Hot and Smokey Days of Summer

June 21st  I had the opportunity to host the TracyMiller Gallery during the 3rd Friday Manitou Springs Artwalk. I painted, promoted my show at the Phantom Canyon Brewery in Colorado Springs, and had a chance to meet many art collectors from that area - some who had homes burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire last June.
Here it is a year later and  Friday morning, as I drove toward Colorado Springs, I skirted the Southfork fire to the west of Alamosa and the East Peak Spanish Peaks fires to the east, - through Canon City, which suffered a fire that took out almost everything surrounding the Royal Gorge Bridge.  Fortunately, the bridge was spared.  This June has been tough for our state and especially for Colorado Springs.  Some folks who came through the gallery were just moving back into places that only days before had been evacuated because of the horrendous Black Forest Fire that destroyed over 500 homes.
In spite of fires and mayhem, Manitou had an upbeat feel and a lot of art lovers came through the gallery which features my work and that of Tracy Miller, Laura Reilly, Deb Komitor, William Ersland Buffalo Kaplinski and Audrie Mergelman. Thanks all.

ps. Tracy painted the wall of the gallery to show off my piece "Pony Trail".
I think I like it.

Class Notes: Manitou Workshop

My weekend in Manitou included a one day workshop in the lovely space at the Fare Bella gallery,  run by Patti Filler and right next to the TracyMiller gallery.
Because this was not an outdoor (plein air) workshop we worked from photos brought by the artists.
My focus, as always, is on design, and in this case how to bring out the strengths of your reference material.

This black and white photo was the reference for the demo.  My sketch below shows how I ALWAYS start by simply dividing the space into thirds and moving shapes to strengthen the composition.
As a class we all took part in deciding how to break up the space:
#1 We chose to move the horizon to the upper third line.
#2  We connected the major elements:  the large tree and the barn, moving them to the third line on the right- thus creating a strong focal point.
#3  We placed a balancing group of trees to the left side.
#4  Even the division of the foreground follows the grid.
Below the sketch is my quick 9x12 demo.

Compare the demo sketch and the demo to the plein air piece below, done at the same location as the reference material. 
In both cases I make use of the Rule of Thirds by dividing my sketch area into thirds both vertically and horizontally.
This is a classic compositional idea that deals with both the composition and placement of the focal point - meaning,
it helps you organize the space and position subject matter to be visually balanced.

You can see how I clearly made very different, and important choices about - the horizon line, the major elements and the secondary shapes.
Both compositions are strong because they are governed  and held together by the Rule of Thirds.
Read more about the Rule of Thirds by going to LABELS on the right side of this blog, scroll down and click on Class Notes: Rule of Thirds.

. . . and this is a good place to
 plug the benefits of doing a sketch, no matter how simple.