Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"We're Not In Kansas Anymore..."

Plein Air Nashville painted in Centennial Park again on Saturday. We delayed the start because our weathermen in town said we were going to have some pretty severe weather right at sun up on Saturday and then clearing by afternoon so we opted to paint at two o'clock. Most looked like they were going for the flower garden but I chose the Parthenon again, doing the opposite side from the one I painted last time. Apparently I set up on "gawkers row." I have never had so many spectators. At one point I had a semi-circle of about 10-15 people standing around me. I couldn't backup one step. The best was a group of 6, 8-10 year old African American girls who were dying to see what I was doing without coming over to ask. I could tell they were playing closer and closer until one finally leaned over and peaked. "Ooohh ya'll he's painting! Come check it out! He's good! You got a website?! Mom, can we go to his website when we get home?!He's good! How long you been doin' this?! He's good! You're good!" I have never had such an enthusiastic crowd. I gave them one of my mailers with my website on it and told them to send an e-mail but haven't heard from them yet. It was pretty cool watching kids that age go that nutty over painting. But then again, they could be like that about everything.
As I was cleaning up getting ready to leave, the tornado warning sirens in town went off. Apparently one of the most strategic and effective locations for a tornado siren in Davidson County was about 50 yards to my right. When it went off everybody in the park kind of looked at each other. When they figured it out people started running for their vehicles and shelters. It was a bit frightening. I headed straight for home having called my family and telling them to take cover. Little did I know at the time I was driving west on highway 100 and the tornado was heading east on highway 100. As I was looking at the most awesome looking sky I have ever seen my artistic brain did not comprehend the danger of it. No. It immediately started comparing the values in the clouds."I wonder if I could mix that and pull it off. Man, those values are close. Oooh those are nice grays." I guess when I got to St. Peter at the gate I'd have asked for 2 more hours and loaded palette.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Re-thinking Studio Painting

Painted in the studio today. Weather is a bit foul so I stayed in and painted a 14x18 of cows. I bought a big pack of 14x18's and 16x20's to try and motivate myself to paint a tad larger but so far they have just sat in my storage closet mocking me.
This afternoon I took a break and had a massive bowl of ice cream and went through the John Singer Sargent book "Sargent Abroad." Ya'know, sometimes I get lazer focused on what's being done out there in the market, right now, by the artists who I admire and would someday love to emulate and I forget to "go back" and look. It was the first time I had picked up a Sargent book in a while and just looked. And yes, it floored me.
Most artists you can watch paint and figure out what they are doing, how they do it. Even if you can't yet, you can see the way they paint and work at it until you can do it. I think watching Sargent paint would have been like watching magic. Even after you had seen him do it, you would stand there scratching your head in amazement not having a clue as to how it started with blank canvas and now looks like that. There is a description in the book by a lady who describes how he painted a plate of flowers. She said the watercolor was just one big pool of pigment and when it dried it was this wonderful little painting of flowers on a plate. Sounds like magic to me.
I don't know if it was the Sargent book or the ice cream this afternoon but this studio painting thing is starting to grow on me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"That Too Much"

Painted Saturday morning with Plein Air Nashville and we painted in Centennial Park. Centennial Park was designed and built for the Nashville Centennial celebration in 1897 and is a very unique park for Nashville to have in the heart of the west end of the city. It has gone through some good years and some years you stayed clear of it. Over the last couple of decades they have done a wonderful job of turning it in to a fantastic park with outdoor shows, festivals and every summer, "Shakespeare in the Park." But the main attraction is an exact replica of the Parthenon. Yes, the one in Greece, except ours is not all crumbly and broken! I think it is partly the reason we are referred to as the "Athens of the South".
I had never painted the Parthenon even though I have painted in the park in the past. It just has a lot of drawing and decoration and nice even spaces and measurements that if you miss them by a little it is very obvious, especially in the columns. But I tried it and thought it worked out. I like the view I did through the columns. It actually is a very striking building standing in the middle of the park.
As I was painting though I had tons of spectators. One was a little Asian lady, maybe Japanese(?) and maybe 60 years old or older. She came up in a very heavy accent and told me how good my painting was. She then asked how long it took and if I was going to sell it. I said,"yes" and she said,"how much?" I then told her 400 dollars. She actually grabbed her mouth like I had said the most disgusting and vulgar word you could think of. She then started repeating,"that too much." "That too much. That too much. That too much." I was not sure if she meant that was too much for her to afford or that was too much to ask for the painting. Never did figure that out. But as she was walking away I could hear her say ," it good , but that too much."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Springtime in Tennessee

