Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I have always wanted to paint a tugboat but you would be suprised how hard they are to catch sitting still. I don't know where they park em' when they are not in them but it's nowhere that I have access to on the Cumberland River. I actually caught this one sitting downtown. I attempted a painting after a PAN paintout one Saturday and the boat turned out but the rest didn't. I had a photo of the river in Cheatham County and put them together and voila, a tugboat painting.
I think being a tugboat captain would be the second best job in the world (right after painter). They are incredible pieces of machinery. We stood on a boat ramp on the Mississippi River one time and watched a tugboat with about 4 barges in front of it go UPSTREAM. The current looked like it was moving at about 75 miles an hour and he just cruised right by. The ground where we stood actually shook when he went by. And if you get a chance there is a video on the web of a tugboat getting caught up against a bridge in a flood. It actually goes underwater, under the bridge and pops up on the other side, engines still running. Most boats would have come out on the other side as flotsam.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Comfort Zone

Painted with Plein Air Nashville again on Saturday morning and we painted right in the heart of Nashville at the Legislative Plaza. There are some great views of the Capital and the Library, the War memorial building and other attractions all from standing in this one area. I went a little early to try and get my "cityscape" frame of mind in order and walked around the area and looked. Paintings everywhere. The view I painted is from the War Memorial building down Deadrick Street to the greenspace in front of the newly remodeled court house. I have no idea what the little twin structures are at the end. If anybody can tell me let me know.
Typically this type of painting would have been out of my comfort zone, painting with a group of people in the city with gawkers every second or two asking,"whatcha' doin?" But going with PAN and getting out of my comfort zone has improved my work and my ability to do what I do. I think anytime you try something different in your art, something new, whether you succeed or fail, it ultimately makes you a better artist. I have now painted with PAN enough that some of these commando type paint outs in the heart of the urban jungle have fallen into my comfort zone.
What next?

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Painted with Nashville Plein Air this morning and we painted on a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Cumberland River at Two Rivers Park. This bridge connects the greenways on one side of the river to the greenway system on the other side. I think ultimately they are going to connect them all so you may be able to walk the entire distance of the Cumberland that runs through Davidson County. It was my first visit there and it is a very impressive bridge. Very attractive.
Anyway, to stand where I stood and paint the view I did (it was the only shade) was a perspective lesson. I had to really pull out all the perspective skills I could muster. It seems everytime I paint, each painting presents its own challenges, whether it is values, colors, edges, etc. etc. there is always that one test, that one thing you notice that you really have to work at (sometimes it's more than one). In this painting it was those wonderful geometric shapes and curves that all fall back into points in space. Those tricky little proportions and shapes and lines that make it " look right" spatially. I spent more effort in the drawing than the actual painting.
I hope eventually they are able to build the entire greenway system that they have invisioned. By the look of the number of people that were on it today, it is something wanted and needed in our city.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Duck River

I spend quite a bit of time in and around the Duck River. If you've been keeping up with my blog I think you can tell.
I can remember as a kid when it would flood it would just inundate my home town of Shelbyville. We had a floodgate system there that would be pulled up and pumps turned on that would pump the water back over a levee and into the west side of town. I can remember standing at the old bridge below the 1st National Bank building and seeing the west side. It looked like an ocean, as far as you could see. We would also play in the water that had accumulated behind the floodgate. After they built the Normandy Dam the flooding was not near as severe.
After having gotten back on the river in the upper part recently, the thing that strikes me the most is the difference in the river from Bedford County to Centerville and below. The river is much larger in the Hickman County area and the gravel bars and shoals are much more substantial. When we floated and painted in Bedford County it was actually hard to find a gravel bar or shoal to paint on. Even the trees and the growth around the river was much different. There are some massive trees in the Centerville area, especially some of the Sycamores, that we just didn't see in the Bedford County area. But for canoeing there is a constant current that you just can't beat and lots of rock formations and little bluffs everywhere. It is a very beautiful part of the river.
We are very fortunate to have this resource in our state.