Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Here it is… completed at last! The new hidden support structure works great and the changes in shapes and paint application really have added movement to this piece. “In God’s Paint Box II” is 3’ x 4.5’ and will hang on any vertical surface as it is sturdy, but not extremely heavy. It is ready for sale and is an integral part of my Western Movement series I’m currently working on.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
“Behind the Window” is one of my favorites painted while in Big Bend National Park. I couldn’t resist the layered view looking toward one of the park’s iconic formations.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
A visitor stopped by my studio yesterday while I was acrylic-sealing my sculpture pieces. She enjoyed seeing the “organic forms and surfaces”. Now I’m on to assembling it. These close up shots show some of the great variations Aquabord is capable of. It’s been so fun to experiment and enjoy the results within each sculpture piece. I was a bit surprised at how durable the board is as well. Most of the pieces came out great on the first or second painting pass, but due to the redesign, I ended up repainting one piece 12 times. I’m not proud of needing to do that, but it’s nice to know the board will hold up under such use.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The intricate shapes and lengths required for this sculpture have definitely hit the limits of my scroll saw. I am now a saw blade connoisseur; it’s all about the teeth per inch. Whew, I’m glad the cutting is done and looks good! When I work larger than this on future sculptures, I will need to hire laser cutting. It’s exciting to see things moving along.
Friday, October 14, 2011
There are several very long pieces on this sculpture that require holes within them and intricate cuts. The arm of my scroll saw makes me break at awkward times during my cuts and constantly rotate the piece I am sawing. It could be impossible on those pieces to make the clean cuts I desire. There are dedicated saws available for this that protrude vertically from tables, but I like the safety of this saw… and I already own it. Time to get at the harder cuts.
Friday, October 7, 2011
The 1/4 inch thick Ampersand Aquabord that I special ordered for this larger sculpture is thicker by 1/8 inch than the original, smaller version. You can see how beautifully the sample cut. I think I like it even better than the 1/8”. It’ll make a visually stronger edge and give added strength for the longer spans. The test sample of Aquabord’s newly formulated surface took the paint similar to the product I used on the first sculpture. Today I transferred shapes onto the boards for cutting and I hope to get the cutting done this week. This sculpture will be 51” x 36”.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
This drawing reminds me of an engineer’s plan (my apologies to you engineers) and it’s for the next version of “In God’s Paint Box”. I am dissolving the support structure visually. That process has lead to some changes in shapes and line in order to make the sculpture strong while visually giving the viewer the effect I am going for. I’m really excited about the results.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
One of the oldest running dance halls in TX, Gruene Hall, brings in the greats like Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, and lesser- known musicians. Free shows are in the afternoon quite often, and you can sit and drink something cool with the screens letting in the lovely outside air and the floor creaking to the time of the dancers. People ride inner tubes down the Guadalupe River. Hanging in the Gruene Mansion Inn, is one of my paintings, a testament to my love for this wonderful little town. Buck’s Pottery is in town as well as my gallery, Cactus Jack’s, where you can see this painting, “Any Side Will Do”.
Gruene Hall Click Here
Gruene Mansion Inn Click Here
Monday, August 29, 2011
Painted at the end of the day, I worked to finish before the light was gone. A party on a nearby deck kept me company while the marsh grass’ color dared me to paint it. I love the grass patterns through the water and the skyline in the distance.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Austin’s iconic Barton Springs Pool grants relief from the summer heat at a steady 68 degrees year round. It’s a treasure for the city and a refreshing place to paint in the summer.
Friday, August 5, 2011
I’m so excited about today’s studio work. Sometimes it takes several months to gain enough distance from a project to change direction. My artist friend, Elwood Howell, reminded me of the value of drawing in charcoal to conceptualize and it was so freeing to work this way again. The wall sculpture enlargement of “In God’s Paint Box” has been on hold while Ampersand tweaked production of the boards, but I waited beyond that to start the work. Knowing that there were changes to make in the shapes and support structure, but unsure of what to do, charcoal drawing opened up creative doors. I’ll be cutting wood soon!
Click Here to see Elwood Howell’s work.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Paria Canyon in southern Utah is worth the half hour, bone jarring, dust covered drive from the highway. Movies were filmed back in there and you can see why. As you turn yourself around in a circle, the rocks vary in color dramatically. One location for filming could easily look like many on the screen. This watercolor was painted at a turn in the road while things were quiet in the morning. Remote as it was, a caravan of ATVs arrived as I was nearly finished. 30 of them slowly and kindly drove past me with many of them apologizing for the cloud of dust. I was glad to have gotten much of what I had hoped to paint on the paper as the procession slowly moved along.
