Archive for October, 2010

Fly Fishing Watercolor nearly finished, Halloween 2010

October 31, 2010

Fly Fishing in South Fork, Colorado

After letting this one sit for several months, I took it out this evening, hoping to finish it.  I have another festival coming in two weeks, and would love to complete some of my unfinished pieces lurking in the shadows of my disheveled studio.  This started out as a poured watercolor, and I’m trying to ease off on the brushwork, not wishing to wipe out some of the wonderful accidental effects that came from pouring and salting, mostly on the water and in the background thicket.

Compared to my other works, this is a larger piece, measuring 18 x 24″.  I need to get comfortable once again with larger watercolors.  I’ve been working the 9 x 12″ size for about a year, and fear that I’ve gotten too comfortable there.  I guess that’s a major feature of success in creating art–breaking out of those restrictive “comfort” areas.

Thank you for reading.


Backyard Plein Air Watercolor, October 29, 2010

October 29, 2010

backyard plein air

I was exhausted this Friday afternoon when school let out for the weekend.  I talked myself into a workout at the gym, then, with my Jeep loaded with watercolor supplies, I drove across the city to the Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth.  After standing outside the admissions gate and reading all the signs with their lists of prohibitions, I approached the window, and started to pay my $4 admission when the attendant saw my watercolor block and asked if it was a sketchpad.  “Watercolor block,” I replied.  She said, “No paints of any kind are allowed in the Gardens.”  After nearly three decades of paying admission so I could read a book or write in my journal inside the Gardens, I determined at that moment that the Japanese Gardens will not receive another dime from me.  Ever.  I still wonder what kind of ecosystem I was threatening with my palm-sized Winsor & Newton field box and 8 x 10″ watercolor block.  But that’s O.K.–they can have it.

Driving home, I decided to chill in my backyard with my two dogs and cat.  As I sat in the waning sunlight, I noticed, for the first time, the splendid way the golden light was playing off a pair of trees in the back corner of my yard, next to an old play structure.  I sprang up, fetched my French easel, and went to work on this composition.  After so many years of looking at Andrew Wyeth renderings of tree bark and scattered leaves, I’ve finally decided I’m going to study this and see if I can develop some kind of technique to render these marvelous forms with their gradations, and wonderful contrasts.  After I stopped working on this, and the light evaporated from my back yard, I slumped in a chair, more exhausted than ever,  but filled with a satisfaction seldom felt.  Even if I turn out a bad painting, I feel a sense of the sublime while I’m painting en plein air. But when I’m happy with the result, it certainly makes the time much sweeter.

This is the first weekend that I can remember where I have no weekend class, no lecture or sermon to prepare, no festival to attend.  A free weekend–I think I’m certainly going to pursue some more watercolor activity.  But first–I need some quality sleep!

Thank you for reading.

Plein Air Painting at the Weiler House Gallery, October 28, 2010

October 28, 2010

Plein Air Watercolor on a French Easel

Plein Air of Weiler House Gallery, Rear View

The Texas autumn evenings are bringing mild temperatures, and today offered one of those delicious opportunities to escape the beaten path and engage in some plein air activity.  Chris Toplyn, my water color buddy, joined me and we drove to the Weiler House in the historic Handley neighborhood in east Fort Worth.  We managed to capture about an hour of bright autumn sunlight before it set behind the buildings.  Setting up our French easels in the parking lot behind the Weiler House, we took shots at painting the rear of the building, engulfed in trees, sun and shadow.

I believe I’ll work on heightening the contrast on this one, after it’s had a day or two to “chill” in the studio.  By the time I got to this stage, the light was gone, I was somewhat fatigued, and decided against any further refinements.  It was a most splendid day to be out.  Tonight we may get our first frost.  Hopefully, I can get out and do a little more of this tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

15-Minute Plein Air Watercolor Sketch, Oct 26

October 27, 2010

Tree Sketch, Watercolor

The art festival circuit over the month of October has completely taken me away from the plein air activity I have enjoyed so much over this past year.  Yesterday evening, after a brief workout at the health club, I re-joined my wife at the farm where she stables her horse, and was glad to find that she still had about 30 minutes of work to do.

Feeling a “Winslow Homer” and “Andrew Wyeth” surge, I looked out at the raw beauty of an autumn sun setting over the pastureland, and took fifteen minutes to dash out this sketch on an 8 x 10″ watercolor block.  I was not aware of working quickly, or against a clock, or against a time table.  I just happened to be delighted to note that only fifteen minutes elided by the time I called this one quits.  I took no pains to correct, adjust, or edit in any form.  I’m happy with the spontaneity of the sketch, and regret that this has not played a significant role in my past decade as a watercolor artist.  I hope that this chance encounter will shift the tide and convert me to a habitual “sketcher” in pencil as well as drybrush.  This fall, I pledge that my watercolor supplies will remain always in the Jeep with me, even if I am just going to work.  Hopefully, I’ll become more prolific in this art.  Last night’s experiment was overwhelmingly satisfying to me.

Thanks for reading.

Finished the Small Fly Fishing Composition, October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010

Thunderstorm Rise

I finally finished this small 9 x 12″ watercolor that I started several weeks back.  I had never gotten around to finishing the hands, fly rod, and some of the foliage details.  I have another large fly fishing composition in progress that began as a “poured” piece.  Hopefully I will be posting it soon.

Thanks for reading.

Clawing My Way Back to the Studio!

October 26, 2010

Special Delivery

Well, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted.  I have violated my oath taken last New Year to do my dead-level best to post daily.  October has been a more-than-usually-busy month, with my teaching load at high school and university combined with four consecutive weekend art festivals.  Fortunately, my next festival is three weekends away.   Between now and then, I am committed to returning to the studio, tidying it and resuming my art production.

I did finish this painting last week.  It was begun over the summer (and the early stages of it were posted to the blog).  It began as a “poured” piece, and finally I got around to finishing up the dry brush foreground, detailing the car and refining the fence line.

This car is parked in a field alongside Highway 77 north of Hillsboro, Texas, just east of Interstate 35W.  The owner of the property has graciously allowed me to access his land and do multiple studies of this car and a 1954 Ford sedan.  I’m still not finished with these subjects, but am glad to have this composition completed.  Most of my watercolors are around 8 x 10 or 9 x 12 in size.  This one measures 20 x 25″–quite large by my usual standards.

Thanks for reading.