Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Atlantic Summer"

30x30" oil on canvas

I'm enjoying painting on larger canvases. In some ways I find it easier than painting small. I like using larger brushes and having more room to work. The challenge on a larger canvas is the drawing. It can be hard to get everything mapped out. 

I've posted some progress shots of some larger work on Instagram @chamberlainpaintings. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

"Last Light on Broadway"

12x12" oil on panel

Achieving color harmony can be challenging in a cityscape. Most scenes are predominantly grey with random bursts of color here and there. Including all the colors present can be visually distracting and break up the overall design. I've been experimenting with a limited palette in order to keep things more harmonius. I used Cad Yellow Medium, Ultramarine Blue, Cad Red Light, Ivory Black, and Titanium White for this painting.

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Boat on the Beach"

30x30" oil on canvas

I've been feeling the need to paint outside again. It's nice to get out of the studio into the open air once in a while. I know there are painters who feel that they do better work on location, but I'm not one of them. The longer I paint the more I realize the importance of a strong composition. When I paint outdoors I'm often in a rush to capture a scene before the light changes so I make quick decisions about design. I'm trying to get better about slowing down and thinking a painting through before picking up the brush. This paintng was done in the studio but I'll post some of my outdoor work soon.

Friday, July 31, 2015


30x30" oil on canvas

Chairs offer a lot of interesting compositional opportunities but they can be challenging to draw. I tried to keep things as simple as possible in this one. I was attracted to the strong abstract shapes created by the shadows so I tried to keep that the focus. I'm finding that some subjects work a lot better on a larger canvas. It's nice to have the room to swing the brush!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Marshall Point"

36x36" oil on canvas

I've been working on some larger pieces lately and I'm enjoying the challenges of painting big. Getting the drawing right is probably the biggest challenge. I remember seeing an old black and white photo of one of the impessionists with a paintbrush in one hand and a photo in the other. Must have been Degas. It looked awkward to me at the time, but now that's exactly what I'm doing. For smaller studio work I usually paint from the computer, but on a large canvas I find it much easier to get the drawing right by using a photo as reference. The other challenge is keeping the brushwork loose, especially when painting structures. I was pretty happy with the way this one came out, especially the rocks in the foreground. This painting is of Marshall Point in Port Clyde, Maine.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Cutlass, Light Across the Field"

8x10" oil on canvas panel (sold)

This is a scene that caught my attention in a very subtle way. I don't like searching for things to paint, I'd much rather come across something inspiring during everyday life. This was painted from an image taken while on a late afternoon walk through San Bruno Park. Even though the photo was taken in California, the scene brought back memories of childhood days in New Jersey.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"California Street"

6x6" oil on Gessobord

This is the view looking west on California Street. I love taking photos from the middle of the street but it really seems to aggravate the taxi drivers.

I'll have an assortment of 6x6" paintings available on DailyPaintworks this month. The price for an unframed painting is $175 plus shipping. You can check em out here: My DPW Gallery

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Eucalyptus, Heritage Park"

20x16" oil on canvas

Well I've got the saws out and I'm in frame production mode. I'm making frames for the upcoming "Tiny" show at the Studio Gallery. All work has to be less than 7x7 inches in size and less than $400. I'm building my usual natural wood floaters frames. So, this week I'm going back and forth from the easel to the saws.

As for painting, I'm working on 20x20 inch versions of some of the cityscapes from the 50/50 show. I've done about 8 of them so far and I feel pretty happy with the results. I'll post some photos soon.

The above painting is from the Burlingame Paint Out last week. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


20x20" oil on canvas

Here's a recent experiment that worked out better than I thought it would. The goal was to work really fast and do my best just to think of colors and shapes. It can be overwhelming painting complicated scenes on a larger canvas. I approached this subject without expectations, I just tried to be spontaneous and see what came of it. It may have a few problems but there's something I like about it so I figured I'd post it.

