Monday, July 22, 2013

Santa Fe Plein Air

" When setting a scenery, the tableau, if placed in the country side, should be abundant with animals to suggest well being. One should also populate the yarde with powltry as well. This will enliven the display and attract the Patron." - 'Treatise on Content and Composition' by the Compte de Roget, 1745.

I recently took an adventure trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I went there to participate in a plein air event sponsored by the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico.

The event featured a week of painting on-site in and around Santa Fe and culminated in a show at the Gary Kim Gallery. At this posting you can still view the show digitally by going to the Gary Kim Gallery website.

What I value about well-planned plein air events is that they promote and acquaint artists to key scenic areas in the regions in which they are held. I found out that even in places that I thought I knew well I was directed to some scenic spots that I didn't even know about.

I had been visiting Santa Fe for decades and was pleasantly surprised to find intriguingly beautiful vistas unknown or overlooked before.

These group events also present many opportunities to paint with and collaborate with a variety of other artists. Although I do not consciously study other painters' techniques there is always an osmosis that occurs when painting with others. I also consider it a sort of cross- pollination. Whether it is through observation or critique I am always surprised and pleased when new insights and inspiration emanate from these associations.
I was graciously invited to stay with my friend and artist Roger Williams and his great setup on the outskirts of Santa Fe. He has a great house, great view, attached studio and greenhouse. All the comforts any freeloader could hope for!
Roger was able to come out and play.
We had great times acting goofy and painting on location. I picked up a lot from Roger during my visit. I am a visceral painter and often end up with subconscious visual traps such as repetitive shapes and annoying linear aberrations. Roger is more analytical and his discerning eye helped repeatedly in my paintings. He reminds me that although the trip may be exciting, it also has to make sense.

Here are a few selected pieces (survivors) from the Santa Fe trip.

"Cienega Morning" oil on linen 9x12
We painted this in the early morning from Louisa W. Martinez's veranda. La Cienega is west of Santa Fe and I found it a very enticing area. This is an area of juniper- studded arroyo hills above green laced river bottoms. This piece offered an opportunity to paint the intriguing dry hillsides with early morning tree shadows.
" El Zaguan Garden"  oil on linen  12 x 9
I had wandered by these enchanting grounds along Canon Road for many years and never new the story behind it - or had the opportunity to wander around and paint it.

" Cienega Hills" 9 x 12
This was my first painting on the trip and was a " find" while motoring aimlessly about on the back roads. A local realtor stopped to admire my work- and to try and sell me the house that is opposite this view. I offered a straight trade for my car- he declined the offer.
" Ranchos from Under the Cottonwood" 9 x 12
I explored Ranchos De Las Golondrinas on a very hot afternoon and found this view of the old walled compound from under an ancient and shady cottonwood. I brought the piece back to Roger's and thought it lacked something. I mentioned that the latia fenced structure was a chicken coop- so we decided that a fowl or two would spice up the scene (see quote at the beginning). I put several birds in the piece but because of the small scale I felt the one rooster was sufficient and took the others out.

Lots more to paint in Santa Fe!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Governor's Art Show and Sale--- Small Town- Big Art Center

" Acequia Reflections" 16x12 oil on linen
I just returned from the opening reception at the Governor’s Invitational Art Show and Sale that will be open daily until June 2 at the Loveland Art Museum in Loveland, Colorado. After 21 years this show has tapped me to be in it for its 22nd show.
To paraphrase Groucho Marx I am not sure I want to be in a show that would let me in it! I am
joking. Click to go to the Governor's Show site
The paintings on this post are all in the show. The one above sold at the reception.

" South Clear Creek Falls" 20x16 oil on linen

I am very appreciative to be accepted into this nationally renowned exhibition. It is sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Loveland and the Thompson Valley.
Many of the beneficiaries of the success of this Art Show and Sale are children and youth in the community and beyond.  Every 3rd
Grader in the Thompson School District gets a hard-bound dictionary. 
Several thousands of dollars are given to college bound students  and an apprenticeship for a non-college bound student is arranged.  The Kids Pak program feeds hungry kids each weekend for the entire school year.  A Books for Kids campaign and other youth organizations are helped, as well as some international projects.  And, of course, both clubs are extremely active in participating in Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign. 

" Threshold to Loch Vale" 24x32 oil on linen

This show has been a standard for promoting the finest painters and sculptors in Colorado and has presented some of my favorite painters such as Richard Schmidt, Stephen Quiller, and Charles Ewing.
A side story on the Loveland art scene illustrates the power of individuals to shape communities and events.
My family was intimate with Loveland when I was a kid, before the art aspect was developed. It was a small agriculturally-based community and was and is a tourist gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. A favorite trip for us was to motor up to Trail Ridge road and feed the chipmunks (not cool, now).
My aunt and uncle lived there with their two daughters/ cousins and we would visit them several times a year.
I attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins so I dropped in on them occasionally when I was going to school. By the time I graduated in 1975, Loveland was growing rapidly as was all the Front Range but still had not become the art scene it is now.

"Pass Dam" 12x16 oil on linen

That changed when sculptor George Lundeen set up a studio in 1973 followed soon by a foundry. He was the cloud seed that soon started the creative rain for this little burg. Other sculptors and artists quickly migrated to this art friendly environment.Shortly after Lundeen’s arrival, a sculpture show was created that soon became a national renowned annual showcase. There are now two world class sculpture shows annually.
Fine art galleries opened and public sculptures started popping up like mushrooms. 
Part of this creative upwelling  was also the aforementioned Governor’s Show.
Click here for a link to Loveland
Today Loveland is one of the most renowned small town art centers in the U.S.
To me it illustrates the power of a few individuals with vision- a process that can happen in any community- maybe even yours.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bitter Winter? Hunker Down in the Studio

Firstly- what is hunker? and how did it get into our language- Perhaps a topic for another blog.( I have already checked out its derivation.) And I am pretty sure you have to use it with "down" and not just by itself. As in- I am going to hunker?
Doesn't sound right.
Us ol'timers in this place called the San Luis Valley were reminded this past couple months of how "challenging" the winters used to be. We have been lulled into a mild decade or so of relatively not-so-frigid winters.
But starting mid-December we were subjected to some particularly bitter temperatues. We set at least 16 national lows for the lower 48 running into January. One reading in the wee hours logged in at a minus 32 F!
And yes you should be envious of our collective fortitude to withstand such extreme cold!
These conditions encouraged me to recollect the warmer and greener times of the summer of 2012.
Especially some of the amazing environs around Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
So in the studio I have been working up some pieces from a hike that we took up to Loch Vale, one of the most picturesque vistas in all of the park.
Fellow artists Coni Grant, Sue McCullough and Dawn Normali set out in August with plein air gear and took the 3.5 mile trail into the lake.

I also brought up one of my recorders to play music at the lake. I was rusty and the wind off of the lake messed with the notes- but it makes for a great picture- huh.

I was able to get a pretty good start on that painting and touched it up later in the studio.

Below is the finished 12" x 9" oil entitled " The Loch"

Here we are in the act, me, Sue and Dawn (photo by Coni Grant).

When I was confined by the frigid temps this winter I decided to work up a larger painting from another view on the edge of this magnificent lake.

Below is " Threshhold to Loch Vale" and it is 24" by 30."


Some of our snow is melting now but there are still large drifts lurking in the north shadows.
Winter is still holding firm but soon we will be out in the field again- time for some spring thaw pieces.