Sunday, October 28, 2012

Don't Need It? - Ditch It

Every now and then it does a body good to go outside the normal viewing area and paint something new. So yesterday I went to Las Cruces with a friend from the Black Range Painters and the Southwest New Mexico Plein Air Painters. There were about 6 or 7 of us. I never was good with math. (And I honestly didn’t count the bodies.)
Dripping Springs is a National Recreation area. I guess it’s not a National Park, but the difference eludes me. My old crusty senior pass got me in for free, so I was glad it was under Federal control. State control would have meant a parking fee. And there were restrooms, a real plus when you go out to paint.
Dripping Springs National Recreation Area and Trail
 It was cool in the early morning and in the desert that means no early snakes. Another plus. I certainly wouldn’t want to be there in the heat of the year. The place looked to be toasty more often than not. But it was crisp and cool this morning. The mountains had a slight haze, but the shadows were deep and dark, cool too. It didn’t take long to get the composition down. I opted for a dynamic interpretation of the land, with a real Z thing going on.
Dripping Springs - La Cueva Formation
11x14 Oil on Wood Panel

In fact I even played god and ditched a far off part of the mountain range, which leads me to my point today. If you don’t think it will help the piece, ditch it. Who says you have to have 14 trees in a row if you only feel three will do it? A painter paints, but an artist creates. Its art knowing what to keep, not how many blades of grass make up the green area of the painting. So some days I take real liberties with what is in front of me. Even Monet moved trees. An observer commented on a painting in progress saying he could only see one tree, not two. Monet told him the second tree was behind him. If it works, who am I to argue?
Favorite quote:
Artists are the people among us who realize creation didn't stop on the sixth day. (Joel Peter Witkin)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Golden Chamisa and A Naming Contest

Its fun to try to find your painting eyeballs after you’ve been not painting for a bit. I painted again today, and at least I didn’t feel run over by a steamroller when I was done this time. I started a bit earlier, and didn’t drive very far. So getting back home was just a jaunt back up the hill.
Just as you enter our canyon 

I did decide to stretch my abilities and paint a barn and a truck. They belong to my neighbor Karen Carr and her hubby, who live down the hill from me. I don’t normally paint buildings, so I need a lot of practice doing that, just so I don’t balk. I have never painted a truck before. Luckily, it was not front and center, but behind their stock trailer, so it’s a lesser character in the painting. I let the paint dry so that I could put in their windmill. That’s a first too. And did you know they move with the direction of the wind? Talk about a fidgety model. The sky was too juicy to lay it in at one go. So I guess I could call this piece Alla Prima Plus 1. Or maybe Alla Prima con Camion. You do have to hunt the truck, it’s not in your face, even if it is a cerise colored red truck. So finish details will be on Monday, after the first paint has ‘tacked up’ a bit and I can lay more on without bringing the first layer up. I’ll post it then.
The whole idea came from the fact that the chamisa (or rabbitbrush if you are an Anglo) is blooming all along Fleming Tank Road and Wind Canyon Drive. The whole valley is rimmed in gold tipped flowers, supported by bluish green rangy bushes. They lay besides the roads, waving their brightly colored blooms as we drive on by. But by Karen’s place, there is a little vale and dell and a rise with their drive and more chamisa flowering in its bright fall dress. So the chamisa framed their little ranchito as if it were a painting in a golden frame, just needing hanging. Figuring that this could be one of those lessons hard learned, I decided to go for the barn, trailer and truck and well as their drive. After all, conquest goes to the brave. It’s a lovely setting, and I can see why they enjoy the place so much. 
Needs a Title
11x14 oil on board

The quail who are residents at that level, were very vocal in clucking their disapproval of me being there. I got scolded by woodpeckers and ravens alike. No hawks today…they must have been busy elsewhere. But knowing they were around heartened me that the local sidewinders were not out this morning. Its when it gets real quiet that I get nervous, and start scanning the ground every few minutes.
Chamisa is also called RabbitBrush. So does the title need to be something like Rabbitbrush Roadway, or Chamisa Chalet, or Yaller Brush Season?? Its gotta be something……no ideas here. Suggestions, anyone? Give the title that we use, and I will send you a print of the finished painting. So suggest in the comments and leave a way for me to contact you. Winner to be picked by my impartial husband, in one months’ time. November 22, 2013.