In other news, the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, CA hosted their 22nd annual paint out on Saturday. I paid my entrance fee a few weeks in advance but seriously considered sitting this one out since rain was predicted. I wasn't sure I wanted to wake up early and drive 100 miles, paint all day in the rain, and then drive another 100 miles home again at 10pm when the event ended. However, while eating dinner and watching Bob Ross reruns on YouTube the night before, I had a change of heart. I'm glad I decided to go, I met a lot of nice people, saw some great art and ended up winning first place. The rain made it a rough day though, you can check out some pictures here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Railroad Crossing"

10x8" oil on canvas panel

I managed to paint four small paintings in Burlingame yesterday. The plein air event in Davis is tomorrow so I've been painting outdoors as much as possible. I started my first painting around 8am and finished my last just after 6pm. It was a long day but I had a good time experimenting with subject matter and composition. I posted all four paintings on facebook, if you're interested you can check them out here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


10x8" oil on canvas panel

I've doing quite a bit of plein air painting lately, with mixed results. Most plein air painters mention needing to paint from life in order to see subtle colors that don't show up in photos, but I'm finding it much harder to judge colors while outdoors. I think this painting of eucalyptus trees is a step in the right direction. I painted this while standing in the shade next to a dry creek bed. It was really hot today so it felt good to find a cool secluded spot to paint.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Powell Street

8x8" oil on masonite

I've decided to do some larger versions of my recent cityscapes. Even though these are only slightly larger than the paintings for 50/50, they were definitely more difficult. Next I plan to do some 20x20" versions. I'm trying to work my way up in size and yet maintain the look of the smaller paintings. I posted a gallery containing a few more 8x8s on my facebook page, you can take a look by clicking here.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Cafe on Polk"

12x12" oil on masonite

This is a painting that didn't quite make it into the City Streets show a few months ago. Originally this painting was just a very loose sketch. I didn't feel it was quite finished enough to bring to the gallery, but I liked the composition and the mix of natural and incandescent lighting. I finally decided it would be worth spending some time to see if I could bring it to a level of finish that I was happy with. It's unusual for me to rework an existing painting, I usually just move on if something doesn't work. I'm glad I put the extra effort into this one.

It turns out I'll be participating in two plein air events at the end of the month so I decided to get organized. It's so important to have your gear and your process figured out. I spent a few hours streamlining my equipment and then hit the streets to test it out. I was able to do a couple of small paintings, in separate locations, in less than three hours. I still struggled a bit with the paintings but at least I wasn't frustrated by my gear.

I've been painting here in San Bruno to save time. I figured I wouldn't be too particular about the scenery since I just needed to get out for a test run. I've actually found some interesting subject matter which has been a nice surprise. I posted a photo on my facebook page.

Tomorrow is the opening reception for the Waterfront show at the Studio Gallery. Stop by and check it out if you're in the area! The reception is from 2-6pm.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Red Buoy"

10x8" oil on canvas panel

Here's another quick oil sketch from my Maine photos. This is marker #2 just off Marshall Point. I took the photo for this while out on a puffin cruise. The amazing thing is we actually saw puffins! They were pretty far away but we did see quite a few. It was the "sunset cruise" so the light was beautiful. I must confess I wasn't that interested in the birds, they were sort of far away. I was more interested in taking pictures of buoys.

The Burlingame Paint Out is coming up at the end of the month so I tried to get out and paint on Tuesday. It was a lovely sunny morning but I was unable to find anything inspiring to paint. I looked around for two hours before giving up. I've learned that unless you find a composition you're excited about it's not worth setting up your easel. I'll give it another try next week.

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Point Reyes Wave"

20x20" oil on canvas

Here's another from Waterfront, which opens September 4th at the Studio Gallery. The reception will be on Sunday September 8th, 2-6pm. I just dropped off my paintings yesterday and there were already a bunch of really nice paintings in the gallery.

In other news, I started a facebook page, Michael Chamberlain Paintings. I plan to keep it updated with photos and event info. I just uploaded a couple of albums, one for the 50/50 show and another for the Waterfront show. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Sierra Snow Melt"

20x16" oil on canvas

I'm getting ready to paint outdoors again. When I first started painting ten years ago I painted almost exclusively on location. Later, in order to make the most of the little time I had to paint I started working from digital images on my computer. I actually still use my plein air set up when painting indoors. 

Working from the computer is great in a lot of ways. I love being able to experiment with different compositions and color settings. It's also nice having everything set up and ready to go. All I have to do is put a canvas on the easel and get to work. Now that I'm painting full time I'm feeling the need to get out and paint from life again. I'm excited to see how it will effect my work.

