Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mystery painting

As I was gathering things in my bag to go painting, checking for turps, towels, etc. I found this little study in between two blank canvas boards. I know I did this last June in north Carolina. Apparently it was dry enough then for me to put it away in the bag, but it was forgotten until now. It's an 8 X 10" oil of a riverbank with the dark foreground-light background scenario. As long as there aren't insects and too many tourists, I could paint here anytime, all the time. Things are very slow right now. There haven't been shows I have been interested in entering. I will continue to look.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bridge construction

This is a little 6" X 8" oil of a bridge reconstruction. It was done on a very hot day in Brasstown, North Carolina, but I stood in the shade of some trees and did a quick simple sketch. It was hot for me, but how was it for the workers?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Creek at Brasstown, NC

This is a little 8" X 10" oil sketch done while I was at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. I was out among the bugs on a hot, humid day, but determined to see this through. I did not spend more than 45 minutes on this one, mostly resolved to get the reflection and light on the water. Now, a couple months later, the temperatures here where I live are a lot cooler as we transition toward fall -- no more complaining about the heat! Just to the left by a few hundred yards, is the Citgo gas station and store called Clay's Corners, purveyors of Possum water and cold drinks. Clay also hosts local bluegrass musicians, pretty much all day and night long on the weekend.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


While I was in North Carolina I drove north in the Nantahala National Forest, north of Andrews, NC. There's a lot of river rafting going on there. I pulled off at a turnout and loaded my gear to walk down to the river -- not a problem because there's a nice safe staircase there. I set up next to the river as the rafters went by. I painted this in about an hour with the objective of making short directional brushwork. There was an interesting phenomenon happening while I painted. From time to time a mist would rise up from the water -- very hot moist air above very cold water. So right over on the left where my darkest dark is, it would occasionally be blurred by this mist. I could have and maybe should have worked a little longer on this one, but I felt like I said what had to be said and packed up. This is oil on canvas, 8" X 10".

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fire's Creek/North Carolina

This is another little plein air painting, 8" X 10", oil on canvas. I usually wear cowboy boots while I paint outdoors. I had to climb down a 20 foot incline at about a 45 degree angle in those high heels. Cowboy boots saved me for all the hours I stood to paint (I was one of the few who oil painted morning and afternoon at art school) while I was in art school so I'm not about to stop wearing them, but they are not that easy to scale an incline like that. I was able to set up amid the mosquitoes (I carry an insect repellent with me) and carry on amid the kids with their inner tubes floating by and people walking their dogs. Anyhow, it was a great day to be out -- in the 80s and humid but cool by the river. This one took about an hour and a half. Fun fun fun no matter what.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Magnolias at Fire's Creek in North Carolina

My wife is a quilter and loves her class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. She's made a good number of friends among the other students. I only have one person from a previous class that knows me -- one of the blacksmiths from the class I took two years ago. However, I could not find a class for myself that week (the blacksmithing class offered was too hard for me), but not to worry -- a painter is never lost. During the day I either painted on the campus of JCC or traveled to nearby Fire's Creek to do some plein air painting. Just about five miles from the Georgia border along a winding road through the woods, Fire's Creek is great for kids to do some tubing in the creek or fly fishermen to catch fish -- and me -- to do some painting. This painting is an 8" X 10" oil which just worked out well from the get go. I had a couple people walk by and look while I painted. I set up inches from the creek across from this scene. With a little preliminary wash and a few well drawn lines I was in this world for the next 90 minutes. I'm not sure what I will do with this one yet. For now I have three works at The Next Picture Show Gallery in Dixon, Illinois at the annual "Farms & Barns" show. UPDATE: I've now "finished" the painting from the last posting. I am giving it the stare -- to see whether or not I am pleased with it. If I am I will post the finished version.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two months and counting

These are two images from the same painting. I've been working on this one for quite a while. The canvas is 36" X 48" which is a lot larger than I'm used to working. I was passing this scene last fall on a dark and drizzly day in southern Wisconsin along a road I often travel -- route 12 south out of Cambridge, Wisconsin -- great bakery there!! This is a bog marsh -- how I learned that I don't remember, but as I passed it at 55 mph I thought immediately that it looked really great and might make a nice painting. Even though I was in a hurry to get home, I hit the brakes, turned around and took in the scene from several angles. The top image is the bottom right of my canvas and the second one is the top left. Why would I work this large????? Well, number one -- the canvas was free. After that come other reasons, like, I wanted to explore doing something I don't enjoy -- noodling out grasses. I'm not making it photographic -- I'm going after a painterly style in doing them. The major size focal point tree is in the center left, which I haven't anywhere near finished. Another reason -- looking at some of Clyde Aspevig's work, which I really liked. So from here I am just going to work on coherence -- making the look of the foreground and background agree. Since it's a studio painting I'll be working on making it look like it was done outdoors -- not easy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farm near Rochester, WI

