Monday, August 30, 2010

Early Sunrise Thunderheads__sunrise, rain, storm clouds

Early Sunrise Thunderheads___6x8 oil study for "Passing America..." exhibit in 2011
Another one from my recent plains trip in Nebraska's Butler County...Check recent blog posts for some other was a brilliant morning to paint!
One thing I do when painting fast is that I use walnut oil as a medium to spread the paint quickly and also to clean my brushes on the road. If you look closely you can see some places where the oil dripped and carried the pigment with it. If I had seen this while painting it, I would have smoothed it out...I am GLAD I did not see it! The drips, to me, MAKE the painting!...artists sometimes call these things "happy accidents".

Friday, August 27, 2010

Horizon in Flames__Nebraska, sunrise,

Horizon in Flames__6x8 study for "Passing America..." exhibit in 2011

South of David City, NE the sun came through morning clouds as Allen and I set out for the start of Day 2 of this leg of my trip "Passing America: The Great Plains". Click the link to see what this project is about.

I painted fast and furiously this morning, because there were morning thunderheads on the plains, GREAT sunrise color, and beautiful views left and right!...I was working on the fog study (posted yesterday) when this view distracted me, so I took up a new panel and began this one. While this little painting was nothing more than a few color notes, we turned the car and I saw something BETTER, and moved on to paint it instead...I had the notes I needed to finish this one AFTER I painted the "better" one...I will post the "better" one tomorrow :)

My title, Horizon in Flames is derived from a song lyric which mentions Nebraska and the Plains, and has become my personal THEME song for Passing America: The Great Plains.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nebraska Color__Flames of Fog

(#2) Flames of Fog__6x8 oil "Passing America..."___for exhibit in 2011
Adter posting over 20 sketches from my Colorado Sketchbook, I am taking a week-long detour to post COLOR, again!
Earlier in the month I took a trip to Nebraska to paint another leg of my upcoming "Drive-By" exhibit. I have posted 5 of the 13 small works I did that trip, but I did not post #2. Here it is, above. To really appreciate it, please scroll down on the blog, back to August 6, when I posted #1. The other 4 are later than that. This one I call "Flames of Fog" because it depicts the thickest fog we saw that day. Near Bone Creek in an area the locals call "The ALps", because it is hilly and beautiful there! I marveled at how the light reflects on the fog much the same as it does on water....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Palomino Corrals

Palomino Corrals___#26 from my Colorado Sketchbook to be auctioned soon
A few days ago I posted some palominos. These are the corrals where they were moving around and trying to escape the summer mosquito swarms of Colorado....I am enjoying the many comments about the excerpts from my sketchbook which I have posted. So many artists seem to enjoy seeing the entire sketchbook. It shows the process of carrying out a theme in a sketchbook...something I really enjoy.
I have been an artist as long as I remember. ALL my early art was drawing and sketch-based works. I was not a painter till I was a young adult. And, only recently have I returned to doing a lot of drawing (I got side-tracked in "camera land" which is so much more convenient!) In the early days I was a very TECHNICAL, accurate renderer, and details were my thing. Thus, I was the s l o w e s t artist in the universe, and an absolute perfectionist. Now, I am one of the fastest sketchers I know. Fast is not necessarily "better", but sketching is like anything else: the more you do it, the more efficiently you CAN do it!
October 21 is my next sketching workshop in Rockport, TX...come if you can!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Antonito__church, sketches, small town

Antonito, Colorado___Sketch #25 from my Colorado soon
Antonito is not too far north of the Colorado and New Mexico border. In fact, see the montain in the background? athis is San Antonio Mountain, which lies in New Mexico. Antonito is famous for the narrow gauge train that runs from here to Chama, New Mexico, called the "Cumbres and Toltec Railroad...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fish For Supper__Trout, sketch, fish

Fish for Supper___Sketch #24 from my Colorado be auctioned soon
When my guys catch fish in Colorado, we have a cooking it till I get to photograph or sketch it...and I only CLEAN the tabletop where I laid it cleaning fish for me! I set this little still-life up with grapes, apples and tabasco and the little trout...yum~!
THis entire sketchbook will be auctioned, probably starting next week. To see all the sketches posted so far, go to the BLOG and scroll down into mid July :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fishing_Colorado, fishing, sketch

Fishing___Sketch #23 from my Colorado of the whole sketchbook soon!-

This man was fishing in front of our place last month and stood here for a while, so I think he was untangling his line...kind of how I fish...

