Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pencil drawing

I have not done much painting lately -- sometimes life intervenes and things happen that just have to be taken care of and you are prevented from painting. Other times you just don't have an inspiring moment, although maybe that's just me. I did encounter this pine tree on the campus of Saulk Valley Community College. The last couple years I have been invited along with about 25 other artists to paint something for the benefit of a gallery. Well, I do a lot of their shows and sometimes even sell something or win an award. During one of my classes (I'm the instructor) I have enough time to do a little drawing and decided to do this one. It's about 9" X 13" done on nice drawing paper with number 8B pencils. My concept is doing it with full values like I would if it was a painting, lots of sublety and close attention to handling the pencil, no extraneous lines. I like this, but having had three of my drawings in a recent show, none sold, so maybe I'm on the wrong track as far as marketing goes. This is my chosen path, or track, so I will stay on it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Plein Air -- August - October, over three states

This time I've posted three recent plein air paintings; two done in organized events and one on my own. The painting of the statue of the Civil War soldier was done in Cambridge, Wisconsin on a sunny day. It's dedicated to soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. I did this one very Impressionistic. I have been to Cambridge, usually to go to the pottery place in town (also Ripley's bakery) and I always pass this park with the statue and say "someday I'd like to paint that". Well, it finally happened. I did this 8" X 10" in about an hour and a half. I also took a few photos on the trip for possible paintings to do this winter when the weather is bad. The painting of the tree was done in the "Fresh Paint" plein air event in Amana Iowa. (Place to visit there is Millstream Brewery!!) I did this little painting, an 8" X 10" in a little over an hour on a very hot day. I was right along a lake, but after doing a couple paintings of the lake it was time to look elsewhere. As I often do, I just scan the area at 90 degrees, 180 degrees from where I am standing. This was at 90. It just came very easily and was one of two paintings I left at Catiri's Gallery after the show to be on display for one month. I did sell the other -- an 11" X 14" -- of Lily Lake. So I had to drive back last month, pick up this one and some beer from Millstream Brewery. Right now it's hanging in my home, but will be in a show next January. Lastly was a 6" X 10" (kind of an odd size but nice for a panoramic view -- and my friend Kenny at Ken's Framing, River Grove does the custom frame) I did at another plein air event called Anatomically Correct held at Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie, Illinois. I've never painted with that group, so I was kind of an outsider (like I was in the Iowa group --- it's OK, I'm used to it. Here could be another entry in my "Secret Life of the Artist" series -- spending time alone painting). I set up next to the pond at Emily Oaks and painted the view across the way -- a nice example of autumn. I had a good number of people (not artists) stop by, take a look and talk -- might have even gained a student. It was quite a beautiful day, however I had to stop after I finished this one because my back was hurting. An hour and a half of standing on uneven ground will do you in. I started with no drawing, just washing in color and then getting down to business painting opaque. It turned out to be one of my better efforts ever. So, three paintings, three states: Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. I'm sure the gasoline companies love me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Three pieces for Shades of Gray

I entered these three pencil (8B graphite for those of you who have to know everything)drawings in a show and had all three accepted. Ever wonder how things are chosen? For example, sometimes you enter three or four and only two are accepted -- why? Sometimes it's a very popular show and many artists enter and they will only give you space for two of yours. In this case, this show is not as popular as the one I am in now (I got 3 of 4 accepted in that one) and with less entrants I got them all in. So if you don't get any in don't always think it's that you aren't good enough. The gallery will probably give space to their regulars and you may be unknown to them and get turned away. Hey, it's happened to me. About these works: Farmer's Bank, about 15" X 15" was done from a photo. I just immediately saw this as a black and white work rather than an oil painting. I found this in Smith's Grove, Kentucky as I also did the middle painting, Old Barn. I just didn't know what else to call it --- I don't think it was a tobacco barn, but it isn't the traditional cow or horse barn. I was not able to get close to it, so a photo had to suffice. The last work was a train station still in use located in Coumbus, Wisconsin. You may never have heard of Columbus, Wisconsin, but once upon a time there was a large brewery there with the owner's mansion also. The train station was built in 1907. I was coming home from Minnesota early one morning and remembered seeing this station. I drove up and the shadows over the tracks made the look of the painting. Here's another issue: what does the artist see in a scene that make the artist want to paint or draw it? Usually for me it is the color and what will eventually be the interesting brushwork I will use to set the scene off. In this case it was the contrast of the dark shadows setting off the bright sun on the building. Actually, working on those shadows on the grass and rails was much more interesting than the building itself. Yes, sometimes it is the building -- I've done several -- I like the look of old stations, houses and commercial buildings of the past. (Secret life of the Artist)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The irony of it all

