Sunday, January 29, 2012

Plein Air Workshop in the Flint Hills

Elements of the Landscape, a Plein Air Workshop  •  Flying W Ranch, Clements, KS
May 3-6, 2012  •  Instructor:  Kim Casebeer  •  Tuition $475/person

For complete information, see the Workshops page on this blog, or go to:

Join me for a unique workshop experience in the Flint Hills!  Painting, lodging and meals will all be held at the Flying W Ranch area, allowing an art colony style environment in which to immerse ourselves for three days.  This gives us an opportunity to learn from each other not only during our painting hours, but also during meal time and in the evenings.

In this workshop, we will be painting outdoors from life.  We will start the workshop creating many studies of particular elements in the landscape – rocks, trees, water and sky.  We will then work on putting elements together along with understanding how to create convincing land formations.  By focusing on the pieces of the landscape, the plein air experience can be less intimidating.  I will demo each of these elements as well as other demos as needed.  Participants will receive individual attention geared toward their skill level.

Each evening we will discuss topics of interest, such as materials, varnishing paintings, creating a portfolio, and really anything of interest to the class.  When registering, please include a topic you would like discussed and I will try to accommodate.

$475 per person includes workshop instruction, 3 nights lodging at the Flying W Ranch, and all meals from Thurs. night through Sunday morning, except for Saturday night when we will go to the Grand Central Hotel in Cottonwood Falls for dinner.  Everyone will be on their own for the Sat. night meal.  Does not include painting supplies.

The Flying W Ranch is located in the heart of the Flint Hills, America’s last tallgrass prairie, and is operated by fifth-generation Flint Hills ranchers Josh and Gwen Hoy. This 7,000 acre cattle ranch offers grand vistas, relaxation, and memorable experiences for all of its guests.  To learn more about their ranch, visit:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Announcing New Workshop in Texas

Improving Studio Work Through Plein Air

Location: New Braunfels Art League, 239 W San Antonio Street, New Braunfels Texas 78130
Contact Information:  Cindy Capitani, email:, phone: 210-542-6180
“I believe the single most important learning experience for a landscape painter, is painting outdoors from life — there is no substitute.  I use my outdoor paintings as learning tools and as studies for larger paintings in the studio.” – Kim Casebeer
Skill level: Basic drawing and painting knowledge, otherwise all skill levels
Class size:  10 people min. / 16 max.
Both oil and pastel accepted.

This workshop is geared toward the student who wishes to take their landscape studio work to the next level.  Creating fresh, quick studies outdoors and using those in the studio, will remind you of the light, atmosphere and excitement of the outdoor experience while also using reference photos to help remember the details.

In this workshop, we will paint several small studies outdoors on the first day, then move into the studio to create studio pieces from our studies.  To aid in the studio work, please bring a digital camera to take photos of your first day's locations.  Each student will be responsible for getting the reference photos printed for day two.  You are also encouraged to bring other photos that may be helpful in composing a studio piece such as interesting skies, backgrounds, etc. or if weather does not permit us to go outdoors.
To register for this workshop, mail your deposit to: Cindy Capitani, 46 Grassmarket, San Antonio, TX  78259.  Make checks out to NBAL, and please include the following information:  Your name, address, telephone number(s), email address and the name of the workshop &/or instructor.

NBAL Workshop Policy
Students are required to pay a $100 deposit on all workshops that are 3 days or more in length. A $50 deposit will be required on all other workshops. The final payment is required 30 days prior to workshop with no refund or cancellation after final payment. This guarantees the Instructor the total number of students in their class so they can prepare accordingly and prevent cancellation of the workshop during the final days of planning. Deposits and/or final payments that are forfeited will be paid to the instructor less the gallery fee. All checks should be made payable to NBAL only.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Plein Air Fever

Dusk on Hoch Road, oil, 9x12

White Road, oil, 9x12
All studio work, paperwork, etc. was cancelled in favor of spending as much time as possible outside painting during the unseasonably warm weather we had from January 3-10.  I painted 1-3 paintings each day and posted several more on the Plein Air page in this blog.  As is usually the case, there were one or two favorites.  White Road was just begging to become a larger studio piece and as I post this, there is a 30x40 with a nice start on my easel!

Cowgirl Up! Art from the Other Half of the West

I am participating in Cowgirl Up! this year which is held at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona.  The opening weekend is March 23-25, 2012 and the Bash 'n Bid Sale night is Saturday, March 24, starting at 4:30pm.  This is the seventh year for the show, which has become the most important event for Western women artists in the country and is very well attended.  

