With this painting, I wanted to capture what if feels like emotionally and physically to be out in nature on a beautiful fall afternoon. The sun is dropping fast. Your heart quickens as you realize how much earlier it sets these days. You feel as though you want to rush to take in every last bit before it is gone.
With temperatures hovering around 0º, can you blame me for indulging in a little reminiscence of our Mexican vacation/painting trip in the winter of 2010. This studio painting is based on a 9x12 field study I did on location. The original field study was painted in the morning under a slightly hazy sky. It must have rained the night before, because there was a lot of dirt trapped by the breakers. It was a bit disappointing, but we had come to paint, so paint we did.
As I was cleaning up, I remember thinking to myself how much nicer the afternoon light was. This week's studio painting is based largely on that memory. The fronts of the buildings are lit. The water is crystal clear and the breakers have taken on that iridescent quality they get when the light shines through them.
"Painted from memory while on location" seems like a contradiction in terms but it really isn't. Two days in a row I set up on this location hoping to capture the late afternoon light on these barges and Autumn leaves. Both days I barely got some color notes committed to canvas before the clouds moved in turning everything to beige and grey. Before I was done on the second day, I was painting in sleet. I had to explain to more than one passersby as there eyes travelled back and forth between my sunlit painting and the grey day, "This is what it looked like an hour or so ago."
Capturing a moment in time is always a challenge. Yesterday we arrived at this location in mid-aftenoon. The spot I picked to set up my easel had a nice roll to the land. Although it was pretty evenly lit when I got there, I knew that the background trees would soon be in deep shadows. I wanted there to be a lot of contrast between the bright fall colors and the deepening shadows of late afternoon. Although one can never be completely sure what will be lit in a couple hours and what will be in shadow, one must make an educated guess and start laying down the paint. I had to make adjustments as I went but nothing too major. I was surprised at just how intense the colors became as the sun dropped in the sky. I found myself pumping cadmiums into the painting at an alarming rate. I was worried that I might be making the common mistake of overdoing yellows and oranges in the golden hour, but when I looked at the painting today in midday light, I felt I had not gone quite far enough in a couple of places and added a bit more color. The painting was about 95% done on location.
Painted earlier this month just as the Fall colors were starting to peek through.
I sold this painting yesterday during the Saint Paul Art Crawl before I had a chance to post it here or on my website.
Starting today I am opening my studio for private showings.
If you see something you like and would like to see the original, or would like to see something similar, I would be more than happy to make an appointment with you for a private viewing in my studio. Just send me an e-mail telling me what you would like to see and we'll work out the details. I look forward to seeing you at my studio.
This is one of the paintings I did during the Grand Marais Plein Air Paint Out a couple weeks ago. We concentrated on the southern end of Cook County this year (or western end if you're from Cook County).
Painted in mid-July, I finally photographed it today. This is another early morning painting from one of my favorite regional parks. At this time in the morning, everything is precious. I don't have to look very hard for subject matter and find myself awed by the simplest of things—a tree, some clouds, ablaze of grass.
Yes it is rapids on the Rapids River. I couldn't resist the title.
I'm playing catch-up before the Saint Paul Art Crawl, Oct 4-6. In the past month we've taken 3 trips to paint. Unfortunately you wouldn't know it because I haven't had any time to post any of the work. Watch for a glut of new work here and on my web site.
Awake for Sunrise, oil on linen mounted panel, 24x18
Jerri Jo has not only planted a perennial garden in our yard; she's planted one in each of our elderly neighbors back yards as well. This is the garden she planted in our neighbor's yard to the north of us.
Garden's say a lot about the people who plant them. Some people like their petunias lined up like little soldiers. Jerri Jo's gardens are a bit looser. She has taught the neighbor kids how to pick flowers with mature seeds in them and let's them spread the seeds wherever they want. If they grow they grow. If they don't, they don't.
I was about to throw my paints in the car yesterday and head out to a favorite painting location when I noticed the beautiful light in our own backyard. I decided to get out the big canvas. Here's a homage to loose gardening practices.
Superior Spring Morning II, Oil on Linen, 30x36 (sold)
I am honored to have been commissioned to paint "Superior Spring Morning II" by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. It is based on a painting I did in 2010 called simply "Superior Spring Morning".
Karol's Bridge is my name for this bridge. I don't even know the actual name of this old gem. Karol is our new friend who took us all over Chippewa Falls And Eau Claire in search of painting locations. She fed us and entertained us with wonderful stories and piano playing; made us welcome in her home, but most importantly, she gave freely from her heart to both Jerri Jo and me, and we are happy she is our new friend. This painting is dedicated to her.
