Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Red River Rats

If you've visited in the last few weeks, you know that I was recently an Artist in Residence with my friend, Denise, in northern Texas. Her professional name is D. LaRue Mahlke and she is not only a great friend, her pastel landscapes are fantastic, award-winning in fact! Check out her website and see for yourself here: www.dlaruemahlke.com 
We explored all around the wide Gateway to Texas, finding the Red River itself and lots of wildlife, including a coyote that was loping around the edges of this spot. But don't worry; we had two intrepid bodyguards watching out for us. They were also our chauffeur/tour guides, sherpas and photographers. Thank you, Jim Clark and Val Varley! They are immortalized in my little painting: Jim's in blue and Val's in red.
Jim and Val are key players in the AIR program in Clarksville. Val is the president of the Red River County Historical Society, which sponsored us. Jim's family founded the town back in the 1800's and owned a lot of the land that people in our history books walked over on their way into Texas! Also very interesting was learning that the last person to live in the Lennox House, where we stayed, was a woman named Martha who, like us, was an artist! She attended art school in the early part of the 1900's at the Corcoran in DC and the Art Student's League in NYC!!! This is a serious artist! Her paintings hung throughout the house and were very strong and bold; quite inspirational. We will continue to create works from our stay there for a while, and plan to go back very soon. 


Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm back from the Artist in Residence trip that I told you about, plus trips to the west coast and the east coast!
The picture shows our time of mentoring the students of Clarksville, TX (http://artistinresidenceredrivercounty.blogspot.com/p/about-clarksville-red-river-county.html ) More pics and stories to come, I promise.

The most important lesson I'm learning right now in my painting and my studies is that there is no short-cut to genius. Greatness requires work and more work!
Coincidentally, that is the subject of the current Twice Weekly Letter from Robert Genn and the Painter's Keys! Take a look:

There's a great story in David Bayles and Ted Orland's Art and Fear. Here it is:

 "The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of the work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: On the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work in the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B" and so on. Those being graded on "quality," however, needed to produce only one pot--albeit a perfect one--to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busy turning out piles of work--and learning from their mistakes--the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."
So, perfectionists take heed! Inspiration comes to the one who is already at the drawing board, not the poor sap who is just waiting for inspiration. 
I would encourage you to sign up for Mr. Genn's newsletter. It's a never-ending source of knowledge and insight: http://painterskeys.com/
I'll be back soon for more pics and stories, as I said~ Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Yellow Scale Kelsey

There are several groups I love to paint with; one of my favorites is the Market Street Painters who meet on Fridays. I've been absent from most of my groups for awhile, as I've been working on some ideas and need to be uninfluenced. This summer though I rejoined MSP and have thoroughly enjoyed the company.
Kelsey came to model for us in a yellow gown and together with her yellow hair and her pose, immediately put me in the mind of Frantisek Kupka's captivating self-portrait, "The Yellow Scale." Its permanent home is in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The week after I painted Kelsey, I got to go see "The Yellow Scale" in person on the very day of my birthday. I found that, while I did have a reminiscence, my background was darker and heavier, and Kupka pushed the scale much harder than I did.
We will have a different model in the same dress this coming Friday; perhaps I will revisit my inspiration and have another go!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The San Jacinto, 11x14. sold

This is an 11x14" oil painting of the San Jacinto River, complete with barges and piers, tank farms and who knows what? Cranes and scaffolding and towers and smoke stacks, with some trees around the edges, it looks like. To my heart and eye, the trees are like a fur collar around the sparkling jewels that adorn the ship channel. It's nature and industry, water and land, dancing slowly together under the soft summer clouds. When you watch it, the music that they're dancing to plays in your mind and you find yourself smiling and humming along. I love Houston. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Salmagundi Summer Show

Both of these paintings are in the Salmagundi Club summer show, bringing a touch of the south to New York City.
I hope that your summer is lovely and that you are staying cool. New paintings are coming soon so don't be a stranger!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Artist in Residence Program-Red River Historical Society: Three Artists In Residence Scheduled for Fall!

