Saturday, December 1, 2012

Russellville Train Depot, Pope County

Russellville Train Depot
16X20 Oil on Canvas

This one was in a partial state for a long time.  I had trouble resolving color and value on the foreground to my satisfaction.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Slowing it Down, Hwy 65 Northbound

Slowing it Down, Hwy 65 North
8X10, Oil on Panel

Right before winding into Searcy County, Highway 65 plunges down into the Little Red River Valley.  It's a potentially treacherous descent for semi trucks, especially in the rain.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ellen Hobgood Gallery

I am very pleased to announce that I am now represented by Ellen Hobgood Gallery in Heber Springs, AR.  Ellen's gallery is at 101 S. 3rd Street in beautiful downtown Heber Springs, right across from the Cleburne County courthouse.  You can find an assortment of my Ozarks related paintings there including several Buffalo River pieces.  That courthouse is calling out for me to paint it, along with many many other locations in and around Heber!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ouachita River at Malvern, Hot Spring County

Ouachita River at Malvern
8X10, Oil on Panel

That is the I-30 bridge in the distance.  I took the reference shot for this almost a year ago.  Sometimes it just takes a while.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Arkansas League of Artists Annual Juried Show

I am very pleased to announce that my piece "Simpson County, MS Courthouse" won First Place in the Landscape category in this show.  The show was juried by David Bailin, an art professor at the University of Central Arkansas and will be on display at the Butler Center at Arkansas Studies Institute until January.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tailgater's, Hope, Hempstead County

Tailgater's, Hope, AR
8X10, Oil on Panel

This is a little sports bar in downtown Hope, which as everyone knows is the hometown of former President Bill Clinton.  This place was doing a decent bit of business for the time of day we were there.  That was before the Razorbacks season went into the tank.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Arkansas League of Artists Annual Juried Show

Simpson County Mississippi Courthouse
11X14, Oil on Panel
I am very pleased to say the above painting was juried into the ALA Annual Show.  I am also now a Signature Member of ALA as a result of this achievement.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

St. Peter and Paul Church, Morrison Bluff, Logan County

St. Peter and Paul
11X14, Oil on Panel

I noticed this awesome little bright red church out in the middle of nowhere just across the Arkansas River south of Clarksville.   I really wanted to do a building portrait of it but also I plan to do more paintings showing it in it's landscape.

This painting will be in my upcoming solo show at the Van Buren Center for Arts and Education.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spadra Creek Bridge, Clarksville

Spadra Creek Bridge
8X10, Oil on Panel

Spadra Creek cuts through the center of the town of Clarksville.  On both sides of the creek are walking and biking trails including some mountain biking single track.  It's very impressive that such a small town has devoted as much time and effort as this to a multi-use trail system!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Burge's, Lewisville, Lafayette County

8X10, Oil on Panel

Can't say I know a whole lot about this place but I believe they have a location in Little Rock as well as this one in Lewisville.  Lewisville is down in the southwest corner.  I didn't have time to stop and sample the food here so maybe I need to take another trip down this way.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Don't Trust the Camera's Lies!

Cameras do not see a scene the same way the human eye does.  The camera is an unflinching tool which sees each and every object in the field of view with the same clarity as every thing else.  It is not selective.  It does not care one whit for anything it sees.  The human eye, on the other hand, scans a scene and picks out specific things on which to focus, things it likes and things it dislikes.  It spends more time dwelling on the things it likes and passes over the things it dislikes.  As an artist working from photos or in plein air, I get to be the eye of the viewer.  It is my selection that determines which objects will be your focus in the end piece and I carefully eliminate the things I determine you will not like.  The green artist takes the photo and tries to replicate everything they see.  They fail to understand that a camera is a tool and presents no truth.  In my mind, there is more truth in the artist's carefully manicured result which selectively emphasizes some things and eliminates others.

