Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lefty Joe

Lefty Joe___8x10 oil on linen panel___For the Whelan Family
Joe is one of our great lefties, for the Round Rock Dragons (5-A High School baseball in Central Texas).

Joe and my son have played ball together since they were pre-teens, and Joe's dad, Mike was probably the best coach my son Sam, ever had. Mike built Sam's confidence like no one else has, and I know Sam will never forget that. We lived on our farm back then, but when we had to decide where to live when the farm sold, it was this family that embodied the sweet spirit of Round Rock, and were one of the reasons we wanted our son to grow up here! We often wish Mike would STILL be coaching all those SAME boys, and we wonder how great they'd be if that was the case...(this is the stuff that moms talk about in the stands!). In fact, many of the boys who were on that team are now the MEN on this Round Rock team!...

The team had been together a few years before Sam got there. So he had to come in and be the new kid for a time. There was one boy they all called "Murph". After a while I learned that his name was Ryan. I supposed that his last name was Murphy. After about a year, I learned that when Ryan was new on the team, and told Coach Mike his last name, Mike "heard" the name as "Murphy", and called him "Murph" (probably because there was another Ryan on the team). This nickname went on for awhile until I guess Ryan's mother asked why they were calling him "Murph"...It was then learned that his name was WINFREY, but he was too polite to correct the coach, and has lived with the nickname "Murph" for all these years....love it!!

For my artist friends....have you ever been asked to paint something for someone and it just comes together so WELL that you wish you could keep the painting?? If I were to advertise myself as the baseball player painter, THIS little painting would be the one I would use in the ad...I LOVED painting it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gruene Kiss

Gruene Kiss___16x20 oil on linen, special commission for S.S. Gruene (pronounced "GREEN) is a small Texas town South of Austin. It is a GREAT and "cool" little town where you just HAVE to go shop and stroll with a loved one! One of my galleries, Cactus Jack's is in Gruene.
Well, Gruene was the scene of an important date in Texas history...I mean a real, romantic-type date, for this couple! They happen to be collectors who own a few of my paintings, and S. thought it would be cool to commission a special painting for a big wedding anniversary coming up.

There is something very personal and special about this kiss...I think it might have been their FIRST kiss, and initiated by S....I enjoyed painting it, though I have to say I have never done one quite like this. The fun part was imagining the fun day they must have had, the circumstance before the kiss, and then wondering "what happened after that..."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Green Places

Coyote Green___6x8 oil study on linen panel___$190 still wet!
Our coyote is back! We have had him hanging around almost every day last week. We think it is a female, and wonder if there will be puppies ?! Stay tuned. Till then, I am enjoying my time with her...safely inside my car, but watching as neighbors jog past her. One guy had his little dog out there, running around off the leash, while he peeked out from behind the fence. When asked, he said he was using his dog to bring the coyote in closer....???!!!...(I will enjoy hearing my bloggers' comments on that smart guy!)
All I know is that is that our grasses are so GREEN and that makes a nice complement to the orangey fur of our coyote!...Meanwhile, I snapped a few pictures of our orangey domestic coyote relatives on the stairs this week! I have so many artist blog friends, I bet you can tell who painted some of these on the wall behind Romeo ... a few works I have traded for over the years.
(...happy Birthday, Sister Sam!)

Romeo's place on the Stairs...

Romeo and Johnson (aka: Puppypuppypuppy) The big guy is a little bit upset, because there is a puppy on his top stair...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Post Oak Ponds

Post Oak Ponds__6x8 oil on linen panel__for Passing America: The Great Plains

Returning from College Station, TX we passed through the narrow "Post Oak Belt" of Texas.
To look at a geologic map of Texas there are "bands" of "eco-systems" that follow a sort of parallel with the coast line. These seem to step down from the high plains (Llano Estacado) and the Cap Rock Escarpment. The eco-regions include the Blackland Prairies (where our old farm was....situated on sticky, black clay dirt), and the Post Oak Belt, which has sandy, red dirt. There are places where you can see black clay on one side of the road, and red sand on the other...