Sometimes I feel like the guy in the donut commercials dragging himself out of bed in the wee hours. "I've gotta go make the painting." I was up way before dawn two mornings in a row to capture this sunrise a few blocks from our house. On the first morning the sky was uneventful, so I worked on the foreground. The second morning the sky was amazing for about 20 minutes. I caught what I could, but as you can imagine, looking into a sunrise like this can be tiring on the eyes. Actually, it can do serious damage if you aren't careful. I was standing behind a lamp post and had my giant brimmed hat on as usual. Still, I had to finish in the studio after my eyes had plenty of time to rest.
When I set up my easel earlier this week, I thought the sunrise fog over this pond was going to be the focus of my painting. I just about had it roughed in when the egret landed on the stump right in front of me. I love egrets so I quickly sketched him in. Of course he only stuck around for a few minutes, so as soon as I had him painted I returned to the foggy scene.
Seven in the Morning, Oil on Linen, 12x16
All the while, I kept looking over my shoulder to the west. I loved the way the light and the shadows played in the trees and across the reeds in the distance. I decided I would come back and paint that scene on another day.
Low and behold, I happened to glance over to this other scene to the west and noticed that my egret had taken up residence in one of the trees. Immediately, I grabbed another canvas and roughed him in. So now I had two unfinished canvases.
So the next day, I came back and worked on the first painting between 6 and 7am and the second painting between 7 and about 8:30am. It took one more visit this morning to put finishing touches on both paintings. Although he flew by a couple times, my egret never stopped to pose again on either the stump or the tree.
Jerri Jo and I have painted here before. This time we brought our big linen panels. I thought the painting was pretty much done when we were cleaning up at sunset, I felt differently once I got it back to the studio. It had been a very grey day on location, but the sun did peek out for a couple minutes, so I mixed up a bit of the sunshine lit tree colors while on location, and roughed in where the sun lit the trees on the foreground island and distant river flats. On a grey day, it is easy to underplay the color, When the sun went back behind the clouds, I thought I had plenty of color on the sunlit passages. Once I got it back to the studio, I realized it needed much more color to capture what I remember being there and what I truly love about this location.
Floating in a Warm Summer Sky, Oil on Canvas, 12x16
This was painted in the studio. I had 3 plein air studies I was looking at for inspiration. The goal was to hone the subject down to its essence. It's easy to get rapped up in all the details; harder to only paint that which best captures the emotional response one has to a particular subject.
I painted two of the studies on calm days. What I was most drawn to was the reflections in the water; an upside-down mirror image of the world, that, as you look closer in to shore, becomes translucent and gives up the secrets of what lies below its surface.
Since this is one of the featured paintings in my upcoming 2 person show with Derek Davis at the Frameworks Gallery, I figured it was about time I posted it on my blog site. This is one of our favorite places in the Saint Paul metro area. It's a popular sledding hill in the winter with a great view across the Mississippi River Valley. We painted here last Fall. I did some studio work on the painting on a snowy day in April. It was a cathartic experience.
Tomorrow is the first day of spring. We have two feet of snow on the ground to prove it. Watching the late season snow last week, I was drawn to thoughts of summer. This studio painting is roughly based on a plein air painting from a couple years ago. I remember it was quite warm and we had had a lot of rain in recent weeks. The grass was green and lush while the trees were already starting to turn. The word "Fall" in the title, of course, has two meanings.
It was around 0ºF with a pretty fair wind. The air was filled with tiny crystals of ice. As I worked the crystals would get mixed into my paint giving the surface a sandy texture. Additional texture was achieved by working on a recycled panel. All this texture lent it self nicely to the subject matter.
A complete reworking of an older painting, The subject is a valley in southeast North Dakota that is one of my favorite places. See this and five other paintings of mine at the Jamestown Medical Center through May. Also, you have a couple more days to see the show at the Grand Marais Art Colony featuring the work of 15 artists that took part in the Grand Marais Winter paintout at West Bearskin Lake earlier this month.
The open water is caused by an aeration system, so the fishermen are probably safe that far from the hole. Still, it was just a few weeks prior to this that my wife saw a partly submerged truck not far from this spot. Vehicles of any kind are totally illegal on this particular lake. I would not want to pay the well deserved fines and recovery fees the vehicle owner accrued.
While I was on this location, a coyote walked right in front of me, looked at me a few times and meandered over to my side. He sat down on small mound about 20 yards away and sunned himself for a while, totally relaxed in my presence. I can hardly say the same for myself. It was a wild coyote, for crying out loud!