Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Puzzle

I spent over 8 hours today sifting through artwork and arranging my space for First Friday. As the featured artist for June a get a big wall and another spot by the window. Hmmm. Still not really enough space. I had titled my exhibit "In Retrospect" two months ago, knowing that I would be in California for a month prior to the show. I wanted to be able to show a lot of different things and pull some stuff out of storage that has never been shown in public before.

I went through hundreds of things and was able to narrow it down to about 75 to take to the gallery to see what fit and what didn't. Ah, the old conundrum; what to leave in, and what to leave out.

Part of the fun this time, too, was that I was not willing to spend any money on frames. It seems like every time that I put up new artwork I spend around a hundred bucks on frames alone -- and that's just the normal monthly change of space. I didn't want to end up throwing a bunch of money at old paintings that probably won't sell anyway ... so I switched and swapped frames from one painting to another -reworked old frames - and just made do with what I had on hand. There were a lot of pieces that I would have liked to have up there that I don't, simply because I didn't have a frame for 'em. Ah, well.

I really hate displaying in the "salon style" where one fills the entire wall space with work; preferring the "gallery style" where paintings are usually shown side by side with several inches (or feet) between and are hung so that they are evenly balanced on a line that is close to an average eye level. But the gallery style greatly limits the amount of work one may show.

Artwork doesn't really seem to sell that well in Spokane, so, my approach is that I will show as much stuff as possible, and present a variety of styles and mediums ... as well as to show a little of my history - I might have something for everyone in there, if not, well -- then I've had a grand time sharing my work with my friends, family, and colleagues. I even have a ancient self portrait = done when I was 20 - that was cracked and falling apart, which has never been displayed before.

It was great fun, this puzzle, and I still have a lot of work to do; cleaning, signing (I have a bad habit of not throwing my name on stuff), and labeling ... but, at least for now, the hanging is done.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another Studio Piece

I loved painting in this format. I will probably do more panoramic type paintings this summer -- the vistas here are so grandios that there's no better way to capture them.


Our little place in the park is right next to the stables. When the wind is just wrong, it's quite easy to tell just how close we are. And those mules! Mules make the wierdest sounds! You know what Disney's Goofy sounds like when he howls? It's just like that! Funny.

I decided, the other day, that I would go over to the stables to paint. It took me all of 30 seconds to walk over there ... and about ten minutes of walking around to find the right place from which to construct my painting.

It was kind of a strange format because I wanted to work in the mountains behind the stables as well as a horse or two. We live so close to North Dome and the Washington Collumn, though, that one is almost looking straight up at their summits.

I'm not a big fan of painting landscapes in a verticle format ... but, well, sometimes one has to do what needs to be done.

The painting part itself was uneventful (other than the fact that I met someone from Boston who commented on my Red Sox t-shirt). Painting a horse from life that small is actually not as difficult as I thought. I had it roughed in and was just adding the lights when some cow-poke came and took my modle away. So, I had to finish that part in the studio. I added a figure in the studio, too ... but I'm thinking about painting him out. He doesn't add anything and may actually be distracting.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cloud's Rest

I biked over to the meadow yesterday ... planning to paint in the exact spot that I did the Sentinal painting from. Unfortunately, that spot was about two feet under water. The Merced River is growing by the day with all of the melting snow from the mountains.

It was another wonderful day, though, and I got a good oil sketch done. I met some people from Amsterdam. Somewhere in the conversation I mentioned how much of a big fan I am of Rembrandt. The man, pointing at my painting said that it looked like I was nearly there. I laughed. "Weilen dank," sagst mir, "aber, it would take me another two or three hundred years to paint like that!"
On the way back to the cabin, I wiped out on the bike. It has those crazy stirrips on the peddals and I forgot about them when I came to a stop. Sure wish I had that on video. Classic. Lucky for me, I didn't damage my paint box or the painting. My knee suffered minor abrasions ... as did my ego - it was the second time in the afternoon that I'd done that. Derr. At least I provided some levity for the campers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Studio Piece

I'm working on a couple of paintings that are done entirely in the studio ... using pictures and sketches from the places that I've explored. There are some things that are much better suited to do in-doors. Again, though, not nearly as fulfilling as an artist. Exciting, nontheless.
I plan to frame a few of these to take back to Spokane with me for my show in June.

I'm not certain that they will sell up there ... but, then again, I kind of hope that they don't -- I'm trying to build a body of work down here to show ... I've got to get my name out down here and really establish myself. The painting, as always, is the easiest part of being a professional ... sales ... that's the hardest part of most any business, I think.

