Sketch of the Day – November 10, 2013

Adirondack Mountains in the Clouds - watercolor plein air landscape sketch by Tony ConnerA little delay in posting this quick sketch.  My wife and I visited my daughter in Burlington, Vermont over the weekend. Being an early riser, I was able to get up and out for a bit of a sketching session on Sunday morning, while everyone else slept.

This view is from Battery Street – actually from the parking lot of Shanty on Shore Restaurant which is on Battery Street.

The tops of the Adirondack Mountains, across Lake Champlain were partially, hidden in the early morning clouds while the surface of the lake was very dark.  Very prominent in the left middle distance is Juniper Island.

This sketch was done in a Handbook 5″ x 8″ watercolor sketchbook.

Contact me if you have an interest in this or any other paintings on the site. Email me at mail@tonyconner.com or by phone at 802-375-5548.

Thanks for looking! More sketches of the day can be found in my “Sketchbook Posts“.
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Sketch of the Day – November 4, 2013

Barn and shed off Rt 100 near East Jamaica, Vermont - plei air watercolor sketch by Tony ConnerI’ve been taking the time to do more plein air painting lately, rather than sketching.  Often I’ll have two paintings going at once, so the sketchbooks get ignored.  Today, I was a little pressed for time so I started one plein air painting looking in one direction and did this little sketch looking in the opposite direction.   Today was bright and clear and even the weak, late autumn sun was casting shadows over the ground and, especially, for this scene, over the roofs of this little barn/shed.

Surprising how green the grass is still at this time of the year, even with the frosts and deep freezes we’ve had already.  It would probably be much more convincing as an late autumn scene if the field was painted in the yellows and browns of dead grasses.  Still, this is the way it looked and the way it was painted.

Sketch was done in my Handbook – 5 x 8 watercolor sketchbook.

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“Farm”

"Farm" - watercolor landscape painting by Tony Conner

This small studio painting of a typically rural subject – farm, fields, silo. Titled simply “Farm”, it is a depiction of a farm in late summer. The light is low and maybe not as bright as it is in June. The fields are showing a good bit of brown and yellow as well as green as the season fades toward fall.

Much of my work lately has been done “en plein air” – on location. In a plein air painting, the focus is generally on “what is”. With studio work, like this little painting, the focus can be on “what could be or should be”. I’m often asked by people looking at my paintings if I can tell them where this place is. For plein air work it is easy to answer the question by just stating where I was when it was painted. For a studio work, my answer is usually that it is not a particular place, but a composition of shapes, colors and symbols that are placed together in such a way that it looks as if it is a real place. Such is the case with “Farm” – it only looks like a place that you remember…

This small work is my “Fresh Paint Auction” for October 29, 2013.  Click here to go to the auction.

Contact me if you have an interest in this or any other paintings on the site. Email me at mail@tonyconner.com or by phone at 802-375-5548.

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“The Passing Storm”

The PassingStorm - watercolor landscape painting by Tony ConnerThis full-sheet (22″ x 30″) watercolor landscape painting is a new work that is a continuation of a theme that I began in 2011 for an exhibit at the NAACO Gallery in North Adams, Mass.  The exhibit included 13 new, at the time, paintings. All were done in a panoramic format which was in keeping with the theme of “Sacred Vistas and Vessels”.  Nearly all of these works were inspired by the the rural, agricultural landscape of the Mettowee Valley – a broad, flat valley that runs along the southwest part of Vermont.  This painting has the same theme and inspiration as the earlier “Sacred Vista” works.  It depicts a typical agricultural subject on a mid-summer day as a summer storm passes in the distance.  While it is not a panoramic piece, it does have a panoramic sense in that more than half of the pictoral space is taken up by the sky while the overt subject of the farm occupies a relatively small area in the center-right of the picture.  The areas of space that define the landscape are covered with the greens of summer  in contrast with the reds of the farm buildings.  It is easy to get caught up in the notion that this is a painting of a farm. In reality, it is very much a portrait of the quality of light as it is late in the afternoon on a summer day.

This work can be seen at the NAACO Gallery in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Contact me if you have an interest in this or any other paintings on the site. Email me at mail@tonyconner.com or by phone at 802-375-5548.

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“Tinkham Road Farm”

Tinkham Road Farm - plein air watercolor landscape painting by Tony Conner Scene of a farm on Tinkham Road, in Shaftsbury, Vermont, done “en plein air” on a bright and crisp October morning.

This is just the kind of scene that appeals to my visual sense of light and allows me to apply expressive contrasts of value, color and temperature.  When painting the typical red barn in anything other than winter, it is likely that the contrast of  the complementary colors red and green will present themselves – red barns, green fields.   The problem with that combination is that it can appear stark and even trite if handled too directly.

In this painting, the choice was to lay in the fields with the local color which was a fairly intense yellow-green.  In reality, the barns were all covered in a deep cool red which varied little and was modified very little by either direct or bounced light.  For the painting, a conscious attempt was made to vary the color of the barns by way of temperature.  The closest, middle barn received color very similar to the local color of the actual buildings. In this case, it is a deep, violet-red.  It is darker in color than the two other barns and is a near direct complement of the color used for the surrounding fields.  This value and intensity, combined with the strong overlapping of the two other barns, forcefully pushes this building toward the viewer and makes it the central focal point.  The other two barns have a great deal of orange-red on the visible sides.  Even this color has a complementary relationship with surrounding fields. More importantly, the warmth of this orange-red and its contrast with the violet-red suggests the presence of bounced light from the sunlight fields.

