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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!”

 

 

 

 

The New Golf

July 21, 2015 by admin

I heard this at paint camp this year… the Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks, and then heard it again while painting last week with George Van Hook. We tossed it around, and considered some of its possibilities…

“Plein air painting is the new golf”.Dogwood Canyon 012a

Okay, I think I heard it during one of Eric’s morning announcements. It’s kind of like the “morning sing” at day camp many moons ago, but it got some people talking. I think I actually missed him saying it outright, it was like I caught it out of the side of my ear, and asked another, “did I just hear what I think I heard?”

If you don’t know Eric Rhodes, he is the publisher of Plein Air Magazine, and Fine Arts Conniseuer, along with Streamline Publications, he puts on the “Publisher’s Invitational” each year, and the “Plein Air Convention”. He’s an all around fun guy, very instrumental in bringing plein air art to the forefront, and is looking towards creating a major art musuem in “the City” for this genre of art.

What do you think? Do you think it is, or could be? Maybe you don’t even like golf, maybe you don’t like plein air? Either way let’s look into this.

First things first, golf is a sport, painting outdoors is an art. I’ve heard arguments either way in this, but let’s just say it is for this little blog.

Now I play a little golf, I’m terrible at it, but I still enjoy it. Will I quit because I’m so bad at it? No way, I do hope to get better, and I think it is a lot of fun, and a blast to do with a few others… like painting plein air.

I’m a little better at the plein air thing, but like golf I didn’t start out that way. Working hard at improving your “game” will make you a better “player”, and if you have some natural skill lying away inside you, it’s possible that you might be able to hone it to a professional status… like painting plein air.

But only a small fraction of golfers make it to the pro circuit, why do they do it? I have no idea, ask them actually, I know why I do it, I love the outdoors, it’s challenging, a bit of a work out, and get to spend some time with friends.

So why not consider plein air painting the new “golf”? What does that really mean?

Here I’m only second guessing, but my take on it, and then what I would love to see is more artists out and about painting on location. Getting together for weekend outings for paintouts with friends and inviting others from around the area.

This IS happening more and more every day. In some parts of the country I actually don’t have to explain what “plein air” painting is, they tell me, and mention artists, and festivals they are aware of. I found this strangely comforting, it’s not like that everywhere, but then some places still have telephone booths.

I’m one of the “Newbie’s” to painting outdoors, but from listening to others around the country it has taken an upward swing in popularity. From an occasional plein air festival or competition in our city to almost a half-dozen, with plein air groups popping up everywhere meeting and painting quite regularly.

It’s amazing

The New Golf

The New Golf

There are still many who feel that these plein air studies are just that… studies for larger more detailed studio pieces. I can see that, and there are many I use for exactly that purpose, but more and more I am loving the fresh, live feel that I can only capture outdoors on location and leave them alone when I bring them home.

What would happen if everyone went out and painted after work or on weekends? Do you think it would water down the market and make what you do at your easel outdoors not so special? Or are you one who thinks that if everyone was out there painting they would understand better what it takes to make a good plein air painting? I know it’s not easy to make a successful plein air painting, believe me I’ve gone through a lot just to get a little. So maybe everyone being familiar with “live on location”, painting would be good for the field?

No not everyone will take to it, but maybe it would create a greater appreciation, and in turn open up more galleries to this new plein air phenomenon?

Personally, I would like to see more artists out painting. It’s so hard to visit artists and check out their artwork when they are closed up in the studio. (maybe that’s intentional, you think?)

But is it the “New Golf?” (and which side of the quotation marks should the question mark be on?)

I think it could be, or even should be. It’s for the young and the old alike. You can take all day at it, or you can just go out for a “quickie”. It can be done alone, or with friends. In towns, on the countryside, and in any sort of weather. You can travel the world taking part in plein air festivals, competitions and just good old paint outs. There are a few major invitational’s around the country that bring out the “creme de la creme” of the art world, you can meet, see the artists create, and a chance to purchase right there.

Now that I think about it, it’s better than golf!

It’s a fun little thing to consider.

This is ART, and there is some amazingly beautiful pieces being created across the world amidst the bugs, and wind, and between the curious onlookers and those who pretend they don’t see you. The good will rise to the top, and the rest will be testimony that we were out there trying.

