Merry Christmas

Here's wishing you all a most blessed Christmas.


Class Notes: Dare to Draw

In this last class session of the year session we have focused our attention on drawing skills. It is appropriate, that after several months en plein air, a little drawing discipline might be in order. When painting outdoors we tend to focus on broader subjects such as over-all composition, or value. While struggling with distance and light in the landscape sometimes we play a little fast and loose with the what we see and aren't strict about rendering with accuracy. The demands of doing, even a simple still life set up is one of the best ways to stay sharp - or even improve.
I love to paint mechanical things- even though I may not always be successful, it is the most fun.  The bicycle required some close examination in order to draw/paint it so it appeared to actually work, as a bike.
The simple stack of books and goblet involved some hard LOOKING and an understanding of perspective in order to draw it correctly. Accuracy in the drawing is foundational to better painting; and anything that makes you look, and look and look again - will stretch and improve your drawing skills
- but then so will using a sketch book.


Van Gogh In Denver

This last weekend, I had a chance to take my daughter and go to Denver with some good friends to see "Becoming Van Gogh" - at the Denver Art Museum.  We literally wrestled this opportunity from the jaws of death as determination (and prepurchased tickets) propelled us out of the San Luis Valley during Friday's blizzard. Driving over the pass in winter is always daunting- add freezing temps and driving snow - well, let's just say- we were motivated.
And the Van Gogh show? - could not have been more worth it; well curated and thought out, enlightening, informative and joyful. The show focuses on the artist as he tenaciously hones his skill through 10 years of painting.  Unlike what we have been fed about Van Gogh's life as a quasi-psycho and his own victim, this show presents him as a smart, motivated and hard working artist. There were 70 works by Van Gogh, some relatively obscure and some familiar - set along side art created by his contemporaries and artists that influenced him, such as Pissarro and Seurat. This show will continue through January 20, 2013 and tickets must be pre-purchased online but if it has been something you have been considering don't waste time to GO.
Click on the link at the top of this post "Becoming Van Gogh" to read an article about how the show was put together;  It is an interesting look behind the scenes.


100 Miniatures - each at $100

The Holiday Miniature show, 100 for $100,  that opened this last weekend at the Tracy Miller Gallery in Manitou Springs was a big success- and a breath of fresh air.  People came from all over the Colorado Springs area and actually seemed more interested in the work than the food.  Many collectors came ready to buy art after losing everything in homes that burned in the Waldo Canyon fire this summer. Lots of art went out the door but there are still minis to be had. To purchase any of the pieces shown here simply contact the Tracy Miller Gallery at 719-650-0827.
Click on any of the photos to view the work larger.

These small pieces come framed and ready to make great gifts or treasures to enjoy for yourself. All are easy to ship and at $100. each - they are priced to move.

We had a great opening and I am very excited to be associated with this gallery and the other artists that it represents.
Check out the work of other contemporary artists such as Tracy Miller,  Laura Reilly and Deb Komitor.

100 Miniatures Show

These small works are so easy to purchase and easy to ship - in time for Christmas.

To view minis larger, simply click on the image.
To buy any of the pieces shown here simply contact the Tracy Miller Gallery at 719-650-0827.


More Miniatures

Friday, November 30th I will be in historic Manitou Springs at the Tracy Miller Studio Gallery on 16 Ruxton  Ave. for the Holiday Miniature Show and sale from 6 to 9 pm.  The piece above, "Stars and Snow" is one of the 20 miniatures I painted for this show.
Miniature shows pop up everywhere at the holidays and are the best places to buy work from established, as well as emerging artists, for the best prices.
12 artists are featured at this show and there will be something for everyone - all very affordable. Christmas is also a great time to be in Manitou Springs; located between Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak, this fun and festive mountain town is a hotbed of galleries, unique shopping, restaurants, and family attractions- especially inviting at this time of year.
Have a great weekend.


Tis the Season. . . To Give

This Saturday night from 6-8 pm in Taos - buy the gift of ART or just shop one of the most beautiful galleries in Taos while attending a great holiday party with the focus on giving back.

