October 30th, 2012
This work was inspired by the need to produce a painting that gives the illusion of winter wile exhibiting warmth. Hints of snow on the foreground pine beaus and aspen branches provide the viewer with just enough information to make the case. The middle ground water mass adds distance and atmosphere allowing the viewer to traverse into the pine covered foot hills and on to those snow covered peaks beyond. The sky mass might indicate morning or evening but a slight haze in the air would suggest the beginning of a new day. The overall mood would imply that perhaps spring is coming soon to this peaceful place.
October 7th, 2012
Standing before nature attempting to capture its essence humbles the creative mind. After all your looking Creation right in the face. How in this state of mind does one capture what is seen? Keep in mind that what is seen is light with its amazing colors, values, shapes and masses. Avoid becoming intimidated by not assessing it all at once and pick out a small micro section to work on. Begin by making a mental snap shot and stick to it. Put lots of paint on your palette and pay close attention to values; then break down what is seen in that sublime moment into interesting shapes. Get your paint on fast and develop the impression of the micro section as quick as possible; your drawing can be corrected at the very end. The plein air painter has a small window of opportunity which seems to be about two hours. Light of course is constantly moving therefore what is seen is constantly changing. Locking in within the first 30 minutes has then the potential of a nice painting within the two hour window. Beyond that time frame, you could find yourself chasing the light. If you're struggling after the first hour you might be assessing to much information resulting in over focus on a particular area of your painting. Paint all over and again work to cover the entire canvas as quick as possible. Perhaps this is why many artists avoid the plein air experience and truly it isn't for everyone. The studio is where most painters prefer to work and for obvious reasons, no wind, cold, unexpected rain no transporting equipment back and forth, just to mention a few. The take away from a plein air experience however, will have its own unique rewards least of which is nature itself. The process of working fast produces amazing brush work and textures. Colors become neutralized as the palette develops producing wonderful natural warm and cool grays. Later back in the studio looking at the work are these amazing little gems; like a perfect highlight, soft and lost edges, wonderful reflections, or water that looks so wet you think, how did I do that and more important can I do it again. Plein air painters often refer to their works as light studies because they teach us so much. For me however the most profound lesson is the realization that it is Light guiding the painters hand.
This plein air acrylic on panel was completed in 90 minutes
18 inches x 16.5 inches by: Len Sodenkamp
January 20th, 2012
Always wonderful to have an opportunity to get involved with a creative project and last week I was contacted to look at painting a series of murals for a local hospital. Fortunately the subject mater is exactly what I love to do. After meeting with the director of the Care Center it became obvious that I was a good fit for their project. Over the week end I went to my studio and began putting together the first murals ideas. I was excited to begin the creative process of coming up with a design based on input from a number of the hospitals staff. This really gets you outside your comfortable studio box and into the realm of being feed food for thought rather then just doing your own thing. Wile there is nothing wrong with doing ones own thing there is a humbling yet challenging exhilaration about being art directed. Mural work is great because it puts you on your toes right out there on the front lines for all to see. Your painting walls in hall ways with people coming and going so all eyes are on you. As far as the money well it beets flipping burgers and keep in mind the fantastic exposure you will get perhaps for years to come. Letís face it, health care professionals are in demand and earn good salaries so youíre working with folks who appreciate talent and expect to pay to get what they want. The image below was developed from ideas supplied by me in an inexpensive yet attractive portfolio. I always have 40 or 50 images of my paintings on a thumb drive. Spend a few dollars and have your images printed on photo paper, put them in clear plastic protective cover and then into a nice folder. This is very important; have your artist statement, bio and extra business cards in your portfolio as well. You will be asked to provide a bid for the proposed project and likely you will be biding along with others for the work. I wonít go into the bid process in this blog however if there is interest I could be persuaded to do a follow up about preparing bids.
The image below is 4 feet x 2 feet or 25% reduction of one mural 16 feet x 8 feet. I choose to do this parliamentary work at no cost to my client. It provides me with a great blue print for the project and avoids any confusion as to the direction I will be going before I put one drop of paint on a wall. All or most problems are addressed in the comfort of my studio and at the very least I have a nice painting to sell. Just imagine how impressed my client was when she opened her email to find this image. It most likely put me on top of the pile!
Happy mural painting,
(Lavender) 48 inches x 24 inches acrylic on panel by Len Sodenkamp
October 1st, 2011
Fall color in mid day light,
For years I practiced not using color straight from the tube; that is to say no white or neutralizing. Needless to say you can find your self in unfamiliar territory using full strength pigment especially with a limited primary palette. Taking the path less traveled invites the possibility of becoming lost. Most of us can recall the feeling of being lost and how humbling it is. Life teaches us to avoid unpleasantness and to stay in our safe zone. So should one not stand metaphorically on the last rung of the ladder and reach out for once thought unreachable fruit?