It’s not easy, but is anything worth doing?

That’s my take on it, wish I had been paying better attention during Eric’s announcements, and then never actually got to ask him about it when we painted. What I would do is I’d ask him, I know he’d be happy to tell you. Give him a shout, Eric Rhodes, Plein Air Magazine.

In the meantime, get out and paint, and then do it again.extreme-golf

4995.6 miles

July 23, 2014 by admin

Does it seem like a lot to you? Before I left I could not really wrap my fuzzy little brain around what I was about to do.

Maybe you are the type of artist that travels extensively across the country in search of your holy grail. There are a good number of you out there, but the majority of artists travel less than 25 yards to their studio. Count the steps next time you go, is it upstairs, or in the basement? Maybe your studio is not in your home, rather you are one of a minority that needs to hop in their car and travel a few miles or across town to where your studio lies.

Even still a smaller number of artists call the great outdoors their studio, though for tax purposes my accountant will not do the square footage on this. I am pleased to be one of these outdoor landscape painters. Taking my art from the inside out, putting a life into it and into myself that the studio just wasn’t doing. Many of you have found this same thing, and have taken up the call of the “plein air” artist. Buen Trabajo!

I just returned from a painting trip that involved my traveling to the Adirondacks of upstate New York for Eric Rhodes “Publisher’s Invitational”. Immediately following this I took part in the “Plein Air Richmond” in Richmond Virginia which I was juried into, and the last 2 weeks was spent as Excursion Guide and Participating Artist at the “Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational” in Colorado. (somewhere in the middle of that I hung a solo show of my Southern Colorado paintings in Evergreen.

It is not something I do regularly, though I am finding out that there are many who do on a day in, day out basis. I am envious of those artists, and at the same time I feel for them.

It is not easy for one thing, the best light for painting is early and late, and every minute in between is filled with trying to capture this illusive thing. Little sleep, always on your feet in whatever conditions Mother Nature decides on for that moment. Coating every exposed piece of skin first with sunscreen, and then with insect repellent. Doing this day in, and day out in strange beds, strange dinners, it takes it’s toll.

But I loved every minute of it!

I could or should just be content to paint here in my own back yard. It shouldn’t matter where you are, whether in the plains of the Midwest like me, the coastal lands on either end, or the mountains somewhere in between. There are a lifetime of things to paint right where we lay. It’s not necessary to go in search of that beauty elsewhere, in fact the chances of you selling where you are increases if you use paintings of where you are. It’s much harder to sell the Philadelphia skyline in Denver than one might think.

So why do it?

Well like everything else, I’m either going to blame it on my sisters, or my parents. This time Mom & Dad, maybe Dad in particular. See R. E. Summers was a cowboy from the word go. Born in the Flint Hills of Kansas, he worked the Konza Prairie back when it was called the “A Ranch”, and he continued to play cowhand in Gunnison Colorado till he had too many kids that he had to get serious about life and raising a family. What does a cowboy do when he needs money? I have no idea, but Dad hit the road as a truck driver.

I was not a fan of my Dad being on the road so much, and as I travel to different art events across the country I was reminded of this. Was he following his dream as I am? I hope so.

What are we trying to accomplish in all this, is it to be a better artist? That is not a dream, but one of my goals, to become the best artist that I can be. Will it be the best out there? I doubt it, there is always one better, one faster, one stronger. Maybe 100, or 1,000’s better, faster, cooler, it doesn’t matter. My Mom was always chiding me about this, why I’m helping and teaching others to do something that might one day push me out to pasture. I never got her to understand the “helping others is a good way to help yourself”. Mom being from never having wealth was always hoping that I would have, and was concerned with my prosperity.

” Artists should not be paid for their art.  Getting paid corrupts the creative process.” Who in the world said this? Whoever it was probably did not have a family to support or paints to buy. We could and should get into a whole new line of discussion on this one, but focus for a second.

