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Entries in Hudson River Fellowship (23)


Grand Central's Hudson Blog Post

Jacob Collins' Grand Central Academy, which sponsors the Hudson River Fellowship, has posted drawings and paintings by this year's Fellows on their blog:

Also, James Gourney, author of the blog "Gourney Journey", visited the Fellowship for our last evening meeting and then wrote up a nice post about us:


Hudson Fellowship Final Post: SOLD

Sunset in the Catskills (SOLD)
9 x 12
oil on linen


Hudson Fellowship Day 26

Tree Color Study
9 x 12 inches
oil on linen panel

What a day - up and out in the field by 7:30am, quick run home for a 30 minute break at midday, then back to the field till 4:30. At 7:30 we'll go out again for a final attempt at a sunset study. We're trying to cram in one last good long workday before we leave tomorrow. Best part is it's been warm and sunny all day, and the puffy cumulus clouds rolling by all afternoon are indicating a killer sunset to come.

The painting above is my continuation of the painting I started a couple days ago. Later I moved into the shadow of the same tree to do a close-up drawing of it's awesome tangle of branches coming off the trunk (below).

Last, I did this little sketch of Emily under her white umbrella as she painted in a field of purple wildflowers under billowing cumulus clouds.

Emily en Plein Air
oil on linen
6 x 8 inches

Next up, dinner and then a final attempt at a sunset sketch. I'm really not looking forward to the sunset session as I have officially run out of bug repellent...

I probably won't have time to post again for a few days, as I plan to jump in the car early tomorrow to start my 4-hour drive to Pennsylvania where I'm meeting up with my husband before we fly together back to San Francisco in a few days. Thanks to everyone for following along, it's been a really intense month and I've appreciated all of your well-wishes.


Hudson Fellowship Day 25

Tree Branch Study
pencil on paper
approx 6 x 9 inches

We made a valiant effort to get up and out early to work by 8am while the weather was clear, but the rain came down hard by 10am and we had to scramble to the car before we floated away - all I got done was a block-in drawing of the tree I painted yesterday, not even worth posting here.

It continued to pour hard the rest of the afternoon, so a few of us set up to work on the porch of the house we are staying in. The above is my drawing of a particularly dramatic tree branch visible in the yard. It's such a great specimen of organic form, I don't know why I ever needed to venture off the porch at all!

Here are Fellows Ken Salaz and Emilie Lee working with me on the porch to avoid the rain:

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warm, our last full work day, so many of us are hoping to get in a final session of working from our primary subjects.


Hudson Fellowship Day 24

Tree Color Study
9 x 12 inches
oil on linen panel

Yesterday was a washout - got all set up to work, only got a couple hours into it, and the rain came down so hard everything turned grey/white and we had to call it a day. Today Kaaterskill falls was swollen beyond recognition - majestic and exciting, but not at all like the peaceful terraced pools in the study I am working on, so a couple of us decided to head for high ground and do a tree studies instead. Had a great time with the above painting - and wow it's nice change to be out in the sunshine instead of hunkered down in the chilly mist of the falls!

Tomorrow it's a tossup: the plan is to check out the falls and if we decide the waters are still too rambunctious we'll head for the high warm plateau with the lovely trees again.

Only two more full workdays to go....


Hudson Fellowship Day 22

Kaaterskill Lower Falls Value Sketch
(work in progress)
9 x 12 inches
oil on linen

This is the same basic composition I did a couple days ago in color. I decided I need to do a detailed value sketch if I am going to flesh this out into a larger, finished painting. I started with an "open grisaille" yesterday using burnt umber and turpentine (called "open" because the white canvas shows through). Today I started to refine it as a "closed grisaille", using white paint, burnt umber, and ultramarine (called "closed" because when it's done the canvas will be covered with paint).

Pool Study (work in progress)
6 x 8 inches
oil on linen

I also started a color study close-up of the pool of water at the bottom of my composition. This is still really unrefined, I wanted to take it further today but I'm using a new type of canvas panel and the wet paint does not stick well when I try to add more layers. I'll be able to take it further another day once the paint has set up a bit.

We're starting to wind down to the end here, just a few more days of study here in the Catskills before we all go back to our respective studios. The last day of the Fellowship is this Sunday, August 2; I can't believe it's going by so fast!


