Greg's Blog

Sometimes I'll throw a little useful info out here for you, other times it's just a bit of mumbo jumbo

 

 

  • Newly elected member of the Salmagundi Art Club, New York, New York
  • Artists of the New Century at the Bennington Center for the Arts
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What’s it going to take?

September 8, 2014 by admin

Do you have something that is so near and dear to you that no matter what the circumstances you are not going to get rid of it?

I do, but it is definitely NOT my minivan. So why keep fixing it?

IMAG0382What I sometimes refer to as my “Paint-Mobile” is a 2003 Ford Windstar Minivan. The perfect vehicle for any soccer Mom across the country, and I find it the perfect vehicle to travel the country loaded with paint gear and living supplies.

I’ve been kind of negligent on my posting my blogs as of late, and I’m going to blame it in part to my Paint Mobile. As those who have been following me  probably know I’ve been on the road lately. And what’s more dangerous than texting and driving? Yes! you guessed it, typing out your weekly blog while driving. Being the safety conscious guy I am, I “curbed” my desire to “blog & drive”.

I’ve been painting in the Ozark mountains these past few weeks, working on a project with 3 other artists for Big Cedar Lodge, painting plein air pieces on some of their properties. This day I’m speaking in particular of, I was painting in Dogwood Canyon, had just finished up a painting of the Long Pine Bridge and was getting ready to head back home for a time.

Long Pine Fishing

Long Pine Fishing

If you don’t know the Ozark Mountains well, there are some wonderful windy roads through hills and valleys. Perfect for cruising on your motorcycle… but I was in the minivan. I pulled out of the canyon and less than a mile away I was rounding a narrow curve heading uphill when all of a sudden my trusty steed decided not to go forward any longer.

There was no curb to speak of, but I did manage to roll my vehicle backwards so that at least the right side tires were off the road. This was not good. The engine was working fine, because it had to… I had just replaced it two years ago, what could this be? I put it in “Drive”… nothing! “Reverse”… nothing still! I was getting a sick feeling that it might be the transmission. NOOO! Oh well,  I mean I have only 185,000 miles on the car…

…so far.

My phone was getting sporadic cell service in the  canyon areas, and I had my fingers crossed as I dialed my “Emergency Roadside Assistance” number. Hooray, I somehow managed to have my car fizzle out in an area where the phone worked.

It took about 2 hours waiting on the side of the road being the obstacle in the road that cars from both directions had to slow down for, but the tow truck finally arrived, and took me to nice service place in a town that I totally forgot where it was when I tried to get back to it, but that’s another story. Jeannie, Rhonda, EVERYONE at Big Cedar Lodge was a big help in getting me and my van going again.

I’m stopping there because I think I’ve gone a bit “off topic”. But you get the idea, my van crapped out… AGAIN!

Paint Mobile

Paint Mobile

My engine died 2 years ago on my, replaced my front end last year, and just now my transmission.

Susie had a pretty good question for me…

“What’s it going to take to make you replace this old thing?” I told her, “when the radio goes out!”

But that’s not true. There is the same CD that’s been stuck in there for over a year and I can’t get it out. My tape player won’t play tapes, but I put this converter in it, and plug my Ipod into it so I have my tunes. I need my tunes for driving.

I have no special bonds with my “paint mobile”. I don’t have a name for it like my sisters. They seem to name all of their vehicles, me I name my children, and title my paintings, and try not to get them confused.

It’s probably just convenient to keep the same car. I don’t have payments on it any longer, though repairs are really adding up. I was hoping to get ahead of the game, maybe going 5 years or so without the cumbersome burden of car payments. So I’ve got to start the timer over with this newest investment in my paint-mobile.

What’s it going to take? Realistically? Probably when I my sales of 5 digit paintings become a bit more prevalent. I believe I might be better situated to replace my “green machine”… and those old tennis shoes that are worn in just right, and my red t-shirt I always use to…

Road Trip

Road Trip

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”

Sunshine Day Dream: Day 3

June 18, 2014 by admin
Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake

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

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

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

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

Lake Clear

Lake Clear

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

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

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

The VIC

The VIC

Sunshine Daydream: Day 2 New York

June 17, 2014 by admin
Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

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

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

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

Lemmings I tell you!

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

always a cause

always a cause

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

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

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

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

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

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

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

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

Margaret, and puppy

Margaret, and puppy

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

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

Well why not!

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

 Chimney Bluffs of Ontario


Chimney Bluffs of Ontario

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

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

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

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

No problem.

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

Karma?

"The End"

“The End”

Sunshine Daydream: Day 1

June 16, 2014 by admin

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

"honey do's"

“honey do’s”

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

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

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

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

Love you, I won't be long.

Love you, I won’t be long.

abroad.

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

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

83 canvases, 5lbs of trail mix

83 canvases, 5lbs of trail mix

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

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

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

…and I’m off!

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

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

my F-4 phantom cockpit

my F-4 phantom cockpit

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

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

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

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

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

Going Where the Wind Goes

Going Where the Wind Goes

 

Timing is everything

May 7, 2014 by admin

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

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

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

"In the Out Door"

“In the Out Door”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Boones Farm Whine"

“Boones Farm Whine”

 

 

I don’t paint for “Fun”

December 17, 2013 by admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this true? Maybe so.

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

smile

smile

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

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

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

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

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

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

cambridge 106 007-001

 

 

Heavy Metal Thunder

December 3, 2013 by admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I decided this is where I would set up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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