Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Today's Plein Air Sketches

What a nice dreary day to go out and paint. Seriously, I love weather like this. But, it does make me have to paint from the seat in my truck.

First stop was English Park and this view overlooking the bend in the river. Did a quick pencil sketch, then got out my paints and went for my brushes....where were my brushes? Dang, I had to go back and get my brushes. So, after I got back. I spent about a half hour completing this sketch.

Above is my phone picture of it from my truck.

Above is a camera photo with better lighting in my studio.

So, after that one; I drove down to the boat ramp and got a view upriver to the bridge and the new hotel and convention center construction

Above is a picture from my camera at the scene.

Above is a photo from my studio

 It tried to do another sketch there. It had stopped raining, so I got out and walked over to do a sketch of the stairs leading up to the overlook and shelter house. But, it soon began raining again. Decided I needed a new subject, so I headed downtown to the Creme Coffeehouse. Took my backpack with me, ordered up and found a table with a view and set to painting. I was a little shaky for some reason. I've painted around people before...maybe it was the coffee? It's interesting doing these sketches...I love it.

Above is my photo photo while sitting at the coffee shop.

Above is the studio photo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Plein Air at Joe Ford Nature Center

So, what do you do when you don't have Yellowstone or Yosemite down the road? I headed out today and did a couple of plein air sketches at Joe Ford Nature Center here in Owensboro. It's not too for from my house, so it makes a good place to go real quick.

Today was decent weather, but very windy. I wasn't prepared for that. Made the pages of my sketchbook keep flappin' around or closing up as I was painting...frustrating, but I dealt with it. It also provided a texture to the painting by blowing dirt and leaf particles into the wet areas. Which take longer to dry in this cool air, even with the wind.

I hiked a trail that circles the park and came to this little pond, called Willow Pond. Decided to try and find a composition here. Turns out to be a more complicated subject that I thought, once I started painting. I struggle at trying to find what I want to describe in the painting, especially a quick sketch. I kind of got lost in the reflections. It was protected from the wind, so the water was nearly flat and had perfect reflections, but it was also shallow and I could make out the stuff under the water too. My eyes were constantly focusing back and forth...was I seeing the sky and tree reflections...or the darks underwater.? So, I stopped on it and moved on.

Here is the effort in my sketchbook and the point of view of the painting.

After I packed up and moved on I hiked around a bit more and found this big white ash tree, with the sun giving it a nice shadow. So I set up real quick and got to work. Decided to do the vertical panorama to try and get as much of the tree in as possible. I was sitting on the edge of the walking trail and it must have been lunchtime, as there were several people walk by. Nobody bothered me. Odd, I usually get a curiosity seeker. :)

Here is the sketch and a shot of it at the scene. I couldn't get everything into that shot, unfortunately, with my phone camera.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Had A Successful Night At The Art Show

Last night was the opening of the Owensboro Art Guild 51st Annual Art Show, hosted by the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art.

I had two works that were judged for entry into the show and they were accepted.

There are 43 artist's and 59 pieces in the show.

While I did not win an award from the competition aspect, both of my works were chosen for purchase awards by a local couple. There were 5 purchase awards for the whole show. I got two. So, I'm pretty happy with that.

Below are the two paintings that now have a new home.

 "At The Rendezvous"
10"x7" watercolor
private collection

"Water Street Under The Bridge"
10"x7" watercolor
private collection

Friday, February 22, 2013

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

I've posted and written about Thomas Moran, a huge inspirational figure to me. This painting is my homage to his wonderful work he created in our greatest National Park.

Humbly I submit my effort here.

11"x14" oil on canvas board

I'll show the progress shots.

And here is where it's at for the moment. There are a few things I want to address yet.

Here it is after some more work on it this evening.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Ain't the Captain of the Valdez, But I've Spilled Some Oil On Canvas.

I've temporarily parked my watercolor brushes for a minute and have played with some oil colors and worked on canvas.

Here are two that I have done. Mind you, I have probably only done about 4-5 oils in my life, including these two. It's a whole new ballgame to figure out. But, I'm up for the challenge.

The first one I did was a different view of some cottonwood trees along the banks of the Wind River in Wyoming that I had done in watercolor earlier this year.

It's 11"x14" canvas board.

Then today, I have done one of a view of the Tetons in Wyoming.

14"x11" canvas board

I looks like I'm going to have to invest in better quality oils and canvas for the future. I'm diggin' doing these and I can always add more to my library of work in different mediums.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Latest Sketches From The Weekend

So, this past Saturday was my last trip to Bowling Green and WKU for a while. I did a couple of sketches while there.

The first I did as I walked around campus trying to find something interesting to paint. It was very cold and windy (31, with wind chill in the 20's). I liked this view between the buildings and out over the distant horizon. The walkway that leads out the back is a bridge to another building and the tree was allowed an opening to continue to grow.

