Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Plein Air Painting Demo

Went to my meeting for the Mid American Pastel Society this evening in Prairie Village, Kansas. My friend, Gary Ozias gave a demonstration of painting "en plein air". As I have stated previously, he is an avid outdoor painter.
Here is his backpack - weighs about 20-30 pounds depending on whether he is packing oil paints or pastels - pastels weigh more. He was giving this presentation to show others what to take into the field and offer some do's and don't's for painting outside. Then he moved onto actually doing a pastel landscape.


I listened and observed carefully, as he has a really nice method
of doing trees and skies and sky holes.


His painting demo was a big hit and
everyone was very interested in his pastels and his painting.
As you can see, it was a nice one!



Way to go - Gary! Thanks for a super view into "how it's done"! Now I wish I had brought my pastels with me. I am psyched. Hey, I know...my sister-in-law who lives here, has some in her kitchen drawer. She uses them to write on the little chalkboard of one of her "chef" dolls in the kitchen.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Breeze into KC/Memorial Day travel

Visiting my family in KC. Had dinner at my brother and his wife's last night. It's raining here, too. Boy what a wet May time! I am happy to report - the world of Kansas is very green!

Mom and Dad watching a pool game.


This is bro - we had him laughing taking simultaneous photos of him shooting pool.
I filled up at the gas pump leaving town, didn't look at the price, didn't get a receipt on purpose, because I was coming - no matter what!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

Oh - faithful companion - look out onto the world.
Assess if it's safe..assess if it's wild.
Your keen senses tell beyond what I comprehend.
What scents are on the wind, what sounds are on the rise?
Be forever watchful, be forever wise.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. If you would like to also post this subject, please let me know. There are several of us (see my sidebar) and we would love to add your blog to our list.
Be sure to check out my "sketch" blog here.

Another Helping of That

First, take a look at my additional sketching blog.
Click on "That Sketchy Feeling" in the sidebar.

Second, we had more t-storms, tornado warnings and high wind last evening. This morning we woke up to see the water OVER the bridge. To the left of the guardrail, there is about a 10 foot drop off, where the cattle used to be...they have been moved. The horse got cornered on a little island of land, in the corner of this fenced pasture/corral. He seemed to be OK, although remembering the violence of the wind and rain, I feel he needs a shelter for the next round.
All we could do last night was listen to the scanner, stand at the back door and listen, cause at night, you can't see anything until the lightning strikes...and that is only a quick flash to scan the sky. It was a little dizzying when the yard light would go out from the lightning and it was pitch dark, very eerie. This morning we took a trip to the corn field to see if any seeds were floating out of their little beds, and didn't see any. Hubster made the ground pretty level in his prep. Luckily - all the systems we have in place to survive these things are working..it just makes for little sleep.
No trip today. I am staying here until we get less severe weather. It's a lot to go through on your own.

Friday, May 23, 2008

NO FISHING

As some of you know, yesterday afternoon's news from Colorado was there was a devastating tornado in the Windsor/Greeley area. Usually what happens in that part of Colorado - does NOT stay in that part of Colorado, it moves eastward. It did. Strong thunderstorms developed west of us, encroaching into Kansas and Nebraska. We were on alert, as large "rotating" systems were on the rise. Hey, we live in the middle of Kansas! Actually another storm system was creeping up from the south. It was slipping ever so slightly towards us, with reports of large hail, strong winds and tornadic activity. Please know that it is almost the anniversary of the storm that nearly took us away last year. So, we were a little schizo. The storm made it's way into Nebraska, with a prediction that it would leave heavy rains here, starting at midnight. Midnight it was! Makes for difficult time sleeping.
By this morning, it was still raining. And the light show, was unbelievable!
Yesterday, we planted a large pole into the bottom of the dry pond and painted stripes on it at 1 foot, 2 feet and 3 feet, then there was the top of the pole. By 10 AM this morning, the pole was submerged...you couldn't see it at all. Here are some photos of the flooding that has happened.
First - the crop fields to the west of us have been realigning their "run off" pattern.
This area is usually dry. Next, you can now watch a good sized creek running along the tree line toward the pond.

