Oil Painting en plein air



Posted on 05/27/2014 at 10:14am

Before our journey to France this July, we invited the guests joining us this year for a “Van Gogh lunch”, to meet their fellow travelers and discuss the details of the journey as well as have a show and tell of plein air painting supplies we will use while traveling.

Lunch table is set

Lunch table is set


Demonstration of Plein Air painting

Demonstration of Plein Air painting


Artist, Sharon Rusch Shaver

Artist, Sharon Rusch Shaver


Garden House View

Garden House View


Initial Sketch

Initial Sketch












On the pleasant spring day, after a delicious lunch on the pavilion of California Tuna Toss Salad (recipe follows),  and fresh Mango Almond dessert, we set up our painting supplies, and the artists worked and watched as I demonstrated my simple techniques for painting plein air in the lower garden in front of the small brightly painted garden house. Plein air painting is fun and is something that all artists should try. It can be frustrating at times as the light changes so quickly, however any ability to capture some special moment in time on canvas should never be undervalued. It is a joy that is rarely matched in the world of painting.  If you wish to join us on this upcoming journey to Arles, France, or perhaps one that we are planning in the future, please fill out the contact form on this newsletter and let me know your interests in traveling with artists. We look forward to sharing these joy-filled moments with you!

Garden House, Oil on Linen 2014 SRS

Garden House, Oil on Linen 2014 SRS


California Tuna Toss

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 med. Tomato diced

2 Tbsp Capers

1/2 cup tightly packed chopped Parsley

2 cloves crushed Garlic

1 small can sliced Black Olives (or other good Olives sliced)

1 large can White Tuna packed in water, drained

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

Cook 8 oz. Rotine Pasta according to Package directions (do not rinse)

add hot pasta to bowl, top with

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

Mix well,  serve on washed sliced Romaine lettuce with  extra cheese for topping












Posted on 03/24/2014 at 9:18am

I have a small works show coming up and  I do not work small, however I am so glad I decided to give it a go. Plein air is something that I have always enjoyed as a painter, but doing it on the spur of the moment is not always quick and easy with supplies to set up and take down. The sun was setting quickly this warm, early spring day, and I really wanted to capture the evening light from the shadowed creekbed at the edge of our property.  Quickly, I put on a few of my favorite oil colors that I thought would be perfect to use on my wooden palette. I did not want to take the time to set up an easel, so I decided it was time to try something new. I grabbed my linen canvas that I had already glued to foam-core, and I took one of my old paint brushes and attached it to the back like a lollipop. I held my paper towels, palette, several brushes and canvas lollipop, (put through the palette Sharon Rusch Shaver Lollipop Method copyright 2014 SRSthumb hole) with one hand, and had my painting-hand free to do the work. I stood and painted quickly before the light was gone. Because there was no setup time when I got to the spot, I was able to begin to work immediately, and the take down was just a walk back to my maison. Excellent for quick studies of light and shadow late in the day when time is of the essence. I will surely use my lollipop method again for working small!

Heading to France to paint this summer, join us! adventure-artists.com


Posted on 03/28/2013 at 9:46pm

Two of my paintings were selected to be exhibited in a Celebration of “Women Painting Women” for Women’s History Month. The exhibit is being held at the Customs House Museum  in Clarksville, Tennessee. The Exhibit will be up from March 7th to May 12th, 2013. A full-color catalog of the exhibit is available by contacting the Museum. (931-648-5780) or (www.customshousemuseum.org) Twenty-six works of art by thirteen different artists are represented in this show. Both of the paintings I have on exhibit in this show were executed from photographs taken while on one of my exciting journeys for artists, writers, and explorers. City Ride 2  24




This painting is of a woman in Paris, France riding her bicycle in a roundabout dressed in a skirt and high heels. She is a confident young woman, and I wanted to do a painting that had the same energy that I felt when I saw her maneuvering through one of the busiest sections of road in the beautiful city. Paris gives such a powerful feeling to my spirit, and I have another journey planned for this fall.