I travel across the country taking part in exhibits and competitions because I believe it is the fastest way to where I want to be. Paul Dorrell who wrote a fine book “Living the Artists Life” mentioned in it that you don’t have to be able to make it in New York City before you make it in your home town. (those of you whose home town is New York have a little quandary going there). Maybe Paul is right, I’m sure he is, but I think to do so you must have a gimic in your art, or be a really quirky artist, or just be darned good at what you do, and since I fall short in most of these areas… I need help, plus I’m trying to make it as an impressionistic landscape artist like everyone else, so we’ve got to work harder and we’ve got to work everywhere else before we are even noticed in “Home town USA”

That’s my take on it, so far.

I began writing a “travel log” on my trip when I left for New York, and did well untill I ran into a snag with the lack of internet connection in Richmond. Not that they didn’t have it, they didn’t know the password so I could log in… so I didn’t and I focused on painting instead.

The Publishers Invitational in New York was just what the doctor ordered. It was relaxing, everyone was friendly and outgoing. Sharing thoughts, ideas, and insights with no giant egos to deal with. Professional and amatuer status was thrown away, it was all “artists making art”

Then it was on to Plein Air Richmond in Virginia for a week. Not as relaxing at all, dawn to dusk painting with a bustling city in the early days of summer. It was crazy, congested, fun and frenzied. Painting in a week long competition with the final show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then without a moments rest I had gone from sea level in the East to almost 10,000 feet to the Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational. Here I had been invited to be an excursion leader for the artists and a participating artist in the Grand Exhibit.

I want to bring this to a close soon. It was long days for the entire month, if I wasn’t hiking the mountains with my gear, it was dodging traffic with the same stuff on my back, searching for the car that you know you parked… hmmm, I know I parked it near here. Darn, lost again! Then when I wasn’t on my feet hiking or painting then I was driving to the next location. There were many days where that’s all it was from morning to night, driving… with my windows down and my tunes carrying in the wind.

Let me equate the artistic journey to something like… like…

Baseball!

It’s something that one has to work at very hard, though it’s a job that many look at as “Just for Fun”. Maybe it is fun, but to be successful at it, you have to go to the next level, and that’s getting out of the recreational league and hitting the pros.

Are you going to be satisfied playing for the local club, or do you think you are ready for Triple A ball? Get out there and go for it, then once your successful at this, then jump in with the big dogs in the Majors. Did you get embarrassed at the plate and sent back to Boise with your gear falling out behind you, or did you take a swing and get on base?

For me and my goals I’ve got to play the majors. There are  not too many things that feel as satisfying as taking a full swing and hearing that CRACK as bat meets ball and you see it fly. It doesn’t have to be out of the park, a line drive down the 3rd base line is still rewarding. It’s knowing that you can hit the fast ball and the curve when they come your way.

Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play today

Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

 

That One Place, 6

June 21, 2014 by admin

If there were one place you would like to go paint, where would that place be? I would have to think long and hard on that one, but for the artists from the “Hudson River Valley” one of the most widely painted locations was “The Flume” on the Ausable River.

No where close to the biggest or best waterfall in country, let alone the state, but it’s drop through the gorge is pretty spectacular.  Road Trip Day 6 026This was to be our second destination for the day, we started off going to “Heavens Hill” Farm in Lake Placid. An amazing beautiful farmstead with meadows, classic outbuildings and me what do I do? (No I did not paint the outhouse this time) I painted what looked like a little cabin nestled in the woods behind it. The light was hitting a little open field before it with a road winding up between the trees. It was made for me and my pallet.

There must have been  at least 50 artists painting the farm, with maybe 4 or 5 painting the cabin.

As soon as I finished I didn’t wait around for everyone else, I jumped into my paint-mobile and headed towards “The Flume”. I had programed the Longitude and Latitude  coordinates into my GPS the night before so I knew I would be fine finding the place.

I had no idea what the area was like, but if it were anything like “High Falls” on Tuesday the prime painting locations might quickly fill up, and I wanted me in one of those locations.

I didn’t need to worry, it’s a pretty long stretch of waterfalls, with good locations on both sides of the river. I hooked up with a couple other artists that were just getting there when I arrived and hiked the trails with them looking for a place to paint. Eric mentioned this to me that when heading out painting, should not go into hazardous territory alone. You never know what might happen, slip and fall, if you are alone you are out of luck. And seriously, my AT&T signal does not work in many places up here.

