Friday, December 31, 2010

Cameron Bluff #2, Mt. Magazine, Logan County

Cameron Bluff #2
11X14, Oil on Canvas

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season and the upcoming new year brings happiness and health!  I've been on the East Coast so I have some new material to paint.  Those will eventually be shown on my other blog.  

This is a larger version of the plein air painting I did of Cameron Bluff on Mt. Magazine a few months ago.  I was working to emphasize colors I liked in the original while adding more dimensionality.  I see some possibilities for even larger compositions here but that will have to wait.

My New Year's resolution artwise will be to paint 2 paintings per week in the coming year.  Any size counts and I will also take occasional vacation weeks.  I also hope to try to have this project half done by the end of 2011.  I think that is totally feasible but just difficult enough to make it a challenge.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Columbia County Courthouse, Magnolia, AR, Columbia County

This post could be just as easily titled "How to Fail at Exploiting the Gray Areas."  By gray areas, I'm meaning the places where the "rules" we learn as painters seem to intersect and oftentimes conflict.  Basically, I took a very difficult composition and tried my best to work through it's pitfalls.  In this case, I made a beautiful failure.  The painting is nice enough in a way but it certainly isn't great.  I expended a great deal of time on it but it was not wasted. I learned a lot.  I learned that there is an order of precendence to some "rules."  Some we can break without much fear.  Others we try to work around to our folly.  And some times, the ability to bend or break these "rules" is dependent on a things such as our lighting!

The painting in question puts the viewer at the intersection of Main Street and Vine Street in Magnolia, AR looking eastward at the Columbia County courthouse.  This courthouse sits up on a small rise in a square.  The traffic on Main St. divides into one way segments around the courthouse.  The shapes of the courthouse are somewhat reminiscent of the the step pyramid mounds made by the Native Americans who lived in Arkansas.  It was precisely this that I wanted to emphasize in this painting.

At the corner of Main and Vine, facing south is a large church with 2 buildings, both of which have large steeples.  They are on the left as you face the courthouse and are very prominent.  This presents quite a headache.  How does one subordinate such structures relative to a building that appears much smaller only 2 blocks away?  How does one control the eye around a steeple that is not a part of the focal object?  Steeples are strong visual cues, commanding us to look skyward.  My courthouse, although beautiful in its own right had no visual elements capable of competing with that strength without playing some major games.  These questions formed major headaches.  I probably should have just bailed on this fight but that's not my style so I took it headlong, doing no composition sketches or notans or anything else.

My strategy:

1.  Remove one church building, at least this way I'm only fighting one steeple.
2.  De-emphasize the church by slightly skewing it's perspective so it's more sidelong than my reference (thereby moving the viewer more into the street than the sidewalk from where my reference was shot.)
3.  Further de-emphasize the church by decreasing its visual size slightly while at the same time increasing the courthouse in size.
4.  Emphasize the courthouse even more by slightly increasing the size of the rise on which it sits, moving it higher up on the visual plane.
5.  Provide a visual recirculation path from the steeple via clouds with multiple paths to both a copse of trees beyond the sidewalk on the left as well as back into the focal region itself.

I quickly realized that my cloud work just was not going to cut it for #5.  I have some technical issues with clouds as the size of the paintings increase.  It's mostly an equipment problem.  I'm a huge admirer of the use of flats.  I really like the look they can achieve when "stepping on" already applied layers of wet paint.  I have a wide array of flats but they are all synthetic bristle which means that the large ones behave like a wet biscuit until you get a nice build up of hardened paint deep in the belly of the brush so it has some rigidity.  Alas, none of my big flats have enough rigidity to make the types of marks I need to do large cloud work!  (I think some good big hog bristle flats are in order for Christmas!)  A sable bright might offer more give than a synthetic or hog bristly bright but I can't afford a 1" sable brush!  So in light of this, I opted to go a different route.  I changed the time of day to earlier with the sun just cresting beyond the edge of the canvas.  This let me put a large bright region right over my focal point and gave me lot so flexibility with varying colors in the sky.  I would instead use color and temperature variations, along with the stoplight horizontal to recirculate the eye from the steeple back into the painting.