Driving back toward the sunset, I caught a glimpse of this scene : a little farm back in the trees, with only the porch lights visible.....behind us in the east, the full moon (called Supermoon this month) was rising...

NEW MINI-WORKSHOP!! If you live in the Austin, TX area, I will be teaching a special event mini-workshop on
April 14, 6-8 pm. This is part of a new Art Night event at Hyde Park Quarries. There will be a few demos, talks and HANDS ON art activities for ALL artists (12 and over). I will do a quick demo, then teach and lead a small group on the basics of oil painting. We will do a Texas Spring Landscape. ALL MATERIALS are provided for a small $10 fee. Click this link for info and to register online. Then let me know if you are coming!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Last to Leaf

The Last to Leaf__6x8 oil on linen panel_for Passing America: The Great Plains

My title makes reference to the fact that pecan trees are always LAST to bud in the Texas Springtime. My FAVORITE trees, pecans provide SO MUCH for us! Of course the great nut for food, but also the wood of the tree is some of the best hardwood, the shells are used for mulch.
I PARTICULARLY love the way they look at ALL times of the year, but especially in spring. While all the other trees can't wait to put out leaves, the patient pecan remains barren to the END, avoiding any possibility of ice or cold surprising them. For the artist's eye, they provide punctuations of browns and purples to contrast the cool greens of the season....then, when they DO bud with leaves, they are the bright cool-green spots amid DEEP rich greens of trees that budded six weeks before....I LOVE pecan trees so much, that it is a DREAM of mine, if we are ever able to own a farm again, I want a PECAN FARM!....hoping!
on Yesterday's Post I mentioned a mini workshop in Austin on April 14. I just found out you can register for it online. Click here and look for info about the Art Night Event

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Passing the Post Oak

Passing the Post Oak __6x8 oil on linen panel__for Passing America: The Great Plains

On the way through east-central Texas, there is a narrow band of "geology" called the post oak belt. Post Oaks are tall, straight oak trees that never get TOO big in these parts. It is generally fairly flat on this part of the VERY southernmost area of the American Great Plains. Passing this little farm I liked the unusual hilliness, and how the post oaks made stately vertical contrasts to the scene. I saw no other life on this farm, except the cows, so I supposed that the farm house was over this hill.
Spring is just emerging, so the colors are a nice "in-between" version of orange and green.
We are having a VERY MILD spring. By now we usually have had a cold blast or two, but each day of March has been a little nicer than the day before....and more warm is on the way!

NEW MINI-WORKSHOP!! If you live in the Austin, TX area, I will be teaching a special event mini-workshop on
April 14, 6-8 pm. This is part of a new Art Night event at Hyde Park Quarries. There will be a few demos, talks and HANDS ON art activities for ALL artists (12 and over). I will do a quick demo, then teach and lead a small group on the basics of oil painting. We will do a Texas Spring Landscape. ALL MATERIALS are provided for a small $10 fee. Can you come? vvaughan8@yahoo.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Textures Passing

Spring Textures Passing__6x8 oil on linen panel_for Passing America: The Great Plains

The Great Plains have no SPECIFIC boundary. In fact, when I began this project, I spent some study time trying to map out a border, but found as many different definitions for this boundary as there was reference to it! Some books described the plains all the way to the Texas Gulf Coast, while others stopped short, somewhere in Central Texas. Either way, I was glad to know that I have spent my whole life in the Great Plains (having lived in Central Texas all my life).

Saturday day we went east to College Station, TX where my in-laws settled after we all left the farm. Today, March 19 is my mother-in-law, Billie Vaughan's birthday. Driving there takes us through a few narrow bands of Texas' diverse landscape, but this scene was typical of this time of year, when the trees are just starting to bud out....the little farm was separated from it's barns by a fence line and little bunch of trees.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Supermoon__6x8 oil on linen panel__for Passing America: The Great Plains

"Supermoon" is when the orbit of the moon makes it pass the closest it can to Earth. This means it looks bigger, brighter and BETTER than usual!...I guess.... While this special full moon was rising, the car was very dark, so I was only able to sketch a scene and put down a few color notes....then I "memorized" the relationships of color, studied the forms as they passed by, and completed this from memory...

