New Painting: Fog on Pebble Beach

Just completed my largest painting to date.  The piece is titled “Fog on Pebble Beach” and it’s 26 x 72.  The challenge with this piece, or any piece that has fog or low light conditions, is making sure the painting has life and depth. As landscape artists we are always trying to capture light, it’s what often draws us to paint any given scene. We wake up in the morning hoping for light. We’ll drive for hours looking for it, sometimes without success. We’ve chased it around like like a dog that has our shoe. The fact that light is present gives the landscape depth and can provide a palette full of rich color. But what happens when direct light is not present? Should we keep driving? Move to the next spot? Maybe we should get our gear out and give it a go. Be challenged. Let’s not miss the beauty that’s right in front of us. I look forward to these opportunities. As many of you know, I love moody paintings and fog is the perfect opportunity to “get moody”.

I was drawn to this scene in Pebble Beach by the long horizontal  lines of the rocky coastline and the strong rich color found in the weathered, sea-battered rocks. Fog almost always has a sense of peace, quiet and calmness and it’s what I’ve tried to capture in this piece.

Fog on Pebble Beach, 26 x 72, Oil on Linen

Fog on Pebble Beach, 26 x 72, Oil on Linen

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New Paintings

It’s been a good week of painting.  I’ve been working hard for a few shows that I having coming up later this summer and fall.  Some of the smaller works may be larger paintings for my annual 1 man show at New Masters Gallery in October.  Selected pieces are posted here as well as my website.  More information for the shows can be found on the “Events” page of my website.  All of the new paintings are available from my studio until it’s determined which show they’ll be a part of. If you have any questions about these paintings please let me know.

Coastal Dunes, 12 x 12, Oil on Linen

Coastal Dunes, 12 x 12, Oil on Linen

Evening Sentinels, 16 x 10, Oil on Linen

Evening Sentinels, 16 x 10, Oil on Linen

Official Artist, 2009 Art Auction at Sunset Center, Carmel

I recently had Sunset Center, in Carmel, invite me to be their official artist for Carmel Treasure: Auction for the Arts. This event will benefit programs at the Sunset Center and the overall art climate in Carmel.  My painting “A Day on Carmel Beach”, will be used on all marketing materials including the event poster.  The image will also be reproduced in a limited edition print that will be available at the event and the original painting will be part of the live auction. 100% of the proceeds from the poster, limited edition prints and the original painting will benefit the Sunset Center.

I am very honored to be a part of this event.

If you have any questions about this event you can contact Sunset Center.

A Day on Carmel Beach, 16 x 20, Oil on Linen

A Day on Carmel Beach, 16 x 20, Oil on Linen

I’ll also have a number of other paintings available through the auction as well.  These paintings will be part of my 1 man show at New Masters Gallery in October.

A Crossroads

I’ve been getting a few requests to talk about a change of direction I went through in 1998.  So this is what happened.

Prior to 1998 I was known for my detailed wildlife and landscape paintings. I was in a few galleries and beginning to get a descent reputation for my work.  But something was missing: Passion and energy in the work.  My work was full of detail.  I tried to capture every hair, every leaf and every blade of grass.  It was very tedious work and work that I really didn’t enjoy deep down inside.  This was the way I had been painting and approaching my art since I was in high school (I graduated in 1982).  I thought this was want I wanted. I was also very close to being published by a limited edition publisher. They loved my work but kept asking for more and more detail. So back to the studio I went, to give them what “they wanted”. But it never seemed enough. On one evening in early 1998 I had, what I thought, was the painting they were looking for.  It had all the detail and mood they wanted in my work.  I decided to take it to them to to get their feedback, I was very hopeful. I still remember their response, they really loved the painting but “it needed a little more detail”. How disappointing!

On the way home I thought a lot about what just happened and what I really wanted for my art.  I was tired of “detail”. I was tired of not being happy when I painted (just ask my wife, she’ll tell you.) I was not pleasant to be around.  I needed a change, my family needed me to change, but what.

I was extremely blessed to have a great high school art teacher, Bill Rushton.  He had the ability to teach what ever I needed and wanted to learn regardless of medium and style. For a number of years he had tried to get me into this thing called “Plein Air”. I had no interest at all. Painting that loose never excited me, until now. I was ready for a change and I was at a crossroads. Would I stay miserable and stick with what I knew or would I take risk and head for the unknown? The answer came the day after I received the dreaded “it needs a little more detail” words from the publisher.  When I got home from the publishers I decided to frame the painting that “needed a little more detail” and hang it in my studio has a reminder of what “not to do”. The next day I got rid of all my acrylics, all my little small paint brushes; everything that had to do with this type of painting.  It was all gone. This change was literally taking place “overnight”. It felt like a very risky thing to do.  After all, that style of painting was what I had been working on since high school, I knew nothing else but I also knew I wasn’t happy. I called Bill Rushton that same day and asked if he would take me out to show me how to approach this “plein air thing”.  I also need a list of art materials. I needed everything: brushes, paint, terpenoid. a pochade box (what’s a pochade box?). It was exciting and a little scary to say the least. I was headed for the unknown.

He took me out painting a few days later ( I had never been “out” painting). We went to Half Moon Bay and painted in the little valley that leads out to the coast. We set up and began to paint. He picked out a brush size that he wanted me to use for the whole painting(it was alot bigger than what I was used to). He also gave me a time limit, an hour and a half.  It was a huge struggle. I had to throw away, no, put aside, most of what I had learned over the past few years. I was slopp’in paint around, swatting bugs and trying to keep my easel still in the breeze.  This was all so new. I’ve never had to deal with these issues in the comfort of my studio. I finished the painting about an hour and half later and let me tell you, it looked awful. What was I thinking? Did I make a huge mistake? the detailed paintings weren’t so bad, right? But one thing I noticed that day, I had fun! I felt alive.

I still have that painting today. I pull it out every time I teach a workshop. It’s a reminder to me of a risk I took to feel alive and to feel passion for what I do.  Needless to say that little painting changed my life. I continued to paint outdoors and paint poor paintings but overtime the paintings improved.  Over the past few years I was able to developed the style you see today.  Those days of painting detail were not wasted days. They were an important part of getting me to where I am today.  I still consider myself a realist painter but don’t have the need or desire to show my viewer every little detail.  It’s good for the viewer to fill in the blanks and become part of the story of picture making. Today I still try to stretch myself as a painter, I’ve started painting still lifes.  Yet another risk, I’m known for my landscapes. What will my galleries think? What will my collectors think? I’m not sure, but I know I’m happy painting them. It keeps me fresh. I also have the desire to paint city scenes.  In September of this year I’ll have my chance.  I’ll be traveling with my wife and 2 close friends to New York City to paint Central Park and the surrounding city. I can’t wait to make a mess of it and learn a little something new.

We must never be fearful of change, it’s what takes us to the next level….who knows we might just like it there.

New Website is Live

My new website is officially live.   Thank you Kevin Athey for all of your hard work to make this happen.

I would really enjoy hearing your feedback on the new site, especially things that would make visiting the site more enjoyable. One of our major upgrades will be the fact that we’ll be posting new paintings has they’re completed. For example, I just posted “Ole Miss”. She can be found on my “Works” page under the subset titled “Other”. Enjoy.

Ole Miss, 14 x 16, Oil on Linen. Available through http://KevinCourter.com

Ole Miss, 14 x 16, Oil on Linen. Available through http://KevinCourter.com