Above is the finished product.  I think my sky became far too desaturated for the relatively dark shadowed areas on the side.  The courthouse is possibly far too prominent!   Even being a focal point, it feels quite assertive.  The hard edges are too focused.  It actually did not need the help I tried to give it to bring it to prominence!  With a more saturated sky, I could have taken out the stoplight.  It's very interuptive here I feel and does not fulfill it's planned role at all.  There's really interesting stuff going on in the sky but since the color is so desaturated, it's almost impossible to make out in a photograph and not a whole lot easier in person.  In addition, the trees on the right hand side are too dark relative to everything else.  I could have put a lot more light here.  I realy like the church and it's steeple, I think I did a good job there.  The red truck on the right was actually parked facing the wrong direction.  I liked that and left it like I saw it.  Some of the work on the cars is good too even if they are a bit distracting and bunched too closely across the middle of the plane. Maybe only three cars would have been better.

So there you go.  The moral of the story is that I overthought this one, totally overplanned in the wrong ways.  If I had done a couple of small quick notan studies I probably could have sidestepped the actual issues I had without introducing new ones by overthinking.  We artists do tend to be our own worst critics but sometimes that's a good thing.  I am, of course, disappointed in this one because I really hoped it would be something great.  I felt very strongly in this location and had what I thought was a great concept and plan of attack.  I doubt I will go back and adjust this piece but I may try it again cleanly.  This time though, I'll do a small study or two beforehand!  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so if someone out there falls in love with this, it is available but I'm pretty sure I'll never enter it in any shows or try to display it anywhere.

I would also like to point out that this is not entirely a self critique.  I did post this to WetCanvas to get the thoughts of other artists.  Some pointed out items I had seen but I also got some additional things to think about as well which I have included in this post.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Workshop

I have a whole lot I need to blog about on both my blogs but at the moment, I am without a decent camera so I can't take any pictures until tomorrow night at the earliest.  I am in the process of writing a rather lengthy self-critique of a piece I spent a great deal of time on but which didn't turn out like I had hoped.  I don't think I'll make any corrections to it because I just feel totally spent on it.  But I think there is value at least to myself by writing about it.

In the meantime I wanted to post about a workshop I plan on taking this coming spring.  One of my favorite Arkansas artists, Bill Garrison, is doing a workshop in April.  Below is the flyer.  Perhaps someone out there is interested.  I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rattlesnake Ridge, Pulaski County

Rattlesnake Ridge
8X10 Oil on Wood

Here is the completed piece from this month's Arkansas League of Artist's paint out.  This ridge is part of the Pinnacle Mountain complex.  It is just west of Pinnacle Mountain State Park.  This marvelous view is right behind the studio of artist Bob Snider!  He also has a view of Pinnacle of which I got a couple of pictures in a great light.  Those may find their way onto the easel soon enough.

I've done more work on this in the studio than I did in the field so I'm not sure it still qualifies as plein air!  One very interesting thing about this one is that I made a shift in my yellows.  Usually, yellow ochre is the coolest yellow I use and sometimes I wonder if it really isn't actually warmer than Cad yellow!  But I usually use it as my cool yellow because it's lower in chroma.  However, I used lemon yellow here as my primary yellow.  My thinking here is that as the weather cools, the sun will be less intense and I can simulate that feel with a cooler yellow for my lights. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Little Red River, Cleburne County

Little Red River
8X0, Oil on Wood

Earlier this summer we took a trip to Heber Springs in Cleburne County.  I got several good pictures during that trip including parts of a quiant downtown.  The above scene shows Sugarloaf Mountain in the background and the Hwy 110 bridge.  This is a very popular trout fishing river.  There are actually two mountains around Heber named Sugarloaf.  The one shown here is the shorter of the two.  It has a dramatic, but small rock outcrop at the top.  The other is now in the middle of Greers Ferry Lake.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

ALA Plein Air Event

Yesterday, I received an email from the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Stephens, Arkansas, Mr. Stephen Suffron.  If you will recall, a few months ago I posted a painting I did from Stephens.  You can see it here.  Mr. Suffron kindly asked if he could use that painting and this one on the banner for his church's new blog!  I was honored and you can see my paintings on the Stephens FBC blog.  Thank you Mr. Suffron and I hope to get back down your way early on next year!

Today was the monthly Arkansas League of Artists plein air paint out. This was my first time attending. I had planned on going last month but just got lazy that morning. If I'd had known how great this group was, I'd have gotten my butt out of bed better and gone. I missed a great location last month but this month was probably just as good! This month, the paint out was held on the property of Bob Snider, another local artist who paints in both oil and watercolor. Bob's place is incredible! Just to the west of Pinnacle Mountain State Park, his expansive new studio has a remarkable view of a rugged outcrop of rock called Rattlesnake Ridge. You can see Bob's work on his website here.