The trouble for us now, is that there is no culvert to allow the water to flow from the pond to across Ticky Road and on through the woods to the creek.
This is the pond, the next photo is the overflow across the road.


The creek has overflowed, also. If you look here, at the last photo in that post, you can see what it looked like before the flooding happened.

The water is up to the bottom of the bridge.

and this is how saturated the ground is.

My garden is floating. We can't get up to the corn to see it, cause the road is full of rushing water at the pond. And...there is more predicted for later today and tonight. I was going to KC today, but postponed my travel for at least today.
So, the sign says this -

and we need to add - "no fishing". I think all you would find are toads or snakes anyway!

Plein Air Painting

When artists go outside and paint the outdoors by standing at their easel with their paints or pastels and looking at the landscape or scenery, it is called "en plein air" (in the open air) painting. There are many groups around the world that are formed by members who are artists who enjoy the benefits of working from life outdoors.
You have to be quick. The light changes very fast. Just like - you wouldn't expect to take great photos at noon - the sun and lack of shadows leave a lot to be desired in the contrast area, the same goes for the views you are painting. You also need to paint small, because you have to get the view down quickly and the other, sometimes the wind comes up. Can't you just see the artist flying through "en plein air"? You could here - most days!
One of my artist friends in Downs, Gary Ozias, paints outdoors a lot. He promises to call me soon, so a bunch of us can get together some day and together "attack" the countryside. At our monthly MAPS meeting in KC this month, he will give a presentation on the subject. He IS "Mr. Plein Air". Another painter I admire is Montana artist, Deb Schmit, who some days paints with her friends and colleagues "en plein air".
While reading some of the posts on Charley Parker's lines and colors blog, I came across an artist, Daniel Hauben, who paints on the streets of the Bronx. I hope you will read about his experience when painting a Superette. I got such a laugh from it.
How many of you practice your art "en plein air"?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rough Night


"Rough Night" - 6" x 8" oil on canvasboard
Continuing to practice getting the skintones right, with oil paint. This is just a practice piece. You may recognize her, it's my stepdaughter that I did a pastel of here. This source was a cell phone photo. So why do I keep choosing these photos that aren't helping me much? Don't know. It must be the part of me that requires challenges a little beyond the norm when it comes to doing just about anything. I am just that way with (especially) art. If I had my way - and the materials - I would be doing 'wall sized' people - the size of what Denny Dent's Art Attack did here. Saw him at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver years ago, and it was one of those memorable, life changing events. He painted Bruce Springsteen or maybe it was Bob Dylan and John Lennon on canvas as big as billboards. He died at the age of 55, in 2004. You can see his performance art pieces here.
The way the painting above came out, it reminded me of him.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How Long You Been Farmin'?

That's what we ask each other from time to time. Today we planted our sweet corn in about a quarter of an acre. 10 rows of peaches and cream and 13 rows of kandy corn - that's what they are called...yummmm. We will put up an electric fence to keep the critters at bay. The sooner we get it up the sooner they will learn it is there and start avoiding the area, and then maybe we will have corn to eat in August/September/October. What we don't eat or give away or sell (if it works out), we will freeze.
We borrowed a 'walking' seed planter. It worked OK, but was kind of frustrating in that it didn't have a good row measurer. But the rows are fairly straight and we are (probably for the first time) praying for rain. It is supposed to rain off and on the next few days.

Here is hubster using the seed planter. He had to straddle the row as he moved the planter along. We engineered a row measure, but it kept hanging up in the dirt.

This is me - showing you the BBBIIIGGG area that we planted today. I also planted some more items in my littler garden...carrots, scallions, green beans and some yellow squash. That garden will be full of veggies - very soon! My herbs are growing and we have about 5 tomatoes on the vine already.

