Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Plein Air Adventures- or- What Do Ya Think Yer Doin?

Quite often in painting on location, I set up in places that at first appear to be out of the way and quiet.
Many times, although they may not seem to be so, I have set up in spots that turn out to be on private land (or perceived to be private land) and thus am "challenged" as to- "what da you think yer doin' ?" One painter related that he would load up 5 pound bags of potatoes (being from the San Luis Valley, major Potatoville) as bribes to soften property disputes with skeptical natives.

This painting site was off on the right of way along a county road in Conejos County, Colorado. It is on the way to my friend and painter Charley Ewing's home and I have traveled it many times. I have been drawn to this old adobe set off the road nestled in some fine mature cottonwoods and check it out every trip I take. The adobe has been a repeat subject matter for me, painting it several times.
So I set up for a larger plein air panel - 16 x 20, and, as anticipated, it took two days to capture the scene. I did not have any territory issues and being within the San Luis Valley, the potato bribe thing wouldn't have worked anyway. Like trying to sell ice to an Eskimo.
What did transpire- and a partial reason it took me two days to complete- was a steady stream of folks curious as to what I was doing. They would pull over and we would blab about the area, the many adobe remnants in the neighborhood and the verdant bottom lands saturated by the acequias coming off the Conejos River.
Several of the visitors were from the Espinosa and Mestas clans, two families that pioneered this area coming up from what is now New Mexico in the 1800's. So here are some other historical tidbits that I learned during both painting days:
- The county road CR 17 is known as Espinosa Lane, named after the now-sixth-generation community that peppered the area with farmsteads, many older homes now abandoned and melting back into the earth.
- There was an attempt to renovate the adobe closest to my paint site, although not the subject of the painting. There was such an infestation of "water" snakes (garter) that they gave up.
- The subject of my painting was an original Espinosa family building, now vacant. One of the informants grandfathers was around when the Espinosas took in a frozen company of Mormons who had trekked over the Sangre de Cristos in the dead of winter. Of the 40 that left Pueblo only 17 arrived in desperate need at their doorstep. The Espinosa's harbored the travelers and butchered a calf. Shortly thereafter, the survivors helped found the town of Manassa just a few miles north.

All in all it was very poignant for me, and I hope for my visitors as wells, as we passed a pleasant day sharing the bounty of the acequias with stories and appreciation for the vibrant and verdent bottomlands along the Conejos.

- A short distance to the south of my painting spot is the community church known as La Capilla de Santo Nino which served the Espinosa community for over a hundred years. It collapsed on October 21, 2016 from old age. Very sad.
"Bounty of the Acequia" plein air oil on linen, 16" x 20"
This painting will be part of the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico 8th Annual Juried Members Show opening with a public reception at the Sorrel Sky Gallery, 125 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM, 87501 from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. The show will be open for regular business hours until Nov. 27. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

C.Waters Annual Artist Showcase and Sale, Creede, Colorado

Chere Waters has nurtured a family of artists whose work populates the walls of her newly reopened C. Waters Gallery in Creede, Colorado. She will feature this select group in the second year of her newly relocated and named C. Waters Gallery after six previous years in a space attached to her home on the hill overlooking the town.

That's me on the left at last year's grand opening. Chere is in the center in black. Paul Stone, recently deceased after contracting ALS, is in the wheel chair in front. I call him Dr. Boom. You can check out the trailer for a project about his life at this link:

The reception and sale will be on Saturday, July 16, 2016 from 3 to 7 pm in the gallery next door to the world famous Creede Repertory Theater on Main street. My fellow featured artists are Suzanne Reed Fine, Kristian Gosar, Aaron Brown, Brownie, Hanna Waters, Colleen de Santos, Peggy Stenmark, Randall LaGro and Alicia Hess.

Here is one of my paintings - " Threshold to Loch Vale" 24x30" oil on linen

Chere's receptions are legend- great fun, food, artists and libations-and I am sure this one will not disappoint. If you are in the area, Creede is a hoot with the theater, dining and the magnificent San Juan Mountains. Come on by.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Taos Lilac Festival, Painting the Blooms

"Crabapple Pond" 16x12 oil
Available at the Copper Moon Gallery105 Kit Carson Road. Taos,NM, 87571
I will be painting blooming trees in front of the Copper Moon Gallery in Taos on Saturday, May 21.
For the past three years Taos has celebrated the blooming Spring with a festival of lilacs. This year the town has scheduled the Taos Lilac Festival from Friday, May, 20 to the following Friday, May 27. Part of the festival is walking tours around the historic downtown district. Near the junction of the Camino Real and Kit Carson Road within in this historic zone sits the Copper Moon Gallery.
I have had the privilege of showing in this gallery for the last couple years and will be painting outside the gallery on Saturday, May 21.
I will be manning my plein air accoutrements- French easel, sun hat, paints, brushes, sunscreen, umbrella, water, coffee.
However, I an anticipating fresh cookies may be lacking.......

I am also the current featured artist in the gallery and have a copious collection of recent paintings on display and for sale.

