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Sunshine Day Dream: Day 3

June 18, 2014 by admin
Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake

How many times have you taken a trip arriving after dark, and the next day when the sun comes up the world that lays before you is nothing like what was there when the lights were out?

The Publisher’s Invitational is tucked away at the lovely Paul Smith College in the Adirondacks of New York, with it’s campus taking up much of the Lower St Regis Lake. A beautiful setting that I neglected to actually photograph today. I will make sure I take some shots around the area, even better, I will paint a few pictures and maybe you can get a better sense of its charm.

Cruising the windy roads took much of the day, along with check-in and orientation… and then trying to say hello to the 199 artists gathered here from all corners of America. What a great idea, 100 artists of all levels just here to paint. No workshops, no competitions, no pressure. Just relax and take in the land as only the plein air artist can.

I painted in two locations today, one was along a railroad bridge over a waterway connecting Lake Clear with something on the other

Lake Clear

Lake Clear

side… I had no idea and unlike the fisherman who put in right beside me. I think he knew this area like the back of his hand. He spent almost an hour there getting his kayak and all it’s gear ready for a the day on the lakes.

After checking I headed just around the corner to “The Vic” short for Paul Smiths “Visitor Interpretive Road Trip Day 3 028Center” which is a large area of woods, and wetlands with boardwalks and trails through the countryside. After spending much of the day in the bright sunshine, I took advantage of the shade of the Adirondack forest and painted from within. On Wednesday I believe all the artists are expected to come and paint on the grounds.

I had been told/warned ahead of time, but without actually experiencing it one cannot actually believe it… and taht is the flying insects. Incredible!

The VIC

The VIC

Sunshine Daydream: Day 2 New York

June 17, 2014 by admin
Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

Was it the thrill of getting out early on the road today that got me up before the 5:55 AM alarm, or maybe it was too much fried food from fast food joints on Sunday? Either way, it was not the best night sleep, but the bed was comfy, and the coffee was hot.

Today I was venturing into untraveled territory. I had never been to Pennsylvania or New York and I was excited about them both. The trip along I-90 was going to take me near the Niagara Falls, and how could one be so close to such an iconic symbol without going there?

Having never been there before, getting there early on a Monday seemed like the perfect time. I was one of the 1st cars in the “satellite” parking lot, and once the parking attendants were paid their $5 they were as nice and helpful as can be. I loaded up my gear and quickly set out in the same direction everyone else was going.

Lemmings I tell you!

I had forgotten that any and every place in the U.S. of A. and probably the world, that when there are popular attractions that draw

always a cause

always a cause

people from across the land, there are the requisit protestors or demonstrators. You never know in what form they will be, loud and violent, silent and passive? Every walk of life seems to have a cause they want noticed by everyone else, and these places are perfect for finding a captive audience. Today group was one of my favs, they said not a word, only sat pensively with their signs in strange yoga, or terra cotta poses. I’m for whatever they are doing!

I love painting in crowded places, I love the people and the spectacle of it all. Maybe I am similar to those advocates, only my cause is art… though looking at some of my paintings you might argue that.

I only went in to the site far enough to get what I thought was an interesting angle of the falls.

Among my 83 canvases were 16 that are being “revamped”, what I mean is old paintings I just don’t like for whatever reason. They have reminded me of their inability to be good art long enough and there was only 1 direction for them, and that was up… I hoped.

I toned a number of them in a warm neutrel color, but a few I didn’t have time to, so this I just turned upside down so that it wouldn’t throw my composition too far off.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

I like parts of the Falls painting, but I know I would like to get back there a few more times and hone some of these skills down. I’ve painted falls before, but not of this magnitude.

Many asked to take my picture, and take a picture of them with me and the painting, all fun. I met people from all over this country and a few other countries. An art teacher from West Virginia stopped to visit a bit

Margaret, and puppy

Margaret, and puppy

and had some good questions on the outdoor process. I hope I sparked enough couriosity in her that she might get outdoors and try it. I believe her name was Marilyn, maybe Margaret, but she had a nice German Shepard/Husky puppy that was a bit shy when it came to photgraphing.