This painting of two young lovers was also from a photograph I took close to the Louvre Museum in Paris. He is already starting to fade from her mind. If you look closely at the painting, you can see hints of a crowd of people behind the couple as well, but they are in a world apart as their relationship is ending.


These are both paintings from my Figurative Series of work. I enjoy painting people. My extensive career, not only as a figurative painter but also as a portrait artist for many years, has made my life such a blessing. I have always enjoyed painting genre paintings.  Norman Rockwell was my teacher many years ago when I was learning my way as an artist. I studied his paintings carefully and tried to emulate his talent in my work before I new my own.


Posted on 11/09/2011 at 11:52am

Oil on Canvas 20″x16″ Sharon Rusch Shaver Copyright 2011

Walking into the Hollow this late fall morning I notice the silence. No leaves rustling or crickets singing, not a sound. Hiking the leaf strewn path alone, up the short incline that leads into the woods, I stop, turn around, and look back at the view. Steep moss-covered rocks grace both sides of the entrance to the hollow where I had entered. The sunlight glistens on the colorful wet leaves that have fallen into the creek, and this all has given me the strange knowing I get when I have found the place to paint my next painting. I can already see it completed. I set down my backpack filled with my painting supplies, set up my easel, attach my 16″x20″ linen canvas, squeeze large amounts of oil paint from tubes onto my palette, and grab my widest painting knives to quickly lay-in my new composition. I glanced at the time, 11:31am November 7th, 2011. The time changed yesterday, and the Hollow already looks different today than it did the last week I was here.

Time and place mean nothing to me. I will carry out what I came here to do. Capture this moment, and light, in a place called Taylor Hollow. I try not to think about how long it will take me. This is automatic to me now. I remember to take a time to make the internal connection with the unseen ones, who I know are always with me, and ask for their guidance when I am working. If I forget them, especially when I get frustrated and feel as if I am making a big mess, not a great painting, I stop again, and think for a moment about them surrounding me, waiting to help. They always can calm me if I will let them. All my fear slips away, I hear them whispering to me, “Just keep working Sharon!” I have noticed when they are talking to me, they always use my name.

Oil on Canvas 16″x20″ Sharon Rusch Shaver Copyright 2011

There, I am finished. Anymore time spent will be overworking it. Knowing when to stop is crucial to a successful painting. Check the time again. 12:40pm November 7th, 2011. I pack up my things, carefully put my heavy backpack on my back, and put my easel over my shoulder. In one hand I carry my palette, and in the other hand, I carry the just completed very wet painting. I begin my long hike back out of the Hollow. Carefully stepping so not to slip on the wet rocks. I pause for a moment, turn back to look at the spot where I had just been, listening, to the still silence in the dappled sunlit place I have been so busy at work in, and suddenly a question pops into my mind. “What will be the legacy of your life?” For a moment my emotions well up inside of me, as extreme feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, and impatience with myself, fill my thoughts. Tears well up in my eyes, but before I have too much time to wallow in circumspection, a very interesting, large, grey-brown squirrel with a white face and ears, not noticing me at all, walks right across the very spot where I had just spent the last hour working very hard on this painting.

Squirrel Photo SRS Copyright 2011

I watch as he continues on his way, as I too now will do, taking with me yet another interpretation of this place Taylor Hollow, his home.

Last week the colors of the leaves were much brighter, and there were many more of them still attached to the trees. This painting, was from the same spot in the creek, but I was looking in the opposite direction as the other two paintings.

Oil on Canvas 16″x20″ Sharon Rusch Shaver Copyright 2011

My studio is going to be on the Sumner County Studio Tour December 10th and 11th 2012 the link is http://sumnercountystudiotour.com.

Please let me know if you read my blog or would like to be on my announcements list. I am planning trips to Ireland and France for Artists, Writers, and Explorers in 2012, and I would love for you to join me!