"Painting the Ausable River"

“Painting the Ausable River”

Found a place to paint that had a good view of the river, not the falls, but still a pretty scene with some nice granite walls around. The three of us were set up on a not so big granite boulder, so there was not a lot of backing up and looking at the paintings. Also the sun hitting the foaming water created a bright white glare that made it hard to see the painting well. After I had blocked in the piece I turned it a different direction and turned around to look at the scene when I thought I needed to.

As we painted we saw the influx of artists meandering in from the “Heavens Hill Farm” beginning to set up in strategic locations on both sides of the river.

Whew! Just in time.

When finished it was about 4:30 which gave us an hour to get back in time for supper. I packed up and began a hike up river along a trail. Here I passed up many a artist painting in various stages of completeness. As I climbed up river with my gear I came upon a giant granite slab high above the river with a perfect view of the gorge below Highway Road Trip Day 6 04686 bridge… and not a soul set up here painting. I thought it a great view, and I checked out my watch, 5:00. I know if I started a painting if I was quick enough I could get back in time before the chow hall closed at 7:30.

Well I did not travel half way across the continent to eat, let’s roll!

I whipped out my gear and was set up in what had to be record time for me. A smaller 14×11″ canvas for me this time. Things went pretty well, quickly blocking in, now lets get those values right!

I finished up about 6:15, packed up and hiked my way back to my car. 6:50 now. There was no way I could make it back in time for supper, I pretty much stopped at the 1st place I could find, delicious!

I know there is a lesson somewhere here to be learned but for the life of me I’m at a loss as to what it was.Road Trip Day 6 038

The rest of the night went quickly, I dropped off my 3 finished paintings in the “Great Room” which was getting very full of paintings. Then headed out to enjoy some S’Mores by a bon fire they were setting up.

Another good day with one more painting day in the Adirondacks left. Hope to make it the best.

We shall see.

Road Trip Day 6 059

Finding the Vista (day 5)

June 20, 2014 by admin
Portable shade

Portable shade

The Publishers Invitational is an artists “paint camp”, you just come and paint when ever, and whatever you want in what I’m finding is a very wonderful part of America. But Eric in the grand scheme of things knowing there are many who are not familiar with the area might need some ideas on where to go for some popular painting locations. Granted you could turn in almost every direction and find something to paint, but some have traveled thousands of miles and paid good money to take part.

Provided is a great newspaper size hand out. (newspaper size, but on quality paper mind you) with all sorts of locations to paint, plus organized groups of to go out to locations to paint. Myself being a newbie have been taking part in as many as possible… you know, “when in Rome…”

Today the morning locations was a high plains view of farm and valley with the backdrop of the Adirondacks. A bright sunny day, with the winds blowing just enough to keep the flying insect critters away.

I set up a handy canopy to shelter me from the sun. It’s a 8×12′ shelter made for tailgating, fits perfectly into a parking space. Easy to set up, and comes in a handy carrying case with wheels. ( would not take it too far from my car)

"To Norman Ridge we Go"

“To Norman Ridge we Go”

My focal point was a quaint barn in the middle ground with the mountains off in the distance.

After this piece I drove out to White Face Mountain to paint from the top, but the road was closed and off limits. I tried finding out

where the group had gone too, but couldn’t find them right off but I found a nice little farm that had a couple barns that caught my eye. I jumped out of my car and quickly began painting. The owners dropped by and

"A Thresher in DeBois"

“A Thresher in DeBois”

said some interesting things about the history of the buildings.

Snuck in for dinner 1 hour early and then headed to Lake Placid to paint. Someone was saying that there is an excellent view from up there but I could not find the expansive lookout scene I had in my mind, so I gave up my preconceived ideas and went with what was presenting itself. I was quickly running out of light, so I threw on a canvas and painted the late afternoon light as it was going down on high peaks to the Southeast along Adirondack Loj Road.

The day finished up by sitting up near the bar at Paul Smith with some of the other artists listening to maybe 10 artists who just so happened to bring along musical instruments to help wile away the hours. All good fun.

"Pronounced Loj"

“Pronounced Loj”

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