Showing posts from 2017

Weekend Warrior

In my childhood a favorite family weekend pastime was to pile in the car and drive to a spot along the road that bordered the Naval Air Station. There, from a good advantage point, we could view the weekend warriors practicing take offs and landings. Occasionally, the rumor would spread through town that the Blue Angels were going to be flying from the base. That was the big treat. The Air Station is long gone, only to be replaced by a brand new town.

Lately, I feel like a weekend warrior with artwork. Most of my time is spent getting ready for the Zoot show. I have finished the last painting that will be in the exhibition, so now I am concentrating on planning the opening event. As I plan the layout of the installation, I probably have too many paintings. Best to have too many, rather than not enough. Only my top picks will be there and I want those to sparkle.


After setting ‘Tomorrow’ aside to let the paint dry, I went back to it. The background and falling rain needed lightening. The technique of scumbling is a good way to achieve what I was looking to do. I used a cool grey mix of undiluted oil paint and lightly brushed over the dry layer in the background. Using that same mix I tinted it with yellow and brushed in the rain and on the trees enhancing the glow.
Below is a detail of the area I worked on.


It is always nice to know what is coming, like the snow storm last night, this time the weatherman got it right. We anticipate an outcome, conjuring up a picture in our mind. Then, as it happens, it is not what we expected. I will take different approaches to a painting. To workout a composition I will do a very abstract under painting. From this, the painting’s shapes and images slowing emerge. A colleague of mine suggested I work that in the reverse. Going from a realistic approach into abstraction. The approach was a bit more difficult than I expected. The really nice benefit of this brain explosion was that it empowered the bolder side of me. I went back to look at a few paintings that have been bothering me. Each of these paintings needed something. A good example is this blue heron wading in the water painting was crying for help. I courageously made the stroke of orange. Can say for certainty that it was unexpected.

Pine Scent

Overhead The Tree-Tops Meet - Poem by Robert Browning

Overhead the tree-tops meet,
Flowers and grass spring 'neath one's feet;
There was nought above me, and nought below,
My childhood had not learned to know:
For what are the voices of birds
—Aye, and of beasts,—but words—our words,
Only so much more sweet?
The knowledge of that with my life begun!
But I had so near made out the sun,
And counted your stars, the Seven and One,
Like the fingers of my hand:
Nay, I could all but understand
Wherefore through heaven the white moon ranges,
And just when out of her soft fifty changes
No unfamiliar face might overlook me—
Suddenly God took me!

The forest is constantly changing and renewing itself. The fir trees reach the end of their cycle and with the help of the pine beetle, die off. They start to fall, littering the forest floor. My photos just give you a glimpse of the pick up sticks piles that they form. You never know when a tree will drop. Sometimes a strong wind isn’t necessar…

Rain Work

On cloudy, foggy days such as it is this morning, I revert to computer work. So, here I am blogging one of the paintings I am working on. This painting started out as an experiment in the abstract. It evolved into a landscape from my imagination and actual scenes. I still have the abstract idea if I want to create more of the same; leaving it as an abstract.

Is It Spring Yet?

It is typical this time of year to get all excited about spring plantings when the temps are in the 50's and the sun is out. Just as the sun goes behind a cloud we have yet another round of 30's and snow. The wave pattern continues through May most likely. The snow is still covering the ground at 7000 ft elevation. There are some spots that are bear ground, but frozen. I tried to rake out the little of the garden that was showing, however, the rake would not scrape the frozen mulch. Such is mountain living. So I bundle up and take a hike through the woods and it is invigorating.

Leonardo da Vinci - Botany Drawings

"Hope through the resurrection...'
Peter 1:3

Fly High

This particular hawk is Hyla. She resides at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson. Hyla is one of many raptors in the Raptor Free Flight. There birds of prey can be observed from behind metal gates while they swoop over head going towards handlers for feed. Hyla is a ferruginous hawk rescued after falling from a nest in Montana. The ferruginous hawks live in a habitat of native shrub land and grassland which is shrinking.

A friend of the family took the hawk photos which I used for reference. I used other photos of mine to compose the hawk over water. My aim was to keep with a high key color scheme and, as always, keep it simple. Painting high-key is to hold back on the darker values. I did use dark values sparingly, mostly on the hawk. Still in progress, but close to the finish.

Spring Forth

In our forest along the streams and wetland areas grow willows. Most are Booth's willow, to name this particular species. This I ascertained from the Montana field guide. The willow family includes aspen and cottonwood as well, over 50 species. Booth's willow branches have a nice deep red color in winter standing out against the snow. Moose, elk and deer, in particular, love to munch on their top tender branches. As they bloom out in spring they put on a show attracting lots of butterflies.

