Posts Tagged ‘Rockford Illinois’


Mill at Midway

February 19, 2019

Mill at Midway – Plein Air finished in Studio – Oil on Canvas – 16″ x 20″

Late August I ventured over to Midway Village. Between the entrance to the museum and a neighboring recreational path, is the pond and mill. Although this location has its share of passers-by, I managed to find a spot which gave me a nice vantage point for the mill and kept me somewhat secluded from viewers.

The mill and foreground were my start. The trough on the right and trees to the left were dependent on artistic license. I ripped through this and within two hours had everything well established. I did some touch ups in the studio.


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.


1518 National Avenue

December 4, 2014


1518 National Avenue; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 12 x 16

1518 National Avenue; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 12 x 16

Cool crisp autumn morning. Sun shining brightly. Great day to be out painting. Locked in the shadows early. As happens, the basic drawing of this house, with all of its angles and proportions, took a long time. I returned the next day to finish the work. I was able to invest a fair amount of time adjusting the colors of this subject.

While working on this, one of the neighbors came out to see what was going on. We got to chatting. First about the art, then about Rockford eventually we got on the subject of my first employer in the Chicago area. Turns out that her cousin is one of the people I worked with at Ryerson Steel. Small world, but wouldn’t want to paint it. Or would I???


Nicholas Gardens Along the Sinnissippi

August 7, 2014
Nicholas Gardens Along the Sinnissippi; Oil on Canvas Panel 9" x 12"

Nicholas Gardens Along the Sinnissippi; Oil on Canvas Panel 9″ x 12″

Another day at The Nicholas Conservatory. I went with the intention of finding a design that could incorporate the recreation path. I used a fair amount of artistic license on this one. I removed a pole, a tree in the foreground, a strip along the path which is being prepped to grow prairie grasses, and trolley tracks. I also improvised (or exaggerated) the gardens. Busy place this morning.

About an hour and a half into this painting, the sun was starting to get onto my canvas. I turned my set up clock wise to shield my painting from the sun. If you will, I turned my set up from twelve o’clock to two o’clock. Not much of a change, but enough to confuse people. A couple women approached me to ask about seeing my painting. I obliged. One woman assessed my work but looked in the direction which my easel was facing. Although I was standing less than ten feet from the recreation path, I was facing the corner of the greenhouse ( just slightly off the right side of my painting). The woman asked if I was making up my scene and improvising based upon my feelings of this place. I was stupefied. I started to point in the direction of the scene which I was painting. The woman’s friend caught my inference and announced the news to the first woman. The woman then inquired as to why I was not facing my subject. I pointed skyward. The friend announced that the sun was the reason. Thank goodness for friends.

Feeling good about this painting, I headed home for lunch. Late morning clouds had moved into the area. Following lunch, Helen and I ventured over to Oak Ridge. I wanted to work on paintings of the sky and clouds. Helen wanted to sketch some of the wildflowers and trees. Good day to be painting.


Clouds Over Oak Ridge; Oil on Gessoed Paper 6" x 8"

Clouds Over Oak Ridge; Oil on Gessoed Paper 6″ x 8″


North Falls at Nicholas

August 6, 2014
North Falls at Nicholas; Oil on Canvas Panel 9" x 12"

North Falls at Nicholas; Oil on Canvas Panel 9″ x 12″

Getting ready for another Plein Air Workshop Sinnissippi Gardens at The Nicholas Conservatory. In advance of the workshop, I decided to create a few paintings at the gardens. I used one morning to walk the grounds with my scene finder and sketch book in search of designs. I returned the next morning to start this painting.

I enjoyed this design and had an added benefit, this spot is off the main path. People had to really work to interrupt my painting or stand in front of me. Working the rocks took longer than I wanted to spend. I lost too many of the early morning shadows and light effect. I had to return for a second day in order to complete this painting.

Interesting. This fountain has a deep pool at the base of the falls. For public safety, a short chain fence surrounds the pond to keep people away from the pond. Amazing how many people allowed their pets and small children to go past the fence and onto the large rocks which serve as a border.  Fortunately, no one fell in, although one older dog needed some assistance getting out.

One other disgusting note, at this spot is a water fountain. It has a taller fountain for adults, a shorter one for small children and one near ground level for dogs, or so I thought. One inconsiderate boob, found it humorous that her Labrador Retriever preferred to drink from the fountain intended for children. That dog licked that spigot thoroughly. Yech.


Midway Reflection

September 27, 2013
Midway Reflection; Oil on Canvas Panel 16" x 12"

Midway Reflection; Oil on Canvas Panel 16″ x 12″

I had not made arrangements to paint at Midway, but it was a good day to be out painting. I decided to go to paint at the Midway pond. I found this spot at the north side of the pond. The larger size (16″ x12″) took me longer to paint. Maybe too long. The shadows and colors changed a lot more than I needed. In the work, I lost the initial vision. I did not have my camera with me and my preliminary sketches were insufficient to help me hold to my initial inspiration.

