Building from the ground (water?) up

Well, we don’t have a cottage yet, but the architect says we will soon. 😊 When the second half of the painting is close to done I will probably stop to see how well it melds with the first half. Maybe some adjustments necessary, maybe not.

In the meantime, here’s the answer to the question posed in my first post about this project–which was, can anyone guess what thing in common in both of these paintings gave me the most grief when drawing them?

Answer: the dock. Both original photos had objects (in the case of Willow Pond, it was a person) on the dock, making it a chore to see the angles clearly and to guess what the shape and surface really looked like.

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The long-awaited…2017 Rockin’ Riders Quadrille video

No, I wasn’t lazy. Even though this performance was in early July (after our rather dismal performance in June) and I promised video of it “soon”, I didn’t get the complete set of two video camera angles until a couple of days ago. But it was worth the wait to showcase a score of 90.385, wouldn’t you think?

Now I have to ask your indulgence for all the dust…but it was worth it for the score…just imagine it’s sort of like one of those theater performances where the fog machine goes wild and half obscures the stage. I cut between the two cameras to try to minimize the dust. And I know some smarty-pants is going to comment that we got that great score because the judge couldn’t really see us. Well, who knows? All I know is, I’ll take it! You know you’ve got something good going when the judge steps down from the booth at the end of your performance and enters the ring to tell you that except for maybe performances at Dressage at Devon, this is the best amateur musical freestyle quadrille she has ever seen.

(PS: If you haven’t seen video of our previous quadrille performances, my horse Charm is the only chestnut in the group. Makes it kind of hard to hide the mistakes, especially in this performance where she tried to jump the canter cue twice!)

Posted in dressage, horses, quadrille, Willow Tree | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Guessing game

First off, I was going to post this drawing last night, but when I photographed it a couple of things stood out as looking a little odd, so I spent a chunk of today fixing that. Secondly, my wonderful “prosumer” camera stopped autofocusing while I was taking the photos for this painting, so it is in transit somewhere between Dowagiac and NYC to get repaired. Which means I had to take this blurry photo with my very less than wonderful iPhone. So, who wants to guess what this drawing is?  Yeah, I know, the name painted on the “seawall” gives it away, but still…

My latest paint-by-number-style drawing

I admit it’s something of a fooler because there are tons of trees overhanging this vintage cottage so it looks like half (or all?) the roof is missing. But I don’t generally sketch in detailed trees since Mother Nature doesn’t really care if every leaf is exactly in its proper place.

Viewers, however, do care that tree trunks, objects, house and pier are in their proper places. When I took the photos of this house (see my previous post for details on this commissioned painting) there were a lot of extraneous items on the lawn and covering the pier that we didn’t want in the painting. A tarp hanging from a tree, extra canvas chairs besides the Adirondack version, a huge inflatable raft on the platform leading to the pier, and a bunch of boxes on the porch. All gone now.

Which leads to the main question: which part of this drawing do you think gave me the most grief? I’ll give you a probably useless hint–it’s the same one I had trouble with in the last architectural landscape I did a few months ago. So take a look and guess away…answers will appear either in comments or the next installment.

Willow Pond, commissioned watercolor on Aquabord™, 5″ x 7″

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News Brief

Yes, very briefly.

First, Willow Tree (where I board Charm) lost another wonderful lesson horse recently. My trainer wanted to gift our barn manager with a remembrance of Dale, a Belgian draft who served not only as a lesson horse for riders, but also for those wishing to drive. He ferried tourists on trail rides and carriage rides about the area during the summer and colorful Midwest fall, and also pulled the carriage for Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Bangor Christmas parade. So this little Aquabord™ portrait of Dale now hangs just outside the tack room door in the barn. Of all the Willow Tree farm horses, he will probably be missed the most, not only for his versatility but also for his gentle disposition and quiet ability to keep the gelding herd on good behavior!


Second bit of news: I met a lovely lady at the Cass Area Artists outdoor show in mid-July, and she spent quite a chunk of time at my booth talking about art in general, my art in particular, and her years-long search for someone to paint her cottage on nearby Diamond Lake. We got it together, and a few days ago I showed up at 6:30 in the morning to go out on the lake with her in a pontoon boat and wait for the sunrise to cast its best rays on her cottage. Unexpected bonus–a boat tour of Diamond Lake, which is so large it even has an island in the middle of it, complete with its own ferry. I then spent the requisite amount of difficult judging time going through 200 photos to pick the very best. So, “commission accomplished”! Progress posts upcoming as soon as available.

Posted in Aquabord, art, draft horses, horse portrait, horses, horses and carts, landscape, sales | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s G-R-O-W-I-N-G

A dedicated group of local artists (and non-artists too–we put everybody to work) has been painting away for about a month now and the Orphan Train mural is getting filled in amazingly fast. This is more like a first pass to get everything blocked in. Then we’ll come back in and add detail and fix anything that needs it.

Today was an unusual painting morning in that it had stormed all night long. Even though we had applied a sealer, the texture itself of the concrete wall held water in it, but only from the top down about two feet. As luck would have it, I was working near the top and the water considerably thinned out my paint, not to mention making it occasionally run into sections below where it had no business being. For sure I will have to go over those upper sections again but at least the basics are there for now.

