August 20, 2017

More summer travel

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 1:55 pm

Part of what I love about summer is taking dozens and dozens of pictures of images that I want to paint when I retreat from the first snow storms into my studio. Studio work is wonderful fun but it is also true that I like to paint small works like the calf that I painted on Washington Island in my previous post, while I’m on the road. I love doing those quick sketches.

Great Hall. Grand Portage, Minnesota.

The beginning of August found me at a historical encampment on Lake Michigan in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That was an invigorating event for me and I enjoyed collecting photos of the lake. From there I traveled to a lovely farm west of the twin cities in Minnesota to regroup with family between events. The next leg of the vacation entailed progressing farther north and settling on the far North Shores of Lake Superior, still within Minnesota, at the Grand Portage National Monument.
The painting of the Great Hall I show here was done sitting inside the fort walls on the Friday we were there. I know, traditional plein aire would be far more loose, gestural, and quick but I was using smaller brushes and just having vacation fun.
Look for a lot of work coming from this summer, in the year ahead.

July 22, 2017

Summertime – work on the road

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 5:12 pm

I can’t believe the summer is flying by so incredibly fast.

Little Holstein calf at the farm museum on Washington Island over the 4th of July week.

From May to September I often find myself burning up vacation time making long weekends so I can attend living history events, or take simple road trips for fun and fishing. That boils down to shooting a lot of pictures that will be translated into paintings when I “come inside” this fall.

Not to imply I don’t do any plein aire sketches on the road, but they often don’t warrant a lot of fuss here and I rarely spend much time at the computer. Summers are mostly a time of pure input but here is a sweet little sketch you might enjoy.  

April 22, 2017

Painting just for fun.

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Work from the studio — kjames @ 11:39 am

To really keep up the continual process of discipline with my painting, regardless of the motivation of commission, show presentation, or lectures, it is important to work… as often as possible but weekly at the very least. The more I paint, the less I am subject to the trap of painting only when I feel motivated to, and the better my skills become. 

View from the middle of a Midwest cornfield a good bit after sun's rise.

View from the middle of a Midwest cornfield a good bit after sun’s rise.

One of the most important parts of this whole process is that I continue to remember it is not about whether the final painting is perfect but about what I learned along the way. It is also vital that I enjoyed making it.

What is not important is if it is liked by everyone or that it “wows” anyone. Even less important is if it sells. Commerce has it’s place, of course, as does popular opinion but I must continue to paint regardless of the natural ebb and flow equated to either of those effects.

I give you my latest work, a 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas of early morning over a typical Midwestern cornfield. I do hope you enjoy it, and thank you for following my work.

April 8, 2017

The third painting from Kalamazoo.

Filed under: Work from the studio — kjames @ 11:58 am
This young man was a wonderful sales apprentice for this vendor.

This young man was a wonderful sales apprentice for this vendor.

I haven’t been free to work in my studio very often these last couple of weeks. Life balance is always a challenge for an artist – to find the time to spend at their craft and still work at a full-time job and have social activities. As with anything, when there is an ebb and flow in one part of our life we shift and allocate time to another important part. Yesterday I was able to sit down and finish this painting. 

This is the third painting that I started at the Kalamazoo Trade Show. It is a playful little illustration of the vendor display across the isle from me in my room in trader’s hall. The young man who was helping this vendor was delightful and made me think of all of the apprentices who learned at the shoulders of mentoring tradesmen in the 18th and 19th century. Best wishes to Delbert, my fine model and period apprentice.

April 2, 2017

The Second Painting from Kalamazoo.

Filed under: Art Update,Work from the studio — kjames @ 10:55 am

This second painting looked a little more done when I brought it out but I didn’t like how dark it was overall, so I spent some time yesterday bringing up the highlights.

This was a walking trail in western Pennsylvania that had big boulders everywhere.

This was a walking trail in western Pennsylvania that had big boulders everywhere.

Each painting I do now is chosen because they have some element in them that is a specific challenge. It might be a particular color palette, a tone, or something like water, architecture or rocks. 
For the most part, I take my own photos to do my paintings from. Part of the reason I insist on doing that is that I don’t need to worry about copyright. If I use an image someone else has taken then I must always ask for permission, often formally in the form of a written release to allow me the freedom to sell my final work. The other reason I use my own photographs is that they are literally triggers – reminders of something I experienced. They reflect a moment or emotion I saw, experienced, felt, smelled, or want to remember. Hopefully that direct memory helps me pass those experiences on to you more effectively.
I hope you enjoy this capture of the Rocky Path. Now, on to the next painting.

