Art for the Endangered Landscape show TONIGHT

This exhibition, and sale opens tonight, Friday, December 4th at Community Partnerships Gallery; on the Adams State University campus, right off Hwy 160 just west of the ASU Theatre in Alamosa.
The reception will be from 4 to 7pm.
After traveling to Pagosa Springs and Durango this exhibition finally comes to Alamosa.

Over 40 artists from all over Colorado are featured and even some from outside the state - all coming together with the purpose of raising awareness for endangered landscapes;  - and brought to us by the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council.
Special THANKs to David Montgomery who brought it about and put it all together, and to the artists committed to supporting the effort to save "Endangered Landscapes" in our state.
For more information go to www.slvec.org
Consider this a perfect place to do some Christmas shopping. There is something for everyone and proceeds go to counter development on Wolf Creek Pass.
Hope to see you there.

Live Model in Class - Woof!

 Last Tuesday night we were lucky enough to have a live model in class. Richard Luckemeier brought Gus who "sat" to be painted - actually he went to sleep, hence my painting of him snoozing at my feet.
The Tuesday night class has been inspired to paint animals- in the landscape, in abstracted forms, from scrap and from life.  I put animals in the "figures" category- right up there with portrait - always challenging - but like anything else, practice is what gets you there.
More about that later.


Workshop Insanity- in ACRYLIC

In early Oct I traveled to British Columbia to study with ACRYLIC painter Brian Atyeo.
I have been wanting to learn methods in acrylic that exploited their quick dry characteristics as opposed to trying to make them look like oils and when I saw Brian’s work, back in January, it struck a chord with me-  both the medium and the method.  So, I found a workshop and committed to going all the way to Pemberton, British Columbia to take it. 
Brian is from Nova Scotia, a painter who can only be described as an abstractionist, and I would say, an expressionistic abstractionist.  No matter if that doesn’t mean anything to you - the long and short of it is - I was setting myself up to walk into the eye of a storm  -and after being home now for a couple of weeks - my head is still spinning.
Even now, I don’t  know exactly what to say about it - except I haven’t had so much fun painting, in a very long time.
All advanced painters, we worked large format: 30x30 and larger- in acrylic. I was the only oil painter (not in the workshop, of course). Brian gave a 2-3 hr demo every morning; each day focusing on a different technique or compositional idea, and each day the demo got less representational and more abstract. He is a wonderful teacher - clearly directing us in a very intuitive process, while encouraging each painter in their own path. About the middle of the week he gave each of us a private interview to talk about what had brought us to the workshop, what we wanted out of it, and what he saw as a way to get to that goal. That time alone, was worth the price of admission.
Each day’s demo was based loosely on one of 5 design Elements: Shape, Value, Color, Line and Texture, and expressed via 4 design Principles:  Gradation, Variation, Repetition, and Exaggeration.  Brian uses a multi-layered, deconstructive approach to his indirect method of painting, building up- then working over, tearing down and reinventing again and again.  For him (consequently, for us) there are no wrong marks.  WHAT?
He would say “make a mark and respond to it. Think on the canvas and go with what occurs to you;  let the PAINT be the subject”.
This process can be maddening and wonderfully freeing but there is no denying that there is a depth to his work that goes beyond the image.  He calls it “maturity of mark making'  - often spending weeks or months on a single work.   Hmmmm. . .   well, that sent my impatient nature to the back burner.
“Go the distance”  -took on a whole new meaning for me.  
Because this was  a class of experienced painters - he could say  -
“ Believe in your own mark making- you don’t need to understand every mark, just make it - believe in it - trust it.”
- knowing full well that he wasn’t teaching anyone here to paint - he was releasing everyone to trust their own skill set, giving them complete license to do what he knew they could do.
It was empowering.
I took tons of photos for my own reference and have included just a few here to give you all an idea of the process.
So, will I suddenly quit with oil and take up abstract acrylic painting?
I don't think so - but this workshop sure did scratch an itch that I have felt deep down for a long time, and it broadened my thinking in so many ways.
 I plan to spend a big chunk of my winter working on things Brian recommended to me - not so that I can paint like him but so that I can reach for new places in my own work - places I don't yet see but I know are out there.
Eventually, some of these methods will become my own,  painted with marks characteristic to me, in my voice and with my palette.  All that is required is perseverance, patience and putting in the TIME.

Click on the photos to view them larger.


