Friday, December 11, 2009

Thornswift Nature Preserve


A couple of recent ones. In August I participated at a paintout in Harbor Springs sponsored by Tvedten Fine Art. Like much of this past summer the conditions that day were less than ideal. O.k., the truth is they were horrendous.  Driving rain, cold. The first part of the morning was spent "car"painting at Angell Farm, trying not to get paint all over the inside of Craig's car.

There was a bit of a break in the clouds right after lunch so I headed down to Thornswift Nature Preserve. About 30 minutes into the painting I could see the rain moving across the lake towards me. Fortunately I had enough time to make a few sketches and some color notes as well as a smallish painting. These two 5x7 paintings were completed last week as a synthesis of that experience. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Day at the End of the Road

This image was painted on site the day after Fall came to Glen Arbor. It's not a large image, something like 6x12 or in that neighborhood. I have the tendency to work small when I'm working on site. Part of it may be a hangover from illustration where size does matter. (too big, takes too long) But also when you work on site everything around you is so rapidly changing. A lot happens that is completely out of the painter's control. The wind might come up, the cloud patterns change, the direction of the sun is continually moving, someone might decide to park their car directly in front of your vista. Working small has its advantage pyschologically as well. The work doesn't become "too precious". When the work becomes precious or the painter becomes too attached to outcome vs. process the work begins to suffer. Its a hard thing to practice detachment in painting. I think it boils down to being able to strike a fine balance between being able to see whats working and what needs more attention.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What a Difference an Hour Can Make


Am back in Grand Rapids again after being gone for the last ten days painting at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. I can't believe how quickly the time flew by. And its amazing how much painting & foundational work one can get done when there are no distractions, unless you count knitting as a distraction. Though in defense of the knitting, I did manage to knit a hat and 3/4 of a sock. The two paintings I am posting were completed on Sunday, September 27, before and during the shift from summer-like weather to more appropriate fall weather. 

The wind was starting to pick up a bit and the black flies were starting to become a bit fierce as I was completing the painting shown here with the pine trunk. By then, friends & fellow painters Joe and Carol Spaulding had called it a day and headed for home. I started to pack everything up and head in that direction as well, but decided to take a detour to where the-county-road-ends-at-edge-of-the-water. (yes, the sign says that) The atmosphere was so  juicy with the approaching cold front I couldn't resist popping the hatch open and standing under the lift gate and knocking off a little painting. As an aside, I wasn't the only one to take refuge in my car. While I was painting, apparently a swarm of black flies decided that my car was a great refuge from the wind and the rain as well. By the time I packed it all in, there were at least 100 flies, who took me days of swatting and driving with the windows down really fast to rid my car of.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Drawing in the Dunes





These 2 drawings are mixed media on toned paper. Sometimes painting on site can be a little prohibitive - especially if you're hiking your gear up to the top of Sleeping Bear Point (or any distance for that matter) without the benefit of a Sherpa. So in my quest to make things easier, i.e. Lighter, I stripped my painting kit down to the following items: half pans portable watercolor kit, 2 prismacolor pencils, Holbein oil pastels, 1 stiff brush, sm. jar Gamsol, water, birch drawing board, a couple of paper towels, and tape. The two drawings are a combination of everything in my kit. It's my intention to use these drawings as the basis for larger paintings done in the studio.

Rain at the Shoreline in August



Friday, June 5, 2009

Lilacs in the Rain

I am recently returned from 10 days in Glen Arbor. A few highlights - A Black Bear, the first one I've ever seen in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and most fortunate for both of us that I didn't hit him with my car! Zucchini pancakes with feta, garlic, butter and a liberal helping of creative inspiration dished up by renaissance woman Cre Woodard. Painting and more inspiration in the form of a plein air session and studio visit with artist Carol Spaulding. Painting in the rain. Painting in the cold and painting in the wind.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 Festival of the Arts Regional Competition

Mantra I was accepted into Festival of the Arts Regional Competition. This plein aire painting was completed on location at the top of Sleeping Bear Point one year ago this week! This particular painting venture was orchestrated by friends and fellow painters Richard Kooyman & Melanie Parke. Rounding out the group was Beth Bricker, Margaret Tvedten and myself. Style points go to Margaret who carried a card table to the top of the point. Honestly I think she had no idea we were in for a hike! 