Hudson Fellowship Day 21

Will post more art soon but for now here's a little video of me and Fellow painter Ken Salaz painting in a rainstorm today:

Also, here's a great image of another Fellow, Jennifer Worsley painting under her white umbrella at the top of Kaaterskill Falls:


Hudson Fellowship Day 19

Katerskill Lower Falls Color Sketch
9 x 12
oil on linen

We had a huge thunderstorm last night and as a result the falls were the highest and fastest I have seen them. Recently they'd slowed to almost a trickle in some places. I feel like this section of the falls has become my own studio. I've walked over every one of the rocks here many times now and I know several bends of the river pretty well. When hikers decide to wade in the pools and climb on the rocks, I feel like strangers have wandered into my studio and are touching my props.

Above: Block-in line drawing and first part of color wash.

Above: Thin color wash, consistency of watercolor.

Above: Refining blocks of color and shapes, adding details.

Above: Added details and adjusted colors and values.


Hudson Fellowship Day 18

Kaaterskill Boulder and Pool (work in progress)
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

The background is still not done, but I made a lot of headway today working on this painting I started a couple days ago. I'm finding I've had to re-learn what I have already learned in my studio work:
  1. Slooooow waaaaay doooooown.
  2. Mix up puddles of the main colors and values with a palette knife before working with the brush.
  3. Look, look, look... only put down one single stroke and then look back again at the subject.
I know all this so well from my studio work, but somehow outdoors I feel I should be able to get away with slap-dash dabbling. Anyway, it's starting to sink in: I have to be calm and slow and look, even outside. It seems simple, but between the mosquitoes buzzing in my ears, the cold breeze chilling me to the bone, and tourist hikers snapping my photo every few minutes, I have apparently been distracted from everything I thought I knew. Glad it's starting to come back, had a lot of fun today.

PS: For more about this year's Hudson River Fellowship, visit the official blog at:


Hudson Fellowship Day 17

Kaaterskill Boulder with Falls
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

Eight more hours spent on the boulder study today and I think it's done.


Hudson Fellowship Day 16

Kaaterskill Boulder with Falls (work in progress)
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

I spent the day at the Kaaterskill lower falls again and worked more on the above painting that I started yesterday. It wasn't raining, so it was a much easier day! I also began another painting below:

Kaaterskill Boulder and Pool
(work in progress)
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

Having fun, planning on working on both more tomorrow. Now, sleep....


Hudson Fellowship Day 15

It's raining pretty steadily today, but I decided to go to the lower falls (Kaaterskill Clove) and see what I could get done. It worked pretty well, I just set up my new huge plein air umbrella and worked under that for about 3 1/2 hours. With my ipod playing and my raincoat keeping me dry it was even cosy! Benefits of rain: no mosquitoes and no tourists. That and the wet rocks look so pretty and shiny!

I just did an underpainting today. This was all on the advice of a fellow painter here, who says he does a thin color underpainting using the oil paint thinned to the consistency of ink or watercolor.

Progression is below:

Above I started with a line drawing to block-in the layout using a small round synthetic brush, and a paper towel corner dipped in turp for an eraser.

Above I used the burnt umber thinned with turp to lay in the basic lights and darks.

For the underpainting I used turp-thinned paint and kept the values light and the colors reddish. Everything is just a tint.

This is the underpainting as it stands so far. My plan is to continue working on it for a couple more sessions and see how far I can develop the painting in on-site. You might recognise this as the same boulder I drew back on Day 2.

Yesterday evening we went out to do another sunset study. This one again suffers from being too light. Not sure I'm cut out for the lightening-speed approach this requires to capture the hues, values and chroma.

Here's a shot of several of my fellow painters finishing up their studies just after the sun has set. That's Hunter Mountain beyond us, you can see the cut trees from the winter ski trails.


Hudson Fellowship Day 13/14

"Hudson River from Olana"
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

Today I went back to Olana today to complete the painting I began last Thursday. Luckily the weather was similar to the previous session. I adjusted the composition and refined the colors and added more detail overall. I also adjusted the shape of the river quite a bit, I think in this version it sits on the plane of the earth more accurately.

Last night I arrived from my lovely weekend off refreshed and excited to paint so I ran out and did this sunset. We've grown to quite a crew of sunset sketchers, there were about 10 of us set up on a high flat driveway area perfect for sunset viewing. Jake said he'd been there all day and saw a black bear running - fast - not far away. I don't think I'll go up there alone!

