Gettin' Out

We have enjoyed beautiful, if chilly, days here in Southern Colorado and after spending several days preparing for my show at the Rio Grande Museum I was very anxious to get OUT. Even when it is desperately cold, no amount of sitting by the fire, sorting through photos or reworking small studies can satisfy the need to go out and paint in the landscape. I may not speak for all landscape artists but for plein air types - going out - is WHAT it's all about.
Yesterday, Sue McCullough and I went out to her family ranch - acres and acres of trees and snow, the river and great views of the Sangre de Christo Mountains stretching south from Taos up north to Buena Vista where they meet the Collegiate Peaks; so beautiful and white, and big. Fortunately, we had sun and it was around 20 degrees -perfect!
At the top is a shot Sue with the gear and below that, my sketch, painted on in black acrylic. I learned a lesson after my last time out when I tried to thin the paint with water; Dumb, I know. This time, no thinning the acrylic- just go for the gusto.
Check out Sue's painting with this link to her blog
and see my piece below.

Snowy Blanca

In the morning there is, very often a low lying haze that settles on the Valley floor and the mountains seem to rise out of that. Cottonwoods catch the early light on the ends of their branches and the river is just an expanse of snow. A Bald Eagle flew over us and settled in a nearby tree. For this California native and city-girl, it was something.
Chances are, you will never see that while painting in the studio.


Class Notes, Week 2 of Painting From Photos

This week in class we focused on COMPOSING a painting from reference material (that would be photos). Remember Guideline #3 from last week: The artist's job is to select and arrange major shapes to lead the viewer's eye around the painting in a pleasing way.
Here I used several photos taken at a local landmark and tried to let the reference material suggest the way to compose the final painting. Now if I had developed a layout BEFORE taking the photos, certainly, I would have shot them to fit my layout; not the case here.
The Chapel at San Luis is quite famous, as much for the building itself as for the path and "Stations of the Cross" that lead up to it. The top photo suggested a path and a general sense of perspective that I liked but the tree shapes were awkward and didn't add anything to the view. The second photo doesn't have the right light but the building is going in the right direction and I will use the lower trees and bushes for reference. The 3rd photo gave me enough detail to do a credible job on the facade of the building, and finally, I did a black and white sketch to establish the compositional elements, adding the mountain shape to the right.

Finished Painting- Composed From Photos

The Chapel at San Luis sits atop a hill and is the destination of the path that follows the "Stations of the Cross" that leads up to it. I exaggerated the perspective to heighten the sense of approach and added a tree and the fence; these elements were in the photos. The mountain shape to the right I added purely for the sake of the composition.
"Capella San Luis" is 30'x 36".

Hanging Out at the Rio Grande Museum

In preparation for my show, I spent most of Tuesday in Del Norte in good company at the Rio Grande Museum and Cultural Center- a well appointed and well supported regional museum here in Southern Colorado. I had Paul Williams, of watercolor fame and father of Roger Williams (well known Western oil painter) there to share painting stories, war stories (his), skiing stories, and generally help get the show together. Paul taught for years at Adams State College in Colorado and set standards that probably few of us could meet. It was a painful/pleasure to have him critique my work and tho' I didn't ask for it, it isn't often you find yourself with someone truly qualified, who will give up the "goods" in such a genial manner. We had a great time, put up the work and pretty much yakked about art all day. Thanks Paul.
My Expressions in the Landscape Show will hang until March 27. There will be a public reception on Saturday, January 31 from 2-4 pm, with food - of course.
The Rio Grande Museum is located at 580 Oak St., Del Norte, CO and regular hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am to 5 pm.
Thanks to Dr. A.J. Taylor for this photo.