After that and with frozen fingers, I went downtown to seek coffee. After grabbing some coffee at Spencer's I did this sketch of the fountain in the square. Really quick...about 20 minutes.

Then today, Monday, I did this panoramic sketch of the river bottoms here in Daviess Co., KY.

I had to sit in my  truck and do this one. The wind was literally blowing the water out of my water container...there was nothing to block the wind across these fields.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sketchbook: 13 Feb 2013

So after I delivered my artwork to the museum at Audubon Park this morning, I decided to whip out my sketchbook and do a 1hr. sketch of the building and grounds around it.

This is what I came up with. The paper is about 8"x11".

Paintings for the Audubon State Park Exhibit

Entered these two paintings into the exhibit at the museum on the grounds of John J. Audubon State Park in Henderson, KY.

The exhibit opens Feb. 21st and runs until April 7th, 2013.

First one is from I hike my kids, some friends, and myself had taken on the Backcountry Trail in the park.

It's 10"x14", original watercolor on Arches 140lb. cold press paper.

"Backcountry Trail"

The second painting is a view from the garden wall at the museum looking out onto the grounds in the rain during autumn.

It's 10"x14" original watercolor on Arches 140lb. cold press paper

"Audubon in Autumn"


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sketchbook: 9 Feb 2013

 So, I broke down and bought a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook last night. It's roughly 8" x 11" and has some nice heavy paper with a decent texture to it. I've really been needing to do daily sketches to stay loose and it's just good practice. Plus, I've been totally enjoying it.

 Today, with taking my son to his class at WKU again, I took my new sketchbook and put in it's first sketches.

First one was just down the street from the university and I liked the view capturing the three church steeples. But, there are more churches in the vicinity that I couldn't get into the view. Why the churches? I'm not overly religious and I keep hearing that we need more God in our lives. It leaves me wondering what are people talking about? That is a rhetorical question, by the way. I don't want to start a debate about religion. But would ask people to think about it.

After that one, I headed back up to the university and parked the truck and walked up to where I could get a good vantage point on this cool, lime green house on the hill. I sat across the street and unfortunately in the shade of a tree. It's February and even though the sun was shining, it was still a bit chilly there and was leaving my watercolors to mingle a lot longer than usual because they wouldn't dry. Just another challenge to the process...which I like.

I still had a little bit of time before I had to pick up Jake, so I walked over near his building and sketched the planetarium. It's only about a 5 minute sketch and there were some younger kids out there running around with these long, multicolored streamers...I didn't have time to put any color to it. Maybe later here in the studio?

I love doing these sketches and think my work can only improve from doing them. We'll see how fast I can fill it up. I better start setting aside funds for another one...or a few.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gettin' out of the Studio

Needed a break from the studio. So, I grabbed my Winsor & Newton Field Box, a small pad of Sennelier hot press paper, a couple of small brushes, a water bottle, and some paper towels and headed out in my truck. I was feelin' like doing some architectural sketches, so I headed downtown.

I wanted to limit myself to no more than 20 minutes per sketch. I'm trying to force myself to loosen up and edit out extraneous detail...focus on shapes and values. I also used a pen instead of a pencil. No corrections, just the first impression.

I first drove to the top of the parking garage downtown and pulled into a spot overlooking the river. It's kind of an odd composition.

9 1/2" x 4" watercolor and pen

Next I went over a couple of streets, pulled over and did a sketch of this church tower.

4" x 9 1/2" watercolor and pen


Lastly, I decided to capture some of Owensboro's main riverfront dominating industry. The Owensboro Grain Company.

9 1/2" x 4" watercolor and pen

With that, it was time to head home and meet the kids getting off the bus from school.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Water Street Under The Bridge

New one I'm just starting.

So, I'm trying something new. For me it's new, but I've seen other artists doing and it really seems like a cool thing to do.

I'm using Google Street View. So, if you want to see this spot I'm painting, just go to Google maps and find Water Street where it sits under the Brooklyn Bridge.  See the view here.

Why this spot? Back in 2000 I drove a truck with my cousin and we were in this area and I did a painting of the Trade Center buildings with the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground...you can't get that view anymore.

This is 10"x7" on Arches 140lb. cold press paper.

Putting in the sky. Notice I brought that wash down onto the building on the left side. This will eventually become the reflections in the windows there.

Next I established the first wash on the building on the right. Notice the change in value as it recedes into the distance.

Here, I started on the bridge underside shadow with a variegated wash with some yellow closer to the viewer and ending in a violet as it goes to the distance.

Here I've added the shadow side of the building and began defining the superstructure of the bridge.

Here the street begins to come to life and the cast shadow of the building.

More work on shadows and brick on the right side building. Also darkened the cast shadow on the left and windows.

Bringing it to a finish. Tightened up some details and I felt the sky was a little too pale. so, I did something dangerous...I added a wash of Cobalt Blue and Winsor Blue Green Shade over the it to get some more contrast of the skyline under the bridge.