Some of you have asked me about the annual Maynard Dixon Country show that I attended last year in UT. It is a fantastic way to see museum quality art that will most likely never be seen again in public. Some of the very best artists of our time bring their work to this show and you get to view it in a lovely gallery situation. Yes, no red velvet ropes or museum guards lurking. A lot of the big names in landscape painting are there to talk with during the opening. It’s a heady experience for an art lover… and the weather is great that time of year.
I like Glenn Dean’s paintings for this year’s show. Click Here
More MDC show info: Click Here
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Asked by others how many paintings I produced on my trip, I’d rather know how many total works will be influenced by my work out there. There’s a long lasting value to a residency like this. I see it affecting things in my current work and inspiration for great amounts in the future.
Returning to the site of my original sketch for the wall sculpture “In God’s Paintbox”, I was struck again by the difference lighting can make. Although this location was less exciting this time, the light and amazing rock colors that I remembered were experienced in several other locations during this trip. Back in my studio, I used samples of rocks and sand in the midday Austin sun diffused by plastic to replicate a bit of that great lighting to understand it better.
In Maynard’s cabin, I read in a book that some of his studio floors were painted sky blue with a rust red circle on the ceiling to combat too-cool lighting. Reading that acknowledged what I was seeing from the reflection, diffusion, and powerful UV midday light. With a fuller experience of the area, I am creating more paintings and sculptures in my studio.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Painted from the rise above Maynard Dixon’s studio near his favorite sitting rock for viewing the valley and mesas, I chose to paint the luscious spring green trees and mountain stream. The Texas drought we’re experiencing made it all the more inviting to celebrate the Utah Spring.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
I painted from this location several times during my residency. The coral pink sand is amazing and I love the movement in the dunes. Of course, sand moves with the wind …. Yes, it was a somewhat challenging location, but as usual, photos don’t do it justice so I’m glad I have my paintings!
The midday light in northern Arizona and southern Utah is fascinating. Some days it turns a grey and dried twig into a fluorescent bluish grey. As if a black light was turned on, a tan leaf becomes glowing and alive and every already colorful stone turns jewel-like. The air is alive with breathable color and you stand within it in the powerful landscape of the west just drinking it in. Of course, it would affect a painting done in that light the same way, as in never to be viewed in the same light again, so I plan to do studio work based on what I observed.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Wildfires, mountain passes with snowstorms and high winds, and sandstorms in low areas were interspersed with times of perfect lighting and full clouds above the mesas. What a blessing to spend continued time in an area of the U.S. that can be so difficult to get to. The Maynard Dixon residency allowed me to afford to stay in the area long enough to wait out the weather systems, adapt to colors and conditions, and experience the area at a deeper level. It was too difficult to blog while on the trip, but I’m back and ready to post. Thanks for waiting. Here’s a few photos of where I stayed.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Painting for the first time on my trip to the Maynard Dixon residency, Tucson provided a nice break from driving. I was pleased enough just to get the kinks out of my gear…every screw was loose on my umbrella, tripod, and pochade box. Is it the worsening roads in the US or my old Explorer rattling along? The dry air at 3% humidity petrifies paint in the palette; the timing with washes and brush strokes have to adapt as well. Usually a trip’s first painting is a throw away. I’ll post a few things from my trip over the next few weeks.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
It was like pitting a heavy weight champion against a fly -weight. Intentionally ignoring years of training and practice, I placed the strong, large, dominant form of the building squarely in the middle and passively modeled it. I then proceeded to use complementary colors attempting to direct the eye from the red kite in the blue sky to the figures on the grassy knoll. The diagonal across the entire lower portion of the composition did not help the ailing painting. There was little fight. The laws of composition were not to be overcome by mere trickery.
For artists: A great book: “Payne on Composition” can bought at DeRus gallery of Laguna Beach, CA.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
For three years my dear friend and fellow painter, Laurel Daniel, and I have painted at Deep Eddy Pool sometime during the heat of Austin’s summer. We get there early and finish painting as it’s really getting hot. Then we jump into the spring fed pool and cool off. It doesn’t get better than that!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
“Hill Country Spring” is another 5” x 7” I did recently in my studio from a plein air watercolor. I wasn’t satisfied with the original painting and the studio time gave me another shot at it. I usually work larger, but it has been a great exercise in focusing on what really makes a painting work. This version captures the scene better than the original.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I have exciting news today! I was accepted for an artist residency at Maynard Dixon’s historic property in Mt. Carmel, UT near Zion National Park. I started a series out there last year and have been working towards returning to continue the project. The Thunderbird Foundation’s generosity will help make it happen.
