Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Trip to the Flint Hills


The Fixer Upper, 11 x 14, oil on canvas.
   My first trip to the Flint Hills was very hazy, possibly from people burning stuff. The vistas were just not happening. I found some interesting herds of cattle on the gentle slopes that might be paint worthy but what really got me excited was this...whatever it is. It looks like an old farmhouse that has been turned into a barn but it could be just a small barn with dormer windows. What jumped out at me was the crooked architecture and the intense contrast of that edge from the roof to the shadow side.

   Back in the studio, I challenged myself to really lay the paint on thick. The only way I know to do this is to mix up large piles of paint and trowel it on with a palette knife which I did throughout. I'm not that proficient with knife painting so I went back and did a lot of brushwork, adjusting as I went. I usually try to move around keeping everything at about the same level of finish but on this one finished each section so that I would always be working "wet in wet." The above animation shows the progression. There are many ways to execute a painting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Southwest Palette


In the Dragoon Mountains, 6 x 12, oils
Landscape artist Phil Starke tipped me off to this scenic spot, a rest stop on Interstate 10 about 12 miles east of Benson, Arizona. There were bathrooms and picnic tables right behind me but the view to the south was unobstructed nature. I wished I had time to paint there but I'd already done one plein air piece that morning and had another 10 hours to drive that day and would have to settle for photos. I had to make mental notes of the colors I was seeing, knowing that the camera would lose a lot. Here's the photo that I used as my main reference.

In the studio, I chose a 1:2 ratio panorama format. Security fence? Gone. I shifted the summit (Mt Glenn) to the left to balance the rock pile just right of center. After that it was just trying to get those juicy colors I remembered.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Man in the Moon

  The recent display of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon so close together had me out on the deck every clear night. During the full moon I once again saw the face I had seen since childhood. I've never been able to get anyone else to see it. Maybe they are expecting a simpler face or more likely a happier one. The one I see has big sad eyes, a turned up aristocratic nose and an open mouth. He stares down knowing but resigned.
   Being a bit nearsighted, a condition not treated until high school, the moon I saw was slightly out of focus. A blurry image for my subconscious mind to sharpen. I can't even find the face in good photos or looking through a telescope. Recently I did an image search to see how others interpreted The Man. None were like mine, in fact none of them worked for me at all. At some point I thought maybe doing a drawing would help point him out for others. So here he is, my Man in the Moon. Perhaps you have already met him.

Out of focus moon and the man that I saw