A Reminder of the Celts

Old Box Elder
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 7.5×10


This was done last June during the pleine aire workshop I taught at my Wisconsin house. It was done at the same location as the the Old Barn watercolor. I gave that little painting to the owner of the property as a thank you for giving us his permission to paint there. 

He had this very old box elder tree in back of his house. It had been hit by lightening and was bent over and twisted more like a California laurel tree than like a Wisconsin box elder tree. The owner and his wife had all kinds of things hanging in the tree. There were hand made bird houses and a trinkets all through it though this view had them hidden. 

It reminded me of the Celts who hung items as sacrifices in sacred groves or holy springs. Holy Well in Ireland was such a place long before Christianity. People still leave sacrificial objects in the trees there. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

T F m
August 20, 2013

Art is Everywhere. Just Poke Your Nose Out your Door

Blue Spruce
Watercolor on Rag Paper, 10×5″


The subject matter for art is everywhere. I don’t need to go to exotic places to find it. This was done in my back yard. Our side yard is much lower than the rest of the yard and there is a stairway down from the front of the house to the side yard. It’s behind the brick wall seen here. Between that and the blue spruce you see in this piece is a rock garden that also slopes to the side yard level. Between the wall and the white fencing is another stairway going down to the basement entrance.
I am very attracted to situations in which barriers and structures are layered like this. It forces the viewer to figure out the organization of the space. I also like the idea of having to peek through something, like the fence, to find something else. This kind of situation is everywhere in the built environment. All I need to do is be mindful to find it.

T F m
August 15, 2013

Beautiful Pose

Watercolor on Rag Paper, 7×10″


Reclining poses present a challenge with the foreshortening and their horizontality. The cascading hair seems to relieve that with its vertical tumble off the model stand.
What attracted me to this pose was the beauty of her jaw line and her cascading hair which fell in corkscrew tendrils. I had to finish this at home. Time is always short at the Sunday sessions—thirty minutes is the maximum time allotted. I sure miss Saturday session
with its double four hour poses. I could bring something to some degree of finish with having to rush.
Granted, sometimes having to rush through a piece is a boon. Having to think visually exclusively works very well. In those instances the pieces seems to crawl out of the end of my brush. It’s rare that some things seem to paint themselves.

T F m
August 6, 2013

What Traffic Wrought

Life and Death in the Woods
Watercolor on Rag Paper, 12×6″


This was supposed to have been a watercolor figure painting. Gridlock made a landscape. I was on my way to my Sunday figure drawing/painting session when traffic came to a standstill while I was quite far from my destination. The powers that be had decided to close the reversible express lanes downstream of my location. It snarled traffic in both directions making it impossible to get to my session in a reasonable time. I would have missed more than half the working time. It made no sense to continue.
So, I decided to get off the ‘express way’ to go to the forest preserves near the exit to paint. This was the neighborhood I grew up in so I knew exactly where to go. I checked out three groves before deciding on this one. I was attracted to the contrast between the lushness of the foliage and the large dead tree in its midst. This dead tree was quite large when it died. I’d estimate the diameter of the trunk to be 24—30″.  
There are a lot of dead trees around this year. Last summer it was very dry and the stress of the drought and a subsequent cold winter did them in. This summer we have had good rains and moderate temperatures. The result is a lushness not seen around here for a several seasons. 
I like the idea that I can find subjects for art in my usual haunts. I don’t have to go off to locations that are exotic or dramatic to find ‘good stuff’ for inspiration to work. Besides just working should be inspiration enough.

T F m
August 1, 2013