Navada Revisited

I reworked the Navada Fall painting. It was a lot of fun to do ... and I was much warmer and dryer ... but it wasn't nearly as exciting. I didn't quite capture the feeling of the place ... but it's not too far off.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Navada Fall

On Monday I hiked up to Navada Fall to paint. Oy. It was one tough trek. It was only about 7 or 8 miles round trip (including all of my little side trips to find the optimum painting spot), but most of it was verticle. My knees hated me by the time I got back to the cabin. The beauty along the way, however, made the whole hike worth it. Some of the trees up here are just unbelieveable ... and I haven't even seen the big ones yet!

It was an overcast day, but I thought that it would clear up. It didn't. I was going to hike to Vernal Fall ... which is on the way to Navada Fall ... once I got there, though, it was difficult for me to find the perfect spot in which to paint. The perfect spot was actually easily obtained ... however, it was on the Mist Trail .... very aptly named, and not suited for painting.

From the top of Vernal Fall, one has a great vista ... truly spectacular ... and if one follows the Merced River back a little way, one can clearly see Navada Fall further up the mountain side. Once I saw it, there was no stopping my curiosity to see if there was an even better place to paint up there.

The day continued to dissinegrate as I climbed. By the time I got to the base of the falls I was soaked and frozen. But I didn't climb all that way to take a few pictures and call it a day. I unsholdered the million pound French easel and went to work painting ... as it began to rain ... then sleet ... snow ... more rain ... plenty of wind ... and the mist from the falls. After about an hour and a half ... possibly two hours, the shivvvvver factor took over and I had to call it.

My painting ... if we can be generous enough to call it that ... was a mess. I'd used one of those paintboards and it was soaked. The temps and the rain, etc, don't do the paint any favors. The consistency became clumpy and hard to controll (or was that my shaking hand?). It seemed like every time that I looked up to put another stroke on the canvas, my subject dissapeared in a cloud of fog/mist.
I smiled, though, as I packed up my gear and headed down the mountainside (even worse on my knees; that downward hike). I had done what I'd intended, in spite of the obsticles. I can always fix/change/repaint the picture from memory or photos, but nothing could replace that experience, out in nature, the thunder of the water cascading down the mountain, plumeting past me, splashing on the rocks and roots in its path.

I got back to the cabin just in time, as it turns out. As I sat, drinking hot coffee, the weather continued to decline and soon, there was a snow storm! Later, after the snowstorm, the sunlight made its only apearance of the day ... and it was breathtaking!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Today as I was painting Sentinal Rock, a group of camp kids lined up behind me to watch. One asked if there were aligators in the river ... and several expressed that they were going to become artists when they grew up. As they were leaving a ten year old girl told me that I was the greatest painter in history! Wow. What a smart kid! Now I just need to live up to that.

It was a perfect day ... no bugs, no heat, very few touristas.

Walk in the Park

Belinda and I took a long walk along the Merced River where it flows between massive hills just on the edge of the park. Beautiful in a different way than the ragged cliffs of granite.

Mirror Lake

The other day I painted at Mirror Lake. It was a strange angle from which to paint. I was looking up at the mountains that were practicly right in front of me. I was also an attraction, it would seem, for all of the tourists of the world. I'm going to have to start painting a little further off trail.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Belinda's little kitty, Chianne, looks a lot like Pfeffer -- however, she is sweet and loving and playful where Pfeffer is, shall we say, a little lacking in those departments - especially when there is another animal around.

Chi wants to play with Pfeffer and be friends ... Pfeffer is still not interested, although she's doing much better than the first few days. Now Chi can get within a few feet before the hissy fit begins.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Week One

Tonight will mark the end of my first week in California. It's kinda funny; I have never even entertained the idea of moving to this part of the country, but I'm finiding in it, a place that I love.

Belinda, my ex wife -with whom I'm finding a whole new person that I never knew, and one that I'm liking more each day - and I share two houses, two cats, and a dog. Pfeffer likes niether, but she's never liked other animals. I never really knew what people meant when they said things like "don't have a hissy fit" ... well, now I think that I understand what a "hissy fit" is ... in fact, I think that Pfeffer has brought a whole new artform to the word.

I've already shown a few pics of the place in Mariposa. About 45 winding, moutainous road miles away is our place in Yosemite National Park.

The beauty that surrounds it is absolutely breathtaking. I can leave the house with my easel and plunk it down anywhere and have something amazing to paint. Now I just have to work on being able to paint in an amazing way!

I've made a couple of forrays out into the park to paint. The other day I painted up at "tunnel view" and had a fun time trying to keep up with the work as a snow storm blew in. I had to paint inside of the new rig, using my little paschade box. Eventually, though, there was no view at all.

Yesterday I painted in a meadow looking up at Half Dome. It was a spectacular day and I had such a good time working. I'm going to use both of these studies to help me start some larger pieces in the studio. I'd love to bring them out and finish them from life once I've gotten them roughed out well enough. I hope that the weather will hold out for that.