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You can’t please Everyone

May 3, 2017 by admin

Bill Nelson was my counselor back in Junior High school that told me this, and I for the longest time couldn’t figure out why.

Ricky Nelson

Ricky Nelson

I remember I was back in my high school administration offices for some reason or another. (you know those things that go on your school records and will follow you forever, well I don’t think it’s true) anyway, he was telling me that I needed to please myself, not to worry about pleasing everyone else. Now this counselor was part of the establishment and should be telling me to “do as they say”  “follow the letter of the law” but instead he was reciting Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” song to me… “please yourself”.

Odd!

I did take this little quote to heart, for the rest of my youth I thought I was given “carte blanche” to do whatever I wanted. The end of the Beatles, the Vietnam War, Nixon, it was an interesting time and occasionally I pushed things to the limits, with me as my focal point. It took a lot of living before I finally figured out that this probably wasn’t what Bill meant.

Who are you trying to please?

I paint because I love it, to get out and create a piece of art is exhilarating to say the least. It pleases me to do it, and I am fortunate to be able to make money doing something that I love. But I’ve found lately, and maybe you do it too; that you are sometimes “playing to an audience,” so to speak. I’m not one of those artists that people are lining up to buy everything that comes off of my easel. Those people can paint whatever they want because it doesn’t matter, it’s as good as gold.

I envy the people who can paint without trying to earn money at the same time. They don’t need to spend half their time on trying to market themselves and their work. Paint what you want and move on to the next subject. It doesn’t matter if it sells or not.

Teaching our future

I’m finding out that there is a difference going out and painting and just having fun, versus going out and painting and trying to earn a living. Of course there shouldn’t be, but we are not living in that utopia where everything is perfect. Maybe it has something to do with the goals I have set for myself. Yes goals, don’t those just get in the way?

I bet a lot of things would be so much easier if you didn’t set goals…  everything except accomplishment!

I set short term goals, long term goals, goals that can be seen, and others that it will take a couple bends in the road before they come into view, but all that I do are on that path in some way or another. The routine things at home with housekeeping, family, lawn care, it’s all in a way helping me towards being the best that I can be. I believe it makes me a better person, and that in turn, well I have my fingers crossed, will show up in my art.

With so much life going on around me it is impossible for me to focus 100% on painting. I’ve already found out that 50% of my time to make it as a professional artist must be put into the “non-painting” aspects of art. IE marketing, inventory, billing, framing, teaching, etc. Now stick that into an equation that contains those other items such as the cooking, cleaning, relaxing, entertainment, family. And keep in mind you are not allowed to put more than 24 hours in 1 day. Keep trying but really it’s futile.

It could really drive one bananas!

S'Mores

S’Mores

I’ve got a way of doing things that kind of works for me, that’s doing what has to be done first, then getting to what you want to do. Let’s break it down a little more. Of that stuff that “MUST” be done, I throw that into different categories of difficulty, and do the hardest things first. This way things just get easier as you go along. Things seem to lighten up, and go quicker, and you begin to have a bit more fun as you work your way through those chores.

It helps me paint, and allows me some of that time to do that unencumbered. This is where I really enjoy being, working to create successful compositions, to study the land and how it’s effected by that ever changing light. This is what all my hard work away from the canvas was for. The chance to stand there just a little bit longer with brush in hand, observing, evaluating, recording.

I am really searching for ways to tie in my opening blog statement with the “…got to please yourself.”

hmmm…

To me it’s one of the most important things you can do. Sure it’s selfish, but in the end, it’s just you.

There is  something my wife Susie has said repeatedly before, and I take this to heart. “We deserve it.” “We’ve reached that age where it’s our turn to splurge on ourselves, to enjoy life, and make us number 1” (I’m paraphrasing, but she’ll back me up on this, I think)

Susie & Greg

Us

I love being happy, and what I do in life is geared towards that. Making my wife happy is a good key ingredient in this, and it works well. She is the best supporter of my art and all that I do. So I do try to please her… so that’s it’s.

I’ve figured out that it’s impossible to try to please everyone, you’re just setting yourself up for heartache and failure when you do this. There are those no matter what you do it’s not good enough for them. Don’t try to live up to other peoples standards, don’t try to win their approval, trying to do that, you will always be chasing, and never be content.

You be you and I’ll be me, for whatever that’s worth…

“…it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.”

Thanks Ricky!

…and you too!

