Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

These are two of the oil sketches I did while I was in a small state park in NC. Both are 6 X 8" and because of the winds there they are loaded with sand. Wherever you set up to paint the wind is blowing the sand about. This is why the Wright brothers chose this area for flying, so I am told.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Last week I drove over a thousand miles from here, the Midwest, to the east coast -- the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the town of Duck, just north of Kitty Hawk. The temperature was about 15 to 20 degrees warmer, the price of gas about 50 to 60 cents cheaper and the Southern accent just delightful. In between was some good road food and some bad road food -- and lots of road kill, but that's another story. My wife had taken a walk along the beach and told me to watch out for the waves, so by the time I set up away from the range of the waves inshore, I thought I was safe. I had a block-in going when all of a sudden I was knee deep in the ocean and my paint box was quickly floating away. I ran -- that is, RAN!!! after my paint box and bag with extra canvases. I managed to catch up with them to save them (filled with water by now), but lost about $40 to $50 dollars worth of paint. I lost a tube of Cadmium Red, White, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin, Ultramarine and Cadmium Yellow. I watched as they sank into the sand and after that I have no idea where they went as wave after wave hit the shore. I just hope The Nature Conservancy wasn't watching. I worked on the sketch I had going for a while, but since I was rather bummed out, I packed up and left. I didn't touch the oils until the next afternoon. I've posted a picture of the spot I was working, the evil sea and a pencil drawing I did of one of the shore birds while sitting on the beach in the post-trauma afternoon. There's a lesson to be learned there somewhere. The sea is a powerful thing -- it drove me inside -- I am re-reading Moby Dick.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

St. Giles, Oxford, England

It was a warm, sunny day down the street from the famous Eagle and Child pub on St. Giles. (Wow, what a great start for a story.) Nonetheless, it was a warm sunny day when we came a cross this beautiful scene in Oxford ---- sunlight, shadows, a tree in wonderful autumn color. This is an 11 X 14 oil on linen. This one was finished rather quickly and the food at the Eagle and Child was quite good as I recall.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another show, another hawk

Sorry to have another picture of myself, but there it is. I drove through a rainstorm which had several streets closed on the way to McCord Gallery in Palos Park, IL to drop off my pastel for a show called "Landscape Real And Imagined." Mine is "real" although I have done abstract imagined landscapes before. My friend Ric had a painting in the show also -- "Imagined" -- (his is a chair made of thorns in a landscape). My pastel was done earlier this year of the last snowfall of the year back in March when I rushed out of the house before it could melt. We have had a hawk, or two, in my neighborhood for the last several years. A friend identified this as a Cooper's Hawk. It's perched on my fence near a window. I had to slip my camera lens through the blinds and, lest I disturb the hawk, take the picture before he went on his merry hunting way. He's nailed a few morning doves in my backyard. I now have paintings in two shows --- a first for me and I will be looking for other places to show in the future. I am working furiously up there in the studio on more than one painting. One on canvas, the other on linen: both landscapes. Ever since I returned from the workshop in Wyoming I have really had the desire to paint.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Farms & Barns show

Last week the Farms & Barns show opened at The Next Picture Show gallery in Dixon, Illinois along the Rock river. Dixon is about 100 miles to the west of Chicago and takes about two hours to get there which would explain the bewildered expression on my face. Not to be confused with the Barns & Farms show in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, which I've done the last two years, the Farms & Barns show is a nice one too. My two paintings are the pastel on top and an oil below. I received a 3rd place award for that 12 X 24 oil of a farm after harvest in southern Wisconsin. In the meantime, I have been very busy painting, although I must confess --- I haven't been outside. Here I intend to be a plein air painter and there I am, upstairs in the studio painting inside. It's an embarrasing confession to make.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Studies from Cody, WY

I guess it's possible to do good work without really coming up with an image you want to put in a frame. Following instructions, I did my block in (or as the painters out west like to say, "mass it in") and went after the color. These are both 6" X 8" studies on canvas board. The mountain scene is very high key with a lot of subtle color, but I remember really liking doing that one. I thought they were good for gathering information: the colors were accurate and the values stay where they are supposed to. I have a large painting in mind that will use what I have here, but that will be a while before it gets posted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wildfires at Yellowstone/Ralph Oberg Workshop

Shortly after posting last time I departed for Cody, Wyoming to take a workshop with Ralph Oberg (in the blue shirt)and John Potter (back view with red headband). You can check both of their websites to see their work. The emphasis was on design, massing in the values and getting the color right. I felt I did well -- posts of the paintings to come. I didn't come away with anything for the frame, but good studies. While I was there the wildfires at yellowstone, about 30 miles away, were clouding the sky with smoke. You can see the orange tint to the sky in some of the photos and the aftermath of the scorched earth in a couple others. We painted at a location about 5 miles away from the fires, but it was clear that day. I passed the burned earth and a camp for firefighters.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Plein Air with an old friend

