Adam Houston

American Impressionist Oil Painter

Chattahoochee River View

Now that it’s warmed up a bit here in Georgia I’ve finally started going outside to paint. We live near the Chattahoochee River, and there are several parks where you can walk along the banks of the river. This outing was the first time I’d used my new Easyl Versa “in the wild” so that was fun.

I found an area that looked good with a decent sized shoal where I could set up. I walked down to the end of the bank, looked through my viewfinder and decided this was the spot. As I started back, I looked down saw a snake lying right in front of me. I had stepped right over him when I walked down to the end! I used a stick to get him to move, and he slithered off the bank and into the river. Needless to say, this freaked me out a little bit. I took a couple deep breathes, got set-up and proceeded to start painting.

The Hardest Part

This painting stinks, but the fact that it exists is what’s important. I’ve wanted to get better at Plein air painting but in order to get better you actually have to do it. Buying books and equipment is great but to improve you have to get outside.

There are countless legitimate reasons why I’m unable paint outdoors more often, but I think a lot of it has to do with fear. Fear of what? Of paintings like this! This painting is not great, and I want to do great work. This is evidence that I’m not perfect. But, what I’m realizing is that the process of refinement is the fun part.

After a few years of doing this it feels like the hardest part of painting is pushing through the fear and doubt. Starting is hard. Not giving up when it’s going poorly is hard. But staying and fighting is where the magic is. The lessons I learn in those moments are what keep me coming back.

Above the Vineyard

This is the last of the California ones for a while. This view is in the same place as No. 271 but is facing the opposite direction. Both of those photos were originally taken at Artessa Winery in Napa. I looked at it again in Google Maps and best as I can tell the winery below is J&D Vineyards. The wines at Artessa were pretty good but the views were astounding.

Every Breaking Wave

I find water very challenging to paint so when Barbara sent the photo for last months class I was thinking “well, this should be interesting.” It’s one of the reasons I am so glad to have had this class. I’ve never been to Oregon (where the photo was taken) and would never have chosen to paint this on my own. The class has been a great way to stretch myself and attempt things I would never have on my own.

Note: This painting was done as part of a class I take with Barbara Jaenicke.  The photo, composition and direction on this piece was from Barbara as a part of the class. 

Napa Hills

Hey, it’s something new, a skinny one! I’ve been using these Panelli Telati boards (which are great) and realized that I could cut them down using my table saw. The backing is a high quality MDF, so I decided to give it a shot. The Dewalt saw cut it like butter and I was excited to try the new aspect ratio.

I struggled mightily on the painting here. Part of it was that I got my drawing wrong (cardinal sin) and part of it was that the color was giving me fits. I would miss it in one spot and over-correct in the other. Round and round we went.

It’s still a little wonky but I’ve found that a single painting can derail your whole effort if you let it. Some just want to fight and it’s best to get it as good as you can and then move on.

Along the South Fork

This painting is a view of the South Fork American River outside of Coloma in California. It was exceptionally clear when I was there and the blue sky made the water bright and vibrant.

Staring Me Down II

Here’s a painting of a friend I made in Chattanooga while attending a workshop. It’s amazing how much color there is within what you think is black. The more I looked, the more I saw blues, deep warm grays and light tans.

St. Simons Oaks II

Here’s another take of the St. Simons Oaks from a couple of weeks ago. I felt like some of my lights were chalky and wanted to try this again using a Titanium-Zinc white instead of just the Titanium White.

Of course there is no way to get a true 1-to-1 comparison, but I was shocked by how much more punch the yellows and greens had using the alternate white. I was also paying a tremendous amount of attention to how those were mixed so there’s that.

Snowy Path

Watching Barbara do her demos has driven home the fact that every inch of the canvas does not necessarily need to be covered with paint. So, I’ve been trying to loosen up a bit as I paint.

It’s very difficult at first because you feel that by adding paint you are exerting control over the final product. But in doing that you lose a lot of the mystery and magic that can make a painting sing.

Note: This painting was done as part of a class I take with Barbara Jaenicke. The photo, composition and direction on this piece was from Barbara as a part of the class.