Fall color in mid day light was painted on location 9-27-11 at Fisher Creek Saw Tooth Mountains of Idaho. Palette: cobalt blue, cad red, cad yellow light and medium.
Oil on framed panel 24 x 24 inches plein air (fall color in mid day light) by Len Sodenkamp www.sodenkampart.com
August 20th, 2011
Some times I paint the same way I cook, what ever is in the fridge goes in the pot. A stew can be a wonderful meal of acquired ingredients all mixed together in a great tasting sauce. Pulling out old painting techniques and combining materials with dust on their lids can taste wonderful to the soul. Revisiting the first time you tried this or that stimulates warm creative feelings. Itís a lot like the feeling of bumping into an old friend and realizing how much you missed them.
I tend to paint in series of works or variations on a theme; so looking back five years I see strong interesting elements no longer being used in my current work. This is unfortunate because those dormant techniques could perhaps work very well in my next painting.
Yesterday I ran into several old friends and had great time painting Night Flowers.
Happy reunion painting,
July 17th, 2011
Last week I took a few days off from work and home chores. Not having seized the opportunity to paint plein air for way to long I loaded the truck with provisions and took off. I met up with my friends Jed and Von. Their home is located 50 feet from the Snake River just across the Idaho border in Oregon. The next day Jed and I took off on an old dirt road heading toward the Owyhee River. I took over 150 images that day. We ended up in the most amazing spot on the shore of the Owyhee Reservoir. The waters are situated deep in the canyons volcanic formations and are a sight to behold. That evening we ate a great meal cooked on my dadís old camp stove and waited for the evening colors to fall upon us. We turned in just as the almost full moon came over the ridge. The next morning as the sun crested the ridge tops I began to paint. The colors seamed to flow effortlessly from my pallet to my panel. Then I saw it! There is a gem stone found in the region know as Owyhee Picture Jasper and my pallet was looking curiously like this beautiful gem stone. Just like that precious gem this memory has become a precious gem. This painting will always fill my heart with memories of this beautiful place shared with a good friend.
May 23rd, 2011
Silhouette would not be known without light. Because of light everything seen is in silhouette. Of course nether would exist in our human consciousness without out sight. The universe is abundant with light and it is also vastly very full of dark. Specks of light will always penetrate unobstructed darkness; however all the darkness of space could not penetrate those same specks of light. Interesting that every thing we see is some form of matter silhouetted in light. Trees, mountains, lakes, clouds, or a distant star are all visible because light puts them in silhouette. At night those specks of light we call stars become visible in the absence of our suns light then silhouetted by the surrounding darkness of space.
Creation displays amazing beauty with light, the painter is limited to brush and pigment. It is at best a feeble attempt; never the less the obsession continues.
Be in the Light,
May 15th, 2011
The panorama composition has long been a favorite. Both horizontal and vertical panels are common in my studio. It lends itself to the vast expanses of sky and mountain shapes that dominate the Pacific North West I call home. The long and narrow is often considered a contemporary look in the art and design world. I just find it the only way to capture what I am trying to say.
The painting is oil on panel 13 inches x 42 inches depicting a day break on top of the Trinity Mountains. I snuggled down in my sleeping bag on that cool summer morning and watched in aw as nature provided the light show of a life time. The water droplets were of uniform size with just the right clouds in just the right relationship to the sun producing colors by way of an incandescent reaction.
Needless to say once in a life time if youíre lucky, donít forget to take your camera to bed with you.
May 8th, 2011
These miniature oils each 4 inches x 6 inches are a variation on a theme using a limited palette of Indian red, yellow ocher, cobalt blue and white. Each 4 inch x 6 inch study was completed in 30 to 45 minutes. The original grouping contained six miniatures on a special panel of my own design.
I was taught this practice by several great mentors I had forgotten how fun it is.
April 26th, 2011
Last week at the studio I decided to have some fun and just attack the panel with rich expressive colors. I found myself thinking about my favorite elements....... mountains, water, and a fast moving sky. The top image was actually my favorite and happened to be the second one of the pair, the bottom being the first painting of the pair. I didnít necessarily plan to paint a pair that day but the first painting just seamed to explode onto my panel and still having ample time and plenty of paint on the palette I went for the second one. I find most often that the second painting not only happens even faster then the first but displays a more expressive quality. Hard to put into words but itís like some one else was painting and I was just observing. Strange as that sounds, it best describes how I feel about it especially now sitting here typing out this blog. So my reason for this blog is to share ideas with anyone reading not just other painters but anyone involved with the creative process. In a world with such seemingly difficult stresses let us not forget the importance of the creative mind. We mustnít get so self absorbed in how much a gallon of gas costs that we forget who we are. We are all part of the creative mind and as such it is our birth right to create from our thoughts to see and express each in our own way what a beautiful place the world is.