Monday, October 27, 2008

Standing Naked in an Approaching Monsoon

18 x 24 oil on Alky Primed Canvas.

One of the finds I came across on the summer trip to St. George, Zion and Bryce Canyon. The weather was pretty wild the whole time we were there. It was a real active monsoon season this year and it made for some interesting drama. I took and unbelievable amount of photos and this was one of those that aked to be painted.

Mayhew Lodge Ruins

18 x 24 oil on Alkyd Primed Canvas
Haven't painted anything new in a while. I have been busy studying and reworking some old paintings that just missed the mark. I have had this in the to be painted file for a while. I was instantly fascinate with the architecture and mystery of the place. It is located on the west fork trail just outside of Sedona. It is my understanding that the place burned down in the early 80's an a number of movies were filmed here. I liked the quarkiness of the oddshaped openings.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grand Pinyon

24 x 30 oil on alkyd primed canvas. Click on photo for larger image.

I don't know if anyone else has ever had a painting that will just not lay down, but this was my experience with this one. I started this piece back in March and could not for the life of me have it look anything but contrived. This canvas has been on and off the easel countless times and set aside in utter frustration. Just because I am stubborn, I refused to give up. I fiugured the reason why it was not working was because there was something missing in my painting toolkit that I needed to learn. I imagined it to be important enough that I was willing to contimue to dust off and make another run at the canvas until I had something that was working. It remains to be seen if what I learned from this experience will affect my work. It is no Curt Walters by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I don't feel completely defeated.

What did I learn? Values and temperature are the only way a scene like this can be even remotely believable. Pretty simple tools, but the canyon will bring to light any weakness in this department.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pinion Pine and Couple of HooDoos

20 x 24 oil alkyd primed canvas.

On our way back from the Paint the Parks exhibit in St. George, my wife and I spent a couple of days in Bryce Canyon National Park. One evening prior to turning in I went for a short hike along the rim trail to watch the sun go down. I was quite literally stunned to watch the display unfold. There were some great old trees along the trail that gave evidence that this canyon is continuing to evolve. The ground would erode away and leave these old pines with the feeling that they had been constructed on stilts. This tree in particular caught my attention, but the setting and the background left plenty to be desired. I also wanted to include a couple of hoodoos to give it a more honest sense of place. That ended up being a challenging element to fit in because of the strong graphic nature of those rock formations. This painting is put together from about four difference reference photos with a good bit of it made up. I am still deciding if I am done picking at it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Zion Juniper

18 x 24 oil on alkyd primed canvas. Click on image for larger view.

I haven't had much time to do any painting as of late. I had a commission that I have had on the easel for the last month with alot of interruptions. I was asked to speak at the St. George Art Museum for their art conversations because of the paintings that I have on tour with Paint the Parks. This year I was awarded the distinction of a signature member of their organization. When I looked at the map, I saw that the city of St. George was just outside of Zion National Park. I got a chance on the way back to spend a couple of days hiking Zion and a couple of days hiking Bryce Canyon. I saw a bunch of trees that caught my attention and this is the first chance I have had to make a painting from any of the reference. This is a Utah Juniper. I have been fascinated with these old trees and the evident struggle for life in their trunk structure. I came back with a little over 500 photos, and I am still combing through them to see what I want to say about these places.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bristlecone Memorial

Born 306 AD - Died 2005 AD

I had the privilege of visiting two amazing National Parks this last month as a part of an extended visit to the St. George Art Museum for their Tuesday night Art conversations where I was honored by being asked to speak. On the way back from the talk, my wife and I camped in Zion and Bryce. When we sat through the presentations at the visitors centers, I couldn't help noticing the small mention of a nation of people dislocated from a place of such pristine beauty.

