Saturday, August 1, 2015

Its Not A Pig!

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Some days painting en plein air are just plain weird.

Painting buddy Gay Scheibl and I decided to take a quickie road trip up to Lake Roberts and paint. I kept telling her how pretty it was with greenery around the lake and pink cliffs above. So we went as she had never been.

They had drained the lake.

It was a puddle. It was teeny. The fishing pier (brand new) was 50 feet or more from the water. You’d really have to cast to get to them thar fish.

So we decided to go to Upper Mimbres Valley and hunt down a goat ranch we had seen with lots of goats in a lovely sunlit pasture. We found it and partially unpacked. Almost together, we heard at least 5 shots from a gun. At which point Gay, (the decidedly brighter of us two) said “This doesn’t sound like such a good idea”. And I had wanted to drive up and ask to paint on their property! Like I said, one of us is smart.

Run away! Run away! Run away! Sounds like Monty Python doesn’t it?

We ran on down the road and found a beautiful pasture bordered by red /pink cliffs and habited by three horses. A lady was walking her afghan hound and we asked if we could paint on the property. She said yes and we opened the rope gate, closed it to not let out the horses and proceeded to paint. It was beautiful! It was great!

But I can tell you, if you think boats are hard to paint, try horses. They walk away. They pose for two minutes, look at you, figure you’ve almost got them and they saunter on off around the far side of the buildings. They do it on purpose. So here is my painting of Lake Roberts (just kidding). Here is Munching Out in Mimbres Valley, with a bit of a glare for which I apologize. Complete. I don’t usually paint animals. I find them non-cooperative. You wildlife artists are amazing. I just am happy if my horses don’t look like pigs.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Return of a Friend

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It’s been a long time since my last post. I did not want to restart the posts and then fall down due to lack of energy. So I waited a bit. That does not mean I have not been painting, I simply have been building back energy. Plein air can sap it right out of you. So can trying to type in proper English.

Plein air in New Mexico is a tale different from any other. The southern part of the state tends to attract a wide array of personalities and so when an attractive piece of land is posted “No Trespassing”, the prudent thing is to not trespass, no matter the enticement to paint it.  Luckily there are often pull outs along the road offering safety from traffic and views like nowhere else on earth.

Today’s offering is called “48 Ford Firetruck”. There are two of these old gals in Hillsboro New Mexico. One is being cannibalized to give new life to the other. I like to think of it as an amalgam of the best of both, affording the ability for both to live on. The historical society is working on the transformation. Both sit in a field, just off the main road through town. Because the field was fenced and cordoned off, my buddy Gay and I did not want to overstep bounds and tred on sensibilities. So we painted from the roadside. But after having met some of the locals who are working on the trucks, we now have permission to return and enter the field to gain a better vantage of these living historical icons.

This was my view from that day, glorious sunny and warm. So was the welcome from the Hillsboro residents. This is “48 Ford Firetruck”, an 11x14 oil on board, and soon to appear in SouthWest Art magazine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Settling for Fewer Plein Air Paintings

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Fall is the best time to go out and see the colors in nature before winter settles in. Late summer is what I had to settle for this year. August was as far as I got.

To not belabor the facts, I started with a leg infection in June, it went to my artificial knee and I ended up only having one knee after the surgeon plucked out the offending joint, mid October. There went my plein air painting for the better part of the summer and into winter. Can you say envious???

But I did manage to get to Maine to paint about nine paintings, some of which are still awaiting finishing details and slight attention in the studio. This painting is one that was done totally onsite, so very early in the morning, that the pink was still in the sky. It made it into the Randy Higbee 6 inch squared show in Costa Mesa. Some day I am going to go and actually see one of my paintings hanging alongside some people whose work I greatly admire. This entire show is populated by pieces no larger than 6x6 inches. Its a big show made up of teeny tiny paintings. 

So if you get the chance to stop by and take a peek, its on Kalmus Street, Costa Mesa, and will run from Dec 6th through the month.

Here is my little painting "Dawn, Port Clyde Me."