This 5 x 7” studio painting is based on a plein air watercolor from that series. It may be one of the 2 pieces I choose to include in the Arthouse at the Jones Center’s 5 x 7 invitational, opening May 12.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Traveling with family on mainly a hiking trip, I allowed one session for painting during the heavy runoff of early spring snowmelt at Yosemite. These watercolor sketches with the people so small at the bottom are true to the site.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Last night’s private reception for the Art and Conservation show brought a special treat. Lou Smith introduced himself after viewing my painting “Enchanted From Afar”, a painting of Enchanted Rock and the approaching valley. Lou’s dad and grandfather were ranch managers on Moss Ranch, the original ranch that became Enchanted Rock SNA. What an honor to have Lou tell me how this painting really captured what was so dear to his family, the memories he has of the place and stories he heard over the years. He mentioned an out of print book in the Boerne library titled Mr. Polo, that is a biography of his father, Cecil Smith. I just love this kind of history and hope to get a chance to read it some day.
The 5 paintings posted on the most recent four posts are for sale now.
For sale through Cibolo Nature Center:
“Enchanted From Afar” 15 “ x 20” wc and ink $2000 framed
“After the Burn”11” x 11” wc and ink $800 framed
contact Cibolo Nature Center contact Kate email KVillarreal@cibolo.org
more info about the show Click Here
For sale through my blog, contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org
“After the Burn II” 8” x 8” wc and ink $300 unframed
“After the Burn III” 8” x 8” wc and ink$300 unframed
“Fall Grasses” 11” x 15” wc and ink$900 unframed
Monday, March 28, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Controlled burn areas acrid and crunching beneath my feet was the attraction on my first visit to the Davidson Nature Preserve. It was the promise of better things to come. Growing up on a farm that now is under grassland/wetland restoration made me want to see what would sprout from the burn. Painting on location would prove to be a special experience here. April came and the scarred earth seen in January bloomed with wildflowers and grasses. The flowers were outstanding in stark contrast to the nearby burnt logs.
Sponsored by the Hill Country Council for the Arts and Cibolo Nature Center, “Our Hidden Treasures 3rd Biennial” assigns conservation land to each of the juried artists to paint throughout the year. This plein air watercolor titled “After The Burn II” is from the series of paintings I created for this show opening April 7. I will post several pieces over the next couple weeks, including the show pieces.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
“A Trickle of Water” was painted on a ranch full of pinkish granite crushed by the creek and standing in boulders and mounds. The water at times can pick up almost tropical colors there in the late afternoon. One time at this ranch I was so engrossed in my painting that I neglected to notice a large rattlesnake coiled a few steps away under a bush. Early spring is a forgiving time for people focusing on other things. He was still cold and sleepy, so I finished my last bit of the painting and packed up.
The classic Julian French easel. You ask if anyone still uses these heavy weights synonymous with the artists’ authentic look when on location. I treasured mine till it finally gasped its last breath and became a wobbling, unsteady disaster. Heavy and hanging from the hand while on a long hike, it can create a sore wrist and unsteady strokes when you arrive on location. Painting next to your car, it provides a very sturdy and luxurious painting experience. Large umbrellas can be used. Extra storage and palette surface are available. **Artists beware… not all French easels are created equal.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Hiking out of this canyon, I blew out my old hiking boots like a set of well-worn tires. I wondered why my legs felt so funny, but painting buddy, Jill Carver, and I kept trudging upwards and I never knew till I took off the boots in the parking lot. I love these colors in winter when the leaves are off the Sycamores. This 15” x 22” watercolor is titled, “Creek Dreams”. Jill’s work can be seen at at Wally Workman and InSight Gallery.
**Note for Artists. Artwork Essentials’ EasyL manufactures some of my favorite plein air easels. I own two different sizes. The Versa, shown here, is their largest easel and is great for large panels and windy conditions. Having your easel dump over fully loaded not only messes up the painting and gear, but can break an expensive piece of equipment. This is my steadiest set-up. A large palette will fit inside the Versa beautifully. Their smaller box, the Lite, lives up to its name when needing to pack smaller and lighter for longer hikes. I love their umbrella as well!