I've posted both of these two paintings before, but I was holding them for the Farms & Barns show at the Next Picture Show Gallery which is held every year in September (usually). Since it costs me an arm and a leg in gas money to get out there I don't attend the opening of every show I'm in, but like Ted Williams said once "I feel hitterish". For you non-baseball fans, that means he knew he was going to get a hit and somehow I felt like I was going to get one of the awards. So when the winners were announced, there I was holding the 2nd place certificate and the check that goes along with it. Sales there are spotty, although I did sell two at the last show, so a winners check adds a little needed money. Painting on the left is "Hills and Horses" 18" X 36" and the award winner on the right is "Farmhouse at Pumpkin Patch" 22" X 28". Here's the interesting story: Last year I did a one day portrait workshop there at the gallery. One of my students had three paintings in the Farms & Barns show. Who takes the Best of Show award -- she does. Ah, well, it was a really nice painting...and what's the old saying?? -- the student who doesn't surpass his master, etc, etc. The next show out there will be the Shades of Gray and I've entered three drawings...we'll see how many of them get in. That will be the entry for next time.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fresh Paint -- plein air in Amana, Iowa

I happened to come across an ad for a plein air festival on Facebook. It's held in Amana, Iowa sponsored by Catiri's Art Oasis. Since Amana is only four hours by car from me, I considered it quite a good thing and sent in my fee ahead of time. Over the Labor Day weekend I was with about a dozen others -- although I considered myself an outsider, I think they were all from Iowa. That being said, off I went into the streets to paint. The first two paintings are the old abandoned building and the red brick house you see pictured. I did these two 8" X 10". I realized that it was quite hot, but being involved in painting I can pretty much ignore my own inconvenience. I had lunch and then moved on to Lily Lake, which is just west outside the center of town. It's a large lake (well, not that large) with lily pads over much of the surface of the water. There I did an 11" X 14" on linen. That one took me a bit longer, close to two hours. It looked something like the last painting (a 6" X 8") pictured. Anyway, I did five paintings on the first day and just after finishing my painting at Lily Lake, I stood up in the sunshine and experienced such a blast of heat that I realized I should stop there. I packed up, put things away in the car and when I drove off, I noticed the temperature readout was 103 degrees. Record setting. The second day I did another five paintings and two on the last day. I left two paintings with the gallery for their sale and luckily I sold one of them that day. It was a 6" X 8" study of a tree and shadows. I had to leave the festival early --- the motel I stayed in had the worst mattress on the bed and after three nights on that thing my back was hurting really bad. So, a good experience -- Catiri's was an excellent host for the gathering and Amana is a nice place to visit, although it turns into a tourist haunt for the weekend, which can complicate matters for parking, etc. Friday was a lot better. I've never done an actual sponsored paint out like this before. I constantly worry about my skills eroding because I am not always active painting, but the two I left in Iowa were two of the best I've ever done. Now the irony --- I forgot to take a picture of them. In my haste to get them ready to hang I forgot to get the camera out and get a picture.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Been a while, man!

I know, it's been a while. I haven't put anything up here on the blog because I've been busy with other things. However, I did put up this painting which is called "Lee County Flashmob". When I was in Lee County doing some painting I came across this little herd of beef which followed me around like a pack of dogs. I had started this and put it down for almost a year in disgust, only to take it up and finish it. Sometimes these paintings take a lot of extra thinking and work to solve the problems within them. It wasn't that the animals were hard to do, although they are, it was the balance in the painting...getting the sky, the barn and the ground colors right. So, besides that, I won a ribbon for a still life and also sold two still life paintings at The Next Picture Show Gallery in the "Raw and Cooked" show. (Still waiting for the check!!!) This is part of the group of still life paintings I did under Melody Boggs' tutelage in North Carolina. Another thing.....I am going to be part of the Amana Plein Air Festival in Amana, Iowa later this month (Aug.). I've never done that before, so I am looking forward to three days of outdoor painting. Here's another thing about the Lee County Flashmob painting --- I was gonig to put that one in the Farms & Barns show this September, but a friend wanted to buy it. How to resolve this???? I will sell her the small one and I have set about doing a much larger one which I will show next year. I ran into the same thing I had in the small one ---- that is, I have stopped working on it because it has reached the stage that I hate it. But one day during the fall or winter I will take it up and finish the painting to my liking. And isn't that the whole point of it all ----- if you aren't finishing a painting to the degree that pleases you the painter, what are you painting for?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What's in your basement?

