Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12

Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12
Night Time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12

Monday, December 30, 2013

Look No Further Than My Own Back Yard.

"There's no place like home."
In 2007-8, the meadow had my full attention. Working in every month of the year, paintings were made for "Meadow Front", an homage to seeing in the Adirondacks that did not include mountains and lakes.

This year I was making an effort to chase color in the elusive two weeks of high chroma that bursts through the foliage like a butterfly that then vanishes, leaving us in Stick Season. Walking with the dog out back, I saw it was time to go after that corner of the meadow that butts up against the ever encroaching woods of white pine and maple.


"Golden Meadow" 11x14 October Calendar Pic

Shadows are always moving fast and committing to their place in the work is the first challenge. Next, get the back light of the lowering sun through the gold coral leaves.

Observation: Shadow in the north in September is extraordinarily dark compared to the streaming light. Painters from other climes sometimes forget to see, say "o no it is too dark! It looks like a photo." But really, the sun is low in the horizon, the trees still thick with foliage and the ever dense white pines are all conspiring against sunlight's entrance on the north side of woods.

Though it was a good year to go after the color, I need to rededicate to catching more of it next year. 

"Golden Meadow" is available at my studio. The limited number 2014 calendars are at The Guild in Saranac Lake and I have a few in my studio.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Have Easel. Will Travel.

"First Color" 14x11 September Calendar Pic


Sagamore in the background, me in the fore working like crazy.
A painting opportunity arose for September, three days at Camp Sagamore, with a contingent of New York Plein Air Painters. Weather was a bit iffy for oil painter and pastel painter alike with low clouds, really low - touching the lake, and less than ideal temperatures. Wind pants and Patagonia gear, fingerless gloves, wool hat and yes even the easel umbrella came out. The stream moving out of the lake caught my attention with the scoured rocks strewn recklessly all the way down stream. This upstream view with the little maple tentatively announcing the change in the season, made me stay until I was too chilled to move.

There are a few pieces from this paint outing - one is still questioning me, another demanding time, another makes me laugh but I am not sure it will be seen anywhere but at the studio. It is of several boats and kayaks out on a dock, the yellow kayak looking very much like a big ole banana.

"First Color" is as yet unframed, hanging out in my studio. Come visit and see it up close. Better yet decide on a frame and bring it home.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Stories on a Hill

Late light in August. This one took a couple of evenings but I knew the weather was going to hold so I took advantage by setting up on a spot on Helen Hill two afternoons in a row.

A friend of mine feels this work is holding a story in it. I thought about that comment after and realized he was correct.

Last Light on Town Hall 20x16 Calendar Pic for August 2014
 The first night I was there was very quiet on the street. I was able to lay in angles, make decisions about where this view was going and coming from. I blocked in color found my darks, worked that strange angle of looking down the hill that in the painting that wants to be nearly parallel to the edge. Believe what your eye tells you. Listen to the painting.

The second evening there was chatter. Across the street from where I had set up, a family was on their front porch. The woman was feeding dinner to her children. The man was painting trim on the porch. A male friend was visiting commiserating on his troubled love life. The kids needed to finish dinner. At some point the friend left. Like the old tv cop stories, "There's a million stories in the naked city." Not that Saranac Lake is a city. Population of 5000 just does not come close. In the spirit of the evening though, while developing the late sun hitting the wedding cake clock tower, the atmosphere of the day is infused with the story on the porch, heard but not seen, in the air. 

"Last Light on Town Hall" is hanging at the Adirondack Artists' Guild in Saranac Lake.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunlight

Hard to imagine this day in my back yard last August. I see it here but I can't believe it. When I wrote this up there was over a foot of snow on the picnic table, a strange apparition at best. Now it is ice. jeez.

Tangled Garden 12x16 July Calendar Pic

As a gardener I will start thinking about planting and moving perennials around almost right after the new year. I'll order seeds for the vegetable garden, wonder what sort of year we will have - cold and rainy or warm and dry.

