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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”

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

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”

 

 

What does it take

March 4, 2014 by admin

What does it take to become the best?

S'Mores

S’Mores

What does it take to change your life?

What does it take to drag yourself up?

There are as many different types of people in this world as there are… well, people! And for the majority of them it takes quite a bit to move them onto a path different than the one they are on. No, maybe you’re not one of them, but maybe you are. I was, or I am that type of person. It’s like I’m just cruising along on the road of life, listening to some good tunes, going just 7 miles over the speed limit, and I’ll keep going for hours until something comes along and causes me to stop. Running out of gas, restroom stop, a cop who thinks that 7 miles over is still “speeding”.

Once you stop, do you continue on that same road, in the same manner? Or do you slow down, change directions, take a bus? All of the important turning points in my life were not initialized by myself on a whim saying, “oh I think it’s time to begin a family”, or  “I think it’s time to quit drinking”, how about “I think it’s time to paint outdoors?” Nope, not me, because I am not that type of personality.

Sometimes it can be a subtle thing that will shift my directions, while there are those OTHER times it takes a ball bat to get me to change course!

I would never have began painting outdoors had it not been for a tennis injury that  required surgery. While undergoing physical therapy to get back into shape, it was suggested that I might take a continuing ed course through the Kansas City Art

Plein air with Anne & Mary

Plein air with Anne & Mary

Institute. They were offering something on plein air painting. I had never heard of this, but I loved to paint, and loved the outdoors… what a concept! The instructor was Anne Garney, and she showed me that it is possible to paint outdoors… successfully.

This changed the entire direction of my art and gave it the spark that it needed.

Lately, change has been good. I have made it a must to make positive moves at every crossroad, and for a while mentoring under Rick with his belief in me he set me on a path that I thought at the time was impossible, but I am beginning to see that maybe he wasn’t wrong about me. And I move on. When you are there without a real compass wondering which road is the right one it’s somewhat of a crap-shoot. But it’s the risk I’m willing to take to make my goals and improve my art and my life. I’m quicker now at recognizing if it was not the right road, and have no problem making a U-turn to take a better path, no regrets, no kicking myself for steering off course. It’s the old “live and learn” adage.

This guy is very fortunate to have a wonderful wife who helps in keeping this compass pointing forward. That has not always been the case, and I don’t blame them but myself for not recognizing this in time and doing something positive about it.

Susie & I

Susie & I

In those days I sought escape as opposed to facing things head on.  Susie is always here in my corner, there when I need her, and helping me to follow my dreams, at times putting her own by the wayside to help this artist proceed. I count myself very fortunate to have such a person in my life. Susie is not versed in art as Rick was, but she doesn’t need to be, she believes in me, and makes me stronger.

Don’t have your own “Susie” to show the way? It’s easy, just like The good witch Glenda and Dorothy, it’s there with you all the time, those symbolic Ruby Red slippers! A little inward thought and meditation can go a long ways in helping with ones well being and knowing “what next?”

Well, it has been a couple years now that I have been painting outdoors, rain or shine. It’s not a week that goes by that I’m out there with canvas and easel looking for the light. It’s what I love, it’s what I thrive! But wait, I notice now that it’s been since January that I was last outdoors painting. I’ve not been idle, no way, but I have not been painting “en plein air”.

What has happened, I thought I was on a roll? The dreaded… SHINGLES!

Here we go again, is this a turn in the road that has pushed me back in the studio? The entire month of February the only painting I have done has been in the studio. Many new pieces, and then I have pulled out some of those plein air block-ins and finished them up. It has been very rewarding, but it’s not been plein air. I have been convalescing from my illness, and should not go out. So I didn’t, but they are about gone, the pain has subsided, and the rash is barely there. I think it’s time to get back in the swing of things.

Every successful person has suffered failures of some sorts (this is hearsay, I don’t actually know all the successful people), I have scars galore, but they will heal. What you can’t get over is that feeling that you get when you don’t try. That is a persistent pain that doesn’t diminish quite so easily. I’m terrible at speeches and trying to rally the troops together towards a common goal. I never have a serious word to say, and make a joke every single thing that comes before me. Kind of hard to do in a blog, but I love those who lead by example, and I try to do this all the time. For me it’s more of a “do as I do” instead of the “do as I say, not what I do” mentality.

That’s the quirky artist in me. (artist rule #28: be quirky)

What life changing event will next befall me? I have no idea, but what ever it is, it will not detract me from my goal. My intentions are to use it as a spring-board, and let it assist me getting there. There could be something that stops me from going forward, I’m not a soothsayer, but I do own a Ouija Board, (I think my sister swore by it!)