Somehow or another fall and winter have become my favorite time of year. I don't enjoy painting in the heat of summer, so the cool of fall and the gray colors appeal to me. I travel around in the late fall looking for this very type of thing even though I find it challenging to paint. Believe me, all those fine limbs and grasses are enough to try anyone's patience to the limit. This is a detail of a pastel which I knocked off while teaching a class. While the student paints and I offer assistance, I have time to work on one of these. I wonder if the state of Wisconsin is aware that I am their unofficial artist/historian of farm life in their state? My grandfather started a farm in Oregon in 1912, but was not able to make a go of it (a short but sad story). I never had the good fortune to grow up and live on a farm or ranch, but I did grow up watching all the Western movies and TV shows back in the 1950s and 1960s. Earlier this year I was juried in as a member of the Oil Painters of America and recently I sent in an application to become a member and enter the show of the American Plains Artists. Here's two instances where my western and farm paintings have led me into membership in groups that otherwise I might not have been involved in. I have to be careful or I will belong to more groups than I can afford.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Finished work - "Sunset In The Bighorns"

I finished this painting recently after a lot of looking and thinking. This is a scene you will see headed east out of the Bighorn mountains just outside Buffalo, Wyoming with the sun setting on your left. I have come through the Bighorns this way twice in recent years and they've been the source of a couple of works. This painting was done in oil, 24" X 36". I should have said it's like a scene you will see.... because I have moved trees, added things to the foreground and edited the road. There's nothing worse than painting something as it is and then upon seeing it, the real thing looks fake. I worked on several other paintings while I was working on this one due to the tedious nature of working on such a large canvas. Also, I seem to want to jump around a bit after working on one thing for so long. You know the famous question...."How long did that take you to do?"...that people want to know. Since I don't punch a clock, I can't answer that one, but I worked on it over a period of about three months. I hope to get this into a show and I just sent off an image of it today.
Now here's another thought: when I first entered shows I had to come up with slides of my work (remember those?). I entered a few show a couple years ago and found out I'd have to wait a week or ten days to get my slides processed. I used to get them in a day or so. They made me feel like a geezer. Since then I've learned to used the digital camera and the computer to produce a CD with my work on it. This latest show was electronic submission only. My wife had to help me with it. I guess I'm a geezer.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cincinnati #2

These are shots of the train station in Cincinnati -- an Art Deco masterpiece. Inside are the huge tile murals. Not being familiar with the place, I didn't realize it was a mosaic until I came closer. Being a painter, it's a bit of a mystery to me how you would go about doing something on this massive a scale, but it is awesome. The whole setting is something to admire -- the approach to the building, the great style of the building and the inside. It's a real tribute to an era gone by, but still functions as the train station and another museum.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cincinnati in the winter

I traveled with my wife to Cincinnati in early February. We stayed a few days thanks to Gwen, a friend from classes at the John C. Campbell folk school in North Carolina. Gwen drove us around the downtown area, to the historic art deco train station, took us for Cincinncati chili and fed us well. The women are quilters so I brought along my paint and took a drive early one morning to a park several miles outside the city. I painted this in about an hour. You are looking east toward Cincinnati in the distance, that plume of white smoke at the horizon. It was in the low 20s that morning and the wind was howling, so there was no way I was going to stand out in that kind of cold to paint (I'm hardy, but not foolhardy). So, inside the car on the passenger side I painted. In the meantime, the ladies were at work on a cooperative quilt for a charitable cause. After finishing up and cleaning the palette, I set the GPS to help me get to the Cincinnati Art Museum. This place is a real treasure. They have Frank Duveneck paintings, some really famous John Singer Sargents and several of the famous painters of New Mexico and the West; Couse, Farny and Sharp. I had to go there twice on that trip. Not forgetting a beautiful portrait by Sir Henry Raeburn, the Scots portrait painter -- or the Indian motorcycle from 1947.
The painting pictured is a 6 X 8 inch (I assume that you knew it wasn't 6 by 8 feet painted outside at 20 degrees in below zero wind chill) on canvas board. It was kind of nice doing a "plein air" painting inside the car without the bugs and the sun beating down or contending with the wind.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Restoration for the Jack of all trades

When you are an artist you get asked to do all kind of "art" related things. I've been asked to do logos for someone's business (I don't do that). I've drawn children for the cover of a school phone directory. I hate doing illustration, although I've done them (after giving the art director exactly what they asked for, they tell you it isn't exactly what they asked for) -- animation too -- as a result I can hardly watch an animated film anymore.
One assignment I don't mind doing is restoration.
I was recently asked to clean a painting. It was a snow scene done in the 1950's and covered with yellowed varnish. I went out and bought a picture cleaner which I thought would do the job. I won't mention any brand names, but I know you've heard of them if you paint. Well, the cleaner did little more than clean grime off the surface --- although it did leave a lovely pine scent in the air. I tried it several times to no further avail. I brought out my denatured alcohol and it took the old varnish off. Why I didn't start with it, I don't know. The painting was clear of the yellowed layer of varnish. I let it dry and then applied a light coat of damar varnish. The client, a friend, paid me more than I asked, thank you very much.
I've restored a genre painting from a century ago; taking off flaked paint and repainting in the style of the brushwork that was there to begin with. After taking closeup pictures, I was able to overcome nervousness about tackling the job. That's what the Jack of all trades does -- overcome apprehension and barge ahead, sometimes foolishly.
A brief apology to those of you following this blog. I became a bit tired of doing it. I have been painting quite a bit, won an award of excellence in a group exhibit, sold one at a Holiday show. Since I don't crank out a painting a day, sometimes even one a week I don't always have things to post. I am working on a 36" X 48" canvas and you just don't do those every day, unless you paint abstracts. bad, and I'll try to post more often.