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Valentine’s Day #Pleinair Painting at Point Loma

February 14th, 2015 in Southern California.  The air temps got up to over 90 degrees in the inland areas.  I headed West, early this morning to paint at the area in Point Loma known as “Sunset Cliffs.”  It was already warm and not the least bit cold as I painted at the top of a cliff, near waters edge above the surf below…here’s a short video of the beautiful conditions and the painting I made.  11 x 14 inch oil on panel.

…and here’s an example of how it would look in a nice “New Rustic” solid wood frame by Randy Higbee galleries…

This is my "go to" frame to compliment my plein air paintings...
This is my “go to” frame to compliment my plein air paintings…
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“Mele Kalikimaka” Hawaiian #Pleinair Painting Trip

Mele Kalikimaka 2014

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That’s the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway…

I guess after all I was not so naughty this year that I wasn’t able to make a Christmastime excursion with my beautiful wife, Jackie, to the Hawaiian Island of Maui.

This wasn’t a “painting only” trip, so I only made time for two 11 x 14 in. panels but they were both lots of fun to paint.  Even though the Trade Winds were fierce during one of the painting sessions, I managed to finish with no mishaps.

Though probably not the wisest thing to do, I diverged from my usual painting methods on this air travel trip and was winging it (no pun intended) with a color palette and paints I had never used before. To lighten the load and simplify things for flying, I chose to go with a five color palette and used water mixable oil paints for the first time.

It was really surprising how well it all worked out!

The colors I brought along were:

Cobra© Water mixable oils

  • Primary Cyan
  • Primary Magenta
  • Primary Yellow

Sennelier©

  • Mars Black  (a warm and fast drying black without the bluish cast of Ivory Black)

Rembrandt©

  • Payne’s Grey (I find it indispensable)

Gamblin©

  • Flake White Replacement (non-toxic and creamy consistency)

Each morning of painting, I pre-mixed a very vibrant chromatic palette from the three water mixable “primaries” which produced some very convincing greens, oranges, and fuchsias, as well as deeper purples.  I was careful not to “overmix” the paint piles, leaving striations of broken color in the mixes.  A sealable “Guerilla Painter” 9 x 12 in. palette tray kept the paint fresh and protected inside my pochade while exploring for a suitable view to paint.

This color palette worked very well and much to my relief, there was no problem mixing the “oil” paints with the water miscible paints.  The Cobra paints especially were surprisingly “creamy” in consistency and were very easy to mix and move about on the panel. While painting, when I felt I needed a little more “flow,” I used a mixture of my standard recipe medium, transported in an eye dropper bottle that consisted of equal parts stand oil, turpentine, and dammar varnish.  I brought no solvents because they must not be flown over (TSA will confiscate)  and it is an extra trip to the hardware store to get some when you arrive and then there’s nowhere to conscientiously dispose of it when you leave.

Another interesting thing about creating these two paintings is that I used one single brush the entire time!  I brought my brush wallet but became so engrossed in the painting process and not wanting to waste any time in capturing the light that I worked only with a single, quarter-inch “bright” hog bristle brush. I held a paper towel sheet in my left hand and wiped the brush clean between different colored passages.  I was able to make a surprising variety of marks with the stiff but springy little bristle bright. The only other implements I used to apply or mark the paint were my finger and in some few instances I removed paint with a cotton swab, which are essentials that I always pack when I paint en plein air.

All said and done, I had a great time in Hawaii and having the opportunity to paint made the trip just that much more special.

I’d like to say to any reader who chanced here and happened to read this far…

Here we know that Christmas
Will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day
And all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say Merry Christmas to you!

 

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#Pleinair at Santa Fe Trolley Depot in San Diego

I painted en plein air recently in a place that has always intrigued me with it’s dramatic architecture, interesting shadows and reflections and of course the famous red trolleys–that is, at the San Diego Metropolitan Transit system’s Santa Fe Depot at One America Plaza in downtown San Diego.  Here’s a pic of the architecture which previously won an “Orchid Award” in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation review of San Diego developments and construction projects which either effuse the elegance of an orchid…or the stink of an onion.

