Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Minis

"Whitetail Study" 5x7 acrylic

With the 10th annual McKeever Nature Art Show less than a week away, I've been working on some small affordable studies. See these and many more new originals at the McKeever Center in Sandy Lake, PA September 28 - 30.

"Blue Jay Study" 5x7 acrylic

Monday, September 17, 2012

Drawing... AGAIN!

I talk (and write) a lot about the importance of drawing and will likely continue to do so. I feel it's that important. A reporter asked me last week if I had any advice for aspiring artists. This was my reply: "Learn to draw and practice often. Solid drawing skills are the building blocks upon which all other artistic skills may be built. It's the one area I see consistently lacking with many of today's young artists."


I've spent the last couple of mornings doing a lot of drawing. I never tire of it. Drawing keeps me fresh and focused and I never lack for subject matter. None of these studies took more that 15 minutes. Most were less than 10. I just wanted to get the pose on paper as accurately and quickly as possible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Birds In Art 2012... Looking Back

Now that I've been home for a couple of days, I've had some time to process this most recent Birds In Art opening weekend. There is so much cool stuff that happens at the Woodson Art Museum, it takes some time for me to put it all into perspective. I've come to realize over the years just how fortunate I am to be associated with this outstanding group of people... artists, patrons, and museum personnel included!
Patrons study the BIA exhibit
For artists attending opening weekend festivities, it seems as though at least one extraordinary thing happens over the course of the weekend. Perhaps the surprise of seeing your art published on a museum promotional poster, or maybe finding out the Woodson is going to purchase your piece for the permanent collection. There is always something positive to take away from each visit. Once in a lifetime opportunities present themselves periodically over the course of a weekend, if only you have the foresight to grab onto them before they pass... like getting the chance to talk to Robert Bateman and watch his painting demonstration during the "Artists In Action" event. Seriously?! How cool is that!
Larry Barth's "Yellow-rumped
Warbler and Goldenrod"
Museum staffer, Amy Beck and I were interviewed on Friday for the local news and asked to speak on the Birds In Art event. Of course, I was a nervous wreck, but the producers edited the piece into short sound bites and I didn't sound like a complete moron. It actually turned out quite nicely. I had no idea that so many people would come up to me the next day and mention they'd seen me on the news. Thank you Amy, for asking me to participate.
Bart Rulon's "Roseate Spoonbills"
Dinner Friday evening was amazing. The meal was perfect and the conversation lively and fun. We sat with Owen Gromme's grandson David and his wife Christina. I learned a great deal about Owen and came away with a renewed appreciation for the man. A big thank you to Jane Weinke for facilitating such an entertaining evening.

Guy Coheleach and Me!
The big shot in the arm for me came when I got to meet Guy Coheleach. Guy has been one of my painting heroes for as long as I can remember and this was the first time I'd be in the same room with him. The challenge for me would be to muster the courage to approach him and start a conversation. As it turned out, my "in" would present itself in the most remarkable fashion. During "Project Postcard," the Woodson's terrific fund raising event, Guy purchased one of my donated postcard paintings. When I heard that, I just about fell over! We ended up having a wonderful conversation and I came away admiring him even more.
Kathryn Turner's "As with Breath"

There is so much to write about. In subsequent posts, I will talk about the new wing of the museum and the Owen J. Gromme exhibit currently on display there. Also, the breathtaking selection of art in the permanent collection gallery. I've got lots of photos and a stray thought or two swirling around in my head, so stay tuned.

For now, it's time to get back to painting!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Birds In Art... The Beginning

So it begins... the adventure that is Birds In Art. Last evening was the Preview Reception for the exhibit and the atmosphere was electric. There is so much to see, so many people to talk to, and so much to learn. The museum's new wing is spectacular and the collection of Owen Gromme's work made me feel as though I stood in the presence of something quite special. The works selected for display from the permanent collection were absolutely perfect and I'm looking forward to going back to take a closer look.
When we return to the museum this afternoon, it will be just the artists, so we'll get a chance to take in all the magnificent art without the usual crush of people. I think I'll take my camera along this year and hopefully post the images here later in the weekend. Stay tuned. This is just getting started.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Birds In Art 2012

It is with a great deal of anticipation I prepare for my trip to Wausau. Having the good fortune to be selected for the Woodson Art Museum's Birds In Art exhibit is and honor I don't take lightly. There are many old friends I'm looking forward to catching up with and I'm sure I'll make some new ones, too. I'll be rubbing shoulders with my contemporary heroes of wildlife art and hoping some of that brilliance sticks. This will be my 6th BIA opening and the trip has never failed to send my on my way with my head spinning. There is always a flood of new ideas knocking around in my head on the long drive home. I've learned to take a note pad and write things down as they come along.

My 2012 entry "Snow on Willow Bay"

I've always said that my first BIA exhibit was truly the launching pad for my art career. It was a Friday afternoon in early May of 2007 when I got the coveted "big envelope" that changed my world. I was driving to work and, as I always did, stopped at the post office to pick up my mail. I remember sitting in the truck trying to open the letter with my hands shaking. There was a flood of emotion as I saw "Congratulations!" in the first line. I almost didn't go to work that day, but what else was I going to do? I told the good news to a co-worker (and fellow struggling artist) that evening and mentioned how I wasn't sure if I'd go to the opening. She simply replied, "Are you out of your mind?!" Funny how those 6 words changed things for me. That was the moment I decided I had to go... even if it took my very last penny. When I look back on where I was as a painter 5 short years ago, I can't help but be stunned at the progress of my career... due in no small part to the people I met in Wausau. They helped get the ball rolling and I will be forever grateful.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Working Through it

Sitting on a hillside watching deer in a soybean field a quarter mile away, the sun began to turn the sky amazing shades of pink, orange, and purple. I knew I'd spend as much of the next hour watching the sky as I would the deer. I also knew from the photographs I shot, there would be a painting soon to follow.
block in stage
Once I decided on an 8x10 format, I began to block in the basic tones trying to get the basic shapes down as quickly and accurately as possible. There was a brief moment just before I shot this image when I considered leaving the painting like this. It actually rivals some of my plein air work and it took me less than 45 minutes to get this far. That leads me to believe I need to work faster when painting en plein air, but that's a topic to be tackled in another post.
Stage 2
I began to refine the sky working in small blocks from right to left (not that the direction matters). As the painting moved forward, it became even more appealing to me. This was one of those paints that, like a good book, I just couldn't leave it alone. I also knew it was going to need some birds... a small flock of mallards perhaps. So I painted them in at this point knowing I could move them if needed.
Stage 3
Refining the sky further and pushing the middle ground, the painting starts to give the illusion of depth. As I look at it now, I may have gone a bit dark on the treeline on the far side of the field. I can adjust that as needed later. I added two more mallards to the flock so the formation seemed a bit more believable.
Finally, moving forward in the composition, the corn field and the weeds in the foreground moved along rather quickly. Again, I see I've gone a bit dark in the foreground, so that will need to be adjusted before this piece gets a frame.
The hues in the sky have also been adjusted to add a bit more drama to the scene.
"Harvest Glow" 8x10 acrylic