"Mrs. Norris' Root Cellar" Plein Air oil, 9" x 12"

“Mrs. Norris’ Root Cellar” Plein Air oil, 9″ x 12″

I’ve been painting up a storm lately. Tomorrow we head out to Meeker for the Plein Air Meeker competition. Its in conjunction with their “Range Call” which is Meeker’s way of celebrating July 4th.

"Rocks and Wyethia" Plein Air study, Oil

“Rocks and Wyethia” Plein Air study, Oil 6″ x 9″

I’ve have lots of studies from places around Paonia so I’m looking forward to the change of scenery and alpine vistas in the White River National Forest and Flat Top Wilderness area.

"Pipe Organ" Oil, 8" x 15" en Plein Air

“Pipe Organ” Oil, 8″ x 15″ en Plein Air

I did paint at the Colorado National Monument on Friday, so I had a change of scenery for a couple days. But this is yet another change. Stay tune for more posts about the week in Meeker! Although I don’t know how I’ll be able to compete with the Meeker Massacre Pageant, Meeker Bank Robbery Reenactment or Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot. Painting versus shooting weapons and pretending to kill people? Hum? At any rate, I am leaving for Paonia before Range Call to join in my town’s own July 4th celebration, Cherry Days, which honors the first fruit of the season to be ripe. Yep, shooting people or eating cherry pie, eating lots of ripe sweet cherries and drinking hard cherry cider,  my choice is for the cherries.

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.

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.