Archive for the ‘equestrian’ Category

Return to Studio Eidolon, but Remembering Bryce Canyon

September 18, 2020

Such is the effort of creation that goes into the work of art! Such was the agonising effort he had to make, the blood and tears it cost him to create living flesh to produce the breath of life! Everlastingly struggling with the Real and being repeatedly conquered like Jacob fighting with the Angel!

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

Most readers are convinced that Zola was describing the anxieties of painter Paul Cezanne when he wrote this novel. I am enjoying the reading of this and will be sorry when the story ends. I certainly know those artistic anxieties, more from my past than my present. I find it hard to explain, but am convinced that in my later years I am more preoccupied with art theory, yet less upset with perceived shortcomings or failures; I just love the process of creating.

We are safely back home after vacationing in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. On our third day home, I am still lost in daydreams and recollections of what we experienced. My last blog recounted the day’s adventures at Zion National Park, but I have yet to record the events of the following day, in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sandi decided to participate in a ride down to the floor of the canyon. After we parted ways at the corral, I hiked to the rim of the canyon, then circled round till I found the horse trail that I knew the party would take. Once they arrived, I managed to shoot plenty of photos as they trooped by, and my favorite is this one of Sandi on a handsome mule named Clyde.

Once the riding party was out of site, I commenced working from my plein air easel, and was astonished at the violence of the winds blasting across the top of the canyon. My clip for holding open my sketchbook was attached to my journal in the truck parked far away, so I attempted to sketch in watercolor the site below with my right hand, and used my entire leftt arm to hold the book open, my open hand resting on the brushes trying to blow out of the tray and into the canyon below.

As I worked, fighting against the wind trying to blow my supplies away, a gentle Asian soul approached me and, watching calmly with great interest, began asking questions of what I was doing. I always love visiting with people when I am out painting, and this was no exception. However, being distracted by the blowing winds, I was not aware that the gentleman actually was filming me with the intention of posting on social media. Had I known that, perhaps I would have shown more composure and lest distractedness. He indeed asked permission to film, but I honestly thought the howling wind was discouraging his efforts, and was under the impression that he gave up, though he stayed and visited with me awhile and took my business card, thanking me for my time. I soon forgot about the encounter, as I visited with over a dozen people during that brief stretch of attempted painting.

Late last night, while I was home, the gentleman’s kind email arrived, with the YouTube link, and I gladly post it for you now with the disclaimer that his camera work was much more composed than I!

After painting awhile (or trying to!), I returned to the truck and let our dog Patches out for a stroll. Then I set up his portable pen under the shade of the evergreens, and had intended to spend about half an hour with him before putting him back into the truck and returning to the canyon to paint. But he was so darned affectionate, choosing to jump into my lap and remain rather than lie on his blanket in the pen. So . . . I waited for Sandi to return from her ride before packing my gear back to the canyon for round two.

Here are the two sketches I attempted in the raging winds atop Bryce Canyon.

My biggest adjustment returning to Arlington, Texas has been the temperatures. As I write this, we are sitting this afternoon at 88 degrees with intolerable humidity. On the morning of our return, it was 50 degrees in Albuquerque. Stepping outside in this Texas weather now makes me wish for the 34 degrees and foot-deep snow I enjoyed last week in Colorado!

As I continue to look over photos and sketches from our trip, I took my first shot today at sketching a bison I photographed outside Zion National Park.

I haven’t yet decided on my next major project, but anticipate that something will happen soon. For the time being, Sandi and I are going to re-visit the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth-a site we haven’t seen in way too many months.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Equestrian in Fall Foliage, December 17, 2010

December 17, 2010

Equestrian in Fall Foliage

Here is a large 18 x 24″ watercolor I began over a week ago.  It’s been difficult finding quality time to paint, trying to close out the fall semester at school.  My wife Sandi is riding her horse Andante just as the leaves are beginning to turn in south Fort Worth, Texas.  Most of the foliage at the top is poured from bowls onto the wet paper that was previously masqued, then treated with salt and a spray bottle, along with plenty of tissue-blotting.  For the first time, I’m introducing the color aubergine into the shadows of the bay horse–I’ve never before known for sure how to shadow this guy.  I think this is going to work.  I did a plein air sketch of the pair of trees behind the fence, several weeks ago while we were on location.  I also took several digital shots of Sandi and Andante.  Now I’m hoping to combine two photos to create this landscape.  Hopefully I can finish this one by Christmas.