Monday, February 4, 2013

One Hour Sketch

So, there's this website that I hang out on called "Wet Canvas" and one of the forums is Southwestern and Western art. There's usually a 1 hr. sketch challenge posted and this month I jumped on board.

There are a few provided images for reference and I chose this one of the bronc rider.

My work is 5"x7" watercolor on Arches 140lb. cold press paper.

The initial pencil line drawing took about ten minutes and the rest of the hour was in the painting.

Now, here it is after a few refinements. This original painting is available for purchase. Contact me if you're interested.

Finding Thomas Moran

     "Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" by Thomas Moran

Thomas Moran may be more publicly known for his large oils on canvas works of the American West that hang in the US. Capitol building and many museums around the country, and they are indeed amazing works of one of America's premier artist's. But, to me, his sublime watercolor and gouache studies of places like Yellowstone and the Green River areas are what speak to me.

 In 2002 I was living in Lander, WY. (and one day I may get around to writing about my serendipitous adventures of that time of my life) and borrowed a friends truck and I took a drive over to see the Teton's and visit  The National Wildlife art Museum near Jackson.
 It was a pretty overcast day, so the views of the mountains were obscured and I was too unfamiliar with the surroundings to just start taking off on every trail I saw, so I headed to the museum.

 Once inside and as I wandered the halls viewing all manner of representations of animals and animals in landscapes, I came across a small collection of small watercolor and gouache paintings. Many of them incomplete, with the artist's pencil marks visible and scribbled notes here and there.
 I still had a large part of the museum to explore, including the large permanent collection of Carl Rungius; an amazing artist in his own right and seemingly the whole museum is built around his work. But, I couldn't get those small watercolors out of my mind and found myself wandering back to that wall and strolling back and forth and savoring these little jewels.
 I looked for a signature, seen a neatly scribed name of Moran. In my ignorance, I had no clue who he was, or his impact on the history of what eventually became our countries greatest accomplishment (in my mind), the creation of Yellowstone National Park and the ensuing creation of other parks and monuments.

 I left the museum and headed back to Lander and the little one room studio I was living in behind a very nice older couple's garage and shortly forgot about Moran as I went about trying not to starve or freeze through a Wyoming winter. At the time I was trying to discover some things about myself and about life and art...a lot of things I have just had to figure out as I go. Very naive and ignorant I was and maybe still am to a degree about art. I come to it from no background, no family history in the arts, no "pedigree". So, still to this day, I have the lingering doubts...but, I'm getting better.

 Now, 10 years on, I'm happily married, in love with my kids, and living far from the Wyoming landscape that I so love. But, I no longer have forgotten about Thomas Moran. The memory of those works are still a standout to me and after spending some time learning about Moran's explorations of the west, I am always inspired to keep at my own art and exploration...however humble and insignificant it is in comparison to one like the great Thomas Moran.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Revisited my "Big Sky" painting

I think I've come around on this one after making some adjustments.

What do you think?

"Big Sky Over The Wind River Mountains"
10"x14" watercolor

Plein Air Work From Today

So, on Saturdays this month, we take our 9 yr. old son to a class on the campus of Western Kentucky University at The Center For Gifted Studies. While he is learning about tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather related phenomena, I set about to find something to paint.

My first place was at the Wheldon Peete Park boat ramp on the Barren River. It was a cold and overcast day with intermittent sprinkles of rain. Given those conditions, I sat in my truck and painted this scene. A gentleman was indeed standing there fishing. I never saw him land anything. I was here for about one hour.

It's 7"x5" on Arches 140lb. cold press paper.

The first photo is from my phone from my seat.

Next is the finished painting after I got home and made some adjustments just going from memory.

After I finished at that spot, I went back up to the university and pulled down a lane that I always thought would make a decent painting. I only had about  45 minutes to work on this one before I had to close down and pick up Jake.

Once again the next photo is from my seat. I wasn't able to get the scene in, unfortunately.

Same as the other one, I did some touch ups here in the studio. Here is the result.

I really like painting plein air, my work takes on a totally different look and it's a really good challenge.

Expect to see more in the future.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Big Sky Over The Wind River Mountains

OK, I don't think I made the promise yet, but I will be posting failures as well as successes.

I'm not too sure this one works. Something feels off to me and I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Trying to do a sky like this in watercolor is quite difficult...or at least to me it is. Watercolor, among other things, is about controlling edges...there's a lot of edges to try and keep soft while building up these clouds while also trying to create a blend in the sky color from top to bottom.

The landscape is basically there just to give some scale and doesn't have any detail.

Oh, well. One of those learning experiences. It won't go in the trash, that's for sure.

10"x14" watercolor on Arches 140lb. cold press paper.

Hayden Valley Buffalo

This mornings painting. A scene of some buffalo crossing a creek in Yellowstone National Park's Hayden Valley area. Yellowstone is truly a national treasure. I love that place.

14"x10" watercolor