Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Plein Air?? and a couple watercolors

As all of you painters know, you never know what you will be asked to do. For example: the little oil painting was done from a black and white photo taken probably in the 1940s. This is a farm in Iowa featuring the grandmother of a friend (Lynn Dykstra Davis -- see her quilt blog) feeding the chickens. It's a 5 X 7" which I did in a couple hours, cropping the photo and trying to give it a plein air look. The other two are watercolors: a small portrait of the artist Lyonel Feininger; and two lumberjacks, a painting which I had in a recent show (unfortunately they came back home with me. I did sell several others).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Down a country road

I was driving through southern Wisconsin via my usual route and then came to a detour sign. Figuring that I would be losing time on the detour, I was not happy about it. A few miles later I came upon a farm with a field of sunflowers and a painting in the making. So I made it. I did a 12 X 16" oil and I suppose because of the beauty of it, the painting sold very quickly. A lucky turn of events for me.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A great woman/artist

After being in a mall art show about 30 years ago with my stack of oil paintings, I was contacted by someone about doing art classes. I was just out of art school and had no experience, but still they wanted me to start -- they liked my work. One person who showed up that night was Mary. She had a lifelong love of art which she said came from her mother, who also painted. Mary wasn't a Cecelia Beaux, but she did an original from time to time or just copied paintings by others out of those Walter Foster books or magazines. At the time she started she was 67, when this picture was taken. She was the editor of a newspaper at that time. The class moved from one person's home, to a welding shop, to Mary's newspaper composing room, to her home and eventually to her nursing home. Her painting class helped make the hard transition from her home to the nursing home. She continued to paint, finishing one 12 X 16 about every 3 sessions --- pretty darn good for someone who is 97. We had just celebrated her 97th birthday a couple weeks ago then had to cancel the class last week because her foot hurt. She hated to miss class. Her daughter called to tell me she died on Mother's Day. She was one of the nicest, kindest and wonderful people I have ever met. It's just a small part of her story and how art brings people together of all ages to experience the work and fun of art. She leaves behind 3 children, 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren and 1 sad but thankful art teacher. She meant a great deal to me and I will miss her.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Recent work on paper

These are a few of the watercolors I've done recently. The portrait of the engineer with the soot on his face was done from a black and white picture in a book on railroading; color is mine. I pretty much just started with washes of color and drew as I painted. I really love doing portraits and it usually comes pretty easy for me. The industrial scenes were done with little drawing; I trust myself to get that right as I work. The bluish scene was done on watercolor paper prepared with gesso. The photograph was taken at the Waterworks show which is currently at the August House Gallery in Chicago. My teacher Ed Hinkley is at the left, my son in the center and I'm at the right. Some call me "Slim" -- not sure if I look it there -- gotta do something about that. Maybe dragging my easel outside up and down a few hills will take care of that. Ed has inspired me to work in different ways. He has a great imagination and work ethic and has encouraged me to expand my horizons.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Once Upon A Time.....

Once upon a time I was an elementary school teacher (actually last year at this time) and these are some of the images I created in chalk. Ninety percent of what I do is oil paint, but when I taught I worked in chalk ---- not pastel, just blackboard chalk. After I told the children their morning lesson story, I would do the image that they would then put into their morning lesson books. You do the math: 175 days of school times 8 years -- a lot of stories and drawings. I told a story a day for all eight years beginning in first grade with Grimm's fairy tales and ending in eighth grade with stories of the Dust Bowl and Physics. We did everything from history, geography (maps of the entire world), math, chemistry, earth science, the inventions of the nineteenth century. The first picture was done in a 3rd-4th grade class (I was a sub. last year) -- one of those Norse myths as one of the heroes is sent off in his Viking ship to burn at sea. The giraffe and the alligator were done in the animal block and finally, my claim to fame --- the Waldorf Curriculum poster. This was done in colored pencil before I actually started teaching in 1995 and lithographed, about 1500 copies. The poster is still sold and hangs in numerous Waldorf school all over the United States. Many of my former parents purchased them for their home and the kids followed them as we went along through the years. My former class will be graduating high school in June this year. I've moved on to oil and watercolor. All those chalk drawings and I only brought my camera about a half dozen times -- the rest were erased. Oh, well, I had the fun of doing them.