Monday, April 20, 2009

A Second Exhibit

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on board, 6" x 8"

"Scene from the Point, Rye, NH" was featured on this blog in March, but it has a new reason to appear now. It will be on display at The Discover Portsmouth Center as part of the 15th annual "Artists of the Seacoast" exhibit, a yearly fund-raiser for Families First Health and Support Center. Families First provides a wide range of health and family services to the seacoast community. To find out more about this charity, visit their website:

This show will be on display Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm, April 25 through May 25 2009, . The Discover Portsmouth Center is on the corner of Middle and Congress Streets, in the old Portsmouth Library building.

Friday, April 17, 2009

SNHU Exhibit is a Success!

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

This week, four NH Plein Air members have sold paintings on exhibit at Southern New Hampshire University's Pantano Gallery! "Garden View, Canterbury Shaker Village," pictured above, is among the paintings that have found new homes.

The show will be up until May 29, so there is still plenty of time to see it. I wouldn't wait too long, however, since the work seems to be flying off the walls!

This painting has SOLD!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Step Two

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 9" x 12"

A few years ago at a plein air workshop, I said to my instructor, "I really enjoy working on the underpainting." He responded with a fairly powerful statement: "Then just keep underpainting."

While developing a painting, it is easy for artists to lose our original focus. We must continually challenge ourselves to remember why we wanted to paint THIS scene on THIS day. If we can keep the "underpainting feeling" all the way to the finished product, we can hold on to our first vision more easily.

During the underpainting stage, I use broad, loose brush strokes. I pay attention to shapes, color relationships and any movement caused by breezes, currents or waves. Stage Two and the rest of the process should be about refining these ideas, not replacing them.

Using the same brush and the same energetic strokes, I have added some greens to the trees in the middle ground and in the distance. I have also added some variety in color and tone in the foreground grasses.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Work in Progress

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 9" x 12"

I have had a request to display a piece as it progresses from blank canvas to completed painting. A commission for a marsh scene is a great opportunity to demonstrate this process. There are a million ways to create a painting, but this is how I do it.

For this piece, I started by drawing ideas for compositions on paper, using plein air studies as references. I then transferred the bare outline of my favorite drawing to the canvas. It didn't take me long to completely paint over those faint guidelines with the first brushstrokes.

Using a big brush, I first covered the entire canvas with paint. For this painting, I stayed with yellows and blue-purples for the first layer. At this stage, I am trying to solidify my composition, initiate the basic tonal and value relationships and sow the seeds of the movement of the piece. I allow the different colors to mingle and mix a bit at the edges of the shapes without worrying about keeping the colors pure.

If the painting seems successful at this early stage, then there is hope for the final product. The next few steps will just be building on these initial ideas and relationships.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Art Show Announcement:

NH Plein Air: On the Scene
On Display Now through May 29, 2009

Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library
Southern New Hampshire University
500 North River Rd, Manchester, NH 03106

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
Surf and Rocks
oil on canvas, 8" x 10"

This is one of five paintings I have hanging in the "On the Scene" exhibit at Southern New Hampshire University. In order to see photos the show, the names of the other artists and get more information about NH Plein Air, visit:

In order to see more of my paintings, go to the show!

Friday, April 10, 2009

April Wave Study

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 5" x 7"

I promise that I am doing the Woodbury exercise, even though it has been raining. As with many exercises, these little stump paintings aren't all ready to show themselves online. I am going to finish the exercise and think about them and decide later if any should be posted.

In the meantime, I went to the coast yesterday. The weather was sunny, but the wind was vicious and I was able to do just a little study of the surf. Little paintings like this one and those of the stump end up teaching me more than I realize while I am working on them. Often I am not at all satisfied with the little sketches on the day I work on them, but when I stumble on them months (or years) later, I treasure the memory of the experience.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Stump I

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on canvas, 6" x 8"

This could be the only sunny day we see in New Hampshire for a whole week, so I had to get outside and paint. This moss-covered stump is a short walk from my front door. As I was working on this picture, I recalled an exercise one of my favorite artists used to assign his students. Charles Woodbury (American 1864-1940) instructed aspiring landscape painters to paint the same scene nine times in one week at different times of day. I have done this exercise before, but I think it is time to repeat it. The weather may interfere with this challenge, since it is supposed to rain quite a bit this week, but I'll give it my best shot anyway. Therefore, I present painting #1 of the stump.

Want to know more about this painting? Contact me at the email on the right!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Horse Farm

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on board, 6" x 8"

Here is another painting from the farm down the street from my house. The horse in the front left corner is our friend from yesterday's post, taking a nap. Whenever I walk past these horses, their colorful coats always catch my eye. Even though it is spring, I think they will be wearing them for a while.

Want to know more about this painting? Contact me at the email on the right!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Horse in a Blue Coat

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
oil on board, 6" x 8"

The rainy and cloudy weather has kept me inside lately. Yesterday, however, was too nice to ignore and I grabbed my painting gear and went to a horse farm not too far from my house. This girl sort of posed for me. At least, she stayed in one place long enough for me to get a quick "gesture" of her and then I painted the background and her wonderful blue coat. It is raining again today, but I hope to return to the horse farm, and plein air painting in general, soon.