On my way to New York I stopped at a rest stop in Pennsylvania and spoke with a friendly woman from the visitors center who suggested an area on the Southeastern part of Lake Ontario that I might enjoy.

Well why not!

Off the beaten path again, traveling on a scenic little road that wound along the edge of the Great Lake. The formations were formed by the glaciers a gazillion years ago, and the winds have honed them to what we now see in the Chimney Bluff State Park in New York.Road Trip Day 2 077 This was totally the opposite of painting in one of america’s most seen attractions. This was an out of the way beach in an out of the way part of the country. This is where one could really lose themselves into a painting and never come out of. This might have happened except for a heavy rain that swooshed in like the wind. I scrambled to put my camera, phone and

 Chimney Bluffs of Ontario


Chimney Bluffs of Ontario

billfold in a plastic bag, threw it in my backpack, then tossed that under my easel for added protection and went back to painting.

One should carry a waterproof bag for these occasions, but you can’t always remember everything. The rain went away, the sun came back out and with the winds it wasn’t long before I was dried back out.

Again I used an old canvas and really like this painting, most of it. I like the composition and there are many things I find working in it, but toning down the cliffs might be the thing that makes this piece really work.

The painting today was a good break to the monotony of driving. I purposely drove extra long on day 1 so that if the opportunity presented itself for me to get out and paint I could do so and still make Paul Smith College on time.

No problem.

Oh, just as an added note, I thought was a bit “curious”. On day 1 on the way up I played the Beatles “Abbey Road” album in it’s entirety. I don’t remember when I last did this, but it’s been a long long time. The song “The End” was what most thought was the end of the album. “Her Majesty” was there after the automatic needle arm picked up so you never heard it. Any way when walking from the parking lot to Niagra Falls I saw there carved on the wall along the way were John Lennon’s beautiful words from the song “The End”…

Karma?

"The End"

“The End”

Sunshine Daydream: Day 1

June 16, 2014 by admin

Well I’ve started the little contest on guessing the final mileage of my road trip, I figure why just go half the way? I’m blogging about

"honey do's"

“honey do’s”

who knows what anyway, it might as well be the road trip.

It officially got going today, though there has been much leading up to the trip that really shouldn’t go without mention. If you are going to be gone from home for a length of time, there is a lot of “honey-do’s” that need to be done. Actually if you could do some extra special things around the house that would help your ever dwindling stock value.

Buying supplies is another thing. In many of my destinations there won’t be art supply stores around so “stock up” while you can. Hopefully you’ve been using those coupons at your local art supply store wisely!

When you have a sweetheart that is as supportive of me as my lovely wife is, you do not take things for granted. It’s hard to be happy if your spouse isn’t, so this is #1 in any and every case, at home or going

Love you, I won't be long.

Love you, I won’t be long.

abroad.

My “paint-mobile”, a 2003 minivan is my vehicle of choice. I believe it was a couple years ago I replaced the engine in it after a road trip, and last year replaced most of the front end. This year I’m hoping all that pays off. One never wants the distraction of auto failure to take away from your journey. You’ve got plenty enough to think about, do NOT need to worry whether the tire will fall off, or that hiccuping engine means much of anything.

I loaded my van up with paints, brushes, canvases and frames. I know I will not come close to using all of these canvases in this trip, but I believe it is better to have too many in this case, than not enough.

83 canvases, 5lbs of trail mix

83 canvases, 5lbs of trail mix

I packed 83 canvases of various sizes into my paint-mobile for my mission!

I arranged everything in a manner that was easy to get to, my 5lb bag of varies trail mixes courtesy of Susie and my thoughtful son Miles, Ipods, GPS, notepad… I’m good to go.

“By Suz”, I’ll keep in touch, without texting and driving of course. (this is frowned upon in many circles I hear)

…and I’m off!

There we go! Driving in most cases is uneventful, and that is pretty much how we want that part to be. I did see an armadillo on I-70 between Blackwater and Rocheport, Missouri. I didn’t think they had come this far North, but surprise surprise.