I’ll just do this little slide show to illustrate how we’re coming along. If you can find the horse and the mule, I painted them last week. This week I did some background and the fiery red-orange lake. At some point maybe I will remember not to park my red car in front of the mural. The white one stays, though. It’s our paint “supply wagon”!

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Third Annual Cass Area Artists Summer Show

I missed last year’s version of the Summer Show because I was busy riding in horse shows that weekend. This year offered no conflicting dates, which made me very happy because I got this opportunity to fly with my newly-won mesh display panels. You may remember my test run setup from my last post, complete with digitally enhanced grass. Here’s the real thing.

The booth set up and ready to go, this time with actual green grass

And here’s what it looked like pretty much all day long.

The state of affairs most of the day, with a pretty constant stream of visitors

What was oh-so-rewarding was the consistency of positive comments from everyone who came in. The top left painting and the back wall center one were the top vote-getters in the “favorites” category. And almost everyone stated uncategorically that they absolutely l-o-v-e-d the colors. Many visitors live on a nearby lake (Diamond Lake) and had the same idea: these paintings would be perfect in a lake home. Another repeated comment focused on how different my approach is to what is commonly thought of as a water lily scene. Many visitors thought that these large paintings were watercolors; they certainly give that impression. People were amazed to discover they were oil paintings and even more interested to learn how I did it. It’s hard to convey just how rewarding it is to hear these totally unsolicited comments. My work can sit in a gallery for weeks, but I’m not there to hear any viewers’ thoughts. This is the kind of encouragement that pushes an artist to the next adventure. Which in my case, may be a commission to paint one of those lake houses for its owner. She gave me her name, phone number and email and told me in no uncertain terms that if I had not heard from her in the next week I must contact her. Now that’s a switch from all of the well-meaning people who promise to contact me…and never get around to it. The plan is to take her pontoon boat out on the lake early in the morning so we can see how the sunrise plays out against her house.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer summer day for this show. Not too hot, not too windy…I’ll just let some photos do the illustrating for me.

Perfect day for an art fair

Sun or shade…

One of our Cass Area Artists members, Neil Benham, makes unique bowls of all sizes and shapes out of found wood. My favorite is anything he makes out of box elder, because the wood often has reddish stripes in it and he cuts and turns it to incorporate the stripes into interesting patterns. One he had at the show had a kind of starburst effect that began at the bottom and spread out as it went up the inside of the bowl. Another favorite is one he sometimes makes out of wood everyone else would think is defective–he leaves the bark on where there is a natural hole in the wood and after the bowl is turned it has lovely hollowed out shapes bordered by bark.

Neil Benham with some of his astounding turned wood items

Lin Pollard does digital art, some of which is so complex I can’t even describe it. Just think of a mandela that looks a whole lot like an extremely detailed kaleidoscope. She also does some digitally enhanced landscapes.

Lin Pollard makes a sale

And of course there had to be some horses at this show, too.  The one you can see in the gold frame in the photo below is by Robert Williams, and the one at the right edge of the photo in the wood frame is by Tom Rose. Roz Marcyan’s horse portraits are on the other side of the black display panel, so we can’t see them in this photo. But, I mention her because Roz is almost 90 years old, still drives a pickup truck and still is painting away…

Roz Marcyan, seated in the center

Finally, as proof that my artwork is universally loved, I offer this photo of an unidentified insect who landed on one of my painted lily pads and refused to leave. It was there for a good 15 minutes or so. I tried to coax it into flight by gently blowing on it, but it was having none of it. I resorted to loosening its grip by sliding a piece of paper under it, and it zipped away, probably cursing me under its breath for the unwarranted eviction.

Little lost bug

Posted in Cass Area Artists, exhibit booth, landscape, oil paintings, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

The mesh panels…YES!

A month or so ago I mentioned that I had won an incredible prize just by donating to a website I subscribe to. One I never expected to win, but always wished I had. I now can proudly say that I have professional-looking mesh panels in my booth tent on which to hang any number and any size of artwork I wish. This is such an improvement over my two previous setups. The landscape setup has overly large paintings which would blow and twist in the wind so they never hung straight. The horse portrait setup required racks which limited the number of paintings I could exhibit. Both issues solved!!

The old landscape booth, looking kind of jumbled.


The old horse portrait setup, not as jumbled but things are stuck together rather tightly.

The landscape setup of my booth with wonderful mesh panels.

It’s hard to believe things could look so much improved just by having the paintings hanging straight and flat against the panels. I set up this photo very carefully because art shows often ask for a booth shot so they can judge how professional you look before they let you in. The website I mentioned above is and they have an article on how to create a photo that is more likely to get judges’ approval. One thing is the angle, showing more of one side panel than the other, otherwise known as a “3/4 view”. So I did that. Second tip is not to show anything outside of the booth, such as the area it’s set up in or people standing around. Check! One other tip is to have either a nice carpet surface on the ground or some really nice grass. I had neither, so I Photoshopped the grass into the picture. Took a while, but I think I got some acceptable fake grass for my efforts!

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