The arch of the Trolley weather port at Santa Fe Depot.
The arch of the Trolley weather port at Santa Fe Depot.

I arrived early…before 8:00am and set up my easel in the traffic island at the center of the intersection at Broadway and Kettner.  It was a great place from which to paint and provided the perfect vantage of the trolleys coming and going. Painting the trolley itself was done in fits and spurts as one trolley would leave but another would arrive in minutes and for the most part, with a few exceptions, was identical.  Here’s a pic of my easel, with two trolleys in the station in the background…

Easel and painting of Ronald Lee Oliver
Easel and painting of Ronald Lee Oliver

It was interesting to paint with the traffic rolling by and when the traffic would stop, folks would gawk out the car windows, inquisitively at the patently unusual sight of a crazed plein air painter in the middle of traffic, wearing a big, Guatemalan palm leaf, cowboy hat, pacing to and fro, wielding a long, paint laden brush like a picador, stabbing at a canvas as if it were a snorting bull trying to gore him. Many pedestrians walking by gave the big, “thumbs up” and commented that I was making a beautiful painting, which is always encouraging.  Here’s the result of the morning’s effort–a 16 x 16 inch oil on stretched canvas, titled “Rolling Through.”  Whether it is an “orchid” or an “onion” or the bull won is in the proverbial eye of the beholder…

Santa Fe Trolley Depot as painted by California artist, Ronald Lee Oliver
Santa Fe Trolley Depot as painted by California artist, Ronald Lee Oliver
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Lae O Na Kohola (Cape of Whales)

Lae O Na Kohola (Cape of Whales) 24 x 24 in. oil on canvas
Lae O Na Kohola (Cape of Whales) 24 x 24 in. oil on canvas

On the Northwest side of the Hawaiian island of Kaho`olawe is Ahupu Bay, whose Western point is called Lae O Na Kohola, or Cape of Whales. There, the great leviathans return in yearly consort to make connections with one another. To win paternity. To begin Maternity. To give birth and protect the newborn.  To establish lineage and once again venture Northward to the yearly feeding grounds, where they will fatten to return again and renew the cycle.

Here, I’ve depicted one of the majestic Kohola, or humpback whales, breaching in the fiery dawn of a typical Hawaiian sunrise.  Here is a detail section from the larger painting:

kahola_DETAILLR
Detail from Lae O Na Kohola (Cape of Whales) by Ronald Lee Oliver

This painting was achieved in one session, or “alla prima,” an artsy Italianate term for “at once.”  It requires that the artist have a good idea of where they are going before they first lay brush to canvas.  I toned the canvas with a mixture of transparent orange and burnt sienna the night before, which allowed it to dry and act as an underlying accent color.  The overnight drying time ensured it would not smear and mix with the strokes of color placed on top. Most of the colors in the upper layer are transparent oil paints, as opposed to opaque tints, which allows for a certain depth and serendipitous atmosphere that can’t be achieved with the opaque pigments.

This painting is 24 x 24 inches and is framed in a complimentary black frame with matte and glossy accents.

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Pua Akala (Pink Hibiscus)

Pua Akala (Pink Hibiscus) 12 x 12 in. oil on deep cradled panel by Ronald Lee Oliver
Pua Akala (Pink Hibiscus) 12 x 12 in. oil on deep cradled panel by Ronald Lee Oliver

Another in my series of Hawaiian Floral Seascapes.  Seen just about everywhere in Hawaii but like a younger daughter, the Pink Hibiscus must always be subordinate to the elder, yellow hibiscus which is the State Flower of the Islands  …she is just as delicate and beautiful though.

This is in the same format as some of my other Hawaiian floral oil paintings, which are all in the 12 inch square format on 1.5 inch deep, hardwood cradled, birch panels, suitable for hanging with or without a frame.  This colorful series of paintings brightens any space with a vibrant, tropical splash.