Thursday, May 10, 2012

Totty's Bend

My painting from yesterday.

About 80 percent of what I paint comes out of an area called Totty's Bend in Hickman County. I have friends with farms there and have some land leased so I have access to a ton of options as far  as painting. Swan Creek and Duck River runs through so I have those options also. Yesterday the Chestnut Group had a paint out there for the Nature Conservancy show coming up next weekend so I was excited to get to introduce them to the area and "Haybale Doyle", the guy that owns the farm we were painting on. Now ad to that the fact that Leslie Colley with the Nature Conservancy, and a local outdoor show called "Tennessee Wildside", was going to be there to film a segment for the show. Big day.

Kay Keyes Farrar being interviewed with Anne Blair Brown.
Jim Frazier and Tiffany Foss on the boat ramp.
After painting a bit the interviews began. Kay Farrar first, Leslie Colley second, Doyle third, and then your's truly, interviewed. Interviewed. Me. This career has gotten me into some bizarre, interesting situations.
But, I felt the cause and point we were making were important enough to step up and expound on whatever was necessary to get the point across that the Duck River is a jewel. We are lucky to have this resource and should do everything in our power to protect and preserve it. Because, as I said in my interview, we can't build one or buy one. If we break's gone.
Kay and Anne "doin' it".
Which brings me to the reason for the show we are painting and interviewing in preparation for. The Chestnut Group is working in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy to have a show entitled "A River Runs Through It" next weekend in Columbia Tennessee. It is to generate money for the Conservancy so they can continue their work with land conservation and environmental protection. They do so much in the area I would suggest looking them up for the details. It may surprise you.
As exciting as all this was yesterday, I am looking forward to having the Bend to myself again. Alone and quite to look and explore and connect with the area. It is so beautiful and diverse I am sure I will until I can't do this anymore.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cumberland Society and Chestnuts

My painting this morning.
Spent the day with Anne Blair Brown and Pam Padgett at Cheekwood painting on behalf of The Cumberland Society with the Chestnut Group, another group of painters with which I am also involved.
The Cumberland Society approached the C'Nuts awhile back about painting with them for a day and trying to impart some of the info and skill we have collected over the years on plein air painting through years of experience in the trenches, so to speak, for some of the new members of Chestnuts who might be just starting and have those questions that we all have at some point in our careers. The first time I saw an Open Box M I thought it was something that had been developed by NASA and could fly and shoot lasers. I had no idea what it was. But another artist was kind enough to explain. That and three color palettes, and linen types, and frames, and value, and etc., etc., etc. And I remember trying desperately to glean whatever info I could get from artists and anyone who might know. To have a source like this was a gold mine for me. Not that we are master artists by any stretch of the imagination, but we have had our share of successes and failures and in the process figured out a few things that work and a lot that doesn't.
Lunch with the 'Nuts.
Pam Padgett
It made for a very good day and we met a lot of new potential artist and I would hope that once they figure it out they will remember the day we helped them and will feel the same obligation I do to those who helped me, and pass it on.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Workshop Day 2 - Demo 2

Demo 2
Of all things that motivate me, from a mortgage, to a good Matt Smith video, from a new uncharted landscape, to the ability to buy food, nothing motivates me like a good shot of lightning in the field. During my demo today on the second day of my workshop I became highly motivated.
We had had some nice storms early in the morning and I thought they had passed but about 30 minutes into my demo a storm started brewing over the horizon. Work became frantic. But another 15 minutes and it took this wonderful right hand turn and coasted off to ruin somebody else's demo somewhere else. After the adrenaline had subsided I actually had a pretty decent painting with a hint of storm clouds in the distance. And the students got to see plein air painting off the cuff and in a flurry. One of my students had a watch and was shouting the time in intervals to ad to the heightened since of chaos. It made for some very intuitive painting for a few minutes. Once the storms curved off we slowed down and analyzed the painting and what had just happened and it made for a very good lesson.
For me.

Friday, May 4, 2012


What you are witnessing above is deep and intensive right brain development. Pathways between neurons being formed and changed and new creative areas of the gray matter being explored for the first time.
Workshop students.
Demo from the driver's seat.
Yep. When a beginning artist steps up to plein air painting for the first time it is like drinking from a fire hose for most of them. There is so much information - from technique to three-color palette to equipment to a small dissertation on bugs and snakes and other outdoor hazards. The first day they spend a lot of time with the "deer in the headlights" look. Which is natural. I had it for three years when I started.
But, with diligence and perseverance there is no reason that all of them can't be very good plein air painters. Just put in the hours. And bad paintings. Thousands. Of baaaadd paintings. I prefer to call them lessons though. Hopefully tomorrow I can get them one more day and one more bad painting closer to their goals.

