Painting and the Hardy Artist

Cerro Perdanal, far away

Cerro Perdanal, far away

I recently returned from a painting trip to Taos, NM. I was planning on several full days of painting and actually painted more than I thought I would, considering the weather. This trip confirmed that I am “hardy”. I was rained, sleeted, snowed and grappled on. I was blown and sand-stormed on. And a dust devil took my umbrella on a wild swirling trip up into the sky and over a gallery where I was parking to paint the mountains. While I was running around swirling on the ground trying to catch it. It was unharmed, whew! Most days I retreated to the front passenger seat of my truck and painted there. I am glad I brought my snow pants and wool socks!

Threatening sky over Taos Mountain

Threatening sky over Taos Mountain

I met several great artists and painted with one in Pilar. That was the lovely morning of sun and calm skies. It was great and I plan to get a lot more paintings from the photos I took and the plein air sketches I did (most full of dirt and plant stuff). I also learned a lot about myself and how I can be a determined person and follow through on small goals which will lead to bigger ones.

Plein air painting in Pilar

Plein air painting in Pilar

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Hazards of Plein Air Painting: Horses

These horses are curious about what is happening.

These horses are curious about what is happening.

Today I went over to my friend’s hay and horse farm to do a little plein air painting. I thought I would set up my easel in the dry lot with the horses. They all know me and are not afraid of me. You can see in the above photo they are looking at me but not running away. In fact, they were really happy to see me. They wouldn’t leave me alone.

Cookie, the black horse with a white blaze came over to me and stuck her nose on my nose for a sniff while Silkie, the bay horse with the white star, was behind me nibbling on my pony tail while I was fooling with my camera. Pretty soon I had 6 horses and a mini-mule around me, close, way too close. Not the safest place to be so I shooed them away and decided to set up outside the dry lot.

This horse is too close!

This horse is too close!

I am also a horse trainer and I know and ride most of these horses. Silkie is my lesson horse and listens to my verbal commands very well. My advice is not to go into a horse pen and paint with nothing separating you and the horse. They could step on you, kick or bite you or otherwise harm you. And they would want to sniff and play with your easel and otherwise get in your stuff. They are worse than dogs when they get curious. In my case, they would kill me with kindness as pretty soon one of them would decide to chase the rest away to monopolize the attention. That results in biting and kicking and a lot of running around by the herd. So stay on the other side of the fence and paint. Much safer and more productive, too.

Changing is not easy

I know my style of painting is changing because my way of feeling and thinking about painting is changing. Its not easy. I’ve been painting a lot but nothing that feels good is showing up on the many newly painted canvases in the studio. I’m trying not to get discouraged or stuck. Here is what I like to do when that happens: Invent!

Invention #1

Recycled materials plein air brush holder

Recycled materials plein air brush holder

I sewed a flat holder for my brushes to travel in but it was more like a sail once I got it clipped on my plein air set-up. So I’ve been thinking about what I could use to make a sleek one like the other PAAC plein air friends have. I didn’t want to shell out a lot of $$ and also want to use stuff I save and have around the studio and garage. Voila! Old mailing tubes and some construction adhesive plus a cord = brush holder. I painted it and added a Velcro and webbing strap to keep it closed inside the backpack.

Invention #2

Recycled cardboard canvas holder

Recycled cardboard canvas holder

This is a canvas holder for wet boards. I had a couple spacers laying around from a RayMar holder I have. But it only holds up to 8″ x 10″ boards. So I used the spacers and put them inside a fruit box I cut down and patched the front together with more cardboard. (Can you guess where I get my dog’s food?) A bit of packing tape and some industrial strength Velcro were all the supplies I used. I can put 6 – 11″ x 14″ canvas boards in it and carry it. I didn’t put on a strap handle as I thought that was overkill.

I felt like I was doing something to improve my craft, yet not putting paint on canvas. I also was thinking and processing what is going on inside myself while working. I spent a couple hours total on these two inventions and ended my day in the studio. I feel better today and have a clear head, ready to get painting!

Plein air paint out near the Colorado Monument N.P.

 

 

My painting in progress....

My painting in progress….

Yesterday I met up with the PAAC western slope group in Grand Junction right near the Colorado Monument National Park. The red rock cliffs had the morning shadows enriching them when we arrived. It was a great view with a major panorama of cliffs stretching for miles. In the distance the snow capped Book Cliffs in Utah were a beautiful backdrop.

Indeed it was chilly when we first got there but as the day progressed, we shed our layers of wind pants and heavy jackets. The wind stayed calm and the sun bright. We had an impromptu critique after lunch before most of the people took off. I got one painting well under way and a second little one sketched in. It was really productive and a great time.

TovaPleinAir

My set up with my assistant trying to get in the shade of my easel.

Next week we meet in Paonia at the River Park on Thursday March 12 at 9 a.m. I keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.

Daily Paintworks

I am giving it a try! I want to paint a painting a day (5 days a week) and sell them online at Daily Paintworks.

I’ve painted 5 already but there is a problem with a few of them, which I hope to get to later today or tomorrow. I want to post my best work and letting a painting “ferment” for a few days helps me with that. Also getting some great feedback from my artist friends is another way.

So here I go……. More later on what daily painting is feeling like to me!

Cathedral Peak, a 8" x 6" oil painting that I have on Daily Paintworks.

Cathedral Peak, a 8″ x 6″ oil painting that I have on Daily Paintworks.