It is a fairly "quickie" sketch and I made sure to do HIM first, since I thought he would move turned out that he stayed a while and I had more time on his part of the sketch than I bargained for...but the LESSON here is to START a sketch or plein air paintig with the thing MOST LIKELY to the background for last since it will stay put....usually :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aspen Stems__sketch, trees, lesson,

Aspen Stems__#22 from my Colorado sketchbook__auction REAL soon

The thing about sketching is VALUES. It's a "art term" meaning "lights and darks". This sketch has light values, whereas yesterday's sketch has middle to dark values. Another way to describe this is that it is "high key"...the values being high key mean that the painting or drawing has a lot of light...low key means it has a lot of darks...Even though this one is high key, the sketch has enough darks to hold it together.
I learned something on this one...not sure I can describe it, but these trees were backlit, and I wanted to create that impression...One way would have been to make the background very dark so the leaves would appear lighter...but keeping it high key almost makes me squint at the brightness of all the white I left it this way, and I think it looks backlit, anyway!

Sketching workshop, Rockport, TX, coming this fall. Let me know if you are interested!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Rain Looks Like__sketch, rain, houses

What Rain Looks Like__sketch #21 in my Colorado sketchbook to be auctioned REAL soon

See the hail sketch I posted yesterday. As that bad weather moved on, it left us a classic western summer sky. Weather geeks like me can tell when it is raining "over there" just by looking at the clouds. They become rather "smeared" at the bottom, and the features blend is hard to explain, but when you see it, you know it....sometimes it is EASY to see the line of rain if the light is behind it, silhouetting, the sheets of rain against a light this sketch above .

We get skies like this each during hurricane season on the gulf coast...I will be there in Rockport, TX this fall teaching a couple of workshops...we WILL sketch and paint! For info:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yellow Slicker_cowboy, Pick-up truck, rain, yellow slicker

Yellow Slicker__#20 in my Colorado Sketchbook__Auction soon
We got chased away from our sketch location by BIG rain clouds. By the time we got to town a few miles away, it started raining HARD, and there was HAIL, too. We pulled over and this cowboy was fixing his truck under the overhang at a gas station. The hail splashed inthe puddles in front of his truck, but I guess his yellow slicker protected him!
Sketching workshops this fall in Rockport, Texas, if you are interested!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Palominos_horses, sketch, pencil

Palominos___sketch # 19 from my Colorado real soon

These friendly horses were right there at the same location I have posted the past few days in Southern Colorado. I did the sketches last month and have been to the Plains since then...But these horses were fidgety and milling around the whole time, as the mosquitoes were pretty furious between the rains...Note to artists...Sketching from life is good practice for your eye...even if the subject is fidgety (think 10 year old ball players, pets, wildlife at the zoo) will learn to decide WHAT is URGENT to put down, and what to save for will "abbreviate" and use fewer lines to communicate and you will develop your own sketching plan of attack, and will see your technique develop as you choose what to, go sketch!!!

I will have a sketching workshop in Rockport Texas this upcoming fall. Contact me if you want to be on the list

Friday, August 13, 2010

San Pedro From the Back_church, sketch, New Mexico, southwest

San Pedro y San Rafael from the Back__#18 from my Colorado soon!
At this great location, we spent the whole morning painting, sketching, photographing and running for cover from lightning and hail! It was a BEAUTIFUL morning! Only a plein air painter will call hail "beautiful"....I LOVE this church!...Not just because it carries my name ("PEDRO" is my maiden name), but because it reflects the culture of this area of close to New Mexico....also, after the rain and hail cleared out, the southwestern sunshine makes crisp edges of light on the building, and hard shadow edges in the clear, dry air....
I am building the page for displaying all 30 sketches in my Colorado sketchbook. I have decided to have an auction, to sell the entire sketchbook...complete with my field notes. I have never really finished a WHOLE sketchbook before...usually halfway through I begin using pages to tear out for grocery lists or brainstorm lists......Even in this book I couldn't help myself, though I tried HARD! ...There are notes and lists inside the front cover ...I wrote them lightly, so that they can be erased if someone hates them :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chamisa Shack__sketch, New Mexico, adobe

Chamisa Shack__Sketch #17 from my Colorado sketchbook to be auctioned in September

To explain this sketch, I could say "ditto" to yesterday's post! This is the same location, the same chamisa bushes and fence line. If you could see to the left of this shack, you would see the church from yesterday! This was one of those locations where you could stay in the same place and paint 4 or 5 great compositions!
Ditto, also, to the wedding plan things I mentioned yesterday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chamisa Study