Art For the Endangered Landscape

This show features artists from all over Colorado and even outside the state - in an effort to bring awareness to endangered landscapes.
This weekend the first of 3 three exhibitions will open at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts; 2313 Eagle Dr. in Pagosa Springs Colorado.  Reception is From 4 to 7 pm and the the show will hang until Nov. 1st.
For more information go to www.slvec.org


Class Notes: Magic Complements

Working with complements is a great color mixing exercise. Complements are 2 colors that are directly across the color wheel from each other.
They also serve as the simple version of the "How to make BROWN” recipe,
and part of our color mixing vocabulary:  “to mute a color - add the complement.”
Sounds so simple - but as my students know - there is nothing simple about color mixing. It is the artist's lifelong quest - with piles of "icky colors" left in our wake.
In class, I look for constants where beginning painters can go to feel safe.
If you look back a few posts on this blog- I ask the question “What color is Brown?”.
I ask because students ask. That whole range of neutrals,  from warm (brown) to cool (grey) - how does a painter mix them?
COMPLEMENTS - is the simple answer-  that is not so simple.

In class we use a classic Limited Palette:
Lemon Yellow  (cool)
Cad Yellow Deep (warm)
Cad Red Light  (warm)
Alizarin Crimson (cool)
Cerulean Blue  (warm)
Ultramarine Blue, and White (cool)

In our discussion of complements - students scratch their heads-  Where on our Limited Palette are those magic Complements ?
What?  Do you mean I have to mix the complement of yellow or red or blue?  - And by the way there are 2 of each here- which one do I use?
Good questions.
Answers are: You are right - “complements” do not reside on our Limited Palette,
Yes, -  you have to mix them from what we have been given,  and as to Which one to use - well, both.  
I already hear the wheels turning. . . . some students will think about just buying a tube of something that complements a pigment on the Limited Palette.  Hmmmm. . . .
But wait. Put down that supply catalog;

It is a wonderful fluke of pigment karma that we have a set of genuine complements in the Limited Palette listed above.
No mixing, no hard decisions about warm and cool, blah, b-blah, b-blah.
Our go-to complements are Cadmium Red Light and Cerulean Blue.
I won't take time here, to discuss their precise characteristics - suffice to say - if you are trying to mix anything from a warm neutral (BROWN), to a cool neutral (GREY) - start HERE.
The last few weeks in class we have examined, experimented and played, using JUST these 2 pigments.
We have experimented with landscape and with still life.
Everything posted here was painted with only 2 pigments: Cadmium Red Light and Cerulean Blue and in all of the paintings we get intense color as well as a breadth of beautiful neutrals.
Try this exercise at home using ONLY  - Cad Red Light and Cerulean Blue, and white  - you will be surprised at what you come up with.

Judith Greenwood painted the sweet piece at the top in acrylic.


2015 Western Light Exhibition in Estes Park

The 2015 Western Light Fine Art Exhibition will open on Friday night August, 21st, 6-9 pm at Earthwood Collections in Estes Park, CO.
You are invited to join us in beautiful Estes Park for the show opening.
The exhibition will feature the best work of artists from all over the western U.S.

Not only is Estes Park a great Colorado painting destination, it is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.  Above is a morning view of Sprague Lake and below, a photo of Sue McCullough, David Montgomery and Dawn Normali painting at beautiful Loch Vale.
We will be painting at locations like this one all week and wrap up our time Friday night, August 21st at the Western Light Show -  6- 9pm.
Hope to see you there!


Class Notes: Oh, those Summer Nights

Last Tuesday night our class painted out north of town and about 7:30 the sky opened up and we enjoyed one of those WOW sunsets that goes from beautiful to fabulous to amazing - in about 15 minutes;
and about 15 minutes in -
it occurred to me - the complete presumption of trying to capture this wonder of nature. I painted as fast as I could in the twilight and really didn't want to look too closely when I threw it into the pizza box. The next morning I saw it was covered with bugs - silent testimony. . . .
to an evening well spent.
      This is the last week of the Summer Plein air Class.
Tuesday Evening at 6:30pm  we will meet on the south side of Carroll Park for sunset and mountain views.
Thursday Morning at 9am we will meet at the corner of Third St. and Poncha, behind Safeway for street views with lots of trees and shade.
     Summer will be gone before we know it.  Painting out is one of the best ways of making the most of this short season and stretching it out just a bit farther.
And the show in the sky last week had to beat whatever I could have been watching on TV.


In the ACT of. . . .

Recently, while doing some research on Berthe Morisot - one of my absolute favorite (dead) painters, I stumbled on a wonderful BLOG called Women in the Act of Painting, by Nancy Bea Miller.
Not just art history, but a celebration of women painters- and paintings OF them actually painting. I was immediately fascinated and inspired.
This speaks to the act of painting by the artists themselves - but also to the documentation of artists doing what they do - and doing it in the field.
All this led me into the photo archive to dig up pieces of my own - paintings of Painters - painting.
And what of the mind of the artist who paints other artists painting? Hmmmmm . . . . .

