I was outside a couple weeks ago with two friends, also painters. I have known them since art school, yes, 40 years ago. Anyhow, I drove to meet them in the south suburbs of Chicago to go painting in the woodlands there. One of my friends drove to this location and we split up and started to paint. Once I started my first effort I knew it was a disaster in the making, so I scraped it off and then began this one....a tree study. I knew there was about an hour's light left and had to hurry.
the light changed fast and I was left with a tree in shadow, not the light I began with. Basically I have here a drawing done with a brush and a few colors. The point is....in all PRACTICALITY I will not be finishing this one because it's unlikely that I could find my way back to this spot without my friends and couldn't do this until fall of next year anyway. Now this all brings me to a story about practicality......I once was working as an artist with a another friend who drove us to somewhere outside of Chicago to a film studio where we were going to photograph the art we'd done. Over the course of the day, I was getting really angry at my partner when I just could no longer take it and was ready to walk out the door telling him "I quit". Now, I realized in that moment that I was in a location I didn't know and with no idea how to get home on my own..... I stayed. That was practicality in action that day. A couple years later I did quit and found my way home. The moral of the story.....drive yourself.
This is a small watercolor I did sitting across the street from Wilson's, a classic old Door County landmark in Ephraim, Wisconsin. Ice cream and hamburgers. I was not feeling well this summer and didn't think I'd like to stand up for over an hour so I took my little watercolor kit and sat in the grass.
This is Rembrandt's "Descent from the Cross" which I copied in 1977 the year after I left art school. I gave it to the church I was going to about 1980. The painting hung for many years at the top of the entrance stairs, so it was the first thing you noticed when arriving. In the course of time, I left that church and after hanging there for probably 20 years the painting was taken down during a remodeling. That wall was taken out and the picture was put into storage. One of my friends there died and I attended the memorial service to be surprised by the fact that the painting was gone. I later asked someone what had happened to it. Just a month ago the new minister decided to clean up the storage area, my friends contacted me and the painting is now back with me after about 25 years. That is the story and here's the point....as you can see in the somewhat blurry closeup (bottom picture) there is a bloom over the picture, some scratches and some frame damage and a hole in the liner around the frame. After a good cleaning it came out looking like new. Not much I can do about the cloth liner, but I can touch up the frame with a little paint. Once your painting leaves your hands there isn't much you can do when it's not well cared for, luckily this one is still good.
I have done the plein air event at Emily Oaks Nature Center over the last 3 years with the Anatomically Correct painting group, an unofficial group. I stood almost in the same spot last year, but of course the concept behind the two are different --- what I did last year was not the same composition or focus as this one. Usually I don't do the same thing from time to time, but there just aren't that many great views here, sorry to say. So knowing what I know and painting the way I do, I pushed the color and brushwork. It's a 9" x 12" on a linen canvas panel prepared by me and painted in less than two hours.
I just got back yesterday from taking my three paintings to Morris, Minnesota for the Horizontal Grandeur show at the Stevens County Historical Museum. Driving from Chicago it's about 10 hours, mostly interstate views of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. After getting off the interstate the views are a little better, but it's pretty much farm fields and flatland ---- nothing that makes you run for the paint and brushes, no majestic views....at least from the car. So after driving all that distance it took me all of five minutes to drop off and leave, although one person remembered me and my work from last time --- nice to hear. This is a nice show, meaning it's there for three months in a very nice looking museum.
Secondly, the painting you see that I just finished. It's another farm scene from Wisconsin along one of the Rustic Roads. I actually did this farms once before in another view, but the season changed and you'd never know it. This one is 22" x 28", oil on canvas. Otherwise I've been busy repairing old pocket watches. That's frustrating.
Last December I was at a gathering of friends. This portrait, by the way, an 8" x 10" oil on canvas is of my friend Bill. I was sitting at the table after dinner and had my camera intending to take a candid shot of any interesting face I saw. Bill was sitting nearby, but every time I wanted to snap a picture, there he was looking right at me. I wanted something a bit more immediate and just could not get it --- I wanted to tell him to stop looking at me. If it had turned out a bit better I wouldn't be calling this a practice piece, but it's just a practice piece and I guess I will just have to give it to him. I had in mind a "bearded man" series.
Both of these paintings were done on odd size canvas for which I would have to make my own frame (probably). Since I have always stretched my own canvas I always have small remnants which you can either throw out or use. I had saved that end-of-the-watercolor block cardboard and had a nice surface to mount a piece of canvas. So I primed it and waited for the right time to use it. I did the one painting in an hour or so, but the painting with the tree took longer. The marsh painting of Cambridge, WI is 8" x 13" and the other is from Amana, IA and is 7" x 11".