I will also wonder if a few trees that started as modest poplar saplings 30 years ago could be turned into a bonfire. They have become sun hogs, over 60 feet high, gobbling up the sun away from the vegetable garden. If we knew then what we know now and had our younger selves to deal with such a job. Hmm.

Gardening is a lot like painting. It has surprises - a lone survivor can pop up in an unexpected spot though it had long left its original location. Some years particular perennials thrive, lush with color. They want to be everywhere.  Other times in the seasons color is quiet, waiting to take off when the sun reaches that perfect spot. Sometimes a painting happens quickly, nourished by past endeavors, the work flows. Other times the painting stalls, as though the elements are not in place just yet to become.

This particular day in the garden was so bright one needed sunglasses just to keep your eyes open. It is a special place after 33 years. Its character is established and yet always changing.  Let the sun hit you full in the face - stretch to greet it.

"Tangled Garden" is available as a print. Contact me for a copy.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Witching Hour

The elusive hour of sunset and moonrise has been my own challenge for about a year. Light still falls on the land yet the moon is rapidly pulling the cloak of evening over our shoulders.

My easel was set up in the back field of Crystal Springs Dairy. I had arranged with the farmer Pete Donnelly for a fairly big group of painters from Eric Rhoads Publishers Invitational to come and be there for the "super moon" rising in June. The other artists arrived shortly after I had.

Pete had just finished baling hay in that field. It had been touch n go for haying this past June because it had been raining seemingly non-stop. The break in the weather was predicted to last a few days, long enough to cut, dry and bale. Then we artists took advantage of a sweet smelling evening and set out to capture very fast light changes in pastel, watercolor and oil.

This work is my record of the day.

"June Moon Rising at Sunset" 12x9 June Calendar Pic

"June Moon Rising at Sunset" is available at the Adirondack Artists' Guild or you may contact me for purchase. It is also the June calendar pic for 2014.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On the Fifth Day of Christmas… May - an August dusk

So here is a piece that makes one wonder, hmm color where is she going with this one?

"Dusk at Barnum" is a challenge I set for myself. How can I paint as the sun is setting, capture the color as it changes almost by the minute and stay true to what I am seeing?

"Dusk at Barnum" 20x16 May Calendar Pic

This painting was made when I was just beginning to explore this question. First of all 20x16! What was I thinking? In pastel a painting becomes stroke by stroke, some broad, most smaller, it is a lot of territory to cover and capture when it is truly color in motion.

It helps to be familiar with the territory. This spot is another familiar roadside view extraordinaire. I have passed it plenty of times but actually committing to the familiar is another story.

This work was part of the 2012 Plein Air Fest. To my surprise it sold within an hour of the opening Sunday show. I did not even have 24 hours with the work! Wow!

All in all the experience of plein air painting during an event it a blur. One paints, tunes on the spot. Go back to the studio to frame (and yes that is a bit more complicated for pastel i.e. glass, spacers, etc.). Then hang all within 24 hours. It is not the usual vision of an artist working on piece in a studio for days or months. Hence the spontaneity. Not a bad thing at all.

Do remember; Made in less that 24 hours? And a few of decades.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Aaahh April, the month that keeps you guessing.

Aprils painting was made in August during the Adirondack Plein Air Festival in Saranac Lake.

There is this slow moving creek/river that I drive by at least a million times a year. One drives by and you turn your head the full 90 degrees just to look at the scene. At one point this fall I was heading home during a more than spectacular sunset and had to stop to take reference photos. But that is a story for another day.

"In the Flow"11x14 April Calendar Pic

I finally made a point to go and paint the view that wants me to drive off the road at least 5 times a week. Not an easy spot to paint. I had to set my easel up on a 45 degree angle bank. Wished I had the agility of a mountain goat to stay stable in such a precarious setup. It was a lovely day, sun on my back, cool air in my face. 