The above painting was done from the computer but I painted as if I was working outside. What I mean is, I painted fast. This one was done in about 90 minutes. I had to make minor adjustments the next day, but most of the work was done in the first attempt. I'm trying to work fast even though I'm painting on larger canvases.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Mori Point"

20x20" oil on canvas

One of the things I like about participating in themed shows is that it encourages me to explore new subject matter. I tend to avoid painting traditional landscapes so this one is bit of a departure for me. This painting is for "Waterfront", a show opening at the Studio Gallery on September 4th. 

I've only recently discovered Mori Point and it's become one of my favorite spots to go for a walk. This view is looking south from the point toward Pacifica. The large mountain in the back is Montara Mountain, another beautiful spot for a hike.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Weskeag Bridge"

10x8" oil on canvas panel

I had to put myself in a precarious position to get the photo for this one. Maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but I did have to climb over a guard rail and then part of the way down a steep slope. One slip and I would have been in the water, washed under the bridge and on my way out to sea!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Queen Anne's Lace"

8x10" oil on canvas panel

The abundance of wildflowers is one of the most beautiful things about the summer landscape in Maine. Most of the grasses and flowers in California have turned brown or gold by early summer due to the lack of rain. The time for wildflowers in the west is usually early spring.  I'm pretty sure the flowers in the painting are White Yarrow. I know there's not a lot of detail in this painting but if anyone knows what kind of flowers these are I'd love to know.

Update: Thanks so much Susan, Judy and Merci for letting me know that the wildflowers are Queen Anne's Lace!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Three in a Row"

8x10" oil on canvas panel

This is a group of joined houses in Tenant's Harbor, Maine. I drive by this scene countless times every summer while staying in Port Clyde and I've always thought it would make a good painting. I'm having fun doing quick oil sketches from the images I took this summer. I'll be posting more soon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Port Clyde Cove"

11x14" oil on canvas panel

I'm doing a few Maine paintings to transition back to painting larger. I've been having fun attempting to paint fast and spontaneously. Some of the paintings haven't worked out but I like this one. It's nice to have room to experiment with brushwork.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Larkin and Broadway"

6x6" oil on Gessobord
Sanchez Art Center, "50/50"

I got back from Maine just in time to hang the "50/50" show. It was fun seeing what the other artists have come up with. I'm really impressed with the overall quality of the work I saw. There is so much great work and most of the prices are so low, I'm not surprised this show has become as popular as it is. If you're interested in coming I suggest going to the ticketed preview, which is ten dollars if you buy in advance. For more info click here.

I had a wonderful, relaxing time in Maine and even managed to take a few pictures to paint from. My only goal for the two weeks was to spend time with family and swim every day regardless of the weather. Spending time with family was easy, swimming every day had its challenging moments. Especially the time my daughter and I went swimming in the bone-chilling ocean in a freezing downpour.

I'm excited to work on paintings for "Waterfront" which opens at the Studio Gallery on September 4th. It will be nice to work on some larger pieces after spending the last month primarily painting 6x6s. I'll post paintings and more info soon.

Friday, August 2, 2013


6x6" oil on Gessobord - sold
Sanchez Art Center, "50/50" #21

Well I had originally planned on posting all 50 of my paintings here on my blog but it doesn't look like that'll happen. I've set up a gallery on my website though, so anyone who's interested can check out my progress by clicking on the 50/50 gallery.

I approached this project knowing it would be a learning experience. I chose to do cityscapes for two reasons. For one, I find cityscapes extremely difficult, particularly handling the cars. And secondly, I felt pretty confident about finding 50 interesting compositions featuring the streets of San Francisco. 

So what did I learn? I do feel I've improved at painting cars. I've learned to ignore their complexity and simplify as much as possible. I feel I've also learned how to better compose a cityscape. I now try to look for large simple patterns within the jumble of visual information.

The next step is to see if I can translate some these little paintings into larger works.

The "50/50" show opens August 23 at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica, California. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Powell Street"

6x6" oil on Gessobord - sold
Sanchez Art Center, "50/50" #14

This was one of those images I was pretty sure wasn't going to work as a small painting. I felt there was just too much visual information. What attracted me to this scene was the bright band of light on the street and buildings to the right. I'm glad I gave it a try, I think it worked. This view is down Powell Street looking toward Union Square.