Last week I drove to see Dan, an old friend from art school, who had some time off work. We drove to a location where he was working on a large (like 30" X 36" canvas -- something way too big for me to do outside) painting of a church in a churchyard. More specifically, a church with attached graveyard. I set myself up looking north while he was pointed south. We were both in the shade and luckily so because it was very hot that day. I did this 8" X 10" in about an hour and left out the headstones. The other picture (pencil on paper) is of my friend Dan that I did about 30 years ago. Both of us are well preserved.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barns & Farms show, Kewuanee, Wisconsin

The last two years I was fortunate enough to have two paintings chosen for the Barns & Farms nationally juried show in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. Each year I've sold one and then had to return to pick up the other painting. When I left home it was 92 degrees; along the lake in Wisconsin it was 68 degrees. I love driving in farm country and I stopped to paint by this harbor where the Kewaunee river meets Lake Michigan. (Not all that pleased with what I did this time, so I'm not posting that dog.) About 25 miles south of Kewaunee is the town of Two Rivers, Wisconsin along Lake Michigan. There's an old pickup truck parked at a gas station. It's a Chevy short box, either a 1939 or 1940. Despite the high price of gas and the long drive (3 1/2 hours), the scenery and old cars along the way make the journey worthwhile.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunset photo and two PAs from The Fields Project

Now it's been a couple weeks since I did The Fields Project. The people there and the artists as well were all very nice and went out of their way to help us out. I can't as yet say whether I will return there next year since I have enough trouble figuring out my life day to day. The two PAs are both 8" X 10"s and were done in an hour to an hour and a half. The sunset photo was one of many beautiful ones. Oregon, Illinois is about an hour west of Chicago. Once you are there, you feel a million miles away from Chicago -- which can be a good thing!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wm. R. Leigh and Joseph Raphael

These are a couple watercolor works I did for practice. The first is Wm. R. Leigh the painter who trained in Germany and then painted in the American West (done about 9 X 12 inches). The other is Joseph Raphael, another artist, but not the California Impressionist (done about 5 X 7 inches).

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Fields Project, Oregon, Illinois

I've spent the last eight days in Oregon, Illinois as part of The Fields Project. It's been organized for about ten years. For me it was an opportunity to do some plein air painting out on the local farmland. You spend a week at the home of a local farmer (at no cost!!!) I had an excellent time, met and developed friendships with several of the people and farmers there and swallowed an untold number of insects while painting -- they seem to fly right into your open mouth unmercifully. When I look around for my soon to be painting, I don't care whether it's in the sun or shade, so I wound up in the sun a little too much. By Thursday I was doing watercolors sitting down. Hey, I'm just a city kid and not used to standing in the hot sun for hours and hours. The 2009 Fields Project in already being planned (see their website). On the easel (or pochade box), are two of my 8 X 10s. This is a nice opportunity to get together with other plein air painters as well.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Fields Project, upcoming

In about two weeks I will be driving to Oregon, Illinois to take part in The Fields Project. Oregon along the Rock River has been an artist community for about a century. I had to submit four images of my work and was accepted earlier this Spring. There are several types of artists participating in the week's work. Some are painters, some sculptors and some do those crop circles or field sculptures -- (I went to art school, but I think they are either aliens or perhaps studied with them during one of those abductions aboard a spacecraft -- I will let you know when I get there). I will be taking pictures and hopefully taking some of the paintings I hope to complete. I will be doing some plein air oils, maybe watercolors too. I will be staying with a family that takes care of horses, so that will be just right for me. All of the common lectures seem to take place during the time when the light is best for painting so I expect to be playing hookey from school so I can go paint. Regarding the posts: the pastels are both about 8 X 11" and the watercolor is a 5 X 7". I had a little time left in the class I was taking so I surreptitiously painted one of my fellow students, Michelle. She's a new member of the class and has been bringing casserole dishes full of pasta or a pizza to class. I've got to watch myself -- I don't want to give up the nickname Slim.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Waterworks show and small watercolor

I am currently in a watercolor show called Waterworks at August House Gallery in Chicago. It's a 3 weekend show at the gallery operated by Marya Veeck, the daughter of baseball's Bill Veeck (former owner of the Chicago White Sox). The deal is: you put two framed paintings for the walls and 6 matted works to go in bins. Fortunately I have sold my two framed pieces, so at the moment it's a success. I have the framed piece pictured in the window on the easel. (It's a scene from the moors of Scotland with sheep blocking the road --- I was diving on the Isle of Skye and that's what the sheep do there, they get in your way.) Once you get away from the cities, Scotland is a fantastic place to drive. Next month (June) I am scheduled to participate in The Fields Project in Oregon, Illinois. There has been an art colony there for the last hundred years along the Rock River. Other than staying for a week with a farm family and doing plein air painting on the farm and surrounding area for a week, I don't know what to expect. I will be taking photos and hopefully doing some decent work which I will post.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

