Troubling Times.

Nothing is easy right now. Trying to look objectively at each of the instances affecting my life recently, from the small daily challenges to the national level events, everything feels harder to sort out and deal with than usual. Twenty twenty was admittedly a really hard year and the year at hand looks to be following suit, so it might just be that I’m having a tired moment. When I’m tired everything looks a little bit bleaker so I need to make a concerted effort to get my second wind.

I do believe that things are rarely binary; strictly black or white, right or wrong, positive or negative. I believe that very rarely is someone purely evil and no one is purely good (deities aside) and some good can usually be found in any outcome. Perhaps it is my artistic perspective, or perhaps it is my idealistic life views, but I always believe things will be ok in the end. I have often been accused of Pollyannaism. Fair enough. Admittedly, it takes intervention on our part and is almost always difficult work, calling on calm and measured thinking, but it can be done…with grace and perseverance.

In the meantime, I will keep plugging along doing what I do to the best of my ability. I will keep processing the events of these days through my painting and my writing, and admit my processing will be reflected in my work.

Today’s painting, an 8″ x 10″ oil on canvas, is a self study – a snapshot that clearly reflects how I’m feeling at this moment and painted with an unfiltered eye. Rest assured, however, things are going to be ok.

The new year ahead.

Today is New Year’s Day and our thoughts turn to new beginnings, and making changes to our lives. No, I’m not going to start talking about diet and workout routines, and my own promises are things I will probably keep to myself. Quite honestly, I think that all of our personal lists going into 2021 are valid. This website, however, is about my work and the integral, even foundational part it plays in who I am.

Making art is more than my craft, it is an exposed insight to who I am and how I process my world. Over the last decade, becoming bold enough to show others my artwork, first in person and then online, was and is …difficult. The writing that I do here to accompany it increases the difficulty but I feel compelled to share some insights of my thoughts. My technique, my methodology, and my thought processes have all evolved steadily but this past year began an acceleration of transformation. 2021 will continue to be challenging for all of us since nothing with the magnitude of the trials of 2020, can turn on a dime. The inertia will continue to effect me, no doubt.

I intend to continue to paint and show my work here, and to look at this site over the next few weeks; closing galleries that have not proved interesting or fruitful, shifting the 2020 gallery items into their topical galleries, and exploring ways I can improve the experience for you. I appreciate the support that you have shown me. Thank you.

The captured moment.

This morning has been so relaxing. It has been enjoyable sitting at my easel painting and thinking about friends on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It’s delightful to me that while painting I can transport myself in my mind to particular moments in time. For those of you, my friends, who were in the encampment at the Grand Portage National Monument in August of 2019, you will recall the evening when the storm blew up quickly resulting in a lovely double rainbow. It’s been rare for me to be able to see both ends of a rainbow in my life, and most assuredly I had never seen the rainbow reflect off water like that, almost creating a circle. Circles are everywhere in our lives from repetitian within our visual spheres to our relationships with people, and are most certainly demonstrated in our paths of life.

Thank you for circling back to see how this painting turned out today, and thank you for walking the circles of my life with me.

Feel free to send me a comment about the work, or that day, or our walk together.

Open House, web style

Welcome to the new look and feel for this website. Moving to a new home can be daunting and even doing it in web space can make a person feel off kilter. [Thanks to the friend who brought the truck and helped me take all this stuff to the new place.] Like any new home there is the first stage of painting the new walls for the fresh start, hooking up the technology, and the never-ending quandaries of what box ‘that thing’ was packed away in, and in which drawer the silverware should now go? The bright side is a move also gives a person a chance to rethink everything. What should each particular room (or gallery) be, or what changes do I want to make as long as it’s a new start anyway?

Some of that work is done enough for company to stop in for my open house but remember, I will probably be monkeying around with things for a while before I settle down. Here’s to new beginnings. Come on in.

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.

Is it the Holiday Season already!

Gosh, time has flown by so fast!  I am hurriedly wrapping up the end of an academic semester, and I still have boxes of art all over my home place from last weekend’s show. They need to be stowed so that I can decorate for the holidays. Slightly panicked, I’m trying to imagine how fast I can get my living room rearranged, my tree up, and my decorations placed around this Saturday.