Blue and Yellow

So far this painting shall be untitled. But the color scheme, blues and yellows, bring a certain country to mind. I really can not name it 'Swede', can I?  Or perhaps, 'Shifting Shadows'. My attraction to this scene was the mass of fallen aspen leaves floating and half floating along the stream banks. I went through my fall photos and pulled together the composition using bits of several photos and my imagination. The colors came easily enough.

Depth of Field

When you look at a photograph you will notice that there is just one plane of the distance in focus. This is do to the inherent ability of the camera lenses. Our eyes adjust naturally to what we are observing by focusing in on the objects they settle on. Everything can not be in focus at the same time. To make your painting believable you must not make all of your edges sharp. Decide what the center of interest is and really get it down with the sharp edges being concentrated there. Use the soft/blurry edges effectively also. Sometime I get carried away with what I think should be cleaner and crisper objects only to see that it just doesn't work.

Monet's Blues

Cataracts and glasses seem to be a fact of life especially if you are over 40. Research is under way on eye drops that would dissolve the cataract, hence no surgery necessary. However, this potential treatment for humans would be years in the making. For artists the clouding of lenses and color changes makes for an inconvenience when creating artwork, to say the least.

Monet, (1840-1926), was not immune to cataracts, by 1912 he had them in both eyes, age 72. His eye sight grew progressively worse to where he could hardly see. He remarked in a letter (1922), “I’m hard at work. I want to paint everything before my sight is completely gone”.  In 1923 he under went surgery in three stages. After the surgery he experience cyanosis or blue vision. He wrote, “I continue to see green as yellow and all the rest is more or less blue”.

Here are a few of his paintings starting with the year 1914. Some are detail images.

Elk Gone Shopping

The owner of gift shop in Estes Park, Colorado left his shop door open and a bull elk wondered in. The elk browsed around for 45 minutes. Finally some officials lured it out with yummy apple treats. The elk returned 10 minutes later still looking for that perfect gift.

A moose in Hailey, Idaho went on an open house tour. While the family was out a moose fell into their 3-foot window well and pushed her way through the loose latch on the large swinging window. The family returned home to find this female moose staring up at them from the bottom of the basement stairs. Two hours later several Fish and Game officers arrived, tranquilized her and carried her up and out of the house. Before this she was not going to leave her comfortable new home. And she was quite calm about it.


In this global world of digital technology and the expanding use of robots, it is nice to see the growing community of creative people working with theirs hands. What a better way to real get those synopsis working in connection with the flow to the hand muscles. Molding and shaping materials in innovative ways and seeing the end results is so rewarding. The Japanese fashion designer Yamamoto, who is known for his avant-garde style, makes a social comment at the last Paris fashion show. His new line of men/women fashions salutes the working class laborers and applause those working with their hands. He wants those of the younger generation to look toward a marketable, trade career.

Lazy Summer Days

While out shoveling and plowing winter's harvest, I was dreaming of that summer landscape. We are never satisfied, we grow tired of winter and want those summer days, then in the heat of July we want just a taste of the winter freeze. Goldilocks comes to mind, we would like it 'just right'.

Top Art Fairs

Check out the Art Fair Calendar's results of their survey, "American's Best Art Fairs".

The results show that the best city for art fairs is Chicago.

Top 20 Art Fairs

Old Town Art Fair, Chicago – June 10 & 11, 2017- “Located in the midst of a beautiful (old architecture) city neighborhood, good food, good music and lots to see beyond the art, enjoy the energy of a major city and the art at the same time.”
The Ann Arbor Art Fairs (all 4), Ann Arbor – July 20-23, 2017 “Huge city-wide art fair, wonderful artists.”One of a Kind Show and Sale, Chicago – Dec. 7-10, 2017 “600+ fabulous artists displaying original work. Need I say more?”Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Winter Park, FL – March 17-19, 2017 “Over 225 of the top artists in the country are selected, the setting for the art festival is amazing, including the best restaurants and the best musical entertainment anywhere.”La Quinta Arts Festival, La Quinta, CA – Marc…

Life Subtleties

Are you subtle in your approach with criticism or do you take the direct approach? Sometimes subtle is better, it just depends on a few factors. Sometimes nature comes out in a soft quite way. I did not have the ambition to venture outside but was getting antsy. While contemplating that thought, my eyes were glued to watching the way the snow was being blown into subtle patterns outside my window.

To quote Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; 'God is in the details'.Also, 'Less is more'. While I was browsing Mies's architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, another architect, Rem Koolhaas buildings really stood out. Here is a detail from the McCormick Tribune Campus Center.

The Seattle Central Library is another piece of his work, (for my friends in Seattle).