The Hide Away


"The Hide Away" - 6" x 12" oil on stretched canvas
If you have ever been to Rocky Mountain National Park and stayed at the 'Timber Creek' campground, you know that in 'rutting' season, the elk 'bugle' in the meadow. If you are really quiet, you can sneak through the brush and steal a few close-ups of them as they move through the area. Unless they are out in the open, they can be quite elusive. They are the coolest animals! Camouflaged well in the fall brush, the way nature takes care of them, unless the sun is shining brightly on them through the trees, like it was when I snapped this photo. The bulls are very large and very protective of their harem, so you have to be careful. The bull is not in this painting, but he was near by, you can bet. We always feel like we are on 'wild safari' when we try to photo them. One time, while crossing a little creek on a 'hunt' for that 'Kodak moment', I fell into the creek, backwards. Hubster got quite a laugh out of that! I guess I laughed later...ha.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hey Good Lookin'

"Hey Good Lookin'" 6" x 6" oil on canvasboard
This is actually the subject I am most comfortable with - animals! Cows are interesting looking critters, don't you think???? I had a great photo of this one, although I can walk across the road and look at them - anytime. I often do...and if you stand near where they are fed, they will get REEEAALLL close to you and stare you in the face with their big dark eyes (snot rolling out of their noses and mouths). Ha! This one is ready for a big kiss!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Iris


"Iris" - 6" x 8" oil on canvasboard
It seems to me this subject is overdone, though I have never tried to paint one, until yesterday. My friend let me use a wonderful photo he took. They aren't as easy as they look. I tried to stay loose and painterly and was unable to capture the translucent appearance of some of the petals. Lots of my colors seemed muddy as I completed it. I think if I don't stay with it, I take a few back steps, especially with oil painting, and this last week I was summoned to work on the necessities in life. Stay tuned for tomorrow's painting.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY!!



Today is my one year "blogiversary"! Yeah!!!!!

My blog was started to keep my friends and family up-to-date on what is happening here in the middle of nowhere; and to showcase my art and write about what it is like to be an artist living where I live.

It's a really good way to keep an ongoing journal of your life, I have found. I have some dedicated readers and have met some amazing people and made great friends through my efforts to blog.

My blog has logged 6511 'page views' and 3406 visitors from all over the world. I have posted to this blog 209 days and included 66 photos of my artwork. Right now, 81% of the traffic/lookers/readers that comes through my blog is from the United States. I'm still learning how to interpret the stats, which was explained 'a very important' part of this for marketing artists.

Probably the biggest impact made on 'visits' within the last year that increased traffic and recognition (not that that was my goal, but it's kind of exciting when it happens), was attending the Daily Painter's Workshop, in Austin, Texas with Carol Marine and Karin Jurick and writing about it, networking with the other artists and painting EVERY single day - when I can. I am now known to occasionally attempt to create a topic - and see if traffic increases. It's sort of an experiment in psych. Another great time spender I am involved in is reading others' blogs. It's my daily reading in place of the newspaper. (Although I do get a Sunday and Monday Kansas City Star from mom and dad.)

I would like to encourage you to blog, if you aren't. It is NOT hard. It keeps you thinking, allows creativity and it liberates you into the big wide neighborhood of others - who do the same. You should blog especially if you have something to say, a position to take, a gripe, some news, a life that needs to be shared with others, a craft or an art, travel....the sky is the limit!

Now - onward to Where I Stand Sunday...

I spent most of the day Saturday, getting plants and seeds in the ground in the vegetable garden. It seems I am a little late, but all the same, they will have a nice long growing season.
This little strawberry plant, if it makes it past the bunnies and birds, will multiply and provide us with some juicy red berries!
I suppose many more than usual, are planting their gardens this year...
due to the high cost of grocery food.




WE will have zucchini, yellow squash, little pumpkins, hot peppers and bell peppers, sunflowers and lavender in this space.




Here is a view of the acreage we just
mowed the last few days. Yes, it takes a few days to mow it.

Took this photo last night, if you look closely or enlarge it, you can see a cat on the fringe of the grass, beneath the left tree. She is the momma cat that lives at the farm across the road. Every night she comes along the tree line, looking for little critters, and tonight I watched this great hunter catch a mouse in that very spot.
Here is another view of that part of our property, I think it is so pretty after it is mowed.

