Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Work: Across Double Springs

Across Double Springs
acrylic on wc paper 9" x 12"
Only eight shapes here and I had a hard time putting them together. Don't ever believe anyone who says that abstract semi representational work is easy!

The idea for this piece came together as Rich and I were driving to Murphys last weekend. Right now our hills are very green. (My BIl has said that it looks like Ireland!) I wanted to accent the greenness of the scenery and the hills up against the mountains and so this is what came of that idea. For my inspiration scene, I took a sketch that I did a few days ago of the land around the Double Springs historical marker. The view is of the flat land, hills and mountains beyond looking towards the town of San Andreas. I compacted things to just focus on the hills and mountains with a touch of fog in the background.

Another thought that I have been having concerns the light around here and expressing that through color. It's hard to describe but there is a "whiteness" to things-maybe a deep contrast between light and dark.  Trees are deeply green and the light from the sky seems white as I mentioned above. I can sort of see the idea in my mind's eye. In any case, I am going to continue to work on translating this feeling through color and shape. Maybe something great will come of it!

OK, hope the week is off to a good start for everyone. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

February 2015 Wrap Up Post

1. Night Shipping 10" x 12" acrylic on paper
2. Lake Tulloch 10" x 12" acrylic on paper

3. Fogline 10" x 12" acrylic on paper

4. Moon Rise and Fall 9" x 12" acrylic on paper
5. Water, Water Everywhere... 9" x 12" acrylic on paper

6. Melones Summer acrylic on wc paper 10" x 12"

"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;

The hill-side's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;

God's in his Heaven— 
All's right with the world!"
-  Robert Browning, The Year's at the Spring 

Above is a wonderful piece of poetry from Robert Browning to start out the month of March. I hope February was a good month for everyone and that March will be even better.

My trips out and about in February helped to make my studio time productive. I thought I would just include a quick description of the inspiration behind each piece.

1. Night Shipping: My drive to the Bay Area takes me through the Altamont Pass. Driving through the pass one day I saw a train going slowly by. As I drove on to Livermore, the train meandered its way through the mountains. I imagined that goods must be transported to and from every place on the earth at all hours of the day and night. That thought was the impetus for this piece.

2. Lake Tulloch: I have painted images of Lake Tulloch before. It's located just outside of Copperopolis and it is a small "created" town. Although I am always out during the day getting ideas, somehow the image of a nighttime view of the mountains surrounding the lake seemed appropriate.

3. Fogline: The first leg of my trip to the Bay Area takes me through the small farming town of Linden. Frequently during this time of year there is quite a bit of fog. For this piece I envisioned the fog sitting above a row of blue "trees" that are far back on the horizon.

4. Moon Rise and Fall: Morning time is always a good time for me to get inspiration. This piece is a conglomeration of ideas gathered on my trip through Tracy. The towers of the old Holly sugar plant and the early morning light grabbed my attention.

5. Water, Water Everywhere... Water is a recurring theme in many of my pieces. Living in the West as we all do, we view water as a necessary resource for living and greatly feel the impact of its scarcity. How this resource is allocated, protected and owned is of continual interest to me. The above piece was inspired by the Delta-Mendota Canal which replenishes the water in the San Joaquin River. Follow the link to learn a little bit more about this part of our state-wide water system. 

6. Melones Summer: The Melones Reservoir continues to provide ideas for new work.  This piece was based on a photo from one of my trips over the Parrotts Ferry bridge on my drive to the small town of Columbia. I've sketched from this spot and have taken lots of photos over the past 5 years. It never gets old for me!


The Spring Obsession Art Show at Ironstone is next Saturday, Match 7th. There will be a wine and food pairing event in the evening as well as the art show during the day. It's a great venue (three of my paintings are in this large group show!) and there is lots of stuff to do in the area. Follow the above link for more info.

The third show of the Mokelumne River Reflections  event is being held at the Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill on Saturday, March 14th from 2-5. This is a double whammy because not only is this art show quite good but the hotel itself is a wonderful historic spot in our county. It's definitely worth a visit. 

Color Wheel Class-Town Hall Arts, Copperopolis June 5th and 19th: I will be teaching two classes in June at the gallery in Copperopolis. The class will help beginning to intermediate painters get a handle on their numerous tubes of paint! We painters are a curious lot and manage to collect a lot of colors but how do we keep them organized? This class shows how to get your tubes of paint sorted by color family and temperature and then placed appropriately onto a color wheel that will  become your own personal color tool for painting. If you are interested or know of another painter who may be in need of some "organization" please think of taking this class. Feel free to email me for information and sign up with Larry at the gallery as we get closer to the date.

