Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Farm near Rochester, Wisconsin

If this looks familiar, it should. I did a pastel of this same farm and posted it last year, June 2010. That was in a show called "Farms and Barns". I did this while teaching a small painting class. When I am not doing something for the class I have time to sit and work on something. Usually I don't like to repeat a painting I've already done, but I thought I'd like to do some pencil work. I intend to submit this to the next Farms and Barns show. Part of the motivation behind this comes from looking at the work of Clyde Aspevig, specifically his foregrounds. He seems to do a lot of detail work there and I thought I'd like to see what doing that would involve. Having done a lot of plein air painting I usually just finish off a foreground with a few thick brushstrokes and some indications of sticks or grasses. Here I went in and noodled out some of the plant life at the side of the road and spent a lot longer on it than I am used to. I liked the results --- thanks, Clyde. Next up is "Waterworks" a show of watercolor paintings, a group show with other people who take classes with Ed Hinkley. I am doing the show even though I am the oddball -- I paint quite realistically; portraits and landscapes. I don't do the show every year ---- reason, I just haven't sold well there, so I will just have to have my wine and cheese and see what happens. Show is at August House Gallery in Chicago on Roscoe 2 streets west of Damen, beginning May 1st, 1 to 5 pm.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Secret Life of the Artist, part 4

Here is an image of my wood turning work. Part of my official/unofficial "Secret Life of the Artist" series, I know there are plenty of artists out there who do all kinds of things besides oil, watercolor and pastel and are quite good at them. Out of my training in the Navy and in art school, I felt that there just isn't anything out there that I can't do well or learn to do well. In the Navy I worked with tools setting up aircraft parts racks, shot a pistol quite well and did a lot of out of the ordinary non-art things. If you're an oil painter and you do that better than anything why should that ever be a limitation on doing anything else well? Anyhow, I was in Brasstown, North Carolina -- possum country -- last week with my wife, a quilter. I took a week long class on wood turning. The picture you see has two bowls turned from cherry wood and a tool with a handle turned from red oak. They were some of the projects I did over that week. I was never really trained much in the industrial arts --- apologies to Mr. Joe Polka who tried to teach us 7th and 8th graders at Garvy Elementary School how to do a few things with tools. Man, that poor guy -- never did I see a more nervous teacher than he was. Imagine trusting 12 and 13 year old boys with tools and grinding machines and saws. He was a chain smoker and a guy who never smiled. I can see why. Instead of doing art this year at the John C. Campbell Folk School, I thought I'd try something different. It was hard to do, but I gave wood turning a try and I did some nice work. That's the point of my little series: artists have the ability to handle quite a large range of skills, even in unexpected areas. We all have all kinds of things we do to make money or hobby type things we do and do well that are outside the focus of our main theme of art. Have faith in yourself and give it your best shot.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Portrait in watercolor

This is an 8" X 10" portrait on cold press Arches paper in watercolor. Done about a year ago I no longer remember where I found the reference. I will be doing the Waterworks show this year in Chicago at August House Gallery. I have two framed and 6 unframed watercolors in the show. When I work in oil, I am not particularly fussy about the surface. I often just work on a canvas panel for my plein air work, but in the studio I stretch my own canvas or linen and gesso the surface with some texture. However, when it comes to watercolor paper, hot press is too smooth for me and rough is nice, but cold press just right; kind of like the story of the three bears.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Familiar ground -- Fire's Creek

This is another view of the bridge at Fire's creek in North Carolina --- well, there's two that I know about. I did an oil from near this spot, this is a pastel, 7" X 11". Usually I don't do a painting over and over, but the area around there is so rich with material for a painting that I find new things all the time. I live in the city, but don't relish painting it. Maybe if I came here from Brasstown, NC, I would be fascinated at all the things there are to paint here. I suppose, like a painter friend of mine said, it's romanticising the nature aspect of the wilderness by hauling your painting gear up into the woods or mountains or an old farm site. That being the case....I was taken by the incoming sunlight and colors of the scene, the sparkle on the water and the trees at the right. And to answer your question.....the "white" areas are not snow, but mud. The low incoming light glanced off the wet mud and rocks and made it look white. I hope I threw in enough other warm and cool off-white colors (that's "colour" to all the UK readers) to define that a little better. I worked on this during down time teaching at my art class on Tuesday night.