I did take a moment yesterday to think about all of the wonderful people I had met at the Outlander Convention last weekend. I learned a lot at that show. Many of those lovely patrons had advice on how to present my work at a multi faceted venue like that was, and others had good advice on the need for a broader scaled pricing model. As a working painter I have tried to have some prints available but have also learned that offering prints of too many original works can devalue the original pieces. For this recent show I had made a few smaller prints that were created specifically as small and affordable works of art (Outlander icon pen and inks), some notecards using an image of one of my larger works (Morning Fog at Craig na Dun), and a small edition of a detail from a larger original (Safe Harbour).

Last night’s conclusion was that I needed to have a new gallery with a unique body of work for gift shopping and not solely investing.

ANNOUNCING:  the newest gallery in the STORE is the “Gift Shop” in your right hand menu bar. In this new gallery will be those unique, handcrafted, or small works and prints, usually under $100. It will be those items we’re looking for as a quick gift for someone else or a treat for yourself. I’m going to be adding some of the other fun things I like to create – craft or utility items such as note cards, jewelry, buttons, or whatever is not a large scale original painting. I have also made a link to the gichlee prints I carried previously and put them in there for your convenience.

As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated. If I don’t get back to you before, have a very happy holiday season.

Imagining the Outlander book series: part 4

Finally, let me talk about why I have not yet painted Jamie and Claire, or any of the other actors in the TV series. Believe me when I say I would love to do that! But here is the problem.

First of all I would need to get permission from many, many people. Not necessarily in the order of priority here is the rough idea: Ask Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Sam Heughan (Jamie), Gary Lewis (Colum MacKenzie), Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie) and scores of other actors for written permission in a release document that defines my freedoms and restrictions. I probably need to get permission from each of their agents as well since I would be basically stepping into the promotional image area. I would also need to ask the director, Ronald D. Moore because he has now illustrated the story in film. I might need the go-ahead from Sony, but I’m not sure. Then I need a permission from Terry Dresbach who did the customized costuming because you would want to see the character you already know complete in recognizable attire, right? And of course I need to ask the author, Diana Gabaldon. I think there are probably more but you get my point. 

So, when you see a face I paint you can rest assured that I have taken my own photograph, or have permission to use them from the photographer who did, have gotten a signed release to paint them, or I have pulled the person from my imagination. Landscapes I shoot myself or paint on site so again, all my own so no permission needed.

If you know the folks that need to give me permission, tell them I would love to do the paintings. I think I could do them justice.

Imagining the Outlander book series: part 3

To continue the conversation about the need to reinterpret imagery to respect intellectual property, I have intersected the vision drawn from my reading of the books with the imagery from the TV series in a way that connects with my audience but does not infringe on either a photographer or film maker to do so. 

Applying the same principle to this painting, Craigh na Dun, I was challenged by an even greater dilemma. Although there are many stone sites dating back to the Druids in Scotland and Ireland, the exact stone circle we see in the film does not actually exist. There is a standing stone circle near to Culloden Battlefield called Clava Cairns, and the stone circle used in the TV series is said to be loosely based on it. You can, however, find dozens of photographs of Craigh na Dun as it is portrayed in the film – some quite dramatic and colorful and in various times of day or night. There again, I have seen some of the images and the TV series, but all of the images are photographs that in all probability were taken by film staff.

To comply with copyright here as well I needed to paint my interpretations of the writing in combination with the implied fictitious stone circle from the film. You won’t find this image with the mid-morning sun burning off the rolling fog in any photograph. 

Imagining the Outlander book series: part 2

Any artist needs to be very mindful of intellectual property and copyright laws. As I read these books it is completely appropriate for me to paint images that the writing prompts from my imagination. This is the stuff that book illustration is rooted in and it is the artist’s imagination that grows the characters or the settings and produces images based on what they read.

To add complexity to the mix, the research involved in writing historical fiction is often based to some degree on real places or people to lend credibility. The author, Diana Gabaldron, is well known for her accurate and extensive research practices and is working closely in the film production to ensure both accuracy to historical content and that they hold true to the books.

In this example, the painting I did is of the home of the Fraser clan, a castle called Lallybroch, also known as Broch Tuarach. The castle used in the TV series, called Midhope House, is actually somewhat in ruin and is situated just outside of Inverness.

Now here is where it the difficulty arises. Because the images in the TV series have attached themselves to the books for those who have seen the film versions, I must try and mirror those images to connect with my audience. There are photographs that have been taken of the real Midhope House by studio and tourist alike, but to comply with copyright law I cannot paint directly from one of those publicly posted photographs without infringing on that intellectual property of the photographer. I can either go to Scotland and take my own picture or I can look at many photographs of the site, research the location, and then create my own interpretation of it.