Monday, February 28, 2011
Painted this past week, “Hill Country Movement” was what I needed. The lighting finally is strong enough outdoors that I am excited to paint plein air again. An artist friend, Lynn Cohaganshowed me this location and I just love the movement and color there. With “windy” on the road sign, it can be a challenging site to avoid moving gear. My board wiggled in the 20 mph gusts and my brush sometimes connected with my paper in unexpected ways. It’s a fascinating place. I can’t wait to return.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Painted on location at the Austin Zoo with Plein Air Austin, this painting of a tiger cleaning up after a hearty meal of….well I don’t know, there were pretty big bones lying there when it was done, is titled “Last Licks”. This zoo’s main attraction is that you can really see the animals. The tiger’s space wasn’t especially gorgeous, but it did have this lovely tree, and with a little imagination I blocked out everything manmade. I won’t add to this sketch. It has a simplicity that I like.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I won this easel as part of my Excellence Award from Nomadas del Arte, a national plein air show. The En Plein Air Pro was great to take on the plane as it was light and compact. Anticipating one session of painting on the trip, minimal gear was my goal… not even an umbrella. The best view at the beach was low to the ground, so I sat in the sand….less than optimal for keeping the gear free of grit. I did blend in with the surroundings well, creating more anonymity than the usual standing with umbrella above the easel.
A reader asked me what easel I use to paint on location. I definitely have my favorite, but sometimes packing for plane travel, wind speeds on location, the need for a light pack or support for a large painting panel, and the demand for shade dictate particular set ups. Very seldom do I sit while painting… it restricts my movement and slows my thoughts. I’ll share a few set up picks over the next few posts.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Near the Arizona/Utah border last summer, this lovely and wild place called to us. We just had to stop driving and get out the watercolors. I love this area for its broad and moving shapes. “Western Movement” is the first in a series I am working on created in this area. I’m giving you the sneak preview… more to be seen at a future exhibition.
Friday, January 28, 2011
You know those vacations that are memorable and exciting at the time, but the rejuvenation from that vacation fades in a few weeks or sometimes even days? Many of my collectors have told me that they look at my work for a while most days whether it is in their office or home. One of my collectors described it this way. They get transported to another place free to energize their mind and soul. Why do people keep buying art when the economy is so challenging? It’s the never-ending vacation. I love being a part of that.
Collectors place their art in locations that provide solace, stimulation, peace, beauty, or a call to action. Placed by the breakfast table, an encouragement to start the day. Near the phone, a stimulation that provides energy. In the bedroom a solace and peacefulness promoting rest. The living room, it transports the imagination. The workplace needs all of the above. Long after the 3-day weekend’s effects are gone, art provides a need that we all have. We all can use a little art in our lives.
Monday, January 24, 2011
What’s different about a plein air artist from “normal” people? Painting on location can be wonderfully lovely, but sometimes it has its challenges. There’s something addictive about the experience for those of us who love it. Here’s a couple of snapshots of outdoor painting.
“Fishing the Stillwater” was a treat to paint. The approaching winter cold in SW Montana was held at bay that day, the fly fisherman appeared as if arranged, and the approaching night’s wintry storm had not even a breath of wind to bother us… a truly peaceful scene.
Read a text I sent another plein air artist this summer that prompted her to call me laughing to commiserate. “Ah, painting outdoors. A great start painting in Barry’s pasture. Hills, cows, flowers, crops… A lovely yellow biplane appears low overhead. I wave anticipating the customary dipping of the wing in return. It starts spraying who knows what? I piled my gear into the trunk in a destructive heap. I lost my lens cap. My I-pod broke even before the plane arrived. Geez! But I still feel happy because I got a great start and photos to work from.”
Saturday, January 15, 2011
One of the things I love about painting on location is the way it can present a prolonged moment of time. I’m particularly proud of this painting. It was a day to race the coming raindrops and changing scenery. Clouds in the sky were building to a storm and changing in shape and placement. The sky and water flipped vast areas of color, changing from deep greens and blues, to pinks and purples and pale orange. Almost done painting, raindrops began and I retreated to shelter.
Ever come back from a vacation or a lovely sunset and been disappointed in your photos? There’s nothing like the naked eye. A studio visitor saw my reference photo I took at this painting’s site laying near the painting. Some times things really come together on location and this was one of them. Amazed, she said it was like I made up the painting. I use photos as a backup piece of the information, but as you can see, the real guts of the work happen on site. The painting is closer to seeing with these remarkable eyes we have been given. I have a very nice digital SLR, but it’s really not able to deliver the experience of deep and thoughtful painting on location.