I love cruising the highways with the windows down and the  music turned up. Just something about it, doesn’t matter the

my F-4 phantom cockpit

my F-4 phantom cockpit

temperature, if it’s above 70 I’ve got the wind blasting through the paint-machine along with my tunes.

There are periods where I turn the music completely off and just observe, think, ponder. Not ponder as much as Joseph Loganbill, but I do have my moments. I spend a good amount of hours just trying to figure out what color something is, and how in the world could I make it out of my 4 tubes of paint.

I have my note pad attached to the dashboard for notes on focal points, and values… don’t forget to think “simple!” This I always forget.

Well, so much for the 1st day. No painting, but I did get to a good starting point for day 2. It’s a long trip, I hope to post daily. Maybe I will, if I don’t it could be I’ve run off the road and the paint-mobile is in the fork of a red oak tree, or maybe I’ve been sequestered by the king of plein air himself and requested not to disclose the secret handshake to anyone, or I maybe just too tired from another day of working in the fields and forests.

Thanks for listening, now get out and paint a picture… pass it on!

Going Where the Wind Goes

Going Where the Wind Goes

 

Timing is everything

May 7, 2014 by admin

When Mom and Dad were quietly talking to themselves over in the Den with a desk of paperwork, maybe bills. Is this when you interupted and ask for a bigger allowance? How about when your waitress has a tray of food she is delivering to the table next to you, is this when you try to get your water filled?

Timing is essential in all aspects of life, you just gotta know when and where you can tell the “Yo Mama” joke. Timing!

I was recently taking part in a 11 day painting competition in the wine country along the Missouri River and found that had I put a little more thought into what I was doing, the outcome might have been different.

"In the Out Door"

“In the Out Door”

We were painting at a very popular winery in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Families and couples gallore were all over the place taking part in the festivities. There were newlyweds, sightseers, conniseurs milling about the entire area, and about 130 artists setup throughout the grounds painting everything from the marvelous view, to the guests themselves. I arrived a little late and began squeezing my way through the crowds looking for that which only you know when you see it. I really had no idea what I was going to paint, I was just looking.

Then I saw it, I looked around to see if any other artists were painting or looking at the same thing, but no just me. What I was looking at was a beautiful little scene of light and dark abstract shapes. Some great angles cutting across the scene and no one was painting it! Quickly I’d say withing 5 minutes I had my easel up, and my paints out ready to go.

What I was looking at was through an old wooden door where which led into the kitchen, where all the food and servers were scurryinig back and forth preparing for the afternoon meal. The light was at a great angle, and there were stone steps, and cast shadows. All very visually interesting… to me. Maybe not so much for the tourists who came to see a beautiful winery, maybe take home a piece of art of the occasion.

There was a table full of Germans who were every now and then saying something about the painting as it progressed. There are only a few words of German I know and I did not hear them… luckily. I really enjoyed painting it, and I thought it turned out great.  But my timing of letting what inspired me got in the way of being in the final winning count. What did win and sell were some beautiful landscapes of the view, and scenes of the people enjoying themselves at the winery.

We had another competition a couple days later, this time at the old Daniel Boone Farm near Defiance. I won 2nd place here the previous year and really enjoyed the place. It would take a lifetime or two to paint all the wonderful things here at this place. I found an out of the way spot and painted a wonderful little painting of a neighboring farmstead with the light hitting it just right.

When judging came around the winner… drumroll please… was a nice little painting of an old wooden building with light showing between the boards.

Jeez Louise, didn’t I just paint that at the Vineyard and walked away with nothing?

The juror went on to say how it exemplified what they and the sponsoring college were looking for, and how it represented the Daniel Boone Farm to a “T”. (okay I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea eh?)

Timing! Had I waited to be caught by the old wood and light to this day I might had stood a better chance of “bringing home the bacon,”  but no I do the rustic at the winery, and the charming at the historic farmstead.

