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Plein Air Painting – downtown Maysville, Kentucky 31 October 2020

An old warehouse in Maysville, Ky was recently demolished, giving us a new view of downtown.

plein air easel setup in front of panoramic view of downtown maysville kentucky

October 31st weather was sunny and cool, so I loaded my paints in my car, to try to capture the view. 

It is a big, wide view, and I wanted to capture it all!  I used 2 9×12 panels to create a diptych of the panoramic view. 

plein air underpainting by ken swinson of downtown maysville

The closer we get to the winter months, we don’t have nearly as much light in the sky, so I had to race against the setting sun to capture the view.  I am inspired by the impressionist tradition of painting directly from life, without the aid of photography.  It forces me to use loose brush strokes to capture the essence of the moment. 

kentucky artist, Ken swinson, plein air painting view of downtown maysville and the ohio river

Another one of my favorite things about working from life, is being outdoors, and a visible part of my community. It can get lonely when I spend a lot of time alone in my studio. My friend, the photographer, Lorraine Marcella stopped by to chat while I worked, and I had her take this snapshot with my camera to document the painting.

work in progress plein air painting by kentucky artist, ken swinson subject maysvile kentucky

This view is so new and interesting, I could paint at least 10 more paintings from this spot. Hopefully, they don’t start building soon.

The church steeple on the right was just a little too big, so when I got back to the studio, I fixed it!

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Plein Air Painting – Goldenrod and Ironweed

Going to try something different today…I’m WALKING to a location to paint. Since I’m carrying all the video and painting gear, it’s forced me to get down to basics. Will try to live stream, provided I didn’t forget my cellphone or brushes.

Going to try something different today…I’m WALKING to a location to paint. Since I’m carrying all the video and painting gear, it’s forced me to get down to basics. I really want to paint this goldenrod (kentucky’s state flower) and ironweed…but not sure how close I want to get to the ticks?!

the finished painting!

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Plein Air Painting at the Stone House in May’s Lick, KY – 19 September 2020

The weather is cooling down, so I have the outdoor painting bug!

I decided to visit my friends, Mike Averdick and John Gerwe. Two friends that live nearby, who have been restoring an old stone house from the 1700’s.

Photo of historic stone house in May's Lick Kentucky from the late 1700s

Most of the trees still have their leaves, which makes it a little tricky to get certain views of architecture. Behind the house are some apple trees, and a clear view of the house, so I decided to paint there.

Here’s a 1 1/2 hour long LIVE video with a walk around the house, and the first hour of painting

Artist painting the stone house in May's Lick Kentucky
here I am getting started on the underpainting
close up of artist painting stone house in May's Lick, Kentucky
a close up–working on the colors in the painting
plein air oil painting with stone house in the background
the painting…almost finished-with the stone house in the background
photo of the stone house in May's Lick, Kentucky oil paint
…just needs a few finishing touches!

Thanks Mike and John for the hospitality! I had a great time painting at the house! I want to come back later, when the leaves aren’t in front of the house 🙂

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Plein Air Wednesday – 16 September 2020 – Aberdeen, Ohio

The weather is finally cooling down. That means it’s time to get the paints out and do some plein air painting!

Some artist friends and I (8 of us) decided to meet at the river park in Aberdeen, Ohio, to paint from life. Since we’ve had a sudden drop in temperature, the cool air hitting the warm river water caused a lot of fog.

foggy river view of Maysville Kentucky from Aberdeen park in Ohio
photo of fog lifting–after an hour of painting!

