Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Seeing the Light

It's one of those breakthrough pieces. After almost a year filled with intense self-study, dots are beginning to connect at last as I finally make sense of many, many hours pouring over numerous landscape books and analyzing paintings of artists I admire.
Walking Bridge, 11"x14", oil on canvas

What's important is that I now enjoy painting landscapes. A short few years ago I could never envision it. I'm not kidding myself though - I'm entering the domain of well-seasoned, experienced artists who have dedicated their careers to producing great paintings solely of landscape. It's a vast, wide open field (no pun intended). From genre to mainstream here I go.

In addition to the huge amount of time spent reading, looking (and seeing), listening to pod casts, watching art DVD's, picking the brains of my fellow artists and visiting exhibits, I also made a few color charts.
The chart at the top is my basic palette with a couple of colors added that I don't often use (phthalos). The bottom three are the yellows which are cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow medium and yellow ochre. The yellow charts were incredibly instrumental to help me get a handle on mixing greens and I refer to them often. My blues are ultramarine, cobalt and sometimes phthalo blue. My tube green is viridian and sometimes phthalo green. The extent of prior application of greens to my paintings were limited to jockey silks and an occasional turf course. Needless to say, earth tones figure dominantly on my palette.

Next week is my first plein air competition in Canadaigua, New York. Am I nervous? Uh-huh, you bet however I'm excited as well. Most artists are willing to share information (as moi) and I view this event as a grand learning experience.

With sunscreen and bug spray,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

First Road Trip of the Year

It's a long drive. We followed a new route that shot due west to Buffalo and down through Ohio into Kentucky. I'm often asked how I can stand the boredom of mile after mile of repetitive scenery. Truth is, my mind empties thereby clearing the deck for fresh ideas. Some of my best epiphanies are born of pleasant languor.

High Hope Steeplechase took last year off which some suggested was a detriment to this year's attendance. I can't say. There were fresh faces among the organizers and the event hummed with efficiency. Weather was perfect. Kentucky Horse Park is a remarkable place to be, regardless of what's happening.

I'm grateful that they used my artwork on the cover of the program. Although I was puzzled at the choice of a horizontal piece for a vertical format, the result was more than satisfying. I think it's grand:

Home is where my suitcase is. I like that.

Your gypsy,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

After a year hiatus, the High Hope Steeplechase returns to the legendary Kentucky Horse Park. This is the first of a few planned shows that have us shaking off the dust on the grid walls as we make the anticipated road trip to Blue Grass Country. Oh man, am I ever ready!
Clearing, giclee on gallery-wrapped canvas, 22"x26
The event is this coming Sunday, May 18th. Gates open at 11:00. There are lots of activities to partake in and tailgating is always the best way to make new friends. And of course, there's the jump races. This time of year the mid-west weather can be unpredictable and volatile but the sun god (and cooler weather) is smiling on us so far.

Did I mention that my artwork will grace the program cover? If you're not in Baltimore watching Chrome win the Preakness and happen to be in Kentucky on Sunday, please stop by my booth in the Vendor Village and say hi. I'll be bringing Secretariat with me and you really have to see him in person to savor the vibrant color. We'll be taking orders for giclee reproductions that are now available.
Secretariat, oil on canvas, 24"x36"
If there's anything in particular that you'd like me to bring, please let me know soon. There's room in the van.

Road trip!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Small and Even Smaller

With my equine painting, particularly racing, I possess a compulsion to experiment and infuse my subject with movement by summoning every swashbuckling brushstroke I can muster. It's a drive that's so strong that I've often felt the effects physically. Yes, I can give myself a headache with overwrought obsessiveness. The intended outcome is always just out of reach, never quite attainable, the results never satisfactory and that's okay. I suppose it's that desire to communicate a feeling that supports an eternal prowling like a hungry predator.

It's a challenge to transfer this passion to my landscape painting, most likely because I've returned to the rules of basic elements. For now, I'm giving myself permission to practice, investigate and most of all to just play and see what can be.

Here are a couple of small equine pieces I produced last week. You can see the vacillation occurring as I switch from one very familiar thought process to a new one. The challenge is to merge the two into a cohesive approach to a decent painting - whatever the subject.
Galloping Out of the Fog, 11"x14" oil on canvas
Backlit, 11"x14" oil on canvas
This tiny panel sample has been kicking around my studio for months. In honor of the Kentucky Derby, why not dive out of the box and paint something miniscule? Remember, I'm accustomed to painting ten foot canvases. I had to locate my magnifying glass to sign it!
California Chrome, 3"x5" oil on panel
Far-sightedly yours,