Work Available: As always, work in my studio is available for sale. My website is up to date and can be found here. Just send me an email stating which piece interests you. 

Sketching/Tutoring: The weather will be getting warmer soon and now is a perfect time for sketching. I offer one-on-one tutoring in basic sketching for adults. Learn the fundamentals of observation and the benefits of sketching to record your own thoughts and feelings through simple pictures and writing. Time outdoors enjoying nature is never a waste so email if you or someone you know might want to get started sketching outdoors.

OK, here's to a great upcoming month. As always, thank you for supporting me and my art making efforts by reading these newsletter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Work: Water, water Everywhere...

Water Water Everywhere
9" x 12" Acrylic on wc paper

Of the three aspects of color that I try and concentrate on (value, hue and saturation), I seem to have the least amount of trouble detecting discrepancies with saturation. Colors that have intense chromas really stand out particularly if the rest of the colors are muted to begin with.

For this piece, I decided to work more with muted colors to project a calmer idea of things. Originally, for the blue rectangle, I envisioned a more "marine blue" type of hue. I had that in there too to begin with and then changed it. With the new color, I saw right away that not only was the saturation level off, but the temperature of the color also didn't fit with everything else. Having a red-orange color for the rectangle also threw everything out of balance, shape-wise (to my eye), and so things were "off." Painting for me anyway is a lot of editing both at the outset and continuing on through the process.

The title for the piece comes from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  I read this in high school but don't remember a thing about it. (Education is wasted on the young???) I include the link not only for the poem itself but for the history behind it. Quite fascinating. 

While the title for the piece is drawn from the poem mentioned above, the concept came from one of my many trips over the Altamont Pass. There is a canal system serving the San Joaquin Valley and on  my trips I pass by one of the canals. Water and its allocation as a resource fascinates me. Not only because I live here and depend on water but because owning a natural resource and deciding how it is allocated interests me. How can people "own" resources that everyone, rich or poor, need? Who decides? And California, which is nearly a state divided, has a particularly thorny dilemma as we deliver water from Northern Ca to Southern CA. It's a hard question.

OK, halfway through. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Work: Moon Rise and Fall

Moon Rise and Fall
Acrylic on wc paper 9" x 12" matted to 12" x 16"
I drive back to the Bay Area fairly frequently. My father is there and I have friends and family that live there too. Recently, while helping my dad, I have been back and forth a lot. The drive can be tiring but it's always interesting to me, particularly during the morning. Leaving the house sometimes around 7AM, I am privileged to be able to see the sun rise over the fields and mountains. The sight is never old or tiresome. Many times the air is filled with either fog or haze or some other kind of particulate matter. Whatever is in the air distorts the color of the light and everything else that the light falls on. The effects are varied and quite wonderful; you just have to look.

For the above piece I was inspired by the sky and long view to the mountains and hills outside of Tracy. As I looked towards the Altamont Pass and the mountains that surround it, the sky was a beautiful lavender color. The sun was coming up but the moon was still visible in the sky. These towers sat in the distance, looming over the fields and businesses below them. Inspiration for art making is everywhere. You just have to pay attention and then do it!

I looked for some quotes and poetry about the moon.

“The moon in her chariot of pearl” 
― Oscar WildeThe Nightingale and the Rose
The Moon is distant from the Sea --
And yet, with Amber Hands --
She leads Him -- docile as a Boy --
Along appointed Sands --

He never misses a Degree --
Obedient to Her Eye
He comes just so far -- toward the Town --
Just so far -- goes away --

Oh, Signor, Thine, the Amber Hand --
And mine -- the distant Sea --
Obedient to the least command
Thine eye impose on me --

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Work and Advice: Lake Tulloch Hillside

Lake Tulloch Hillside 1
acrylic on wc paper image size 10" x 13" matted to 12" x 18"

When people who have greater experience than you suggest something to you, it pays to listen. Even more beneficial than listening is remembering and being able to act on that advice when it is needed. Such was this case this week as I worked on these last two paintings. I have been told on several occasions now to observe and think carefully prior to drawing any lines, shapes or values.  It's really true. My experience so far is that even though there isn't just one "correct" way to do something, often times the first line I draw is the best one. I think this means that I have observed well. When I have to fine tune a line or shape, generally that means that I drew it wrong to begin with or I have somehow changed my mind. I didn't observe well enough or pay attention to begin with. No problem though so long as I catch myself, remember the advice, and improve. And I mention the above not only to pass along to anyone who is interested but also to mention that the few times I have taught sketching to people, I have reiterated this advice that I have been given. It's good stuff and it's free!