Dawn, Port Clyde Me.
6x6 oil
Currently showing at the Randy Higbee Gallery, Costa Mesa, December 2014
Plein Air pieces may be sparse from me for a bit.......there's a new knee that's gonna be under the Christmas tree this year. About time!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Panting in Maine

Life has been hectic since my return from a painting trip to Maine, combined with a BIG loop to visit family and friends, through Tennessee and North Carolina. I intended to paint along the way, but the rain followed me and dogged my route. Huge sheets of it. I thought Texas was having a drought?

Coupled with last minute preparations for the BRAI sponsored plein air competition and show we are having October 9th to the 12th, getting into the El Paso International Show, and the Clifton AZ  Colors of Copper Show, makes my plate just a tad bit over overflow right now. But I thought you might enjoy a few of the paintings I did in Maine. I am intuitively dialed into that palette and have to feel my way to the palette of the Southwest. Growing up under a canopy of trees makes you welcome the quiet places, shadowy and light dappled. Occasionally I have to return to refill my soul and to hear the accent that filled my ears as I grew up.

The first piece is the view to the left of the Port Clyde, Me. Lighthouse, titled “The Sentry”. I love the pines in the Northeast. They have obvious character, having survived the onslaught of numerous murderous winters. They reach for the sky and they thrive. There’s a lesson there.

The second piece is a view of a garden along Turkey Cove, an ocean inlet just outside Port Clyde and Thomaston, Me. The light filtered through the boughs, and gently teased it’s way through the branches to fall on the flowers. The house was nestled in among the trees and was totally at home surrounded by the huge pines. You could smell the ocean on the breeze. The entire experience was timeless. There was a feeling of permanence to the lovely grounds, so I call this piece “Timeless”.

Both of these pieces 8x10 were executed during a workshop with Don Demers. He is astounding. Best of all for me, was his total New England wit; slightly sarcastic, self deprecating and insightful. Loved it. It was wicked good. His ability to drill into the crux of the painting problem you are having, and gently suggest solutions was very helpful. His demos were worth the trip alone. I have at least six more pieces from that week that are not ready for viewing and one is a germ for a much larger piece to keep me busy while the winds howl here this winter. It was worth every interminable mile that I had to drive in the mugginess and rain of the Eastern part of the country. 

The sun came out to play the whole time I was on the coast. Maine sparkles in the sun, like a gem. It was a welcome to remember.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

You Know What They Say About The Best Laid Plans

You wait for a nice spell of weather, thinking to get out and paint, and then you get an infected leg and artificial joint. So much for careful plans. All the result of a little tiny bug bite, the leg and subsequent hospital emergency room visits, and doctor visits have slowed down any outdoor painting plans that I had. But my friend Gay Scheibl called and said ”lets go paint at my  house.” She just got a new deck put on the south side of her Silver home and it even had a roof! So there would be no painting on the ground, subject to bug bites and no sunscreen. Just a lovely day of painting.
Her property is so cleaned up since the first time I saw it. They have certainly been busy. When you buy an older home you are required to spruce it up, and they have been sprucing. There are lots of outbuildings of various configurations and ages too, not to mention a deep arroyo carved out by Whiskey Creek. It’s a great place to paint.
She has an old shed, complete with old wringer washer, and that is what I painted. There was no laundry on the line, but the added in bits were necessary to explain the washer. So I put out her laundry for her (figuratively speaking). And the soil where she lives (we are separated by only ten miles) is far redder than the limestone cap we live upon. I loved the complementary play of the very green trees with the red pigmented earth.
11 x 14 oil on lined prepared board

This is “Washday”. An 11 x 14 that saved my sanity after not painting for 5 weeks. Shoot.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thrilled to Get Best Of Show!Open For Business

I had not planned on painting in the Ralph Love Plein Air Competition. But, I went and painted for two mornings. There were other artists there, painting the week long. You could see plein air artists up and down Front Street, Temecula on any given morning. The light was perfect, the heat held off till midday and the passersby were congenial and interested. How fun.

We handed in all paintings on Saturday from 12 to 3. They were hung for the public to view in the convention center, downtown, Old Town, Temecula for the remainder of the weekend. It was a lovely facility.