Chamisa Study_sketch 16 from my Colorado sketchbook__auction soon
Chamisa is this rugged plant that grows over the mesas in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. In the early fall they turn golden yellow with little flowers. Here you can see the San Pedro church in the distance. For a fuller view of the little church, page back to my sketch #15. I will post more Great Plains "drive-by" paintings as soon as I photograph them.
The sketch above continues the 30 sketches from Colorado. I plan to offer the entire sketchbook in an online auction soon.
Right now I am snowed under, wrapping up details from my summer Plains excursions....but MAINLY, I am planning my part of my son's wedding! The bride's family has done the big heavy lifting so far, but now is my time to plan a few parties and gather photos and things for the ceremony and rehearsals...So, I might be out of touch, off and on ...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Great Plains Cloud Line_farms, barn,

(#6) Cloud Line North of David City__6x8 oil study for "Passing America: The Great Plains" exhibit
Allen, my driver, was taking me to meet Anna, his wife, for lunch when we came to this intersection with rolling fields and a great gambrel roof barn. They were talking on the phone, figuring out where we could do lunch, so while Allen was pulled over, I had a little extra time to study the scene. These were the first real clouds we saw that day, so I emphasized them a little bit...artistic license.

Monday, August 09, 2010

River Road__Great Plains, Nebraska, farmland

(#5) The River Road, Between Bellwood and US 81__6x8 oil for Passing America...exhibit in 2011
If I misspelled "Bellwood" Allen will let me know (like yesterday's mis-direction), but I promise to NOT send another mail. I will just correct the blog tomorrow!
This long ribbon of road stretched before us, and what I liked was seeing the road get narrower in the distance (it's that "one point perspective" I teach in my workshops!)...and I like the summer, hazy atmosphere over the farmland...a fun thing to paint!
GOOD NEWS!!! Yesterday, my Last Year on the Farm story as presented by Texas Country Reporter and now on YouTube, was selected by NATIONAL RADIO HOST Kim Komando (aka "Your Digital Goddess") as her "pick of the day". I do not know how she found it, but I LOVE her show, so am so honored. Kim is on the radio for 3 hours on Saturdays, and has the best web site EVER for ALL THINGS DIGITAL and electronic. I have learned almost all I know about computers from her show...Here is the link to her mention of me:

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Corn, Soybeans, Corn_farmland, farms, landscape

(#4) Corn, Soybeans, Corn__6x8 oil in lunen panel__for Passing America...exhibit in 2011
Butler County, NE is miles and miles of corn and soybean farms...corn, soybeans, corn, and soybeans make a BEAUTIFUL patchwork on the hills. I always thought that Nebraska farmland must be really flat. But, Allen took me to the eastern part of his county, which he calls "The Alps". The hills are not THAT tall, but glaciers in the past have made this whole section VERY hilly. Because this is the height of summer and the corn is tall, I could not see very far past the first row, but coming down off the hills there were many beautiful views of the Platte River Valley.
To see some neat detail, click on the blog image.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Rush Hour__grain elevators,

(#3)Rush Hour in Bruno, NE__6x8 oil on linen panel__for Passing America...exhibit in 2011
Bruno. There are high rise buildings here, catching the morning sunshine thatalso makes the long shadows on the fields in town..Just after sunrise Allen drove me through Bruno, declaring that it was "Rush Hour" there. One of many small farm towns in Butler County that are dedicated to agriculture...America's heartland and breadbasket. I have a lot of thoughts on this, from THOUSANDS of miles spent on the road this summer. I will be updating my project blog as soon as I can! ...will let you know!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Yanka, Nebraska and V street

(#1)Yanka, NE___6x8 oil "Passing America..."___for exhibit 2011
Yesterday began before sun-up and we drove east from David City, so I could paint the sunrise....above is my first "drive-by" painting for this leg of my journey across the
Great Plains. Yanka is just a spot on the railroad track, now, but it used to be a small community...I like that it shows the "PASSING" away of a little part of the Great Plains. There is a nice grain elevator there, and a beautiful foggy sunrise to bounce light off of it...note the reflected light on the fog.