Cameras also have a nasty habit of mangling color relative to what the human eye perceives.  I think this is particularly true of digital cameras.  While the modern camera may be able to capture a much broader gamut of colors than many humans can see, this does not capture light in anywhere close to a manner similar to human eye/brain system.  The image formed in your brain is dynamic and each rod and cone produces a response to an individual photon of the wavelength it is designed to detect.  Meanwhile, a digital camera is like a vast array of tiny buckets, with each individual bucket being a pixel in the final image.  Photons of various wavelengths from many many different directions strike the focal plane array (or bucket array) of the digital camera during the time the shutter is "open" and the energies of each photon is captured and stored in the bucket that it fell upon.  A pixel bucket that depicts part of a tree in the final image will have collected photons from many more sources than just the tree.  The camera will take all of the wavelengths and average them together to get a final color that is NOT what the eye sees when looking at the same tree.  Professional photographers know this too and that is why all of the good ones post process their results to some extent in software!  There is nothing inherent in paint that makes it capture a better image of what the mind reads from the eyes more readily than film or a focal plane array. It is the studied mind of the creator behind the process that allows pigments to be assembled into a selective construct which we will call art.  The green artist will again look at the photo and try to replicate the colors the camera made up.  As an aside, I think it's very fascinating to think the manner in which our eyes detect color and the mysterious manner in which our brain assembles those nerve impulses into an image is probably not a very good approximation of the truth of reality either!  Think of all the data we are missing because of the response time of our rods and cones or what types of data our brains may just simply make up to bridge gaps that our eyes cannot process!  How different the truth of the world may indeed be from our limited perception.

If there IS one thing that cameras tend to do well, it is to capture value information.  Value is, and I suspect few people would argue with me, the backbone of realist painting.  Without proper values relative to one another, the whole illusion of space and three-dimensionality falls apart.

Working with photographs is an excellent method, but only when one realizes that the picture can only provide so much information and the mind of the creator must make up for their limitations.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

I was fortunate enough to be featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper over the weekend. This paper has circulation over the whole state so it was a pretty major bit of promotion for me! The article is available online here:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

I realize that I have not been posting much here lately but that's not because I've not been painting!  Granted, my production rate this summer is less than I would like but that will happen from time to time. 

I am a firm believer in a well-rounded approach to health and I think that there are 3 factors which produce a healthy human being: physical health, intellectual health, and spiritual health.  I view painting as my means for building spiritual health and I have a day job that promotes good intellectual health.  For the past couple of years as I have been working hard at developing my painting skills, I have let my physical health be put on the back burner somewhat, at least relative to the amount of physical activity I got several years ago.  So for a good bit of this year, I have been re-engaging in a good deal of physical activity by mountain biking, road cycling, and running.  I intend one day to carry painting supplies with me on longer rides and when I see something interesting, I can stop and spend some time painting it.  But for now, I am focused on going as fast and as far as I can.

As I said, I have still been painting and completing paintings.  I have several paintings completed that I need to photograph and post and I hope to get to that soon.  Below are some recent and some not so recent pieces being framed and readied for a show I have coming up in October!

My solo show is at the Van Buren Center for Art and Education in Van Buren, Arkansas and runs from October 7th through the 25th. 

I find the act of framing to be a solemn occassion.  It is almost like preparing to see one's children go forth into the world.  On the one hand, you are proud to see them go out on their own but afraid of how much you will miss them.  Then there is always the inherent fear they will come back to you.  I think framing one's own work is something every artist should do from time to time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Subiaco Valley, Logan County

Subiaco Valley
18x24, Oil on Panel

Here's one I finished a good while ago but never got around to posting.  This is the valley around the Subiaco Monastery in Logan County.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rowdy Beaver, Fayetteville, Washington County

Rowdy Beaver
8X10, Oil on Panel

I believe this building houses a business called the Rowdy Beaver.  At least that's what Google Maps seems to show it's name to be.  None of my pictures showed the business name and when  I lived in Fayetteville there were no businesses in this building.  For those who know Fayetteville, this building is behind the old Depot off of Dickson Street which would also make a fine painting.  And then, of course, there's Old Main on the U of A campus.  I definitely need to do a painting of Old Main.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cafe, Sheridan, Grant County

Cafe, Sheridan
8X10, Oil on Panel

Last summer when I went down to Pine Bluff, I made a stop in Sheridan in neighboring Grant County for some picture taking.  I was walking down this side street when I smelled the aromatic fragrance of the tree seen here.  I turned around and took a picture of the tree and the street.  Now, almost a year later, I got around to painting it!

