Back to the Figure

El Nino has been providing the Bay Area with some much needed rain lately. To a plein air painter, this means more time in the studio and less time outdoors. This coupled with my own need to shake things up on a creative level has inspired me to go back to the figure and take Life Drawing again. Most art students take Life Drawing at one point or another during there art education. It’s not always easy to keep up with it once you are out of school. Recently, I was lucky enough to have found a drop in Figure Workshop at an art center not too far away. It had been a few years since the last time I painted from a nude model. Here are some of the results.


Black & White Colin ©Loralee Chapleau


Wonky Colin ©Loralee Chapleau


Colorful Colin ©Loralee Chapleau


For me, painting from life carries the same immediacy as plein air painting. When you have only two, five, ten, or twenty minutes to get down a pose, you don’t have time to think. Well, at least I don’t. I just react and respond to what I see. This spontaneity gives energy, excitement, and emotion to a painting. That is my goal, to capture and express the unique gesture of the figure.



Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers ©Loralee Chapleau 8x6

Fresh Flowers
©Loralee Chapleau

Day two of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I have started working on a series of small paintings of scenes from local Farmer’s Markets. In this scene the young man tending the booth is surrounded by buckets full of fresh cut flowers. Such a colorful sight!

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Spring Vineyard

Spring Vinerard ©Loralee Chapleau 18x36

Spring Vinerard
©Loralee Chapleau

I painted in the vineyards this week. I am going to take a cue from Monet and paint the same spot again and again.  I plan to go back there once a month to see how the foliage, color, and light changes over time. This should be an interesting experiment because I will also get to see if my painting approach changes and progresses.  We will see how this turns out.

Sherbert Delight!

Sherbert Delight ©Loralee Chapleau 20x20 oil on canvas

Sherbert Delight
©Loralee Chapleau
20×20 oil on canvas

It is that time of year again! Summer is nearly here. It is time to open up the swimming pools and let the summer festivities begin. When I was a child in Vermont, getting to go to a pool was a special treat. Backyard pools were not nearly as common as they are here in sunny California. Being poolside still gives me that exhilarating feeling that I had as a child. That is why this was such a fun subject to paint.

Other special summertime treats were of the frozen variety. We enjoyed ice-cream, Popsicles, and  fruity sherbet, which we called “sherbert.” As soon as I painted this, I stepped back from my easel and exclaimed, “it looks like sherbert!” It’s funny how memories can come sneaking through a painting.

Here is to summertime memories, the ones from long ago and the new ones that we will make. I hope your summer is a delight!

Scene on the Strait

Bel Air Beauty ©Loralee Chapleau 20x20

Bel Air Beauty
©Loralee Chapleau

I am very happy to be participating once again in this years Scene on the Strait. Scene on the Strait is an art festival that raises funds for the nonprofit Carquinez Regional Environmental Education Center (CREEC), whose mission is to restore butterfly habitat along the Carquinez Strait. August 8th, 2015 will be a fun filled day of music, food, art, and art lovers.

So, to celebrate being part of this fun festival, I thought I would share this painting of a “scene on the strait” that I recently painted. I saw this beautiful Bel Air Beauty at the Benicia Classic Car show that took place a couple of weeks ago. As soon as I saw it, I knew what I wanted to paint!

Irises in Bloom

Midnight Taccata ©Loralee Chapleau 18x14

Midnight Taccata
©Loralee Chapleau

The irises are starting to bloom in Napa County. I painted this yesterday at the Napa Country Iris Garden. It is just beautiful there. Nothing compares to painting out on a sunny day, with a cool breeze, surrounded by these colorful blooms. Monet knew how to live!

Vineyard Portrait Study 2

Vineyard Portrait Study 2 ©Loralee Chapleau 12x9

Vineyard Portrait Study 2
©Loralee Chapleau


As promised, here is painting number two! I am continuing to experiment with the Aches Oil Painting Paper. I am also experimenting with composition.

As you may know from previous blog posts, I love painting vineyards when the leaves are changing. In the past, I seem to have favored a landscape orientation when painting vineyards. Recently, I received a request that requires a portrait orientation instead. I would love to be doing these studies on location in plein air, but I don’t think there are any leaves left on the vines. Instead, I am re-examining other vineyard paintings I have done to see how they would work as a portrait. I prefer this to using photographs.





Cloudy Skies Overhead

Cloudy Sky Over Cow Pasture ©Loralee Chapleau 11x14

Cloudy Sky Over Cow Pasture
©Loralee Chapleau


We’ve been getting some much needed rain here in the Bay Area. This impedes plein air painting just a bit. I managed to get out and paint a quick one this weekend before the heavy rains came in. It was a cold day and it even rained lightly a few times, but I didn’t mind. I really enjoy this change in the weather and the cloudy skies. Painting in the cold and rain seems to infuse the creative experience with a certain charge. I must get out there and do it more often. Like many others, I am hoping we are in for a long rainy season.

Angel Island

Angel Island ©Loralee Chapleau 14x18

Angel Island
©Loralee Chapleau


This is a view of Angel Island from Point Richmond on the San Francisco Bay. The day was very cloudy and gray when I painted it. I took some liberties with the colors, as I often do. I see this as putting more of myself into the painting. I think this is not only acceptable, but necessary. After all, I am a painter, not a photographer.

On my best painting days, the days that I am fearless, the scene just serves as a springboard. It is a bit like going off the high diving board. Although it is a little bit scary, the results can be surprising and exciting.

A Pop of Gray

Old Lakeville Road Vineyards ©Loralee Chapleau 16x20

Old Lakeville Road Vineyards
©Loralee Chapleau


I went back to the vineyards again to paint. The colors were even more glorious than the last time. People may wonder if I get bored painting vineyards. The answer is not at all. I know that this special season won’t last forever, so I like to get out to Wine Country  to paint as much as I can before the leaves fall.

There is a design principle that is employed by many landscape painters in which the artists use many grayed down colors with just a touch of saturated color. This is commonly referred to as a pop of color. It is a very effective technique, but I enjoy using bright, vibrant color. Perhaps I am a fauvist at heart because this scene cried out for full saturation. The light hit the leaves in such a way that the vineyards appeared to be scorching with color. Why would I want to gray them down?

Some artists use a pop of color. I use a pop of gray!