Both times I went with my gut insinct and painted what I wanted, and what interested me at that time. When I paint I look for something that excites me visually, and stirs my senses. This is not always what the judge and jury want to put on their walls or honor for your efforts. You need to know why you are doing, kind of going back to my last blog of “You Can’t Please Everyone” are you out there trying to learn, improve, make a living? Sometimes they don’t all go together, and those rare occasions that they do, that is indeed time for celebration.

You can study all you want, the jurors, the event, the sponsors, play that game, or you can do what you want. Be the artist that you say you are and just paint what you want, throw it up and see where it lands. If you are good enough you’ll do just fine.

…but just in case don’t slam the event in the title of your painting, that’s rarely to your benefit!

"Boones Farm Whine"

“Boones Farm Whine”

 

 

I don’t paint for “Fun”

December 17, 2013 by admin

Recently I did a little challenge on Facebook involving artists from around the world. It was not for money or any sort of prize, no fame or glory, no accolades from the high end galleries on 5th Avenue. It was artists on every level taking part in something just for fun. The response was good, and some wonderful paintings were created and sent in. Almost all of those I spoke or messaged with thought it a great idea, and something along these lines should be done again.

And then there were a few of the others… not the artists who were traveling had a million other things that had to be done and were putting them off because more important things kept coming up. No, I’m talking about that other % of people that see things that are fun as a waste of time.

Are you an artist? If so, at what point in your professional career does the fun leave your work?

Why is it you paint, or better yet, let’s step back a few years. Quite a few for some of us.

Why did you ever decide to pick up a paint brush, or pen and ink and begin to create? Is it something you did on your own, or more something that you had to do along with the rest of the kids?

To some a blank piece of paper made a better paper airplane than it did a place to make a picture, but for me I found drawing a lot of fun. Something that was easilyRGS Circa 1977small picked up, always got good responses from other people, except from the teacher when I was supposed to be paying attention, and it gave me something to do whenever I was grounded and had to stay in my room. This was maybe one of my first ways to escape the here and now was through my art, and enter the world of my imagination.

Not everyone likes art, that’s a given. But what about those of us who do like art, and are good at it and making our career at it. Do we like it? Do we enjoy the act of creation? I do, but then I’m the kind of guy who likes just about everything, (except stewed tomatoes, yech!) And if I don’t like something, I still make the best of whatever it is. I have heard many say that the simpler minded people enjoy life much more than most because they don’t have the worries and questions that the more educated have.

Is this true? Maybe so.

I see a number of people totally miserable in their lives because they are not content. They are not content with what they have, and question incessantly. Learning is a wonderful thing, but for me I find if something gets in the way of my being happy, go around it, and if that’s not possible, make the best of it.

smile

smile

I’ve always been a “happy go lucky” type of personality, but real peace did not come to me till I fell face first into “AA”. Here I learned this helpful little prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr… “Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference”.

For me, this has been a lifesaver and helps me enjoy life as I can. My wife Susie tells me on occasion that “at our age, we have earned the right to enjoy life to it’s fullest!” I’m kind of paraphrasing, but maybe you get the drift.

While mentoring under Rick Howell he made it clear that on occasion you don’t have to look at a subject and evaluate it along the same lines as your gallery would. Deciding whether it would translate well as a large corporate work, or it fits in your gallery. Every once in a while you just need to paint something for fun, because you want to, the way you want to.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

I feel very fortunate to have spent my entire adult life in the field of art, doing something I enjoy. Whether you are or not it does not keep you from trying to make each and every moment on earth enjoyable for yourself or for others.  My 10 years as Cubmaster gave to me a credo that I live by and you may well know it too… “KISMIF” say it with me, “Keep It Simple, Make it Fun”

Maybe I will never be a “serious” artist, and if it’s a serious artist I must be, then you can have it. Because though I do take art seriously, I will do so with a smile   🙂

cambridge 106 007-001

 

 

Heavy Metal Thunder

December 3, 2013 by admin

Not the normal sound one hears as they paint the countryside.

I would like to think I am a very cautious man. For instance, in the world of power tools I always use every precaution and if a safety device is not functioning I will just not use it.

