Monday, May 30, 2011

Susan Lyon Radio Interview

I listened to this radio interview with artist Susan Lyon yesterday morning and found it quite useful. I've been following Susan's work for a couple of years and it was good to hear some of her insight. She and her husband, Scott Burdick are two of my favorite painters. Here's the link: A Conversation with Susan Lyon
It's worth a listen.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bluejay Study 5x7 acrylic

This is today's work. I'm happy :) I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday weekend. It's time to get out the grille!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're Back!!!

It's been a while since my last blog post. Seems there have been some problems with the Blogspot site for the past several weeks. Let's hope everything has been resolved!

In the meantime, I've been able to work a new painting from start to finish. This is an exciting time in my career as an artist. As I constantly think of fresh approaches to my work, the task of breaking away from my comfort zone is not an easy one. The “loose and painterly” background in this painting is something I struggle with on a regular basis. By paying close attention to my oil painting colleagues, I’ve learned a few things about making this type of brushwork look more painterly and less sloppy (as were my early efforts). It’s also a challenge to pull this off with the quick drying quality of traditional acrylic paints, so working quickly is imperative. This is also my first falcon painting and I wanted to the title to reflect the high speed potential of the fastest animal on earth. "Latent Velocity" 12x9 acrylic on board.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rainforest in PA?

There are times when the shack nasties get the best of me and I just have to go outside… rain or shine. The local woodlot where I find most of my morel mushrooms was seemed more like the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest than western Pennsylvania. I shrugged on my raingear, shouldered my camera bag, and headed for the door. As always, Otis beat me to the truck.

I never have to look far to find something interesting when I walk these trails. Today, warblers seemed to be in every tree and bush. Rose-breasted grosbeaks sang pleasantly from the upper canopy. Newts and frogs went about their business of amphibious life. If I happened to miss something, Otis the Wonder Dog was sure to point it out. I pushed the may apple aside with my walking stick hoping for a mushroom or two. I was not disappointed. Amid the jack-in-the-pulpits, trillium, and wild geraniums, morels were there for the taking. With such a short season (maybe two weeks for these larger specimens), I snatched up as many as I could find. Not bad for a couple of hours in the field. It sure would be easier if Otis didn’t need a bath every time we went for a hike J

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Osprey Bay" 10x8 acrylic on board

Since my last several paintings have been fairly large, I need to spend some time focusing on smaller paintings. “Osprey Bay” is a good start to this upcoming series of smaller works. Now that I think about it, I’ll need to work a very large commissioned piece in too. Looks like I’ll be working both large and small well into the summer.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Big Game Hunter" 16x20 oil

Commissioned by Tony Spicker of the Big Game Tackle Company and featuring one of Tony's awesome lures, this piece presented some tall challenges. I wanted explosive movement in the background and after three attempts, I think I pulled it off. There also needed to be enough "freeze-frame" detail to showcase the lure and highlight the colors of the musky's head.
I'm happy with this one and I think Tony will be too. The image will be submitted to Musky Hunter Magazine for consideration to grace the cover of a future issue.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Birds in Art 2011

It seems I’ve been on a bit of a roll lately… at least with my art. I’m very happy to announce that “Shimmer” has been selected from more than 950 entries for the 2011 Birds In Art exhibit. 583 artists from every corner of the globe applied for the honor of being included in this remarkable event. It’s impossible for me to suppress the smile on my face after receiving this news. I was especially hopeful this year as my friend, Jim Coe, will be honored with the Master Artist award and I wanted to be on hand for that!

This marks the 5th consecutive year I’ve been fortunate enough to make the cut for this prestigious event. I’m looking forward to the September Wausau journey and seeing my extended BIA family once again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is It Worth It? (a small rant)

I received email notification this week that 2 of my paintings were juried into the Small Works exhibit at the Bennington Center for the Arts in Bennington, Vermont. Of course I was thrilled to get the news, but as I read the email, I was experiencing no small amount of regret. The Bennington Center requires the art be shipped in Air Float Strong Boxes, rather than my usual wood crate (thanks for springing that on me now!). The Strong Boxes are highly protective, relatively lightweight, and ridiculously expensive. So, instead of using one of the several more than adequate crates I already have constructed (and paid for!)… well… you get the point.