But, even that is becoming a question...the high price of gassing up the equipment - does the mowing and making it so pretty (about 5 - 6 acres) warrant the cost?
We think so!
Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. If you would like to also post this subject, please let me know. There are several of us (see my sidebar) and we would love to add your blog to our list.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No Chimney for Old Men

or Women!! (read the title again). Today was spent preparing to demo the chimney box in the wall of the kitchen so we can begin to remodel the kitchen. When we had the roof redone, we had the workers take the 100+ year old brick chimney down to the roofline. We should have had them demo the stuff in the attic, but noooooo....we were kicking ourselves - all the way up to today.
Here is the chimney box in the kitchen.

I know - tacky paint job..done by previous owner. BTW we painted the living room yesterday. It looks so good.


Then hubster - grand engineer that he is - created a ramp so we could move the bricks from the attic to the ground outside the bathroom window.

Then I stood on a ladder outside the bathroom window, which doesn't open all the way, because it hits the rain gutter...

and then catching the bricks and making sure they don't pummel through the window panes on the half-opened window...

and finally tossing them (hught..phew) over my shoulder to a pile away from the side of the house, so as not to goudge the paint on the outside of the house that we just finished in the fall.

Hubster had an equally - if not more tasking job, up there in the dark attic...but the brick chimney is down to below the ceiling joists, so now we can continue to demo the wall from inside. A large cabinet will go up against that wall in the first photo, so it had to be done.
No art, but Palette Club meeting tonight, near Cawker City. Will be able to see my artist friends. Yeah!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oodles and oodles of Paint

Somedays, I feel like I am just pushing paint around on the canvas. Today is that way. This canvas is 11 x 14 and these tiny faces are giving me fits. They are barely a likeness, which always frustrates me, as that is my BIG thing - get a likeness and the world is a good place! I also see the curtains (mom made those I think) don't follow a straight line continuously behind my aunt...that really bugs me!

I'll bet I have painted and taken them off - 10 times. I am not going there anymore, gonna work with what I have done. Then, I get that -"oh, there's a lot of this color on my palette, just put it on the canvas and fill it up, push it around." Don't do that.

My intention was to do a value study, got to the faces and had to go with color, cause I was having trouble by not using white, it was too small of an area, so it turned into a full color painting. This one may get off the easel temporarily and make way for a larger piece for now. Then once all that gummy thick paint has dried, I will return to it. Some artists say never do that, they like to paint while it's wet. Sometimes I don't return to it. We'll see. This one just doesn't look the same through the camera viewfinder as it does in real life, either. So, there you have it, I have ranted long enough about it. This artist perseverates and endures - a lot of the time.

The subjects are my Aunt Gwen and Uncle Harold at a New Year's Eve party at our house in 1961. My parents had one every year in the unfinished basement. They would spread cornmeal on the floor and dance to music like Benny Goodman and big band music like that. My mom had lots of 78 (?) speed records. Hubster is always amazed when I know the words or the tune to some old 40's tune, but hey, I grew up with that!

My aunt passed away in March (I think it was) and my uncle soon after. Our families spent lots of time together when I was little. I have many fond memories of them.

While I was painting yesterday, in between strokes I think, we got a seat recovered for the old 1950 Chevy truck we have. Hubster repainted the frame and we fixed the 'spring' frame and recovered it with a new cover. Now he is trying to figure out how the pully system underneath the seat works, so you can move the seat forward or backward and lock it in. They just don't write very good instructions in some manuals we have found. Also, he finally has the brakes figured out, new master cylinders or rebuilt ones, something like that and they work! No brake fluid leaking out and brakes holding the air they need. Good thing, cause this truck is really heavy! We are such do-it-yourselfers. I even took it for a little spin today. Reminded me of when I learned to drive on my Grandpa's farm when we visited...I got to drive the tractors (very simple) and once in awhile the truck. The steering wheel is a handful, and the old engine roars in a sort of purr. Ha!

Now we are going out to the vegetable garden to make it bigger for this year and to 'till' the ground and add some manure. Know you wanted to hear about that!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Preliminary Sketch and Rough-In

Sounds like I am building something. However, as I continue with the series of art from 1950-60 black and white photos, I needed to plan my next painting out. I was taking a somewhat square photo and pushing it into a rectangular canvas, so I needed to do little rearrangement. This is just a rough sketch that is guiding me with the location of the figures and their relative size. I will tell about the figures in this painting when I am done. I am attempting to use olive green and burnt umber as a value study as Karin Jurick did - see her blog. I could add color to this one, but it is fairly dark anyway, so I chose to use a more or less monochromatic palette.
Check back to see how this one turns out.