Artist in Residence Program-Red River Historical Society: Three Artists In Residence Scheduled for Fall!: The Red River County Historical Society is pleased to announce that the first three artists to participate in the Artist in Residence Progra...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Beach Hut

 The same day that we painted the Siblings Seaside, I got to paint the Beach Hut down on the boardwalk in the afternoon. We painted the kids in the surf while it was morning, then once the light changed completely, we went out to lunch at a gumbo bar on the strand (awesome).
Afterwards, everyone had to scatter, but since it's such a long drive for me, I decided to stay and try to wrest another painting out of the day! This happy couple of buildings must be part of the same club: The Beach Hut. It's billed as "The Only Bar on the Beach in Galveston" and had a sand volleyball court and everything. For most of my painting, there were kids playing volleyball and they were going to be part of the painting. I really loved the way the ball looked when it was against the sky, and the kids in their bright bathing suits; I thought it would give the painting some action. You can see the yellow lines where I was going to plant it: see, at the foot of the stairs? But by the time I got to that part, they were on the balcony drinking some brewskies, so I painted that instead. 
The woman inspecting the work in progress was parked behind me in a giant U-Haul truck, en route from Florida to California. She and her mom had an irresistible urge to stop by Galveston on the way and spend the afternoon at the beach. I love that about a beach. It calls you to just slow down or stop for awhile and relax.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Houston Ship Channel, 8x8. sold

Way in the distance, you can see the sparkling white line of the tank farms on the horizon, brighter than the clouds they were! The Houston ship channel is as busy as any major airport and floats every kind of vessel you can think of. It's surrounded by the arterial systems of roadways and train tracks; you get some kind of life-buzz watching it!
This is a view from a bridge going over the San Jacinto River late in the day. I believe the black hills in the foreground are coal.
I know that all of these buildings and barges have business to do but for me, they are fantastic light reflectors, their shapes and colors teasing my eyes.
I like that the earth is so intent on its job, but the sky with its carefree clouds wafts around overhead, a happy spectator. It participates in the light effects of the play below without even glancing at the script. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Retired from Service Station

When traveling to Austin or San Antonio, I often stop for gas at a service station in Giddings. I always admire this scene while filling up my gas tank and scraping bugs off my windshield. It makes me think of the beautiful, interesting and mysterious things that lie along the side of our country roads. The last time I was there though, I had a sudden panic that, being as these buildings are on the outskirts of the town, they might not have much longer to live. Strip-malling (mauling) is making more and more places look the same now, but there are some spots that still show the unique thing that put them on the map in the first place.
I have no idea what these quonset huts were for but whatever it was, Giddings needed them by the railroad and the highway so they must have been important. Meanwhile, the old service station is in the parking lot of a new service station, like a grandpappy sitting in a rocker out on the porch, watching the comings and goings. 
At this hour, the sun was striking them all just right, and I was struck too, with the determination to record them in this moment. This is morning light in a day's cycle but twilight in a life cycle.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Siblings Seaside

I got to paint with my peeps in Galveston this week. These are the kids of one of the artists and they posed gamely as the surf got higher and higher, occasionally washing completely over the lap of the young man. The artists who got good spots ended up standing in water, too. I was in the back row, high and dry. I hope you're enjoying your summer~ thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A New Leaf

My beautiful model is turning a new leaf, both in this painting and in her life.
She has always been a risk-taking, reliable, enthusiastic and very hard worker, and now she will lend her gifts to the military.  She's a woman after my own heart. 
The title can be applied to the turning of the book's page, the coming of a girl's age, or the new burst of impatiens spilling over the flower box in the background.  There is a hand at work in each of these ideas. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Christina in the Shallows

Christina is a model who often sits for the Houston Civic Arts Association, being as she is the niece of one of our artists, and comely to boot. She's been painted by some very famous artists, and of course by my own self on several occasions.
She was hired this day by Bill Kalwick and as I described in yesterday's post, courageously braved all kinds of uncomfortable conditions to hold a pose for us.
Since the day was gray, I presented all of my light areas using cool versions of my colors, saving the few warms for the few true shadows. The only real shadows in the whole scene were around the head and shoulder area. All the other "shadows" were really just filtered light and therefore still cool. I did use a warm tone to keep it from being too freezing cold. I applied it after she was already posed so I was worried that the wash would contaminate the colors; it was raining, which means the paint would stay wet. For that reason, my application of paint was somewhat thicker than usual but I very much liked the way it described the feeling of the scene. I hope you like it too~ thanks for visiting. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Galveston Paint Out

Blogger has changed its editing format and for the life of me, I cannot get it to publish both of my pics in one post. I will instead tell you one story in two posts. This is a shot of a paint out in Galveston that took place a few days ago. Our model stood in the gulf shallows while fishermen caught sharks in the same water right next to her, lightning flashed and thundered behind her, wind whipped her and rain pelted her. We endured the same punishment and also had sand fleas to contend with (but we didn't have to hold a pose :-)). The middle-ground people with their backs toward you were on the windward side and had so many sand fleas in their paintings, it was like viewing the scene through a thick screen. I was set up on the leeward side. I had fleas in my gear and in the paint on my palette, but none got stuck in my painting. There were still many little gem paintings that came from our efforts, and afterwards, we enjoyed wine and cheese, still in the rain, complements of our host, Bill Kalwick. If laughter were money, we would have made as much as the model, but she was the only one who actually got paid for working this day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Evergreen and Red

