Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pink Ladies

Pink Ladies
5" x 7" oil on board
Sold

I alternate between loving my paintings and hating them. How did painting become my passion? I'm not even sure. I don't have anything new to say or innovative to offer, so why do I do it? I wonder if I should focus my energy on something worthwhile like being a good dad or a better teacher?

I painted this on one of the many days sprinkled throughout the year that remind me of death and the brevity of life. In this case, the anniversary of my dad's death, which sometimes coincides with Mother's Day, reminding me of my mom's death.  But instead of cracking a beer and sitting on the couch in the dark, I painted.  And I thought about life.

Globes

Globes
5" x 7" oil on board
$50 plus shipping

This is one that I nearly scrapped, not even halfway through painting. Quite often during the course of making a painting I find myself doubting or even hating what I've done. But, time and again, I've reached those points of despair, and I've found that if I work through them or even around them, focussing on something else for a while, they work themselves out. Often, the paintings that frustrate me the most in the beginning turn out to be the best paintings. And sometimes they're just terrible from start to finish...I think this one worked out ok though.

Black & Decker

Black & Decker
8" x 10" oil on board
$70 plus shipping

This is my dad's old Black & Decker drill. I inherited most of his vast tool collection after he died, including things like furniture clamps, jig saws, hand saws for dove tailing, and other tools I'm not even sure what to do with. My brother inherited my dad's ability to use them effectively, but he was already in good supply of tools.

My dad's artistic outlet was his carpentry and metal working. Before the time of the internet and downloadable plans, he had an amazing ability to create furniture and even machines out of wood and scrap metal by just drawing them out or seeing a piece in a store or on TV and recreating from memory. I'm not positive that the Bowflex had even been invented when he fabricated his first home gym with bench press, lat pull down, row station, and even his own plate weights, cut out of scrap metal and linked together with cables, pulleys, and bearings.  It was pretty incredible.  I, on the other hand, experience the rage when I have to do something as simple as installing blinds in my baby's nursery.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Evening in Zion

Evening in Zion
5" x 7" oil on board
Sold

This is an image of Zion Canyon from our tour of Utah's national parks. I can't wait to take our daughter there when she's old enough. Pretty good light in this one.

Hunter

Hunter
8" x 10" oil on board
Commissioned - Sold
















Despite the tiny, grainy photo that I referenced for this painting, hacked from Hunter's owner's Facebook page, I think I was able to breath some life and some meaning into this work. The respect and admiration that I have for Hunter's owner entered into every decision I made with this painting, even down to the colors I chose.  Thanks for being such a great teacher.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Shed

The Shed
8" x 10" oil on board
Sold

My sister described my painting as "sloppy."  One of many qualities that my sister and I share is that things don't always come out of our mouths the way we intend them to. At least I hope that was true in this case.  She went on to clarify that it was, "sloppy in a good way."  Still not exactly the description one wants to hear about ones painting style, but I think I know what she means.  These days, I'm really focussing on clean, bright colors and correct values, possibly at the expense of technique. Painting outside forces you to make decisions about color and value quickly. It's great practice, and hopefully as I am able to make those decisions more quickly and accurately, some of the "sloppiness" will fade and I'll be able to focus more on technique.

One decision I made with this painting that I think represents a step in the right direction was to stop looking at the scene in front of me after about an hour of painting. The light had changed so much that I found myself reworking things that didn't need reworking. I focussed on working within the values that I set out initially, and I think I was successful. I usually don't say this, but I love this painting.  When I look at it, it makes me feel the way I do midday at the river when I'm engulfed by warmth, humidity, good smells, and the anticipation of good times with family and friends. Plus, I got to paint with my sister.

The Porch

The Porch
5" x 7" oil on board
$50 plus shipping

I had a lot of extra paint left on my palette after painting the sunrise, so I turned around and painted the porch.   The sun was partially obscured by some clouds, and it created a nice little glow. The light was changing so fast that I only had time to get down the basics. It's incredibly simple, but I like it, maybe because it's not over-worked or over-thought.

Remnants

Remnants
5" x 7" oil on board
$50 plus shipping

When I was a kid, there was a dark and dense tangle of vines and trees separating the river house property from the property just up river to the north.  There was one path, tunneling through the darkness to a sand road that wound through corn fields, growing all the way to where the bank angled down to the river.  The path through the woods was sandy but strewn with holly leaves.  Always barefoot, I chased many a ball and frisbee into those prickly woods.  Usually, my brother and I would fight over who had to go in after.

Now, there's a mansion hovering over our cinderblock shack, and the woods, once home to foxes, raccoons, and all manner of tiny animal, have been thinned to make visible some of the larger oaks and sycamore trees. The trees are ancient and beautiful, but it also makes our neighbor's house much more visible.

This painting is what's left of the woods between the properties.  The corn fields have transitioned to alfalfa; that's the golden streak you see running through the middle of the painting.


Piankatank Sunrise

Piankatank Sunrise
5" x 7" oil on board
$50 plus shipping

The mattress in my room at the river house is probably as old as the house. It's like sleeping in a creaky hammock with springs poking you on either side.  As usual, I couldn't sleep, so I decided to catch the sunrise. All in all, this took about 10 minutes to make. Hopefully, that's obvious in a good way, not a sloppy, ugly way. If you look closely, you can see a gnat flying into the heart of the sun.

Clothesline


Clothesline
8" x 10" oil on board
$70 plus shipping

This was the last of my Memorial Day river house paintings, painted the morning of my final day; the specter of packing and Memorial Day traffic with no air conditioner haunted this painting.


Violette's Lock

Violette's Lock
5" x 7" oil on board
Sold

I took a personal day last Wednesday, June 17th, even though it was a week before summer break because...well, because I felt like I deserved a day after SOL's, SOL remediation, and SOL retakes.  Plus,  it might have been the last chance I'll have to take the kayak out, or paint, before our baby is born.

This was an ambitious little adventure. I decided I would fish for a few hours after sunrise and then paint once the fishing slowed down. So I packed an oversized dry bag with my travel easel and painting supplies, thinking it would fit in the hold of my kayak. It didn't, so I strapped it to the back of the kayak and paddled off into the dark at Violette's Lock on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, a few miles west of Potomac, MD. Normally, the rapids around Violette's Lock are nothing to fear, but I realized as I put in that the river was up a bit.  The biggest rapid that you have to navigate at Violette's Lock is in the narrow inlet, immediately after you put in. There's a sizable drop located on a sharp bend and in the dark with the water up, it's a little scary. However, I made it through, and I caught some nice smallmouth along the broken down dam that stretches across the river next to the lock. This is an ideal fishing/paddling trip for lone paddlers because it doesn't require a shuttle.  You float down a mile and a half or so, hop over to the C&O Canal and paddle back to the starting point.

Painting was a little more difficult. As I daydreamed about my fishing/painting adventure during my off-periods leading up to my day off, everything was so much easier.  Idyllic scenes abounded, the ground was flat, and my paintings were fresh and beautiful.  As usual, reality did not match my delusions.  In fact, I dropped my painting completely under water twice!  How it arrived home not completely ruined is a miracle. And if you plan to purchase, beware that there may be some specs of Potomac River sediment embedded in the paint. Character...