While I was in the basement looking for something I came across this painting, a portrait done when I was a student. It's about 18" X 24" and still framed. When you are a student in art school it sometimes takes a long time before you produce something of quality. Sure, I did a lot of portraits before this one, but would I show them to you ---- no!! In fact, most of the time we would do our daily portrait and just wash them off the canvas with turpentine and paint on that same canvas the next day. Every once in a while you would do something a step ahead and this is one of those, so I saved it. OK, well maybe the basement isn't the best place for it, but so be it, covered in dust and spider webs. Secondly is the smaller painting, an 8" X 10" plein air painting done about 20 years ago. It turned out well. It's never been shown and now the frame is stained, but it was a step ahead in plein air work for me at the time. We can only imagine how many of the paintings of Rembrandt, Rubens and the like were hidden in the basement, a closet, under the bed and brought out years later to hang in the museum.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hills and Horses

So, no entries on this blog for a while. Trying to make actual money, that's why. I guess I'm one of those goofy artists that paints what he wants and has to look elsewhere for money. In the meantime I have had two of my paintings accepted into the "Horizontal Grandeur" show in Morris, Minnesota, at the Stevens County Historical Society Museum. I am one of the few to have two paintings accepted. I drove these two paintings up to Morris, MN and it took me 9 hours -- each way. I didn't like the idea of shipping a 36" X 48" painting, or making a crate for it either. So I got to see a lot of countryside and take some pictures that may result in a painting or two in the future. I planned my trip back going through Columbus, Wisconsin --- there is an old train station there that I saw on another trip through the town that I wanted to photograph and possibly paint. About the painting above -- it's called "Hills and Horses" for the obvious reason, but it's a painting about the land that the glaciers missed in western Wisconsin. This is a ranch/farm on the north end of Mineral Point. The painting is "18 X 36", done to the size of the frame which I got for free (actually I had to move something rather heavy for a friend of mine). I tried to keep it brushy and loose and have the brushwork flow with the shapes of the ground it was following. My favorite part, I guess, is the tree, which I consider the best one I've ever done, shape and color-wise. I tried to get that "standing in the shade -- looking out into bright sun" look. This is a hard one in that it has so much of its weight on the left, hopefully balanced by the objects on the right. This will be an entry for the Barns & Farms show this fall, hopefully get accepted.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Secret Life of the Artist #10

Since I don't always keep track of the entries, I'm calling this "#10" if it is or not. I have two pictures, kind of unrelated, posted. One, the landscape I did of the south road from Mineral Point, Wisconsin has been accepted into the "Horizontal Grandeur" show at the Stevens County Museum in Morris, Minnesota this summer and fall. It's a show that goes on for several months. There are 69 pieces by only 51 artists, which means I was one of the few that had two pieces accepted. They also took a painting I did called "October Fields" which won an award at another show. Never heard of this show until I somehow saw it posted on Facebook. Luckily it not only fits my kind of work, but since I am living in a "Prairie" state, I can enter the show. Finally, the other picture. Why is there a picture of a pocket watch on the page? I have been rather busy over the last couple weeks actually earning some money by doing my watch repair thing. I got started through a friend, but we were getting started by buying junk watches and getting them running. I am still at the mercy of the number of junk watches I still have that aren't running. I am self taught and can't do every possible type of repair, so it's a boon when I do get something decent, clean it up and am able to sell. Despite that, I am working on a larger version of a painting of a group of cattle I did a while ago. I plan to get out for some plein air painting also.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Waldorf Curriculum poster -- grade school and high school