Rattlesnake Ridge

Pinnacle Mountain

Bob's Studio

Inside Bob's Studio

Bob's Work Space

Most all of the artists who showed up this morning were working in watercolor.  Only myself and Bob worked in oil today.  I believe we had 10 artists which seemed to be a pretty good turnout but since this was my first time with the group I'm not sure how many they normally get (and my mental tally could be off too!)  I set up in the shadow of Bob's studio and started on the most obvious subject: Rattlesnake Ridge.  I have a thing for rock outcrops and this one is imposing.  I tried to convince myself to go with something different, something less obvious, but I was drawn to the rocks.  I only brought 2 surfaces: an 8X10 wood panel and a 5X7 canvas that's been recycled at least once.  I couldn't bring myself to settle on 5X7 for this!  After a quick oil value sketch I set about working top down as usual for me.  I set the peak of the ridge as my focal point and used the small copse of trees on the valley floor to the left as a counterbalance.  As the sun slowly marched across the sky, I found myself chasing the shade of the studio to keep the glare off my panel.  It turned out to be a great day and got something I think I can be proud of!  After a few touch ups in the studio, I'll get pictures and post it!  I also worked with headphones today which I think helped me relax and work at my own pace and more like I work in the studio.

My Piece from the Day with the Ridge

Caution: Watercolorists at Work!

Ruth Byrn's

Tom Herrin's

Our Gracious Host Bob at work

I regret that I cannot remember everyone's name I met today and that I did not get better pictures of everyone's work but I'll try to do better next month!

Oh!  I have a new county completed!  I just need a good picture of it and I'll get that posted!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Art of John D. Wooldridge Blog

As promised, I've put up a second blog to showcase my work that is not related to Arkansas.  Every so often, when I think a piece warrants it, I'll cross post some Arkansas work over at the new one.  So without further ado, please visit my other blog here and I hope everyone who is following this blog will go ahead and add that one as well. 

As of right now, I have about 5 or 6 pieces I think that I'm working on.  I put in a big 8 hour day of work today and made significant progress on a new painting of the Heights area in Little Rock.  I think I want to put most all of those to bed before getting started on anything new.  I think I suffer from creative ADHD sometimes:  I have way more ideas than I have time to execute paintings!  It's a good prediciment I think.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grinder's Ferry, Buffalo National River, Searcy County

Lean to the Light
14X18, Oil on Canvas

I almost can't believe I hadn't posted this one already.  This is a place called Grinder's Ferry on the Buffalo National River.  If you can't tell, the Buffalo is one of my favorite places in the state.  Grinder's Ferry is just downstream from the Hwy 65 bridge.  I did a small arts and crafts show this summer in Marshall, AR and had this one on display.  A young boy who was maybe 12 came up, looked at it and announced that he knew exactly where this was and that he and his dad spent a great deal of time here.  He even made note of changes I had made to it!  Turns out, his family was descended from the Grinders for whom this place is named.

The logging industry used to be the king in Searcy County and Grinders Ferry was a place where logs were rolled into the river to transport downstream.  I believe most of the time they were pulled out at the town now called Gilbert to be loaded onto the train.

The photo references for this piece came from February of this year.  Early rains often swell the river and turn it a beautiful blue green color from suspended rock solids.  I leaned the tops of some of the trees to the left, where the light was coming from, and that's the source of the name of this one.

Tomorrow I'll try to start up a second blog to show all my work that is not related to Arkansas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old Methodist Church, Harrison, Boone

Old Methodist Church, Harrison AR
8X10 Oil on Board

This old church is on Stephenson Avenue in the Boone County seat of Harrison, only a few blocks from the town square.  When I was growing up, Harrison was the big city to me.  We went to town every Saturday to shop and buy groceries for the entire week. 

These days, this building is an apartment building and not one for folks making a ton of money.  The ivy growing on it that looks so nice in a painting is most assuredly raising the roof, resulting in extensive damage to the interior of the structure.  It's quite a shame.

This piece was one of the first of my experimentations with painting small, which I think has really advanced my work this past year greatly.  It has given me the opportunity to do many more compositions than I would have otherwise.