I always wear a seat belt, don’t even think about it, it’s just what should be done. This might just be smart, heck with cautious… I don’t keep my passwords and pin numbers in the same place as my account numbers. What about you?

So what about painting? Me, I’m an artist who paints primarily outdoors on site.  I would like to think that I am careful on my outings. This is something that maybe the studio artist need not worry about so much, though I know there are many inherent dangers to painting within the confines of those 4 walls. But when coming back from a trip to South Central Nebraska I told of the location of one of the paintings and was quickly informed that I had to be crazy, and that had he seen me painting there that he would have taken that opportunity to “run my ass over”.

Maybe he had it in for just me, and not all artists… I hope.

I had gone to this location suggested to me by a friend the day before. It was the Little Blue River near Pauline Nebraska. The sun was quickly getting lower with the light from the late autumn sun, and it being a week day, the traffic seemed to be pretty steady, but I parked along the highway and walked both sides of the bridge, and across looking for the best vantage point to paint. There was barbed wire fences at each end keeping me from getting down along the river, and the area between the road and the fence left a scene that I was not really that thrilled about.

Nebraska 089I left this location and drove South 5-10 miles when I saw the way the light was hitting an old barn in a cornfield  freshly turned so I pulled over, setup along the edge of the field maybe a good 20-25 feet off the highway and painted away.

The following day after chores, I was still drawn towards that location at the Little Blue River. I gathered up my gear and headed back to see if there was someway I could paint that little windy river.

I drove East bound on 74 past the bridge going over the river and turned around so as to park my car at the foot of the bridge just out of the West bound traffic lane. Keep in mind that Nebraska highway 74 is nothing like an interstate. Speed limit I believe was 60-65 mph through this little stretch, which is much better than the 75 mph on Interstate 80 just North of here. Traffic was much lighter than the day before, you could go 4-5 minutes without a vehicle coming by. I walked out to the center of the bridge and saw the same scene I saw yesterday that had really set the bug in me to paint this little area. I was looking North as this river wound it’s way down and around the countryside.

I decided this is where I would set up!

There was a good 6 maybe 8 feet from the edge of the road to the side of the bridge, and I thought this a safe enough amount of space to set up my easel and back up as I tend to do as I paint. I went back to my car and slightly angled it’s tail towards the road as we see the highway patrol do to give themselves a little more room as they write us a IMAG3972-1speeding citation. Turned on my emergency flashers and then carried my pack and canvas out to the center of the bridge.

I’m sure you’ve noticed this while walking along a road. First you hear it, gradually getting louder and louder, then you feel it as it comes by at 6o miles an hour, there is this amazing gust of wind, and then conversely a vacuum behind it that fills the void that it just left. It’s the heavy metal thunder that rolls across the highways and bi-ways keeping us in our daily goods. The last of the American cowboys, and they are the trucks and the truck drivers of world. Well I learned pretty quickly what things I needed to hold onto when a large semi came cruising by. This being in the great plains there is a pretty steady wind most of the time anyway, and you prepare for it. I have carabiners that I clip weights to my easel to help hold it in place, and bungie cord to hold me pallet down. But things did need to be secured each time a truck came by.

It really wasn’t too bad with mostly trucks hauling grain passing  on occassion. I would wave hello as the ones I was facing would go by before I had to grab things, local farmers and ranchers would wave and slow to see what I was doing, but none seemed to be out to get the crazy artist, or no one laid on their horn to let me know that I just wasn’t wanted in them parts.

I looked for some sort of bright orange safety cones before I left, and I know it’s a good idea if I do go buy something like this to keep in my car. Maybe some of those collapsing caution triangles they sell for setting up when changing tires. I was wearing a bright red hoodie as I often do, and it can be seen from a good distance. This is not the place I want to be wearing camouflage!

When I go out to paint and I see a scene that I really want to paint, I’ll do what it takes to paint that scene safely. I want to live to paint my masterpiece, and I know it’s IMAG3971going to be hard enough as it is, let alone having to do it from a hospital bed. If I thought I would be a hinderance to oncoming traffic, I would not have setup there. I have no problem painting from photographs, though I would much rather set up and paint on site, finish if I can, or at least get a good block in before taking something into the studio.