This painting was a challenge. The original, self-inflicted challenge was to make a non-specific chunk of the landscape look interesting just by painting it well. I was not successful in doing that. The true day was overcast and the first swipe at this looked dull and flat. My new assignment then was, save the painting!
To save the painting, I manufactured drama by forcing the pretend sun out and moving the pretend atmosphere in. The desert has no humidity so very distant things, on a still day, can keep much of their color. On a windy day, there will be dust in the air, which will alter the distance visually but keep it in the warmer end of the spectrum. I pushed the distance back by cooling it, which is the effect produced by denser air. It's risky, messing with Mother Nature like this. I've long felt that to be honest, I must be ruthlessly true to my subject but I'm beginning to believe that, as an artist, the greater truth is told when one is true to oneself and to the work of art as a separate entity from its inspiration. 

Friday, April 20, 2012


I never posted a few of the paintings I wanted to show you from our plein air trip to New Mexico. I will do so now. This is one: a zig-zaggy view of the rugged landscape around the northern part of the state. I was laughing so hard on the road to this place, tempting fate as we were; our campsite was not too far away and we were exploring the vicinity in our little Mini Cooper. Not a great off-road vehicle, with it's really neato low-profile tires and ground-hugging stance. In my imagination, they would find our bones one day and say, "Too bad about the dead people but wow, cool car and really great painting!" I would not have died in vain.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Silent Symphony

I'm back from the 2012 Salon International and this was my first year to win nothing. I'm encouraged by the calibre of work there, however, and the overall commitment to excellence that I saw. My heart just soars when it settles on the knowledge that representational art is not lost to the ages but is enjoying such a resurgence.
Well, back to the present here at Scarlet Sage Gallery: Silent Symphony! This is a 24x18 inch painting. The title is supposed to summarize the idea that, while there are swirling, active, noisy things going on in the shapes and colors and patterns around her body and in her mind, yet the woman lies quietly; silent outside of herself, but within her mind there is music, dialogue, intrigue, excitement!
I approached the painting in the same way: layering the quiet passages so that they would culminate in activity that at once excites and relaxes, if that makes sense. I don't know if everyone hears a story that they read silently, but I do. When I'm alone and reading, if I suddenly respond out loud, my own noise startles me with the realization that it is actually silent everywhere but in my mind.
Well, thank you for coming back!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sonnet 18

Keli reads from a book of sonnets. William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" could have been written for her:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sea Stories

This is one of my favorite paintings.  My beautiful model spent quite a little while in the pool, posing for me in her long gown.  She took this shell from the side of the pool and listened to it with no direction, proving to me once again that, while good art often requires much orchestration, sometimes it is simply recognizing a beautiful composition when you see it! 
In real life, my model is a competitive swimmer and a lifeguard, born in Hawaii and thus no stranger to water.  To me, she is Ariel, Daughter of King Triton and Queen Athena, communing with one of her subjects.
This painting is 20x16 oil on linen~ I hope you like it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Summer Sonnet

Keli, my model and sweet young friend, is the subject of this painting.  She is an athlete who loves to read and who never wears a dress.  To pose her in a dress with a parasol is funny only to us because we know who she is.  She is also a romantic and lovely woman, though she hasn't fully embraced this aspect of herself.  I see it, and she sees it when she looks at paintings I've done of her.  It has been a joy exploring the potential of ourselves in this series of parasol paintings.
This piece, 24x18 oil on linen (like the painting below), framed in gold, is in the International Museum of Contemporary Masters of Fine Art and is currently in the 2012 Salon International hosted by Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, Texas.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

White Lace Parasol

This is Chelsea, one of my favorite models.  I met her at the Salon International in 2011 and she began modelling for me shortly afterward.  This painting of her is in the International Museum of Contemporary Masters of Fine Art and is currently in the 2012 Salon International (see banner below), the very locale of our first meeting! 
It is a profound blessing to be able to spend time with such a beautiful person, working together to try to create something that is also beautiful. 
The concept of this painting was light temperature and the pose explores line.  The contour on the left side of the figure is one long, graceful line.  The complement of this, on the right side of the figure, is the quick and active line of the parasol points and the tops of the model's hands.  The color scheme is also complementary: red and green.  This yin and yang energizes an otherwise quiet composition and hopefully excites and satisfies the viewer at the same time.
Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Salon International 2012