Cedar painting in the snow in Cerrillos
I’m working on painting where ever I go. I went camping at Palo Duro canyon in texas. Not my favorite spot but I did attempt to paint there. I am also in Cerrillos, New Mexico visiting for a while and have been painting here a lot.
I am resolved to paint cholla cacti and have them look alright. The paintings have been turning out pretty lousy. I was really disappointed about that. But I’ve been keeping at it and finally I’ve had a break through. Today I did a cholla cactus painting that I don’t want to set on fire in the wood stove. Practice makes perfect, or at least tolerable. So I plan to work at it until I am really comfortable painting those spiny plants.
Early Morning Cholla, Oil, 9″ x12″, plein air
Kit and Kat, Oil, 14″ x 18″
Yesterday I completed the oil painting called “Kit and Kat”. These gals are Belgium Draft Horses. They were our models during a workshop given by Lindsey Bittner Graham through the Evergreen Fine Arts Gallery, Colorado. They were just down the highway from the gallery. We spent a day painting and photographing them and their handler, Collin. All the excitement of a bunch of camera clicking artists threw the team into a bit of a frenzy but Collin settled them down right away with kind words and re-direction. When they were being driven in front of their cart, they were full of energy and really focused on their task of working for this fellow. When he stopped them, it took them a minute to figure out their job was to just stand there and look pretty. Then they applied their work ethic to standing.
As an artist I found I was relating to them totally as to being focused on what my job is. At first, just like the team, I was some what distracted from what I was there to do. I was happy to pet and kiss their big (really big) noses and they were happy to get the attention. I took some photos and set up my plein air gear and started to focus on the task at hand. I got a great color/value study that morning with the guidance of Lindsey plus another one of them without their traces in the afternoon. The critique at the end of the day was great, too. I related that to the horses being un-tacked and groomed before being turned out into their pasture.
This painting is a studio piece of the work I did that day last month. I am happy with the way it feels. Kit and Kat are great teachers, too.
I love trees, there is no doubt about it. I am a tree hug-er, literally! I must admit I do get a lot of sap and needles on me but that goes well with the oil paint, horse snot and dog fur already on my clothes. I am always impressed when I see trees growing in the desert. Its a tough environment and the trees are equally tough to live there. Their adaptations are laudable.
Utah piñon tree
When I was camping in Utah last weekend, there were lots of trees around us. Piñon and Juniper were the main species. Juniper are one of my favorite trees with Piñon coming in second, so I was content. I painted a couple of really informative plein air paintings of one juniper. The first one I did in an hour, the second one I did in 20 minutes. The short times were to get me to glean the important information I wanted and put it on the canvas fast. I didn’t think about any side details or worry about minutia. Just getting the impression of the moment was the goal of these paintings.
With the information I got outside, I came home this week and painted another tree. I did it from a photo and in the studio but I still felt like I was out on the flats. I referred to the 2 tree paintings to get information I included in the bigger studio painting. I believe it worked. I call it McKay Flats Juniper.
McKay Flats Juniper, 14″ x 18″ oil painting
You can view and bid on these 3 paintings on my Daily Paintworks gallery. More work is at my FASO website, cedarkeshet.com.
Nothing says “spring” more in Western Colorado than clear, crisp mornings and windy, dusty afternoons. The other week I went out painting with another artist at the reservoir near Eckert, CO. The early morning required a coat and hat but by 11 or so the weather was perfect! My canine assistant has figured out where to park herself out of the sun yet close enough to not miss anything! I got a good small painting in of the shore where lots of white salt buildup made a dramatic contrast to the dark water. When the wind started coming up, we bungee-ed our stuff down but it got so strong we decided to move our painting location to somewhere more sheltered.
A lovely morning en plein air
We drove a few miles west and went down into some interesting farm land set between “adobe” hills. I recently learned they were composed of different kinds of Mancos Shale. The regular gray shale was obvious to me but I didn’t know the yellow shale is called Mancos Blonde and composed of pyrite. No wonder its so pretty!
Painting some sage and chamisa.
Most people don’t seem to be that impressed with the area, but I am in love with the contrast of the landforms and the hardy plants and critters that live there. I look at the photos and see drab images with little contrast. But when I’m there, WOW, I see colors and amazing vistas. Glad I am an artist and can paint those images so I can share them with others!
Chamisa & Sage, plein air oil, 6″ x 8″, $100
Here are some of the paintings I did en plein air in the Taos, NM area the middle of March. Almost all of them have a bit of the landscape in them, ha ha ha. I like the way this painting above captures the light of the morning I painted it. That is one of the great things about plein air painting. It can’t be beat.
“Seco Church”, plein air oil, 8″ x 10″, $150
This is my rendition of the La Santisima Trinidad adobe church in Arroyo Seco. Its really a great building, built in the 1830’s. The sun was coming in and out of the clouds and the sky was undecided, occasionally spitting rain. The frost had not yet melted on the grass as I sat inside the cab of my truck wearing my ski pants, wool socks & cap, fingerless fleece gloves and warm jacket. Did I mention my mug of hot tea? Finally the day’s weather tanked and I drove into Taos, about 5 miles to see if it wasn’t raining there.
Cholla & Rocks, plein air oil, 6″ x 8″, $100
This painting was done near Pilar, NM. My new artist friend, Shelia O’Malley and I went there and painted early Sunday morning. The weather was great! Warm enough not to wear a jacket or cap or even wool socks. The rocks are so beautiful down there. The cholla was just starting to bloom. For those of you who are not familiar with cholla catus (pronounced Choy-Ya), its a tough branching plant that is prolific in the right environment. It was everywhere. The light was coming from behind making the top stems seem alight with gold.
I also shot lots of good photos for studio inspiration. I can’t wait to start painting some of those!