When we arrived in Bryce Canyon National Park and were planning the hikes we were going to go on during our stay there, I happened to notice a hike called the "Bristlecone Pine Loop". I have been fascinated by these amazing pines since my first discovery of them. The same thing happened to Robert Schuman when he discovered these amazing trees in a remote location of the California's White Mountains. In the toughest of growing conditions, the poorest soil and harshest weather, these little pines make their home. They almost seem to laugh in the face of adversity as they defy the odds and hang on. They will let half of the tree die off and keep a thin strip of living bark alive that connects the needles to the roots. Old Methusalaf in Schuman's Grove has survived to the ripe old age of over 4700 years old. The parks department has had the foresight to not tell visitors there which tree is the oldest, because even though it can survive everything that nature can throw at them, they are no match for the thoughtlessness of human nature. At the very end of the loop on one of the most exposed points stood a naked bristlecone, stripped of her life giving needles. I happened to notice that there was a forestry service plaque not far from this relatively young pine. I noticed in the picture on the plaque that there was a sizeable mass of dark green pine needles, which this tree happens to keep on the tree for up to 25 years as a way of conserving its limited resources. I made mention to my wife of my discovery and thought this was a recent death. I couldn't let the idea rest and set out to find the answer to the riddle of this ancients death. I found a Ranger in one of the visitor centers and inquired about whether or not he knew what happened. He said that this old tree had died whithin the last three years. It had been core sampled and verified to be over 1,700 years old but couldn't survive the thoughtless mob of visitors. He tired to soften the disrespect of this old pine by saying "The poor old tree was basically loved to death."

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Garden Angel

16 x 20 oil on alkyd primed canvas.

A couple of weekends ago I spent some time at the Serra Retreat center in Malibu, CA. The gardens were spectacular and they had a great collection of stone and concreted sculptures. A friend of mine studied at the Waterstreet Atelier in New York with Jacob Collins and had sketchbooks full of studies they did of Stone sculpture. The studies were of just a foot, a bust or a hand. The school uses the curriculum of Charles Barque to establish good structure. I was fascinated with the approach and made a mental note that I would give it a try if the opportunity presented itself.

One of my favorite songs is Calling all Angels by Jane Siberry and KD Lang. When I can across this little statue, something inside me connected to it and I decided this was the one to give the Barque approach a shot on. I had a good time painting it and felt quite challenged to get the values and reflected light correct.

This is the working drawing that I used to get familiar with the structure and a general value plan. It would have been easy to get carried away at this stage and take the sketch allot further.

Last but not least, the location where I found the subject. The light was amazing and created some interesting opportunities for study.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Stone Chicken Coup

24 x 30 oil on alkyd primed canvas.

A little find from my trip to the Grand Canyon this last weekend. We came back through Sedona and hiked the west fork of Oak Creek on the way back to Phoenix. At the trail head, I came across this little building that was in an advanced state of decay. I was pretty amazed when I started to explore it to find that it had roosts for chickens inside. I am not sure if is started out being a chicken coup or not. If it did, that is alot of effort to construct the building out of stone.

I was pretty much instantly mesmerised by the cast shodow on the ground. This had a real similar feel to me to the painting "Under the Pier." Needless to say, this was a setting that got my juices flowing. I couldn't wait to get started on this. I was going to do a study of this one, but only got as far as the thumnail before I wanted to get started. One thing that I have learned is that with a scene like this, I better have an accurate drawing, or I will be asking for trouble later on. I have been really conscious of the basics recently. Shape, Value, Color.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Evening Juniper

16 x 20 oil on canvas

I have been spending more time with rag and knife. Having just returned from the Grand Canyon with the family. I had a bit of inspiration to paint another juniper. I am constantly drawn to these stately old evergreens.

Part of the trip was to view the Paint the Parks exhibit at the rim of the canyon that I had two painting included in the showing. It was displayed in the Kolb Studio. I can't imagine a more spectacular setting to have a studio.

Here is a view off the back of the studio.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Studies, Studies, Studies

One of the commitments I made this year was to spend more time doing studies. More plein air, still life, and life drawings. Some real week points in my work is overdetailing, too many sharp edges, not enough variety in shapes color and values.

Here are some recent explorations.

Sterling Picture Window

One of the subject matters that created alot of interest in the Celebration show were the old trucks. This one had an old broken out winshield that frame the distant mountains quite nicely. I enjoyed the overstated contrast between the purple in the rusted body playing off the blooming brittlebush.
18 x 24 oil on alkyd primed canvas. Click on image for larger view.

Swimmin with the Poppies

9 X 12 oil on primed board. For a larger view, click on image.

This year is supposed to be about exploring new territory and getting out of some ruts that I have created. I guess a floral is a good way to start that process. This is my first floral and I had a good bit of fun with it. I really enyoyed the opportunity for artistic license with the color. It was really obvious that the objective with this was to give the color something to read against. I believe it is Payne that said, "A color needs its compliment in order to exist."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sunbathed Sycamore

22 x 28 oil on canvas

Still trying to reacclimate to a normal life after tearing down the marathon show. I produced some real frisbees while painting in front of the watchers. A great experience, moved some work and met some great people and some lifelong friendships started. I had some pent up creative energy and some ideas of where I would like my work to go. Should be a fun year. It is quite nice to get back into the studio.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New stuff

Eight week out of the way with the celebration show. What an experience. It has been and incredibly exausting emotional experience and at the same time alot of fun. I have made some lifelong friends and in some respects it feels much like the experience of being in a college studio enviroment. The main difference is that the artists in the show are very driven and serious about their work.
Desert Mother 18 x 24 oil on linen.
Russian Sunset. 18 x 24 oil on primed canvas.
Ironwood Arch 20 x 24 oil on canvas.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Autumn Gold

This is a larger painting done during the week. The larger size was definately a challenge with all of the interruptions that keep happening when your are painting in a public space. This was a scene that had an overcast sky that made everything warmer. It presented alot of opportunities for orchestrating compliments. Tried to push the variety as much as possible to keep interest in the larger format. Another reminder of why it is important to work from life as the camera change the values in the light and dark areas.
30 x 40 oil on alkyd primed canvas.

Cool Creek

A new one from the show. It is an experience to put together a piece while keeping an eye on the traffic moving in and out of the space. I have had to capitalize on bits of time when I can focus on the more challenging passages of the painting. I have painted this area before and was drawn to this area because of the high content of Iron in the creek bed giving it a warm red glow. The other piece was horizontal and I had wanted to do a vertical piece to increase the drama.
18 x 24 oil on canvas

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A couple of new ones

18 x 24 oil on stretched canvas.

I have had and itch to do this one in a larger format. I did a plein air study of this originally and found that it didn't quite capture the inviting feeling of the scene. The more subte I made the transitions in this piece, the more natuaral it began to feel. The camera dropped out the subtel pink tones in the canopy of the tree, but still communicates the general idea.

24 x 30 oil on stretched canvas.

I had this piece sitting around the studio for a number of months now and really liked the composition. In the process of painting it, I lost my way and missed the depth of the canyon behind the junipers. I have been concentrating on narrowing my value range to better communicate my ideas. When I put it on the easel again it was more than obvious what direction this one needed to go. I premixed my pallett to harmonize the energy of complimentary colors to create the depth that was lacking and better unify the idea. I get a little anxious to start moving the brushes and overlook the importance of premixing my pigments. When I take the time to set out the colors I am planning on using, it is more than obvious the importance of slowing down and planning the harmonies. When I just mix on the fly, I tend to lose my way.

Here is the version before the rework.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Devil's Bridge Vista

18 x 24 oil on stretched canvas.

Another painting from the show. Some type of a juniper species that I am not familiar with. I took a quick peek in some Audobon books that I had laying around and could not find it. Oh well, it caught my attention anyway.

I have a bit of fun painting these scenes where the lighting in indirect and diffused. This was on the back side of a mountaing that was in shadow. The light that was pouring out into the valley was filtered. It makes everything soft and subtle. It also warms up the already red soil and shadows. I thought that made for some fairly interesting contrasts of warm and cool. Got much tighter than I had planned. Fussed with the lighting to the point of overworking it.

I met Mick McGinty at the show for the first time. I find it very cool to chat F2F after meeting on the web. Another fellow painter from my home state. He commented on how much different my work looked in life vs. a photo. It pretty much solidifies the line of thought that it is imperitive to work from life. A camera only records what it sees. Our eyes are so much more sensitive. That dovetails nicely with the old addage, "Don't just paint what you SEE, paint what YOU see."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mill Avenue Bridge

Started this one a couple of months ago and threw it aside in the studio. Finally had a bit of time after the dust settled at the show to give it another run. I was a little unsure of the sky at first, but thought it provided a resting spot for the eye. The water is so busy that it seemed to call for a subdued sky.

24 x 30 oil on canvas. For a larger image, please click on photo.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Backlit Meadow

18 x 24 oil on canvas.

It has been a while since I have thrown anything new at the board. It has been an absolute madhouse with Celebration of Fine Art going on. It is an experience painting in front of a crowd and trying to maintain focus. I have to just walk away from time to time and find my wits. Anyhow, here is a fresh one off the easel.