I have the utmost respect for other people, for farmers, for truckers, for everyone. I will not infringe upon them to create my art. If there is a fence, I don’t cross it, if it’s private property, I get permission. And if it’s blocking a 20,000 lb semi that is traveling 60+ mph down the highway, I am NOT going to make them be the one to decide whether or not they want to get out of the way!

Artists in general have a reputation of being a little quirky and odd, I don’t need to add “obstructions” to the list of adjectives they use to describe us. So stay safe, always be wareful of your surrounding because after all is said and done, we want to live to paint another day.Blue Hill Thanksgiving 041

 

Into the Drainage Ditch

November 19, 2013 by admin

Step outside your front door, how many times a day do you do this? A little, a lot? Why do you go out there? To check the mail, get the paper, go to your car and leave for work. There are other times you go out front to spend a bit of time there, maybe picking up things, raking the leaves, or visit with a neighbor on a nice day.

Drainage Ditch

Drainage Ditch

What do you see out there, or how do you see? Do you look at it with the same discerning eye that you use when you go looking for something to inspire you to paint? Are some of you saying “why would I need to go outside to get inspiration to paint?”  Ah, the poor studio artist who has not been hit by the plein air bug. (maybe it was the bugs that are keeping them inside, I can see that)

Me? My inspiration is provided by the great outdoors! It could be anything on any given day, but rarely do I look where I live for material to paint… I do my best to get quickly out of my neighborhood to find something! I live in the typical middle class neighborhood in a typical midwestern suburb. I’ve driven through suburbs around the country and they are all pretty much the same. Some are more quaint, others somewhat mundane, there are the sterile well-groomed neighborhoods that do not normally make the best subject material for gallery walls, and then the more rustic, more charming.

I do try to look for interesting possibilities in and around my stomping ground, though I never have actually set up my easel and begun painting, at least not till recently. An artist friend was doing a little challenge in his home town in Arkansas of painting 24 plein air paintings in 24 hours. (John P. Lasater IV) and some of the promoters, or maybe it was John who suggested other artists go out and paint a painting in an hour and send it in. Originally I wanted to do this there in Siloam Springs painting John painting, but time and circumstances did not allow this, so I took part in a paint out here locally and did a few paintings. One painting I did in an hour was at a lake and I did a time-lapse photography of the painting, ending up with a 30 second clip of my 1 hour painting.

On the 2nd day of John’s event I had little time to go looking, but I did want to do another, because I was not that thrilled with the painting from the day before. I had an idea, and it was close by my house, but could I do it? I mean, I had no problem painting in an hour, it’s the fact that this painting was going to be here in my own

in the ditch

in the ditch

neighborhood. My friends and neighbors, most who had no idea what I did for a living, were going to be able to see me out there painting.  It was to say the least an odd feeling. It’s much different from painting in a city street, or a park, or a painting competition. This is right there where you are going to have to go back and visit these people again, look them in the eye as you talk of the weather.

I have no idea why it feels odd painting there in your own front yard, it shouldn’t, it’s your own place, no one can make you leave. Maybe it’s that “don’t crap where you sleep” or “don’t date from your workplace” type thing? I know that’s kind of stretching it, but if you think about it…

I’m dragging this far too long, there are things to do, both you and I.

What I did, I drug my easel and my little intervelometer with camera equipment and headed to ditch that had caught my eye. Yes a ditch! A cement thing between the backyards that usually has a trickle of water running in it, plus an occasional ball that has been hit over a fence and never retrieved. It was the perfect little tunnel composition, and I know I was going to be quick because I intentionally set up just an hour before my favorite football team came on the air.

I was down just below street level with my easel set up in the slight stream of mossy green water. A perfect autumn day with the leaves just turning, and gathering along the edges out of the wind.