A long time ago when I was in teacher training for the Waldorf School, I created the grade school curriculum poster for an assignment to express the curriculum in any way we wanted. So I came up with the idea of making it like a game board. On my own, just after this, I did one for the high school curriculum. Now, at the expense of revealing a secret, the other students really did not like me very much. I used to do many of the assignments turning them into a song or poem which seemed to irritate the others, one of whom called me an "overachiever", not in a nice way, I thought. Secretly I gave this high school poster to one of the teachers, Ron Richardson and Magda Lissau, told him about the "overachiever" comment and asked if he would just have a look and not show it to the students. So, after all these years, I am showing it here --- although in an abbreviated manner. I get a little irritated when I see my poster showing up in places I never intended, so I've cropped my picture. What you can see is the "etheric heart" in the center guarded by St. Michael battling the dragon circling the outside of the heart. The Etheric Heart is a concept that I can't explain in 25 words or less, but some of you Waldorf people will understand. At the four corners are Celtic representations of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water, all surrounded by Celtic knotwork and color. I spent quite a while on this and I think I made my point to the directors of the teacher training. This was done in about 1993 and despite the training, or because of it, I let my artwork carry me through many aspects of the training. When you are trained to do what you do, don't suppress it. Anyone looking for the Waldorf Curriculum poster for the grade school can find what is left of them at the Madison (Wisconsin) Waldorf School. I gave them the last copies that I had. The High School poster never has been reproduced. So that's the story of that.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Secret life of the artist -- 9

Needless to say, I hope I'm on part 9 of this series -- I've lost count. These are two views of a drawing I finished just a week ago. Traveling back from the John C. Campbell Folk School in March, I stopped for gas at small Kentucky town, Smith's Grove, north of Bowling Green. Luckily my wife likes to see interesting things and isn't one to just rush through a road trip (like me). There was a sign that said there were old church buildings in the town. We drove around and found those church buildings, but this old Farmer's Bank building is what caught my eye. This time I thought immediately of doing a drawing rather than a painting. This drawing is done primarily with 8B and 4B pencils on Stonehenge paper, 17" X 17". This took me a good number of hours and I sharpened my way through an entire 8B pencil doing it. I don't punch a clock, so I don't know how many hours -- that question comes up too many times. What most non-artists don't understand is that how many hours a painting took just doesn't matter. I've done paintings in an hour and paintings in many, many hours and been paid the same. What matters is getting the work done to the quality you expect of yourself. It just doesn't compute -- adding up the number of hours and dividing that into the price and trying to figure out an artist's "wage" -- so annoying when people do that to you. If you take a close look at the bricks and stonework on the buildings you can see they are individually rendered. That means I did each one by hand -- there's no stamp that will get you that look. Anyone who is interested in making things look a certain way will take the time ( a lot of time) to get it to look the way they want it to. So there's my hint for the day....take a little extra time and make your work stand out whether or nor anyone else appreciates the work you put into it, after all your own work will please you the most.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Four still life paintings from JCCFS class

Attached are four of the seven still life paintings I did while I was at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Melody Boggs' still life class. The painting with the little red china piece I started on Thursday of that week intending to finish on Friday before it was time to pack up. Fortunately, I worked hard and had it finished early Friday. With time left, I decided to do one more, which then developed into two more: the two little vases each on a 6" X 8" canvas. I decided to use my pochade box instead of an easel because I was working small. The painting with the red vase is a 9" X 12" and the other with the white pitcher is an 11" X 14". The most important thing I learned was in setting them up: look for interesting color and size combinations and also textures. Textures, meaning, things like surface quality --- will it shine?, will it reflect colors from the other objects? can I paint the grapes so they have a transparent quality? can I paint an orange so that it shows the type of surface that it has? Pick an apple that has some green on it and paint the quality of that green as it moves on into the dominant red color. Or the painting with the garlic -- can I paint it so that it shows all the deep colors in it in an object that is "white", can I paint that piece of garlic "skin" so it looks paper thin? Most of all can I paint this without it looking drawn, but painted. Being accurate in your drawing can sometimes take away the "painterly" quality you are after. You are painting, sculpting and drawing with your brush all at the same time. Right now I am working on a drawing of an old building and the challenge in my drawing is to make it look "painterly", make it look like it's not an architectural rendering, like you are doing a tracing and staying within the lines. That kind of drawing and painting that is accurate to a fault just kills any painterly and lively quality that I am after.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Still life painting with Melody Boggs at JCCFS

