Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Second 2nd Annual Radnor Lake Plein Air Freeze Out

Plein Air Nashville scheduled a winter paint out at Radnor Lake for this morning around 10ish. When I saw the e-mail I thought we might have three or four show.
Man, when it snows Plein Air Nashville turns out.
I didn't get a count but I estimate we had 15-16. For PAN that's quite a few, especially with the weather as it is right now in Tennessee.
We don't get a lot of snow in Tennessee so when it does snow we just go nuts. We wreck cars, bend and break every sled we own, close the schools for weeks, empty every grocery store of milk and bread within 300 miles and generally act like, well, Tennesseans. Me included. I'm out in it the whole time it's on the ground. Like I said, go nuts.
This morning as we painted the sun came out and it was quite comfortable and the next few days the temperature is predicted to be much higher than 32 degrees so it won't be here very long after tomorrow but maybe, just maybe, we can have one more good one before the season's over. I just hope it waits until I can get some more milk and bread.

Friday, January 29, 2010

This is the Thursday night class demo and I let them work on an exercise until about 8:00 then asked if they wanted a demo and flew in and got this done in a little over thirty minutes. They were cleaned up and ready to go by nine. These under the gun demos are actually kind of fun because it is a very intuitive way to paint. You really can't over think anything. Mix and apply.
The mountains you see there are in the Cumberland mountains on the Kentucky Tennessee border. I had gone up there to the Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area about three years ago to paint for a week. It is some of the roughest country I have been in both culturally and geographically. I actually knocked the exhaust out from under my truck on what they consider roads. They are these little coal company roads hanging on the sides of the mountains with these giant coal trucks coming and going.
While I was there I attempted to paint the scene you see in the post. I made a royal mess out of it. When I think back about that trip I don't know that I actually had one or two paintings that were decent and the rest just horrible. I keep telling my students about these moments you have in your career when you realize how far you have come and the things that you found so difficult a year or so ago you wade through now. However, it also seems the more I learn the more I realize how much more I have to learn. I actually hope I never loose that because ultimately it seems to be what keeps most of us coming back again, and again. No finish line.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Class Painting

Quick post. I have to leave for class at the gallery. It seems like I am teaching every 15 minutes. I was just there.
Class is a lot of fun though. I have tried to knock off a demo at each class so far and have time for them to get something done in class that I can look at and kind of walk them through. It causes some fast demos. The one above took about 40 - 45 minutes. Granted, it is small, but I felt like I was trying to put out a fire.
Anyway, gotta' go. I'll try to get some photos up of the class if I can remember to take pictures.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Class Time

I officially began teaching last Tuesday night and had another class on Thursday night. The paintings posted are the demos I did from each class. I think after it has all shuffled out I have 5 beginner students on Tuesday and 6 intermediate students on Thursday night. For me that is plenty. I am kinda' glad these classes aren't bigger than they are until I get a little experience under my belt. Teaching is far removed from "doing". When I paint, a lot of what I do has become subconscious and I don't think about how to explain it. When I try to explain it I think I tend to skip some of the things I take for granted, some of the things you have done for so long you assume everyone knows how to do them. The Tuesday night class is a beginner class. Some have never opened a tube of paint so I think it will be very basic stuff for the next six weeks for them. When I see them Tuesday we are going to go through the color wheel and how to get color with a three color palette. Hopefully at the end of six weeks they will understand things like value, mixing color, and basic drawing skills. The intermediate class of course has the basics and as I did a demo for them they seemed to ask some very precise and experienced questions so I should be able to get into more advanced practices.
All and all I am very excited about the possibilities in both classes. Lisa at Leiper's creek Gallery was kind enough to let me have the gallery in the evenings so we have a great space with plenty of top notch art on the walls we can use for examples of some of the things I will be referring to. It's going to be a lot of fun and as excited as I am to see what it will do for the students ability I am just as excited to see what it will do for mine.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2nd Annual Radnor Lake Plein Air Freeze Out

Last year, Dawn Whitelaw, Erin Jones and myself painted at Radnor Lake on a morning when the temperatures were in the low single digits. I think it is still a record for me. This year we did it again although the temps were not quite as low as last year and Dawn wasn't there. Just me and Erin and somewhere in the teens. But, it did snow and there seemed to be more ice on the pond this year. It was absolutely gorgeous. No matter how hard you may wish it, it will never snow in the studio.
The photos above are Erin and myself at the lake, the piece I did and the piece Erin did. Her's was in the beginning stages when I photographed it but I thought it was a wonderfully done painting. Nice values and a great composition. The other piece of the Beech trees is one I did last week right before the cold snap when the wind was howling so I did a painting in the interior of the woods way down in a hollow to try and get out of some of the wind. I don't do many "interior"paintings because they are very hard to do. Lot's of drawing and the masses are less defined because there are so many bits and pieces in the woods. Compositional nightmares.
Unfortunately here in Middle Tennessee we don't get enough snow to actually study it and paint it on a regular basis so when I paint snow it is less from experience and a knowledge of how it should appear in any given situation and more on trying to paint what my eyes tell me I am seeing. If you want to see some painters who have studied it and been exposed check out Clyde Aspevig, Matt Smith, Skip Whitcomb and Marc Hansen. Clyde Aspevig has a couple of ice paintings on his web site right now that when I have them up on my Macbook I have to go cut the thermostat up because the temperature in the house drops 10 degrees.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Snow! As I was standing in my kitchen staring out the window and pouting because it didn't snow, it started snowing. Granted, it wasn't a very big snow, but it was enough to give the landscape a few highlights here and there. I ran to Bells Bend Park because it was close and I knew the highways there would probably have been salted. Not many backroads to deal with.
Once I got out there it didn't appear to be as much snow as I had anticipated. A dusting. But seeing these small passing snowstorms in the park was beautiful. That alone was worth the trip.

No Show Snow

Lately I have been like a kid in a candy store. I recently found a place that is the kind of scrubby, agricultural landscape that I like and it is public access. It's the Poole Knobs Wildlife Management Area. A friend of mine goes there to watch bird dog field trials and had been telling me about it. I painted there Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Best of all, the weather we have had this week has been teens to mid-twenties so there was ice on the creeks and ponds. I don't get to paint ice often and it is a challenge. It has been so cold that Tuesday I painted with Jason Saunders and as I was painting the painting above with the cedar tree some kids pulled up and wanted to know if it would bother us if they played hockey on the pond! To be playing ice hockey outside in Tennessee means serious cold. We also had a forecast yesterday of 2-4 inches of snow. I haven't painted in snow in awhile so I was pumped. Woke up this morning and didn't have a flake. It was like waking up for Christmas and Santa didn't show up. Maybe we'll get some before the season's out.