I lied a little bit in my last post it turns out.  I've started another landscape from Little Rock and have also been working some other Arkansas scenes.  This is in addition to more still lifes and a couple of beach scenes from Laguna beach!  November has been busy and productive.  No promises on when I'll roll out new Arkansas material.  I've been giving some thought as to starting a second blog for all of my non-Arkansas work.  This would include still lifes, landscapes from elsewhere, my code paintings or anything else that just doesn't fit here.  Anyone interested in seeing these? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tyler Bend Field, Buffalo National River, Searcy County

Tyler Bend Sunset
8X10, Oil on Wood

I've been doing solely still lifes lately and no landscapes at all.  Even though I posted a couple of these, I think I'll forego posting more of them since they really don't fit the intent of this blog.  So, I'll use this down time to post older paintings that have not made it up here yet.  The above painting is in the Tyler Bend camping area on the Buffalo National River.  Tyler Bend is right off of the Highway 65 and is one of the more popular camping areas on the river.  I tried to do a larger painting of this but failed miserably at it. 

Once I get off my still life kick and mentally ready to tackle landscapes again, I plan on actually doing some paintings from our trip this summer to Laguna Beach.  Hopefully I can space out my postings of older stuff to fill the gap until I hit Arkansas landscapes back full tilt!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some Jalapenos

As promised, here a couple of still lifes I've done recently.  They were definitely very fun and a great change of pace from the landscapes.  I'm beginning to feel rejunivated and my confidence is picking back up for another run at plein air painting this Saturday.  The top one is about 4X4 and the bottom is about 12X14.  The peppers in both paintings are the same!  The greenish pepper in the top painting ripened very quickly overnight and was a nice bright red when I went to paint the 2nd painting the following evening.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Buckstaff Baths, Hot Springs, Garland County

Buckstaff Baths
11X14, Oil on Canvas

If there's one place in Arkansas that is commonly known about outside the state, it would have to be Hot Springs.  There are lots of great locations in Spa City for paintings.  The Ozark Bathhouse is actually one of my favorites but the best composition I had in a photo was of Buckstaff.

This one's been on my easel for a while.  In the end I had to get some critiques from fellow artists over at to help me figure out how to put the finishing touches on it.

Last night I did a small still life.  A little over a year ago, I started doing some still lifes and I noticed a remarkable improvement in my landscapes shortly thereafter.  I was pretty pleased with the results of the one I did last night.  It sure was nice to feel like I had some idea of what I was doing again.  It was definitely a fun little piece and fun has been missing in my landscapes lately.  I'll show that still life tomorrow night.

I've decided I'll definitely do the plein air event in Little Rock this weekend but I dont plan on doing any complete compositions.  Instead, I'll concentrate on studies, possibly in grisaille only.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ColorFest Aftermath

Boxley Church

Well, the Ponca ColorFest is over for another year!  It was certainly bigger this year than I remember last year being.  The colors were not quite as vibrant as last year due to the drought this summer but they were so much better in the Ozarks than here in central Arkansas! 

Above is the old historic church and community center in Boxley Valley.  The left hand side of the building is obviously being refurbished, making what is usually one of the signature photo ops in the area less picturesque than usual.

We didn't get any pictures of the elk herd this year.  I guess a full moon kept them out feeding throughout the nights and we just weren't up early enough to catch them in the fields in the valley.

Elk Education Center Grounds

I was pretty much skunked on Friday and got very frustrated at my painting efforts.  I'm so much more comfortable in my studio where I can take my time.  It just seems when I'm outside and possibly more precisely when there are people around, that I cannot focus and lose my ability to "see" the painting in the subject.  I do have a hard time believing it's the potential audience though as I've painted from photo in front of people on numerous occasions.  While it IS more difficult, it isn't as terribly frustrating as painting en plein air!  It's like my brain shuts off and nothing works right.  I've been told by several artists that plein air work will advance my skills in the studio and I'm sure that it could except for the fact that plein air painting makes me feel ham handed.  Arkansas League of Artists has started their plein air group back up.  I need to decide if I'm going to pursue painting with them.

Despite my frustration with my own personal painting, I had a very good time watching Bill Garrison paint.  Bill and his wife Gloria both did some fantastic work during the event.  Below is Bill in the early stages of a painting of a bucket of flowers.  Below that is the same piece approaching some latter stages along with his subject.  Behind that on the table are two fabulous pieces he did the day before.  One is of the creek behind the Elk Education Center and the other is the Buffalo River near the Ponca low water bridge.  I wish I had gotten closer pictures of both of those.

Bill Garrison working on some flowers

Getting there!

Winston Taylor with a raku piece he had just fired

Yours truly making a mess again

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Red Rock Point and ColorFest 2010

Red Rock Point, Eastern Face
8X10, Oil on Board

Here's another view from Newton County. Red Rock Point is near Mt. Judea and is one of my favorite locations in the state. This imposing piece of rock is said to be one of the finest pieces of sandstone for climbing between Appalachia and the Rockies.