R Gregory Summers AIS

 

Greg

 

 

 

A Fly Over World

April 28, 2016 by admin

I was very fortunate this year to have made my first journey South of the Equator and visited New Zealand and Australia, and as I flew I continually wondered just how much I was missing out on.

Crazy to think that I would travel any other way to the land down under, other than flying given a limited time, but that did not stop me from thinking about all the world below, with their beautiful lands and people, and all I was missing.

Since my trip to the Southern Hemisphere, I have driven to South Florida for the Lighthouse Arts Festival, numerous trips to the plain states, and then just returned from the Plein Air Convention in Tucson, traveling of course not in a straight line because that would be too practical, I stopped in Texas and New Mexico along the way turning a 2,600 mile trip into a 3,708 mile adventure.

Flying never entered my mind.

The area between the Appalachian’s and the Rocky Mountains is known to many as “Fly over Country”. Then to even more it’s the the land between the megalopolis’s on the East coast, and their counter parts on the West. It’s the area that gets in the way of an easy commute from LA to NY.

There was a time I was bothered when I heard someone speak of this great area in such a manner, but then I used to get riled up when I saw the toilet paper on the roll backwards.

No more!

Call it what you want, it’s got to be some of the most beautiful country with a world of people to go with it. Sure there are those wide open places where you swear you can see the other side of the continent, and those folks who would just rather not have a crazy artist looking twice at their backyard. But that’s what is so darn great about this world. I am not a fan of “sameness” BORING! It’s variety that feeds this soul. Why in the world would one want the same thing all the time, I have no idea. Sure you may have the most beautiful view ever, but get out and see what else is there to help reinforce that utopia that you call home.

Maybe it’s the artist in me, but I’m not always looking “out” for the beauty, sometimes it’s looking down and around you. Traveling through the wide open lands across West Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, sure sometimes flat as a pancake, but it was those things that are right there under your nose that were so fascinating. I would see something, look for a turnaround spot, drive back and photograph when I didn’t have time to paint. The light hitting a draw, the curve of the wheat, an always curious cow.

Maybe it’s a good thing “flyoverstates” is just what it is. A mysterious place where people live outside the major cities, people working, people living, people creating. Let us bring this land to you in painting or in song.

You wait right there, we’ll be right back with it…

It is slowly deteriorating with time and then the careless. I don’t know if it could really handle the “progress of mankind.” Less and less considerate for those who came before, and then who might be coming after.

Ah, but we reap what we sow do we not? That is a whole new ballgame.

For now let’s enjoy what we can. Enjoy who we are. Stop looking out there for that perfect scene because it’s right there around you just waiting to be noticed. Give me an open road, the windows down and a song in the air.

A “Fly over Land”? Maybe, but that’s cool!

Oh Mama, No Drama

October 1, 2015 by admin

You know what one of the things I like most about painting in plein air events around the country?

You, and people like you.

I love meeting other artists and people. (not always interchangeable) Visiting with them, painting, just hanging with other like minded people. I think it helps me grow in my art. I try to listen to what works for others, exchange ideas and stories. There is a lot of comradery going on at these things and I find it a blast.

I took part in a week long plein air event recently where I did just the opposite.

I’ve seen others do it, check in at the beginning and then not see them again till it was time to take home their awards and left over art. It was like they were never there, or were they? Why take part in an event with other artists if you are not going to hang out and socialize with the rest? Well, besides the awards, prize money, and glory?

Sure I know everyone is not sociable, and pretty much artists on the majority are recluses, hiding in their studios doing what they do best.

Kind of naive on my part to think that everyone should be out interacting and sharing their secrets with each other. Like art, there are all kinds, and that’s what it takes to make up this great world we live in.

I headed into this event just as happy as a lark, (bird, not cigarette) looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. I signed up to take part in every single event I could, paint-outs, concerts, luncheons, it’s just what I do.

Then in pops a little “DRAMA“!

It made me rethink…

Road Trip NY Day 7 053crop

Eric & Walter at Paint Camp

 

Eric Rhodes is the Publisher of Plein Air, and Fine Arts Connoisseur Magazines, and also puts on an annual event in the Adirondacks called the “Publisher’s Invitational”. Affectionately known as “Paint Camp“. This takes place in a beautiful setting in upstate New York with no workshops, no demos, no competitions. It’s just 100 artists from across the nation getting together to paint and hang with others. It’s what I think Woodstock in 1969 was originally created for, but this for artists.