First of May

The Art Institute of Chicago has the Homer and Hopper show now. Both are really great shows for an artist to see -- why?, you ask: they show their work early on when they were still learning their craft. It was always important for me when I was a student to know that others were working long hours at the craft and still learning. This weekend I help install a watercolor show called "Waterworks" which I did last year. I will be there twice -- it's fun talking to the other artists in the show, to the people and to watch the gallery rats -- the people who come out to all the show openings to drink wine, eat cheese and crackers and never spend a dime. You have to have a sense of humor when you are an artist. Patience too!! The top painting is an oil, 9" X 12", of Chapel Street in Stratford Upon Avon. I don't know what was there in Shakespeare's time, but I bought something in the bakery on the left side of the street. The other two, the portraits, are small watercolors, like 10" X 14" and 8" X 10".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is this a Mulligan or deja vu?

The last posting I did was this snowfall scene from North Carolina done in oil. Since then I did another in pastel. I was pleased with both so I won't call this a Mulligan. For those that don't golf, a Mulligan is a second shot taken after you've blown the first. Since my skill at baseball did not translate well to my golf game I've shot a few Mulligans. My drive off the tee can actually go almost anywhere to tell you the truth. My iron shots on the fairway are deadly -- the only good part of my game. Once I'm on the green it can be quite a while before I make it to the cup. This is why I had to give that up. Art can be frustrating, but not as bad as golf. I've been on the course at hole number 11 wishing I could just pack it in, but I can't leave my buddy behind. That's the great thing about painting; you work alone most of the time and you come and go as you please. I've yet to have my palette cup remind me of the 18th hole at the golf course -- not a lot of fond memories there; but I digress...... I worked quite a while on this pastel and got tired of it -- close value. I knew it would take me about three hours to finally finish it and darned if it didn't. Somehow when I got into the fine points of drawing I got a second wind. I've included a couple small portraits I did at the watercolor class. They're fun and I like doing them.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Close value -- Snowfall: Brasstown, North Carolina

This is a large (for me) landscape, 22" X 28" - oil on canvas, of a scene in the hills of North Carolina. I was there painting for a week and while I was there it snowed, which I gather from the natives is rare. The snow only lasted a day or two and then melted. I was trying a slightly different approach, which is simply to paint thicker than I usually do. The paint stays wet and workable at least a day or two. Actually this one is still wet a week later. I got it on my fingers putting it up to take this picture. I remember what the canvas felt like before and after: it's a lot heavier now. My last post had pictures of the snow in my home area -- that's all gone as well as the temperatures are in the 50s and 60s. This was fun to paint, but challenging as well -- keeping the backgound back. The background hills are very close values with plenty of colors and subtle warms and cools.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Winter's almost over

I was painting indoors on this day last week (I think it was Thursday) in the studio and took these two pictures of the beautiful snowfall. I was working away and finally took time for a break. It was quite dark that day. You can see the snow falling if you look closely. I went out the next day when the sun was shining for more really nice pictures as well at a forest preserve a few miles away.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Snowfall, Brasstown, North Carolina

This is a small (5 X 7") pastel done for a friend. While I was in North Carolina in late February there was a rare snowfall. Being from the Midwest, I had just left dirty snow and treacherous ice behind, so I was not all that excited. The locals however were enchanted. I must admit that it was indeed rather enchanting to see these beautiful mountains and trees with a sparkling clean snowcover. So I forgot about the past and felt inspired by the present and gave it all a new eye. I have found that these pastels don't look as good on the computer as they look in person. Recently I have sent some images to a gallery and others to enter some shows and I find myself unimpressed by the look of my pastels. Enlarged, they look all scratchy. I don't have that with my oils. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and I will show you the originals. What I like about doing these landscapes in pastel and in oil is the textures of background over the sky and foreground trees over the rest and trying to get the color intensity right. That's why we paint.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New and old

Flipping through some things in my studio, I found my old folder of life drawings and decided to look through them. I've been doing a bit of figure and portrait painting lately and enjoyed looking at this charcoal of one of the models, Nancy, who actually went on to be in a movie -- Jackson County Jail and a few other B movies. The little farm painting is a small pastel, about 5 X 7". Nancy had a short career in the movies and a short careeer as a model. As you can see, the old barn in the pastel has had a very long career.