The Painter's Workshop: New Works and Works in Progress

Currently on Easel II

Some Works From My Upcoming Spokane Show, Group 1

Down Grand Blvd 

Down Grand Blvd, Spokane

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Down Grand Blvd, Spokane, oil on panel, 24 x 36 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017

This initial video shows a time lapse of the lay-in for Down Grand Blvd, Spokane, a painting that I'm working on in the studio. I'll post more time lapse material as the painting develops.
Time lapse video of the lay-in for Down Grand Blvd, Spokane.
Manito Pond 

Manito Pond

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Manito Pond, oil on panel, 24 x 36 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017

Another work in progress, getting ready for my Spokane show.
Above The Falls 

Above The Falls

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Above The Falls, oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017

The dynamic Spokane River, w/ Post Street Bridge and Monroe Street Bridge in the background. This painting was worked up very quickly, with loose gestural strokes over a preliminary grid. I wanted the brushwork to seem as if it were just danced onto the surface, like the spontaneity and rhythm of the river itself.
Old Haunt 2 

My Old Haunt 2

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My Old Haunt 2, oil on panel, 18 x24 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017

A small reprise of a subject from my last show in Spokane. The Red Lion Tavern was an old haunt, one that goes back to my teens, when you could hang out in the bbq food concession if you were underage.
Latah Creek 

Near The Mouth Of Latah Creek

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This painting represents Latah Creek near where it runs into the Spokane River. To the west is Highbridge Park, also known as People's Park. The Spokane Plateau can be seen in the background, and just around the bend is the sleepy community of Vinegar Flats.
Near The Mouth Of Latah Creek, oil on panel, 36 x 24 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017

Some Works From My Upcoming Spokane Show, Group 2

Monroe St. Bridge 3 

Monroe Street Bridge 3

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Monroe Street Bridge 3, oil on panel, 24 x 36 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017

Most of these works in progress have been rotating, sometimes to easel II, sometimes to easel III. A painting is developed overall, without trying to finish one part and then the next. One tries to keep the whole thing moving towards a unified goal. Just so, an exhibition is ushered along in the same way, without finishing one painting and then the next. This is the only way to create a unified body of work.
Little Spokane 

Somewhere On The Little Spokane River (Work In Progress)

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Somewhere On The Little Spokane River, oil on canvas, 18 x 36 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017
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Little Spokane Apunté, oil on panel, 8 x 8 inches, copyright ©2017
Duncan Gardens 

Duncan Gardens (Work In Progress)

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Duncan Gardens, oil on canvas, 34 x 44 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017
Another painting in the Manito Park series, this one of Duncan Gardens, a beautiful formal garden with a fountain at its center.

This was begun on a canvas that had already been used for another painting, one that I was never happy with and which had remained unresolved. I rarely do this, unless I want some pre-made paint texture to fight against, as was the case in this work.

Fountain (Duncan Gardens)

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Fountain (Duncan Gardens), oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017
Fountain (Duncan Gardens) focuses on the fountain itself, with an intimate grouping of park goers. It's painted on bass wood panel, and like the larger Duncan Gardens, the composition plays symmetry off of contrapuntal natural rhythms.
Main Nocturne 

Main Nocturne (Work In Progress)

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Main Nocturne, oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches, work in progress copyright ©2017
Main Nocturne is another work in progress, and represents the view from Division Street looking west on Main Avenue. I'm working on bass wood panel, and at first put a thin imprimatura of gray-red and gray-blue, and will work the painting up from there. In some ways this is a revisiting of Night And The City, a nocturne of Riverside Avenue. Whereas Night… was more garish and neon filled, Nocturne is more subtle.

Currently on Easel I

Plaza Guemes: A Work in Progress

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Plaza Guemes, Buenos Aires, oil on canvas, 76 x 96 inches, work in progress, copyright ©2014
"Plaza Guemes, Buenos Aires" is a large painting based on a much smaller study that I did when visiting Argentina in 2008. Plaza Guemes is a public square in the Palermo Viejo district, not far from where I was staying in Buenos Aires. It is surrounded by fine restaurants, open air cafés, galleries, luxury high-rises, a few examples of old Spanish architecture, Internet cafés and on the west end the beautiful old church Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. I spent a few weeks painting in the plaza, taking morning coffee at Café Pinot. While I painted I was surrounded by crowds of people, many of them students from the parochial school on the other side of the church.

