Happy 2018

Happy New Year, and a special Thanks to all of my students. You keep  me motivated and you keep me learning.  I am looking forward to the year ahead and heading into new territory with subject matter, focus and new inspiration. 
The class information here is mainly for students local to my area of Colorado, but if you are not in this area, I would still encourage you to think about starting your new year with a CLASS. Getting together with others in a learning environment can  jump start creativity for the whole year. Give your self the gift of inspiration. TAKE a class.                                                                                                         
My new classes start up right after the New Year: 
Tuesday Evenings start on January 2nd, from 6:30pm to 9:30 pm.  By popular demand we will focus on animals in the landscape: design, movement and compositional story telling. If wildlife is your interest don't miss this session.                                                     
Thursday Morning classes start on January 4th, 9am to Noon and our focus will be on birds and creating interesting and lively backgrounds in small settings.
All classes meet at the Alamosa Family Recreation Center in the art studio. Beginners are welcome and all classes address foundational skills of composition, color mixing and painting technique.


Holiday Magic in Manitou

 Don't miss the Holiday 100 miniature show and sale on
Sunday, November 26th, from 1 to 4 pm.-
a festive opportunity designed to help you start  -or polish off- your holiday shopping,
- AND guaranteed to be more inspirational than pushing that behemoth shopping cart thru  a big box store.
Give ART this season - it's holds its' value (think Antiques Roadshow), your purchase supports small business, AND it shows your good taste - without having to go to Christie's and bid like a high roller.
GREAT artists will be featured at this show, with work created especially for it.  You can be sure there will be something for everyone - all very affordable - priced especially for the holidays. 
Holiday 100 miniature show and sale, 
Sunday, November 26th, from 1 to 4 pm.
at the TracyMiller Gallery, 16 Ruxton  Ave., Manitou Springs, CO.

Take a break from Black Friday madness and indulge in a trip to Manitou Springs for some holiday magic - and get some shopping done along the way.
Located at the base of the Pikes Peak Cograil and only about 15 minutes from Colorado Springs, the Tracy Miller Gallery will host the Holiday 100 show through December 31st.
These pieces here are just a few of the miniatures I painted for the show. Have a great weekend.

Manitou Paints Plein Air - October 21st

Saturday, October 21st Manitou Springs hosted the Manitou Paints Plein air Event  - special because it was open only to artists represented in Manitou Galleries.
I am represented by the TracyMiller Gallery, at 16 Ruxton  Ave.,  in Manitou and besides myself
some of the other artists on the street on Saturday were Tim Deibler, Buffalo Kaplinski, Terri Sanchez, to name a few.
From 10 am to 3 pm we met shoppers, children of all ages and so many wonderful Manitou Residents - excited to enjoy the festivities.
Many of the artists painted from the view but several, myself included painted from a sketch. See below.
 At the end of a beautiful and blustery day the artists were wined and dined as guests of the historic Avenue Hotel Bed and Breakfast.
Thanks to the merchants and galleries who planned, promoted, sponsored and supported this great event.
See more of my work at the Tracy Miller Gallery - located at 16 Ruxton near the base of the Pikes Peak Cograil and only about 15 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs.
On the left is my under painting and on the right is the finished piece, 16"x 16",  in oil on stretched canvas. It was a very fun piece to create, taken from a sketch I did in the Conejos aspens.
In my painting classes we have been experimenting with "broken color".  I got the idea for this during a class demo and was very happy with the result.


Fall Arts in Taos

TAOS is always a good idea ! -
. . . the brisk air, changing colors and the smell of chilis roasting. . .
- it's Fall in Taos.
This weekend, September 23 and 24,  marks the 43rd Annual Taos Fall Arts Festival:  visual art, performance, kid art, regional art,  and galleries in party-mode. What's not to love?

I will be in Taos on Saturday night celebrating the opening of the new show "Solace in Sanctuary",  at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art,
which will feature work from all the artists in Wilder Nightingale-  themed along the lines of New Mexico's most loved and venerated locations.  Click on this link to see more:   http://www.wnightingale.com/artists/152

This show celebrates Fall Arts and Wilder Nightingale's 27 years of service to the Taos art community.
Join us at 119-A Kit Carson Road on Saturday evening from 5 to 7 pm
or call 575-758-3255 for more information.

It is the First Day of Fall

A fresh breeze blows around my house,  like sighs at the passing of summer.  It is a little sad but on this first day of Autumn I want to celebrate - not that summer is gone but that a pretty good consolation is still ahead.
David Montgomery, Susan McCullough and myself went up into the high country around Creede this last week - witnesses to the rush of the new season. We enjoyed painting 3 days in beautiful weather and fabulous views. Don't miss it if you have a chance; this next week will see the peak of color around the San Juans.


