During a trip into Yosemite National Park in November 2009 Mike went to Glacier Point above the valley floor. It was the off season in November and Mike wanted to do a study of Nevada and Vernal Falls at the only location in the park where both of these popular falls are in view at the same time. The off season is a good time to do this as the crowds are minimal! A year later Mike completed a studio painting from this plein air study and digital photographs of the scene. The studio painting was then accepted into the 2011 National Paint The Parks Top 100 Competition.
These two paintings are an excellent example of Mikes primary painting process these days where an excellent plein air study becomes at larger Studio painting. The study is 10" x 8" while the studio painting is 30" x 24".
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Mike and his wife, Diane, travelled to Europe in May and June 2011. They travelled by Eurrail pass in France, Italy and Switzerland during this 33 day trip. Mike did not paint during the first two weeks in France but did paint "en pleir air" in Italy and Switzerland. However, lots of photographes were taken throughout the trip. There simply was to much to see to paint in France this trip!
The trip started in Paris, France with Museum tours of The Louvre and D'Orsay, plus a Seine River tour, a Paris City tour, an Eiffel Tower tour and more. The D'Orsay had a magnificent show on the great impresionist: Edouard Manet, plus many other paintings of the impressionists. Mikes favorite painting was Manets painting entitled "Berth Morisot in Black Hat". Mike has seen this painting in many books regarding the imprssionists but seeing the original was a lifetime experience!
Then it was off to Caen, France and a tour of the Normandie War Memorial of the Caen Museum near the battlefields. This tour was something that everyone should see. It was the most powerful historical review Mike had ever seen of the first half of the twentieth century and especially the two world wars.
After leaving Caen, Mike and Diane travelled by train to the Provence Region of southern France. The first stop was at Avignon, France with a seven day stay in the ancient walled city near the Palace of The Popes where the Popes resided during a nearly hundred year period in the 13th and 14th centuries. Numerous other cities were visited during this stay including Gordes, Rossillon, Arles and on the way to Italy a stop in Nice. Again, there was just to much to see to paint.
Mike and Diane then travelled to Lake Como, Italy. At this point Mike was starving for a painting session and finally started painting. Mike painted "en plein air" at various locations along the shores of Lake Como which is absolutely magnificent! They also visited a number of small cities during their stay on Lake Como including Mezzegra (their hotel was here), Menaggio, Bellagio, Varenna, Lenno and Tremezzo and the city of Como. Mikes favorite painting at Lake Como noted below was "Pescallo Sailboats" painted near Bellagio on a fine sunny day in this little fishing village.
NOTE: Visit Mikes plein air section to view his plein air paintings at Lake Como.
Mike and Diane then travelled to Interlaken, Switzerland for the remainder of their trip. This is a beautiful city in the heart of Switzerland between two beautiful lakes: Brienz and Thun. Their stay in Interlaken was hindered by poor weather but Mike painted several paintings when not touring the countryside. Among the highlights of their trip was a train ride up to the Jungfrauhoch near the top of the Swiss-Alps. Unfortunately, it was snowing at the top so the fantastic advertised view was hidden by snow. Oh well, it was beautiful anyway. Mike and Diane also travelled to Bern, the capital of Switzerland and toured its many museums and Lucern, another very picturesque walled city. Mikes plein air painting entitled, "Seeburg Hotel View" is a view of Lake Brienz from the private deck outside their hotel room.
NOTE: Visit Mikes plein air section to view his plein air paintings in Switzerland.Comment on or Share this Article →
Mike was honored by the PaintAmerica Association in 2010 by selection to the PaintAmerica Signature Society. Forty-eight artists from throughout the Nation working in all mediums make up this prestigious group whose work has been recognized for its excellence in PaintAmerica's National Competitions. Artists attaining this designation have supported PaintAmerica and its mission and National juror panels have deemed their work worthy of this important designation.
During the past four years Mike has had seven paintings in the National Paint The Park Top 100 Competition as well as one painting in the National PaintAmerica Top 100 Competition. In 2010 Mike not only had two paintings in the National Paint The Parks Top 100 Competition but also had one as the Region Three award winner. The three regional awards are second to Best of Show! Mikes Region Three winner was a painting of a seasonal stream bed formed by a rock fall high in Rocky Mountain National Park just off the trail to Loch Vale Lake. It was a studio painting done using a small plein air study completed during the 2009 Estes Park International Plein Air Competition and a digital image. The painting is 28 x 22" on linen canvas and is appropriately entitled: "Rock Fall". Visit the PaintAmercia website at www.paintamerica.org for more information on this painting or the show.
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Mike entered two paintings into the 2010 National Paint The Parks Top 100 Competition. Both paintings made the Top 100. Rock Fall, the painting shown above, was the Regional Winner for Region 3. Both paintings were painted from plein air studies done last year during the 2009 Estes Park Plein Air competition in Colorado and contain scenes from Rocky Mountain National Park.
Spring Is Near
Mikes demonstration painting during his October 2009 Alla Prima landscape workshop entitled, "Spring Is Near" was juried into the 2010 Salon International Exhibition (See Mikes Blog entry to see the particulars about the completion of this alla prima (wet into wet painting).
Salon International is a project of the International Museum of Contemporary Masters and is hosted by the Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art, San Antonio, Texas (See Mikes Events section for more infomration on this prestigious show).
Mike completed his first large Triptych and also the largest painting ever when taking all three panels together. The triptych consists of three 30" x 30" canvases and depicts one on Mikes favorite California coastal areas between Carmel and Big Sur along Highway One in Garrapata State Park. Mike has painted numerous plein air paintings in the vicinity and found a pull-out along Highway One that afforded this view looking north along the coast. He decided that this was the view he wanted to undertake his first large triptych (See photograph below).
