Class NOtes: Elemental Thinking

After a beautiful plein air season, classes are now back in the studio which  always gives us opportunity to try some new things and go in some new directions.
As a working professional,  I think artistic growth and evolution is essential. The willingness the learn and change is hallmark to our field - all with the idea of pushing the work beyond itself to a new place.  This might even involve re- inventing yourself. . . . .

These thoughts seep down from my head- into my class sessions and my painters know that when I start thinking about something - everyone in class will have to start thinking about it.
    Something that is always on my mind is - how to bring new ideas to my work.
Currently, I have a class of about 12 painters, all with pretty advanced skills. What a luxury for me!  So, we have purposed to spend this last painting session of the year looking at the design elements of line and shape and applying them to "other" painting styles.
 Not so that we can become like THAT artist- but so we can gain insight into ideas and methods that will broaden our own work. Or maybe it's a case of saying "What would happen if I do THAT?".
And maybe- it will be fun!
The top piece piece appears to be an homage to the American expressionist & pop artist Jasper Johns - but started out simply as a plan to express letters or numbers by the design elements of line and shape - with the idea of PAINT being the subject.
Applying a design element to imagery is a good way of changing the focus of a painting.
Another way is to think of PAINT as the subject in order to get your brain away from the"imagery" in order to create a stronger sense of the abstract.

The bottom piece is done in, what we might characterize as an "impressionistic" style - which is essentially lines and dabs of color laid down next to each other in individual strokes. For this one we used a piece of landscape reference but followed a strict formula of stroke next to stroke.
PAINT is very much the subject as lines of paint go down next to lines of paint to create imagery;
it's not as obvious here - but it is elemental: line and shape.


Power of the SMall

We have a saying around our house "he small". . . .
- or she, or it - and tho' we speak with a sympathetic note,
the phrase suggests both - condition and camouflaged strength.
Small painting, big impact.
I painted this piece in the last plein air evening class of the summer;  quick notes in late light,
of a large cottonwood.
The power of the NOTAN and the energy of rapid strokes belie the small size.
He small. . . . .
"Raking Light",  6"x 8" - SOLD in Manitou Springs


Toys Toys Toys

We had a great time last week with our special guests Carl and Sarah Judson - just what we needed to bring enthusiasm and zing to our Fall plein air season. Carl gave a informative talk and visual presentation about plein air painting through history - but the best part was a thoughtful take on painters who did not follow the beaten path.  Ha! The rebels- they are our favorites.
It was encouraging and fun for everyone and
we all got Guerrilla Painter Viewers (very handy), paint samples- who doesn't love that? Free stuff!  
After some discussion and some snacks we all went out to the Guerrilla Van to see Carl's work - and for the REAL fun:
shopping out of the Guerrilla Van. It was almost as good buying at the ice cream truck- 
and just about that crazy 
as 17 painter/kids
stormed the van.
I suddenly had a vision of Carl Judson in a Santa suit. . . . . .

The item most popular?
the Guerrilla 6x8 Thumbox
with carrying case -
I think we bought out
his entire supply.

So, this is the challenge:
bring your box to class
every week. You will get better with it the more you use it
and it just may change your life,
at least your painting life.

Ahh - the places we'll go!


August 25th - Special Guest, Carl Judson

August 25th - Special Guest,  Carl Judson, AKA Guerrilla Painter; the traveling plein air guru and THE Judson behind the famous Judson’s Art Outfitters - supply/lifestyle catalog for all things PLEIN AIR.
If you click on the link above for Carl Judson, then click Track my Tour - you can see where he has been in his travels - visiting artists like: Shaun Horne, Carl Ortman, Josh Been, Peggy Immel, - me - to name a few.
I have known about Carl for years, by reputation, but met him in person when I painted at the Sedona Plein Air Festival - and invited him to come through Alamosa to visit with the San Luis Valley Painters.
In his travels around the world, Carl talks to groups, of any size - about the Plein Air Life, and his personal take on 30 years of plein air painting. He is an enthusiast and encourager to anyone interested in pushing themselves to paint in the great outdoors.
Carl will be our special guest on Thursday, August 25th, 9am to noon.
This will be the first week of our next painting session which will be all plein air.  Class schedules will also be given out so painters will know where to meet in the following weeks.
It should be a fun morning for painters of all pursuasions - and open to all; there is no drop-in fee.
I think we will all be inspired.


The Last of our Class plein air evenings

 As much as I hate to say it, summer is winding down here in Colorado. We felt it last week when we painted outside on Tuesday evening. Last week our summer evening plein air class met for the final time. At right are my pieces, both 6"x 8" - painted on black panels.
We have had a summer of beautiful evenings. I am so grateful.

