Monday, January 31, 2011

"Spring House" 15x23 acrylic

With my focus on smaller works over the past few months, it feels good to complete something a little larger and more complex. I happened upon this scene while hunting mushrooms last spring and knew it would be the inspiration for a future painting. The old forgotten spring house carved into a steep hillside had so much character and mystery, I'll likely go back again this spring to investigate a bit more.
There's a lot going on in the composition, so it was a huge undertaking. I spent a lot of time strategically adding and subtracting leaves to help round out the structure of the painting and keep the viewer's eye pleasantly drifting from one element to the next. The stars of the show are a pair of golden-crowned kinglets. They're quite common throughout most of the eastern United State, but so small and secretive, most folks have never seen one.
This year's Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is just over two weeks away and this is the final addition to my show inventory. I'll have more than 20 new originals for my visit to Charleston, so stop in and say hello. There are dozens of skilled painters and sculptors on hand and the atmosphere is light and friendly. I'm really looking forward to it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The History of Wausau, Wisconsin

For the past few years, I've been fortunate to have my work selected for the Birds In Art exhibit at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau. It's truly amazing just how competitive it is to secure a spot in this prestigious show. After my first visit to Wausau, I remarked to a fellow artist, "I could live in a city like this." What makes this charming Midwestern city so special? For the answer to that question, visit this video link and watch an outstanding PBS video production. If you really pay attention, you may even spot a brief appearance by yours truly! It's nearly an hour long, but worth every second.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bigger Projects and Looming Deadlines

With the temperature outside hovering near 0°F, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition looms on the horizon and I'm working at a fevered pitch. My inventory of original paintings is swelling and I just need one or two more to round it out. Those additional pieces need to be completed soon, as there is framing to choose and title plates to order... each taking a couple of weeks. The deadline for Birds In Art is also just a couple of months away, so my current work is with that exhibit in mind as well. These are good days to stay indoors and paint, though my spirit (as well as Otis the Wonder Dog) craves some time outside. Winter got an early start this year and hasn't given us much of a break here in western Pennsylvania, so bouts with the shack nasties (a.k.a. cabin fever) may also be as rough as the weather.

Today, I have a painting ("Abandoned Spring House") on the easel I've been working on sporadically for several months. It's 15x23, fairly large relative to many of my recent projects. It's also very complicated. I'm making good progress and I hope to have it completed soon... but some paintings have a mind of their own. We shall see...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Magazine Cover

"Uninvited Guest" appears on the cover of Musky Hunter Magazine's February/March issue. When I was working on this painting, my mind kept wandering back to childhood fishing excursions. If you've ever had a bluegill stolen from your line by a bigger fish, it's not something you soon forget. The joy of a panfish tug soon turns to wide-eyed panic as you helplessly watch line peel from your reel. If you're lucky enough to get a look at the toothy marauder, the image of those evil eyes will stay with you for the rest of your fishing days.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Sundown"... Revised

Shortly after my last post, I realized something wasn't quite right about the painting. I had been very careful in manipulating the rhythms of the waves to gently guide the viewer's eye to the loon. The stark left to right direction of the loon's path just wasn't working along with these patterns, so a quick fix was in order.
The loon swimming off into the sunset relieves some of the tension created by the left to right movement in the first attempt. This also creates a bit of interaction between these two points of interest, whereas before, there was none.
Finally, I felt the loon needed to be slightly larger. It just seemed smallish. Loons are very large birds and the previous version seemed a bit delicate for my liking. In any case, problems have been corrected and this one is ready for a frame.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Sundown" 9x12 acrylic

This was certainly one of the more challenging pieces I've worked on lately. Accurately replicating the colors of the sky made my head hurt! The complementary blues and oranges seem to work quite well together. I truly hope the next painting I work on of this size comes together with a little less resistance.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fullfilment in a Day's Work

To take paint, brush, and canvas and make something beautiful... in a sense, creating something from nothing. That's what I do. And it fills me with a quiet sense of pride and satisfaction like nothing else. In that way, I guess there is a bit of magic in my art (there's certainly no "magic" in the process of creating it). The feeling is addictive and at the end of the day, when I step back from the easel to assess what I've accomplished, it's that beaming sensation of fulfilment I'm hoping for... and it doesn't happen every time.
I know I'm not alone. Many people who work with their hands realize similar sensations. There is a moment during critical self-appraisal when an involuntary smile can't be suppressed and one realizes they've met or surpasses all expectations. The quest for that happiness each day soon turns into weeks and then months of work to be proud of. A lifetime of such realizing such self-imposed high standards leaves behind a legacy forged on the achievement's of one's own determination.
I had one of those moments today. It was a good way to start the new year. "Blackwater Marsh" is 10x8 (acrylic).