I will have five pieces in this show, ranging in size from 18x24 to 24x30, plus two miniature pieces.  Included in the show is the piece above, "Arizona Sunset," 20x24.  You can see the rest of the pieces on the Exhibits page in my blog, or on my website.  The Desert Caballeros Western Museum is located at 21 North Frontier Street, Wickenburg, Arizona.  For more information on the show please call the museum at 928-684-2272 or visit:

The Importance of Plein Air Work

En plein air is French for in the open air.  Simply put, plein air painting is painting outside from life.  If an artist desires to become a landscape painter, then learning to paint the landscape from life plays a crucial role in seeing the landscape for what it is.  Only then, does one see all the subtle and reflective colors in a shadow.  And only then do you realize that white is never white but a light value of blue, gold or crimson. 

Photography lies.  It knocks out the highlights and gives you black shadows.  Generally the values in a photo will only be somewhat accurate in the area of focus - either sky or land but not both.  You can compensate for this by taking many photos of the same view and focusing on land in some, then sky in others.  If I don't have the luxury of painting on location, I will easily take 20 photos of the same spot but different compositions.  I also carry a sketch book for doing  quick value sketches.  But painting on location is always preferred.

I've had the opportunity to judge several art shows in the past year and I can almost always tell who is painting from life and who is painting from photos.  You can see it in their shadows.  Shadows are not black, yet I see so many people paint them this way.  

Really understanding a particular type of landscape takes a little while.  I've been driving through and painting the Flint Hills for a long time so it's second nature.  There are other parts of the country that I'm becoming familiar with, such as the dramatic Rocky Mountain landscapes of Colorado and Wyoming, or the dry, crisp landscapes of New Mexico and Arizona.  Because I don't live in these climates, it usually takes 2-3 days for plein air painting to feel comfortable again.  That's why when I take a painting trip it's for at least 7 days or longer.  By the seventh day I'm usually feeling pretty good about my results.

Artists have different view points on plein air painting.  Some believe it's the end all be all.  They create most of their work outside and believe the piece should be finished on location.  Others start their work outside, then bring it indoors to their studio, usually along with photography or sketches, and finish the work indoors.  Still others paint what they consider to be studies outdoors.  Smaller work, usually 6x8 to 12x16, painted entirely on location but not necessarily considered a polished painting.  The main objective of a study is to provide enough information about composition, value and color so an artist can go back to the studio and create a larger studio piece based on the study.  I approach plein air painting from this angle.  When painting on location, I'm not concerned with creating a polished work, just getting the information.  I also take photos and many times sketch.  All of this comes back to the studio with me.  Then I ask the questions "Does this subject interest me?"  "Do I want to see more, explore it further?" or "Is this as far as I want to take it?"  If the answers to the first questions is yes, then the study is used to create a larger studio piece.  If the answer is no, then the study either wasn't interesting, or it said everything it needed to and there's no need to explore this subject further.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Varnishing Paintings

This is a good topic for both artist and collector.  Artists must decide if, when and how to varnish.  And as a collector, you should be aware of how the painting you purchased was or wasn't varnished.  I recently spoke with the folks at Gamblin about varnishing (I use their Gamvar varnish) and with their permission, have included a link to their varnishing studio notes here.

I have multiple reasons for varnishing.  First, it is an aesthetic decision.  As I'm painting, all values and colors relate to each other when wet.  As they dry, they change color slightly and look less saturated.  Varnishing will unify the gloss of the surface and saturate color.  Since my original intent was the values and color I saw when wet, I varnish in order to retain that look.  Varnishing can also protect against dirt and in Gamvar's case some UV light, though protection from UV light is at it's best when freshly mixed.

Gamblin's synthetic resin component system was developed by conservation scientists at the National Gallery.  Unlike natural damar resins, Gamvar won't yellow or darken.  It can be removed with a mild solvent such as mineral spirits, while damar varnish is harder to remove, endangering the top layers of paint, especially if glazes were used.  The component system allows for mixing when needed which makes the varnish the most effective.  I mix when I'm ready to varnish a group of paintings, date the mixture, and use it within one month.  I mix Cold Wax Medium into the varnish to create a more matte varnish, then apply two thin coats to each painting, waiting 24 hours to dry in between.  I've started to write the date I varnished the painting on the back of each painting so the collector who buys the piece will know when and what was used.

Bottom line, as a collector, you should know what was used on the painting you purchased, if anything.  Artists should research this for themselves and decide what's best for their work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Russell: Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum

Very honored to be part of The Russell Show to benefit the C. M. Russell Museum, to be held March 15 through 17, 2012 at the museum in Great Falls, Montana.  For more information, please see their website:

K. Newby Gallery + Sculpture Garden Grand Opening

I'm very pleased to announce that I have started showing at K. Newby Gallery + Sculpture Garden in Tubac, Arizona.  K. Newby Gallery has opened a beautiful new space and is holding their grand opening February 10 and 11, from 1-4pm on both Friday and Saturday.  I will be attending the opening and am looking forward to seeing many of you if you are in the area.  K. Newby Gallery is located at 19 Tubac Road, in Tubac, phone number 888-398-9662.  Visit their website at: