Monday, January 31, 2011

Early Autumn at the Wetlands

Oil on Panel
6 x 12

Here it is, a cold winter day with an ice storm just getting underway. i thought I'd get this out before the power lines go down and the electricity goes out. Maybe we'll get lucky and we'll just have snow, lots and lots of snow. This has turned out to be a rough winter. Never mind, I've got plenty of dry firewood.

As a contrast to what's going on outside here's beautiful, warm fall day. This may look familiar. If not, it soon will because there are quite a few pictures coming from this day at this place. I love the wetlands. No idea why, maybe it's because of all the little hidden things just waiting out there. There's also a quiet kind of beauty there that can change drastically with the time of year, time of day and lighting conditions. Or maybe it's just home. At any rate I think I could spend the next few years painting nothing but wetland scenes. There's plenty of other things I want to get done too though.

Monday, January 24, 2011

View from the Bluffs

OIl on Panel
9 1/4 x 16

This is one of my favorite places. It's out on the Lewis & Clark hiking trail, also one of my favorites. A couple hundred years ago Lewis & Clark were making their way up the Missouri River right past this spot. That's kind of a big deal if you're into American history. If not, well that's all I got so don't worry about an unwanted history lesson today.

A few years ago now I was out there on the bluffs just looking around and clearing my mind a bit. While I was there I noticed some clouds on the western horizon coming down the river. It was really pretty impressive. So I just sat there and watched it coming. After a while I realized it was coming right at me, but I realized that a little late. It was coming fast, and I was a good two miles away from the car. I got really wet that day.

One problem I have with painting favorite places is that since they are favorites I obviously like them. So the problem becomes, do I like the painting because it's a good piece of work or do I just like the subject matter? The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but personal feelings do tend to get in the way of critical thinking. So what do you think, is it a good painting or just a good place?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Green Cathedral

22 x 15

As a painter I often ask myself what exactly am I trying to do. I guess I could go into artspeak mode and talk about the need for intrinsic elements to come together in a chaotic society to form a whatever. Yada, yada, yada. I could play that game but honestly it bores me. My work has been called no nonsense and unpretentious. I suppose in some circles that could be taken as an insult. I'm not in those circles and actually consider it a compliment. At the very least I think it's the truth. What you see is what you get so I better give you something worth seeing.

At one time Camie Davis had a blog on narrative painting. She's since combined all her blogs into one. See the link if you're interested. One of her last posts on the narrative blog started with a quote from Anthony de Mello:

"You have to understand, my dears, that the shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story."

And that is basically what I'm trying to do with my art. I'm a story teller. I'm much better with images than with words so I paint and draw. Figurative painting lends itself best to story telling, but landscapes also can tell a story of a specific place at a specific time of year and a specific time of day under specific weather conditions. If a landscape is done correctly (by my standards) it will take you to that certain spot at that time.

So what's the story with this painting? Well, there is no literary text portrayed, but the story is still there. I'll leave you to come up with it this time. After all, what you take from a story often depends on what you bring to it.

One final word here. Do your preliminary drawings!!!!! I had a lot of trouble painting the bottom of the drapery. Strangely enough, when I did the study for the figure I didn't do the bottom of the robe, too anxious to get started with the painting.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

High Water

Sorry I left y'all hanging there. Small technical difficulty on this end. Well, I'm all upgraded and updated and ready to carry on. The really good news is I can now set up that online store I've been planning for a while. I hope somebody thinks that's a good idea. More on that later.

Now I've got to go back and see where I left off. I need to take some pictures too as soon as the sun comes out. I think this was the next one I was going to show.

Oil on panel
12 x 9

This started out as a plein aire piece. Unfortunately it wasn't particularly good. For an on site study I suppose it was alright, but still not really worth looking at twice. So like on an earlier post I thought it would just be used as a starting point for a bigger piece. Then it occurred to me that while it didn't work as a finished piece it was a pretty good full color block-in. So another layer of paint, and some further development of the forms and this is what resulted. Not too bad, captures the day fairly well I think.

Which reminds me about that day. I got out to the river petty early and was surprised at how high the water was. I'd planned on painting on a sandy shoreline looking the other direction, but considering that sandy shoreline was under a couple feet of water plan B seemed like a better option. You'll note that there is no shoreline in this painting. Just trees coming right down to the water line. While I was there three different guys came by to do some fishing. Each pronounced the water to be high and left. That's where the title comes from.