Long time gone … Plein Air Fall 2017

I’ve been gone at Plein Air events for the last 3 1/2 weeks. We traveled and parked our camper at great people’s houses who were so hospitable to us. It made the events even more fun! Below are some shots of my work. Why am I not in any of them  you wonder? Well because Tova wouldn’t take a photo of me, she was busy snoozing.

Tova is holding down that rock at Fisher Towers, UT

This is at the Escalante Canyons plein air event. It was 11 days long! Whew

Painting hay fields in Escalante Utah. Red rocks, too!

The ones below are at the Colorado National Monument Plein Air, near Grand Junction, Colorado. That Plein Air event lasted almost a week.

Coke Ovens in early morning light.

Painting in full sunlight is tough on the eyes! Independence Rock

The 3 below are from the Red Rocks Arts Festival in Moab, UT.  That Plein Air event lasted over 8 days! Wow. I did a lot of painting in all types of weather from wind and snow to wind and sunshine.

Of course the famous Fisher Towers are behind me.

It was a cold and windy day but I kept on painting and the sun peaked out for a bit.

A smoky Dead Horse Point State Park!

I’ve cleaned out the sand and grit from my gear and have been resting the last day or two. It is good to be home but I’m ready to paint outside again. Just not so far from my bed and kitchen, ha ha ha!



Cedar’s work in May at the Village Smithy

Back wall in the Village Smithy Restaurant

My work is in Carbondale, CO at the Village Smithy Restaurant, 3rd and Main, during the month of May. If you’re in Carbondale, grab a bite to eat from 7-2 and check out my paintings. Its a pretty setting and very vital and happening. And the baked goods are yummy!

This is the main wall in the Village Smithy Restaurant.

Alternative Exhibition Space

Q: When is a tattoo parlor an Art Gallery?
A: When its an empty retail space in Paonia.

The front from the street

The entire storefront from the street.

The former tattoo parlor at 237 Grand Ave has been unoccupied for a while as are several other retail locations in our town’s two block downtown. They look like missing teeth from an otherwise beautiful smile. I approached the property owner and requested permission to hang some of my paintings in the front window until he rents the space. He graciously said yes to my idea of an alternative exhibition space. I got this idea from my friend Charlie when he told me what the town of Helper, UT did to its vacant storefronts.

Right side of the storefront.

Right side of the storefront.

I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries so I decided not to use any electricity for lighting. The front windows are west facing and pretty bright. I measured and graphed out the window space to display my paintings. I framed lots of really good ones. Allen & I got the supplies we needed to hang them with minimal expense and work. Then we set to work putting up the exhibit.

Left side of the storefront.

Left side of the storefront.

I am glad to have my paintings up and able to be viewed by lots of people. Paonia is a busy little town and people were walking by as we were hanging the paintings. I also hope to sell some of the paintings as every artist wants to be able to pay for their supplies sooner than later. I am happy that people will be able to understand what I do all day when they walk by and see the products of my labor of love. And my paintings are a lot happier being in the light than wrapped up in the “Vault” (that is what we jokingly call the shelves in the garage where I store art).

Left side window.

Left side window.

So stop by when you are in Paonia to 237 Grand Avenue and take a look at some of my paintings. You can go across the street to the Blue Sage Center for the Arts after next week and see a couple more of my paintings. I also have 2 in Grand Junction at the Art Center there. I hope to be hearing from some of you soon!

Right side window.

Right side window.

Near Cedaredge, CO


Ward Creek Adobes

Today I went out plein air painting with Tova. Allen was riding a half-century in Cedaredge so I had the morning to paint. I drove out to some stunning adobe landforms southwest of town. I enjoyed painting out there. Some people pulled over where I was set up on the side of the road to tell me about how the man had grown up in that area over 70 years ago.

Tova car

Tova hangs out in the back seat of Allen’s car when it gets too hot outside.

My dog Tova has it down, too. She camps out in the dirt until it gets too hot and the ants are too pesty. Then she shakes off and hops into the car, which is a lot cooler and more comfy!

I think this painting turned out well.