Thanks for reading.

Fall Colors in the Horse Country, November 27, 2010

November 28, 2010

Fall Colors in Horse Country

Saturday morning found me waking to temperatures in the upper 30’s.  Sandi had a riding lesson scheduled in south Fort Worth.  Since it was the first time to take her horse trailer out, I decided to come along to offer an extra set of hands for some of the details of loading a trailer and helping get the horse in and out.  Once we arrived, I found the world to be extremely bright and clear with sunlight.  Sandi got her horse prepped for the lesson, and I photographed her and Andante riding about the pen, stretching and loosening up.  By the time her lesson appointment arrived, I looked around for something to do.

These trees were “calling out” to me from the time we arrived on the property.  The incredibly bright yellow and orange leaves against a dark forest just would not let go of my imagination.  The sight of leaves falling between that dark space of tree cluster and bare ground also raised my ecstasy.  I walked around, looking at this site from three different directions, all the time trying to talk myself out of the commitment to a plein air watercolor.  I felt rusty, out-of-practice, uptight, not ready.  All of this added up to the “dance of avoidance” Ian Roberts writes about in his Creative Authenticity. I knew that, like Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth before me, there would be rewards waiting if I would just respond to the call.  But I was overwhelmed as I continually gazed at the complications–the masses of fall foliage, the dark forest behind, the bald, dirt ground beneath, the shadows spinning out from the trees and their gnarled trunks.  I felt there were just too many details to chase, and I felt tired.

I pulled out four unfinished watercolors, along with the 8 x 10 photographs I had taken of the subjects.  Nothing moved me.  I took out my digital camera and photographed the scene before me repeatedly, trying to convince myself that I could do a better job working from the photographs and inserting a grazing horse beneath the trees.  I knew that I would not do that, however.  Trees from photographs just don’t “do it” for me.

I even contemplated reading; I had a whole bag full of books.  I even thought of writing in my journal.  But I knew I would live with regret if I passed on this opportunity, and Sandi’s riding lesson was going to take up an hour.  So I sat, and looked, and thought–and finally drew out my watercolor block and sketched in the tree trunks and fencing.

Next I pulled the Super Nib Masquepen and began to dot in the hundreds of leaf clusters and falling leaves, along with the pipe fencing.  Once everything dried, I laid in a quick Cerulean Blue sky.  Fortunately the steady cold winds were drying out the surface of the watercolor block quickly.  Quinachronine Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and Sap Green were the predominant pigments to help see me through the fall foliage.

I was pleased at my overall draughtmanship on the gnarled tree trunks.  I mixed plenty of Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Winsor Green and Ultramarine Blue to come up with my blacks and grays.  An HB pencil also aided me in drawing in the tree bark, along with some help from an 8B Derwent watersoluble pencil.  The tree trunks came together quite quickly.

I felt pretty lost on the shadows across the dirt, so I used more of my black and gray mixings from the colors listed above, and swirled them about on the dry paper with my “ugly brush”–a real staple for me.  My “ugly” is a flat sable that I cut diagonally and then used an X-acto knife to pull out some of the bristles, leaving a jagged chisel-looking brush for my foliage, weeds and tree bark.

I’m really delighted that I responded to this opportunity, instead of passing it by.  I was really taken by what Annie Dillard referred to as the “tree filled with lights.”  I could not get over the beauty and splendor of the bright, bright sun reflections coming out of those brassy-colored leaves.  And to think that I almost passed on this to read instead.  I recall Nietzsche talking about how “positively wicked” it was for a writer or scholar to spend the prime time of the day reading–lost in other men’s thoughts–instead of producing one’s own.  I’m grateful that this day was a day that I decided to create.

Thank you for reading.

Finished the Equestrian Watercolor, August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010

Sandi Riding Andante

Glad to finish this one, finally.  Sandi will be surprised.  She knew I started this several weeks ago.  But she only saw the outlined pencil drawing of her riding Andante.  Today while she was out doing “horse” things with her daughter, I worked as quickly as possible to finish this up.  It’s always hard to know when to quit and just let the painting go.  I think I have done all I can to it.  Maybe I’ll change my mind in the days ahead, but for now, it looks “finished” and I’m going to leave it at that (for the time being!).

