Monday, July 29, 2013

Doing the Ant Dance and Other Outdoor Activities

Go To My Website

Have you ever watched the froth of ants on the ground just prior to a thunderstorm? I never have before. They scurry back and forth in a literal boil of little ant bodies, frantic to get back to their burrows, bring their food with them and gather any needed supplies before they head back. Much like people making a run on bottled water, disposable diapers, hammer and nails, batteries and toilet paper before the next big one (fill in your own disaster) hits.

Well if I had only looked down, I WOULD have noticed. No. I waited until they were crawling up my leg and yes, they were biting. Darn. That hurt. I thought the view of the oncoming thunderstorm was too good to pass up. So I quickly parked the car, jumped out and set up. Right in the path of an army of ants hurrying back home, toilet paper, water and diapers firmly grasped in their little pincers. (I looked closely after the first few bites.)

Well I wasn’t ready to give up on the painting, and the oncoming clouds meant that I would not have the luxury of a second setup before the rain made my paint unworkable. So I grabbed the ant spray that I carry in the car, and sprayed the ground around my feet. A healthy couple of shots of OFF and a quick ant dance to shake off those I had missed and I got a chance to finish this small piece. My friend Barbara was laughing at me until I noticed that she was seated under a tree. In all fairness, when we started it was the only shady spot around. But it didn’t take long to change. And under a tree is not a safe place in a thunderstorm. Where do all the cattle go I wonder?

So sometimes when you go out to paint, it’s not the hunt for the esoteric. It’s the hunt for the ant spray and the laughter that the ant dance can bring.

Here is McComas Peak Storm.  An oil, at 8x10 it is available and because it is so small and unframed, it is a wonderful bargain. Email me, if you are interested.

Favorite quote of the day

There is in art the notion of less is more, which is to say, you don't torture a painting that has already confessed.                                                                (Robert Brault)


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tyrone Thunder

Go To My Website          

This week I painted a semi plein air, semi studio piece. It’s called Tyrone Thunder.

Now before anybody gets their tidy whiteys, in a knot because this is a plein air site, get over it! I am still getting over that dratted sinus and bronchial infection, and painting out in the rain does not figure in the recuperation scheme. I’d love to be out painting in it, and it is coming soon. But in all honesty, the weather here has been so very changeable, that you can be comfortable one minute and the intense, falling rain can be threatening to take the feet out from under you in the form of a gully washer in a heartbeat. We drove home yesterday from Las Cruces in one of the most intense storms I have ever been in. Even the semis brought their speed down to under 40 mph on the Interstate, the better to not run over someone they could not see, or to avoid hydroplaning off the road! I got pictures of water coursing through rivers and gullies that I have never seen water in! I am already dreaming about future paintings. And the mountains were being courted by a bevy of clouds caressing their inclines.

This piece is one that started as I was looking out my dining room window. The thunderstorms have been truly dramatic this monsoon season. They usually really get going in the late afternoon, or early evening, when the sun is starting to set. So the skies and the light can set up an unbelievable drama. I did push the pink in the sky for effect, but the darkness of the clouds, at that time can foretell the darkness of the oncoming night. No moon here lately, the clouds see to that.

"Tyrone Thunder"
20x20 oil - Available
Some paintings seem to paint themselves. This was one like that. The concept for it was so strong, looking out my dining room window at the mine, that I knew what where and how intuitively… I also knew immediately when it was done. I didn’t want to piddle it to death with detail it didn’t need. While painting, I reflected on how very much that mine has grown since we have moved here. You could barely see the Tyrone mine three years ago from our house. You had to hunt it down. I actually love the different colors that the overburden has in different light. This view beats the heck out of a fenced in Southern CA view as I look out my window.

Favorite quote of the day:

The artist that paints every tiny little detail is an artist with nothing better to do.                          (Sam Adoquei)


Friday, July 12, 2013

What To Do When It Is Ashing Outside

Go To My Website
The Gila Wilderness has been burning and owing to the draught of the mountains and prevailing winds, we have been inundated with thick ash, acrid smoke and noxious fumes for the past three weeks. My reaction? To get sick of course. 

Consequently, for the last three weeks, I have been in the process of getting better rather than getting out in it to paint. Besides who would want a New Mexico landscape with burnt orange to brown skies? Of course life goes on and we even sandwiched in a family reunion in East Texas over the fourth, the better to get away from our dirty skies and air. Even the prospect of driving across the widest parts of Texas was preferable to staying here and breathing that STUFF.

On the few days that I felt half way human (and they were few ), I stayed in the studio which is now air conditioned and somewhat filtered. What to do? I painted a small still life of some flowers in a copper bucket. It’s an 11x14, from life, en filtered air, not plein air.  To go out was self destructive for those three weeks, so I thought you might all understand. It was fun being able to keep a controlled environment for this piece. Kinda like playing the almighty being, not having to track the light as it willfully moved across the scene. This is Flowers in Copper Pot. Real inventive, my naming skills, wouldn’t you say?

Flowers In Copper Pot
oil 11x14

Rublev Chart No.1
I also took the time to do something I try to get all my painting friends to do. I made some color charts. I bought some new Rublev oil colors at the plein air convention, and they seemed far more subdued than my normal palette, and I had wondered at their range as tints. They were quite dark coming out of the tube and it was hard to tell what they would do as I added white. As I am looking for a new portrait palette, I was interested in what would result. So this is the straight tinting chart of the colors that I have bought. I have not tried to do a chart with mixes, though that is my future intention. Knowing a color’s tinting strength is really important when mixing.  Richard Schmid says that he continues to do color charts even at his stage of development as a painter. And hey, if he does them, maybe I should too! I do know that his book Alla Prima goes into some detail about doing the charts and their value if the exercise is not rushed. He even touts doing the charts in his DVDs.

I know that we are habitual animals and predictable color is a normal thing, but one to be guarded against. I know when I told an artist friend about my flowers in a copper pot, she recited her favorite color recipe for copper. It was certainly interesting to me to know that I had not used one of the colors she had cited! We tend to like certain mixes and rely upon them to the neglect of other colors. So when doing a chart, I ask myself “Is this a suitable replacement for a habitual color of mine?”.  It is definitely broadening as far as building color skills are concerned.

Favorite quote:

Most people think painting is a God-given talent. It Isn't. It is a product of hard work and intense mental effort and only those can succeed who have the capacity for work and the necessary intelligence.  

(Frank Benson)