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.  

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.

September 11, 2015

Joy of the quick field sketch

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 2:53 pm

Being in a position to paint while talking to the public is such a joy it’s hard to explain. I get to paint, true fun to be sure, but to also talk about the history of women in the arts, my tools, my thinking process, and the joys of being a librarian and researching all of the details necessary to portray my persona in history. It is wonderful. The perfect storm.

I am in Platteville, Wisconsin this weekend working in the field, in another time period.

Fellow reenactor stopped for a visit and agreed to pose.

Fellow reenactor stopped for a visit and agreed to pose.

August 24, 2015

Sketching along the road

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 9:35 pm

For the last month I have enjoyed a series of small historical encampment vacations that have been relaxing and refreshing. Part of what has made the time so calming for me was that I took my paints and some canvas along.

Some of the paintings I completed in August.

Some of the paintings I completed in August.

Since I enjoyed painting en plein aire when I was in Washington Island earlier in the summer, I decided to continue painting these quick oil sketches at the next two places. The first encampment was on the western bank of Lake Michigan in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Sunrise was amazing each morning and really fast changing, demanding focused speed to capture the light and clouds.

The next  encampment was on the North shore of Lake Superior at the Grand Portage National Park service site. This camp is an annual gathering of historians who put up canvas tents for a quick 5 days of early fur trade rendezvous.

What serious fun. I have tended to paint slowly and meticulously with a great deal of detail for many years and painting in this impressionistic style is so freeing and calming that it is having a good influence on the style of my overall treatment of the subjects. It is loosening me up nicely and helping me pick up speed. That is all good.

July 12, 2015

Having fun!

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 11:52 am

This spring has been such a whirlwind of fun that I haven’t stopped and written like I should. I can’t bring myself to apologize too profusely because I am more of a painter than a writer after all, but I admit I have been neglectful again.
Since May, I have had a number of travel opportunities where I have taken pictures for future paintings, lectured on the rich heritage of the Arts in America, painted on historical sites in historical attire, and just plain had fun.

Plein Air sketch of the cabin home at the Farm Museum on Washington Island.

Plein air sketch of the cabin home at the Farm Museum on Washington Island.


Painting en plein air. Photo courtesy of Mike Schroer, photographer.

This picture was taken over the 4th of July while I was working (playing) on Washington Island, Wisconsin. Although painting en plein air is not correct for the time period I represent (Regency in 1803) it is showy, pulls people in, and provides a perfect segue to talk to them about the impact and chronology of art movements, evolution of medium, and the importance of art in society both in the past and today.

April 13, 2015

Looking back at the Kalamazoo Show

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 11:06 pm

Working on this painting has certainly been fun. Process aThe 2 pictures I am adding here were both taken on Sunday, later in the day as I painted and talked to the public. I have cropped the people I was talking to out of respect for their privacy but you can see that the trees were developing with each few hours. I apologize for the delay in posting them.
Through the course of that day I got to a point where I might estimate only another good day to be able to devote to the piece, and I could get it done.
Sadly, it is rarely that easy to stay at the easel. Once I got back home I put the work on my home easel and haven’t been able to touch it since. No, there isn’t any painting block or lack of muse at play here. I don’t tend to react to that kind of impediment. It is simply a matter of the demands that come along in lime 1fe that are a great blend of business and pleasure and the painting got bumped to a back burner. I have been on a family vacation, to a national library conference, and to an indoor music festival. If all goes well, perhaps I can get a chance to paint this coming weekend and if I do, it would be wonderful.
Time will tell.

February 28, 2015

Day one of Oshkosh Trade Fair.

Filed under: Working in the field — kjames @ 10:39 pm

Today was a wonderful and fruitful day at the fair.

Oshkosh 2015My setup is a new one, using professional panels that a friend has loaned me for my next 2 shows. I love them already and know I must consider making this move permanently.

I really had a lot of fun talking with people about art and working on a new large scale canvas. People love to watch artists paint. The new layout draws people in to see the art because they want to get behind the canvas and see me paint. I sold an original and two prints today and enjoyed seeing old friends and making a few new connections. Best show day ever. I SO love doing this. Can hardly wait for tomorrow.

August 23, 2014

Next steps

Filed under: Art Update,Work from the studio,Working in the field — kjames @ 3:46 pm

This is an update to the saga of the painting we have been discussing earlier. Community of Women

In early August, I took the painting “on the road” so to speak to a reenactment in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I worked on it at  for a couple of days while in the public eye and gleaned additional criticisms that I could fix right on the spot.
I really enjoy working in public. It is why I set up my easel and paint at many of the reenactments and trade shows. Art is not best created in a vacuum. Art teachers assimilate visual and oratorical influences from their students and colleagues through classroom work and critique sessions. I miss being in that rich open environment of a classroom and find this method of taking work to the field or into the public eye, very helpful. The public becomes my ‘extra eyes’ and sparks dialogue, influences my perspectives, and helps me see my errors…or forces me to articulate a reason if I reject the suggestion.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing this painting develop. It is now a finished painting – ready to use on the cover of the magazine and make prints for those who wish them.
Happily, the original has already been spoken for.

March 1, 2014

Back at the easel.

Filed under: Waxing philosophical,Working in the field — kjames @ 10:39 am

Rebecca nearing completion

I had an absolutely wonderful weekend last weekend at the Echoes of the Past Historical Trade fair. I saw friends and patrons, some who I hadn’t seen since fall, and painted for the first time in far too long – between talking art and visiting with friends. It was such fun. I don’t think I am quite done with this piece but the home stretch is all about little glazes and small details so I thought I would let you all see a nearly done version. I will put the finished work in the gallery when I am truly done. Next show is Kalamazoo in mid March.

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