Can’t believe we’re at 20

Sky Pads 20, background and drawing

The last time I did an extended series I wimped out at 16 paintings. I feel much more motivated about this series, probably because I still feel challenged by it too. This is a really nice subtle background. It’s a bit hard to discern the drawing, but enough of it is there to work with. My usual method is to make a pencil drawing, and when I like it I go over it in black ink so I can project the tiny (usually about 5″ x 7″) drawing onto a (usually) about 3′ x 4′ canvas. My rational is that I already drew it once, so I figure it’s not cheating to just project the drawing. Why torture myself twice trying to get all the proportions right? đŸ˜€

Oh, you were wondering what the challenge is? In this case, it’s what colors to use for the pads to make them really pop without looking garish. Will update you after some experimentation.

Posted in art, drawing, landscape, oil paintings, painting techniques, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A mixed bag

A watercolor experiment with dense foliage and fog

I’m always gobsmacked when someone is totally taken by one of my paintings, and it just happened with this watercolor. I made a retirement gift of this painting to a woman who not only admired it, but was responsible for the public seeing it at all. She was the director of the Cass District Library and was responsible for the fact that Cass Area Artists has been able to exhibit members’ work (including this painting) there for a couple of years now. She also made it possible for one of our member artists to hold drawing and painting classes at the library on a weekly basis, along with providing extensive space to allow us to hold an exhibit of student work from nearby Edwardsburg High School. We couldn’t have done it without her, and were always so appreciative of her cooperation, encouragement,  and generosity.

Anyhow, now that you know who the recipient is, here’s what she wrote to me in a note after she received her surprise gift:

“If only I could write as eloquently as you paint! I want so badly to convey my appreciation for your thoughtfulness. I am overwhelmed by your affection and generosity. The painting hangs in my living room. I am called into the mist every time I gaze at the scene. And, I never tire of gazing. Thank you.”

All I can say is, she does write eloquently! Now, on to part 2 of today’s mixed bag.

Sky Pads 19–all the red is gone (almost!)

This is really close to what it actually looks like. For once the natural daylight was just right and I didn’t have to wait for dark and set up a bunch of lights. I already have the poured paint wash done for #20, so if I don’t get back to you soon with the drawing you’ll know I’ve just been fiddling around a lot!

Posted in art, Cass Area Artists, landscape, oil paintings, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

First EmyLou, now just Lou

Lou and Terri (Lou is the horse)

A couple of posts back I showed you EmyLou. I can now reveal–since the gift”er” can’t seem to wait until Christmas to hand over presents to her gift”ees”–the first painting in my previous post A Pair of Puzzles.  This painting required a bit of creative placement of various parts from different photos. I was lucky enough to find the right stuff!

A few years back I was asked to do a video of this horse with his trainer riding. After the ride, we took several photos in the ring with the owner, trainer, and the trainer’s trainer! Lou was a lovely little Arabian who even in his late 20’s cruised around the ring like a champ. I was thinking I also needed a close-up of just Lou and Terri to put at the top of the video as a sort of cover page. By that time Lou was already back in his stall with Terri, and it turned out to be a lovely photo for its intended purpose, but for this painting the gray-brown stall in back of them wasn’t ideal; plus, I had to use flash in the stall and it created some unwanted highlight flares and shadows.

So, enter the artist. Serendipitously (this happens a lot, fortunately) last year I arrived at the barn on a very foggy damp rainy day and as I looked across at the pond from my parking spot I thought what a lovely misty scene that was and I really ought to capture it for some future painting. As I was looking through my reference folder of “horse backgrounds” I knew as soon as I saw it that this was the one.

Terri kept a wooden stall plaque hanging on the back wall of Lou’s stall. Wendy, who commissioned this painting, agreed with me that we should somehow try to incorporate the stall sign with the dream saying on it and we decided to make it kind of cloudy and floating in the background. Putting the tree background and the stall plaque behind the horse and owner was pretty matter of fact. I did have to adjust the lighting for the painting to keep the figures from fading into the background since all elements of the final confabulation were degrees of brown and gray. I used one of the photos I took in the ring to get all the detail on Lou’s face, some of which had been washed out by the flash of the stall pic.

So there you go, the puzzle behind the puzzle!

PS: Terri loved this present!

Posted in Aquabord, art, horse portrait, horses, light, new horse portrait, painting techniques, watercolor, Willow Tree | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A pair of puzzles

The white (or sometimes gray) horse

The black horse

Some of you who aren’t also following 1,000 other artists’ blogs may remember that right before I posted the early release of EmyLou I mentioned that I had three commissions that I couldn’t post anything about. I still can’t show the last two, but thanks to Photoshopâ„¢ I can disguise them, which of course is of no help to you whatsoever.

All I can say is that they’re presents, and they’re watercolor on Aquabordâ„¢ and as soon as they have been officially gifted I’ll let you in on what they look like.