I hope you will find the time to hang out in this magical town in blooming brilliance and stop by to chat and visit while I paint a rendition of floral Taos. Besides lilacs, there are assorted fruit trees and bushes from apricot to cherry to one of my favorites- crabapples.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Great Painting Spots Show and Reception

You are all invited to come and see a collection of paintings that I have produced over the years.
When hanging the show in this panoramic space on the mezzanine in the Alamosa Hospital, I was wondering what to call it- it seems art shows are supposed to have clever or enticing titles.
Being a wordplay fan, I was trying to find a unifying theme for the collection as it was going up.
There didn't seem to be a commonality beyond two or three pieces in groups.
There was a grouping from Ireland, one from California and another about trees in general. One impression for me was that the show was a travelogue, sort of tourist snapshots in places that I had  painted- all over the map.
That's when GPS came to mind- the global positioning system. I could use GPS to fine tune the exact place on the earth's surface where each piece had been painted. But I had not done so in the past, although I might start.
Instead, I acknowledged that each art work was executed from a particular vantage point that offered the optimal attributes of a great painting- they were all great painting spots- also GPS.
Wordplay: enticing and painfully brilliant!
So please come on by to San Luis Valley Health Regional Medical Center, better known as the Alamosa Hospital at 106 Blanca Ave. from 4 to 7 pm on Friday, April 8. The show is in the Artrium which is on the 2nd floor.
See you there!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Art for the Endangered Landscape 2015

We are putting together this Art Day on Wolf Creek Pass. Mark your calendars and break out your paints and dust off your camera!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The White House- Refurbished

From the title of this post do you think I am trying to work the search engine thing to attract politico's? I know there is money in politics- maybe I can crowbar some into the art world.

 White House Ruin, photo, as it is today

Painter friend Roger Williams recently put out a pic of a painting he completed - a rendition of the White House Ruin, probably the most stunning setting for any Ancestral Pueblo structure in the southwest. It was a great painting- I liked it so much I copied it! Roger's and maybe another 100 or so that have been done since the discovery of the ruin in the 1880's.
Roger's painting reminded me of the several times I have been to Canyon De Chelly in northeastern Arizona, where White House is just one of dozens of ruins peppered about the canyon. It spurred me to gather up materials from my trips and attempt a rendition of the White House, tucked in a cavern beneath the huge escarpments of patina-stained sandstone.
I painted the scene on location many years ago and the painting sold immediately. I wanted to do another right away but, until now, had not gotten around to it.
I have learned much about this structure over the many decades. One of the nuggets from my recent research was that these sandstone block buildings were either constructed by Chaco People, or supervised by them. I am referring to the Ancestral Pueblo culture centered around Chaco Canyon in what is now northwestern New Mexico.  These engineering farmers flourished throughout the Four Corners region for a centuries ( 900 to 1200 AD), building networks of connections leaving their distinctive masonry pueblos scattered throughout a vast and spectacular region.
The Chaco builders at White House left behind tell-tale engineered, pre-planned thick base walls built to hold the weight of the multiple stories above them that have since crumbled. They were visionary builders who knew well in advance the completed height of their constructions.
We know the canyon bottom pueblo was four stories tall because of the pictographs seen today far above the canyon floor. They were painted from the rooftops of the fourth story. We can still see where the ladder left its rub marks on the cliff face from the forth floor of the lower pueblo. The ladder was the only way to get up to the cave where they built a tidy complex. The uppermost rooms of the cave complex had its south facing walls whitewashed- a singular rarity and the only one I am aware of. What a tantalizing mystery- who lived in the White House?

Floor Plan of the White House

showing both the upper and lower sections.

As I progressed through the painting I got to the point of rendering the ruins. One of my musings when looking at ruins is imagining them when they were actively lived in- with fresh mud on the walls, covering the meticulous stonework, tools and pottery scattered about work areas, the canyon echoing the soft voices of the daily village life.
So I did just that.
Tree ring dates showed that almost all of the timbers used to build the pueblo were cut around 1070 A.D. I imagined myself back then and painted what I thought what may have been there.


"The White House, 1072 A.D."  oil on linen   24" x 18"
Thus, here is another peek into the past. If you like this post , and painting, you may be interested in my previous post on my reconstruction of Penasco Blanco in Chaco Canyon (Exploring the Past, Feb. 2014)

Monday, November 17, 2014

"It Was a Peaceful Demonstration"

I have been encouraged over the past several years to share my painting methods. This has been through painting demonstrations at classes, on-location painting, talks to aspiring artists and patrons.
When I was first approached by painter friend Coni Grant to do a demo for her adult painting class, I felt honored - to begin with. I was soon apprehensive about doing a hasty painting that would be crap, and in front of witnesses no less.
That initial demonstration was very educational- for me especially. It had been decades since I taught painting and drawing. I knew that I had accumulated a lot of knowledge about painting but it had been extremely internalized over many, many years. It was all in my head.
I  happily discovered that I could communicate this internal jumble to other people and in a way that they could understand, (or were they just being polite?)
Before one demonstration, my wife and I were channel surfing and happened upon a program where a painter was doing a painting video. He basically just said out loud what his process was- what he was doing, with what tool or brush, using such and such color mixed with such and such other color.
So that is one sure way to communicate painting dynamics- just start blabbing away about each and every little thing that you are doing.
Here is a picture of a painting demonstration that I did for Coni's class.
After the demo I took the painting into the studio and worked it into a more finished piece- into a state that was more refined than a quick draw.
Here is the completed painting.
"Crabapple Pond" 16x12 oil on linen
I entered this painting into the Western Light Show and Sale hosted by Earthwood Collections in Estes Park in August of this year and it ended up getting the Director's Award for the competition. The Director's Award is given to the painting of choice by the staff and owners for the gallery. Thank you Earthwood folks and owners, Ann and Ron Wilcocks.
Here I am with award in hand.

This painting is now on display at the Earthwood Collections in Estes Park, and for sale as well!