It's springtime in Tennessee and the woods are starting to get that whispy light green look of spring. I am sure we will have a few more cold snaps but I think the winter look is over.
I painted on Art Lawson's farm in Bell Buckle yesterday. The first time I met him he drove me all over his farm and said for me to help myself. He also told me a story of how Confederates were camped on the hill to the right in this painting. The northern "aggressors" over ran the hill and chased our "god-fearing gentlemenly army of the south" from the hill. In their"calculated and fully co-ordinated" flight they threw quite a bit of their gear to help precipitate their manoeuvre from the hill. Art said people who have done their Civil War homework are asking to metal detect the area from time to time. His only request is for them to show him what they find and he said he has seen some incredible stuff.
To know Art you would think he had been a farmer all his life and had rarely left the county. As I was painting one day a neighbor stopped to watch and told me how Art was an Apache helicoter pilot in the Iraq War! It's like I said, everybody has got a story and I bet his is a doosie.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Backroad

Not sure what county I was in, I believe Bedford County, but I got this Friday before I picked up my "daughters" at Webb in an intermittent rain.
If anybody is interested, go to Trailside Galleries website and look up Bill Anton and then check out a painting he has on the site named Alaskan Fjord. Geeez what a painting. And I am looking at a 4x5 image on a computer terminal. I can't imagine what the original looks like.
I am constantly scanning the information superhighway for artists and paintings that I can glean a bit of information from that will help me in my artistic quest and every now and then I will come across a painting that will make me let out an audilble gasp or an "O myGod!" This one did it for me. I am afraid though if I could actually buy it and did I would wind up like Howard Hughes, just sitting in a chair and staring at my painting for months at a time until I died. If I had 15,000 dollars I would sure like to find out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


There's nothing like a road trip.
Left last Monday for Richmond Virginia to stop in at Brazier's. The reason I had to stop there was to pick up my art. They're closing! Son of a.... My goal recently was to get three galleries and I did and now I am back to two. So much for goals. Anyway, was a great gallery to be in and I hope I can find another like it.
After picking up my art, drove on to Lewes Delaware for the Saturday night opening for new artists at The Peninsula Gallery, my new one. Between Brazier's and Peninsula I had four days to paint.
There are always tons of new things to paint when you are in a new area. You run around like a kid in a candy store the first day just trying to get your bearings. I had followed the snow storm of last week up the east coast so everything was covered in snow. Even the beaches! I had never seen that before. The weather also changed dramatically over four days. The first day I painted it was about 10 degrees and the last day I got sunburned in around 78 degrees.
Spent a half a day over in Easton Maryland gallery hopping. If you ever get to Easton the South Street Gallery has some wonderful work that is in the genre I prefer, the representational landscapes and plein air work. There was a guy named Tim Bell that had some stuff in there that was just incredible.
I also got to paint with another painter named Lisa Phillips. She is trying to get started as a plein air painter after years of painting murals. She accompanied me a couple of days and I got to do a demo! My first. If she stays with it there is no reason in the world she won't be a very competent plein air painter.
The landscapes there are beach scenes on one side with agriculture for miles in the interior. It's big flat farms that were covered up with geese. I spent most of my time in the Henlopen State Park and the Primehook Wildlife Refuge. Lots of wetlands at Primehook and beaches in Henlopen. About the second day the temps that morning were around 20 degrees. I painted along the Broadkill River which is actually in the tidal marsh. (See painting above) As I walked in the temp was low enough that the mud was nice and frozen and it was like zipping along on a sidewalk. While I painted apparently the temp crossed the freezing mark and what was this wonderful sidewalk become gumbo. Slickest thickest mud I have ever walked in. I had to get about 150 yds. back to the truck and it took forever.
Saturday night had the opening party at the gallery and met some fantastic artists and the gallery owner, Tony Boyd-Heron, and his wife. Right as I was leaving I found out that he retired from the British military after 26 yrs. in the service of HRH the Queen. Everybody's got a story.
After the Saturday night party at the gallery got up Sunday and made it back to Tennessee. Great trip with great people and great landscapes. Where to next?