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Kishwaukee Bends

January 21, 2019

Kishwaukee Bends – Plein Air – Oil on Canvas – 12″ x 24″

I received word that one of my small river scenes had sold at one of the gallery’s. They asked if I had other river scenes available. Not having anything which I felt was gallery ready, I headed over to a spot along the Kishwaukee River to create a fresh work. It was a challenging day.

The mosquitoes were menacing this past summer. They started early in the season and maintained a consistent attack all summer long. Doing anything outside often became an aerobics routine of bug swatting.

This morning was damp. I knew the mosquitoes might be bad. Before heading down to the river to scout a scene and make a few sketches, I doused myself with mosquito repellent. As I found a spot and did a few thumbnail drawings, the mosquitoes were finding me. I decided to go for it anyway. Back at the car, I reapplied a lot of repellent. I carried my equipment and ground spray. It’s a natural bug spray used by campers. It usually works well. Today, not so well.

While standing still at my easel painting, the mosquitoes were generally sedate, though at times, for no apparent reason, they would rise to action. Whenever I stepped back to look at my work, it motivated the bugs to attack mode. There was little chance of victory over these voracious critters. I worked swiftly to capture the gist of the scene. At a little under two hours, I decided to get out of there and complete the painting back in the studio.

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Along Beaverton Road

January 20, 2019

Along Beaverton Road – Plein Air – Oil on Canvas Panel – 12″ x 24″

This farm is well hidden by bushes and trees along the roadside. Not much of a view from the main entrance either. Thanks to a small gap in the brush, I was able to set up my gear and work on this view. It was a rather quiet road. About an hour into this painting, a young woman stopped her car to see what I was doing. A simple greeting was all that was exchanged. About five minutes later, an older gentleman riding a golf cart rolled up (I suspect that the young woman had alerted this fellow). The gentleman looked at the painting and said nothing. I made an assumption that this might be his farm. He confirmed my suspicion but seemed stoic. Concerned that I my presence and work might not be to his liking, I offered to stop my painting and leave. He replied that I did not need to leave. Said nothing more. A few awkward moments later, he quietly rolled away.

 

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Christmas 2018

January 19, 2019

Christmas 2018 – Oil on Canvas – 8″ x 10″

Sorry to have been away so long. Hope that your new year is off to a good start.

This is an interpretation of the entrance to Beaver Creek pottery.

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Cobalt Barn

October 30, 2018

Cobalt Barn – Oil on Canvas – 11″ x 14″

This was started as a demonstration for a workshop I hosted.

The first part of the lesson involved editing the scene. The photo of the scene was cluttered. I made six thumbnail drawings to enlighten the students about the possibilities of this opportunity. The grayish blue structure was my inspiration, my subject. I edited the chain link fence, an arbor, the massive tree behind the barn, an old horse, the fence in the foreground, brush growing to the right and in front of the barn. I amended / modified the building to the left, added the shadows (the reference photo was taken on an overcast day). Simplified the design.

The second part of the lesson was to illustrate to the students that they did not have spend hours doing a detailed drawing on their canvas. Also, to get the students thinking about moving fast to quickly capture the entire scene. Working all parts of their canvas to establish the design.

After quickly applying strokes to get the basic drawing (barn was fairly drawn, but most of the subordinate characters were faint indications and obscure lines. Once this was in place, I moved fast and deferred questions for a few minutes. Just shy of twenty minutes into this work, the students saw that my painting was established. I could walk away from that painting and everything read clearly enough. My point is to keep the students from lingering in isolated sections of their painting. They also witnessed how minor imperfections and mistakes were not fatal. I pointed out areas of the start which would need to be addressed and corrected.

I allowed the students to start their paintings and after I had them painting, I returned to this work. I would paint for a few minutes, then wander around to lend assistance as needed. By the end of the day, this work was basically complete.

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Standing Along Grange Hall

October 16, 2018

Standing Along Grange Hall – Oil on Canvas – 11″ x 14″

Using sketches and plein air studies from last summer, I worked this painting as a demonstration for my workshop students. Although, to begin, I had a loose pastel sketch on the canvas, I applied my oil paint swiftly. I worked to place general colors throughout the entire canvas. Within twenty minutes, I had enough paint in place that the students could see where I was going with this painting.

I allowed the students to start their works. While the students were painting, I moved around the classroom to guide their progress and took occasional breaks to add more strokes of paint to my work. By the end of the afternoon, my painting was basically finished, save for a few tweaks completed at my studio.

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Barn at Beaver Creek

October 9, 2018

Barn at Beaver Creek – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 9″ x 12″

Another play with watercolors. Used artist prerogative on this. This structure used to be a barn. Several years ago it was converted to a ceramics workshop and display room on the ground level and a home on the upper level. The front has a lot of windows. The barn has been allowed to age to dark brownish gray patina. Rather than paint this painting in its current state, I wanted this structure to look barn-ish.

I could see the indications of the former sliding door entrance to the barn and the opening for the hay loft. I also felt that changing the color to something more indicative of a barn would help.

Not sure that the owner was very excited with my choices, but I am.

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Blooms at Breckenridge House

October 4, 2018

Blooms at Breckenridge House – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 9″ x 12″

In search of a building to interpret in watercolor, I ventured over to Midway Village.  I walked the grounds and decided to take on the Breckenridge House. I embraced the challenge of the flowers. To interpret each planting. To instill unity and yet successfully elude to and instill depth to the scene.

While I painted, a few of the volunteers worked tending to the flower beds. I opted not to include the workers in the scene. I was in a hurry and the many options for placement of the workers required more than I wanted to invest. Before I finished the painting, a couple of the gardeners came over to check out my work. One was put out that I did not include the whole house. Funny look on her face when I responded that I found the product of their efforts to be of more interest.