In Praise of MESSY Painting

I taught 4 workshops this summer and I could not keep track of how many times I heard this apology, "my painting is really messy".
Just last week in class, I found myself explaining to a new painter who has a very distinctive technique - why she should not be  "cleaning up her act".
Why is it - everyone wants to be LOOSE, but unwilling to be MESSY?
We see "loose" as confident, maybe even disciplined, but messy is just . . . . messy.
or is it just. . . loose?
I am not a messy painter - but I keep workin' at it.
Maybe, it's because the more homogenized and tidy work I see- the more BORED I get.  My bent toward plein air painting is largely because it CAN be direct, passionate, and just this side of totally out of control.
Save the tight and tidy work for the studio.
But that is just me . . . .
So if you have a gift for "messy painting" - embrace it.  Don't compare your work with your neighbor's;  focus on the foundational skills:  design, value, strong shapes, color mastery -
and your work will improve naturally.
Those things that make you cringe today - tomorrow could be a gold mine.

Always be a learner.

This is my class demo from our morning in the park.

I have enclosed links to some painters who move in the fabulously "messy" vein.
Diane Ainsworth  http://dianeainsworth.com/workszoom/2317119

Nicolai Fechin  http://www.taosartmuseum.org/fechin.html

Walt Gonske http://waltgonske.com/workszoom/1498434

Ulrich Gleiter    http://www.ulrichgleiter.com


Painters Day OUT

 Thursday was the first plein air class meeting of the season. A beautiful day,  12 painters in the landscape, including a couple of absolute beginners, brave and enthusiastic- BRAVO!
We took it very easy.
Sometimes the adjustment from studio painting to the great outdoors - can be a jarring one - so it is good to encourage each other, and be kind to ourselves. Not too much judging or analysis going on - just a day in the park, so to speak.

Many of us will spend a heck of a lota time this summer doing chores, going to Walmart (I AM sorry about that)- taking care of business or just trying to stay out of trouble (I speak for myself here)
SO - what could be better than a dedicated time OUTSIDE enjoying our beautiful Colorado landscape?
If you are a painter, but there has never been the time . . . . .
or a beginner wanting to learn something new - come out and paint in and around Alamosa all of July and August.
Two great opportunities: Tuesday Evenings, 6:30pm to 9pm
and Thursday Mornings, 9am to noon.
It is $15. to drop-in on a class or you can register for the entire session at the Alamosa Family Recreation Center. Call them at 719-589- 2105.
Locations for WHERE we will be meeting each week will be posted on this BLOG - over to the right.


Plein Air Summer

Painting outdoors is one of the most gratifying ways to experience the amazing Colorado summer. Join a group or take advantage of a class that will get you OUT there.
This Thursday, July 6th (9am to noon) the Alamosa Painting class will start its summer Plein Air session. It is a good time to test the skills you have been honing all year and pit yourself against the ACTUAL landscape - in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Colorado.

Thursday morning class starts at 9am, July 6th and that first meeting will be at the Alamosa Family Rec Center. We will talk about supplies, do some painting and hand out schedules of all the dates and locations for where we will be painting in July and August.
Tuesday Evening class starts at 6:30pm, July 11th and will also meet at the Rec Center for that first meeting, to go over information and pass out painting schedules.

Set your sites on getting the most out of our short summer by being in the landscape.
Our painting locations are in and around Alamosa for varied views of the mountains and the river.
If learning the knack for SUNSETS is your goal- come along for the Tuesday Evening class, which never disappoints.

Painters Drop-in Fee in $15.- paid to Coni at the start of the class.
Let the SUMMER begin.


Party Time in Taos, with Louise Minks

 On June 10th, myself and several painters from Alamosa went down to Taos to celebrate a wonderful opening for Louise Minks at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art.
It was a pleasure to also celebrate her 75th birthday, eat cupcakes and finally close the show evening with a wonderful dinner in Taos, under the stars.
Louise Minks lives in Massachusetts but comes to New Mexico every spring to teach for a week at Ghost Ranch. - something to think about if you are looking for a good reason to go to Ghost Ranch . . . .
I was thrilled by her work the very first time I saw it in the gallery. I also show my work in Wilder Nightingale - and over the years have been fortunate enough to get to know Louise as a friend.  She is one of those people who inspires everyone she comes in contact with.