April 1, 2017

Playing in the Studio

Filed under: Art Update,Work from the studio — kjames @ 4:36 pm

I had a great weekend at the Kalamazoo Trade Fair where I worked on two paintings on Saturday and a third one on Sunday.

From the cool shade of the shoreline birch, a view of Turtle Island.

From the cool shade of the shoreline birch, a view of Turtle Island.

I love painting and talking at a public event like that and couldn’t be more thrilled that I was able to produce several works to a point of mostly done.  
When I am in such an open venue as that I start and stop painting while I talk to each person – something I love to do and is the main reason I paint on site.
The split concentration often keeps me from focusing on the problem solving part of pulling a piece through to completion so I bring the paintings home and look them over before signing them. Usually I see a few things I am not happy with and sit down and put a little time in fixing. The trick is being free to sit down and paint and these last couple weeks I have been too busy to do that.
This first painting was relatively close to done so all I needed to do was clean up a few places where there were awkward details. Done now, I offer you the View of Turtle Island.

Now, off to finish up the next painting.

March 1, 2017

New catagory in the Store.

Filed under: Site News — kjames @ 7:48 am

Magnificent EgoAfter the last post, where I mentioned I would be revealing a picture of the ram that I painted last weekend, I realized that I did not have a category for subjects that were not landscapes, for example.
So I launched a new category in the store that covers animals and flowers and still life and some of those other things that I will be painting that don’t fit in the other pages. The first painting housed there is, of course, the ram shown here. Enjoy.

February 27, 2017

Great weekend of painting and sharing.

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 10:19 pm
My display from this last weekend at the Echoes of the Past Trade Fair at Oshkosh.

My display from this last weekend at the Echoes of the Past Trade Fair at Oshkosh.

I had a great time painting and talking about art this weekend. It is always gratifying to hear what people have to say about my work – it’s uplifting and informative.
There were 6 paintings at the show this weekend that were painted in the last two months and in the newer style. Having them all in the show made it especially useful to get reactions. 
Even more helpful was the ongoing feedback as I worked on a painting on site. The ram in the foreground was the painting that I did on Saturday and it turned out to be a perfect demonstration and conversation piece. You can find a larger image of the completed work in the new gallery, Flora, fauna and extras.

February 17, 2017

It’s almost time for my next public showing.

Filed under: Calendar announcements — kjames @ 6:28 pm

It is almost time for the second public event on my calendar this year and I wanted to let you know, as promised. It is called the Echoes of the Past Trade Show. As you recall, my scheduled events tend to be mostly Historical Trade Fairs (indoors) in this first quarter of the year. 

My space at Oshkosh Trade Fair in 2016

My space at Oshkosh Trade Fair in 2016

This next event is one week from now in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. If you are free and in the area, I encourage you to come see another fine aggregate of artisans and craftsmen sharing their fine wares and sharing historical knowledge. 
I will have my art on display and plan to have all of the new works that I have been showcasing here on my website mingled with the pieces you might be more familiar with. 

Event Name: Echoes of the Past Trade Show
Dates:
Feb. 25 & 26, 2017
Hours: Sat. 9-5, Sun. 9-3
Place: Sunnyview Expo Center, 500 E County Road Y, Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901
The event is open to the public, admission $5.00 for adults, children under 10 free.
Food available on site.

Come out and join us for for some February fun. I will be delighted to see you!

February 12, 2017

Capturing Winter’s cold colors

Filed under: Work from the studio — kjames @ 2:48 pm
Trying to capture the sun on morning frost.

Trying to capture the sun on morning frost.

Sometimes I find myself afraid of trying a radically different color pallet for fear of failure. When I realize I am avoiding something because I am afraid, I make myself face that fear.

Sometimes the resulting paintings work out and sometimes they don’t. This one was fun to do although it posed the challenge of using intensely raw blue and white as a reverse to catch the look of late morning frost. The look shouts cold.

I used the browns as the only warmth and the essential contrasting color for line. All in all, I think it was a successful learning experience and with that, a good painting. 

Back to work.

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