On Sunday, I went to retrieve my two submitted paintings. Only one could be submitted to be judged.  So I picked the small one, an 8 x 10 of the store European Living. The owner of the store had been particularly friendly and the spot was lovely, with parking directly in front and the light breaking over the right back side of the building. Open for Business was its title. When I entered the convention room, I was thrilled to see a ribbon. I thought, ‘Great! I won a third!”.
The Judges awarding the Best Of Show Prize
Yup, to me!!!

As I got closer, I read the ribbon – BEST OF SHOW !!! Holy C#&p! 

I have waited a long time for that elusive award. I had resigned myself to never getting it. I had told myself that many artists went their career long never getting the Best of Show, and to be happy for anything thrown my way. A grateful heart is far more becoming than sour grapes.

The only thing I can say is that there was an over abundance of paintings of the new bridge in town, and that each one had to be compared to the next one. You can only do so much with a landmark. Originality of concept is as much a part of painting as are the actual strokes. There were some competent paintings there. But there was a commonality that ran through the most of them.
Open For Business
Part of the Municipal Collection of Temecula CA.

It was a purchase prize show; which means that my little $260 painting got me $500 and will hang in the City Hall as part of their permanent collection. My daughters who live in Temecula will be there to accept the award in my place. My granddaughter Taylor was there when it was announced. How cool for her to see her grandma win.

I have always wanted to paint Old Town Temecula. What a lovely experience. I am glad I waited.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Big and the Little, Views, That Is

I have spent the last two months or so bouncing between Texas, AZ, CA and NM, having company and hosting an oil pastel workshop. And I will be going back to CA later this month to see the Sorolla show at the San Diego Museum. So I have not painted as much as I would have liked. I have painted several still lifes, and because they were painted from life, probably qualify as a plein air experience. The studio windows were open so that counts, right?
But while I have been home, I have painted several views of the area here. Two specifically come to mind, one a mountain range view of the Mogollons and the other a far more intimate view of the road leading up our mountain. Both are done on 11 x 14 prepared wood boards with linen. I find I am pleased with that format for the road piece, but wish I had used a wider one for the mountain range.

Other differences include color choices and the angle of the sun. I was looking square into the sun when I painted “The Plume Is Blooming” and the sun was coming up over my right shoulder in the “On the Way to Mogollon”. I think the treatment of the paint in the Apache plume piece is far more impressionistic and uses a wider range of color. Conversely, the more limited range of color in the Mogollon piece leads to a more harmonic painting. Both have their strengths, but I feel as though they look to be done by different people. To be fair my goals were different in both. Maybe one is by my evil twin.

The Plume's a Blooming
Oil on linen covered board
The plume is blooming is actually a rework of a piece that I had painted last year with Ken Auster’s limited palette. It took me two weeks to figure out that that palette was not my personal one. The alizarin was way too strong a purple. I am currently trying out a couple of madders that have purple undertones but are not as all consuming as alizarin. So when I spied this piece in the studio, I took it down to the flats of the canyon and decided I couldn’t foul it up anymore than it was already. The amazing thing is that I gave myself permission to fail with this and have fun.  It is far more successful than the first attempt. And you really get the feeling of the muted silvery plume being lit on the tips by the sun rising. And the evergreens are believable, and not little stick trees.
On the Way To Mogollon
Oil on linen covered board

On the way to Mogollon was an amazing morning, golden with hints of the hot day coming on. The most memorable thing about this piece is how EVERY single car or truck passing by slowed way down. I know that out here, in the country people stop to offer help to those who have broken down. Distances are far and roads are long. But once they saw my bright blue umbrella and realized what I was doing, they often honked their horns and waved as they went on by. To be serenaded by the cows and refreshed by a soft summer breeze is a great way to start the day. The only real pain about doing this painting, was that as I packed up to go, the view over my backside had changed so dramatically that now I need to go back and paint it. Nobody would believe the blue of the mountains.

So what’s the thought here? 

Little view or the big picture, which is your favorite?