The Fall Class Session starts on Tuesday Evening August 23rd at 6:30pm- and will be all studio. Meet at the Alamosa Family Recreation Center.
The Thursday Morning Class starts on August 25th at 9am. The first week only, will be at the Rec Center and our special speaker will be Carl Judson. Painting locations and schedules will also be given out at that time so everyone know where we will be painting outside each week. This will be a great chance to be out painting en plein air into the magical Autumn.


Sunup - Sundown, Up Close

This is a closer view of most of the work from the Sunup-Sundown Plein Air Event in Taos.
Susan McCullough's work is on the top row, Peggy Immel is in the  middle and my work is on the bottom row.
I actually started my first piece about 5:45am - in order to get in the little crescent moon that hung over Casa Benavides, at the top of Kit Carson Road, in Taos.
Click on  any of the photos to see them larger.


Sun-up to Sun-down - 43 Paintings Later

We did it. Yippee!!
Starting on Friday morning, July 29, artists Coni Grant, Susan McCullough and Peggy Immel were out on Kit Carson Rd. in Taos - about 5:45 to catch the very first rays of the sun- and a beautiful little crescent moon that hung over the distinctive adobes of Taos.
After that it was a painting an hour until dark. That means up to 15 plein air pieces in one day, from each painter - created one right after the other.
At the top are all of our finished pieces - taking in the entire stretch of Kit Carson Road.
Below, Sue paints at the Couse Museum. Later in the day each of us had to take cover from a crazy and violent rain storm but we painted on - under what ever cover we could find.
At one point in the afternoon two local musicians filled the sidewalk with great music.
In the end - a job well done; and YES it was a  marathon.
Special "THANK"s to Peggy Immel and to Steve Immel, and to Rob Wilder of Wilder Nightingale Gallery.

The unframed, 6" x 8" pieces are on sale at
Wilder Nightingale Fine Art Gallery,  on Kit Carson Road in Taos, NM.

Sun-up to Sun-down - Plein Air Event in Taos

Friday, July 29, artists Coni Grant, Susan McCullough and Peggy Immel will paint one painting every hour from dawn to dark along the famous Kit Carson Road in Toas.
That means up to 15 plein air pieces in one day, from each painter - created one right after the other.
It will be a marathon, for sure.

The unframed, 6" x 8" pieces will be on sale at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art on Kit Carson - immediately on Friday -
and all day on Saturday, July 30th.  The artist's will also be in
Wilder Nightingale Fine Art Gallery,  all day on Saturday.

Class Notes on Summer Plein Air

 We are enjoying one of our most beautiful summers here in Alamosa, Colorado and tho' I paint- out all year around - there is something very special in these few short weeks when all my classes go out -
into the brief, but beautiful summer.

Last Tuesday evening at the marsh in Alamosa we faced Mt. Blanca with our backs to the setting sun, but the sky was a continual light show of color and drama- all reflected in the marsh that surrounded us. Blanca lit up with evening alpenglow and, finally the full moon rose up - huge and really glorious.
It was awesome and I think everyone went home feeling grateful to have been there!
If you have been thinking of getting out to paint en plein air this summer- catch us on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30pm,
or on Thursday Mornings from 9am to noon.
Our schedule is always posted here on the blog with directions to the painting location.
Snatch a few days, or evenings of Summer as they fly by; You won't regret it.


The Tuesday Night Plein Air Show

Colorado summer means fabulous sunsets. In Painting Class last Tuesday evening we enjoyed an especially stunning progression from afternoon to night.
After painting on the river we stood around until 10 - just enjoying the beautiful evening.
If you opted to stay home - you REALLY missed it.
The paintings here are my take on the last 2 weeks of class and the photo shows painters waiting for the setting sun to break through the clouds after a brief shower.

A couple of Tips for painting sunsets:
     >The BEST color in a sunset happens AFTER the 'sun-ball' has dropped below the horizon. So- while the sun is high, use the time to lay in a simple foreground and by the time the sun drops - the landscape part of the painting should be DONE - or at least roughed-in. 
     >Good cloud shapes make good sunset drama. During the winter we practice sunsets in class but there is no substitute for actually observing the movement of clouds to anticipate how cloud shapes will develop in the great outdoors.
In one evening a hundred sunsets can pass by - you only have to paint ONE.
     >Don't let early evening weather discourage you. The BEST sunsets come after a rain and clouds are what make it.
Our summer Plein Air Class has learned that rain at 6:30pm can lead to an evening of beautiful sunsets at 7:30.  Patience is key.