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Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach)

Just about any beach in Hawaii is beautiful but some are absolutely heavenly. On the South West side of Maui, there are some little sandy coves between the fingers of lava that provide views of the islands across the channel.

Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach) 24″ x 24″ oil on gallery wrapped canvas.

Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach) 24" x 24" oil on canvas
Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach) 24″ x 24″ oil on canvas
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Makana Kai (Gift of the Sea)

As I’ve said before, Hawaii is one of my favorite places to photograph and paint.  This could be a beach just about anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands.  I call it “Gift of the Sea” or in the Hawaiian tongue, Makana Kai.

Makana Kai (Gift of the Sea)
Makana Kai (Gift of the Sea) 24 x 24 in. oil on gallery wrap canvas
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Hawaiian Dawn ~ A Recent Studio Painting by Ronald Lee Oliver

Hawaiian Dawn oil on canvas 24 x24" by RLOArtist
Hawaiian Dawn oil on canvas 24 x 24″ by Ronald Lee Oliver

I’ll admit…Hawaii is one of the most inspiring places for me, as an artist. These islands in the remote waters of the North Pacific Ocean are blessed with such abundant natural beauty, it is almost impossible not to find something worthy of painting in every scene gazed upon.  I am especially enthralled with the sunrises and sunsets.  The play of long, refracted twilight upon the clouds, water, shore and not-so-distant neighbor islands is absolutely breathtaking.  I’ve tried to instill some of this natural magic in one of my latest studio paintings, titled Hawaiian Dawn ~ 24 x 24″ oil on deep gallery wrap canvas.

To see this painting in a larger format, click on the image above and arrive at my online studio gallery, where you can click again to make larger. The original painting is also available for purchase at that venue.

Affordable prints of this painting are available on metal, acrylic, fine art paper and canvas here.

 

 

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Holiday in Hawaii and Recent Plein Air Paintings

In mid-December, my wife, Jackie and I were fortunate enough to visit the island of Maui, Hawaii, once again. We stayed in an intimate little oceanfront condominium in the Kahana area of West Maui. The balcony or “Lanai” of the second story unit was literally within spitting distance of the ocean, which lapped against a seawall down below. The sea turtles could be seen, munching on sponges growing on the rocks. I took some video with my phone–have a look:

It was a great and relaxing stay. Christmas was coming soon and there were Hawaiian Christmas songs on the radio and lots of Holiday spirit, which was very nice. Once again, I traveled with my painting kit and was able to find some brief time to paint. On an early Sunday morning, I hiked afoot from our rental condo about a quarter mile down the lower Honoapiilani Road and found a public beach (all beaches in Maui are public beaches) that offered a nice view of a small bay and the island of Molokai, across the Lahaina Roads Channel. The day was overcast and threatening rain (it only rained once during our stay and that was at night), so the typical bright Hawaiian color palette was a bit muted. Here is the quick little painting that I came home with:

Molokai from Kahana - by Ronald Lee Oliver
Molokai from Kahana – by Ronald Lee Oliver

It was tough to leave and come home to the mainland. Once back, however, after the holidays I’ve got back to painting with regularity. Here are two of my most recent–first, one I call “Blue Agaves,” which was painting on location at the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, California.

Blue Agaves - 12X16" oil on panel by Ronald Lee Oliver
Blue Agaves – 12X16″ oil on panel by Ronald Lee Oliver

I’ll be painting with some well known California plein air artists in April in a quickdraw competition at the same Gardens–stay posted!

Here is one done last Saturday in Del Mar, which I am calling “Penasquitos Lagoon from Del Mar Bluffs.” This one is 16X20″ oil on canvas. You can see the fantastic view of the Penasquitos estuary from my easel set in this photo:

Freshly completed painting by Ronald Lee Oliver
Freshly completed painting by Ronald Lee Oliver

…and here is the full image of the painting:

Penasquitos Lagoon from Del Mar Bluffs by Ronald Lee Oliver
Penasquitos Lagoon from Del Mar Bluffs by Ronald Lee Oliver

It’s good to be back home and into the rythm of the new year.

Happy New Year to all.

RLO

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The Anatomy of a Painting

Lahaina Ballet  -- 40 x 60 inch oil on canvas by Ronald Lee Oliver
Lahaina Ballet — 40 x 60 inch oil on canvas by Ronald Lee Oliver

I thought some of my loyal fans would appreciate seeing a work in progress or “WIP,” as named by artists in the social media world.  This most recent painting is a large, 40 x 60 inch representation of a breaching whale, off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii several times over the last fifteen years or so and many of those times have been lucky to be there (well, actually I planned it that way) during whale breeding season, which takes place in the calm and relatively shallow, inter-island waters during the months of December through April.  If you ever get the opportunity to visit Hawaii, I recommend this time of year. The whales know what they are doing by being there then!  It is absolutely beautiful, not too hot, and the occasional rain shower will have rainbows busting out all over!