…and there is only one (1) rule: “NO DRAMA”! (save the drama for your paintings!)

What a great rule it is in my opinion. We come there to paint and visit with others, we don’t really need distractions from this. Don’t want it, don’t create it, don’t encourage it. They’ve even created a little song for this, and you can listen and see a bit about “paint camp” here, Click Here

What I did when this happened was reevaluate my “situation” and I said to myself, “self”, “let’s just hang out here at the ranch and paint”. I’ve never just gone to an event and “just painted”, but if I did this I would avoid any sort of “drama”. Would I get lonely, would I be able to paint as well as before? Who knows, but I really was not in any sort of mood for another confrontation from other “unlike” minded artists, so I hid out on the old Pilgrim Ranch in the heart of Chase County.

Well I must say it was quite different. I missed the interaction with others, actually an artist friend Mike Flora was staying at the ranch for another day or two, and then Louanne Hein, another friend came back to the ranch to paint one afternoon, but other than that I stayed pretty focused on looking for things to paint right where I was, knowing there were dozens of artists just minutes away painting beautiful scenery and munching on catered meals.

It was dawn to dusk painting for me, which is just the way I like it. Up before the sun with my easel hoping to catch some “dramatic” light,  paint through out the day, and ending as the sun runs it’s circuit across the big Kansas sky.

If you have a routine that you do when you travel, or even at the studio. Set up things the same way, put your paints in a certain order, wear your lucky hat. Anyway, what happens when that routine is disturbed? Can you still produce your best?

Moving On

Moving On

I’ve won “Best of” from the studio, and then out plein air with folks bending my ear, and now in the solitude of the land.

You cannot always avoid drama in your life, but if you find you can go around a puddle without getting wet, why not? There are times you don’t see that puddle ahead, but you can still be prepared, mentally and physically.

Then what about the good drama versus the bad drama. Surely you don’t want your life so stress free that you grow into a sedentary bump on a log. You need that balance as within everything else. Balanced diet, balanced exercise, balance in your paintings. Recognizing and acting to things as they come along and acting accordingly.

Can you do it? Can I do it? Why not?

Well it’s back to business as usual for me, as if I really know what that is.

It’s good to know that if I need to hold up and paint I can do it, and I will if and when it is the best solution for the situation, but it’s important I feel to be able to interact with others in order to be successful in this crazy world. There are a few artists who can hide from all and send their paintings out via secret courier to the galleries and don’t have to deal with the human or inhuman public…

Hold on to your hat

…but I’m a quirky plein air artist who likes people like you.

You make the world a much more interesting place to live in.

“Paint on!”

 

 

 

 

Art with Benefits

March 11, 2015 by admin
mom_n_pops

Mom & Pops

The first painting I did after trading the bottle for the brush was one for my Mother. In the previous 20 years I had completed maybe 1 painting, and I was totally excited about methodically stretching my canvas, and putting my paints in position around the pallet. There is something about this process that helps clear and focus the mind for me.

My Mom had the misfortune of being born on January 1st. Sure it sounds good, but for those of you who have been born on a holiday know that forever you are sharing your day with something else, and rarely get 100% of what you deserve. Mix in the Christmas holiday, and you are really losing out, let alone being a Mom who always puts everyone else and their needs before her own. So I wanted to do something special for her and a painting of the farmstead where she grew up was what some of my ever so helpful siblings helped me come up with.

Mommo funeral scan 2 032

The Farmstead

The farm had been auctioned off after my Grandmothers death, and many things had changed, the barn torn down, windmill removed, trees replaced, so I set about gathering old photos from my sisters and my Aunts. What I ended up with was a time capsule of photos in all shapes and varieties and here is where the real work begins.

There’s a lot of research involved in doing things such as this, and planning. Much more than what I was used to, but what I ended up with was a painting of what it could have looked like to her as a child. I didn’t know really, grabbing a black & white photo from one angle, and then heavily faded photos from different views you take what you can and hope for the best.

We celebrated my Mom’s birthday on the same day as we celebrated the family Christmas, a day predetermined months in advance when everyone could arrive on the same date from out of town. But after things had settled from the gift exchanges and after the big Christmas dinner we all gathered around in the dining room and had cake and ice cream with my Mom.