Our family drove to College Station for my mother-in-law's birthday, yesterday. I brought along my gear to do some "drive-by" paintings. This WILL be part of my exhibit called Passing America: The Great Plains. The exhibit opens on Oct 7, late this year, and runs through December in Lincoln, NE at the Great Plains Art Museum at the University f Nebraska.
I am VERY excited to be in the "home stretch" of this wonderful project and study. I will now be working FULL TIME on the paintings, to complete over 100 "drive-by" studies like this one, and about 50 larger works. I have about 70-80 of the small ones done, and 1 of the big ones....yes, I said "one".... I hope you will follow along with my Passing America Blog, and contribute comments there as you want to. Everyone has a farm in their memory....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Down to Drink

Down to Drink___6x8 oil on linen panel___$190 still wet!
Our neighborhood coyote hung around here all afternoon, yesterday, it seems. You know how once you see something cool, you are always on the look-out to see it again whenever you are near the same place? So, ever since I saw the coyote a couple weeks ago (on the day my son signed a scholarship letter to play college football for the Kansas Wesleyan Univ. Coyotes!)....I have looked for the coyote in that same place ever since...yesterday he was there! In the same area, a narrow greenbelt between houses where there often is water. Yesterday there was no water, but I painted it anyway. Brushy Creek is not too far from here, so there is plenty for this guy to drink.
While I photographed, I called my son who was at home and told him to come see...that is his truck below, with one Coyote eyeing the other!

Coyote Meets Coyote_____

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Play Ball

Blake__pencil on archival paper__for Blake's Mom
It is spring break here in Round Rock, Texas, and the kids are off school, but the games play on! We have had a series this week, so lots of different guys are getting to play, and the other night was Blake's game to pitch...a tough outing for Blake as he was hit in the face while at bat, which really rattled him on the mound later...My son was called on in the last inning and he shut down the side, but our bats could not make up the difference in the bottom of the inning, so we lost......but our team bounced back the next night. So far, it has been a great baseball season for the Round Rock Dragons!
By the way, for you ball fans...there are MANY former Dragon players in the pros! Some might play for YOUR favorite team! Probably the best ones live right here in my neighborhood...(or their parents still do!) I will name names if anyone is interested!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coyote Stories

Coyote Stalker___6x8 oil on linen panel___$250

Painting this coyote in our neighborhood made me remember my many Coyote stories!

When we lived on the farm, there were MANY nights I would call the kids outside to listen to a yipping pack pass by in the pasture....sometimes there would be a pack over "here" yipping across to a pack over "there"....but as development loomed closer to us, there were fewer coyotes around.
A particularly memorable encounter was a few years ago driving through Arizona. It was near Prescott on a big open, divided highway and I noticed a couple of little puppies crossing the road. The brakelights went on, and I saw that they had followed the mama Coyote across to the center. Driving slowly past, I noticed the VERY agitated mother looking back across where she'd come from, and there was one pup afraid to cross....I circled around to watch, fearing the worst, because this little pack blended in with the surroundings so well.....Though I drove by slowly, there was no change: the mom and babies on one side, calling to the lone pup on the other....it crushed my heart, and I had to leave, but, believe me, I prayed for that little group of coyotes!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Coyote Glare

Coyote Glare__6x8 oil on linen panel___$250 unframed, includes shipping

We pronounce them "KIE-Oats".
This one visited our neighborhood on the day my son committed to play football for the Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes. When I first saw him standing in the road a few houses away from our house, I thought it was a WOLF! I said NO WAY is a coyote that big and thick and so well groomed! BOY, he was a healthy one! Many of my friends have posted to say that he is probably snacking on neighborhood cats!

I just remembered our first week away from the farm, here in suburbia, I was thinking about all I missed, and one thing was the coyotes yipping....that night, RIGHT OUTSIDE our back fence which adjoins a ranch, there was a pack of coyotes yipping....CLOSER than they ever were at the farm! RIGHT OUTSIDE the fence!...It was neat and comforting, (the sound....I was a little creeped out that they were so close), and I thought it was neat that there were coyotes here, but that was the only time I ever heard them...4 years ago! Now this!!! just last week! In broad daylight.
This guy walked the fence line slowly, and I figured he was looking for people's pets to snack on, so I scared him off.....

