Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I need a little cheese

to go with my wine.

I liked the way that the bottle and glass looked in the lobster painting and decided to do a little still life with only those two elements. Fun to paint.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Nancy Sara Update

We (Chip) have been workin' steadily on the sail boat all winter and it's really starting to come along. He took it all the way down to the ribs and had to fix a lot of stuff. Most of the wood that I thought was going to be rotten all the way through was in suprisingly good condition.
Over the weekend he started putting the top and sides back on. It's starting to look more like a real boat again. It still has a long way to go, but there is some real progress. I'm proud of Chip -- he has done wonders with the ol' Blanchard. Oh, I did hand him some tools the other day and I helped to lift the top thing up there, too. When it comes time to paint her ... if I'm still around ... then I'll actually get to put some work in on the old girl.

Painting from Dewey Point

I just reworked the painting that I started of Yosemite Valley from Dewey Point last week. I fixed much more than just the schmudged part ... so, it's not a "true plein air" for those of you who are puristas. I felt like I was reliving the moment for much of the time that I worked on it ... pure peace and joy. I wish that all painting could be like that ... then again ... without challenges it would get pretty dang boring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dewey Point

Last weekend was spent in Yosemite, as I already posted. One of the side-trips that I went on was with Belinda. We headed out in mid morning on a beautiful day ... drove up to Badger Pass and parked at the ski resort, which was still busy with skiers and snow boarders getting in the last bit of winter fun.

We took a cross country ski trail on snowshoes ... took a short-cut that added a lot of time to our trip (but we saw some increadible sights as we wandered through the woods). My legs were still a little stiff from all of the hiking and climbing done the day before, and my shoulders and back were complaining about the weight of my French easel -- which I schlepped around all weekend and hadn't had the chance to use yet.

It was such a beautiful day ... upper forties, maybe low fifties. The sun reflected off of the virgin snow and highlighted the red-brown-violet bark and the rich green lichens covering the massive conifers.

We were off trail ... and the way was tough ... but we knew the general direction that we wanted to go and ... well, what kind of adventure is it to walk on the sidewalk, anyway? Adventure is most often accompanied by difficulties and overcoming obstacles ... physical and/or mental.

We slogged through the heavy snow, over huge lumps of snow that were covering the remains of once majestic trees, through patches of dense thickets of smaller trees and undergrowth ... and around colossal trunks of giants who protruded hundreds of feet into the sky. At the base of, and surrounding some of thse gigantic denizens of the forest, were large bowls where the snow had melted away as the trees have been warmed by many an afternoon sun.

I enjoyed the tranquility and beauty of it all but it was so overwhelming that I knew my photos would never do it justice. Along the way, through the trees, we began to see other snow capped peaks in the distance.

Eventually, we found the trail. We were still a good couple of miles from our destination, though. The day was still fairly early and I knew that I would get a chance to paint.

We came out to an impressive vista, the likes of which can only be compared with the most sensational on earth. I took it in ... took lots of pictures (but stayed the hell away from the edges) ... then began to pick out my painting location. Shade was scared and I didn't have my umbrella. There was only one tree in the close vicinity, and it was very near the edge of the precipice. I would have to stand almost right next to the trunk of that wonderful mountain sentinel ... between it and the cliff ... to get any shade at all ... and I knew that the shade would wander as I worked. Well, it couldn't be helped. I would have liked to have included the tree in the painting, but there was a small group of hikers right where I would have set up.

I wasted little time in erecting my easel and breaking out my equipment ... then went right to work ... cold, soaking wet feet and all.

This was one of the most rewarding painting experiences that I can recall. Not that the painting itself turned out to be anything spectacular ... but just because of the moment itself.

They say that there are three types of people; auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. People change from one to the next from time to time, but, for the most part, they fall into one of those three groups. Surpising as it may be, I'm hard pressed to define which category that I fall under. But, there, on the edge of a cliff in stunning Yosemite National Park, I was pegging the meters on all three of those sensory categories. I was practically in sensory overload.

Somtimes when I go to beautiful paces, it doesn't seem like I've really experienced them unless I'm able to draw or paint them. This time I got to really enjoy the venue in the fullest sense. The dimensions of height, width, and depth were just about as far as they could be taken ... then add the pure smells of the pristine air as it blew gently its cool kisses, the warmth of the sun, the cawing of the occassional bird, and the other natural sounds (plus the classical music on my ipod -- countermeasures against the chatting of the hikers behind me), and the fourth dimension of time; flowing past, deepening the shadows, developing my canvas as if of its own volition. It was an amazing time and I felt such happiness that it was almost beyond all of my experience.