I managed to get my gift moved towards the back of the little pile of things for my Mom, most knew what it was, and were in on it in some way or another, but it was finally given to her to open. It was a 16×20″ painting with a good sized frame so it was a bit hard for my Mom to handle. She had suffered a severe stroke in the early 70’s and had almost no use of her left arm, but like she managed to run a household and raise 6 children with my Father gone on the road most of the time, opening a present was child’s play.

This was in the winter of 2002, and I was born in 1957, so in my 45 years I don’t remember my Mom ever breaking down in tears. Through all the pain and trouble that she had gone through in her life, 6 very dysfunctional children, (okay 5, Kathy might be normal) and having to deal with her own and Dads alcoholism that would have I thought brought most people to their knees,  and maybe it did, but I don’t remember her ever crying.

B0004852

Christmas

But when she ripped away the gift wrap, and saw what was in there she broke down and wept. I could not believe it, this was totally surprising and unexpected. I don’t know what kind of response I had expected, but I nothing like this, and I was so embarrassed, and yet so pleased.

I think she liked it!

I had always loved to paint, and out of college I had begun to enter competitions nationally and internationally and was winning awards, but this was different. To have something I did move my Mom so much. It was unimaginable, and so rewarding.

How many careers are there in this world where what you do stirs up such emotion? Plumber? Dentist? The tears these people cause are from pain or when they hand you the bill! But I’m talking tears of joy.

Actually I guess there are really quite a few professions than can do this, writers, musicians, clergy… politicians?

But I didn’t know that I could do this with my art.

It is not an everyday occurrence for me, and I don’t know if my heart could take it, but I do love to put something into my work, a feel of where I was, or what I saw, maybe what I felt. Rarely does it come across, but when it does there is a overwhelming sense of satisfaction for me.

But the creating of something specifically for another, whether a gift, an act of kindness, or a commissioned work and it reaches into that person and stirs emotions and feelings that only they could know.

That is a reward to me like no other.

Being an artist is great, taking a beautifully empty piece of canvas and turning it into something visually appealing is amazing. But then taking that same talent, and using it to help and benefit others is amazing. Whether teaching, or sharing, just taking the time for another when they need it.

And one of my most favorite quotes is of course from a song, “Wond’ring Aloud” by Jethro Tull, written by Ian Anderson

“.,. it is only in giving that makes you what you are”

A Harrington Hike SOLD

A Harrington Hike

 

 

Sunshine Daydream: Day 4

June 19, 2014 by admin

If you would like to get “technical” today was the first “full” day at the “Plein Air Camp”. I slept great despite the dorm room that has what has to be a sleep number 110 or something. I am a definite 40. I must have been tired.

Heron Marsh Trail

Heron Marsh Trail

Maybe it’s like this on all campuses now-a-days, but you need to use your electronic key card 4 times to get from the entrance of the dorm building into your bedroom. Don’t forget to take it with you when you use the restroom! Silly me I had tossed it on the bed and then went to the bathroom, only to find I needed to call campus security to get back in. I now keep this card on me around my neck, even when I shower.

After breakfast there was a group photo taken and then all drove the short trip to the “VIC” to paint. This is part of the Paul Smith college I believe, but it’s 1,000’s of acres of woods and wetlands with beautiful vistas, and soft pine hiking trails darting through the park. I opted for a 1 mile hike along the Heron Marsh trail to the “Shingle Falls”. The view I was looking at was not what I had in mind, so I found a little scene close by, so I could still enjoy the sounds of the falls. A rock was nestled in the dark water with lillies and grass marshes about.

It had been raining all night, and with a slight threat to continue, but the sky was mostly gray and the light pretty consistent.

There were mosquitoes and flies about, but I was not bothered by that probably do to my sufficient dousing of the self with bug spray

High Falls Gorge

High Falls Gorge

and then a little clip on “OFF” bug repellent that works great! Folks have been warning me of the vicious “black fly” and I have fortunately not come into contact with it, or them.

I was very happy with this painting, and will post sometime. I believe I called it “It does make a Sound”.

After lunch was an hour trip to “High Falls Gorge” it’s about a waterfall with a 700′ drop. This is about 3 miles from the Canadian border. It was quite the hike down the 250+ stairs. It was worth the trip, though it was hard to see with all the artists there painting. It was a good thing it was 700 feet tall! This painting I did here was “Down in Front”.

Drove back just in time for dinner (Mom & Dad would call it supper) and afterwards I had time to join a few people on the edge of the lake and painted the late afternoon across the lake.