Don’t assume that your precious work will be handled by professionals once it reaches its destination. Nearly half the pieces I send to exhibits are returned with at least some noticeable damage. Scratches on the painting, chipped and cracked frames… I once had a painting returned to me with a frame corner smashed flat and the frame joints broken loose. It had obviously been dropped. It’s far more likely that your work is being handled by a couple of art students who are either bored or high or both, despite the $20 “crating fee” you had to pay!

A few years back, I had 2 paintings juried into the Kentucky National Wildlife Exhibit in Henderson. I happened to be in Henderson near the end of the show and stopped in to browse the art. Some of the art was very good, some not so much, but still… it was good to actually see the venue. The art was displayed in the lobby and hallways of a building at the local college campus. There was literally no security in the building. Anyone could lift a small sculpture or take a painting off the wall and walk out the door unnoticed. I don’t expect Fort Knox, but jeez.

Therein lies the conundrum. Is it really worth it to send work to some of these exhibits? Of course the exposure is nice and being included in an exhibition like this looks good on a resume (does anyone ever look at an artist’s resume?), but the cost of crating, shipping, and insurance (don’t expect FedEx or UPS to pay up if the lose or damage your art!) can be prohibitive. There is the chance for a sale, though it’s not usually as likely as the exhibit promoters would have you believe, but then the gallery takes its 40% cut off the top of your price. Again, it’s the same feeling of elation followed by a regretful knot in your stomach as you look at the check and mentally add up what it just cost you to get to this point. Entry fee, framing, crating, shipping, insurance… suddenly you realize you’re barely breaking even! Never mind the cost of actually attending the opening of the exhibit with travel, lodging, and meals… then you’re seriously in the hole!

Happy painting J

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Morels and Leeks

After a long winter of being stuck inside working, I’ll use just about any excuse to get out when the weather is decent. So yesterday, Otis the Wonder Dog and I spent a couple of hours combing the forest floor for the first tiny morels of the year. I’ve been told by some that these little mushrooms just aren’t worth the effort. Maybe. But it’s not really all about the harvest to effort ratio. The sun was warm on my shoulders and a Carolina wren was singing nearby. A wild turkey gobbled several times from across a large field of winter wheat and made me think about the shotgun hanging on the wall at home. Every bird in the county was consumed with the chores of nesting or tending eggs. The constant chatter from our avian entourage offered pleasant background noise to the outing. Of course all this bird noise has a bigger purpose than our entertainment. The business of attracting mates and warding off rivals requires a lot of whistling and chirping. Otis sat nearby, ears forward and head cocked, taking in all the action.
With all the distractions, it takes some time to find that first morel. You find yourself slowly walking along scanning last year’s fallen leaves for any sign of a mushroom, but this simply won’t work. Remember, these mushrooms are so tiny 8 or 10 will fit on my camera’s lens cap with no trouble. The only way I’ve been able to consistently find them is to stand in one spot and visually scour the ground around me… say within 6’ or so. It’s not easy. Every muscle in your body is prodding you to take another step and your mind is telling you there are probably more and bigger mushrooms over by that stump, or out by the edge of the field, or… well… anywhere but where you have your feet glued. Sometimes it helps to kneel down and the knees of my jeans are usually damp and covered with dirt. Once I’m convinced there are no mushrooms in that spot (or more likely I just can’t stand in that spot any longer), I’ll take 2 or 3 steps and do it again. Still, that first mushroom can be very elusive and I can’t search in futility for very long before I get distracted. There is a lot to going on in the forest this time of year and every bit of it distracts from the task at hand.
With any luck, I’ll find one in the first 15 minutes or so. It gets a little easier after that. Before I pluck that first mushroom from the duff, I’ll carefully look nearby for more. There’s a distinct texture to morel mushrooms, so once I’ve found one and have a visual reference point, it seems my eye can pick out that odd little pattern with some regularity. There is almost always more than one, so a few minutes of turning over leaves can pay off. It’s not uncommon to realize I’ve been standing on a couple the whole time.
Yesterday was a good day. We got some mushrooms, even pulled a handful of wild leeks (which were devoured on the spot), and shot a few wildflower photos. Lunch is going to be spectacular!