I'm posting yet another view from Newton County because that's where I'll be tomorrow for ColorFest.  I'll be on the other side of the county from Red Rock Point in Ponca however.  The event is at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Elk Education Center from 10AM to 4:30PM, October 22 and 23.  Come on out and visit if you have time and are in the vicinity!  As Chris suggested a couple of months ago, I'll be checking out the town of Nail on the way!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cameron Bluff, North Rim Mt. Magazine, Logan County

Cameron Bluff, Mt. Magazine
5X7 Oil on Wood

 Yesterday, we took a drive west to Logan County.  There were a few stops I had planned on making.  The view above was the last of the day.  Prior to this we visited Subiaco Academy and Abbey, the town of Paris Arkansas, and Short Mountain north of the Paris.

Mt. Magazine is the tallest peak in the state with a maximum elevation of 3753ft ASL.  It technically sits in the Arkansas River Valley.  Geologically speaking, I'm not sure if Magazine fits more with the Ouachita Mountains or the Ozarks.   It is certainly closer to the Ouachitas physically but to me "feels" more like the Ozarks with more prototypical horizontal rock strata like that in the Ozarks.  Mt. Magazine is part of a complex of mountains that includes Petit Jean and Mt. Nebo, both further to the east.  There are quite a number of species of fauna which are found on Mt. Magazine and nowhere else in the world.  Most of these are small, like insects.

Recently, Stapleton Kearns did a study in near complements, or split complentary color schemes.  I thought I might give this a try upon his encouragement to follow along at home.  So, I uncorked it on Mt. Magazine with shadowed rock faces and the very start of changing leaves.  It was getting later in the afternoon and the eastern facing rocks were shadowed with raking light spilling over onto the trees below.  There was a blush of subtle orange here and there.
Cameron Bluff, Mt. Magazine

I sat up in the shade of a cedar tree, looking through a nice framing hole in the canopy.  Now, I will be totally up front about this, I cheated a fair bit on my color scheme.  I used Cobalt violet, Sap green, and 2 oranges, one a nice russet made with vermillion and yellow ochre, the other a brilliant orange with vermillion and cad yellow.  I did not use a "yellow green" so that was cheat number 1.  Cheat number 2 was allowing myself to brighten the scene considerably with a higher value yellow.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

AGFC ColorFest 2010

I will be at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission ColorFest on October 22 and 23 at the Elk Education Center in Ponca, AR.  I was thrilled to learn that one of my favorite Arkansas based artists, Mr. Bill Garrison will be there also this year!  Hopefully, I'll be able to take some time out of my painting to watch him and learn from that experience.  Winston Taylor will be raku firing pottery on location.  That's always fascinating to see.  If you happen to be free, please come by and visit!

I have some new work I'm working on that I hope to show soon but as always, I will make sure it meets my expectations at least, and I am my own worst critic a good deal of the time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Village at Hendrix Preview Show

Here are my three paintings at the Village at Hendrix Designer House Preview show.  No they aren't landscapes or Arkansas related but I felt like posting this anyway since it is pertinant to art in this region.

This is a live/work home.  It would be distinguished from a residence over a business that you might see in older cities by the fact that it is a single family home and not a row.  This development is based upon the New Urban aesthetic of Seaside, Florida.  I have been told but have not confirmed that some of the same architects who designed Seaside were involved in The Village as well.  At this point in time, the lower commercial space is housing an impromptu gallery that is stocked by Pictures Et Cetera in Conway.  I would link to their website but I don't think they have one.  One of their artists is the incredibly talented Bill Garrison.  He's one of my absolute favorite Arkansas artists and I hope he does another workshop around here pretty soon.

I had the chance to explain these pieces, which have messages encoded on them in ASCII binary, to the mayor of Conway among many others.  I feel honored that of all of the rooms in the home decorated by various designers around the region, only one designer chose to hang obviously original art and that was mine. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Village at Hendrix Preview Tours

I've been a bit quiet here lately but that because I've been hard at work on 3 paintings for the Village at Hendrix Designer House.  Those are 3 of my more esoteric type pieces with coded messages.  I guess I would tend to call them abstract but that's a bit of a stretch.  Objective Abstraction perhaps??  Anyway, that show starts tomorrow night with a $50 per person dinner and cocktail party at the Designer House at 1105 Reynolds Avenue in Conway, AR.