Cool thing about all this is seeing all of the other artists and how they approach their subject, and then there “plein air setup”. Everyone’s is somewhat unique to themselves, or so it seemed.

All the paintings for the day by all the artists are gathered together in a room for everyone to see. There is no hierarchy to this event, all artists are created… I mean, treated equal. But some of the more famous ones do have their names “dropped” more often than others.

I blew out a heel in one of my hiking boots today, something that is going to take a cobbler to fix… is there a cobbler in the house? I bet so.

Up with the Joneses

Up with the Joneses

Inappropriate Behavior

June 4, 2014 by admin

Appropriate/Inappropriate, ever been accused?

Surely you have, it’s not just me is it? Well even if you haven’t, maybe you’ve wondered to yourself, “Is this the way I should be reacting?”

I’m going to veer away from art, just for a second, because sometimes life pops up between the paintings. I know that’s not the way we planned it, or what we wanted, but sometimes things don’t always go the way we like.

There are a lot of times and places where I myself wonder “is this how I should be acting”… what do you when you are just driving along, doing everything just right and a police car pulls next to you at a stop light? Do you think he has that “school record” the vice principal always threatened you with? Do you look at him and smile or just stare straight ahead like he’s not really there? How about you are standing in a checkout line right behind the Mom with the out-of-control child that totally ignores the fact that they just keep pulling things off the shelf and dropping them on the floor in front of you. Don’t you just want to say something to the child, to the Mom, to the Manager?

But is it appropriate?

My biggest one is when a tragedy happens, what do you say? How do you act? Do you avoid talking to them, steer away from them hoping they didn’t notice that you saw them, avoid them so you don’t have to think of the right thing to say? And when you do confront them, what in the world do you say without it sounding “cliche?”

I myself am of the school that it’s better to say the wrong thing than nothing at all. If you know me, you probably know that I am notorious for saying the wrong thing… hopefully at the “right time!”

Here’s a tough one, how about catastrophic loss, what do you do? What do you expect others to do?

Where do we learn these rules of etiquette on appropriate behavior? How about from our teachers, Kindergarten to 12th grade? More likely it’s through your families, your peers, your community, and on the electronic airwaves.

I have been pretty darn fortunate in my life that I have not had to go through too much death. My girlfriend died while I was in the service which was pretty tough, and the military didn’t see a teenagers girlfriend as reason enough for leave. So that was handled remotely. I’ve not seen a guide around on how to act when it’s you that looses a partner, a parent or a child. It’s just straight greif from your heart and soul. There is no right or wrong way to greive I’ve found. It just happens, and there’s no way to stop it when it does come, so don’t even try.

I recently experienced a bit of this myself, and my wonderful wife I guess recognized that I needed to get out and suggested I go out to paint when  my Mother died. Oh she could read my mind, I tried to tell her thanks and I’d be back soon, but the words kind of choked up in me.

I drove and I drove looking for the right thing to paint. I was looking for a small Kansas farmstead, one like my Mothers, with a barn and a silo, lots of outbuildings. I drove farther still and could not find what I was looking for. I was caught North of the Kansas border with a different type of farming is done. No silos in site, but driving down country roads was a good release for me, still I wanted to, I needed to paint! I stopped at the intersection of a minimum maintenance road and the gravel road I was on and pulled out my gear to paint. The subject matter anymore was really not the important thing, it was the act of painting, the process, the routine of it all. Observing and recording. The calming ritual was needed.

Art I have found is very therapeutic.

I grew up in a family where men don’t cry, hell (whoops, I mean “heck”) I don’t remember my Mom ever crying but a couple times in the 56 years I’ve been around. I know we gave her plenty a reason to in my teens, but she was a rock, and taught us to be, I think.

How about hugging your old man at your Mom’s funeral? I don’t remember hugging my Dad, it’s one of those cowboy guy things (old time cowboy, not now-a-time cowboy… big difference) you don’t do it, though I know as a kid when he came home from work once a week (he was an over-the-road trucker) that all the kids would rush out jump all over him and hug him. Must have been “pre-teen” because I know I haven’t hugged him for probably almost 45 years, though believe it or not, we are close.

Just didn’t seem appropriate.

But now-a-days guys are giving guys hugs all the time, (man-hugs of course, totally different that other hugs) is it time to change what I do? I thought about that on the day of the funeral, do I hug my Dad, I know I probably could have used it, maybe he could too! Well I kind of broke that barrier a bit when I put my arm around him and gave him a little shake letting him know I was here if he needed.

