As I have said before, when you are an artist you can do anything. When I left the Navy I felt I could do anything in the world. Man is my head growing big! Anyhow, just kidding, .....but this time at the John C. Campbell Folk School I was part of the Longbow making class taught by Tom Turgeon. I had not ever made a bow (okay, I tried once when I was a kid) and only shot arrows when I was a teenager. We were given a glued up blank consisting of Yellowheart and a layer of Bamboo ready to be filed and sanded into the correct shape. It takes a lot of filing and sanding skill to work your way around this bow (expect a day and a half). Since I've done wood carving and other wood related projects I felt quite comfortable. Tom Turgeon is an absolutely outstanding teacher...always open to questions and redoing a demo so you get your work correct. After a day and a half of filing and sanding, we were ready to shoot outside the woodworking shop at JCCFS. After that we concentrated on getting a nice color using dyes and then doing a polyurethane finish after the dyes were dry. So......where's the painting connection? We used dyes to get the color on the bow...only a few color choices so it helps to know about mixing colors. A little different than using paint in that the dyes dry very dark, but the polyurethane varnish brings back the color. Tom teaches the class all around the country, many in his home state of Utah. Great class.....you're an artist?.....you can do it. (By the way...that's yours truly traveling with classmates and our bows on the campus at John C. Campbell.)
This is a 11" X 14" oil on linen. The location for this is somewhere near Cambridge, Wisconsin along one of Wisconsin's "Rustic Roads". Usually the Rustic Roads take you through farm country on two lane roads and there are often very nice farm scenes. Though they are nice, there really isn't any possiblity of pulling off the road for plein air painting...no room. In fact I have done several works from references taken along a ride down the road. I read a book recently about a cowboy working on a farm out west...Wyoming...and he wrote that farmers and ranchers usually steer the cattle away from ponds like this and prefer to have access to water tanks for the animals. Apparently you risk the animals getting into a mess and into some contaminated water if you let them drink out of the pond. That said, this was a really nice scene which attracted my attention with the color and composition. And here's another thought....once I have set myself up for a shot, that's pretty much the composition I will use when I paint the scene.
This is a 30" X 36" oil of a place in southeast North Carolina near the Georgia border. I worked on this on and off all winter and recently finished it. I took this picture before I varnished it, but unless it looks a lot different this will do. There was a lot of layers done on those background trees to get them the way I wanted. Also, I did a lot of painting just to cover the canvas nevermind the finish. I got frustrated with or tired of this painting many times, but it is nice to have something you can put up on the easel and work on for a time and then let it go.
Here's the latest painting finished here at the studio. This one took a long time, meaning I spent several months working on this and others. Also, because I titled this entry as "Out of my comfort zone", I just don't do paintings like this. I didn't want this to slip into a genre of painting that I just don't like.....those paintings of boats on the water you see in galleries located near water. So I hope my brushwork and color have brought it into a better level.
The painting was inspired by looking out for the ferry to Madelaine Island in northern Wisconsin. This is the small harbor there.....there were other boats there as well, but I chose this because I liked the light falling on it. It's a 16" x 20" done in oil.
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.