Female Figure Sketch

Lady from Behind Female Figure Sketch by Sarah F Burns



Downtown Medford, Oregon

Well I have been very busy painting and working, I’m still finishing up the Smithfields series, I promise there will be some sort of splash involved.  I will invite you all to the opening, and then once the pieces are “unveiled” I will show them here.  In the mean time, I’ve just scanned some images of pieces I painted last summer.   As you know, lately I prefer to paint urban scenes, and because the traffic and pedestrians move too quickly, they can’t be included, so the pieces have this nice isolation with all the buildings and the sun, making it look like suddenly there are no people in the world.

Oil Painting of Medford, Oregon Street, by Sarah F Burns
Downtown Medford, Oregon

The weather is now nice enough to head out doors, I’m looking forward to traveling to Klamath Falls, Oregon, a town a couple of hours drive over the mountains.  It’s high desert, lots of distance between trees, which I think makes for better paintings.  I just have to plan it.

I’ve been taking photography classes from Ezra Marcos as well.  I’m not trying to become a photographer, but I would like to have better photos for my Etsy shop and this blog.  Check out Ezra’s work, it’s fantastic, very fun.

Just a Nice Piece That I Like

Sarah F Burns
Rachel - a Value Study


Sarah F Burns

From the PAPO Paint Out

I’ve been active in the Plein Air Painters of Oregon for a couple of years and they decided to do a Southern Oregon Trip, and being one of the only members living in Southern Oregon I was nominated to organize  the event.   Anyway, I set up painting in Hanley Farm, Central Point, downtown Jacksonville – a pretty corny old west themed little place with a pioneer cemetery, and then winery and finally paint out in and around Ashland, including Lithia Park and North Mountain Nature Park.

Anyway, the members are very lovely folks and I like meeting people who paint, but in the course of organizing this event, I have grown more and more aware of how I don’t like these kinds of events.  Mainly it’s because I hate painting at farms, wineries, wilderness areas.  They’re already beautiful – what do I have to add? I’m afraid this post is turning negative, but what is really important to me is that I’m actually finding a consistent theme that I like to paint – and am finding what about it turns me on.

You might think it would come naturally to an artist to know what they want to paint, but when you’re a student with an open mind you wind up absorbing a lot of stuff that helps, along with stuff that hinders.  When you’re a student in a classical tradition you don’t always get to choose your subject, you’re working a lot on technical issues and you can lose your way.  Eventually the creative liver has to send the good stuff to the blood stream the bad stuff to the colon.  So I’m at a point where I’m separating what I want from what I don’t want right now.

Anyway, let me show you what I painted during the PAPO paintout:

Sarah F Burns
Hanley Farm's Garden

What I like about this piece is the pattern and the feeling of light.  I like that you lose the specific items too.  However, I don’t like the crop.  I may saw this strategically.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I will. Or maybe not.

Sarah F Burns
Roxy Ann from Hanley Farm

Okay – I like how easily this one fell into place.  It was painting number two of the day and I usually find that the second painting of the day is easier, that I’m more in the flow, that colors are mixed on the palette and so it’s almost effortless.  I like painting things in the distance – when they’re in the distance they can be read better.

Sarah F Burns
Jacksonville Pioneer Cemetary

For the afternoon we moved to Jacksonville Cemetary and it was brutally hot, dry and I was tired. There was so much to see, everywhere you turned were shadow and light, blocks of graves and dappled bits from the madrone trees.  I did this very quickly, getting pretty lazy by then and not really inspired by the setting.

Sarah F Burns
Sign and Street

The next morning we painted in a winery, and I did a painting that is so awful I won’t show it, and by that time I was TRULY over all the places we were painting, so instead of heading to Lithia Park for the scheduled afternoon paint out I went to Phoenix, my beautiful town of suburban decay and started work in a spot that’s been calling my name – and lo an behold – I’m happy with the painting.

So, live and learn.

Nocturnal Plein Air Painting

I’ve been wanting to try this for ages and the planets aligned for Steven LaRose and I to go out landscape painting as night fell a couple of weeks ago.