The painting went well, I managed to shoot a little time-lapse of the painting in progress, and got back to the house with only 5 minutes of the game missed. Football games are the perfect time for setting up the laptop and working on videos, organizing, marketing. I used this valuable time to put together my photos into a little  film clip, added an intro, some music and uploaded it to the world wide web. (view video of “Into the Drainage Ditch)

Not the YouTube sensation like dancing babies, or elephants painting portraits, but I was pleased with it. Plus I had finally broke that invisible force field that allowed me to paint in my own neighborhood. It’s still the same little area that it was before, kind of plain, but now I will adjust my eye a little bit to see things a bit differently, there is a beauty in everything, can we see it, and if we can, then capture it successfully.

Bob Bahr of PleinAir Magazine’s “Outdoor Painter” online magazine saw a bit on this and suggested I put something together on Facebook inviting others to show their neighborhoods. I posted a little “challange” for artists “Looking Out my Front Door”, with 1 rule, and that was to be within 50 feet of the front door.

Response has been very positive, most all thought a fun idea, there was only 1 outright “NO”, and quite a few, “no time” and I understand. I did not have time to do this myself, but sometimes I just have to carve out some time, just for fun! For me, life is way too short to take seriously. It’s got to be fun, and if it’s not, then make it fun!

I try.

Of Course there's a Flag

Of Course there’s a Flag

This has gone on way too long, but you get the idea.

It’s been proven that you can make art out of anything, and out of nothing. The world of art is pushing the extremes, trying to break new ground and break out of that proverbial box forever. That’s fine, but there are some things that are a little more timeless than others, and that is the beauty that the real artist creates in his work. Taking the mundane, the commonplace, the normal and seeing it through their own eyes and presenting it in compelling composition, a thing of beauty, a work of art. One does not need to push any boundaries all the time. There are those who will not even take a second glance at a piece of art that is not to one extreme or another, that is fine, for me.

In my world the leaf blowers blast just a little too much, traffic is light because we live on a dead end.  A wonderful place to raise a family, and visit with neighbors. But for painting I will still travel outside my “Cherokee Farms” subdivision, though now I know I can in a pinch create here.

 

 

Deja Vu

October 31, 2013 by admin

There is something I totally missed out on in all my years as a “studio” artist. Well there are a lot of things, but let’s focus on the relevant for a bit.

It’s not something I noticed till recently, though I’ve now been painting as a plein air artist for 2 years and 3 months now. It’s that feeling of being whisked away DSC_0142somewhere as you paint. Many artists speak of getting into “the zone” when they paint, but I’m not talking about that, nor am I speaking of some of those trips I took at my canvas in my college, AKA Timothy Leary daze.

What I’m talking about is what happens to you when you bring down one of those unfinished block-ins from a long past excursion. You know the paintings I’m talking about,  one of those that had you enthralled while you were there painting it, and looking forward to get back to finish up… but time and travels got in the way.

It’s what happens after you get that canvas on your easel and the paints out in front of you, pull the reference photo up on your monitor. Does it matter what playlist you bring up on your Ipod, or what kind of beverage you just set there on the coaster? No, I don’t think so. For me I wasn’t trying to do anything to spur it on, it just kind of happened.

You can have all the modern conveniences available to mankind at your fingertips, music blaring out the Bose 901 speakers, A/C turned to a perfect 78 degrees, but once you have everything set up and ready to go, it’s only moments before you are magically transported back to that place and time where that inspiration was first realized.

On the Los Pinos river

On the Los Pinos river

Maybe it’s not so dramatic, but when you get back into painting a piece that was started plein air, there are things stored in your memory that come out while painting. Was it the big fly that wouldn’t leave you alone, or the people you were out there painting with that day?

I had recently pulled out a block in from last year in Colorado, a wonderful start to a painting that I had been meaning to get back to since the day I returned. After getting it up and painting on it a while, I could feel the vast landscape around me, a overwhelming feeling of being again part of that land, by myself in this beautiful yet barren land. Those shadows in your photo that no matter how much you zoom in on your monitor in a studio piece, the plein air painting fills in with remembered details that if you had not been there, you would never know.

It’s “Deja Vu” at it’s finest!