I don't paint many still life paintings and when I chose this class I had that in mind. Every year I visit the John C. Campbell Folk School to take a class. Even though I paint all the time I don't always take a painting class. The first year I took blacksmithing, then painting, then two years of woodturning and a couple times in "guest" status to just do plein air painting. So Still life painting class almost seemed like a new venture to me. The week was a cold one this March, but the painting studio was warm and a good place to get down to work. The instructor was Melody Boggs from Atlanta, Georgia who has had decades of experience in still life. Melody does a fully developed monochromatic layout of the subject on the canvas before adding color, which I don't usually do, but it worked well. Even though I paint all the time, it took me two paintings before I got comfortable. Melody, with all her experience, is really helpful composing the painting, adding and subtracting objects, colors and sizes to make a really nice composition. Added to that, she is all about the student, spending time to help those who need assistance the most or giving suggestions and critique to someone like me who has had a lot of her words, "miles of painting". The pictures.....Melody in the art class, one of my setups and paintings in progress, some of the paintings the class did on a shelf in the classroom and then the finale held Friday afternoon in the auditorium, plus one more of my works, a single piece of pottery done on the last day in just two hours. Next year, what will I do at JCCFS? Not sure yet, but the rest of this year I will be doing more still life thanks to Melody, a really fine instructor.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Showing your work

Unless you're a famous artist with galleries clamoring to get you in the door (I'm not) you have to look around for a place to show. I used to be in Talisman Gallery in Bartlesville, Oklahoma --- "Where", you say???? Listen, Richard Schmid and a lot of other well known people showed there at one time. I used to sell regularly there, but now the gallery is gone and the owner has retired. So now what? From time to time I will do an art show, but they are often hard to get into -- although they are quite happy accepting you $30, $35 or $40 entry fee!!! Not far from my home there is a coffee shop we frequent. The owner, a very nice guy, with his wife have had work showing at the gallery. My wife went there and just asked how can we get a show. It turned out to be that simple. Also, a block away is the local library. After giving an invitation to the librarian who always says "hello" to us, he says maybe I can show there at the library. I also am an artist member and frequently do shows at The Next Picture show Gallery. I've done a portrait workshop there last year, in addition to fund raisers for them. Some call that networking. Don't ask me too many questions though -- after all these years and all this training and experience I am still not in a gallery where I sell enough to make a living. Look for me at Xanadu Gallery Studio artists. One last thing...I do often get invited to join galleries from New York to San Francisco to Florida. Pretty flattering, huh? well, they are looking for anything from $600 to $3000 per year to be part of their gallery. I'd love to start a gallery with a hundred dumb artists who will send me $300,000 to show their work. The pictures were taken at the Regulus Coffee House show. That's me in the foreground.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Deja vu -- a favorite done again

This is an oil done 24" X 30", a picture I've done twice before. Once I did this in oil about 14" X 18" and then a pastel done about 8" X 10". It's not often you get the light on something just perfect. The light and shadows on the building and the chance to paint the trees showing their color and texture to this degree. I called the painting "Pumpkin Patch" for the area on the left side of the house with the purple ground with some orange. Maybe there were or weren't pumpkins there, but it made a nice title. The plans for this are to enter it in the Farms and Barns show this fall.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Statue in a Garden

This is a little (9" X 12") oil painting done plein air in a garden. I did this a while ago (meaning years ago) while on vacation in someone's garden. Painting time was about 1 to 1 and a half hours on a canvas panel. Once upon a time my old oil painting instructor Eugene Hall used to say "The best ones are the ones you give away". That's what happened to this one. I gave it away to a friend who "loved" it and I have never seen it since. Maybe she gave it away.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Last copy

Thanks to an assist from my cousin Yvonne in Sweden, I am able to begin this blog again. This image is a copy of an N.C. Wyeth painting, "Herons in Summer". I was asked to copy this by a friend of a friend. She also had other things she wanted copied. Unfortunately for me, and the other person, I had resolved that I was done with doing copies of the masters. However I said I would do it. Sad to say, it took me three years. I was teaching at the time and the last thing I wanted to do was work on this. If you wonder why, just look at all those reeds and grasses. I don't just make it my own way -- I was dedicated to doing it accurately. So after dragging it out for so long and several phone calls from her -- "When do you think you'll be done?", etc., I determined to finish as quickly as possible. I did an excellent job despite my disinterest and then, once it was picked up never heard from her again --- except for this photograph. To reiterate --- it was great experience learning painting from the Masters by doing the Masters, but there comes a time when all you want to do is your own work.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Yahoo Blogger SNAFU

Sorry, no picture this time --- and that's the whole problem.  Yahoo Blogger feels it necessary to change things unnecessarily from time to time and now they have eliminated the only way I know how upload a picture.  Since I never intended to make this a writer's blog about art I will attempt to find another way to upload a picture, but since I am not tech savvy I'm not sure what I will do.