Posts Tagged ‘Forest’

Contemplating a 1920’s Bridge Amidst a Gathering Storm

May 30, 2011

Vintage Waxahachie Bridge Beneath a Gathering Storm

What a splendid morning to engage in plein air painting.  Temperatures were in the seventies this morning (a welcome relief from the triple digits we’ve experienced the past three days).  Waxahachie has some beautiful parks and walking trails.  One of the trails winds its way under this 1920’s bridge.  When I looked up at the gathering storm clouds, I knew this was going to be my first painting attempt of the day.  As it turned out, I got the best of both worlds: I laid in the sky first, which was overcast and filled with billowing storm clouds.  Then the sun popped out, the sky turned bright blue, and shadows returned to the bridge, along with highlights in the foliage enveloping this structure.  So, I got to put in the dark turbulent sky, and then got to follow up with nice shadows and highlights.   I call that a perfect world for painting!

Thanks for reading.  I went on to do another quick painting, so I’ll prepare that one to post next.

The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011

Labadie, Missouri Snowscape

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I have always felt dreamy when hearing these Robert Frost words from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”  For any of you who have followed my blog, you have seen this composition before: while Christmas vacationing in Missouri, I paused at the back door of the apartment we stayed in while visiting with Wayne White on his Double D Acres ranch.  Seeing the lovely woods shrouded in snow, I had to capture them quickly in drybrush watercolor, on a block measuring 8 x 10″.  As soon as I returned to Texas, a dear friend purchased the small sketch, but I could not forget the scene.  Hence I pulled my digital photo of it, printed off an 8 x 10″, and went quickly to work on this 12 x 18″ composition.  I have a good feeling about this one, though it has come along very slowly, which I guess isn’t a bad thing.  Sometimes a long gestation period works with my paintings.

The interruptions have meant plenty of “down time” for this piece: I have two other large watercolors in progress (already posted on this blog).  I have also spent time in L.A. on school business (sketches from there already posted as well).  I’m also teaching two college courses at night, in addition to my “day job” at the high school.  Hence I have had problems getting back to this one.  So why is today different?

Well, this morning we were awakened by a 5:15 phone call that school was canceled for the day.  Looking outside at the solid sheet of ice that covered everything in my neighborhood, I was seized with delight, made coffee and returned to bed with an excellent book:  Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat. While enjoying this remarkable book, my BlackBerry tinkled a Facebook message and what did I find? A former student’s photograph of her lovely little daughter watercoloring in the living room, titled “The artist in residence: snowy day watercolors.”  That was enough!  I returned to my studio, since piled high with books and journals, cleared a path for my art work, and resumed work on this piece.

Always I am amazed when I pore over an Andrew Wyeth snowy drybrush piece.  Naturally, as I tinker with this one of my own, brushing, dragging, salting, spattering and drawing, I will ruminate over his magnificent contribution and how much it has enriched me since the first time I saw his work in 1968 as a curious, yet awkward high school freshman Art I student.  Thank you, Mr. Wyeth.  I miss you, and will always treasure your Chadds Ford and Cushing meditations.

New Year 2011, My Sleeping Cat and a Winter Landscape en plein air

January 1, 2011

 

Missouri Winter Landscape

Happy New Year to anyone who reads this.  I have just returned from a St. Louis Christmas holiday, and though the family activities kept me busy, I did find a brief opportunity to paint.  My eye was filled with wonder the entire six days I spent in the midst of the snowy Missouri winter.

 

One of my profound blessings of recent months was renewing a friendship with Wayne White, a classmate I knew since second grade but lost contact with following high school graduation.  Thanks to Facebook we found each other again.  Wayne is a farrier who works on his beautiful spread at Double D Acres in Labadie, Missouri (not far from historic route 66) southwest of the St. Louis area where both of us grew up.  You can read all about his life and work at http://www.doubledacres.com/.

Wayne graciously put my wife and me up in a comfortable apartment on his ranch, and we spent a quality morning with him in the frigid barn temperatures, watching and photographing as he worked, shoeing one of his horses.

The morning of the shoeing, I awoke to a gorgeous snowscape, and could not stop admiring this view of his property behind his house.  I was filled with an Andrew Wyeth drybrush-sense of wonder, and could not stop gazing at it, all the while hearing the words from Robert Frost–“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”–

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I was not going to let this opportunity pass.  It was frigid cold outside, but the view through the kitchen apartment door was fine enough for me.  I laid my supplies on the table, held the block in my left hand, and sketched, brushed with my right.  I only spent about 30 minutes on it (a small 8 x 10″ sketch), but was happy with the results.

I am back home now in Arlington, Texas, in my garage studio (man cave!), with the door shut because of the 35 degree temperatures.  I finished this work a few moments ago, adding only the tree trunks and their shadows at the bottom of the page.  I believe that is all this needs.  Hopefully I can work on some more snowscapes this winter, if not from Texas landscapes, then from photos I took while in St. Louis this past week.

Meanwhile, in the company of my sleeping cat, I believe I’ll move on to another watercolor.

Thanks for reading.