At the primitive stage, but on it's way!

Where I Stand Sunday

Here I stand over one of my tomato plants that I just uncovered.
A seed gives a hope and a promise,
A plant asks for guidance and care,
A gardener vigilantly offers all.

Extreme wind last night and VERY cold. We put Wallo Waters around our tomato plants a few days ago, as we know what happens here to those early plants you put out. You take your chance of hail or cold. Both have occurred. We put towels over them and clothes pinned them to the cages, but I noticed that this plant was a little frosty on the leaves at the top. There was no frost, but the cold froze the wet towel. It was so windy, we thought that plastic bags would have been ripped to shreds and gone before morning. Our little house was "crying" in the wind last night, hubster said. That sounds sad, doesn't it?
But today brings a new day and no wind or rain!

and to my mom...and if you ARE a mom (of a child or another human - man or woman - or an animal).....
Happy Mother's Day!!

"Where I Stand Sunday" is posted weekly. It helps chronicle the "journey". Too often we take for granted where we stand and where we are involved. If you would like to join in on your blog, please leave a comment below with your blog address and we (the others who are also involved in posting about it, see my sidebar) will note it in our sidebar! Thanks for looking!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lunchbreak at Deutsche Bank Plaza

"Lunch Proposal" - 14" x 18" image size, pastel on Canson paper

Had some time today to finish the larger pastel "peoplescape" I was working on a few days ago. It measures 14 x 18 and will be framed in a 18 x 24 frame. I enjoyed working over time for many sittings and tweaking the figures to achieve the intense light and the shadows from the trees overhead.
It's raining pretty good here now, the winds are really supposed to pick up. Oh boy! The storm door is leaking, and it is a good storm door. We may have the glass in, top to bottom incorrectly. Have to wait til it stops raining, I guess. How come some days nothing seems to work the way it's supposed to? GRRRRR....



Friday, May 9, 2008

Artistry in All Things

Today was another "non-painting" day, but there was other art happening. The art of installing a new storm door, which we have had since our home repairs from the storms last year at this time, but never installed cause we had sooooo much other stuff to do. So since the rain (which is almost a daily) sorta beats against the new entry door, we thought we had better get the storm door in - it's called a 'storm door' ya know.
We also chased neighbors cows, fixed fences and went to town - had lunch at the cafe on the highway and met a waitress named Ludean - she said like after the cough drops (like Luden's). She is from Missouri. I know some of you that read this will relate to that name! No offense intended -BTW.


Here is the new door, with Bailey, the weimaraner, looking out. I can see we are needing to get one of those nifty grates to protect the screen if the glass is open. There are always rabbits in the yard, which he finds terrifically fun!

Also, you see in this part of the country, usually one door on the house is not used, and this is that door. We may put in a deck at one point in the near millennium. Of course that would be very 'Colorado like'.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Day Without Art

Well, it happens to everyone. Had to take a day off - without being able to paint or draw - to take care of the lawn in town (and I must say - it looks so much better all groomed and cleaned up) and then upon returning to the farmstead, with the mowers - still smokin' - had to do some mowing here. I swear - you can watch the grass grow. It's cooler tonight than it has been.
Got a recipe for "cashew chicken" out of one of my daughter's Everyday Food magazines, made it for supper tonight and was it ever good! So we had our Chinese fix, right here in the middle of nowhere! Hubster found one of my favorite things on his trip to Denver, banana popsicles! Love those things!
So, maybe I will get back to my pastel tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Stopping Point

This is as far as I am going today.

The shadow in the top right is my nifty easel light.

Dogs and I took mile walk up the road, yes, I had all three on a leash. If Cesar, on Dog Whisperer can do it, so can I. It was ok, til we rounded the driveway onto the road and Chaco thought he would like to attack a cow that was along the fence. Then everyone became a little unruly. But when we got back, everyone crashed so I could carry on without going to the door a hundred times an hour.
We need to do more of that - for all of us!

