Again, this year I returned to the Fresh Paint Amana and met several very nice painters while trying to do my paintings. Lately I have not been pleased by my own work, but these two came out well enough to put on the gallery wall. They are both oil on linen on a birch panel.....one is an 8 x 10", the other an 11 x 14". I returned to Lily Lake just across the road from the city of Amana and painted the lake in the early morning. The other sketch is of a footbridge next to the lake. It's always good to talk to the other artists....to find new places to paint, learn about what they are doing. One of the artists is a chain saw sculptor, but also an accomplished painter. As I've said before....artists are capable of almost anything.
This is an 8" x 10" that I did in a park setting just outside the city limits of Chicago. While I painted the park workers were mowing the grass and using those gas operated grass trimmers. One guy came over, shut off his trimmer and started to talk. I was OK with that, but I did have to stop painting. Seems like everyone who sees an artist painting has to bring up some painter they have seen on television, so it's probably a good thing to stop what you (I) are doing and take the time to bring a little reality for people who have not really seen an artist in action. (not that I don't like tv artists) This week I am off to Fresh Paint Amana in Amana, Iowa which I did last year. I'm just hoping to do better than I did in Mineral Point....not happy with most of my work there.
I did this 8" x 10" last weekend along the creek in Mineral Point. It's very small and courses through the east side of the town and once fed a large brewery there. I did about six paintings, which for me is low production. I felt like I was in the batter's box fouling off pitches or striking out. I just was not painting very well all week. This one I did show in one of the galleries sponsoring the event and it sold.....not many did.
A very long time passed since I last had a post. For those of you who have been looking, I apologize, but life occasionally gets in the way, but nonetheless important things happen. In the meantime....the "secret life of the artist" has taken me to other fields....basketmaking and woodworking. As usual, in the Spring, we take an annual trip to the John C. Campbell Folk School. My wife quilts and it's up to me to find something among the classes or else go under "guest" status (which for me is plein air painting). This year I did basketry. I have over the last couple years done some basket weaving, so I thought this would be nice. While I did 5 baskets, I was in a class of people who have been doing this from 10 to 30 years ---- a mistake on my part. Oh, they were nice and all..... but I just was a minor note in a major key.
In addition I spent a week or so making a potting bench for gardening (yes, I do that too) for my wife. Using plans, I cut all the boards and screwed them in place and put on the finish and wood protection. As I may have said before, after being in the Navy and being an artist, there just isn't anything I can't do (involving handwork).
As to this painting, it was done on a Sunday morning, took me two hours (longer than I like) and was done on an 8" x 10" linen panel. I was part of an unofficiaL group (I'm new) called Anatomically Correct doing an event called Brush With Nature.
Coming up, I will be part of the first plein air event in Mineral Point, Wisconsin in August and then Plein Air Amana, in Amana, Iowa in September.
Keeping your hand in.....yes, that's keeping your art going under difficult circumstances. I have had to deal with "family issues" on top of having one of the worst winters in history here. Snow, below zero temperatures and wind. I've painted outside in the winter and cold weather before. I'ts not pleasant...well, once you're painting it is..., but not when the cold is threatening to your well being. So, what to do? I pulled out watercolors and went at it. There are two watercolor portraits here; one a copy of a Rembrandt and the other a cowboy from the cover of Frank Schoonover's book. When I do these I dispense with any preliminary drawing and go ahead and paint, sculpting the forms as I work. I finish when I want to and just put them aside, never selling them.
I also painted two rooms --- I can do that too. In March I will be doing a two hour watercolor workshop for a group of high school students at their high school. There you have it, Wintertime for the painter (who doesn't want to freeze his ass).
I have not done much painting lately -- sometimes life intervenes and things happen that just have to be taken care of and you are prevented from painting. Other times you just don't have an inspiring moment, although maybe that's just me. I did encounter this pine tree on the campus of Saulk Valley Community College. The last couple years I have been invited along with about 25 other artists to paint something for the benefit of a gallery. Well, I do a lot of their shows and sometimes even sell something or win an award. During one of my classes (I'm the instructor) I have enough time to do a little drawing and decided to do this one. It's about 9" X 13" done on nice drawing paper with number 8B pencils. My concept is doing it with full values like I would if it was a painting, lots of sublety and close attention to handling the pencil, no extraneous lines. I like this, but having had three of my drawings in a recent show, none sold, so maybe I'm on the wrong track as far as marketing goes. This is my chosen path, or track, so I will stay on it.
This time I've posted three recent plein air paintings; two done in organized events and one on my own. The painting of the statue of the Civil War soldier was done in Cambridge, Wisconsin on a sunny day. It's dedicated to soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. I did this one very Impressionistic. I have been to Cambridge, usually to go to the pottery place in town (also Ripley's bakery) and I always pass this park with the statue and say "someday I'd like to paint that". Well, it finally happened. I did this 8" X 10" in about an hour and a half. I also took a few photos on the trip for possible paintings to do this winter when the weather is bad.
The painting of the tree was done in the "Fresh Paint" plein air event in Amana Iowa. (Place to visit there is Millstream Brewery!!) I did this little painting, an 8" X 10" in a little over an hour on a very hot day. I was right along a lake, but after doing a couple paintings of the lake it was time to look elsewhere. As I often do, I just scan the area at 90 degrees, 180 degrees from where I am standing. This was at 90. It just came very easily and was one of two paintings I left at Catiri's Gallery after the show to be on display for one month. I did sell the other -- an 11" X 14" -- of Lily Lake. So I had to drive back last month, pick up this one and some beer from Millstream Brewery. Right now it's hanging in my home, but will be in a show next January.
Lastly was a 6" X 10" (kind of an odd size but nice for a panoramic view -- and my friend Kenny at Ken's Framing, River Grove does the custom frame) I did at another plein air event called Anatomically Correct held at Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie, Illinois. I've never painted with that group, so I was kind of an outsider (like I was in the Iowa group --- it's OK, I'm used to it. Here could be another entry in my "Secret Life of the Artist" series -- spending time alone painting). I set up next to the pond at Emily Oaks and painted the view across the way -- a nice example of autumn. I had a good number of people (not artists) stop by, take a look and talk -- might have even gained a student. It was quite a beautiful day, however I had to stop after I finished this one because my back was hurting. An hour and a half of standing on uneven ground will do you in. I started with no drawing, just washing in color and then getting down to business painting opaque. It turned out to be one of my better efforts ever.
So, three paintings, three states: Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. I'm sure the gasoline companies love me.