We now return to our program on Sky Pads…

Posted in Aquabord, art, horse portrait, horses, watercolor | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Early surprise

My last post I mentioned that I had three commissions I couldn’t show you. One of the surprise recipients got her painting early, so I’m happy to show you Emylou. I like this one so much I really didn’t want to let it go!

Emylou, watercolor on Aquabordâ„¢

I’m so happy with the results in this painting which is from a photo taken at the Kentucky Horse Park. The trees were perfect. The water was perfect. And the colors on the horse were richer and more glowing than any I have done previously on Aquabordâ„¢. I also used a different brush than usual on the horse, an angled shader in two different sizes. It gave a lovely streakless finish that was easy to lift off for the highlights. But in order to take advantage of the brush’s ability to lay down even color I had to mask out the harness and the front of the cart so those areas would remain white while I painted the horse, leaving clean areas to paint all the leather and assorted cart components later. There was a fountain on some sort of barrel type structure in the middle of the water (it’s the green part under the horse’s head, with a reflection underneath). It was splattering drops into the body of water, so I took a stiff stenciling brush, dipped it in masking fluid, and ran my thumb across it to spray fluid on the water area before I painted it. Paint then went over the mask drops with a 1″ flat brush. I was surprised that I could use such large brushes (the largest of the two shaders was 1/2″) on a painting that is only 5″ x 7″!

I completed the first of the three paintings before I did this one, but still can’t display it. Will be going on to the third one tonight!

Posted in Aquabord, art, horse portrait, horses, horses and carts, Kentucky Horse Park, painting techniques, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Tangled up in time

I started this painting of an eventer probably a year ago. So long ago I can’t remember. Finally finished it up sitting in my booth at the latest Reins of Life benefit show at the end of September. I was somewhat apprehensive about even starting this one, let alone finishing it, because of the general complexity of horse, rider, and background. I got it to my usual “good enough” stage and declared it finished. My only regret is that the act of finishing it reminded me that there will be no more 3-day events at Richland Park–last year was the last one. đŸ˜¥

Rider number 55, from last year’s Richland Park Horse Trials. Watercolor on Aquabordâ„¢.

I had just gotten a start on Sky Pads 19–

Sky Pads 19, background pour and first pass

when three Christmas horse portrait commissions came in. So 19 will have to wait a bit. Since the Christmas paintings are, as usual, a surprise, I can’t show them yet. But I can say that there is a black horse, a white horse, and a brown horse. That just about covers the basic horse colors, right? Maybe a palomino will show up too, who knows…

Posted in Aquabord, art, eventing, exhibit booth, horse portrait, horses, landscape, new horse portrait, oil paintings, Reins of Life, Richland Park, Sky Pads, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From gas station to gallery

Cass Area Artists, which reaches out to communities in Cass County, Michigan’s southwest corner, and the northwest corner of Indiana, recently landed a super deal with the new owner of a restored service station in the county seat, Cassopolis. The service station had previously been a private museum complete with every authentic piece of merchandise and equipment a Sinclair station would have been expected to possess back in the 1950’s. The owner decided to sell it, sans the collection of antiques, and the new owner bought it as an empty, but in good condition, shell. Here’s a photo of it while the building was still a museum.

The new owner’s intentions for the building serendipitously coincided with the aims of Cass Area Artists–precisely, to foster the arts and community culture in the area. We were therefore able to host the first art show ever in the huge area that previously served as the repair garage. With huge windowed doors, endless windows on three of the four walls, and a wonderful view of neighboring Stone Lake, it provided a lovely airy place for a temporary art gallery. Take a look at our opening day–

We were fortunate to have a steady stream of guests who not only stopped in to look, but also made some purchases. The huge front doors provided a great preview from outside and helped entice people to enter. Most were local residents, which is exactly the audience that Cass Area Artists wants to interact with to promote the arts. But we also had people from Illinois who had come to pick grapes nearby and just happened upon the site.

The owners surprised us with a portable gel fireplace when we arrived to set up. It was a chilly day and the fireplace threw some welcoming warmth into the space. The video I shot wasn’t the best at capturing everything, such as the detail at the end of our member Neil Benham’s incredible wood turned pieces, or the fireplace when lit. So cut me a little bit of slack here while we make do with photographs…

OK, there’s the fire, and the window to the left has the lake view although my phone isn’t the best at capturing complicated lighting. Just know that the light green band across the windows is the treeline at the other side of the lake!

Neil Benham’s unique take on wood turning. I love how he leaves the bark on some of the pieces. Others have natural holes in them which form an intriguing design departure from what is usually offered in this genre. The finish on all the pieces feels like satin! Also gotta love the tree limb business card holder.

OK, had to show off. The six pieces on the left are mine.

You wouldn’t expect windowed walls to work with paintings hanging over them, but we were really pleased with the way it all worked out. The show will be up through October 27, with a special event in the Sinclair station sponsored by the village of Cassopolis to be held on the 25th. More interaction with the community!

Posted in art, Cass Area Artists, exhibit opportunity, gallery show, oil paintings | Tagged , , | 5 Comments