Posted on 12/20/2010 at 2:29am

With an early snow already on the ground and icicles decorating the rooftops, I walk slowly around the frozen landscape and stop to listen to the rustling sound of the remaining seed pods on the mimosa tree as the cold north wind  blows with huge gusts. The sound always has reminded me of the pair of red castanets I would enjoy vigorously shaking to hear their rattling as a child. Working outdoors in the winter is always a challenge. My hands are freezing but the sun is quickly melting the snow  and it is changing what I am trying so hard to capture with my paint, so I work as fast as I possibly can with fingers that can barely move. A wonderful old Christmas carol, a favorite, fills this moment, “Oh Holy Night”. The powerful words with a full chorus of angels singing within the confines of my mind are as clear as the sounds of the seed pods I heard earlier, and now become my warmth and tenacity to finish. “Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth. The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn!”

Oil on Canvas 20"x16" 2010

I send my best wishes to everyone. I want to thank you for following my life as an artist and writer through reading and sharing this blog. May the New Year bring you much happiness and prosperity.


Posted on 11/26/2010 at 2:36am

The evening mist and gentle rain is settling in the Hollows of West Virginia. I sit by the warmth of a crackling fire as I look carefully at the painting I had almost completed before the days changes came. The vibrant color of yellows, golds and reds of the fallen leaves, blues and violets with touches of red and green in the hillsides, and the blue gray with white clouds filling the sky, are now so muted they can barely be called the colors they were a few hours ago when I painted them. Now just a hint remains to be seen of what there once was. Many hours ago as I collected my supplies and began to follow a leaf strewn dirt path on the edge of a slow moving river, I found a secret that may not be told much anymore. It is a forgotten story about what is left of this old road. I begin to notice lumps of coal strewn along its banks, no doubt having fallen from horse drawn wagons long ago. I set up and painted for an hour before the gentle rain began. I wanted to keep working a few more minutes but the rain is not stopping. I have a long way to walk back to my car, so I pack up my gear and also pick up a piece of the pitch black coal to bring back with me. I am in Monongah, the site of the largest mining disaster in the United States in 1907. The fire that started happened so fast, over 300 died in that mine. Only 4 men got out and they too quickly died of their injuries. The town is a shadow of what it once was during its mining days. Shuttered buildings still speak to the sadness that can still be felt. As I am heading out of the town I pass a statue to the heroines of that disaster, a woman in a long dress clutching a baby, and another child with its arms wrapped around her for safety because their husbands and fathers, will not be coming home. My painting, so quickly done during the changes of this day, is another grasp at time. Have I captured the feeling of November in the Hollows and could there possibly be echoes of forgotten voices filling my canvas?



Posted on 09/13/2010 at 4:47am

The Wilson County Fair in middle Tennessee is the fairest of all the local fairs. The grounds on which the fair occupies covers acres of land that transform once a year as the barns and other structures become filled with animals, horticulture, art, and all variety of music and side shows that people young and old journey to enjoy every August for one week. This year, I woke to an idea of going alone one day to paint at the fair before the crowds had arrived. It was a typical hot August day and I wondered if this was just a crazy idea. When I arrived the gates were open and I walked in unnoticed with my equipment. I headed straight for the midway and decided that the shade of an unoccupied food stand with two operating fans could make my time painting more bearable, so I set up and completed this painting. I talked to several of the workers who were preparing for the opening that evening and they told me that they had never seen any one painting at the fair before. I photographed and later added to the painting a couple holding hands, who I assume were transient workers as they headed back from the showers on the grounds. They had a long hot day and night ahead of them and I wondered about the life they had chosen and was glad they had each other to share it.

Oil on Canvas 20"x16"

Fiddlers Grove takes you back in time at the fair. The historic old log buildings that have been donated and brought there from farms all over the county to preserve them at this location has the atmosphere of an old country village. When I arrived in the afternoon it was shady and cool in the Grove. I heard music being played and followed after it to find this group of three men playing their instruments for no one in particular. I enjoyed listening to their bluegrass music and stories they were telling about the instruments they had come to love as I painted them.