This particular day I was very sad - thinking of a good friend who passed away that week. I made it for him. I hope he is smiling wherever he is.

Currently this painting "In the Flow" is available at The Adirondack Artists' Guild in Saranac Lake.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day Three: Sooo Cold

It was minus 17 Fahrenheit Saturday morning. But enough with the weather talk. It's the Adirondacks and it is what is. However… the March painting will allow me to think of warmer climes.

"Mexican Sky Dust" 9x12 March Calendar Pic

You have heard about this one: Mexican Sky Dust.  My husband and I have been fortunate enough to travel to Mexico during March, the notorious mud season at home. We escape to much warmer air, humidity, sunshine. All good things. This painting made plein air in the early hours of morning near the ocean is the fat luminous color that I love about pastel. So when you come across this one in a calendar of mostly northern paintings, remember it is a big world out there.

This painting is available unframed starting at $100. Contact me and it will go to the highest bidder. Good luck! Stay Warm.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

That After Shot of the Kitchen and February Pin up

After shot. Note the snow outside. When I wrote this entry
After- Faucet Light Water Yeah!

Snow outside.
it was 0 degrees out at 5 pm. Plus winter storm warnings. Winter in the Adirondacks.  Looking to be shoveling on Sunday.

Heading to breakfast with Santa at the Adirondack Carousel this morning with my grandgirl Isabella. After breakfast it is back to work with my open house. Studio Hours 11- 5 today.

The February calendar painting:  "A Day Better Than This?"
This painting, 10x21, was made in June 2013 at the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club. The day was a day with in and out clouds. There were about 50 or more artists here at this location for the Publishers Invitational of Plein Air magazine organized by Eric Rhoads.  My notion of plein air is I am not a camera. Though there where plenty of folks and easels out on that little ridge, I can choose not to have them in the painting. Like ignoring the power lines in other venues (Yes let's bury those.)

"A Day Better Than This?" 10x22 February Calendar Pic
"A Day Better Than This?"is available at the Adirondack Artists Guild in Saranac Lake or at my website: dianeleifheit.com.

The painting is framed with museum glass, a linen liner and a deep chestnut color frame.
Museum glass is an amazing piece of glazing, totally see through without glare. the beauty of the painting is there for all to see. Cost a pretty penny but so worth it.


Friday, December 13, 2013

One Hundred Forty Days – Finally have water!

We re-did our kitchen of 33 years this summer. Did most the work ourselves. Drove my surveyor husband crazy because this house must have been built as an afterthought – no thought to straight, square or level. Ah the joys of owning a home that is well over 100 years old and started as a barn.

Before shot after the walls came down and the insulation removed
One hundred forty days washing dishes in the bathroom sink, cooking outside on the porch.
OK, so I finally can wash dishes again. Yeah! Got a faucet and a sink. We had a Thanksgiving that couldn't be beat.
This project has been a bit pre-occupying to say the least…

But! That does not mean I have not been painting.

Or travelling.

Here is early before shot. A new shot tomorrow.

The 2014 calendar is here too! You can purchase it at my website: DianeLeifheit.com

Let me tell you about the first painting, the January pin-up.
This past summer while my husband was making a wall in the kitchen become plumb, I took off for a pastel workshop in France with Sally Strand. How to travel with pastels and figuring out how small I could make my package to bring with me overseas will come sometime in January.


"Haut Baran" 11x14 January Calendar Pic
The group stayed in this gorgeous place in Southwestern France near Duraval. The property is in a North South oriented valley.  This painting 'Haut Baran' is one of the recently hayed fields. Warm, yes, a good thing to think about on cold January days.

"Haut Baran " is an 11x14 plein air pastel. It is available for purchase at dianeleifheit.com or at my studio in Gabriels NY.

Twelve paintings. Twelve days til Christmas. Tomorrow: the February pinup.