"Sunset Color Study II"
6 x 8 inches
oil on panel

For my first sunset study I went too dark but on this one I over-compensated and went too light. The hue, value and chroma of each stroke would be hard enough to evaluate if the subject were not also constantly moving and changing! It's a frantic 90 minutes of painting, but also pretty exciting. Random excalamations of dismay erupt from one or another painter at regular intervals.


Hudson Fellowship Day 10

"Hudson River from Olana"
Color Study Stage I
(work in progress)
9 x 12 inches
oil on panel

Today was rainy in the morning so we drove to Olana, which is the home Frederick Church built for himself on a 250 acre property. He bought the land for the views of the Hudson River and he designed the landscaping to create ideal compositions. Everywhere you look is an amazing scene for a painting. His house in incredible too, a Moorish-inspired castle, full of artifacts from Church's extensive world travels and lots of his paintings.

We did a tour of the house and after that the sun was shining again so we decided to stay there and work on the grounds. I had my supplies along so I set up my easel and worked for 4 hours on the above study. I'm hoping to go back to Olana and work on it more, the above is just a start.

Also, last night a few of us decided to try sunset studies, below is the result of my first attempt - one hour of ever-changing sunset glory that just about drove me mad. A ravenous swarm of mosquitoes sure appreciated us standing still with hands encumbered by painting tools, and right at dinnertime!

"Sunset Color Study I"
5 x 7 inches
oil on panel

Afterwards I learned from my instructor Edward Minoff that my values (light/dark) are way too extreme and I need to significantly lighten the clouds and everything in the distance. He showed me his study and I could see what he meant.

I can't wait to try both again, but I'll be away from the fellowship this weekend to go visit my husband. So I won't be posting for a few days, back on Monday.


Hudson Fellowship Day 9

"Ship Boulder"
graphite pencil on toned paper


Hudson Fellowship Day 8

I'm trying to pick a composition and commit to one scene (or maybe 2) so I can focus my studies towards making a fully developed painting. Having a hard time choosing though, everywhere I look there's something to potentially paint.

This was my atempt today but I don't think I'm going to pursue it. It's too complicated to understand what's going on.

The fatigue is starting to get to me. Not getting enough sleep, plus hiking/scrambling around in the gorge, plus sitting and working for hours in the cold, are all starting to wear me out! Going to try for 9 hours of sleep tonight... my goal is try to sleep at least as many hours of the day as I paint!

Check out the Grand Central Academy Blog which is documenting more sketches from the Fellows, so you can get a closer look at what's on that long table.


Hudson Fellowship Day 7

Trees with view of Hudson Valley
ink and white guache on paper

cloud studies, pencil on paper


Hudson Fellowship Day 6

Where I worked from 9am to 6pm today

"Two trees with exposed roots"
approx 9 x 12 inches
ink and white guache on toned paper

"Waterfall and pool"
approx 7 x 12 inches
ink and white guache on toned paper

Day 4 boulder sketch, more details added


Hudson Fellowship Day 5

falls study
ink and guache on toned paper
approx 9 x 12

A closeup-of the upper region of the composition I sketched yesterday.


Hudson Fellowship Day 4

Composition study/equisse
India ink and white guache on toned paper
approx 8 x 10 inches

I worked with pen and ink today for the first time and loved it! A diluted ink wash creates controlled values much faster than graphite pencil. I started with a rough graphite-pencil block-in, and then refined the contour drawing with a dip-pen and ink. Then I diluted the ink with water (on a plastic palette) and used a brush to lay in the washes, building up the layers slowly to reach the values I wanted.

Study/etude of boulders and falls
India ink and white guache on toned paper
approx 6 x 10 inches

Every couple of days we all meet as a group and show our sketches on a long table. The work as whole is stunning... absolutely everyone here can draw incredibly well and it's both inspiring and daunting to see the row of studies. The instructors Edward Minoff and Travis Schlaht give anyone who asks a detailed critique about how to focus our drawings to be useful studies for a painting we'll do later at our studios. Jacob Collins apparently arrives tomorrow...

To see a nice quick overview of the work from previous years go to this page of past Fellows and mouse over each name to see an example of their work.

As for painting... yes, I am itching to begin painting in color! But on the other hand, doing these drawings has only emphasized how complicated nature can be, and I know I'll be grateful for having done all the line drawings and value studies when I start grappling with color.