Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"First Light" - a Christmas Painting

Otis the Wonder Dog and I were up early this Christmas morning. He had puppy toys to unwrap and I had a painting to finish. With the floor covered in bouncy noisy toys and shredded wrapping paper (Otis' favorite part), he finally had enough Christmas fun for the morning and climbed up on the couch for a nap.
"First Light" 12x18 acrylic

With a small block of uninterrupted easel time ahead, I put out some new paint and dove in. This frozen winter landscape has been getting the bulk of my attention for about a week. I was a bit unsure about whether or not to put the whitetail in the painting. I considered a great-horned owl or a northern harrier. I also considered leaving it a pure landscape with no critters at all (my recent work seems to be leaning that way). In the end, I opted for the feeding buck, wanting to keep the quiet, early morning feel in the painting. The head-down attitude of the buck and pushing him back into the middleground of the painting helps give the painting calm and relaxed mood.
Two hours after I smeared in my first blob of paint, it was finished. I had not planned to get this far today, so it's a nice Christmas surprise to have it listed as "complete".
Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


"Foxy" 5x7 acrylic
Starting the push toward SEWE... less than 2 months to go!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tall Grass - Part 2, The Gathering

It seems like a lifetime ago when I took a bearing and set sail on my career as a painter, pushing aside my "regular" job (or getting fired to put it bluntly) to focus on my "real" job. As with any extended voyage, there have been many times of uncertainty, fear, and yes... even triumph. Though fear and uncertainty still patrol these waters, they don't seem to board my ship as often as they used to. Triumph, on the other hand, seems to regularly fill my sails with victories both large and small.
There is a great deal of solitude in what I do, both in the studio and the field. In my little creative vacuum, there's very little opportunity for personal interaction with other artists. That lack of creative feedback is often amplified when I'm mired in a project that seems to be draining all my energy without much sign of progress. It can be a nasty cycle of depression and self-doubt when things aren't going well.
This year's crew of usual suspects: Cindy House, James Coe, Jim Bortz, Sue Adair, Stephen Quinn, Michael DiGiorgio, Sean Murtha, Barry Van Dusen, Lucia deLeiris

So I was both honored and excited when renowned New England painter, Jim Coe, invited me to attend the "Gathering." Not really knowing what to expect, I cleared my calendar for the proposed dates. I couldn't possibly pass up the opportunity and the 7-hour drive to the Catskills was a small price to pay. From the beginning I knew I'd likely be the first to arrive and the last to leave.
Break time!
I've written before about the energy surrounding a group of likeminded people. It's both exhilarating and exhausting. As it turned out, this was basically a show and tell session for artists... and pretty damned high level artists at that! This included thoughtful critiques and helpful advice... all of which I took to heart.

The entire time I was there, I kept thinking back to a conversation I'd had with Paul Rhymer more than a year ago when he told me, "You've been walking in some tall grass, my friend!" There is however, danger in that tall grass. There is a rush of pure joy that comes from being included with such accomplished artists, each with their own specialties and areas of expertise. Along with the inspiration of talking to and getting advice from such a proficient group, there is a humbling sense of admiration and an almost paralyzing fear of inadequacy. It's easy to take a look at Barry's sketch books and wonder what the hell I'm doing! Tall grass indeed.

I expected to come away with a need to pause and reassess my plotted course, but seem to have instead caught a wave and good wind for my sail. I'm sure my course will shift... as it should... but the direction is "forward"... even if the destination is unkown.



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Unbearable Curiosity

"Unbearable Curiosity" 15x15 acrylic
I've been working on this one for a while and I think it's finally complete.