Seemed kind of appropriate.

Timing should be essential to whether something is appropriate or inappropriate, and having the right timing is an art in itself… something I’ve never been accused of having. I am somewhat notorious for flippant, off-the-wall comments, always from somewhere out in left field. Always in the best intent of course, with no harm intended, but not everyone knows that.

What is ruled as appropriate or inappropriate behavior could be largely due to your generation, or demographics, or like I said timing… because saying the wrong thing at the right time is okay.

?What?

 

 

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”

 

 

Give me 4 for the Road

January 30, 2014 by admin

I really don’t talk about my art much here, or how or why I create it. Not sure why, I just don’t know enough about it to be out trying to act like an authority on something.

I try not to give advice, I find it better to speak of experience, and folks can take what they want from that.

So let’s talk art for a little bit, and specifically colors. I love them! Since my very first little paint set I just loved squeezing out the paints onto a pallet and mixing those things together. I have no idea how many paints that cheap little paint set had in it, but I know it had to have at least twice as many colors as I use now. I thought then that the more paints you had the better you would be, or at least the potential to be better increased.

Many people feel the same way, and some for good reason. They probably know what to do with that magic color they just found at the local hobby store. Me, not so fortunate. I bring home the most awesome tube of color that I could find, and like I was talking about the other day, you could tell in my next painting exactly which store I went to to buy that “perfect” color.

Growing up I painted some, but what I did the most was drawing. Pen, pencil. It’s what was around. I did not have a lot of

RGS circa 1977

RGS circa 1977

disposable income, so drawing on anything I could find was the way I honed my skills. A paint by number kit for Christmas at some point was fun, and loved the results, but it was only a temporary detour from my love for the line.

It was my drawing skills and eye for detail that landed me a job at Hallmark in the 70’s, training to become the Master Engraver that I am today. I loved it, and it paid well. Taking 2D art and creating something 3 dimensional, giving it form, and depth, creating that illusion of reality with edges and shape.

Though it was the draftsman skills that paid the bills, I found painting a wonderful release from reality, a place where one could go for a time to escape the chaos of the world around. Taking a large white canvas and throwing color on it, step back and feel what develops. Finding shapes, colors, textures all mixing to bring my imagination alive.

At first I stayed away from painting what I saw, but rather painted what I wanted to see in a world of crazy fantasy inspired by the times. I don’t know if the times changed or it was me, but the imagination took a sabbatical and I began creating from reality. (which at times can be just as odd)

In this mixed up world of art where breaking the rules is the norm, and following them is like the worst thing in the world one could do, there was this rule that I always stuck to since the beginning of time…

“Do NOT to use paint straight from the tube!” Okay, Okay already.

I took this rule and etched it deep into my psyche and still to this day I get this feeling that if  I put straight paint on my canvas someone is going to come up to me and put “cheater” on my forehead. And the number of paints on my pallet was limited only to how many I could find. That and  the size of my pallet…

till 2011

In 2011 I met a man that would change my pallet, my art, and my life. A quiet man, who spoke with his art and his actions. He took that crazy art store of colors, literally shipped it to a needy artist in Africa, all save 4 simple colors. 2 cool colors, and 2 warm colors, and said “go little grasshopper!” And I went.

My pallet

My pallet

“Why?” Is it easier with 4 colors, what are the advantages, and how about the drawbacks?

At the time I thought Rick was crazy telling me that I was going to be painting with only Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue. Sure I had heard the stories about “you can make every color using just the 3 primary colors”, but I thought that was like an Urban Legend or something… not reality.  But I was about to find out. That or have the most gawd awful paintings the world has ever seen. (and there are some bad ones… not mentioning names)

I began my seemingly impossible task of creating art with my new pallet.

It was/is a challenge, but I must say after a while you begin not to miss the fact that you have no tubes of green paint on your pallet. I had to go so far as not even to put one in my back pack so I wouldn’t be tempted at first. I love some of those greens that they have out there, and when painting in the area I’ve grown up in, the summers cannot be recreated without every single shade of green being used!

