No, I’m not going to write about the need to find a place to empty my bladder when painting outdoors. Although I must admit determining where I wind up and how close it is to a “facility” is a high priority for me. Yes, I’m a wuss.
Now back to the tale. Or trail.
Several months ago, I joined the newly created local en plein aire group. I didn’t join because I love to sweat, fight off bugs, and haul painting supplies for a mile. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I love air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, no bugs, and indoor plumbing. However, as a local artist, I wanted to support this new group and the amazing artists who love to paint outside.
So, I paid my dues and continued to paint. Inside. Paintings of landscapes and seascapes and things that are, of course, outside. At this point, en plein aire was only in my mind. My paintings continued to be from my imagination or photos and painted in my studio or at home. Like the one to the right which was not painted outside.
I LOVE nature, but not when it’s hot. You do not want to be around me when I’ve been sweating. My deodorant doesn’t want to be around me when I’ve been sweating. I guess if you paint outside with others it’s just something everyone gets used to. Or maybe that’s why everyone sets up so far apart. Actually, it’s not that bad. I just feel like it is.
So the group continued to meet and paint. Without me. However, I was on my way.
Stay tuned for part two. My first en plein aire event which was “all day”.
Here we go again! Number six in the series is simply The Creek. It’s in the gallery right now and I’m not sure if I need to bring it home and tweak it a bit. Like my painting, The Field, my gut is telling me it needs something. Maybe some cows! No, maybe the hint of some wildflowers. We’ll see.
So what inspired this? Well, when we aren’t in a low rain period, there are quite a few creeks around here. I like seeing them because I know that the wildlife will have a place to drink from. With all the dang development going on, habitat is being destroyed right and left. If you know me… you know how much I dislike seeing that.
I also like creeks because they can be a fun thing to explore. Provided you are wearing the appropriate footwear. Birds, frogs, interesting rocks, reptiles and interesting weeds or wildflowers are often found along the edges. Truthfully, I haven’t explored any for a long time. Growing up, I was an avid and eager explorer of such things. I have tons of memories of fun times exploring creeks, streams (wet and dry), rivers of all widths, and lakes. It’s what you did before cable and electronics took over a person’s childhood. If it weren’t for so many foot and ankle issues, I’d still be attempting it. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
More cows! Not much to say about this painting other than I felt the need to do another one in tribute to all the cows that have been moved (or moooved) out of the area. No, I won’t get on my soapbox this time about development. Also, cows are popular, and this one was larger than the first one for this series.
I realize this style is not realistic. It’s not supposed to be. It’s representational. However, let me tell you, “representational painting” of bovines (or any animal) is not easy. I won’t admit to how many times I have had to scrape away a cow and try again, on a number of paintings. Anyway, it’s all about the illusion of the cow. Repeat after me… “I see cows. I see cows.” Keep saying it. You’ll see them.
This is another palette knife painting using oils and cold wax. It’s titled Cows II. Yeah… not very imaginative, but I need to reinforce the illusion. Ha!
I love the how looking at water in a natural setting can spark so many different emotions. Serenity, excitement, awe, all the way to “looking wild… time to go!” So many memories of so many wonderful places in many different states. This is why so many of my paintings will have a bit of lake, river or creek somewhere in the scene.
Number 3 in my Lone Star Series: Water View could be anywhere in Texas. It came from my imagination and is not of a particular spot. It’s more of a memory of many places that look something like this (minus all the red… but you get what I mean). I hope it will remind you of some place you’ve been, maybe while hiking or looking for a place to go fishing. Or maybe when you were out looking to see where the cows went.
Palette knife painting using oils and cold wax on a wood canvas.
The second in the series The Field was inspired by so many scenes typical on the back roads north of where I live. Again, it’s not of a real place. It’s a compilation of things I have seen and put together in my mind. That’s what we do. We try and put on canvas what is in our mind (or right in front of us if using a real reference).
This is not the final rendition of this painting. (I forgot to take a photo.) Anyway, when it was still in the gallery, I kept saying to myself it was missing something. It needed something. It wasn’t pulling me into the scene the way I wanted it to. So after several weeks, I took it home and did a little reworking. I added a small area of sunflowers in the foreground of the field and a tiny bit of green here and there. To me it looked so much more appealing. I’m glad I listened to my gut. The painting sold less than a week later.
The lesson here? If your gut rumbles, listen. It’s trying to tell you it’s more than just hungry.
As in many other once wide open spaces, North Texas land is being torn up and turned into shopping areas and subdivisions. It makes me sad. So, I started the Lone Star series as my way of saying to the land “I miss what you used to be.”
Fields with cows aren’t just in Texas, but how can you think about a Texas countryside and NOT imagine cows? Some states are just historically cow country… or used to be.
As a kid, I spent a lot of summers around cows over in Oklahoma. Stepped in quite a few “cow patties” too. (Now that’s something I’ll never miss.) As a kid, I liked rodeos until I saw a calf get roped and its head snapped so hard it was injured. Didn’t want to see anymore after that. At least not the roping part.
Then and now, I have a deep appreciation for these animals. Like other livestock found on farms and ranches, they provide so much for us, and ask so little in return.
The painting above is done in oils mixed with cold wax and applied with palette knives. My favorite way to paint.