Here is another painting from Sonoma Plein Air. “Morning at Ernie’s” was my submission for the main gala event. I’m always inspired by the works of Scott Prior and William Wray, and this place was right out of their playbook.
Ernie’s Tin Bar is an auto repair shop slash bar joint, in which I’m assuming you can get your car fixed and drink your way though it – an interesting concept. The best thing about this place is its character, a lean-to structure with mish-mash construction and lots of junk that begs to be painted. The toughest part of this scene was setting up. I’m across the street, wedged between the highway guard rail and a ten foot hedge, standing on an uneven slope, with barely enough room for me and my easel, and just four feet from a busy car and truck route. (Disclaimer: please don’t attempt this at home, plein air artists are trained professionals).
I felt this was the best angle for the composition. The framing of the white sign against the mass of trees in the background was extremely important. As was the large area of darks that make up the left side of the painting. This allows my white areas to pop and hold the focal interest. My overall success though, hinged on edge-work. I kept my straight lines extremely varied. It might look like it’s just a painterly way of working, but it was well thought out. By forcing the white sign pole to be imperfect, gave it the character I was looking for. Ditto for the roof eaves, guard rail and scrap metal storage rack. I painted all of the foliage as unelaborated simple masses so not to detract from the building. The silhouette of the oval sign holds your eye from all the angles sliding to the right. I adjusted the far fence and tops of the distant trees to counter-balance those angles as well.
Or it just could be my hands were shaking so much from the trucks screaming by at 60 mph! Enjoy.