Mike began the process for this painting by doing numerous thumbnail graphite sketches until he found what he believed would be the best composition for this triptych. These sketches consisted of 1/3 sections that could each stand alone with regard to focal areas and design but would also fit together in the triptych with a primary focal area that would be stronger in the middle panel of the triptych.
Mike then completed a plein air study consisting of the left and middle panels of the triptych on a 12" x 24" canvas panel. This plein air study is the smaller painting to the right of the digiotal image shown below. Mike also completed a second study of this scene that made up the right panel of the triptych scene (Mike could not find a panel that was wide enough to fit his plein air equipment so he made due with the 12 x 24" canvas panel noted above and the additional 12 x 12" panel).
Mike then began the triptych in his studio with all of this material in his possession. Why three 30 x 30 " canvases and not something bigger or smaller? Mike said he just felt confortable with that size because he has done 30" x 30" squares before that resulted in quality studio paintings. Additionally, his studio easels would allow him to place three panels of this size on separate easels side by side so he could work on all three at the same time or separately as needed to ensure continuity between the panels.
Mike used a red/green complimentary palette to complete this painting. He felt that this palette would best show the image and ensure that color would flow smoothly throughout this very wide image. His palette consisted of the following colors: warm compliments: Cadmium Red Light and Cinnebar Green Light extra; Neutral compliments: Bright Green and Cadmium Red Dark; cool compliments: Quinacridone Violet and PhathloTurquoise Blue; and , earth tone compliments: Burnt Sienna and Green Earth. Additionally, Mike used Titanium White and Ivory Black to gray, lighten or darken the colors and values as needed. Mike believes that this relatively limited palette worked successfully for this large triptych painting. Even the light colors of the rock formations were done with white and a varying small amounts of Cad red light and Cinnebar green light extra.
Digital Photo 12 x 24" Plein Air Study
Digital Photo of the winter scene
Mike held a three day "Alla Prima Landscape Painting" Workshop in mid-October through the Folsom Arts Assoc at Folsom Lake College. This blog entry is about Mikes demonstration paintings and techniques used during the Workshop.
The essence of this workshop was to be able to create alla prima (wet into wet) paintings that show light and spontaneity usually only obtained from painting "en plein air". These same techniques could also be used to create larger alla prima studio paintings from smaller plein air paintings. Mike began by viewing a digital photo of a winter scene from Hope Valley in the Sierra Nevada mountains through a small view finder and determining in his mind the best composition and size of the winter scene. He then created a very small five minute graphite sketch of this scene moving trees and other objects around to enhance the composition. He then painted a 9" x 12" alla prima oil paint study using the small sketch and the digital photo. The next day he put the photo away and painted an 18" x 24" alla prima studio painting of the scene using only the sketch and the small study. The object of this demonstration was not to see how fast you could paint something but about creating a larger studio painting from a small study such as the one he painted as a demo or a plein air study in an alla prima manner. The images below are the small 9" x 12" study followed by the 18" x 24" alla prima studio painting.
Trail To Isabelle Lake
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Mike came up with two ribbons at this years Estes Park International Plein Air event in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Mike won the Manny's of Denver's Award of Merit for his small 8" x 8" plein air study entitled, "Noon Reflections at Nymph lake". This painting depicted just a few of the hundreds of water lilies at this small Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park lake a 1/2 mile above above the Bear Lake trailhead. He also won the coveted Emerson Frames Artist Choice Award through the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park for his plein air painting, "Trail To Isabelle Lake".
Mike is particularly proud of this award as this painting was done under relatively tough conditions near the tree line at approximately 11,000' elevation in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Mike's wife, Diane, hiked with him to this location and dutifully held the umbrella as wind and rain pelted his position overlooking the lake. Mike and his wife hiked every other day this year instead of Mike painting each day. Three days before the "Trail To isabelle lake" painting, he and Diane had completed the 3 1/2 mile hike to the falls behind Isabelle lake and on the return hike Mike spotted the location of this painting and vowed to return. The view reminded him of some of Edgar Payne's beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain paintings of glacial lakes and was to beautiful to pass up! Three days later he and Diane returned and he completed the painting as rain and heavy wind began to pick up tempo. The painting was done on a 16" x 20" linen panel. A palette knife was used for most of the mountains as well as the foreground trees. Mike had purchased a 16" x 20" panel carrier several years ago and finally put it to good use.
Mike said that to receive the Artists Choice Award for this painting was like receiving validation for nearly twenty years of hard work and study to get to this point in his artistic development. That validation was given by some truly gifted plein air artists who confirmed Mike's personal feelings about this painting.
"Foggy May Morning": at Carmel Art Festival
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Mike Bagdonas's plein air painting, "Foggy May Morning" was awarded an Honorable Mention in this years Carmel Art Festival's Plein Air Competition in May. This painting is 20" x 20" on masonite. Mike was particularly proud of this painting in that on this foggy morning along the California coast just south of Rocky Point and north of Big Sur, the fog kept intermittently obscuring the entire scene. Thanks to a strong thumb nail graphite sketch of the scene at the very beginning Mike continued to paint. Mike said, "Even at the end the fog seemed to take over the scene as though nature was telling me it was time to quit".
Mike Bagdonas' studio painting from Camden, Maine entitiled "Camden Windjammer"was a winning painting in Paint Amercia Association's Third Annual Paint America Top 100 Competition for 2008. This show is an all media, all state National competition of original two dimensional art. The goal of this show is to have all states represented with an ideal scenario being two paintings per state. Mike also had another painting in the 2nd 100 of this show entitled "Gloucester Fishing boats". The first scheduled exhibit for the Top 100 show is at the Cornell Museum-Old School Square, Delray Beach, Florida from April 30, 2009 to June 13, 2009.