and Im about 80% happy with the result: Ill post it here once Ive dealt with the other 20% and photographed it.

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July 1


Although we did not have a paint-out scheduled for this week, the weather was just irresistible, so I joined the Paint 360 Meet-Up group at the Avalon-Orange area of the Patapsco Valley State Park to paint the Thomas Viaduct. It is the oldest major railroad viaduct in North America and the first built on a curved alignment. This year marks its 175th anniversary, and the Friends of the Patapsco Valley and Heritage Greenway have put out a Call for Entries for artists and photographers to portray the Viaduct for a show to be held at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, opening at the end of July. I had a great time painting and was very pleased to meet some new plein air colleagues. Im also fairly happy with the painting I did, but it does need some work before its ready to submit. I may just leave it as a study and do a larger studio piece for the show, based on the plein air piece and on the photos I tookI will decide that over the next day or two. //Have finsihed the studio version, which I've posted here: it's called "Steadfast" and I plan to deliver it to the B&O Railroad Museum tomorrow morning.

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June 25

The schedule called for a trip to Kenilworth Gardens today, but I had to take a pass, as I had not finished preparations for hanging my show later that day at the Artists Gallery. I know that Kay and JoEllen went, though, and reportedly had a great painting day. We also decided not to schedule a session over the July 4th weekend, as people generally have other stuff to do.

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June 19

June Grass
Redemption! We painted at the Howard County Conservancy today and as always it was truly inspiring. The weather was perfect, the June landscape was at its loveliest, and I had a score to settle after my debacle the previous week. We had a good turnout, too, including some new people, like Maria, who I hope will be able to join us at other sessions. I was drawn to the way the morning light came past the leafed-out trees and fell on the high grass. Someone on the Conservancy staff had mowed a path through the grass, which provided a nice focal point for the piece I did, which Im calling June Grass (not very imaginative, I know), which is posted here. Among the bad habits Im trying hard to break this season (the first being over-attention to detail) is my tendency to go too dark. Im making a conscious effort to start with lighter shadow shapes, which will then affect all the ensuing color choices I make, resulting in a higher-key painting. I think this piece was a good start at that: well see if I can keep it up.
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