On one such visit, Jackie and I stayed in a second floor, ocean front condo with a Lanai that nearly overhung the water’s edge.  The massive humpback whales would spout and breach sometimes not more than 100 yards from our patio or “Lanai” as it is called in the islands. We could watch them while laying in bed. This and the many other instances of whale sightings and tours over the years, inspired this painting.  Here is the first photo installment of the WIP. Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of the earlier stages, so you can see some work has already been done:

40 x 60 inch canvas showing undertone and large initial brush strokes
40 x 60 inch canvas showing undertone and large initial brush strokes

The entire surface of the canvas is “toned,” i.e. painted with an undercolor–in this case an orangish tone that is a mixture of transparent orange and iron-oxide, oil based paint and natural turpentine.  I did this because I knew that much of the finished painting would be in the cooler, blue-green end of the spectrum and the orange underpainting would make for a vibrant compliment where it peeked through the colors of the finish.  This creates a visual vibration and harmony that is pleasing to the eye.  Many beginning painters put colors directly on a white canvas and will never achieve the stimulating effect that a complimentary underpainting can help to achieve.  I’m also using a very large, round, Chungking, white boar bristle brush to apply the paint very quickly. You can see the size of the strokes, which look like stripes.

Getting the canvas covered in paint
Getting the canvas covered in paint

It’s best to get the canvas covered in paint so you can see the relationships between the major elements before attempting to refine them.  Here, I’ve added the Ocean water and more of the land mass in a very loose fashion, not trying to force much representation at this stage. I’m allowing the orange-ish undertone to peek through, all over the canvas–even in the ocean water, which is kind of counterintuitive–who would think that you’d want orange, of all colors, to show up in your ocean water?!  The water looks good so I decide I won’t try to fuss with it too much from here to the finish. This was my approach for the entirety of this painting–lay down the stroke and if it looks good, don’t fuss with it!

Suggesting and blocking in
Suggesting and blocking in

At this point, I’m laying-in the suggestion of the whale’s anatomy and blocking in the dark mass of the structures and scenery on the shoreline.  These dark colors will act as a foil for the later brush strokes in lighter values that will suggest foliage, trees and buildings.

Simple refinements, keeping it loose
Simple refinements, keeping it loose

Now, I’m mixing various colors and laying in strokes all over the canvas with cleanly loaded brushes.   I’m not smearing the paint around, rather, I’m laying in the colors and values I want, quickly and with resolve, then leaving the strokes alone.  I have several brushes going with different color families and not intermixing them, which can create “mud” on the canvas. Clean brushes, loaded with clean, appropriate color, keeps the painting clean.  An example of a refinement is the suggested changes in depth of the water at the right, with lighter values of ocean colors that indicate the sunlight reflecting off a shallower bottom or reef.

Contemplation
Contemplation

Now, I’m working more slowly, taking time to contemplate the next steps, making sure that I don’t do anything rash or stupid that will mar the end result of the painting. If I do make a mistake, I wipe it off and correct it quickly.  I’ve laid in the under tone for the hotel on the right, which will reflect the waning light much the same as the whale does but with less intensity as it must recede in the distance.

Large brushes for a Large Painting
Large brushes for a Large Painting

This shows two of the brushes used in the painting of this work. I Used seven different brushes for this one and these were the largest. The brushes used were rounds, flats and one filbert, which is a  flat with a tip rounded in one dimension.

And finally, here is the finished and signed piece.  Over the last several days of work, I contemplated refinements and added them judiciously to gain the finish shown here. You can see the chaotic nature of the splashes have been refined with strokes of color from a large flat brush; the clouds softened and blended, sometimes with a finger, rather than a brush.  Many of these well thought out refinements, applied, achieve a completed painting that evokes the spirit and beauty of the Hawaiian Isles and one of the most exciting sights that can bee seen there.

…and so now that you’ve seen the “anatomy of a painting,” I hope it hasn’t spoiled the magic for you.  If you’d like to see a larger image of “Lahaina Ballet,” click on the image and you will be taken to a new page.  If you’d like to see the painting in person and up close (I recommend it!), it will be on display in the State Street gallery window at the Westin Emerald Plaza Hotel in Downtown San Diego from July 5th through the 13th.

Lahaina Ballet  -- 40 x 60 inch oil on canvas by Ronald Lee Oliver
Lahaina Ballet — 40 x 60 inch oil on canvas by Ronald Lee Oliver