Upcoming Group Show –

I have 3 paintings in the upcoming group show through the Hotchkiss Fine Arts Association. The exhibit will be from February 5 until March 14 of this year. It is being held at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts in Paonia, CO. There will be a dozen artists featured in the 2D and 3D show.

I’m inviting you to attend the opening on February 5, 2016 from 5 to 7 p.m. Stop by, view some art and say hello to us artists.


Painting from life

My life model,

My life model, happily staying in one place and not moving.

With the sun streaming in on the floor next to my easel, my dog (a.k.a. my studio assistant) is taking a nap. I also look at her as my life model. Except for her collar she is a nude model if a bit hairier than most. I think it is better to paint something from real life.  A photo is fine but most of the values and colors get washed out or pushed into a rather narrow spectrum.

I snapped a photo of my model just in case a cat or coyote walked by outside and she felt the need to spring awake and move from her position. She managed to stay asleep long enough (35 minutes) for me to get the values and colors in as well as her position. Then she moved and got up. I was able to keep painting using the rug and sofa side as is. They don’t move on their own so all I had to deal with was the changing light.

Painting from life lets me see the nuances that normally don’t come through in a photo. I had to wait to the next day to finish this painting as I did loose the light in the room I was in painting because we are very near the winter Solstice.

I think the painting turned out well.

My Studio Assistant, Still Life Oil, 9" x 12"

My Studio Assistant, Still Life Oil, 9″ x 12″

Wild areas help me recharge my battery.

I just returned from a long weekend of camping in Utah with dogs and friends. My mountain rescue team I belong to held a training in the slot canyons of the San Rafael Swell. I opted to paint and hike rather than rappel and squeeze.

The break was great, I enjoyed the relaxed pace. The plein air sketches and exercises I did are going to provide ideas and inspiration for studio paintings for a long time.  Little road trips like this to wild areas are a balm for my spirit. My internal battery needed the recharge.

Looking north from the campsite.

Looking north from the campsite.

It was a fun drive (translation = rough) on 4WD roads to our meeting point, but the Tacoma was a champ. Our training leader provided us with a highway map pdf, some directions off a website and GPS coordinates. The destination was about 5 hours from home.

The road into our campsite. The left side road is behind and the right side road is in front.

The road into our campsite. The left side road is behind and the right side road is in front.

We had a view of an area called Sinbad country from out campsite.


The view from the campsite.

It was very remote but that was fine with us! We are a hardy group.

I hiked with my friend and our dogs before she set out on an explore of the canyons, with all the required gear and knowledge. I painted all day. She returned mid afternoon and joined the plein air fun with her watercolors.

Shade is at a premium in the San Rafael Swell, McKay Flat, UT.

Shade is at a premium in the San Rafael Swell, McKay Flat, UT.

The wind was pretty strong and even with extra tent stakes and lots of big rocks, the umbrella was not an option, so standing in the meager shade of a juniper was my plan. Seems like the dogs had the same idea. The rest of the team returned early evening after 18 miles or so of canyoneering and hiking.

Just a small portion of the pictoglyphs in San Rafael Swell, UT

Just a small portion of the pictoglyphs in San Rafael Swell, UT

The next day we drove around in the swell, which is an ancient reef and uplifted seabed, and caught some glyphs and hiked around Goblin Valley State park. We then traveled to Erby canyon and started a hike up it but the weather with rain clouds threatening a flash flood changed our minds for us. We drove out of the very sketchy road just in time for the downpour.

Me & my climbing dog at Goblin Valley State Park, UT

Me & my climbing dog at Goblin Valley State Park, UT

We ended our weekend at a whitewater rafters’ hang out in Green River UT for burgers and fries and headed back to cooler Colorado.


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.


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.

Thoughts on Plein Air painting, the weather and good gear.

I consider myself a hardy person. After all I am the incident commander for West Elk Mountain Rescue and we go out in the wilderness areas and national forests in Gunnison county looking for lost persons all year around. I dress appropriately and have great all-season outer wear. I also walk my dog every day of the year, no matter what the weather. (My neighbors tease me about dog walking in the dark on 10° winter mornings.) I am usually prepared.