Oil on Canvas 11"x14"

Later on that day I walked to the midway and set up to do another painting as the crowds began to arrive. A  young boy watched me intently as I worked. I turned and looked back at him and I thought I was seeing double. I asked him, is he your twin? He said “Yes, we have the same birthday, 8 so far, we are in the same grade in school, and my Mom dresses us the same way.” Then he asked me, “How did you learn to paint so good?” I told him,  ” I started painting when I was very young, and never have stopped doing it. No one has ever really taught me. I could do it as soon as I tried to, and it just got easier and faster with practice.”

Oil on Canvas 16"x20"

My next painting was the last one I did at this years fair. I decided to set up in the animal house where the chickens and other foul are housed and juried for the first, blue ribbon,  second,  red,  and third, which is the white ribbon.  There is very wide variety of sizes, colors and shapes of chickens, duck, geese and turkeys and the sounds that they make are very interesting to hear and I wonder if any of them understand what they are saying. I am sure they were complaining about the heat, but who is to say. The clucking and crowing was endless as I painted. The oppressive odor in this building is difficult to describe, but leave it to say, it made me hurry to finish my painting. I wanted to add children as they were looking at the birds so I photographed several as they went by and chose this little girl and her father as he introduced her unwillingly to look more closely at them.

Oil on Canvas 11"x14"

I was so happy to be able to capture my impressions on canvas.  Please let me know your thoughts about my work and feel free to share this blog with your internet friends and family.  My joy is made so much greater by giving it wings.


Posted on 08/31/2010 at 9:31pm

Painting at public events is so much fun for me. I can set up almost anywhere in a matter of minutes and then I am quite oblivious to anyone or anything around me. I will work for a couple of hours but it seems like only minutes have gone by. Although people around me will sometimes want to talk to me about what I am doing, I can carry on fairly well in conversation and keep right on working. Summer is a great time to go to outdoor concerts and I have recently started to do paintings while I am at them. When I arrive people will notice me as I set up, but then they will just check on the progress every half hour or so and comment on how quickly I can get the painting to begin to look like something recognizable. If I capture the feeling of the day, the heat, the crowd, the stage, I really enjoy the time I have spent. I sometimes go back to my studio to do a little bit of touch up work on the piece, but most of the painting is finished. These are some examples of recent concerts from 2010. The first is Cleveland, Ohio where I set up at the Cleveland Museum of Art grounds and painted during an evening concert of an all woman band playing some really great rock and roll music. I don’t know how people can sit so still with that beat playing. A little girl next to me started to dance and I was happy to join with her! She smiled as she danced and I am sure she could tell I have that same dancing spirit hanging out in me.

Oil on Canvas 14"x11"

This painting is of the Nashville Museum grounds at Cheekwood during the Chihuly Exhibit. I enjoyed painting by the small lake that contained several of his illuminated floating sculptures as Joan Baez music filled the evening air. No one danced during this one. Not even me.

Oil on Canvas 11"x14"

The last painting was late in the evening a couple of weeks ago. I painted in the town of Hendersonville at the site of the Art Council  at Monthaven, The crowd was small, but the music was done on interesting sounding percussion instruments that made me smile and tap my foot a little.

Oil on Canvas 11"x14"


Posted on 06/20/2010 at 8:02pm

Sharon Rusch Shaver

Setting up to paint in the hall of my friends home in Wartrace , TN was exciting for me. In the morning I had awoken at the crack of dawn to a dark and rainy day so I set up to paint from the cover of the garage. The view of the distant hills and faded red barns and silos was very inspiring I knew once I got started the painting would go well. Later that day, after a swim in the salt water pool, I asked if I could set up to paint inside the old historic victorian mansion. I chose a view of the front entrance as seen from the stairs. The darkened room I set up to paint in was just perfect for the light I was wanting to capture en plein air in this painting session. Less than an hour into it lunch was suggested and when i returned to the painting I did a little more to the composition but most of it was spot on, as my British friend would say.


Posted on 04/29/2010 at 6:05pm

The rooster was hopping all over the place and I finally got  the background painted and he jumped up on his stump just as the sunlight changed. I love having them around. The sounds they make all day long are so much fun  to hear. If you talk to them they will make sounds back to you.

Painting in early spring in the back yard of my house I was inspired to once again use my knives to do this painting.


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