The last couple of pieces I have done have involved putting together several  ideas from some very basic sketches. This piece had a photo reference which helped me to correct a bit but honestly, it was the first lines that I drew for my sketch which came through in the finished piece. I didn't see it to begin with but I really like the "triangulation" of the bottom hill with the far bush/tee and the moon. Kind of interesting for me. 

OK, the week is halfway done. I am working on a new piece today and hope to be done by the weekend. Famous last words...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New Work: Night Shipping

Night Shipping
Acrylic on watercolor paper- image size 10" x 13"

One of the things that I do before I start painting is to do a color rendition of my idea. (There are just as many ways to start a painting as there are painters. This is just how I do it.) The color concept helps me to get a handle on things sooner rather than later so that I don't spend forever fumbling around with the color relationships. Admittedly, this is just a starting place because once I get the paint going I do have to adjust as I go. No problem though. I want things to work. 

The first pic shows the finished painting. The second pic shows the sketch that I did in Microsoft Paint. What a nifty little program! I was able to draw the shapes and then fill them with colors. I could switch out the colors also which is some of the exploration that I would normally do with my pastels pencils in the initial sketch on paper. I like combining my drawing and coloring with this computer sketch. In the final piece, I switched the lower blue-green shape to push the limits of what I consider to be a blue-green. I also tried to push the limits a bit with what I consider to be a blue violet. I chose a golden yellow to represent my yellow-orange opposite in that pair. I like the results a lot.

The idea for this piece came to me last Thursday/Friday as I was driving to the Bay Area. (I went both days back to back.) The Altamont Pass, which I drive through to get to Livermore and beyond, really grabs my attention. Those voluptuous hills and curving roads are really something. There are a series of train tracks that run through this area and on one of the days I saw, out of the corner of my eye, train cars going by high up on one of the trestles. I imagined a train going by at night that no one would see or know about. It seemed mysterious and part of the past somehow. So, I tried to make some ambiguous shapes to represent several of the things that I saw. It was fun to put everything together, like a puzzle, and then to do the final sketch on the computer. I had an ah-ha moment where I said (out loud) that yes, I could actually do this. Good stuff.

OK, hope everyone is having a good Sunday. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Work: Fogline + John Denver!

A fineness of relationships...

I read something similar sounding to the above idea in one of my composition books. Isn't it the truth though? One of the things that I am trying to focus on learning is the concept of proportion. That is a wide swath of ground to cover, let me tell you! Overall, it can apply  to almost anything in painting: color, line, shape size and variation, and on and on, right down to whether or not the color green is more blue or more yellow. And I am beginning to see that a person could have some built in biases or preferences. I tend to make shapes all of the same size if I don't catch myself first. My greens tend to be warmer rather than cooler and initially, I tend to divide the compositional space into three equal parts. I know too, from doing the above piece, that I can complicate the initial idea in an attempt to "fix" things. Adding more shapes to the composition doesn't always help. Less is really more many times.  I have to continually remind myself to check for things and honestly, that is fine. As I wrote above, it's a fineness of relationships.

The above piece was completed today and is based on a few things that I routinely observe when driving to and from the Bay Area. Highway 26 west takes me to the town of Linden and then on to Stockton. There are a lot of flat fields with distant rolling hills. While looking at the far treeline which hugs the edge of the hills, it appears as if that area is frequently enveloped in a bluish/grayish/purplish mist. During the late fall and on into winter, there is often a low fog line above everything. As the road rises and dips with the slope of the land, it's possible to see both below and above this line. Frequently, the moon is still visible in the early morning as I make my way towards the west. As I was driving the other day, I thought of the fog and how a good idea would be to paint that kind of "strata" of fogline, bluish distant mist, and then the warm sky above sort of waiting to breakthrough everything.  I added the hill/mountain line and included the fields which soon, when the springtime comes, will be green. I am both a literal and "figurative" painter I suppose. What best can I paint to represent some broad concepts?

OK, it's Wednesday-halfway done. Yesterday's painting session was a bit of a snafu but today's went much better. Hope everyone is having a good week. 

Leaving you with this clip from John Denver. Gone nearly 18 years now. Thank God I'm a Country Boy