As Allen drove me up and down the roads, we came to an intersection that had my name on it!....LITERALLY...see below...and below that is some original art I left on the gift to Butler County, Nebraska!...I do not usually do such things, but I could not resist!...shhhh, don't tell anyone!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Looks Like Nebraska

Road Trip__12x12 oil on canvas
My camera batteries died after a full day on the backroads in Butler and Colfax Counties. I was painting "drive-by's" for my exhibit there next year, but before I could photograph any of the 6 or 7 little canvases, the batteries fizzled. I was amazed to see the HILLY DISTANCE along the Platte River Valley. It reminded me of this painting above, which I did in TEXAS a few months ago...MANY THANKS to my driver, Allen Covault, of David City, NE...he has lived his long life here in this area, so not only did he drive me along every backroad, he also endured my constant "interview" and "commentary chatter" mode, and Rich Mullins music playing over and over....We will repeat the routine tomorrow....EARLY!
The photo below was taken by Allen's wife, Anna, who sat behind me tonight at a bluegrass performance in town. Her commentary is funny, but true!
Crabgrass Trio performs for Musical Soiree on the Square.
V.... Vaughan enjoys San Antonio Rose dedicated to the only Texan in the audience.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Austin Watershed Project

Austin Watershed Project___a "job" nearly done___watercolor on illustration board
In the "old days" I was an illustrator/graphic designer, and recently I got called on by an old client to create a companion piece to a work I did about 15 years ago. The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department asked me to illustrate how water runs off the land and into the streams and eventually the lakes...the art above is NEARLY done. But I need to add some "copy" and make a few additions and adjustments. If you click the blog image you can see some of the details...
Well, today I traveled to Omaha and the Great Plains for some work on "Drive-by Paintings" for my show next year at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln....this will be my last BIG trip for a while and I am excited to be visiting with friends and exploring new farms to paint!.
More on that TOMORROW!!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fruity Demo__still life, fruit, grapes, pears

Fruity__a demo___9x12 oil on student canvas___$280
Yesterday, I painted a demo to kick off Gail Smith's workshop in San Antonio. There were 15 or so artists of all ages and they were nice enough to watch me paint this and hear what I had to say about working with a LIMITED PALETTE....This work was created with only Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cad Yellow Light and white. Painting with a limited color palette helps an artist SEE better, and is a good way to improve QUICKLY!
...Gail is one of my BEST friends, and someone I greatly admire. She is the art department head at San Antonio Christian Schools and her students are some of the most accomplished artists in TEXAS! Each year they CLEAN UP the awards at the prestigious San Antonio Stock Show/Rodeo Youth Art Competitions...and their works sell for MANY thousands of dollars at auction!...some of these kids have their entire college expenses nearly paid in full from their Art contest winnings...I am MOST impressed with how Gail crafts their artistic abilities...she is a fine artist and AMAZING teacher!...

Monday, August 02, 2010

San Pedro y San Rafael

San Pedro y San Rafael___#15 in my Colorado Sketchbook__auction soon

Out of our canyon and on the way to Antonito, CO there are plenty of little farms and homes in the valley. Between Mogote and Antonito this little church stands with Blanca Peak far in the distance. I have photographed this church MANY times over the years, but have never seen the doors open, and I wonder if anyone worships here anymore. ...but, there are homes directly across the street, so I suppose that even if there is no pastor, the building itself might remind people in the little community that ANY time is a good time for worship!
REMINDER…I will be “drive-by” painting some farms in Nebraska on Wed. through Friday this week…another leg of my Passing America: The Great Plains exhibit for 2011. I will also be at the Curator’s Choice reception at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, from 5-7 pm Friday, August 6. Please come meet me if you can!

**NOTE to Gail Smith's class!! I promise I will post my demo TOMORROW! I forgot that I already had this one above scheduled to post tonight...SORRY, but you have to come look at my blog TOMORROW, too!...hey, while you are here, why not sign up to get my blogpost by e-mail! see the "subscribe" button at right. :) or email me

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Foggy Hillside Morning_colorado, mountain,meadow, cottonwood

Foggy Hillside Morning__Sketch #14 from my Colorado sketchbook
Before I talk about this one, here is a note from a "bird-expert-friend" about yesterday's "mystery bird"

Your drawing looks like a white crowned sparrow ...

I URGE you to go look at this link about birds....there are sounds and everything!...
So, THANK YOU to ALL my friends who QUICKLY identified this bird for me! I said, I never need worry about being an expert as long as I can call on friends!
The sketch above is a view across the river to a meadow below Black Mountain in Colorado...After a rainy night there are often clouds skipping along halfway up the mountain...These cottonwood trees are so distinctive, and each one is different (for you artists: notice how I contained the SHAPES of the different groups of leaves on each tree...rather than doing each leaf!)
Tomorrow I will teach a lesson at G.S's workshop in San Antonio. G is a friend of mine, and asked me to talk and teach about a limited palette...if any of the students in the workshop read this before class I will give you a "prize"!