Nevertheless I am on the path I want to be on, are you?

What does it take to keep you on the path to your chosen future? It really doesn’t matter what spurs you on, the important thing is that you are always moving in a forward motion towards that goal. Get bumped off the path? It’s just right there a step away, you know how to get back on.

Hey! Don’t forget to enjoy the ride, because once you get there…

San Luis Valley day 3 038

A Touch of Dixie

February 5, 2014 by admin

I promise I won’t make it a habit here, talking art I mean. Last week was about my “limited pallet” and this week, well yes. I’m going to talk art… sort of, but what else do I know?

I’ve seen many a blog talking of their travels, or what they did that day. Usually an interesting read, but of course I try to buck the trend and do something entirely different. Well not today… I’m talking on my recent trip through the South.

Next week I am attending my opening reception for my “A Touch of Dixie” exhibit. It features 24 plein air paintings from my trip and then an added treat, (or was it just filler for that extra wall?) I have 3 paintings from each year I’ve been painting “en plein air”. (in open air.) 3 from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. It’s an interesting progression if you want my opinion.

But the real gems are from below the Mason Dixon line.

Last fall I had my “In Aille’s Glade” painting juried into the American Impressionist Society National show in Charleston South Carolina. Having a bit of time available, and places to stay and people to see along the way, I decided driving would be the ultimate way to travel. It also would give me a wonderful chance to stop and paint when and wherever I chose.

I loaded up my gear and 42 canvases of various sizes,

locked and loaded

locked and loaded

programmed my trusty GPS, kissed my lovely wife Susie goodbye & headed out. I had 3 Ipods loaded with every sort of playlist one could want for a road trip, trail mix by my side, my phone set on “hands free” mode, and my camera somewhere within reach, where was it now?

My itinerary was taking me from my starting point in Kansas City, through St Louis, then heading South into Tennessee via Chattanooga, then East into Murfreesboro for a few days. You see I had plans to stay at my Sister-In-Laws place here, do “handy man” things around the place and earn enough money to pay for expenses on my travels. Judy’s list was long, but I had planned for it bringing tools with me. Mornings and evenings were spent traveling the countryside painting, and the afternoons were for installing a glass tile backsplash, setting up a Martin house, building an arbor, fixing a bed, and then solving the puzzle of the mysterious smoke alarm. All fun stuff, and it helped me earn a few brownie points here and there. (always important, no matter the situation)

The wonderful rolling hills, and wooded valleys with picturesque farms and ranches all around, historic Civil War battlefields, it is a nice place to hang out and paint, but we must be moving on, there is a show in Charleston we must attend, and don’t forget… Kenn Backhaus has saved you a spot in his workshop. Don’t doddle!

Well, I doddled, if that’s what you want to call it. I drove South through Alabama, and then turned back North because there was a Facebook friend I just had to meet. Maybe you know her, maybe not. But if not, you need to, she is one of the queens of watercolor, with some wonderfully rich atmospheric creations that makes me wonder just what really goes through her head… and I was going to find out.

Sandy Brown and her delightful husband Ron were a hoot.

Sandy & Ron Brown

Sandy & Ron Brown

Their colonial mansion began in the early 1800’s as a 2 room cabin.  Had to say goodbye way too soon, but there was many miles still to go before I reached the coast.

So I finished the zig part of my zagging across Tennessee, headed back North so that I could go back South to Carolina… of course.

In Charleston I had made arrangements to stay with a very old friend and former Sister-In-Law from an earlier marriage. (a funny/strange thing about all the places I stayed, each place was in some way related to a present, or one of my former wives)

Edie Hollowell lives in Charleston and was gracious enough to give me carte-blanche to her home with a private entrance and bath for a week. Somehow she put up with my coming and going at odd hours as she carted her teenage boys back and forth, and back and forth, and ba… okay, I’ll stop.

From here I had great access to the plantations up the Cooper River, the Point on Old Charleston, or Mt Pleasant, and Sullivan’s Island where the shrimp boats tie up to the pylons… thank you Jimmy Buffet

I have done my fair share of traveling in my lifetime, and for me Charleston SC has got to be one of most wonderful cities in the country, maybe the world. (I’ll let you know later)

Kenn Backhaus

Kenn Backhaus

First thing is the people, they are Southerners, and they have that Southern charm. I am quite confident that if you on the slim chance got mugged, the perpetrators would still be kind enough to call you sir or mam, and make sure you still had cab fare to get to the police station to file a report.

