Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fire's Creek, North Carolina

Just last week my wife and I drove to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. I had taken a blacksmithing course two years ago and a painting course last year. This year I decided to just go plein air painting instead of taking a class since the area haas so many nice features -- mountains, creeks and wooded landscapes. While my wife was quilting with her class, I headed out to Fire's Creek, near Hayesville, North Carolina not far from the school. On the road to the parking area I noticed the "Bear Sanctuary" sign -- which I had not anticipated. However, there were no bears around to disturb me while I painted, only the sound of the waterfall and of rushing water. At the location was a waterfall and a bridge over the creek. These are both 6" X 8" oil paintings done on two days in about an hour and a half.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The portrait

A long time ago I realized that I had an affinity for doing portraits. Pretty early on in art school I was able to get a good likeness in charcoal. Does it take a certain empathy with the human being, maybe not. I don't think John Singer Sargent was a real lover of many of his subjects. For me, it helps. I remember doing a double portrait, husband and wife. He was a jolly soul and easy to paint; the wife was a lot harder -- 40 miles of bad road. I had to think to myself, well, she's somebody's mother and grandmother -- so look at it like that and forget how crabby she looks. It worked and I sold it!! This particular watercolor shown above is done from a black and white photo taken at the turn of the century --- the 1800s to the 1900s --- of a flower seller in London. It's done on a 10 X 14" sheet of Canson watercolor paper.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Setting bricks on the Yellow Brick Road

Once upon a time -- that would be art school -- I had a teacher we called Mr. C. He taught Fundamentals which was my first class of the day -- drawing, painting, perspective, color theory. Mr. C was good natured, fun and loved his work and wanted us to love our work. By and by he taught us not only to get a job done, but to put professionalism into our efforts. I don't know if he liked me especially more than others, but he made it seem like that. We all probably felt that way. I can't remember him ever scolding anyone except maybe for having too good a time talking in class. I enjoyed having my work critiqued month by month as it gave us time to talk about the work and other things as well. We had grown up in similar areas. Anyhow, after all these years (I will admit it was over 30 years ago) you never forget people like that (helping you laying out those bricks on the Yellow Brick Road of art) and how they helped you to get where you are and how thankful you are that they were there for you. Mr. C left the school some years after I was gone and went on to do other art related things and at the age of 70 or so is still active doing demonstrations and painting and entering shows. A week or so ago I googled his name and found an e-mail address. I wrote and he wrote back. Like someone said; we only are able to see what we do because we stand on the shoulders of those who helped us before. He helped give me a lifetime of enjoyment working in and appreciating art. I think he's proud of me -- I know I am of him.
The painting pictured above is a 10 X 14" watercolor portrait.