The Taos Hearts & Stars Holiday Miniature Show and fundraiser brings together work of some of the best artists in New Mexico, Colorado and points beyond, with collectors and the Taos community.  Donations and a portion of all sales go to support Taos Coalition to End Homelessness, Inc., making this one holiday miniature show that doubles your gift with every purchase. I am sure that most of the shopping done at this time of year will not yield that kind of benefit. All the work is under 8"x 10", and very affordable.
Rob Wilder Nightingale at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art does a wonderful job hosting this event. Live music, fabulous food and beautiful ART make it a party worth attending if you are anywhere within 200 miles - all for a good cause.
Saturday, November 24th from 6-8 pm at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art at 119 Kit Carson in beautiful Taos. A suggested $10 donation at the door.
My piece,  'Sangre Spring' is 4"x 6" - painted en plein air in early spring, right here in the San Luis Valley.

I Am Thankful For. . . .

Our town - Alamosa.
I sketched this "impression" quickly out of my head, from only a glimpse, seen out of the corner of my eye, in the evening as I drove to class and looked back toward town and the mountains -  it seemed printed on my brain.
Mt Blanca at twilight, dwarfs the downtown intersection where the railroad meets the highway.  "Out on the Edge of Everything"- to quote singer, songwriter and friend, Alison Kitchen.
Sometimes it feels that way.
Yesterday, we joined friends, some we knew and some we didn't for Thanksgiving dinner at our community Shelter. It is our family tradition and one of the best parts of our holiday, not because we are so generous or helpful, but because we live in a community committed to caring for its own as well as the transient, lost, down hearted and hopeless. I moved here from a large city with cynical attitudes about things like homeless people and the agencies who "served" them.  After 10 years living in Alamosa,  I am continually impressed by what it has to offer - not its agencies but the people who are its heart.  It is a heart that strengthens and encourages the entire community. We are a congregation of hope.
Happy Thanksgiving.


Holiday Miniature Shows

It is THAT time of year:
you're thinking - Christmas shopping, decorations, making a list - checking it twice. . .
I am thinking - it's the SMALL time of year - when artists tie themselves into a pretzel to paint miniature masterpieces that will sell at rock bottom prices at galleries all over the country.
I tell myself every year to start early - like 2 years ago - in order to be ready for holiday shows-
Insert sigh here. . .
One of those great holiday shows is the Taos Hearts & Stars fund raiser, coming up November 24 in Taos - but more about that later. This year I will also be in the Holiday Show at Tracy Miller Studio Gallery in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

So back in October I started putting together 20 miniature paintings ranging in size from 3"x 3" to 5"x 5".  They have taken over my studio and, I think, my life.
For the art lover, this is an opportunity to get an original painted gem at an affordable price and buy for the other art lovers on your Christmas list.
For the artist, the challenge of painting small, is only the beginning.  Working out framing and presentation can take more time than for large work.
These are just a few of the miniature paintings I will have at the Holiday Show in Manitou at the Tracy Miller Gallery.
Click on any images to view them larger.

Class Notes: Getting Small

For the artist, the challenge of painting small is only the beginning.  Working out framing and presentation is a big part of the package.
My work tends to be contemporary and I like a clean look.
I have my framer make a simple frame in 6"x 6" and
5"x 7" sizes. It is a tidy and consistent presentation -  I like that.

Once framing issues are resolved the problems of small work have a lot to do with scale and using brushes in a size that will maintain the same "painting voice" that appears in larger work.
I try for as few strokes of the brush, as possible,  to create shapes that will hold the integrity of the design - as opposed to pulling out the tiny brushes and - well, you know - trying to see how many angels can be painted on the head of a pin.
With small paintings I work for more disciplined brushwork that leads to a straight forward, loose and non-fussy end product.

These pieces are painted on 1/4 inch gatorboard - which is the same type of support I use for all of my work.
The gatorboard is cut to size, gessoed on top and sides, painted as I would any other piece, except to make sure that the sides get attention as well, because they will show. Once the paintings are dry, they are glued onto black foam board so they appear to"float" in the frame.


