Take a deep breath and walk down the new path.

Christmas time. The holiday season. Breaks from work to eat, love, rest, and in my case, also paint. It is a time when we are in the process of finishing all of our tasks and projects, and scrambling to wrap up year-end commitments. With that, we all look to the New Year with some degree of excitement, nervousness, but most of all, hope. 2020 has all of the potential of a new year, a new decade, and a new path.

We may not always have control over what appears to be destiny, for that control I believe remains in God’s hands. We do, however, have a great deal of control over the things that happen to us through the choices we make, and the thoughts we form from our own observations and what we believe of the opinions of others. We must use our wisdom and our soul to choose, for it is why God gave us choice. 

As part of this next step of my walk in faith I am making some changes with the New Year. I won’t call them new years resolutions because in fact, they aren’t a promise because of the calendar but a promise because I need to make the changes.

One of the things that is changing is the look of my website. It will be just a freshening and a rebuild of my interaction with you. It also can serve as a reminder that many other changes are beginning their birth behind the scenes. I thank you all who have followed or are now following my walk in faith toward being a full time artist. 

This painting is inspired by a photograph taken by a friend on the beach at Kenosha, Wisconsin of the Christmas Morning Sunrise. My thanks to her for the permission. I enjoyed painting and contemplating through these last two days.

I would also like to extend the thanks to include those people in my life that surround me with love each day. Each action, no matter how small, matters greatly. Those who reach out with the spontaneous hug, the conversation in the street when I need it, the lifting text on a Christmas afternoon, the visit to my office to say “well done”, the help with the website, and the tender guardianship of my heart…  I thank you, truly.

Blessings to you all In the coming year. I will not be back here until the new look is launched.

Sentimental memories

As an artist, there are times that I choose my subject matter because it’s a dramatic scene, like a sunset or sunrise. Other times I choose my subject because it’s a particular face or lighting that strikes me as unique or stirring. Sometimes I just capture a singular image or an item that helps me remember fondly a visit or a moment in time that warms my heart and makes me smile.

This afternoon I’m wrapping up my weekend with a little time at the easel and remembering a lovely visit from a couple of years ago. It was a relaxing and enjoyable August evening. I hope you enjoy today’s painting, memories of that evening that I will entitle, Porky, in honor of this lovely little free range chicken and the dear folks who cared for her.

Color on black Friday

Today is considered black Friday in shopping circles in the United States. Personally, there’s nothing I really need, or at least want bad enough to go fight the crowds for a black Friday sale. The things that I do want but don’t happen to have, can’t be found in a big box store anyway.

That being said however, I decided to spend the day in the company of my sweetheart and work at my easel. I didn’t have a particular person in mind but wanted to practice on the human face. This experiment is with direct but slightly back light on a female face.

I like some of Vermeer’s chiaroscuro  lighting because of the drama but I didn’t want to be quite that severe so I just played with the puzzling of how light and dark behave in this instance. It’s been fun and good to keep stretching my knowledge through practice.

So today, I give you a little bit of color on black Friday.

Inertia wins the day

Today has certainly not followed the way I planned it but sometimes you just have to make a judgment call and roll with it. I was having a lot of fun this morning painting those horses that you saw in the post at mid-day, so I decided to sit down at the drawing board and keep going.

2 years ago I was at the Farm Museum on Washington Island for an event over the 4th of July, and I painted a plein-aire of a little calf that they had in a pen there. It was a sweet little thing and I enjoyed painting him. I called the piece, New Friend. Last year, when we set up camp again on Washington Island at the Farm Museum, I noticed they had two adult cows and sure enough one of them was my friend. Now of course the cow is an adult but I recognized the spot pattern and his affection for daisys. Since today’s theme seemed to be around painting animals that I like, I went ahead and painted that calf now grown. I guess I’ll have to name this painting Old Friend, in honor of the 1st painting. I’ve enjoyed painting all day. I hope you had a fun day as well.

Remembering the Little Bighorn hills.

I’ve been thinking about our wonderful trip out West last June and decided to revisit a few of our stops and scenes through the course of this Winter in the studio. That’s what I take those pictures for, after all.