I’m used to using the directional light from the sun to make colors and shapes look good in a painting. Fog diffuses all that light, and mutes the colors of the landscape…making painting from life a bigger challenge for me.

photo of artist painting landscape from the ohio river

Every now and then, I have been broadcasting LIVE videos on facebook, while i make art. With this scene being such a challenge, i thought i’d try to tackle it with an audience watching the struggle. If you are interested, you can see a replay of the video here:

During the live demo, I decided to challenge myself, and use a limited palette. A palette that does not include the color BLUE. My goal was to demonstrate that the color choices aren’t as important as values (dark and light). To my eye, a foggy morning scene has LOTS of blue in nature, so painting from life without using blue would be tricky…but if i am careful about my values, it should still look ‘right’

palette with titanium white, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, quinacridone magenta, quinacridone violet, viridian and grey
palette with titanium white, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, quinacridone magenta, quinacridone violet, viridian and grey – no blue

Another challenge of painting ‘plein air’ (from life) is that the sun moves, and the scene is always changing. Towards the end of the painting, all the beautiful fog has disappeared!

plein air painting of maysville kentucky by the ohio river from aberdeen park ohio

In addition to the challenges of the limited palette, fog, and a changing landscape; it was the first time I had ever seen many of my artist friends in person since the pandemic started in March…so there was some long overdue socializing as well.

In spite of all that, i’m happy with the finished painting. I learned a lot about fog and color theory…and captured a memory of a really fun day!

3 happy artists holding their paintings and waving

We had so much fun, we are going to try to meet (weather permitting) again in 2 weeks (september 30, 2020). If you live close to the Maysville area and want to join us, send me a message for more details.

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Last night I did a LIVE video while making an oil pastel painting on my home made cotton rag paper. The broadcast shows my process from start to finish, and is almost 2 hours long. I sped the playback up for those who want to see the process in less than a minute. Thanks again everyone who hung out with me in the studio last night, that was a lot of fun!!!

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Hi everybody! It’s been awhile since I’ve.made a live video, so I thought I’d dust my oil pastels off, and see what I can make with them. This process can go quick, especially when I work small, so maybe you’ll get to see the whole process from start to finish. I don’t know what will happen…especially with art! My energy is usually spent by the end of the day, but The a live audience adds a little pressure, so maybe ill make something amazing. Lets see!?

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I have been painting – 24 July 2020

So far, this has been the summer of porcelain, but I am still making paintings.

I just finished this group of charming little 6″x4 1/2″ oil paintings (below) . My originals have been popular, but sometimes tricky for collectors to get…especially online. Since they are one-of-a-kind, i struggled to figure out how to display them on the website and keep everything up-to-date.

UPDATE: All paintings have been sold. Signed reproductions on watercolor paper are available for $20

The pandemic is forcing me to try new ways of doing things. I prefer to show originals in person, but I’m trying something different; my website’s gallery has a new “originals for sale” category. Click here to visit.

Hope you enjoy, and this holds you over until we get to see each other (and our art) in person again!

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Plein Air Painting – Ripley, Ohio 16 June 2020

It’s been awhile since I have been Plein air painting. All my recenty projects have been in the studio. When an artist friend invited me to meet up somewhere to paint outside, I said ‘sure! Where do you want to go? ‘ It didn’t matter to her, so I got to pick.

I picked the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio. It’s a historic site that was once the home of John Rankin, an abolitionist who helped many people escape slavery. Perched on a hill, overlooking the village and ohio river, the rankins were able to give signals from their home to Kentucky.

Not only is the rankin house an important part of the underground railroad, it offers artists a magnificant view!

I wasn’t fully prepared to capture the view. I *should* have brought a panoramic canvas to capture everything. To improvise, I used 2 8×10″ wood panels, and set them beside each other to make a dyptich.

plein air painting of the Rankin house in ripley ohio

I have been experimenting with live videos and I tried live streaming the entire painting. It put a little bit of pressure on me…having a live live audience brought out some of the best of my talent, and I am happy with the finished painting!

Ins addition to my ‘virtual’ audience online, some friends (1 a fellow artist) came up the hill to watch me work.

artist standing outside painting with friends at the John Rankin house in Ripley Ohio

Thanks again for a great day!

Here is the full length stream of the painting…originally live streamed on Facebook.

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The John P Parker House – Painting

Remember 2 weeks ago, when I made a block print of the John P. Parker house in Ripley, Ohio?

Well, i thought it was such a great scene (and important historic landmark) that I made an acrylic painting of the scene!

If you are a fan of John Parker (like me) you also might like this painting I made a few years ago