Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cabin Magic, 8x10

A high powered rifle shot woke me.  It was 4:20 am and I had been asleep, parked in my van a hundred yards off an old mountain road and under a tree where I felt fairly hidden.  Slowly I raised my head just above the bottom of the window and peered through the morning fog and gloom.  Nothing moved.  This definitely didn't seem right.

I watched the road through the trees for several minutes when a man finally came into view carrying a rifle.  He slowly sauntered down the road not seeing me, I hoped.  Quietly I threw on some pants, collected my things, lowered the camper top, started the engine and drove off.  Getting to the main road without seeing the poacher, I felt much better.

It was the beginning of a magical day several years ago when I had decided to paint my way across northern Washington and end up at our cabin in Montana.  Coming down out of the mountains the Pend O'reille river wove its way south.  The rising sun lit it's surface and backlit the eastern mountains so I stopped and painted it, finishing about 6:30 am. and drove on.

I did three paintings that day and this little study is the only one that I decided not to sell....the others sold quickly.  Every painting fell off the brush without effort.  This rock is just outside our cabin and was lit by the setting sun at the other end of the day.  It is loosely painted with little attention to fine detail yet there is something about it that contains many of the things I find satisfying.  Varied brush strokes, interesting color, thin and thick paint, transparency of color and a feeling of movement and energy.  The paint, in and of itself, is compelling.

I puzzle how some days, in many areas of our lives, can just be effortless with everything falling into place....and others the exact opposite.  How does that happen?  What do I need to do to make it happen more often?

Maybe there should be an awakening gunshot every morning....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Studio Spring, 10x12

Spring is too short.  Summer is slightly better but still doesn't last long enough.  In fact, the whole thing is just too short.  How are we expected to get even a decent amount packed into a brief lifetime? 

There was a time when I wanted to be a symphony orchestra.  Often I would get corrected by folks saying, 'You mean you want to be the conductor'.  No.  I wanted to be the whole symphony.  Who can listen to Pictures at an Exhibition and not want to be the whole orchestra?  (You pick your own piece...that's just one of mine.....and I actually still want to be the whole orchestra.)

Anyway.  So many flowers, so much vibrant sun, so many carefree days.  Too short.

I wish this were my studio but it belongs to Debbie and Gary and they were kind enough to let me paint their flowers on a perfect Spring day. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

On Quitting Painting, Again...

Gillian gave me a call about a week ago and we went out to a familiar painting spot.  Lured by these rocks I just sat down and painted.....seemed like a good way to explore cool colors on a gray day.  It took G a while to find her subject ... me, and her efforts can be found HERE.

The other day a couple people in class said they felt so discouraged about trying do to a portrait that they wanted to hang it all up, just stop painting.  I responded in an email with this:

On quitting painting.  Like I said in class, I've done it a thousand times….I did it just yesterday when I was painting in Roslyn in a wind storm so strong that I had to take off my belt and tie my easel to a street sign.  After chasing it for twenty feet I tied my hat to my head.  There was dirt flying in my paint.  The board I was painting on was vibrating in the wind…..and the painting became a flop.  My pants fell down.

I quit.  Gave it up.  Mentally I gave away all my painting gear and books and burned every painting.  Decided to just sit the rest of my life.  Safer that way. 

Today I was out fixing the painting and trying to figure out how I had gone wrong…..posted some stuff in my blog and ordered some gessoed linen.  You see,  I've started painting all over again feeling like an absolute beginner a thousand and one times…..

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rest of the Clowns, 6x6

Do Clowns creep you out?   The comments that have come through have been that, although people like the paintings, they find the clowns unsettling and a bit scary.  Come to think of it all the comments like that are from women.

James Gurney, author of Dinotopia, had an interesting post yesterday with an image that I find unsettling....maybe this is what people are responding to.  Like the horror movies with clowns, are these the images we have unconsciously grown up with?

Interesting.  I always thought clowns were just fun....oh, well, there was that old Alfred Hitchcock movie....

Anyway.  Here are the other two clowns and we can be done with them.  They were fun to paint. Sweet dreams.....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crepe Shack, 8x10

This place has the best crepes.  It also would be interesting to paint.  A couple weeks ago the markers pulled me to this spot to play around with some compositional ideas.   With twenty minutes on my hands I had time to put this together.  The zig-zags, from the curb to the tree were interesting but as a whole the drawing didn't do it for me.   The drawing did give me the idea for what I would like to do when I bring back my paints.
Cropped, the same drawing becomes much more compelling.  Those zig-zags are more visible and would be fun to work with.  They all converge on the doorway and the little wooden happy french chef.   How convenient.  Almost like it was planned.

 By the way,  I have a marker workshop coming up this next weekend.  Feedback from previous workshops has been very positive and it launches many folks into doing art or revitalizing their previous art practice.  Find out about it HERE.  (Winslow Art Center)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cool Red Nose 2, 6x6

These clowns spend their free time....when they aren't clowning around....visiting the kid's wards at hospitals, boosting immune systems with laughter, a la Patch Adams.   I think I could be good at this.  Wonder where I can get an I need one more project.

This guy had 'glow in the sun' pink hair but he looks better with it toned down a bit.  All of these small paintings were done with a 3/8  inch and 5/8 inch soft bright brush, sometimes held on its side for small places.

Have you ever wanted to be a clown?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cool Red Nose 1, 6x6

All clowns want to do when they pose is crack jokes.

I've got this portrait class going on and there were these small paint panels hanging around, so what better thing to do but paint some clowns as ideas for class?  These little things are cool to paint.  Instead of walking back across the room thirty times, which happens with a large painting to get a full view, I just had to lean back a little.  Nifty.

There are currently four of these little guys that will be posted over the next few days and maybe more to come (I still have some panels).....but they'll be interspersed with some other pieces.

Doing them made me laugh....wonder where I can get a clown costume?......

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Boat Launch, 8x10

There are some things that give succeed or fail, to not take things too seriously, to explore, to just have fun.  Markers are one of the art tools that do that for me.  I just sit down, put pen to paper and see where it takes me.  Some drawings are so-so, some almost make it, and a few get me excited.

I've been trying to figure out what I like about this one.... I mean, it's so ordinary!  So why do I keep looking at it?

Seems to me the repetition of shapes is interesting.  I also like how the background is alluded to without being emphasized.  Mostly I'm enthused by how the light flows through this everyday scene that we would normally pass by, and that movement of light brings it to life.