I only had a littl over an hour to paint, though. Clouds were rolling in from the west and the afternoon was waning. If we wanted to be out before dark ... and before it began to snow ... we had to start back down the trail.

It took us much less time to hike out than it did to make it in. I was exhausted by then ... but certainly not complaining after a wonderful outing like that. When we arrived back at the vehicle, we had fresh strawberries awaiting us. Ah, the last of my senses to be rewarded and delighted to the utmost degree.

We returned to the valley as the late afternoon sun was glowing orange on the face of El Capitan. Its warm glow echoed the feelings inside of me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back from CA

I just flew back from Yosemite last night - and boy, are my arms tierd. I know, that joke's gettin' old. I've got some tales to tell and some photos to share ... but it's going to take me a little while to write it out. Until then, here is a picture that I took of a very famous location.

From here the adventure took us to Badger Pass where we strapped on snowshoes and hiked 4+ miles out to Dewey Point (get on Google Earth and check it out).

Stay tuned for the full story ... in 3-D and Dolby sterio.

Friday, March 19, 2010


While going through old photos, looking for pictures of Tim and Ben, I ran across this one of me (on the left) from the Detroit institute in the late nineties. When I put it beside the one taken of me last January, I was kind of shocked.
The painting hasn't changed a bit (and hasn't for the last three hundred, seventy years or so) - and I don't feel like I have either. I suppose that there are times in life when a twelve year comparison won't seem like much of a difference ... but the difference between late thirties and early fifties is not one of those twelve year periods apparently. Yikes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Arch Enemy

Lately I've been doing battle with my old arch enemy who goes by many names. I know him best as the malaise. I was thwarted by him for a good portion of my weekend, however, I was able to keep him at bay enough to get several hours of painting in this morning. I'm real close to finishing the lobsta painting. Close enough to share it here.
It was actually quite helpful to work on this today. Just putting my headphones on and loading my brushes with paint was enough to scare Herr Malaise off for several hours. Then I had to skidaddle off to a gallery meeting - that put the old boy to sleep ... and almost put me into a coma. Oy.
Now my weekend comes to a close and I shuffle off to bed feeling like it was only half wasted -- and feeling a bit better knowing that I strove with my last ounce of courage, and came out on top.

Monday, March 8, 2010

At Work

It seemed strange to the produce gal at the local store that I was more interested in her wares as shapes, colours, and how well they looked next to other fruits and vegitables. "We don't have a lot of customers picking out fruit for its personality," she told me. Even after I explained its purpose, she seemed to think that it was odd.

I found a nice lobsta for only a few bucks! It took me forever to figure out a composition, though. Once I had it figured out and began painting furiously, I realized quickly that I would not be able to finish it all in one sitting. The only thing that I had available to paint on, of any decent size, was a prepared panel. I'm not sure when I prepped this thing, but it's very slick ... but also very absorbant. That's good in many respects -- for one; I will have to use much more paint ... but the slick surface didn't alow for much finess at first; I couldn't make any subtle changes to the paint without creating brush strokes that revealed the panel underneath. I spent most of my time building a decent under layer on which to apply a heavy imposto.

I hope that the lobster doesn't schtink up the fridge too much in between sittings. It may be next weekend before I can finish it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

For a Friend

A friend of mine is having his 2 year wedding anniversary. 2 years, so it's said, is the "paper" anniversary ... so, he commissioned me to do a charcoal on paper.

I always like doing these quick charcoals. I can't tell you how fun they are.

Congrats to the happy couple.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Today I worked on a still life using many of the objects that I purchased but didn't get to use in the "quick-draw" at the MAC on the 20th. I knew that the papaya wouldn't last much longer in the fridge (well, it's like an archiological dig in there anyway ... some of that stuff dating back to the paliolithic era ... it's a regular memory storage device: "oh, yeah, that pizza was from when Mark came by on my birthday, and that bag of goo used to be a salad that I got at work before Valentine's day" ... etc. Yeah, go ahead and laugh ... but what medical wonders are you growing in your fridge?) so it was the main subject of this piece.

I was going to do a setup much like this for the "quick draw" but I'm kind of glad that I didn't. It took about twice as long as I was given for the event -- course, it is a bit bigger, too.

I made a list of some of the things that I usually do wrong in my paintings. Not really technical things, just bad habbits; like a starved pallet (not using enough paint), not switching brushes enough (so there isn't that much variety in the size of the brush strokes, plus the brushes are dirty when I switch colours), etc. I conciously worked on these things and I think that it helpped.

This was one of the most fun, and smoothest still life paintings that I can remember ever doing. Just a real joy. I had a blast manipulating the thick, impasto paint and just enjoying it for what it was, not really as concerned about the results, as enjoying the moments of my life as a painter. What more can a guy ask than that?