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coyote Daybreak

Coyote Daybreak__5x7 oil on canvas from Last Year on the Farm...see all 365 here

In 2006 and 2007 I painted every day of our family's LAST YEAR on the FARM. The paintings became an exhibit that went all over the country for a year of solo shows at museums. Some of the works are still available on my web site.

While thinking about coyotes this week, I remembered painting my FIRST coyote one early morning on the farm.

I was outside painting the sunrise when this coyote jogged by, on the way to the tank for a drink. He probably did it all the time, because he looked so “at ease”, and had no idea that I was above him just watching, memorizing his form so that I could add him to the painting!
I had decided to post this tonight, because I never have and my “theme” this week is coyotes…. see yesterday's post and photos!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Now a Coyote

Now a Coyote___6x8 study on linen panel...for my coyote son!...but I will paint others!!

I have mentioned a few times that my son is being recruited to play college football. (see highlight film, and turn up the volume!) Well, he has finally made a decision to accept a great offer from Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, KS. It is a great fit for him and closer to home than some of the schools in Texas that looked at him!... Jokingly, I told my son that I liked this school immediately after looking at their web site. They have a cool logo and mascot: Coyote

Now, get this...on the day he decided for sure I was returning home from an appointment, and there in the middle of the road in our quiet suburban neighborhood was a beautifully grooomed, well-fed, healthy mature coyote...a REAL ONE! I flew to our house (4 doors away), got my camera and went back to find him waiting for me! A few of my pics are below...OF COURSE I thanked God for the little "sign", and was wondering what would have happened had he decided to play for the Tigers??

Also below are two stages of this study in progress...and a few words about my process...

State 2: I filled in some color and value shapes to get started on the relationships of contrasts. This stage is a visual impression of what I think I see, "color-wise". Cools, warms, and what I call "Punctuation Marks". See state 1 below...
There should be a state 3 and state 4 before the finished one above, but I forgot to snap pictures, and worked too fast :)

State 1: My sketch was on a linen panel that had some old paint on it (nose area)...I just ignored this and sketched around it, starting with the HIGHLIGHTS. Keeping the color thin...State 2 is above. photos below...

See Mr. Coyote in the shade by the fence?

He turned to get a better look at me... I have never seen a healthier looking coyote in the wild!


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Morning Moonset

Morning Moonset___24x24 oil on linen____for Cowgirl Up! Wickenburg, AZ, March 25-May 8

Here is my third painting for the big show! It is a scene I saw a few years ago while in Northern Arizona...my favorite time of day is early morning and it is a real treat to see the full moon going down just as the sun is rising. ... I like it when it's still dark enough that the lights on the farms are still visible, so that's how I painted this scene...and it is an Arizona landscape without the saguaro cactus icon!!!The little part that took me the longest was the moon! Click the blog image to see a larger version, and MAYBE you can see the man in the moon! Join me in Wickenburg if you can! Please tell all your Arizona friends to come see the show!
***WORKSHOPS ahead!...
Fredericksburg, TX in mid June. Start planning ! It will be my longest workshop of the year.
David City, NEBRASKA in October. This one is in conjunction with the opening of my newest exhibit. A solo show at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln. The workshop is filling fast.
email me if you want the brochure/info on these workshops vvaughan8@yahoo.com

Monday, March 07, 2011

Tonos Dulces

Tonos Dulces__30 x 24 oil on linen__for Cowgirl Up! Wickenburg, AZ, March 25 - May 8

The title means "Sweet Sounds", referring to the bell and the song of the doves.
I have painted several versions of the bells at San Xavier in Arizona, but this one is my favorite because of the doves. THe mission itself is known as "the Dove of the desert"..I might change the title to "The Dove of the Desert". See a detail below.
If you are near Wickenburg, go to the Desert Caballeros Museum to see the show! Cowgirl Up! is a great gathering of the best women artists working in western themes...I have 3 large works there this year, and a couple of small things...now I am trying to re-wrangle my schedule so that I can go out to the show for a couple days.!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Monzon San Xavier

