Monday, July 20, 2015

A Touch of Monet

Nestled in the little gem Chandor Gardens is a coy pond and this Monet image evoking bridge.  My view point for this painting was from  the opposite side that I usually paint.  When I started the sun hit the top surfaces of the bridge, but by the time I was into the painting it was shadowed against the white of the home and yellow of the pond. What was of interest at that point was the contrast between the background and the foreground and bridge. Frustrated, I packed up and came home. I worked on it in the studio from memory as my camera battery was not working.  Above is the result.  It is very much like what ended up happening on site.  I think I should have started out by painting the bridge as a dark shape and lightening it as I went along.  It is always interested to see what happens in the studio!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Discovering New Ideas

   With the purpose of doing something
entirely different than usual, I attempted
the following paintings and drawings.
They are from some round-upsthat I
attended and photographed. The
situation during the actual event was
virtually impossible to draw or paint
on site.  So, I photographed as much
as I could to get the essence of
what was going on as the cowboys
roped and branded the cattle.  I have a
lot of experience drawing from life,
humans that is, but not much exper-
ience drawing cattle and horses.  What
I wanted to portray was the speed, the
constant action and interaction between
the animals and the cowboys.

    I chose to keep my strokes fluid in an attempt to show
this action.  I am sure as a novice western subject painter
that I made lots of mistakes, but you have to start
somewhere, right? Taking clues from my experience as
a plein aire painter I wanted to give importance to the
heat and dust that filled the air.  My viewpoint of a lot
of "western art" is that it is too realistic, too often
almost an illustration.  Often such subjects are painted
beautifully, technically superb, but lacking immediacy.

   I wanted the colors, textures and process to match the
action that I was witnessing.   The only way to find out
if I was successful is to see how someone else besides
me views the paintings.  So what do you think?  I would
love some input and criticism.  These paintings were
kind of like stop-action photography, but I did not want
them to feel stop-action.


   Some to the first attempts were in pastel. I have seen a show "Tough by Nature" by Lynda Lanker at the Cowgirl Hall if Fame in Fort Worth Texas. It was an incredible exhibition. Her work was done in oil pastel.  The paintings where monumental.  The subjects were cowgirls and ranching women, lean and whipped by many days in the sun working on their ranches. Every chiseled stroke dignified the lives of these "tough" women.  Sometimes in the background there were hints of their surroundings, but mainly the paintings were portraits with their life stories etched on their faces. 

    I am not a fan of oil pastel, but I love pastel, so I used traditional pastel for the first few paintings. 
Lynda Lanker's  paintings shimmered with the close juxtaposition of colors and while her models were mostly sitting or standing still, the paintings pulsed with life.  This exhibition opened up the possibilities for of of using figures and  ranching subjects.They had authenticity and modernity, they were not paintings of a by gone age, but the faces of people working today expressing their individual 
histories.  Powerful statements of real people.

   It is sometimes hard for n artist to know if something works or not.  I find myself thinking something is just great sometimes when everyone else thinks it not.  Sometimes while watching another painter do something I will think it is just great and the next moment they have wiped it off the canvas.  Often it is hard to judge.  

So if you read this give me some feed back.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Following the Mission Trail in San Antonio Texas

I know you’ve heard of the Alamo in San Antonio, but do you know that it is one of the oldest structures in North America and was built as a mission before it became famous as the last strong hold of the Texas Revolution in 1836? There are in total five missions that date from the 1700’s. 

A series of aqueducts connected them and provided water for the fields of parishioners. The Oil Painters of America held a paint-out there over three days to celebrate the remaining structures.  Neglect, wars, vandalism and other ravages of time have reduced their splendor, but the sheer size and effort that it took to construct these compounds is quite amazing.  

The architecture reflects the origin with stucco and painted white like their native stone.  Carvings in stone are reminiscent of the best that can be seen in Europe. I must admit from an artistic point of view I am thankful that only of them has been restored to the white stucco form.  