Class Notes: Summer Plein Air

Our Plein Air Class had a wonderful outdoor season in and around Alamosa; beautiful days and some stunning evenings. I wish I had a good painting from every outing - but alas, it doesn't always work that way. The best part was getting outside; encouraging long time painters, who had never painted out doors, and some absolute beginners who were willing to jump into the deep end. Bravo!
Check out Tom's plein air rig below. He has his table-top easel perched on the seat of a folding chair with the palette resting on the seat - and still plenty of room for tools etc.
Out door work seems to invite ingenuity and creativity- broadening and expanding us.
I for one will be a little sad to move back into the studio but- it's time.  As the last of the Autumn color blows off of the trees we can remember a long and productive Summer/Fall.
It is time to tighten things up a bit and our studio classes starting in November will focus on drawing skills.


Plein Air in Westcliffe, Oct 4 - 6

Two weeks ago, I was in Westcliffe, Colorado at the Sangres Art Guild 6th Annual Plein air Paint Out.
A chilly, but beautiful few days; fortunately the snow forecast for Saturday never materialized. Sue McCullough and I joined about 23 other plein air painters trying to capture the last of the Fall color in Colorado.  As you can see by the photo above there was still a lot to be had. Below, Sue creates the painting that won her a merchandise award at the opening.

Below: "Passing Autumn"- 10 x 8, and "Indian Summer"- 9 x 12  are the 2 pieces that I entered into the show that opened on Saturday afternoon at the 3rd Street Gallery in Westcliffe. Click on any of the photos to view them larger.

The Sangres Art Guild put on the event and though weekend weather was variable for sure, they did a great job of keeping the artists supplied with coffee and encouragement - not too much pressure, and finished with a beautifully hung show and great food for the opening.  
My piece, "Indian Summer" was awarded 3rd Place- which came with a few dollars- yippee!
Stephen Datz, award winning painter from Grand Junction, CO was the judge, and a painter I greatly admire. It was an honor to receive an award from him. 
The Plein Air Show will hang at the 3rd Street Gallery in Westcliffe until November 4th.

ART - Raising Awareness for the Endangered Landscape

The Art for the Endangered Landscape paint out, back on September 29th, was an event meant to focus attention on an area outside of Del Norte where a wildcat oil well exploration site is proposed that is within a residential site surrounded by public land. The hope was of raising public awareness to the kind devastation perpetrated on Colorado land and its residents by hydraulic fracking in this area; not to mention the misuse of precious water resources in a time of drought . If you do not know what the term "fracking" means- click the link to read about it on Wikipedia.

Sponsored by San Luis Valley Eco System Council and Community Partnerships of Adams State University, the event was successful in bringing this issue forward and getting locals in neighboring areas interested in what is happening on the lands we assume are protected. This is a hot topic in Colorado, involving water use, water rights and destruction in our own back yard. To read more about this issue, click this link. The San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council is a non-profit advocacy organization for Colorado public lands.

The Paint Out morning was quite beautiful, Sue McCullough, David Montgomery and myself, took part to document the area en plein air and enjoyed the general party atmosphere with other artists, music, food and neighbors coming together for a common cause.

As a continuing part of this effort there will be a show, Friday, November 30 at the Community Partnerships Gallery in Alamosa  to highlight work created at the September 29th event.
My piece above "San Francisco Creek", created en plein air on September 29th will be part of the work I will have in that show and profits will go to benefit the San Luis Valley Eco System Council.


Extreme Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . at the Class M planet Nearest You

Here I am, getting the last word in "plein air" painting, thanks to good friend and fellow painter Eldon Warren, who is himself, a little other worldly.
Check out his work at his website www.eldonwarrenarts.com.

Art for the Endangered Landscape

This September 29th paint-out will focus on conservation and land use in our part of Colorado; always a hot topic.
The San Luis Valley Eco System Council and Community Partnerships of Adams State University are hosting this event on Saturday, September 29th, starting at 9. a.m., to raise public awareness to a proposed wildcat oil well exploration site that is within a residential site surrounded by public land. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the existing conditions of the area; Sue McCullough, David Montgomery and myself, will all be taking part to document the area en plein air.
Artists of every type and interested members of San Luis Valley communities are also being invited to take part, adjacent to a proposed drilling site on San Francisco Creek south of Del Norte Colorado.