I have 2 other events coming up in October as well.  The first is the Flying Jam at the Searcy County Airport in Marshall, AR on October 2nd.  The other is called ColorFest at the Ponca Elk Education Center in Ponca, AR in Newton County.  That is the weekend of October 23 and 24.  That's usually prime fall color time in the Ozarks.  Autumn in the Ozarks may not be quite the radiance of New England but the region certainly can hold its own and there's a definite magic to it.  I would highly recommend a visit if you can.  It's certainly a plus that you can see a herd of elk in rut during that same time in the same valley!  As that time draws near, I'll post more about that.

I hope to be able to get in some painting at both of these events as well as get back at the landscape painting.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Junction 57, Stephens, Ouachita County

Jct 57, Stephens
8X10, Oil on Wood

It's been a while since I've posted new material.  Here's one from our 4 county trip in southern Arkansas a few months ago.  We skirted up the western edge of Ouachita County.  Stephens was the first town we encountered.  What a photogenic little place this was!  I have plenty of material from this town.  After Stephens, we went up 57 and made our way to Poison Spring Battlefield.  I had been there once many years before but didn't remember very much about it.  I was a bit disappointed in that there were no cannon placements or any such items that would have made nice painting material.  We also spun over to White Oak Lake and after getting gas in Chidester we headed up to Gurdon for our last stop of the day.

We've talked some about going back to Magnolia for a weekend this fall or winter over a weekend.  If so, we'll take in El Dorado, Camden and more of Ouachita County, as well as a county or two to the west.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bare Bones, Village at Hendrix Show

Ozark Stonehenge #2
Oil on Canvas, 12X16

Well, it's way past due for another post here.  The above painting is one of 2 pieces selected for the Diamond National Show at the Hot Springs Fine Arts Center.  This is roughly based on an actual location in Newton County between Vendor and Highway 7.  I've painted it before and I expect I'll paint it again.  I'm fascinated by the rocks poking their heads out of the earth poised precariously at the edge of the hill.  In other areas near here, many similar rocks have been uncovered by the processes of rain and have tumbled into piles.  That would also make a few fine paintings!  The Art Center called today and asked if my 2 pieces could stay for another month.  They've gotten a lot of interest so I'll probably be going down there next Friday for the Hot Springs Art Walk and hopefully meet a few people who like my work.

Last night I was in Conway at the Village at Hendrix for a show with the Conway League of Artists.  Hendrix is a prestigious private liberal arts college.  Hendrix was one of my first choices of colleges way back when.  I got accepted and was planning to major in Physics but their scholarship offer was eclipsed by the good old University or Arkansas.  It's hard to beat a full ride for 4 years and Engineering was a much more in demand degree.  Interesting to note, Hendrix also has the ONLY fully sanctioned lacrosse program in the state.  Lacrosse is one of my favorite sports along with hockey.

But I digress.  Hendrix Village is a mixed use development that is being developed by the college (more info on that here).  One of the first residential units is being finished out and the developers wanted to show it off.  They invited the Conway League of Artists to bring some work out with a focus on contemporary pieces so that local interior designers could see the space and maybe get a look at some of the artistic talent as well.  A team of designers will be decorating the home for a month long show beginning at the end of September.  One of my pieces caught the eye of one of the designers and she asked if I would be willing to do more work like that for her space!  I, of course, said yes.  It's a fantastic opportunity and I hope it pans out.  My fingers are crossed!

Below are some pictures from the event.

Yes, that is mine.  I do more than landscapes!

Outside of the building

Beautiful home inside!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Deer, Newton County

Deer, Arkansas
8X10, Oil on Board

Deer is a town way up in the in the Ozark highlands in Newton County. At over 2200 feet above sea level, it may be the town at the highest altitude in the state. Despite having been in much of Newton County, I had never been to Deer before last fall when I made a point to pass through when attending an event called ColorFest at the Arkansas Game and Fish Elk Education Center in Ponca. The sky was full of leaden clouds and a mist hung over the hills, not at all unusual for a fall day in the Ozarks. I took a few pictures and whipped this out a week or two later. I'm looking forward to getting back up that way this fall for ColorFest again.

I'm going to start posting the prices of my pieces just in case someone sees something of interest. At this time, I will not be accepting Paypal because I'm a bit of a Luddite in some regards and the world is unfortunately full of nastiness. I will gladly accept check, money order and of course cash. Prices are shipped anywhere in the continental US.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Still Pumping, Highway 371 North of Magnolia, Columbia County

Still Pumping
8X10, Oil on Wood

Oil was discovered in Arkansas in sizable quantities in January of 1921. The first discoveries were in Ouachita County just to the east of Columbia County. Oil fields in Arkansas are almost entirely in the southern part of the state which were largely swampy millions of years ago when the Gulf of Mexico extended much further to the north than it does today. The region boomed during the 1920's as over 3000 wells pumped at full capacity and exhausted much of the supply before the end of the decade. Some oil is still being produced though as evidenced by this modern pumping station still in use. This location is on Highway 371 and is a few miles north of Magnolia.