Some of them are still residences for priests who have lavished them with gardens of flowers, cactus and even cats with names like Moses.  We were not blessed with much sun.  Only a very few hours.   I painted the view below from inside of my tiny Nissan as it rained. The clouds were easy on those of us that sunburn easily but did not add the sparkle that buildings need.  

I do enjoy painting in the mid-tones anyway so I painted  in spite of the overcast.  San Antonio is almost tropical so there is an abundance of feathery Mesquite trees, yuccas, cactus and every flower imaginable.  I did miss the day at the Botanical Garden, so that is another subject for another time My Favorite Mission site was the mission of San Jose.  It has the famous Rose Window.  The front is covered with beautiful sculptures that served to tell the story of Christianity to the Indians that could not read the Bible.  I painted the front with all of its ornate sculpture.  It is missing a tower which was struck by lightening in 1942.  A great loss.  It was so nice to paint to the lovely (though piped-out) music from the church - and the bells (real) that rang with frequency.  This must have been a magnificent sight when it was new.   The “Rose Window” is badly chipped and weathered, but still lovely.  Inside was the Madonna.  a painting for another time.  

To the right is a portion of the aqueduct that brought water to the missions and the fields to support the families surrounding them.  This was no small feat as they are miles apart.  The effort was immense to construct this system of irrigation.  At Mission Espada I found a “Pretzel” tree!  I wonder how old this tree is.  Did it actually see the Mission (at top) when it was new? I just could not resist painting it. A great time was had by all. Greenhouse Gallery hosted a grand party and displayed some 71 paintings from 21 artists!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to School Special!

Today, Doug's Club went to the Fort Worth Stockyards to paint.  This August is unlike any other, almost cool. overcast and breezy.  We painted just in the morning as it began to sprinkle. The painting on the top was painted at the Stackyards and when I got home I really wanted the yellow cab to be important so I painted it in the front.  It is a little more believable, but not sure it made it any better.

We had a good group as you can see! We thought we were adding to the tourist attraction thing, but one of the T-shirt sellers did not approve of us in front of his tables.  Guess we were obscuring the flying pigs just a little too much  There is much to paint here.  When I arrived at 8:30 AM there were very few cars and fewer people.  I need the color of the Yellow Cab in my painting.  I added it in the studio afterwards along with the "Fort Worth Stockyards" - too much gooey paint to do it on site. Only one painting, but a great day with good company!

Below is a view of the courthouse
as you drive away from the Stockyards.  I have always wanted to paint this view.  When I figure out how to get there without being killed I will do it.  It is in the middle of a bridge that is usually heavily with traffic.  Loved the skies today!  Rain precious rain!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sweet Sixteen

We are definitely under-apreciated at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden!  No painting!  Not even pastels or watercolor are allowed into the Japanese Gardens.  Fortunately they are not banned form the rest of the park.  We had a model posing in the shade of huge live oak trees today for a change of pace.  While we were waiting for the model to come I started a painting of the pagoda entrance to the Japanese gardens.  Lush in spite of the heat, the materials and style of the architecture makes you wonder if it could be anymore beautiful in Japan itself. 

Wendy brought our model.
Painting outside is hard enough, but painting a model or portrait in two hours in the changing light requires mental gymnastics!  It is not easy for the model either, the sun moves around and shines in her eyes, the mosquitoes bite (with west nile fever prevalent, that’s not acceptable) and it’s just not easy to sit for 2 hours.  Lunch at the Kimble was our reward.  Many of us follow Valerie Pirlot’s blog with herfriends in England.  The latest blog from August 8th showed them with hats and coats under overcast skies with puddles everywhere.  Alas they just don’t know what they are missing.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chandor Gardens

It's still over 100 degrees here.  There is one place where the cool breezes can be found!  Chandor Gardens.  I wonder if they have notices how many new memberships they have enjoyed with all of the plein aire artists from Doug's Club coming to paint? Today was no exception and we enjoyed the beauty from open to closing time.
Koi Pond, Beautiful reflections!
Love Chandor;s circle

There were five of us, TK, Doug Clark, of course, Tosca and Sarah. Deciding what to paint is the hardest thing.  There is so much it is really hard to narrow it down to something you can handle in a couple of hours.  I have admired the trellis every time that I've painter here.  The contrast of the brilliant sunlight and the cool shadows is the story here.  I am still a novice at such things, but you get there by practice, right?  Getting the darks dark enough and keeping the lights is hard.

