Spring Paint Outs

Spring is coming on very fast - the 2 pairs of Canadian geese have come back to the pond behind my house, - migration has started. Usually the geese will spend a week or two on solid ice, but not this year.
In Southern Colorado, we are in a window of calm somewhere between freezing temps and the onset of Spring. When the real warming starts - wind will tear through the valley like a roaring beast. It's something we dread. Painting out as temps rise is nice, but days with little, or NO wind, are something to really relish.
Last week Sue, Dave and myself went up to Creede to do some business and paint (see post below-Visit With Stephen Quiller). After coffee with Steve and Marta we headed up the canyon to what was the original Creede settlement and found a lot of snow and running water. My 16"x 12" piece is here to the right.

This Wednesday, Sue, Dave and I were joined by Peg Immel, fellow PAAC painter from Taos, and we met in Fort Garland to paint in the eastern end of the San Luis Valley.

Less snow in this area than we had seen in Creede but it was harder to find open water.
We each separated to areas that attracted us. Sue went after the red rocks, Dave ventured down by the river; I have no idea HOW he got there but it looked like a sweet spot.
Peg and I painted a stand of cottonwoods with a pinion - my 16"x 12" is posted below.

A Visit With Stephen Quiller

Where do I begin to talk about a great day?
Good weather, good friends, serendipitous meetings - it's all that.
Last week, Dave Montgomery, Susan McCullough and I went up to Creede to mix some business with, well business. In May, the 3 of us will hang a show at the Creede Repertory Theatre Gallery and looking it over seemed like a good idea; of course, finding a place to paint along the way was also a priority. So once our business at the Theatre was finished we looked for some caffeinated fortification before heading up the canyon to paint.
On the way we decided to try to catch Stephen's Quiller in his studio (Quiller Gallery is down the street from the Theatre).

We were rewarded by finding Steve at work on a 360 degree mural for the new Creede Repertory Theatre Building. WOW!
Steve, talked about the piece in process- generous to let us look at eveything - like our busting in on him was the highlight of the day.

I can't say enough about how much I admire Quiller, as an artist, designer and all'round good guy but I felt so fortunate to get a glimpse behind the painting at the easel, to the artist's mind during work in progress. Be still my heart!
The mural is not yet ready for public viewing, and being kept somewhat under wraps - if I show you too much - I'd have to kill you all. . .

We saw some pretty big sections of the final piece, but also his layouts and small mock-ups; the charcoal sketches, alone 'bout made me faint with creative desire and passion. Nothing fires my jets like seeing, in a tangible way, the artistic process. WOW!
And if our chance meeting could not get better,
he and Marta joined us for coffee - and picked up the tab.
Thanks Steve!


Class Notes: INTO the Mystery - Process Painting

I think our creative selves are like floating icebergs; only a small part breaks the surface of the water. The larger part is alive with color and movement but a mystery, even to ourselves. Some of us have reconciled to the admission of being "creative" but can't begin to know where it comes from (or sometimes where it goes). I believe we are all imbued with the same force that created the cosmos; it is part of God's very nature, thus part of ours. But that's part of another discussion.
We live, for the most part, strangers to our intuitive selves and barely touch the surface of the iceberg, allowing the 90% below the surface to remain a mystery. What's down there?
Good question.
Last week in my painting class, guest artist Vivia Lawson helped us begin to address it with an exercise in something called "Process Painting".
"When we are completely free from preconception or judgment, what will we paint? When we give ourselves permission to follow our own energy, we discover hidden reservoirs of talent, capacity, and visual power. This is process painting, a mighty tool to work through creative blocks, and stir up juices for your artistic passion and for your life".

That quote is right off Vivia's website, and
I could not have said it better.
So, you ask - What did you DO?
Ah. . . we plumbed the great mystery.
Vivia set out about 20 pots of lovely rich, goey tempera paint and big brushes; we each got a very big sheet of paper and JUMPED in with abandon - or tried. Looking inward is much harder than looking outward.
I see it almost as visual journalizing, trying to capture visual impulses without judgment or any art direction beyond what brings me joy and satisfaction.
And that's saying a mouthful. I don't have to plumb the depths of "Process Painting" to immediately get in touch with my critical self that judges every brushstroke and lightly disses the work as trivial or without real worth; "Will it sell?" - and if not - "What's the point?".
Ah - another good question. What IS the point?

We all long to touch on the passion and beauty that is part of our creative selves but have forgotten how to go to the magic wood.
It is where children seem to go before self awareness, judgment and fear block the joy of just creating. They embrace every mark made and do not second guess themselves.
For adults "Process Painting" is permission to make the investigative journey into the mystery of creation without self-critique.

For me, it is freeing, fun, and dare I say it, therapeutic. I recommend it highly but know not everyone will see the value. If you are interested in reading more about "Process Painting" just Google it and lots of info will come up.

ps. Vivia and I were studio-mates at Adams State, both doing graduate work. We have painted together in the landscape and I am happy to say, I own some of her work.
These are my pieces in this post.
Thanks for a great day Vivia!