As I worked on the study, some people from the nearby condominiums would sit on the benches in front of me, in hopes that they would be included in my painting. One of these willing models was a Policia Federal, who did not make it into the study, but will be included in the large version. In the foreground is a pile of teenagers, lying on the pavement and enjoying the sun. On the benches are an old man that had posed for the study, a woman weeping, an art student from the nearby school, a woman resting with her dog, a street urchin tying his shoe, and others. On the far right is a young man, probably a student, that earns his living by walking dogs in the neighborhood. There are children playing in the playground in the background, and many other citizens engaging in leisurely social display. All of this is enveloped by the stately jacaranda and plane trees.

The large painting began with the study and an elaborate photomontage. I drew the cartoon rapidly, squared up from the montage, without spending a lot of time on detail. The lay-in was begun at the top, simply because of the logistics of working a painting this size; the canvas sits on the floor so that I can reach that portion. Once I have the lay-in far enough along on the upper half, I'll set the canvas on the easel and work the lower half.

More images of this work will be posted as it progresses.
Here is an image taken alongside my skeleton "Bonaparte," to give a sense of scale:
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Bonaparte with work in progress.
The study, painted in Buenos Aires, 2008.
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Plaza Guemes Study, oil on canvas, 23 x 31 inches, © 2008
My palette for the lay-in phase.
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My standard palette: french ultramarine, cerulean blue, viridian, alizarin, burnt umber, burnt sienna, venetian red, cadmium red medium, cadmium orange, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium lemon, titanium white.
My Apple display, where I can zoom in and out on the montage and other photo references for Plaza Guemes, Buenos Aires.
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Work Product 
Additional montages and other work product.
These images represent alternate groupings and poses. There is a somewhat random quality to the interaction of people in a public square, as well as a deeper dance with fate. After all, this is where love is found!
Google Earth 
Here is a Plaza Guemes screen-capture from Google Earth. I've included Google Earth coordinates in a kmz file.

Currently on Easel III

Recent Snohomish Valley

Snohomish Valley, End Of Summer 

Snohomish Valley, Early Morning Late May (Work In Progress)

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Snohomish Valley, Early Morning Late May, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches, work in progress copyright ©2016
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Snohomish Valley Study – Greens, oil on canvas, 11 x 16 inches, copyright ©2014
This is a subject that I’ve returned to many times. This current iteration was begun in late June, and is painted over another work that I was dissatisfied with. I rarely do that, preferring to work on a fresh canvas, but I did not have one at the ready, and also wanted to obliterate the painting that had earned my disdain.

This represents three or four sessions, starting with a lay-in that captures the big light effect, I’ve developed the image further over the coming days, with an eye toward building up sufficient impasto to obviate any future pentimenti from the older painting.

The painting has undergone changes as the days have changed over the course of the summer, with the grasses getting dryer and the trees growing thinner and beginning to shade into fall colors. The final state, still in progress, resulted from an early morning visit in late May.

The smaller painting that accompanies this post is an earlier, slightly different study of the same hills, trees and fields.
No Trespassing 

No Trespassing (Work In Progress)

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No Trespassing, oil on canvas, 33.5 x 39.25 inches, work in progress copyright ©2016
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No Trespassing plein air setup.
This is a painting that I’m currently working on site, at the Snohomish Valley viewpoint. We are looking west on an unused Department of Transportation right of way, with gate chained shut and marked no trespassing. There is a red road sign that has no icon or instruction, and the entire fence, sign and the right of way itself seem in danger of being completely overtaken by nature. It reminds me of Sartre’s description of foliage waiting to envelope the abandoned town in his novel ‘Nausea.’

No Trespassing: I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that even if there is a sign and a fence barring entry, one’s eyeballs can penetrate the prohibited space, and go dancing and gamboling about like birds on a wing. One can inhale the colors and textures through the organs of sight, like forbidden fruits stolen from a farmer’s field.

This photo was taken after the second session. The painting is being brought up gradually, with the slow articulation of leaf forms and shadows where the brambles of blackberries entangle the left side of the painting. I may emphasize even more the static banding of gray-blue and gray-purple of the sky.

One can often see wildlife at this location; hawks, deer, eagles, garter snakes, wrens, red-winged blackbirds, crows and finches. On the day that this photo was taken I saw a small lizard, which I almost mistook for a twig. It was a fence-sitting lizard, so-called because they are often seen sunning on fence posts. It is the only indigenous lizard in the area, hence easy to identify.



The paintings on this page represent works-in-progress and new works. They are presented with various state photographs, sometimes with accompanying work product and sketches.

William E. Elston

aritst/owner: the art of painting
William E. Elston is a professional artist and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest. He has exhibited for over 40 years, and has works in numerous public and private collections.




William E. Elston

aritst/owner: the art of painting
William E. Elston is a professional artist and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest. He has exhibited for over 40 years, and has works in numerous public and private collections.