Finished demo

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Flowers

I recently posted that I typically don't do flowers. Thistles and the Creeping Buttercup being about the only two. Well I lied.  Here are a couple of rose paintings. The only two I can think of that I have done. They were actually done a few weeks back but my blog posting frequency has kept them on Facebook only.
Another reason I wanted to post was the fact I have a 3 day workshop at Leiper's Creek Gallery coming up in May, the 4th, 5th, 6th, and the contact info is under the "Events" section of this blog. Also wanted to announce a workshop in Apalachicola, Fl with the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast in September. It will be a good chance to get instruction from different artists over a weeks time. Again, the info is to the right under "Events".
The rose paintings above are hanging at 16 Patton Gallery in Asheville NC and Leiper's Creek Gallery in Leiper's Fork TN.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


The above painting is one of two that will be traveling over to Charleston SC for a show with Plein Air Painters of the Southeast  starting June the 1st and running until June the 22nd at four separate galleries in Charleston. The galleries participating are Gallerie on Broad, Hagan Fine Art, Horton Hayes Fine Art and Smith Killian Fine Art. If you happen to be in Charleston during the month of June drop in on the galleries. It will be a dynamite show.
Also, friend and painting compadre Anne Blair Brown will be participating in "40 & Under" show at Smith Killian Fine Art in Charleston along with fellow PAPSE member Shannon Smith. Show opens April the 6th. This also will be a reason to be in Charleston in April. I am waiting on them to do the "50 and Under" show. Maybe I can participate in that one. But they better hurry.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aquatic Transparency

I had painted this painting 8x10 in the field about two years ago and at that time I had a pretty good painting except for the area in the foreground, the area where the bottom of the creek showed through the water. I made a mess out of it. So, I took the painting home with the intent of trying to figure out where the wheels feel off.
After much research into painters and paintings I had remembered seeing this done, I tried again in the studio at 12x16. The research consisted of Clyde Aspevig paintings, Carl Rungius paintings, and of course Matt Smith. I remembered quite a few of his that had this effect and in every case they worked and were gorgeous. He has a painting on his website right now called "Shadow Lake Outlet" that is just phenominal.   After looking at it awhile I noticed in it and others, a temperature swing from back to front. Cool sky colors in the background water, transitioning into warm ground colors in the foreground. And close values all the way up to your feet. The biggest issue I had was getting my values too far apart and my foreground too warm. It looked like dry land instead of under the surface.  Still don't know if I nailed it but I am much closer than the previous attempt.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Secret to Painting

There seems to be a rhythm to painting. There is a groove to this that when you are in it it can be very productive and rewarding. And then conversely there is the other. Falling out of the groove. Hitting a wall so to speak. December was a massive unproductive wall for me.
View from the driver's seat.
I painted today with Jason Saunders. He and I used to paint together almost every other day and today was the first time he and I have painted together in months.  And as we painted we compared notes of how our lives right now demand so much attention. Everything from driving a college age kid home from Boston 20 hours straight, to Travel Baseball, which takes ungodly amounts of parental attention. Every weekend. All summer. And we commiserated a bit about trying to stay in the groove. Trying to balance the obligations and distractions of life with a career in art. And I am pretty sure he and I aren't the first two artists to have to deal with it. Just feels like it sometimes.
Jason Saunders
But every time I hit the proverbial wall I remember the best piece of advice, the secret to all of this, that was given to me by Jason. I complained at some point about "the wall" and he turned and said so matter of fact-ly..."push through".
Push through.
There it is. The answer to all of this. Richard Schmid, Sargent, etc., etc. have all lived by this creed. I know without a doubt they have hit the wall over and over and over and what has separated them from those that didn't make it was the ability to push through. Focus and push.
Not quite sure what it is that is going to get me through the wall. I suppose no one artist knows for sure. But I will clear my mind a bit if I can, and focus. And push.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Painting Posse

Got a group of girls here in Nashville that I try and paint with when I can. If you keep up with this post, you'll know them by name. Anne Blair Brown, Bitsy King and Cathleen Windham. Unfortunately we don't get together to paint enough, but when we do it's good.  And we got together today for the first time in awhile and added Tiffany Foss and Denise Hawkins to the mix. Anne suggested East Nasville due to it's urban chic, beautiful streetscapes and unique architecture so made an afternoon of it in some unbelievably windy conditions. I wound up painting a bit of architecture which is out of my norm which again is why I like painting with this group.
There are certain people in this industry that due to their nature and friendship you feel like a better artist because of it. Their work ethic, enthusiasm, commitment and outlook is infectious. It's positive "chi" as Anne would say. That is the posse for me. They are incredibly "gamey" and will go anywhere and paint anything. No whining. Oh, and the fact they can drink their weight in beer is another positive attribute.
Thanks girls for pushing and inspiring.