Sunday, April 27, 2014

Learning to Paint Landscapes

The landscape here in upstate New York is just beginning to green. Hardly a bud on a tree, it's as bleak as November before the first snow. Everything is gray and brown and quite uninspiring. A few intrepid daffodils have managed to bloom in sunny spots but that's about it. Even the forsythia is barely a yellow haze.

I'm stall walking and anxious to get out and practice what I've been studying intensely all winter. My first plein air painting competition looms in early June and I need to "practice." The challenge is to find something beautiful amongst all this taupe. Each of the sketches below took about an hour and a half as I'm also attempting to increase my speed.

This old barn down a dirt road is flanked by corn fields with short, dead stalks. It's abandoned, used to be a horse hospital and the local farmer said it was okay to check it out. Sure enough, it's a rambling structure of rows of box stalls well-built with craft and care. Only the swifts live there now. I warmed the dead grass and exaggerated the bits of green poking through.
9"x12" oil on paper, plein air
Off to the woods to see if I can simplify an overload of information and paint more convincing rocks. In both paintings the light is overcast with the sun rarely peeking through .
12"x9" oil on paper, plein air
They're not great, but I'm learning from each one. From this sketch I realize I should choose one focal point, paint it clearly and then treat everything else as minor supporting elements. As you can see, I'm still wearing my down vest. This will go down as the year of no spring.

Colorfully yours,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thoroughbreds & Race Tracks

This past weekend Michael helped a friend with a recently rescued thoroughbred off the track. The angel lady who brought him to her farm was a bit intimidated by, let's say, his spirited behavior. While showering him with kindness and not wanting to be aggressive toward him in any manner, the horse was taking advantage and needed a bit of tough love. I understood her stance. Who will ever know this horse's entire story? Everyone wants to practice natural horsemanship but the race track demands a totally different protocol.

After Michael established some boundaries and a few rules, the two bonded quickly. This horse is an intelligent athlete with an inquisitive sense of curiosity. Thoroughbreds are different, even the ones who never step on a race track.

I thought his injuries would be much worse. While needing time to rest and heal, this horse can be retrained for another career. How fantastic to know this story will conclude into a potentially happy ending. I have lots of opinions about the role of race horse owners and the humane responsibility they should practice but I'll save it for another post. Our friend is a wonderful, kind-hearted caretaker who will do the very best she can for this beautiful animal. Ironically, she told me that years ago she had joined PETA and now considers the organization "violent and radical." Huh.

Hats to this critter,

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Polo Ponies, Mallets and a White Ball

I've recently completed this year's program cover for the Polo by Twilight event to benefit the Palamountain Scholarship of Skidmore College. Taking place on Tuesday, July 22nd this summer at the Saratoga Polo Grounds, I'll post more information as it becomes available and websites are updated.

Stomping the divots,

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

How I Spend My Time

In the studio, actually.

As an artist who makes a living with her artwork, I spend the lion share of my time in the studio painting. I put in long days because I love what I do. Time spent on social media and other computer time wasters take a back seat to my work ethic and I'm okay with that.

It was no surprise when Michael showed me this article on the Time website reporting Facebook's change in policy. Paid advertising has minimal returns for artists and that seems to be where Facebook is steering us. I've posted my opinion regarding social media in the recent past and you can read about it here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Facebook or any other platform, I'm just busy making the work to sell. Now that my reach to "fans" on Facebook has decreased due to no fault of mine, it's a relief. Goodbye to the nagging guilt that I'm not "working it" thoroughly and covering all bases with my marketing efforts. However, I do have my antennae tuned to opportunities that often come my way from the most unexpected sources and that's where stuff happens.

If I conduct a search on Facebook of whom I consider to be some of the top artists that I admire, it seems they don't spend an inordinate amount of time there and that's if they've even signed up at all. So, how do they get famous and well regarded by so many? I don't have the answers but I suspect it has something to do with working, studying and concentrating on creating the best, most beautiful and meaningful artwork they can.

It was a lovely, sunny day and my first chance of the year to get outside and paint. A quick sketch:
7"x9" on canvas paper plein air
Don't poke me,

Friday, April 04, 2014

A Creek Runs Through It

Attempting to get outside and paint from life is still a challenge here in upstate New York. The weather has improved temperature-wise but there's still the wind and the frequent bone-chilling rains. So, I painted this little sketch in the studio from a photograph. It's the creek that runs through the property we rented on a rare sunny day before the thaw. I painted it on Arches paper for oils purchased just for plein air studies. So here's the conundrum that most artists face and is always a head shaker: freed from the investment of an expensive stretched canvas, painting on paper or canvas paper invites lively experimentation. The pressure to produce a serious painting is lifted and the sketch becomes a simplified romp of expression. The question is how to transfer this impromptu joy and elation to the larger costly canvas?

Creek, 9"x12" oil on paper
Fun in the north,