This morning I was thinking about how we would encounter the wonderful wild horses at many of the places we stopped. I’ve always loved horses anyway and find myself taking pictures of them whenever I see them in the fields. In this case, they would often walk by where we were parked and I would just stand fascinated … because it’s their turf, not mine. This morning’s study is a small canvas, 11 x 14. It’s a quick study of a couple of the horses from the Little Bighorn battlefield area. This mare was a little bit nervous about me being anywhere near her colt and other mares began to move to the forefront to protect her.

Quickly done, it is good practice and fond memories.  Not sure if it’s done, but I’m done for now. Enjoy.

Process that traces reflection

The series of small images on the right are shots I took through the process of painting this last weekend. 

The canvas is relatively large for me at 24 by 30″ but I’ve been finding that painting a little larger allows me the freedom to use the larger brush and to be more gestural as I lay it out. The subject matter for this one was a little bit of an aggregate of several images that I had. First was a photograph that I had taken years ago close to home that had great light behind a good storm cloud. It wasn’t your basic thunderhead, but more of a whole weather front and it intrigued me.

Second, I’ve been wanting to try to capture one of those wonderful waves of rain that come out of a storm cloud in a thunderstorm so this was going to be a try at that too.

In addition to that challenge, I had just gone back and  watched one of the episodes of Outlander and been enjoying the wonderful vistas they filmed of the Appalachian mountains in North Carolina. They really are lovely hills and I have seen them many times in person. 

As a result I put all those elements together into this new picture. The final photo is taken at an angle while the painting is on my board so that you can see where it stands right now. It may be considered done, or it may be that I’ll dither with it a little more, but it’s close enough to show you. Sometimes paintings are just about the learning process; discovering how values laying next to each other affect our perception of that color; discovering how detail or lack of detail can control the wanderings of the eye; or how we can control and vary the lighting in 2 different places on a landscape.

My thanks to an artist friend and our conversation on Sunday. You gave me a great deal to ponder. Sometimes having something mulling around in your mind while you’re at the easel helps by running two conversations at the same time like sub processing while you’re working. Enjoy this final painting titled “Watching the Storm from the Ridge”.

Painting while I think

I’ve spent some time the last several days thinking about a conversation I had with a colleague last Wednesday. We talked about art and time spent with other artists talking about their work, and it got me to thinking again about what constitutes good or bad work, the learning process, and whether we should be open and transparent about what we do. I found myself kind of excited at one point — I would say more frustrated and angry — and this colleague laughingly told me the best thing I could do was to go home and get it out of my system and paint something. I realized I do that more often than I care to admit … channel emotions out onto a canvas. This little oil sketch is the piece that happened as I worked my way through that process. By doing this I was able to examine and address the feelings and put them in perspective. Sometimes it’s good to do a little painting to cleanse your palate or align your emotions before you start the next one. I hope you enjoy it.

The next post I do will be to show the process, or at least 4 or 5 captures, of the new painting I started on Saturday. I had conversation with another artist friend of mine this morning and it was most helpful to continue the introspective process I had begun, encouraging me and adding energy to that one on the easel.

Stay tuned.


Copyright conundrum and personal consumption.

I have talked before about copyright as it applies to painting an image that you do not have the rights to, and here is a prime example.

In one season of the Starz production of Outlander [based on the Diana Gabaldon book series] I had seen a picture of an actor (Sam Heughan) and liked the lighting. As a result, I decided to paint the image. Here’s where copyright comes in. Copyright law dictates that I cannot display the finished painting in a gallery, sell the original, or make prints of it until I get back permission from the actor and from the owners of the movie. It’s too bad really, but I completely understand it. Intellectual property, whether it be the creation of who you are and your place in the world, or the intellectual property of the person who made the movie or owns those rights, must be respected. I enjoyed painting it and I share it here at an angle in my home so you cannot reproduce it. The photo doesn’t do it justice as it lacks the quality that seeing it truly does. I had fun, and it was good practice. 

Painting something like this makes me wonder about the folks who do fan art, and whether or not they worry at all about such things? Perhaps it’s because I have aspirations of notoriety someday, but I do worry and I sure don’t need to have the wrath of lawyers down on my head. If you’re a friend of the actor or know who to ask about the movie permissions, let me know. 