It was not intentional but my color scheme turns out to be a nice homage to a beautiful mural in Magnolia telling some of the story of the oil boom as it related specifically to Magnolia and Columbia County. Magnolia has some fantastic murals!

Speaking of which, that painting is still in works. I'm terribly anxious to finish it but I just can't rush it. I think it would do terrible injustice to a city I found to be a gem. So, you'll have to keep waiting as I try to make it perfect...a tall order made tougher by the fact I don't like I'm doing particularly fine work at the moment. I can't put my finger on precisely what I think the problem is but they just aren't living up to my expectations.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bluff at Pruitt, Buffalo National River, Newton County

The Bluff at Pruitt
24X30, Oil on Canvas

The Arkansas heat machine has cranked up to full strength. Little Rock set a record for this date today with a temperature of 107°F (almost 42°C)! Yesterday the heat index was 120°F(49°C). No relief in sight right now. Needless to say, I don't think I'll be doing much plein air painting in the coming weeks. I did go out on a hike at Petit Jean State Park the weekend before last with my oldest son and did some painting along the way. It's in the studio for touchups right now.

The above painting was begun in February or March. I finally decided it was done late in June. It was tough one. I spent a lot of time staring at it waiting for it to tell me how to proceed. There were times in it's upbringing when I thought I'd never get it to resolve. But finally, it told me what it wanted and I complied. I remember it still being pretty chilly and dreary when I started it and I was anxious for some sun shine. Now I'm anxious for the chill of fall and some Razorback football.

Pruitt is right off of Highway 7 between Jasper and Harrison in Newton County. I've spent a good deal of time here. This is the little swimming access upstream of the Highway 7 bridge. Those who are very familiar with this area may realize I've taken some liberties here with this scene. The gravel bar is in considerable shade in reality but I wanted to get some sunshine in to work on trying to depict some hot sky with a flood of sunshine. Getting ready for summer and all that...

The Magnolia painting for Columbia County hit a snag last week. It's pretty decent size for me at 18X24 so it's no surprise it's taking a bit of time to bring to resolution. The bones of the painting were sound and most of my initial planning was good as well. Some of my execution was lacking. I've gone back and laid in a whole new sky and increased the overall warmth of the piece. I also turned the clock back from a midday time frame when the actual reference photo was taken to a late morning exposure to bring more interesting shadows into play. I think it's finally rounding a corner and may be ready fairly soon.

In the meantime, I plan on a drive eastward into the delta early one morning this coming weekend before the sun blisters the landscape. After that one, I think I'll work off a substantial backlog of reference photos until the weather begins to cool some.

Till then, stay cool folks...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Nars, Buffalo National River, Searcy County

The Nars
11X14, Oil on Canvas
The Nars, or the Narrows for those of you who don't speak the English dialect peculiar to the Ozark mountains, is the last vestige of a once mighty mountain of limestone high in the Boston Plateau. Below and to the left is the Buffalo National River. As you stand at this location, I guess the river is about 100 feet below you. To the right and about the same distance down would be the Richland valley. Millions of years ago, Richland Creek scoured the mountain away and then slowly moved across the valley to it's current location at least a 1/4 mile away. As Richland Creek meandered away, the Buffalo moved in and took out the other side of the mountain, leaving this narrow strip of rock. The brave adventurous type can cross this strip and climb up the throne on the other side. At it's narrowest, the rock ledge is only a couple of feet wide and while the distance to the ground is not terrifying, a slip would certainly result in a broken leg or worse. The ride down that way would be extremely bumpy to say the least. This is a pretty isolated place and to fall here alone without a GPS transmitter would probably be disastrous, especially if you fell onto the Richland Valley side. I certainly wasn't brave enough to cross!
I have only been to the Nars twice in my life and when we went here to get reference pictures a few weeks ago, I was actually pretty concerned about being able to find it again. The first time I went was about 20 years ago and I was working for the Youth Conservation Corp building and maintaining trails in the national park. A county road runs right past it but that road is all but abandoned. The Nars is marked on some maps but there are no signs pointing you to it and if you have never been there, you could very easily walk right past the trail taking you up to it.
Downstream on the Buffalo side is a place now colloquially called Skull Bluff. It used to be called the Bat House by locals. This was the very first place I ever went camping with my dad, uncle and grandfather. We slept open air with the milky way stretched out across the sky above us. I think I was only about 4 or 5 but still have very vivid memories of that gravel bar.
The Nars is a very special location to me. Not because I've spent a lot of time here or any reason that most people might consider a place special. It's special because it was obviously very special to my family. Visiting my grandparents in Pindall as a child, I would hear them talk about The Nars all the time. It was a landmark for locating places and people in time. "Remember when old so and so went up the Nars?" "About a mile past the Nars is such and such." My dad and most of his siblings were born very close to here and it figured prominently in the landscape to them both literally and figuratively. And it took on mythical proportions in the mind of a child, much like Tir na Nog, a place of wonder and mystery.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prescott Hardware, Nevada County