After working this for about 2-1/2 hours, I decided to pack up, head home and come back the next day. I did come back the next day. Found that I had to do a lot of work to get the painting back to where it should have been.


Midway – South Barn

September 15, 2013
South Barn - Plein Air; Oil on Canvas Panel 8" x 10"

South Barn – Plein Air; Oil on Canvas Panel 8″ x 10″

A view of the 1800’s barn at Midway. I took some artistic license with the barn. In reality, it is only weathered wood. No paint. To paint this as the bleached out building that it is, creates a design with a drab blotch in a critical spot (though some day I may figure out how to pull this off successfully). I decided to go with  the stereotypical red barn, but weathered. I think that this worked better than painting it the way that it really is.


Barn at Indian Hill Manor

September 6, 2013
Barn at Indian Hill Manor; Oil on Canvas Panel 11" x 14"

Barn at Indian Hill Manor; Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″

I had the opportunity to paint at Indian Hill Manor. I had noticed this design opportunity during my tour a week earlier.I wanted to get one more good farm painting fora submission to the Farms & Barns Regional Competition.

After arriving, I spent about twenty minutes moving around this dirt road, working to determine the best vantage point. I made several sketches in my book and determined which spot and design would work best.

For the first hour, I worked in relative solitude. Then I heard some noises and figured something was going on by the farm house (which was at my 2 o’clock). My view of the house was obstructed by an outbuilding. I was curious about the activity. Later, I realized that the noise was actually coming from a field behind me. The sound must have been echoing off of the outbuilding. A couple of the maintenance workers were burning some branches and “stuff”. Suddenly, I had a problem. The wind had shifted and I had smoke blowing my way, not bad. Then it got bad, some of the ashes were now falling onto my palette and onto my painting. Nothing I could do short of closing up my painting.

This fallout lasted about ten minutes. Some minor clean up of the palette and some delicate use of a palette knife to clean up the painting. Finishing touches and I was done. Happy to report that the paining worked well and this painting was accepted to the exhibition.


Sinnissippi – Wild Flower

August 25, 2013
Wild Flower at Nicholas Conservatory; Oil on Canvas Panel 11" x 14"

Wild Flower at Nicholas Conservatory; Oil on Canvas Panel 11″ x 14″

During a previous session at the Nicholas Conservatory, I noticed the play of the light and shadows on the fountain at the south entrance. I arrived early and this design jumped out at me. I liked the linear movements created by the roof tops of the structures and how the outlines of the foliage created a great contrast.

I started by quickly sketching an outline onto the canvas. After getting some colors and shapes established in the sculpture, I worked fast to get the background blocked in. I returned to the sculpture. I started to feel as though I may have bit off more than I could chew. I probably should have done a small painting or two of just the sculpture. It was more intricate than I had assessed. Finally got the sculpture near completion when I realized that it was getting near noon. I had lost the light effects that so captured my interest.

Returned the next morning. Moved quickly to make adjustments to the sculpture and get to work on the rest of the painting. Finished and headed home. Examining the painting at home, something did not look right. Took a day before I realized that I had neglected to add indications of the water jets. Back again to add the water jets which helps  give an essence of action and movement to the design.

During the first session, I had a very memorable encounter. I was painting in the parking lot of the conservatory and was stationed about thirty yards or so from the Sinnissippi recreational path. About 1-1/2 hours into the painting, four women out for their “power walk”, veered off of the path and were headed in my direction. I prepared for the usual line of questions when it happened. One women interrupted her other conversation to ask about my painting. She proceeded to look at my palette and ask “Are those acrylics?” I replied, “No. They’re oils.”. She responded, “Are you sure?”. I was stunned. I looked at her to determine whether she was pulling my leg or if she was  serious. My mind was quickly assessing a plethora of potential responses, some of which could have been regrettable. She caught herself and added, “Oh, yes, now I smell the oil. So Marge, as I was saying….”. And with that, the four women were on their way.


Sinnissippi Cascade

August 15, 2013
Sinnissippi Cascade; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 12" x 9"

Sinnissippi Cascade; Plein Air Oil on Canvas Panel 12″ x 9″

Preparing for my plein air workshop, I decided to capture this view of one of the waterways at the Nicholas Conservatory. Found the design right away. Blocked in the main shapes and spent a fair amount of time segmenting shapes within the rock formations. Thank goodness I made decent notations to guide me through the shadows on and in the waterway. I worked the rock formations first, general notations in the water, then worked the foliage indications around the edges before finishing the water and falls.

I was set up at the edge of the sidewalk which left me as fair game for any people strolling the gardens. Not too bad, Had a couple people that seemed genuinely interested in my work. I did have one concern though.

A maintenance supervisor was working in the area and seemed to be keeping an eye on my activities. I wondered if he was concerned about me blocking the walk, or making a mess, or if he was going to make me move. As I was nearing the end of the painting, he finally approached me and spoke up. Seems that he was just curious about my work.

Tough to finish this work. By the time I was completing the work, I had full sun on my palette and my canvas.