We had lots of wipe offs today.
I rarely allow myself to do that.  If I did I would never finish a painting.  Instead I barrel through and paint over it later if I cannot pull it off - which is all too often.

Top is Tosca with her paintings, then TK going after the Caladiums!  Sarah is getting ready to paint a doorway into a courtyard.  Doug is putting the finishing touches on his Foo dog.

Below is a doorway that is the most delicious shade of green.  The charming oriental lantern hanging next to it deserves it's own painting.  The turquoises bounce all over the place.  Soft salmon colors reflect from the sun drenched brick below the door and bounce up onto the wall to mix with the shadows.  The green of the follage mixes in with all of the above to make an amazing assortment of colors.  The longer I looked at trying to paint is the more challenging it became.  The Gardens close at 3pm on Saturday so I did not quite finish.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Heatwave Relief in Texas!

This week has been fantastic.  Every evening the clouds bubble up and it cools off into the eighties!  Probably sounds funny to those of you in Oregon or some other "cool" place.  Well the "Relief" I'm referring to is the cool atmosphere in the Chandor Gardens - in nice, otherwise hot, Weatherford, Texas.  It is well worth the 62 mile drive to paint there basked in the breezes, the shade and the cool mist from the well water sprinklers.  Doug's Group, about 7 of us this time gathered yesterday for another painting session.

This painting is of an area called the bowling alley.  It's a long shady submerged terrace with a gazebo and three fountains at the far end of it.  The ferns and a sone wall covered with ivy frame the "bowling" part of it.  There are gates in the green hedges along either side that let the light flow across the lawn. The temperature where i was standing had to be at least 15 degrees cooler that the parking lot.  Thus the name of this blog.  Everything is crawling with some sort of green stuff.

I painted this fountain last week from the other side.  Last time I painted up close and personal views of the fountain and a little statue.  This time I decided to try to get the feeling of a larger area.  It was not easy.  I could define some of the levels and different planting beds more, but not in the time that the sun allowed me today.  At lunch time the Gardens were having a catered 'sit down' lunch from the Wild Mushroom Restaurant.  We ate in Mr Chandor's former studio and had Brie sandwiches with berries and angle food cake.  Doug quoted appropriately from an old artists book, written in 1909, on outdoor painting explaining that what one needs when painting outside was a "Rustic" to carry all of their equipment.  This is just about as close as you can come in this day and time to having a "Rustic" - having someone fix a delightful lunch.  This is my kind of "Rustic"!

Here is a photo of the bowling alley.  It is really obvious to me that a painter planned this garden. While painting this view, I kept noticing different things that he did do make it visually appealing.  The three tall fountains at the end, arches and holes in the hedges.  There was no water in the bowling green area but it has the feeling of calm that water brings.  Really a delightful area.  The more I looked the more enjoyment I found.

I decided to plant some succulents after visiting Chandor Gardens.  So I photographed some of their plantings loaded with different kinds of cactus and succulents.  There are so many different shapes and colors, textures - like a painting in a pot!  I found one of the cactuses (seen at right in the upper right) at Walmart and when I picked it up a man who was also perusing the cactus and succulents, said on my you have really picked a dangerous thing.  That has thousands of little spines and you will have to use a magnifying glass to pick them out if you even lightly touch them!  I bought it anyway because I really like the look.  But I know to wrap it in newspaper and handle it with care thanks to him.

I'm still searching for a proper planter.  More later on the propagation of such plants.

Below is the fountain area that was the subject of my second painting.  These two paintings required more that the usual
amount of time.  The difference in the light when I started
nd finished is obvious by the shadows.