If this kind of event rings your bell, either as a supporter of wild lands or as an artist/supporter, come out to enjoy a fabulous fall day in Colorado.  Go to their website at slvec.org for directions and more information.
The San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council is a non-profit advocacy organization for Colorado public lands.

Peak Weekend

Today is the first day of Autumn and the San Juan Mountains wear a garland of yellow like a necklace across the front of the range where aspens grow thick between the pine trees. A most beautiful time of year and the most nerve wracking - where every plein air painter wishes they could be in several places at once to snatch the fleeting color. Due in part by a warm, dry summer, the trees were changing in the high country back in August - YIKES!  Now it is here, full blown, and we will try to catch some of it and pray that a deep freeze or fluke snowstorm doesn't cut the season short before its time.

It can also be a time of hard choices: where to go, choosing to go to a competition/event- or not, it's a great time to be IN a show but a better time to paint out . . . . and every day the window of opportunity gets smaller. In years past Sue McCullough and I have painted all over the the Arkansas River Valley and Collegiate Peaks as part of the CO Mountain Plein Air Fest competition . This year however, we are choosing to skip the event circus and head into a different part of the state near Lake City. This is supposed to be the PEAK weekend for color, so we will take aim and hope to come up with the goods. Hopefully, more about the outcome - later.

These paintings are all Autumn pieces that have sold recently. From the top they were painted at the Rio Grande River in Alamosa, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Cottonwood Pass, Colorado and along the border of Colorado and New Mexico.


Winner: Artist's Choice

This last weekend at the Women of the West Show my painting "Bending Water" was honored as the Artist's Choice Winner. Yippee!
It is always nice to win an award, any award, but I would have to say - this is the one I most covet because it is determined in a vote by the other artists in the show. And of my works in this show - this one was the last I would have selected to win. You just never know.
Thank You to the other artists. It was a good opening and a lively night in Boulder. Thanks too, to Ron and Ann Wilcock's who put the show together at Earthwood Gallery on the Pearl street Mall in Boulder.
As to the award itself- I am sure other artists have different criteria for how they select their Artist's Choice but when I make my vote,  it is for the painting in the show that I most wish I had painted.


Women of the West 2012

Tomorrow night, Friday, September 7th, I will be in Boulder, Colorado at the opening of Women of the West 2012, featuring work of the women represented by Earthwood Gallery in Boulder.
Join us for food and art at Earthwood Gallery on the beautiful Pearl Street Mall, just a short drive from the Denver metro area.

This show comes right on the heels of a week of painting in Rocky Mountain National Park that culminated in the Western Light show that opened on Friday, August 24 in Estes Park and will hang through October.
Paintings hung in these two shows represent my very best work from this last Spring and Summer.

Highlight of the Week!

All Spring we, Sue McCullough, David Montgomery and myself, have been talking about hiking in the high county during out time in Estes. Our show, Western Light 2012, opened the night before, so with most responsibilities behind us we headed up to Loch Vale, a high country destination about 3 and 1/2 miles in from the Bear Lake trail head. Dawn Normali, friend and fellow painter joined our merry band and we headed UP from the trail head at 9,475' to 10,465' - where you see us in the photo above. I am not sure where Dave found the air to play that flute.

What's a Painter to do?

I am all for documenting what's in front of you but find very little to inspire in layers of grey atmosphere. With such smokey air quality in the whole area we found ourselves looking for short views and more intimate scenes - like: canyon waterfalls, small streams, tree groupings, and the lily pond below- complete with koi.

We went out Moraine Park (part of RMNP) one morning  and I painted this aspen group. On another day in that same area we spent time spying on a huge herd of Elk not 20 feet from us. They did not seem bothered by the air quality but it sure put a damper on my inspiration.
Copeland Falls was another kind of "short view" and we perched our easels on a big flat rock and painted the upper cascade. David Montgomery's painting and easel are there on the left. Sue McCullough had already closed her box and put her piece safely away, and my unfinished piece is on the left.