Monday, November 29, 2010

Plein Air Wildflowers

Someone asked about the wildflower paintings I did on location when I was overwhelmed by the beauty. We all hear about Texas wildflowers, especially bluebonnets, and honestly, I thought the hype was overblown until I was standing in a huge pasture on a ranch in the midst of acres and acres of bluebonnets and indian paintbrush. The heady smell, the incredible colors, the breezes causing movements while the heat of the day was rising.... with extreme discipline, I focused on the movement and shape within the landscape that day and feel that I really caught the essence of what was there. There's inspiration for a wall sculpture here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

wall sculptures animated

I’ve been working on a new wall sculpture based on the watercolor sketch done out in Arizona. Clients visiting my studio saw my sketch variations for the composition and likened the set to an animation. They caught the movement and weight changes as I reworked the composition over and over, wrestling with providing the experience intended for the viewer.

When asked why I don’t use the computer to change my sculpture compositions, my answer has to do with thought processes. The speed of my thinking is directly connected from what I see to the work of my hand. It’s like breathing with pen or brush. For me, by hand is more natural and allows for unintentional surprises. Whether artists do the work by computer or by hand, it is always a laborious process and a grand challenge.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Maynard Dixon

I love going to a new part of the country to paint, because it recharges my creativity. This painting, "Western Mesa", was done in Mt. Carmel, UT, near where I was staying at Maynard Dixon’s historic studio/home in very early spring. I was allowed to stay on the property for several days, absorbing the work and landscapes that inspired Dixon, Milford Zornes, Ansel Adams, Emil Kosa, and Dorothea Lang and be in the studio they worked in. It was a fantastic experience. I returned there this summer during their annual Maynard Dixon Country show… more about that later.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Plein Air To Abstraction

I was driving through the Painted Desert out west with my artist travel buddy, Denise Mahlke, when a springtime dust storm came up. The gusty wind was so strong, we couldn’t see the cars ahead of us. Separate colors passed in front of our windshield changing like the horse of a different color in “Wizard of Oz” First peach, then green , then purple, then yellow….

When we came out of the desert into a canyon, the wind had stopped. There were all the rocks that were the colors that blew in front of our windshield. Late afternoon lighting created an awe-inspiring scene before us. Only one other time (in a huge field of bluebonnets) had I become speechless and unable to paint. I was reduced to one stroke of watercolor for each rock following the canyon wall vertically. At one point, the audacity of God’s work caused me to laugh out loud.

I left the canyon with written notes, rock samples, photographs, and one small sheet of color notations. A few weeks later, with trip paintings and reference materials scattered about my studio, I noticed the brush stroke color notations and it struck me. Time to build another wall sculpture! I’m titling it “In God’s Paint Box”.

Follow future posts about constructing this sculpture and as well as other paintings. The sculpture was a process that took 18 months from the original on-location sketch to completion.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Why watercolor? I have been asked that many times. The answer? Transparency. Not just optically, but transparent to the artist’s mind, soul, intention, and abilities. It represents freedom to me. Freedom to be myself. Freedom to show my response fully to what I’m experiencing. Freedom to show my creative process.

There is little that you can hide on a watercolor painting that is done freely. The mood, thought process, level of confidence, and technical ability all lay there plainly to the viewer. One slip in concentration, an unintended movement of the hand, forgetting your color or compositional theory, or losing control over water and humidity and the potential artwork becomes scrap. Transparency means your “mistakes” show for all to see and “fixing” them is seldom successful. Fearless or timid, subtle or loud, joyful or joyless, inhibited or free, it is all there for the viewer to behold. The moment is seized and my response to the world at that moment is fixed in time. It rings with authenticity, blowing its horn beyond craft to a connection with the viewer, soul to soul. Transparent. Free.