Saturday, June 22, 2013

Painting at the YWA

Yesterday was another of our fun Fridays at the YWA Portrait painting group.  Our model was Bridget, who has posed for us many times ~ but it's been a while.  Nice to see and paint her again, she's a great model.  Mostly today I was trying to keep myself from getting too detailed and fussy, so I used larger brushes than normal and my left hand more than usual.  These things, and a few other techniques that I'm trying to learn did help.  Still ... I wished that I had a little more time ~ ah, well, this time is supposed to be for practice ~ and it's a nice feeling, really, knowing that the paintings done here don't have to be "finished".

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Wow, I didn't realize that it's been so long since I posted here.  To those around me who have had to deal with my distractions ... I'm truly sorry.  The latest, and biggest distraction of the last few weeks has been my presentation at the ECCO facility ~ Evergreen Conference Centre Oakhurst. 

In the past I've taken great pains not to speak in public ~ a huge phobia for me.  But, in the last year and a half, I've had to get up and give a few demos in front of crowds ... along with monologues and such.  This last one was kind of a big deal and hung over my head for weeks ~ distracting me in so many ways.

My idea for the presentation to the "Road Scholars" (no, not Rhodes) was a little different than I've done before ... and a little different than I've seen, as well.  I wanted to show the audience ~ who were all non-artists ~ what it might have been like to have been one of Yosemite's Pioneer artists. 
So, after a brief introduction, I gave some history of the area and of the early painters ... plus a look at all of the things that contributed to the times ... such as the invention of the paint tube in 1841, gold being discovered in CA, the political unrest - including the little skirmish that they had out east which they called the Civil War, and so on.  All of these things occurred around the same time, influencing artists to paint out doors and people to move to the great western states in droves.

I then went into a demo from sketches that I'd done in the park ~ using a traditional method, much as the pioneer artists may have.  Obviously, since it was only an hour presentation, I couldn't do much more than an rough-in ... but then I unveiled a large version of what the end result would have been (using my big Stagecoach to Wawona painting).
It was very well received an I may just be picked up by ECCO to do a series of lectures each week.  Hopefully the Pterodactyls flying around in my stomach for weeks will be reduced to mere hawks or even hummingbirds ... I'm not going to hold out for butterflies, but that would be nice.
The funny thing is that, after I get over the first minute or so of stage fright (terror), I usually do quite well.  For some reason, my sense of humor increases when I'm up there and it helps me to make points that might otherwise seem droll.  For instance, when asked about how long it took to do a plein air sketch and what time of day was best, I went into a story about how the Hebrews were in a great battle that was going their way but would surely turn against them if the sun went down. Joshua asked God for a little help, and he stayed the sun for a couple of extra hours.  I told how my prayers, as yet, while doing plein air, have not been answered ~ in fact, the sun seems to speed up at times.  Okay, well ... you had to be there.
Next time, I plan to do a similar thing ... only I'm going to take them on a virtual tour on one of Yosemite trails ~ using the huge screen ~ and then set up and do a "plein air" painting for them ... with an unveiling of a finished work ~ so they get the whole sense of the adventure without having to help me schlep my heavy stuff up a mountain and then sit and wait for me to do my thing.
Hmmm ... I can already feel those Pterodactyls hatching in my stomach!