So for your enjoyment, in a voyeuristic kind of way, I give you Jamie looking contemplaitively out the window at Lallybroch.

Introspection and an "ah-ha" moment

This post is going to take a slight side step from my usual path of talking about my work or travels. I am about to philosophize at length so feel free to pass on this one if you aren’t in the mood or short on time, I will not take offense. 

I owe this post to a playful challenge from a friend to take 7 days and list 7 favorite books on my personal Facebook page. My 1st instinct was to do it because it sounded fun, but changed my mind and decided not to play. No, it doesn’t mean I don’t support literacy, or care about my friend, or anything else. I just don’t tend to copy&paste, play the game, take the test, or find out ‘the real truth’by clicking ‘next’. 

I have a pretty fair idea of who I am at this point in my life. I know I have a huge list of things I truly love like art, and beauty, and truth, and love, and light, and kindness. I know I have a shorter list of things I hate like cancer and dishonesty and loss and hate and emotional manipulation, just to name few.  I celebrate the fact that my love list is longer than my hate list. I tend to talk about the good list and shun the bad one. As a librarian I absolutely support literacy, books, writing, and all tangential topics of enrichment of the human spirit. 

That being said, I’m going to indulge myself and talk through one of my personal revelations of the past few weeks. I think I know I have always wanted to be an artist. Some may say that I am already an artist. OK, that can be another discussion another day. I do often get asked when I started drawing. I usually laugh and say that as a child I would sit in a corner and color to stay out of trouble. That is only a partial truth.

Let’s start with the book challenge. I can’t do it, I am too busy over thinking it. I couldn’t begin to pick 7 books that represent my tastes, or what might have influenced me. I would need to qualify a moment in my life, an event, an emotion, an interest … so where would I start? My bookshelves from the time I could read would reveal a golden book sitting aside a zoology textbook, and couldn’t begin to make sense. What is the common thread? Maybe it should just be a fun thing, but it started me thinking.

Another friend of mine wrote me earlier in the week because he saw the cover of the book I just finished illustrating and said, “I’m immediately reminded of the paintings Wesley Dennis did for Marguerite Henry’s many horse and dog books.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. The common thread is the illustrations.

Illustrators who influenced me such as Dennis, Pyle, Wyeth, Muth, and Pinkney …to name a few.

I looked up Wesley Dennis and ran down the list of books that came up and realized I had read them all. I had owned most of them and read them over and over growing up. Horses, dogs, foxes, donkeys, and then I moved on to anything animal related. I wanted to be a zoologist, then a veterinarian, and took all of the pre-med courses because I thought it was about the science. I considered medical illustration, and eventually cartooning and wound up illustrating manufacturing catalogs for industrial hardware for 20 years. My next career was in Library science and as a cataloger I would spend way too long processing the books with illustrations, especially children’s books. I am a visual person. I wanted to paint Misty… and Golden Sovereign … and Brighty of the Grand Canyon. I wanted to be Dennis and Froud and Muth and N.C.Wyeth and Pyle and Pinkney and a dozen other illustrators that made stories come to life.

When I was a toddler my greatest joys were to sit in a corner and watch the dust float in the beams of light, or on the back steps watching the light change the colors of the yard. Now, when I look around me I am always painting. What I mean is, I am always painting in my mind. Always. I see the world in the fluid motion of continual analysis. The motion can be unnerving so I try to capture everything I see in visual images or illustrations of that precise moment in time. I have spent my life trying  to capture fleeting bits of color, light and movement and falling short because it all moves too fast. Plein Aire painting tries to capture the impression -tries  to slow down the speed of the image in an effort to remember the moment. A photograph captures the exact moment mechanically and allows me to hold that image still with hopes of painting a picture of it as filtered through me.

I think I may be at a point where the pieces are all coming together, finally. While I have always thought of myself as an illustrator it never felt like it had the credibility as that of calling myself an artist and the struggle is to come to grips with the terminology itself. I wanted to illustrate the story that is my life. I don’t know where to go with this thinking or with my next steps. Perhaps this is merely the next step of a woman stepping forward in faith.