Her work is currently being featured at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art- on Kit Carson - and absolutely worth the drive to Taos.  There is a wonderful display of small works done en plein air and also larger studio pieces, such as the one in the photo below.
The photo above shows Louise in front of a wall of her work, together with Rob Nightingale.
Louise may live in the East but she captures the soul of New Mexico with a visual wisdom that is, both witty and innovative.
Thanks Louise.


Class Notes: How to Use a Sketch

Something as important as a sketch can get over looked; - we sort of know it's a good thing - we aren't always sure why-
or worse, we don't know HOW to use it.
In class we have been painting animals using photo reference.
So- how does doing a simple sketch help with complex material?

Our purpose is not to make tight realistic drawings before we go to paint BUT to use the sketch to make the most important design decisions before going forward.
For the painting below, I had a photo of this crazy jackrabbit with lots of good detail.
It might be tempting to simply copy the photo reference as it is -  but the best way to use reference is to redesign the material to suit YOUR purpose - not the photographer's.
I will sidestep the discussion about photo copyrights - too involved - but suffice to say, it is always better to use photo material as "reference" not to COPY it.  Unless, of course, you took the photo yourself.
But when using ANY photo reference, design decisions must be made before touching the canvas with paint -
and this is where the disconnect happens.
While making these simple design decisions in your head seems like a good idea -  it's like pointing your car in the right direction just hoping you will arrive at your destination.
I never cease to be amazed at how willing beginners are - to strike out onto the great white canvas with out a map or a clue. Maybe doing a sketch seems too basic?
Hmmm . . . . The PAINTING is our destination.   And while I never have the whole piece figured out before hand -  I can go forward with greater confidence if I have made the basic design decisions in a sketch.
The simple sketches at the top show 2 ways my painting could have gone. One is vertical, of a rabbit in the landscape,
the other is horizontal and more portrait like - both from the same photo reference material.
The face of the rabbit attracted me to the photo in the first place, - so it made sense to design the painting with that in mind and not commit to a lot of extra background landscape, etc.

My sketches are about 3 inches wide, and easy to do;
size does not matter but the information does. I can visualize and arrange the information to see how it best works before committing any paint to canvas.
Once I have done a few sketches  it may become apparent that not every route is a good one, or I may end up choosing between 2 good ideas - No bad thing.  When I am satisfied with the arrangement of my shapes I will use the sketch as a road map and the basis for what  I want to do on the canvas.
Sometimes this takes only one sketch, sometimes 5.
Start with small, simple sketches and soon you will be adding more information to them and they will get better and will serve you better. You may even start to show them off as something you are proud of.


Class Notes: More Confident Sketches

In class we have spent this session focused on SKETCHING and DRAWING - of course, as it relates to painting- but, these things go hand in glove and I do believe that better sketches make better paintings.
If better PAINTING is the goal, it's a NO brainer.
Taking the small amount of time to do a sketch before painting will contribute to a stronger and more well designed piece - and at the same time your range of sketching will improve with the practice.
This is a two-for that is SO worth the time spent.
With that in mind, I have encouraged the class to start doing their sketching with a Sharpie marker.
If the thought of using a black marker to sketch makes you gasp for air  -  consider this:
statistics have shown that people who use a marker - will develop drawing skills with greater confidence more quickly than those who are always erasing, shifting and correcting their marks.

The benefit is huge and the upshot is more confident mark making and more confident sketches. It's not for the faint of heart - or those committed to pencil sketching.
And YES, you will do more bad sketches
but ultimately, more GOOD sketches.
I have included here 3 of my Sharpie sketches in a progression from simple to more complex:
the first, at the top is from reference and is a simple line sketch showing placement.
The second sketch was done en plein air - it shows value and placement; also called a NOTAN sketch.
The third is what I might consider a finished drawing-
or how I like to draw portraits.
I use the Sharpie fine point for most of my sketching, and I buy them by the box.
But I also love the kids Crayola markers, in black.


New Work Heading OUT!

3 of my newest pieces are going out this week. Yay!
as part of a juried show at the Pagosa Springs Medical Center.
The Medical Center is hosting a public reception on April 14 at 5:30 pm to celebrate the new Out-Patient wing and show off juried works for purchase, that will become part of their permanent collection.
There will be live music, food and ART.
Sounds like a good party, and I will be there.
Below are photos of my pieces that will be on exhibition.
                                 Red Mesa,  23"x 32"
                    Winter Park, 24"x 30"
                    On a Summer Eve, 22"x 30" 

The entire show will hang in the Medical Center until June 19. 
For more information call"  970-507-3810.