Thanks for reading.

Working at Lubbock Poolside, August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010

Sandi riding Andante at Greenwood Farms

How remarkably blessed I’ve felt during our vacation which will have run about twelve days, once it ends tomorrow night.  We left Colorado yesterday, and arrived in Lubbock, Texas last night.  Sandi’s daughter has just purchased property west of town and is developing an equestrian facility.  Sandi joined her early this morning, allowing me to sleep in for the first time on this entire vacation (always fly fishing, plein air activity or itineraries to get one of both of us up early each day!).  After sleeping in, and enjoying the exercise facility at this Holiday Inn, I have now relocated at poolside, where the enormous sky-lighting gives me great quality of plein air light for re-working some watercolors in progress. 

A few days before leaving on vacation, I accompanied Sandi to Greenwood Farm, an equestrian facility west of Weatherford, Texas.  It was a blazing hot Texas day, and I chose to stay in the shade for the most part, while Sandi sweated out the activity of riding Andante in a clinic involving jumping.  Before they left to do their thing, I photographed them several times.  Then using the laptop to view an enlarged photograph, I drew Sandi and Andante as carefully as I could.  I did not like the backdrop in the photograph, so I went out onto the property and found what I thought would make a more suitable backdrop for inserting the equestrian subject.  I finished most of the foliage en plein air and then left the rest of the composition unfinished while we vacationed in Colorado.

Now, at a Holiday Inn poolside in Lubbock, I have taken this painting back out and spent considerable time this early afternoon rendering Sandi and Andante in color, tweaking the backdrop of foliage and adding some foreground color.  I’m really enjoying watching this take shape.  Maybe I’ll get it finished before the day is done.  Sandi just phoned and they will be picking me up for dinner at 7:00–about four-and-a-half hours from now.

What a splendid day, getting to work outside my hotel room in natural light, yet still inside the building (thus avoiding one of those disgusting 105-degree days–ugh!). 

Thanks for reading.

“Nocturne” to be Published Soon, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

Nocturne

I just received the good news that my painting of Nocturne will be published in the August issue of the Lone Star Horse Report.  Nocturne was a 23-year old Welsh Cob stallion belonging to a friend who boards my wife’s horse and gives her lessons in dressage.  We were all saddened when he had to be euthanized last year.  This painting of him was my first attempt at painting a horse.  I still miss him every time I go to watch my wife ride, and am thrilled that his memory will be published with this image next month.

Fox Hunt now on the Greeting Card, March 7, 2010

March 7, 2010

Jennifer in the Hunt

Signed-and-numbered limited edition giclees are being made from this image.  I’m hoping they will be ready in time for Thursday’s Art Festival in Hillsboro.  I’ve just finished preparing the 5 x 7″ greeting card, blank inside, with the following caption on back:  Here is my first attempt at painting a fox hunt with hounds.  Jennifer Stewart (the artist who designs my website) submitted to me a magnificent photo made by her husband Bart.  This painting is also my first “poured” painting, where I poured the watercolor pigments directly onto the wet surface to create all the accidental details of the foliage.  The major challenge of this composition was to capture the beauty of the fall foliage without taking the focus away from the magnificent equestrian subjects.  The last item I painted was the hounds, and again, I hoped to give them just enough definition to distinguish them, without taking the focus away from the subject.

Finished my first “poured piece.” February 19, 2010

February 19, 2010

Jennifer in the Hunt

Glad to sign off on this one finally.  Thanks to all of you who have continually offered encouragement and affirmation.  I feel very satisfied with this.  The only finishing touches I added were myriads of branches and limbs in the foreground corners, along with dropped in colors to suggest sparse leaves and blossoms.  I’m happy with the way the alternating warm and cool colors created this sense of mood.  This is my first attempt at poured watercolor, and I’m already looking forward to my next try.  I think I’ve opened a new dynamic after years of pursuing the same trademark style.  We’ll see where it leads.

Thank you very much for reading.