Prescott Hardware
8X10, Oil on Wood

Sometimes I drive through small towns and just have to ask myself what could have happened here?? Prescott was one of those. You can tell that maybe only a decade or so ago, this was a thriving small town with a beautiful little downtown area. Prescott is the county seat of Nevada County in southwest Arkansas. I don't recall seeing a Wal-Mart there so I don't think that can be blamed for the current state of affairs. It's probably just another case of rural communities drying up because the young folks can't find work and are forced to move to larger cities.

Our rual communities are in stress and there isn't a whole lot that can be done about it. At least some communities try and it looks like Prescott is doing what little it can to bring commerce back to the downtown.

If I were not so connected with the Ozarks of northern Arkansas and had enough regional and/or national collectors to support a fully professional artist life, I might consider this town. As you can see, real estate is dirt cheap. Two store fronts and the land for only $9000! Now, I wouldn't expect to get much(any) traffic to a studio in such a downtown but that's not the point if you have a stable of collectors is it? If you're in that boat, then geograpic location is pretty much a nonfactor. So...if you just happen to be a solid selling artist in need of a very low cost of living location with a lot of landscape to paint, maybe this is the place for you?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back to the Studio and a Very Pleasant Surprise!

Well folks, I'm back from the Los Angeles area and ready to hit the studio again! The trip was great by and large. I got see lots of great art and visited with several artists including one of my absolute favorite artists!

Last week I visited the studio/gallery of Mr. Manfred Kuhnert in Laguna Beach. Earlier this year we purchased one of his pieces. This was the first piece of original art we had ever bought since our walls are usually full to the brim with my own work. However, we were enchanted by his use of color in design so we couldn't pass it up. I had been hoping to get a chance to accompany him on trip to paint out but he is advancing in years and I learned he seldom paints plein air anymore.

On Monday I was treated to a visit of the studio of the EXTREMELY talented and very gracious Mr. William Wray! I've been following him for I guess close to 4 years now. It may not always look like it but I've been influenced a GREAT deal by his work both stylistically and thematically. In particular, I like to think I've learned a great deal about design of sky passages in paintings by studying his work as well as the application of implied detail in "mystery" passages. It was certainly a treat to get to examine many of my favorites in person! I am also very pleased to say that we made our largest art investment ever and I can't wait till it makes it's way to it's new home here in Little Rock! Mr. Wray, if you ever stumble onto this blog, I'd like to thank you for your time and talking with me about your art and your experiences in the art world and most definitely for putting up with a 4 year old in your studio! The Donald Duck has accompanied him almost everywhere since we left your place!

I took plenty of good pictures for future painting fodder both in Laguna and in Pasadena. But first I'd like to complete the two paintings I started before we left. The Magnolia painting is progressing nicely but I still feel like there something missing, like the extra punch is lacking. I may need to take some time to figure out what it's begging for. The small 8X10 of Prescott is in a similar situation. Just a little bit of the right medicine and I think it's going to be grand.

Victoria Beach, Laguna

Pasadena City Hall from Colorado

I had a very pleasant surprise on the voicemail when I got home: I have two pieces that were selected for the Diamond National Show in Hot Springs in August! This is my first national show acceptance and to say I'm excited is putting it mildly. I dont' know how many pieces were accepted total but knowing the space at the Hot Springs Fine Arts Center, it was probably only around 60 or less. To get 2 out of 3 pieces in the show to me is huge. I submitted for this show 2 years ago and was rejected and rightly so, my work was not on par. In some ways, that rejection spurred my desire to improve my skills so in the long haul it was a good thing. One of the pieces accepted is below. It isn't Arkansas related but I'm posting it anyway.

I-110 Southbound, Los Angeles
14X18, Oil on Canvas