A studio artist who has not painted outdoors will never have this same overwhelming feeling of being there. A plein air artist when out on the land observes and records, observes and records. Taking what they want, recording it either on canvas or in that strange storage cell called the brain, and then leaving the rest. A photographer observes and records, but not in the same sense. Do they study the shadows, watch as the light creeps across the scene before them for hours on end?

Pull out one of those forgotten canvases and see if it happens for you, no need to put bug spray on, and sunscreen, though the olfactory senses can play an important role.

smile

smile

Does this work for you? Do you remember the feel of the day when you work on an old painting started in the field? Does the entire time come flying back up in your memory?

Don’t have any unfinished paintings, then grab a favorite and make it BIG, either way I’ll see you back on the rivers edge. Enjoy

No it’s not Politics

April 6, 2013 by admin

Jeez, I hope it’s not.

Support the arts

Support the arts

That’s something I really try to stay away from, okay 1 of the things I really try to stay away from. It’s really so much easier to focus on values and composition when you are not worrying about “taxation without representation”. Or something along those lines, so I keep any sort of issues other than art out of my world… almost.

This past week I was asked by an artist friend to help support the arts by coming to a paint out on Tuesday April 2nd. Have you ever just kind of scanned over a paragraph, and catch “key” words and only record them? This is what I did here, I saw “support the arts”, “paint”, and then the date, and said “heck yeah!” A chance to paint, and I’m always using the term “support the arts” when getting people to come to a painting event.

What I signed up for was a little more than a painting event, it was to help support a “bond” issue, and the location was outside a polling booth.

The last time I did something like this, it was when the Mondale/Ferraro presidential race was going full swing, and they had the Democratic Party National Convention here in town. Yes, it’s been that long.

Art means Business

Art means Business

I did kind of go against my “rules” that I set up for myself, but hearing more on the issue that I was backing by being there painting, I

felt I could still walk away with my pride, and self set values still in tact. The issue was  to vote for a “no tax increase” bond, that would help pay for a cultural arts facility. That’s okay isn’t it? I should still be able to sleep well at night shouldn’t I?

Supporting the Arts

Supporting the Arts

Well, it went well, I painted there for a couple hours, outside the 25 yard “no picketing” zone. Didn’t harass any of the voters, I just stood there in the parking lot brush in hand painting for the arts. Really helping to support the arts this time, not just saying it. And come next morning, after a great night of sleep, I woke up and saw in the newspaper that the bond issue in that distant city had passed, the art facility will be built. Whoo-hoo! Little high five there… but only for the arts.

Now get back out and paint!

Payne in Oklahoma

March 12, 2013 by admin

It had been brought to my attention that the exhibit of one of my favorite American plein air artists exhibit was about to leave the Midwest  and probably not return. The Edgar Payne “A Scenic Journey” had been on display at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa Oklahoma, and was set to leave on March 24th.

Sacred Rain Arrow

Sacred Rain Arrow

What happens when you put things off? When I put things off, they usually don’t get done, which is why I try to do things as soon as possible.

Fellow artist and MVIS member Kimbell McCurry suggested we put together a little field trip for any interested members and head down across the border to see the show. Booking as a group got us some perks, save on travel expenses and lodging, plus its more fun when you travel with friends… even artists as strange as that might sound.

The weather cold and rainy, which is perfect for a day in the gallery. If you don’t know Edgar Payne, or his work, he was a California landscape painter in the early part of the 20th century.  He wrote what I consider a must read for any outdoor artist, “Composition of Outdoor Painting”

Tulsa 011His work is simply put, beautiful! (my words) He is most known for his paintings of the Sierra’s and the Four Corners area, but traveled the world painting plein air. This exhibit include some of it all. If you can, get to see it before it leaves the Midwest. Or get out to California to some of the permanent collections.

Photographs were not allowed in the museum, so of course we observed that rule… now outdoors we do what most traveling plein air artists do, we painted on the grounds of the Gilcrease. They have quite the view of the valley from it’s location. You would definitely enjoy the trip no matter where you came from.

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