Signs & Arrows

July 10, 2019
Sam Vance

Gouache on paper

Obviously, signs and arrows are kind of my thing. I haven’t really delved into the whole psychology of their meaning yet. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with finding a sense of direction, looking for signs, seeing signs… This sketch made me laugh. How often are we going along, sure of the direction we’re heading when we hit DETOUR.

Do you ever feel like sometimes there’s just no right turn?
Goauche on paper

A friend of mine simply replied, “yes.”

One Way
Pen & Ink on paper
Box Office
Gouache on paper

I haven’t done a lot of city scapes but this one was fun to do. Lots of color going on, a human element and the challenge of painting it fast.

Gouache on paper

I did a couple of paintings this week from former drawings. The daily painting exercise sticks with me through the following days and weeks. Sometimes an image stays in my minds’ eye and I will return to it. This one happened because I simply had paint on the palette that I didn’t want to throw away. I had finished my daily painting and I whipped this one off in a few minutes. I still have to go buy more paint…

Drive In
Gouache on paper
American Landscape
Pen & Ink, Gouache on paper

I tried a couple of different things with this (after some failed attempts the day before- not posting those). This started with pen and ink, adding gouache and then returning with pen on top. It has a kind of amusing cartoon look to it. In regards to the subject matter, I’m not that interested in political or social art for its’ own sake. I’m not an evangelist against fast food although I don’t eat it. But the golden arches strikes me as something that is uniquely American. And, as a landscape painter who is interested in signs, it’s kind of hard to avoid something so obviously entrenched in our cultural consciousness.

Gouache on paper
Way West
Gouache on paper

By far my favorite image of the last week. I am working on a larger scale version of this one on the big easel. Sometimes I am able to find out the history of the signs that I find along the road. This one used to be the Way West Motel on Aurora Avenue, here in Seattle. The big vertical MOTEL letters tracing the white portion have long since fallen off. But I actually found some old photos online. Since it’s demise, the motel has become (among other things) a pot shop (short lived) and most recently La Iglesia Pentecostal Unida del Nombre de Jesus. You can’t make this stuff up.

Moving from Sketch to Canvas

July 1, 2019
Sam Vance

Please Be Aware of Oncoming Traffic. Goauche on paper

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks. The combination of a much needed family vacation and then the return to general busy-ness has kept me from regular updates. But I have still been painting every day. It has become such an ingrained part of the routine that my family now asks me at the breakfast table, “What did you paint this morning?” On the one day that didn’t produce a painting before breakfast I sensed both disappointment and responsibility. So I made sure that I got one in that day.

Cle Elum Trading Post. Acrylic on Canvas 16″ x 20″

I have been moving from the small sketches into larger formats. Predictably, the larger the canvas, the longer it takes. Sometimes (due to the speed in which I am attempting to paint) the results aren’t always what I want. Monet was known to paint 9 or 10 canvases a day. Even for small to medium sized paintings, that’s fast.

Arcade. Goauche on paper

Not that speed is everything. I’m trying to find the balance between virtuosity and inspiration. Timing myself keeps the brush strokes loose and I have to live with both happy and some unhappy accidents. The one hour paintings I do with that 5 am cup of coffee are intended to be quick sketches, like the one above. I have to remind myself, “This is only a sketch,” before I breach the one hour mark and start obsessing about the details.

Closed. Acrylic on Panel 12″ x 18″

Where that pays off is at the other easels where I’m trying to have a couple of larger paintings going simultaneously. Whereas the morning sketches take an hour or so, this one took two or three. The goal here is to maintain spontaneity but allow for more detail as well as the size difference.

Fuel Coffee. Acrylic on Canvas 16″ x 20″

I will be offering prints of many of these pieces very soon. Keep your eyes open and thanks for visiting!

Commission work!

July 1, 2019
Sam Vance

Three friends, Cannon Beach. Acrylic on Canvas 24″ x 36″

I finished and delivered this commission for my niece, Autumn. She sent me a photo of her beloved weimaraners playing at one of their favorite “dog parks,” Cannon Beach, OR. Autumn liked some of the sepia toned sketches I was showing and asked if I would be willing to do a larger piece of her dogs. I had a lot of fun doing this painting with such a limited palette- there are only two colors here: Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber, mixed with a little white. But it captured the ethereal quality of the Oregon seascape. Thanks Autumn!