Catching another artist in the act of . . . .
strikes me as a little invasive but as you can see from my work above, I am not exactly doing portraits. The great thing about most outdoor painters is that they don't move a lot - which makes them perfect models. I am not a figure painter - but sometimes the challenge to paint another painter is more interesting than anything in the landscape.
The 2 pieces below are paintings of me. The one on the left is by Victoria Brooks when we painted together in Rocky Mountain National Park. The other was painted by Leslie Allen at the Estes Park Quick Draw.                                                                                                     
ps. The painter immortalized at the top of this post is Susan McCullough, good painter, good friend and the favorite painting of my "in the Act of" pieces.


Class Notes: Painting OUT

In July and August all my classes go outside to paint en plein air - and I can't remember such a rainy summer.  Colorado weather, in any season makes for hardy painters - but some of my students are feeling tested;  both Tuesday and Thursday classes have had to paint in the rain.
 Bravo! to those of you who braved the elements. Not only does it make you more fearless - the finished piece, good, bad or indifferent, is your trophy for a job done in difficult circumstances - a badge of honor.
Last Tuesday evening we faced rain from the start and ended up finishing class in my studio; not all bad.  These occasions help develop expertise in other areas like working from sketches and memory.

Every time we paint out we are stretching our skill set - sometimes that means figuring out how to tear down quickly and carefully, remembering to take a quick photo - or do that all-important sketch.
The summer rains have pretty much ruined my sketch book - but that in itself is a trophy. I was OUT there.
The landscape is OUT there - don't miss it this summer.

This is of my pieces done during class - a small 6"x 8" of the Rio Grande River as the rain starts to fall. Small panels allow me to work with students and still finish a simple piece.  The operative term here is "simple" and I encourage students to keep the idea simple.  A simple landscape and a good view of the horizon make for the best sunset vistas.

Class Painters - I hope to see you all out there next week.


Class Notes: What Color Is Brown?

The mixing recipe for BROWN is the most often asked question in my classes. Students who have been with me for awhile have learned - even asking makes me a little testy.
BUT it isn't a dumb question.
When seeing neutrals, the temptation is to give them the generic title of BROWN or GREY,  but these terms give no real indication of the color you are seeing in the landscape or trying to mix on the palette.
By definition NEUTRALs are ANY color greyed down, or muted by it's complement. Cool neutrals are lumped together as GREYS and warm neutrals fall into the sad BROWN category. Both can kill a painting if used without understanding; conversely, sensitive neutrals can create work of mixing mastery.
But, the question still hangs out there - "How do I mix brown?"
The simple answer: mix complements together - 2 colors directly across from each other on the color wheel.
Before we even get that far - try giving that "brown" you are thinking about a name based on the color wheel.  Is it close to a yellow, orange, red, violet, blue or green?

Learning to see and understand the relative nature of color and NEUTRALS is part of the artists journey.
And mixing color is not a short drive to the market. It can turn into an extended road trip, full of unexpected discoveries, dead ends, wrong turns, and very lost moments. Embrace it!
So, how do we start?
Get rid of terms that do not "describe".
If something appears "brown" or "grey"- describe it with a color on your palette.
We use a limited palette in my classes: 2 yellows, 2 reds, 2 blues. What color is it most like?
Say that color and begin mixing it using that color as a base.
All  BROWNs and GREYs -  must have some color base.
Is it cool, meaning green, blue or violet based?
Or is it warm, meaning yellow, orange or red based?
Learning to SEE the color is the first step to identifying and correctly mixing color.  It all leads to better understanding of color and  your work will not only take on a more lively look but your neutrals will be more varied and sensitive.


Summer- Plein Air Workshops

June is here- Yay!
Wondering what to do this summer? - consider a class or workshop.
I will be teaching 2 workshops this summer - something for everyone- in different parts of the state.

4-Day  Plein Air Workshop at Adams State University, Alamosa Colorado
July 13 - 16th, 8am to 2:15pm each day.
Register for this class, at http://www.adams.edu/summer/

For 4 days we will focus intensely on composition, method, and how to apply it in the plein air setting. Demonstrations and painting instruction will benefit students wanting to enhance their skills as well as novice painters looking for more confidence in the landscape.
ALSO, painting supplies are included in the fees and special rates for housing are being offered.
Go to the ASU website via the link and look for  Course #579  in the Summer 2015 Class Schedule. APPLY on line, get Tuition info - etc.  
For help - call the folks at the Adams State OneStop - they can walk you thru the process. Adams State OneStop -phone: 719-587-7306 or toll-free: 866-344-1687
email: onestop@adams.edu

1-Day Workshop in Estes Park at the Art Center of Estes Park.
Monday, August 17th,  10am to 4pm
$85. Better Paintings - More Confident Painters.
We will use the landscape to focus on Design, Color, and Finding your own voice.
Call the Art Center of Estes Park at (970)-586-5882 for information and registration.