Favorite quote for today:
The artist that paints every tiny little detail is an artist with nothing better to do. (Sam Adoquei

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm Baaaaaack!

OK, I am wiped out, much like a failed painting. But I got out and painted today. Wind Canyon is sporting the brilliant yellow of fall and the grasses are bleached out to a muted light yellow awaiting winter’s arrival. Even the llamas and the horses are looking furrier, as are the local deer. There are no more quail babies, as that time has long since passed. But some of the adults have these deep red heads. Rather pretty.
Wind Canyon - a fall morning

I have been dying to paint the canyon while the bright yellow flowers are out. They are fading in some spots already. But there are fields out here that are full of these bushes. They are sagey-green and rangy looking topped with brilliant yellow flowers.  What a dazzling sight in the sunlight. Wish I knew their names.
Because this was my first time painting since my very unscheduled surgery, I opted to use any colors I wanted to and treat myself to some rich colors. Fall has always had a sentimental attachment to me of rich deep colors, spiced by occasional brilliance and brilliant blue skies. Today did not disappoint.
No.3 Wind Canyon oil on board
11 x 14

I parked on Fleming Tank Road, just off the highway and started to paint. Again my neighbors are considerate in the extreme, slowing down considerably, to keep from enveloping me in a cloud of fine white dust.  And several stopped to inquire about the painting. Some even said they thought it was beautiful. I love meeting my neighbors this way and its getting to where they stop and visit when they see me paint. Some artists don’t care for the intrusion, but out here in the country, one never knows when a helping hand might be needed. And a little civility goes a long way.
I didn’t approach this painting with any specific system in mind. The composition just seemed to unveil itself as I went slowly down the road. After looking at this piece for a bit, I have decided the glaze the foreground, when it is dried, with a subdued blue, to tone down the transparent red earth in the bottom. Its a bit too strong and needs taming. I remember a teacher who always said "It's easier to tame a wild stallion than to resurrect a dead horse". 
My friend Connie used to live in the house atop the hill. New people are moving in as they have moved back East. I hope the new people are a good fit for Wind Canyon. I have gotten to feel pretty much like the canyon is mine now. I know many spots better than some of the long time locals who pass them every day, unseeing. Civility and friendliness, yup, that seems to sum up Wind Canyon. And privacy when desired. This is #3 Wind Canyon Drive.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When You Can't Paint, What Do You Do?

My posts have been conspicuously absent this month. I apologize for that. But as a friend told me, after 40 you just don’t fluff as fast after major surgery. And I am way beyond 40. Things are headed in the right direction but I need to build stamina. I have a goal of painting before the week is out. And that means stuffing the car, so I do need some energy. But we have not been standing still here, hugging our my husband went to work on the studio.

While I have been recuperating, hubby has taken down the large whale-sized rollup door in the studio, which was very noisy and not energy efficient in the least. And he has built in its place a wall, nice and tidy and tight. When the wall is completely taped, mudded and painted it will provide a nice large shelf for painting storage in between shows and for keeping what inventory does not immediately sell. Along that wall will be a flat paper storage unit, and a low 2 shelf bookcase. That will allow me to get rid of 3 small bookcases that pop up here and there in the studio, taking up valuable floor space and adding to the visual clutter. The middle expanse of wall will be used to hang pieces for a while as I think them over. I do muddle through some pieces.

Already it is amazingly quiet in the studio. Not the raucous mess it was before. Living atop a mountain in Wind Canyon, that door had plenty of opportunity to be loud and intrusive when I worked. I am so pleased that it is gone. What a lovely birthday gift.

I have been reading art books, and re-viewing my many art DVDs while I have been getting over this surprise appendectomy. It has been a time to recharge and think about my work. So I hope it has not been wasted. I will miss some shows I wanted to be in due to simply not being up to it. And that is galling to someone who has no patience with being a patient. I was in two shows during that time and did garner a ribbon. So all was not wasted. But as I get older I find I am more miserly of my time. I do not want to waste one day of it not painting.
OK, so where is that magic energy pill???