Ballet, Birds and Beautiful Failures

Blue Studebaker. Goauche on Paper

This week I branched out into some color explorations. I have been doing the pen and ink with watercolor drawings now for a couple of months and thought it was time to mess with a different medium. I have a bunch of gouache that I bought for an abandoned project a few years back. Goauche is great because it has the opacity of acrylics but spreads more like watercolor. True confession: I’m actually not a huge fan of watercolor. But for the quick, one-hour in the morning sketches it serves a purpose. Goauche is just a tiny step more involved but I have enjoyed the results. Let me know what you think.

Old Crow Medicine Show. Goauche on paper
Donnie. Goauche on paper.
Experiment. Goauche on Paper
This piece is slightly larger and took more than one session. I’m experimenting with color, blending, loose brush strokes… in other words, I wasn’t even going to post this one because it’s not “finished.” But I think it’s good for people to see that everything we paint isn’t done or ready for the public. But if you want an omelette…
Same Truck. Pen & Ink, Watercolor on paper
Ballet Class. Goache on paper.
This is my daughter Echo. She had class the other day and I took a bunch of photos (with her permission). Wow, the human form in motion is an awesome thing, isn’t it? There are a lot of things I will try differently next time but you see where I’m trying to go here. Fast and loose, lots of color.
The Dance Class. Degas copy- detail.
One of the joys of homeschooling my children is that I get to be their art teacher. Echo chose to copy this painting for her final in 7th Grade Art. So we sat down and copied a master for a couple of days. This is my version. I’ll let her post hers. The lesson for both of us: outside of just color, form and a beautiful subject matter, if you want to paint like the masters, copy the masters.
Walt Whitman. Pen & Ink on paper.
Leaves of Grass anyone?
In the studio, on the easel. Here’s what I’m working on today. I also have a commission on the big easel. Hope to finish that this week.


Whimsy, dreams and bike ride…

June 4, 2019
Sam Vance

Speed Bump Ahead. Pen & Ink, Goauche on paper. 8 x 10″
I was out on the bike yesterday when I came upon this sign. It made me laugh, thinking about recent events in my life I was like, “Thanks for the warning.” We don’t always get such an obvious sign along the way but I was grateful for this one. I also like the play of shadows on the bike trail.

I’m reading Mad Enchantment by Ross King about the life of Monet during his time in Giverny. Monet continues to be the gold standard for me (and for a lot of artists). We visited Giverny two years ago and it was simply magical. The painting above is yet another attempt to appropriate the color and the loose brush strokes that Monet is famous for. He makes it look easy. And it’s not.

Relic. Pen & Ink, Watercolor on Paper.
We were sitting in the car, waiting for Max to get out of his cello lesson when I noticed this old phone booth. I went over to give it more close inspection and discovered that the old coin box had literally been pried open, metal hanging all over the place. But this is the kind of beautiful disaster that I love to draw and paint.

Way West. Pen & Ink, Watercolor on Paper.
I don’t know what this started out as but most recently it was a Marijuana dispensary on Aurora Avenue, redeemed shortly afterwards by a Spanish speaking church, La Iglesia de JesusChristo. Love it.
Moving Day. Pen & Ink, Watercolor on Paper.
Sometimes I wake up from a dream and draw what I see.
The Long Road. Pen & Ink, Watercolor on Paper
Add Bardahl Oil. Pen & Ink, Watercolor on Paper
Balance. Pen & Ink, Watercolor on Paper.
I got a lot of reaction from this one. The furthest response came all the way from Spain. Also from a dream…

New Commissions

June 3, 2019
Sam Vance

First layers

This is a new piece I started on this week. Commissions are part of the lifeblood of any working artist. I have painted peoples’ homes, toys, loved ones and in this case, beloved dogs on the beach. Let me know if there is something you would like to have painted! Thanks to everyone who has commissioned new work! I love to paint for you. ~SV

Roy’s Motel Cafe

May 31, 2019
Sam Vance

Acrylic on Panel. 24″ x 36″

Roy’s is a famous stop on Route 66. I always laugh when I find these places and see that they have vacancy. I’m like, “Really? You have a room available? At this four star establishment? Book me.”

This is a composite painting of a number of photos taken by friends on road trips. I took some liberties with the colors…

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