Now get out there and PAINT!


Taste of Creede - Creede, COLORADO

Taste of Creede Quick Draw looked to be a slow starter this year. Memorial Day Sunday brought intermittent snow as artists set up   -  but in true Creede fashion, once we started painting people came out of the - well, I don't know where they came from  - but they came and they purchased art.
It never ceases to amaze me - the buyers who come to this event - from as far away as Santa Fe and Denver - very often in bad weather - come wanting to buy work at THIS show and support artists and the town of Creede.

I love Creede and the Taste of Creede Quick Draw is one of the most fun events I do all year;
really, more like a gathering of good friends - all invited by Stephen Quiller.
 - And the people that come - are tenacious buyers,
hardy as the painters themselves. I have garnered several dedicated collectors over the years, and was very excited to send my piece home with new friends who drove all the way from Westminster, Colorado to be in Creede for the Quick Draw.
Hidden in the beautiful San Juan Mountains, Creede is one of Colorado's best high country destinations and loves tourists and artists. The Taste of Creede is dedicated to Food, Culinary Arts, and Fine Art;  Sunday's 1 hour Artist's Quick Draw attracts some of the best artists from all over the country including: Steve Quiller, Susan McCullough, Peggy Stenmark Morgan, Kris Gosar, David Montgomery, Karen Bonnie, Charles Ewing, Jan Thompson, Tracy Miller, Laura Reilly, and myself - to name a few.
Creede also hosts the National Small Prints Show currently hanging at the Creede Repertory Theatre. Another good reason to visit Creede.
Thank You to Stephen & Marta Quiller and the Creede Chamber of Commerce for putting together a great event.


Remembering Sue "Soupe" Patterson

Sue Patterson, artist, teacher and mentor - passed away in her home in Alamosa on April 7th. If you are a resident of San Luis Valley - Colorado - you probably know this news.
I just want to take a moment to remember Sue.
She was the first artist I met when I moved to the San Luis Valley 12 years ago;  she was my son’s elementary school art teacher.  A lot of people in Alamosa,  parents, and their now grown-up children, will remember her in that capacity - Sue was a very special teacher.  Everything she did sparkled with life and wit and imagination.  She was raising up artists and art lovers right under our noses - and these kids saw it as pure magic. Thank you Sue - for the way you planted a love of art into the hearts and minds of my children.

In 2009 she received the Colorado Elementary Art Teacher of the Year award and I believe this will be her true legacy:  the kids she motivated, and the many student teachers from Adams State University that she mentored and inspired to go on and be part of Art Education in our state.

Sue was an accomplished watercolor painter and after recently retiring from education she concentrated on both painting and welding, making fabulous metal sculptures. It was a second, or third art career,  just taking off.
Last November Sue and I traded art pieces. I desperately wanted her belly up “Daschund” - and she chose my plein air painting “Spring Thaw on 6th Street”; it was a very happy trade.
And now - I am even more grateful- because I have something that celebrates her - in the fun and witty way I remember her.

A Service will be held at Richardson Hall Auditorium on the ASU Campus on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 2:00 pm.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Sue’s memory to the Sue “Soupe” Patterson Art Memorial Scholarship fund at 208 Edgemont Blvd., Alamosa 81101.
We have lost a dedicated and inspiring arts educator,  artist,  mentor and wonderful person.
will be greatly missed and greatly remembered.


SLV Painters "Eye of the Artist" Show

 Last night the San Luis Valley Painter's "Eye of the Artist" exhibition reception at Milagros was the jewel of the Alamosa Art Hop.
I may be indulging in a little bit of hyperbole but I do think this is the best show we've hung yet and our reception played to a packed house. 49 paintings were shown and several have sold - Yay!
Last night over 40 people had a chance to vote for their favorite for Best in Show.
In Alamosa- that is a big crowd.
Patrick Myers painting "Alpenglow Reflection" won the prize. Patrick is an artist and ranger at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.  He paints the area with great insight and sensitivity to the subject. Congratulations Patrick!
Thank You to the everyone who came out to support us, and to the SLV Painters who participated.
SLV Painters Group is an informal association of artists who have been involved in my painting classes, both currently and in the past. We come together to show work from our year and hopefully, inspire others to share their work with the community.
Thank You to Milagros coffee house/gallery, a non-profit very much at the heart of Alamosa community life.
20% of all proceeds from sales are donated back out through Milagros and LaPuente to serve Alamosa.
This show will hang until the end of April.
To everyone a blessed Easter and Passover.