What I began to see immediately in my art was something that I didn’t pay attention to before, (being self taught in this world

Rick on the Conejos

Rick on the Conejos

of color), and that was a harmony in my work. When they first spoke of seeing this in my paintings I had to step back and compare. And the more I became familiar with these colors, learning how to mix properly, making some of those colors that we find in our world, the more I began enjoying them, and the challenge of creating the art that I do with my limited pallet. It is very rewarding, and freeing at the same time for me. I don’t have to look to hard to see if I have all my paints before I leave on an outing. I just count them on one hand. Simple, even for me!

I use the same pallet for winter as I do for summer spring and fall (or is it autumn?) In each color I use a little bit all 3 of my primary colors. Whether the red I use is alizarin, or cad red depends on the temp I am trying to achieve at the time. But I always put a red, blue and yellow in all of my mixes. It’s that harmony I am still trying to achieve in my work, along with knocking down the tone a bit.

So is this another one of those “rules” that I have to live by, do or die type thing? No way! I really have no qualms about using a yellow ochre or a viridian sometime. I know they are very useful colors, and I’m sure my art would benefit by throwing in an extra tube of something or two, and I’m sure I will. Rick told me when he went to paint overseas he added another blue to his pallet. I wish I could remember which one, but if and when I travel across the water I’ll know.

In the meantime my goal is to become well versed at what I do. I have a long ways to go, and a short time to get there. No idea how short.

I love my 4 color pallet, it’s simple, easy to pack up, and I can still make a total mess of things with these 4 as I did with 44.

This would have been Rick’s “Golden Year” Born in ’57 and 57 years old.

Thanks Rick

LaSauses Turnaround

LaSauses Turnaround

 

The Biggest Compliment?

January 9, 2014 by admin

We have grown up getting compliments for things

Good job

Good job

we do well, and then criticized when we do something wrong. It’s pretty much bred into us. As an infant the entire family will clap and jump for joy when accidentally roll over on your back. And then all the high fives you give your kids when they finally sit on the toilet to pee. (totally glad that still doesn’t happen, but maybe it will again when I grow old)

Jump back this way to adult life and we still see all types of behavioral modifications being passed our way. Raises at work when you do well, speeding tickets on our roadways when we don’t.  I loved getting stars on my papers in grade school, red, silver, gold… okay I saw some people who got gold, “hey, why didn’t I get one?”

Under a glass

Under a glass

What about as an artist, what kind of praise do you like? For me the ultimate of course is Best of Show, with a big fat check. Is that the ultimate? Maybe not, but it’s up there. I sure do enter enough shows on the chance that I just might win, or at least get accepted. Sometimes things don’t always workout the way you want and you are left with what you thought was a really awesome painting, and here they didn’t even want it in their show. We must learn to be resilient as an artist, because we don’t always get the praise we want.

How about that other praise?

I get it all the time, and maybe you do too. It’s the “Oh that looks like a photograph”. I know that is normally meant to be a compliment, and to

many it is. But to me, it’s not the compliment that it is intended to be. I think it’s intended to be. I mean I’ve never actually asked if they meant that in a nice way or not, but I assume so.

My goal as an artist is not to recreate the scene so to speak, it is to envision what is before me, and try to capture how the light effects the scene, and to bring back that feel that took me there in the first place. Is it a windy cold day, with a dreariness about? Maybe a hot summer afternoon with no escape from the heat anywhere?

What I like to hear if I’ve done my job right, is “I like the light in this piece”, or “this feels like a autumn morning”. Maybe it’s me, maybe I have not conveyed a feel or air about the painting enough for the viewer to experience what I had taken part in when I saw that scene and decided “this is what I want to paint”.

There are those artists who strive for a photo realistic painting depicting the scene for exactly what it is. I admire those artists, and appreciate their technical skills, but what I want to do more and more is bring back that wonderful imagination that at one time kept me occupied for hours on end, and create compositions that not only feel, but “wow”.  There are photographers who “wow” with their pictures, there are ball players who “wow” with their on field abilities. What kind of compliment do you give them as they hit the ball out of the park?

As pretty as a photograph

As pretty as a photograph

A good standing ovation is always welcome, with cheers and accolades as they run the bases. Try that at your next opening, maybe getting high fives as you go down the line.

In many art shows you have the “public’s choice” or “artists choice” awards. How about next show give everyone a sheet of stars, and each of the guests come along and put stars on the paintings that they like. What do you think, should we let the patrons use the “gold stars”?

Take your art to an open critique, that will sober one up fast, and make you think that maybe you should reconsider your profession. Keep a thick skin, but it’s that old reward/punishment modification again. Not to change behavior or your personality, (or lack thereof) but to teach us what is wrong and what is right in our art.