Sarah F Burns
Motel at Night, by Sarah F Burns

We started out in a median as night fell.  By the end I could only vaguely see value differences on my pallet and was almost flying blind, relying on my memory of where I had placed each color to choose what I wanted.  The car lights coming from both directions got very annoying so we looked for a new location.

Sarah F Burns
Nocturne, by Sarah F Burns

We were drawn downtown, and finally wound up in the lit alcove of the Art Center, looking across the street to this deliciously lonely scene.  Life as usual is jam packed with mile-long to-do lists, so I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to have this kind of adventure again, but believe me, I am counting the days.

Portrait of Adara

I have wanted to paint another portrait of Adara for years – ever since painting this first version when she was about 10 years old.

Sarah F Burns

You may notice a serious expression on her face.  This is due to her EXTREME displeasure at having to sit still for 20 minutes at a time.  After this first painting several years ago, she has artfully avoided the experience – until now.  A well placed bribe along with a couple of threats have coerced her back into the studio.

Sarah F Burns

She tried a few positions and finally settled on this one you see in the photo below. I told her she could sit anyway she wanted (except lying down asleep in bed, which was her first choice) and she settled on the pose you see in the photo below.


I tried a couple of sketches.

Sarah F Burns

I like this one below very well.

Sarah F Burns

I still need to work out a composition, but I”m looking forward to our next session.  And before you think I’m a terrible mother, after the initial irritation and resistance, Adara seemed actually to enjoy herself – a little.

(By the way – I apologize to those who get this post in their inbox – I inadvertently published it before it was ready.  I have a new smartphone and I can barely work it.)

Ink Wash Exercises

If you want to go to an evening Life Drawing Session in Ashland, Oregon you have two choices:  My group at Second Floor Studios or Steve LaRose’s group at Tease.  The spring weather fronts seem to have been blowing in a desire to switch things up and try sketching with ink wash, because in the last couple of weeks both Steve and I coincidentally have switched to that medium.  Check out his blog to see his results – which look pretty cool.   Personally, I was inspired by a Tiepolo sketch I saw at the Portland Art Museum recently.  And how humbling indeed when I got home and gave it a go.  But it must be good for my little brain to think in another way.

Sarah F burns

sarah f burns

sarah f burns

sarah f burns

There’s a ton of potential with this medium – working with a wide value range is pretty powerful and I like the loosey flowy fresh jazz you get.  With ink wash too you cannot go back very well – I can blot a little I guess, but it really forces you to keep it fresh and intentional.  I’m planning to stick with it for a while – at least until I blow through all my watercolor paper. Hopefully I will get a little closer to the results I’d like to see.  I’d like it to be fresh and gestural, yet precise and solid.

Plein Air Painting in the Rogue Valley

Ilene Gienger Painting

We are having a gray wet spring this year.  I tried to take advantage of what was supposed to be a partly cloudy day and made plans with artist Ilene Gienger to go plein air painting a couple weeks ago.  The break in the clouds lasted about 15 minutes – so it goes.  At least it didn’t rain.  Ilene is primarily a pastel portrait and genre scene artist.  This was our first time out together, we made a good team.  I had already chosen a location.  If we work together again, the location will be her choice.

The scene I was painting

I had a commission to work on – of an unusual size – 5 inches x 22 inches.  My client and I had actually gone out driving around and found this amazing vacant field – unfenced – with 360 degrees of paintable landscape.  I settled on the factory – mill in the distance with a view of Wagner Butte, Mt Ashland, some good power lines.

Sarah F Burns
Vanessa's Factory by Sarah F Burns

I was in the zone that day and I’m super happy with the piece.  – I was on pins and needles until the client saw the piece though – I never know what people will think.  So far I haven’t had anyone reject or act disappointed with a commissioned piece, but if a person does a lot of them eventually it will happen….?  Anyway, Yay – the client loves it and so the painting has found a happy home.

Detail One

Detail of a tiny little building on the left hand side.

Detail Two

Detail of some very fine and distant power lines and traffic lights.

Apple or Pear Blossoms

Sarah F Burns
Pear or Apple Tree Blooming

This was the first plein air piece of the season for me, of a lone tree I drive by each day on my way home. I caught it in full bloom, within a week all the blossoms were gone and the leaves were out.  A good reminder to strike while the iron is hot.