Shape of Things - SLV Painters Show

Congratulations to the San Luis Valley Painters on the "Shape of Things" show; hanging the entire month of March in Milagros Coffee House Gallery, Alamosa. Thirteen Painters are represented with over 50 pieces, all for sale and all affordable.     This show will hang until Friday March 31st.

Most of the San Luis Valley Painters gathered on Sunday March 12th in Milagros for our "Shape of Things" party.  It is always a pleasure to share our work with the community and people passing through town joined in our Art celebration; some even took a painting home with them.
As part of the festivities, everyone got to vote for their "favorite" painting.
This year the BEST in SHOW honor went to Kari Christoferson, for "Coyote Moon", in oil.
BRAVO! to all the painters who participated.

The San Luis Valley Painters is a group loosely associated with my painting classes. We hold a show locally every Spring in the Milagros Coffee House Gallery in downtown Alamosa.
Milagros is a San Luis Valley institution where roads & friends meet, art & book lovers, free thinkers, musicians and writers, all find a place. It is a stop for tourists, a setting for conversation and coffee drinkers, and for years the site of the only espresso bar in town. I will personally attest to this as a matter of public record.
A rich gathering spot, very much at the heart of Alamosa, Milagros supports causes that are dear to the heart of our community and a natural place to show and celebrate art in Alamosa.  The SLV Painters are donating 15% of all sales to the Milagros fund for our community.
If you are in the area, check out the show - which will hang until Friday, March 31st.
Congrats to Kari- on receiving the Best in SHow award, by a vote of community members AND your painting peers.
Also, a big "Thanks" to the SLV Painters for giving your time to this effort.
SLV Painters represented in this show are: Dee Bartee, Yvon Boss, Kari Christoferson, Peg Collins, Lara Demlo, Judith Greenwood, Laura Hays, Margaret Jones, Richard Luckemeier, Josie Perea, June McDaniel and Barbara Rayburn.


Happy New Year!!

The new year is picking up steam. I enjoyed having my 2 kids home from college in California; we spent time shoveling snow, ice skating, binge watching Phineas and Ferb - and now- as a friend so aptly put it: the holidays are over, it's time to take off the pajamas and go back to ADULTING.
sigh. . .  It was all too short.
I am ready to get back to the studio, back to work. Today we are snowed in tho' - so I am writing instead of painting.
For many artists - the kitchen or spare room is the impromptu studio - their "PLACE".
But the STUDIO is only the space, not the source.
We are all trying to tap in to the well spring of inspiration.
When it is flowing, I want to stand under the stream; when it isn't,
I want to cry over the tap.
I know creativity does not happen in a vacuum; sometimes just getting together with others helps to prime the pump - or trying something new, or following a wild hare. . . . That has been my experience of the last year and a half; banging on the pipe to get the juices to flow.
And the upshot?
a new medium, a new painting experience, new subjects. That also means new marketing, hmmm . . .
I did a lot less oil plein air work this year and a lot more studio work - in ACRYLIC.
Yeah- I have been thinking about it for years and finally jumped in. . . .
I traveled to Canada twice to study for an extended period of time and have been painting like mad - and not all good stuff.
To use a metaphor: I had to consciously give up the love affair with that old car, one that by the way,  no longer made me happy or took me where I wanted to go;
I had to get into a new car; one that I did NOT know how to drive
of course, I thought I KNEW how to drive it - I have a license after all. . .
It's been a real road trip; in a crazy new car that I am having a love- hate relationship with - and still can't figure out.
Can anyone relate?
All I know is that 2 years ago I hardly wanted to get out of bed in the morning - even to go out en plein air, and friends had to listen to me whining about "my car" getting stalled. Actually, it was me getting stalled; tapped out, bored.
Back to the car thing;  I've spent the year driving all out - to the metal,
no map, no destination and nothing to lose - except a gallery or two, but that hasn't happened yet.
I still love plein air painting; the landscape is still OUT there and I am still inspired by it.
Maybe the difference is - something about this new car makes me feel like I am still in my pajamas.

Weekly oil Painting classes started up this week. I am so grateful to my students who motivate me and keep me honest.
Aside from the weekly classes, this January I will be running 2 workshops out of my studio: a 2 day workshop and a 5 day workshop.
I guess I'll have to get dressed for those.

A lot of my new work is now on display at the ARTrium Gallery, Alamosa, Colorado - in the DESIGNx2 Exhibition.
To view my work in this show click on this link: DESIGNx2 or go to ConiGrant.com