Contact me if you have an interest in this or any other paintings on the site. Email me at mail@tonyconner.com or by phone at 802-375-5548.

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“West Arlington Farm” – Fresh Paint Auction

West Arlington Farm - watercolor plein air landscape painting by Tony Conner

Sunlight on farm buildings on a misty October morning. The foliage is at peak color while the bright sun casts long shadows over the landscape. This scene was painted just a few days ago on Columbus Day weekend.

The painting is a small work – approx. 6 1/2″h x 9 1/2″w – and is matted and mounted with outside dimensions of 11″ x 14″ for easy, low-cost framing.

This is the painting referenced in my Sketch of the Day post from October 12, 2013.  The subject and composition are very much the same as the sketch but is more finished as a painting.

This painting is my Fresh Paint Auction painting for October 15, 2013.  Opening bid for this work is $75, less than half the retail price if the painting were framed and exhibited. Go to the auction here - http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/170164

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Sketch of the Day – October 12, 2013

Wes tArlington Farrm, West Arlington, Vermont - watercolor plein air sketch by Tony ConnerOne could hardly ask for better weather on a Columbus Day weekend. It has been bright and sunny with mild temps all day.  Got an early start today looking for low slanting sunlight.  Found this scene on River Road in West Arlington, Vermont.  It is a working farm with a sign saying “Nolan” on it – must be the Nolan’s farm!  Fall foliage is at or just beyond peak today, but the bright sunlight was making the bright leaves glow and was still casting long shadows on the ground when I set up.   This sketch was my “distractor” for the day as I was actually out creating a larger, more finished plein air work of the same scene.

I use a distractor sketch to keep me from fiddling around with an in-progress painting at the wrong time.  Anyone who works in watercolor knows how easy it is to create muddy passages, create blooms or at the least, lose important edges by going back into the painting while portions are still not dry.  Having two paintings or sketches or one of each set up and ready to go, allows me to take my eyes off one and keep going on the other.  As stated earlier, this is mainly to keep me fiddling but also has the effect of forcing me to change my focus and concentration.  Then, once focus is switched back, it is often possible to see new things – both good and bad – in the other work.

Thanks for looking! More sketches of the day can be found in my “Sketchbook Posts“.
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Sketch of the Day – October 2, 2013

Bethesda Fountain Statue, New York NY- watercolor plein air painting by Tony ConnerA brief visit to NYC allowed my the time to make this quick sketch of the Angel of the Waters atop Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.  The fountain and the statue have an interesting history and story which you can read here - http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/south-end/bethesda-fountain.html.

Having only about an hour, I set out to capture a quick impression of the statue and the first level of the fountain below with the streams of water falling into the next basin.  At the time of the morning, the statue, as tall as it is was still in shade so there was very little light and few highlights on the dark surface, leaving only subtle value differences marking the folds of the angels robe.  The edges of her wings were showing a little highlight as well.

The color palette for this painting was a multitude of blues and greens.  Notably, I used a good bit of Winsor & Newton Indigo blue to mix the deep gray green of the statue surface.

Thanks for looking! More sketches of the day can be found in my “Sketchbook Posts“.
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Sketch of the Day – September 28, 2013

Taraden Scene, NorthBenningtonVT - watercolor plein air sketch by Tony Conner

Started this sketch as a quick demo for my workshop students who are here in Bennington (actually North Bennington) for “Sketching and Painting the Outdoor Landscape”.  The point of the workshop and the demo is to use quick sketches as explorations of possible painting compositions.  Sketches allow the artist to get to know the subject, try out different value arrangements and to discover composition problems before investing time, energy and the cost of that expensive piece of paper and paint in a more ambitious work.

The light striking the roof and the shaded dormer roofs behind the gray trunks of birch trees in shade caught my eye so I used this sketch to explore the composition.  It is actually a great example of using a sketch to reveal a flawed compostion.  Although the low intensity color, nice value range and interlocked shapes makes for a nice unified work, there is a major flaw that is revealed in the sketch.  Can you see it?

Thanks for looking! More sketches of the day can be found in my “Sketchbook Posts“.
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Sketch of the Day – September 24, 2013

Preparing work for my upcoming exhibit at the Slate Valley Museum, in Granville, New York.  Nearly all the work that will be exhibited is inspired by the slate industry.  While painting in the Granville area yesterday, I discovered this old building very near to the museum.  It is one of many of the homes inhabited by quarry workers.  These days it is painted a bright yellow and has a cheery blue roofs on its three sections.  It had a look that reminded me of a building one might find in one of the Mediterranian countries.

Yellow House With Blue Roofs, Granville NY - watercolor plein air sketch by Tony ConnerThis sketch was done in between work on another painting for the exhibit.  I’ve found that a second work, even a sketch, underway while doing a more “serious” work, keeps me from touching and dabbing at the painting when I shouldn’t.  All watercolorists know that understanding and monitoring the degree of wetness on a watercolor painting is key to avoiding weak and often muddy passages in their painting.  An active second painting or sketch allows me to turn attention between the two works, and avoid overworking and mud!

This sketch was completed mostly with permanent yellow along with cobalt and ultramarine blue, and in and Aquabee sketchbook.

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