Monzon San Xavier__36 x 36 Oil on linen__available at Cowgirl Up! Wickenburg, AZ, Mar. 25- May

A couple weeks ago I posted my small study for this big painting. Click to see the study.
The title means "San Xavier Monsoon", referring to the big rains over Mission San Xavier. I have seen the monsoons which water the dry Arizona landscape in late summer, and I can imagine what a blessing they are to the people of the desert.....This is my biggest painting for the show, and I wish you could see it in person! The frame is a heavy, distressed, black with an antique-looking gold liner. I have a real hard time photographing the big canvases! Below is a detail...

Monzon San Xavier__detail

Friday, March 04, 2011

SV vs VR

SV vs VR___from my sketchbook
Another tournament this weekend, for the Round Rock Dragons. This afternoon was my son's time to pitch again. Sketching and keeping track of his pitches keeps me from "cheering"...This man does not like parental "cheering"... We played a team called Vista Ridge, and my son managed to start and finish a "two hitter", shut out, full game (7 innings) with 99 pitches, 6 strikeouts, and stayed ahead in the count on almost every batter. It wasn't perfect, but with great batting and defense from his teammates we won!
Tomorrow I will post the BIG version of one I painted a few days ago...click here to see the little one and compare the two tomorrow!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Uphill from Here

Uphill From Here__6x8 oil on linen panel__a "drive-by" for Passing America... exhibit, Oct., 2007

I think I will work on this one a little bit, now that I see it "in print". (A good way to "proof" your work is to look at a picture of it, a few days after it's done, when your eye is "removed" from the process of MAKING, and can view it less "personally").
Sorry that the picture has some bad glare on it! I shot it in a hurry today and only took one picture (another lesson....ALWAYS take several pictures...)
I painted this one on the way to Kansas...I only glimpsed the scene for 10-15 seconds as we drove by, and it made an "impression" that I wanted to paint....The best thing I like about this "drive-by" painting is that I happened to see the same scene on the way back! I wasn't looking for it, but there it was, and I noticed that, though I simplified the impression, (took out a few buildings and fences) it was VERY CLOSE to the actual scene!
One last lesson for you artists...your IMPRESSION of something is FAR MORE VALUABLE as ART, than copying a careful rendering of all the details! Any good technician can copy accurately, but only YOU can communicate YOUR personal impression!!!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Snow Melt to Fog

Snow Melt to Fog___6x8 oil on linen for Passing America: The Great Plains___exhibit opens Oct. 11, NE
A long span of highway was shrouded in thick fog on my recent trek through the Plains. It was a sure sign that the seasons are changing from winter to summer! I am an Impressionist, so sunlight is like "candy"!....Without it, I pouted for a few miles, but then the irresistible muted tones of the day called out to me and I just had to paint them! Passing by the fields and farms, the snow was melting and nearly gone in Kansas. We were told that this was a very snowy winter, and colder than usual!...
As I think back on the quick trip, I cannot recall seeing ANY LIFE on the farms we passed! Except for livestock, the people seemed to be indoors. It was a Sunday...maybe they were at church? It was damp and cool....that never stops a farmer...Perhaps it's that time of winter when there is really nothing to do, but REST...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hay for Something

Hay for Something_6x8 oil on linen panel__a "drive-by" painting for the exhibit Passing America..., Oct, 2011

Talk about a WHIRWIND trip through the Great Plains! It was decided at the LAST SECOND that we would drive to Kansas on Sunday morning! One purpose was to pay a visit to a college in Kansas that my son is considering for his college football career, and I needed to see it, so we went! Of course I will jump at the chance to do some work on my project Passing America : The Great Plains, so I brought the paints and did some "drive-by" studies along the way!

This little vignette was nestled in the corner of a large, dreary pasture in southern Kansas. The hay was damp, sagging, and probably baled a year ago or more. (As I look at the painting, I think I painted the bales a little bit too much "intact"...It made me wonder what it was baled for? Perhaps a small herd of livestock that had to be sold? The chilly, late winter weather made this scene especially melancholy to me.