Monday, May 18, 2009

81st Muskegon Museum Of Art Regional Exhibition

Am happy to announce that this plein aire painting was recently accepted into the 81st Muskegon Museum of Art Regional Exhibition. This particular piece was painted last August on location at Kelderhouse Farm in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bossing the Paint Around

Recently I posted a status on my FB account where I stated, "I'm gonna show that paint whose the boss." One of my friends commented back that he thought it was really the non-dual nature of painter/paint working together to co-create a painting. After much contemplation of his comment, I still stand by my original statement. "I am the boss of the paint." Anything less in my mind would say that the act of creating a painting is more about chance & luck. I do agree that there is an alchemy that takes place between the inspiration of the painter and the application/attitude of the paint, but to say unilaterally that the painter and the medium need to be one in my opinion, gives far too much power to the paint. 

Case in point. I am teaching a class at Kendall College of Art & Design and one of my students remarked that she was frustrated by not being able to "make the paint" do what she wanted it to. The frustration comes from a lack of "knowledge". Knowledge of the paint = time spent moving the paint around, observing what happens with different brushes, how the paint reacts in varying stages of drying (watercolor). I remember, especially when I was a less experienced painter, how often times the the materials would frustrate me as well. But painting is like anything else, in order to florish, it needs attention, it needs to be practiced. My advice to her may sound a little counter intuitive to my point, but in order to gain the "knowledge" of the paint she needed to let go and let the paint do what it wanted to do. Then, through the acts of observation, experimentation, & practice she gains the knowledge to "be the boss of the paint".

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Every Picture Has It's Own Story



So as the saying goes, every picture tells a story but sometimes the story is about the picture. Check this out. Copy and paste into your browser.
http://www.grandhaventribune.com/paid/302451206813239.bsp
Thanks to Becky Vargo of The Grand Haven Tribune for such a lovely story and pictures.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crazy Studio Games




Just a couple of quick gouache studies from Margo Burian's Home Studio Gouache Game. The game goes like this....when you have no time to paint, throw all your reference photos in a box. With eyes closed, grab a photo - any photo. What you get is what you get. No do overs. Start your countdown. Fifteen minutes, 2 brushes, 4 pencil lines and one blank piece of watercolor paper.

Reeds Lake Reclaimed Canvas

Yet another reclaimed canvas. 1/2 hour study - 6x12 canvas. Odd pleasure in making a painting that I wasn't fond of go away. Am way too pragmatic to throw the process pcs away - as evidenced in an earlier post. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Plein Aire Class on Reed's Lake

When the great outdoors is your studio, the possibilities are endless!

I am excited to announce that two sessions of Plein Aire Painting for beginner to intermediate oil painters have been scheduled through the East Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department taught by yours truly! Session A begins Thursday, May 7th at 6:30 p.m., Session B will start on Friday, June 5 at 9:00 a.m.. Each session runs for 4 weeks in 3 hour blocks at sites on/near Reed's Lake. Cost per session is 99.00 for EGR Residents and 109.00 for non residents. In case of rain we'll be using the EGR Community Center's Painting Room located on the lake. Enrolled students will receive a discount on their supplies at T-Square Art Supply.

Topics covered include how to set up a "mobile" studio, the art of observation, capturing the essence of the landscape, as well as foundation techniques for oil painting.

Please contact East Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation to sign-up @ 616.949.1750.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The 10 Minute Oil

This little series of postcard oil paintings were done on Wallis sanded paper. And they are little - 4x6 to be exact. For me there is a beauty in working small sometimes, especially if I am under a time constraint and want to get into the studio. There's always a little wet paint on the palette and even with limited time there's something to be learned while painting. These small timed studies force the painter into quickly deciding what the "essence" is of the subject. There is no time to waver on color/mass or composition - you just put it down and go. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Like Crazy People, Only Saner



Seriously, you really do have to be a crazy person to stand out in 26 degree weather with a wind chill of 14 for 2 hours painting. Fortunately I have a friend who is exactly this kind of crazy person. Otherwise I'd be questioning my own sanity. The thing about Plein Aire painting in Michigan in January is that it's FUN. Seriously. Try dressing like the Michelin Man and then wielding fragile sticks of pastel with double-gloved hands trying to coax an image out of the frozen numbness of your frontal lobes! It would be so much easier to hang out in the relative comfort of the studio, but where is the living on the edge in that? Anyway, while the work produced in these cold alla prima sessions isn't likely to win any awards, its really the essence of the experience that matters here. Thats the icing (literally!) on the cake.