The first 3 days I took part in a workshop of Kenn’s sponsored by the American Impressionist Society. There I met some great artists from across the country, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina,  Texas (is Texas still part of the continental USofA?)

The 2013 AIS 14th Annual National Juried Exhibition was held at the “M” Gallery in Old Charleston. Never had I seen a better grouping of the art that I so love. The feel and passion put into each and every painting was evident. My eye is keen on impressionistic art. There is just something about the understated that peeks my imagination. If you did not make the show in Charleston, the 15th annual show will be a bit more centrally located. Show up in Denver come the 1st part of October and take in some of the bestest in the Westest… North, South and East too!

I left Charleston and headed South to many claim to be equal to, if not better than Charleston, and that is Savannah Georgia. I wish I had more time here to form a better opinion, but time was short. I had to be in Atlanta by the end of the week, so I had time for maybe one painting. I drove through the city, up and down streets, but things didn’t seem right. I headed East along

Fort Jackson, GA

Fort Jackson, GA

the Savannah River and came to old Fort Jackson. If you know anything about me, it’s I love Civil War anything… and luckily for me, though the Federal government was on strike or out of money and all National everything was closed, this was a State run operation and in I went, canvas in hand. Here I set up along the ramparts and painted toward the Atlantic as a talented guide gave a demonstration of one of the parrot guns just below me. Quite an experience to say the least.

Enough for now, I must come back to this city and explore another time, now it’s on to Albany Georgia.

Why Albany?

Well I have a daughter in the Marine Corp who’s stationed there. And she (Jennifer) was setting me up on base to stay and visit in the Southern climes of Georgia, where gators and Cyprus and Spanish moss mesh together for us “snowbirds”. I must watch my step. Here I was out and about looking for a place to paint and saw this road called “Grave Springs Road”.  It didn’t matter what was there along this road, but I was going to paint something, anything on this road. It’s one of those things about me, if something catches my eye, such as this road sign, I’m there! I found my first cotton field, it just so happened to be pouring down raining, but I was there, it was there, and it may not happen again.

I visited with my daughter Jen for a few more days, painted Cyprus trees along the Flint River, then headed North to Atlanta. 

My trip to Atlanta was two-fold, okay, maybe more like three or four-fold. I was picking up my wife Susie to join me for the last leg of my trip… and celebrate our 5th year anniversary, I was going to visit my oldest daughter Devin, her husband Randy, and then my granddaughter “Dorian Rose Champagne”. Dorian will be turning 1 year old this February, and this gal is one of the cutest babies I had ever seen.

Oh, post a pic? Okay

Dorian Rose Champagne

Dorian Rose Champagne

My time in Atlanta was more family and touristy type fun things. I set my GPS to take us to the “city center” then parked our car and wandered for hours. Another wonderful city, is there just no end to them? Dorian, Devin & Randy were great hosts, I did paint at the Allatoona Battlefield while I was here, a place where the South tried to cut off the Unions supply lines to Sherman’s army. An amazing engineering feet of carving a railroad cut out of solid granite was the site of the battle. This is much today as it was 150 years ago.

Susie and I left Atlanta to head back to Murfreesburo because I am sure I had more work to do, plus I had left my Tennessee Atlanta-Tennessee 210paintings there. Judy met us along the way because she wanted to take us into the South Cumberland State Park to some areas she thought I might enjoy painting. As everywhere along my journey I found beautiful vistas to paint. We hiked the trails, me carrying my 35 lbs of gear on my back, and them cheering me on saying “oh, it’s just around the corner”. Yeah, right!

I was happy to come back to this area because of all the places that I saw a few weeks ago that I had “bookmarked” and filed away to come and paint again.

I left Kansas City with 42 blank canvases and returned with 13 still looking for an image to be bestowed to them. I tried to fill them all, but there are times when it is better not to paint, and to go with what the situation requires. Whether it be dinning with artists and friends in one town, visiting with family and loved ones in another. Making the best whatever life rolls before me and keeping my expectations very low.

I do what I can, when I can, and when I can’t I do what I must. Sometimes what I want is in there somewhere. That is my reward for waiting.

Thanks for taking the time to follow me on this little “travel-log” to the South.

24 of my paintings will be on display through the end of February, a chronological journey from here to there and back again. I hope you can join me. For more info on this show click HERE, or inquire within.

Greg

Shem Creek artists

Gene, Za, me @ Shem Creek

 

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.

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“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.

 

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

 

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