It takes a skill to be able to comment on art of all types and skill levels. Art is not the same as adding up all the columns of a spreadsheet and getting the figures right if you are an accountant. In art, high praise and compliments are given to artists who do solid fields of color, nail toilets on ceilings, have their cats chase a feather across a canvas as it spreads paint. The same gold stars are given to the photo realism, the abstracts and the expressionists.

How in the world is the general public supposed to know what is “good art”?

A star for you.

A star for you.

(of course another great topic for later) Let alone know the correct thing to say when confronting the artist and their work?

If someone wants to tell me “That’s as pretty as a photograph” that’s fine. I really do appreciate their taking the time to at least acknowledge that

something has been created by the artist and is now on display for the publics view.

But really, if you’ve got a gold star sticker sheet…

I’m just saying.

 

Do You See What I See?

December 31, 2013 by admin

A star, a star, dancing in the night, with a tail as big as a kite.

The holidays are about over for this season, just New Years and then Ground Hogs Day is coming up, but then we’ve got a bit of a break. I had hoped to take this holiday time to get a bit of a rest from a long hard year, and spend some time with family and friends.

Did it work out the way I had planned? Did it work out that way for you?

I did spend more time with family, but the slowing down part never really happened. I enjoy painting so I try to get out and do it as regularly as possible, and at the same time

Dorian & I

Dorian & I

I have been readying myself for the upcoming year. Can’t enter it without a running start can we? No way!

But as I traveled with family, sat around visiting, playing games and enjoying company I consciously found myself looking at things as I always do. Trying to decide how this could look better. What I could do if I were going to paint it to make it a more pleasant scene. It did not matter what it was I was looking at, and it didn’t really make much of a difference what was going on. Automatically my brain begins to compare and evaluate.

No I don’t “zone out”, well not to my knowledge at least. I just quietly look at things, try to figure out what their local color is, how I could mix it up with my pallet of 4 colors. How it might fit better on a page, landscape or portrait format. There are a bazillion things that run through your mind in an instant, some of them are actually pertinent to the situation, but then many… my favorite ones, are the ones that assess it’s composition and reproduction possibilities.

I have no idea if this is what all artists do, and whether it is a learned behavior, or more genetic. I do know that as long as I can remember I have been doing this in some manner or form.

188861_1877181046860_1991848_n

“KC Scout”

Grade school had me taking scribbles from other kids and I would take them and transform them into interesting objective or abstract designs. Not a page a school notebook or textbook went without being adorned in some form or another. (much to the dismay of my parents who had to pay for damages) Walls, desks, table tops, stairwells, nothing was too sacred for me and my mini masterpieces!

Is this natural for the artist, or the creative mind? Is it natural for everyone? I can only speak for myself, and it was natural for me. But if I were to listen to some of my keepers, I believe “are you crazy?”, and “what were you thinking?” was quite often mentioned, so maybe it wasn’t something everyone did.

It is not just in the arts. My mind works in a manner that is constantly trying to improve something, maybe. Things just can’t be left alone would be a better adjective. Always trying to find ways to change things, hopefully to make them better, but not always the case. I love to fix things, create, destroy, alter, change… Things were not made to be left alone. Is it a “guy” thing? I know for a fact that the majority of men when presented with a problem will try to fix it, while that same case being presented to a group of women, they will talk about it… then who knows?

By that time I am long gone!

I love the challenge of taking any scene and creating the best 581361_4536368924895_1243090803_ncomposition possible out of it. I’m getting better at it, and I believe it’s benefited greatly from the constant appraising of the view before me, and then of course a bit of education. Finally getting a bit of “formal” training in the arts, and what it entails. Reading books by some of the Masters of the genre, Payne, Hawthorne, Carlson. At long last paying attention to those who know better and listening.

If only I had listened to my elders earlier, ha! Not me, I’m the type that must learn by trial and error, and error, and… right now I am trying to see less than what is there. My mentor did not go a session without telling me to “simplify!” Less is better, no paintings were ruined by having too little. I was notorious for including everything I saw into the painting. A typical beginners mistake I’m afraid.

I will always be a student of the arts.

Do you see what I see? I doubt it, we all see differently, and that is good. Our brains interpret things differently, the eyes see, the brain translates, and we create, and create, and create.

 

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