Monday, August 31, 2009

Suggestions, please

24 x 48
This piece will be shown at the Fall Gallery Night show at Galerie Kornye West in Ft. Worth next month. Usually, I get an idea for a painting and the title is part of that idea. Or, the title comes to me while I am painting it. Maybe its because I have a studio full of pieces that I am trying to finish for upcoming shows, but I can't seem to conjure up a title for this one. Suggestions, please?

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Summer of Santa Fe

In the summer of 2001 Steve and I rented a house in Santa Fe. Although we had been spending a few months a year in northern New Mexico since 1998, this was the first time we spent much time in Santa Fe. The old adobe house was located a block off Canyon Road and had a beautiful walled garden. We settled in and started to make friends, entertain, explore and generally have a lovely time. It was also the summer I painted this little pastel. It turned out to be a breakthrough piece in a number of ways. It won some awards and ended up being published in several magazines and a book. As a result of that, I received some attention from galleries and eventually had feature articles in American Artist and The Pastel Journal, and an"Artist to Watch" in Southwest Art Magazine.

Big Tesuque Aspens
12 x 16 Pastel 2001

(this was so long ago I don't even have a digital image of it!)

So, in addition to enjoying an idyllic couple of months, I made some big progress in my work that summer- both at the easel and in my career. We were blissfully and mercifully ignorant of the events that were about to over take us over the next months and years- 9/11, the deaths of my parents, Steve's heart surgery, and the financial hardships that brought. That summer, all seemed right with the world.

Last year, I was contacted by New Mexico Magazine - they wanted to use an image of Big Tesuque Aspens in their 2010 calendar. This week my complementary copies arrived. We have moved on, as has my work, but it was a nice reminder of the Summer of Santa Fe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lost Art of Observation

Against the Sky
10 x 10

I spend a lot of time looking. I believe that first hand observation is one of the most important tools that landscape painters have at their disposal. There are many reasons for this. Obviously, the more familiar we are with our subject matter the more authenticity we bring to its depiction. But, I think there are others reasons, just as important, as well. I am constantly surprised at how many landscape painters have only a passing acquaintance with nature in general and the scenes they paint in particular. Observation is the way we form an intimate relationship with our subject and understand the way things work in the natural world. Its also the way we form visual memories. Memory has become an increasingly important aspect of my working process. It distills and intensifies experiences, filtering out the insignificant details and leaving a lasting reminder of our most intense response.

While I still think that painting outdoors is essential training for landscape painters, I've come to believe it can be a hindrance is some cases too. We can get so wrapped up in the effort to make a painting that we forget to just be, to simply experience our surroundings. Using a camera can have the same effect- how many times have you snapped a picture of something only to discover later you can't remember a single thing about where you were or why you took it?

Walking and looking- it worked for many of the great 19th century landscape painters, as well as writers like Emerson and Thoreau and more recently Andrew Wyeth, Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver. Its so simple, so old school, its positively revolutionary.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Twilight Moon 3
10 x 10

One of the pieces I've done for an upcoming show...more to come.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer Skies #7

Summer Skies #7
6 x 8

Who can resist a summer sunset?

It may seem I am just drifting along with the clouds this summer, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have a full schedule of shows coming up this fall and holiday season and into the new year (most of which are listed here over on the sidebar). So, I'm in the studio each day for long hours at the easel. But, I still make time to watch the sky every afternoon.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Vault of the Sky

Summer Skies #6
6 x 8

When I first began to paint landscapes many years ago, one of the most helpful ideas I came across was the description of the sky as a vault, arching up over us as well as out into the distance ahead. As a child, I often lay on my back in the grass watching clouds or stars at night. But, somehow, as adults we lose that sense of wonder at the thin little envelope of air and light that surrounds and protects us. About the same time I read that description, I started laying down on the grass in our garden and looking up again. Very edifying. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009