Today was almost no different as far as me being prepared for the weather. I went to join the group of PAAC painters in Montrose, CO. Myself and my faithful companion, Tova, met with several other painters at Baldridge Park along the Uncompahgre River. I set up my plein air kit and it seemed like it was going to be a lovely day. Warm, sunny, calm. Tova even took a dip in the river and spread out near me for a sun bath. Seemed a perfect Plein Air painting day.

HAH! About 1 1/2 hours into it, someone flipped the wind switch. At first it was just a few gusts but after about 20 minutes, dust started pelting me and my easel blew over a couple times despite the anchoring.  My backpack with stuff in it blew over. My little table was lifted up a bit, but I caught it in time. I had taken my heavy Carhardt jacket off and it was blowing off, too. When a wall of dust launched itself at me and embedded about a pound of gravel into my wet painting, I packed stuff up and called it a day. I noticed a few others were doing the same as we were all spread around the park.

My wet oil painting was not prepared for the weather. Tova wasn’t too happy about it either, she kept nose punching me and heading towards the path to leave and then looking back at me like I was crazy. I think I left in just in time. By the time we made it home to Paonia, it was grappling (snow pellets or soft hail) with about 40 mph winds.

Dust storm in Montrose, CO

Dust storm in Montrose, CO

Very windy!

Very windy!

I was really concentrating on my painting and somehow the weather didn’t bother me until the dust turned to sand and started to interfere with the actual painting. Call me nuts, but I think it added some interest to the painting. When I got home, I just had to clean up a few spots and knock off a clump of something (dust, leaf and dog fur-ball most likely). Plus add a few touches without overworking it. I also got a good photo of the location, pre-cyclone.

What was really great about the day was that I felt really confident about what I was going to paint, the process I was going to take and the confidence I felt about it all. This was the first time I didn’t feel totally overwhelmed & awed by everything and its beauty around me. I was able to pick out a specific scene and define its boundaries, look for the centers of interest, lay out the composition, values, focus and colors without much difficulty. I also was able to work pretty quickly having done a separate sketch, charcoal layout on the canvas board, under-painting, blocking in and laying down of colors, etc. in that short time.

"Baldridge Park Eddy" plein air oil 8" x 10"

“Baldridge Park Eddy” plein air oil 8″ x 10″

This little plein air painting gives me lots of information about the light, the feel and the energy of the location. Combined with the photo, I feel I could do a larger piece if I wanted in the future. It was a good day. Its not my best work, but its getting much better!

I learned a lot about my set-up, too. I need a good easel and palette. It seems like good equipment is important, even though I have a nice set-up, I think I want something more hard-core. I always have a hard time deciding to get good gear with anything. After I suffer a while, then something trips a switch in me and I make the plunge into good gear. True for me with hiking, riding, gardening; pretty much everything. I think I may spring for a Strada with tripod kit. Now to sell some paintings to pay for it………!

Maintaining a clean environment in the studio

Its important to maintain a clean environment in the studio. This keeps anything that could make you sick, like dust from some paint chemical or whatnot, from floating around on the air and getting inhaled.

You shouldn’t eat or drink in the studio. But most artists don’t follow that rule. At least put your tea mug on a different table than your brush cleaning solvent. And really, don’t eat in the studio. You could ingest toxins or get grease or crumbs on your artwork.

And the BIG ONE. Pet fur!  Pets should not be in the studio.

Tova, Enzo & Ruby

Tova, Enzo & Ruby

So after taking a look at my “helpers” who are always underfoot in the studio, you can consider me a hypocrite considering studio cleanliness. Yep, dog fur is everywhere. In my paints, solvents, on the painting, in my tea mug, in the corners and under foot. As a result, I have a special tool I use exclusively when this becomes a problem. So its all good. More or less.

Helpful hair removal tool

Helpful hair removal tool

If you ever get one of my paintings, chances are there is at least one dog fur somewhere on it. I like to think it will bring you good luck.