BTW - Happy Cinco de Mayo!! I miss being in the city where you can get to a cool Mexican restaurant and celebrate!

On the Easel

Today, I am back in the kitchen, was outside for awhile, then it got too breezy for the easel. Working on a pastel of 4 figures. Glad I stepped back, cause I see a problem with the two reader's legs, they are too short. I am working on Canson paper, not my favorite, but the biggest surface I have, and I needed a large surface for this one.

I am working from a photo that I took in NYC near the MOMA. It was lunchtime and I felt like I was in a candy store with the number of possibilities of "Kodak Moments".
Check back for progress tomorrow.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Two Paintings a Day

One more for today, eh? I AM practicing and practicing portrait painting these days, as I really want to step it up a notch or two.
My husband still has his passport photo from when he was in his early 20's. Ah, the early 70's! (I must confess, I have loved this face for an eternity!) Since I had done the old photo of mom and I had enlarged hubster's photo and it was the next one in the pile, I chose to do it. Again, changing a black and white photo into a colored one. And I changed the stark white background...ugh! Talk about "mug shot"! Gotta love those eyeglasses!

"Going Abroad" - 6" x 6" oil on canvasboard

And again, the photograph of this one turned out not exactly what it looks like in real life, I think it's the incandescent light - and because of that I am quitting for tonight...the colors I am seeing at the easel, aren't true. Stuff is going back to the studio.

A Painting for Today

...and maybe more to come. While in KC got into the family photo albums. Took some memorable black and whites and thought of doing a series of them. Here is the first.

"Mom on Vacation" - 6" x 6" oil on canvas panel
There is a little glare on the surface of the canvas and it makes it look like the canvas isn't covered, but it is. Hm.
Thanks for the pose, Mom! I'm sure many kids have had to wonder - what did mom and dad do on vacation? Often the photos would come back - little tiny figures in the background, with the added inability and frustration of making out what was going on. My favorites are the close-ups. This photo was in the really bright sun, my Nikon would have not liked it, but the Brownie didn't seem to care! It's always fun to add color to what is in black and white. Amazingly these shades have made a comeback over time. Ha!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Oil Portrait and Where I Stand....

Because it's so relevant and it's where I will be tomorrow, I am including my "Where I Stand Sunday" - only the photo was taken today(Saturday) and it will look the same tomorrow. I stand in my kitchen - painting stuff brought in from the studio, and I am spread out on the kitchen table. Here I can stay all night if I want to. I think I am on a roll.

I copied a photograph of my daughter Jessica, and wanted it to be the first one I attempted when I returned from NYC. It was tricky, I am used to painting with larger brushes now, my hand isn't as steady as it used to be and I am just more "painterly" in my approach. So, I probably redid the eye about 5 times, before I was satisfied with it.

"Last Chance Hair" - 12" x 12" oil on canvas

Friday, May 2, 2008

Back Home

I'm back. Been in Brooklyn, N. Y. Had a great time visiting my daughter and her family! This is a 3 generation photo, we will catch mom in the picture to make it 4 generation - in July.
My granddaughter had a good-sized skin tag removed from her nose surgically, yesterday (after I had to leave, sniff-sniff) and is doing fine. She will need rhino-reconstructive surgery when she gets a little older.
I am anxious to get back to the studio, I have so many ideas in my head!
"iffy" weather happening. Lots of wind and bad storms and predicted for the next few days. Yuck!
Got a notice from the CITY govt., to MOW the lawn at our house in town. Geesh! I think about half the town just mowed for the first time in the last few days and half the town hasn't mowed and had better have gotten the same threatening letter like we did. This is in a town where they allowed a building to lay in rubble for almost a year on Main Street. I checked the lawn on the way home from KC, and it isn't even that bad, maybe just above the ankle?? There is something to be said about owning property in a little town and how this little town views the "newcomers"..it's not often with open arms and a kiss on each cheek. Ha! In the meantime, I am rethinking the 'gallery' idea....
And that's today's life in the middle of nowhere for this artist!