With this painting, I have now completed 38 counties.  This makes me officially over halfway done!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Louisiana Purchase Memorial, Lee County

Louisiana Purchase Memorial
8X10, Oil on Panel

Been a while since I've posted anything!!  I have been working quite a bit and have several things that need to be posted.  This is stone marker is located in the Louisiana Purchase State Park at the corner of Lee, Phillips and Monroe Counties.  It marks the location where surveyors began the process of determining exactly what Thomas Jefferson had purchased from France.  An interested individual could get here by way of a nice boardwalk through the swamp.  Since I was looking pretty much into Lee County from Monroe County, I decided to count this one to Lee County.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Downtown Van Buren, Crawford County

Downtown Van Buren
11X14, Oil on Panel

I have been meaning to make mention of this but I was juried into the Oil Painters of America a few months ago.  I will probably not enter any of their contests this year because I doubt I would get in but at least I made it in!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Low Slung, Poinsett County

Low Slung
8X10, Oil on Panel

Here's a rare totally alla prima piece I did a while back.  Poinsett County is in the Delta so it's flat, flat, flat.  That makes for good big sky paintings.  Last night I attended the opening of a show at Cantrell Gallery called "Structures" by Daniel Coston.  Dan currently lives in Fayetteville which is in the northwest corner in the Ozarks but he is a product of the Delta and paints a lot of scenes from the flatland.  He prefers a long, low aspect ratio for many of his Delta pieces.  Great show and a really nice guy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sims Farmhouse, Montgomery County

Sims Farmhouse
5X7, Gouache on Matboard

We finally got some weather that could be considered winter!  And it coincided with some of my plans to go out painting.  Actually my plans were for some painting and mountain biking combined into one trip.  However, I was planning on riding the Womble Trail in the Ouachita Mountains which is an IMBA Epic trail.  It's over 30 miles and traverses some very remote terrain.  I have been told not to ride it alone but that was my plan.  Had the weather been better I would have gone through with it and gotten in hopefully 5-6 miles and still had time to do a quick painting.  However, with temperatures barely expecting to get above freezing and a modest little windchill, I decided that it was exactly the type of weather in which people die from doing dumb things like riding difficult mountain biking trails alone.  I still went painting though and made due with the view out the front window of the car.  This was my second time to get out with the gouache for some plein air.  The first time was not terribly successful.  This time, well, just successful enough.

I stopped off in the small town of Mt. Ida just a few miles before this area to take pictures and in doing so ran across a brand new gallery in town!  It is called the Ouachita Artist's Gallery and has only been open a few weeks.  I dropped in out of the cold and talked painting with them.  

View from the front window.  I eliminated the large cedar tree.

The portable studio setup

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bank of Carthage, Dallas County

Bank of Carthage
8X10, Oil on Panel

This old building is on the National Register of Historic Places despite being about to fall in on itself.  It was amazing to me but the town of Carthage seemed more remote to me than many places even in the Ozark Highlands.   Quite a few people who were driving by while I was taking the references picture waved in a friendly manner.  Unlike the dogs living in the house that's  right beside this place.

I'm currently working on a larger version of this for an upcoming show.

I went out plein air painting in Saline County yesterday.  It was one of those days that challenged my resolve to try to paint in plein air...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Gallery Representation

I am very pleased to announce that this afternoon, I will be delivering more pieces to the Cantrell Gallery in Little Rock.  I really like the way the fine folks at Cantrell operate and I think this is an excellent fit for me.  I look forward to hanging many pieces of art on their walls during the coming years!

Cantrell Gallery is located at 8206 Cantrell Road in Little Rock.  If you are ever in the area, please stop by and take a look.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Toney Bend, between Buffalo Point and Rush, Marion County

Toney Bend, Buffalo National River
20X24, Oil on Panel

Here at Toney Bend, the river loops back on itself and starts on a 7 mile circle around that closes on the other side of this mountain.  If you were to climb up this terraced slope, you would find your way blocked again by the river at the bottom of the other side.  Someday in the far future, the river will break down this mountain and meet itself.  At the apex of the 7 mile circle is Rush Landing.

For the past several months, I've been using Flake White almost exclusively.  I had realized from the very beginning that flake can do some marvelous things but that it has some distinct disadvantages.  I think I'm finaly beginning to get a handle on the strengths and weaknesses of both flake and titanium such that I can leverage the strengths of both in the same painting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blue Hill, Pulaski County

Blue Hill
11X14, Oil on Panel

Lately, I have been having a lot of trouble with my camera overemphasizing blues in my paintings.  No such problem here.  I am also very pleased to say that I was able to use more than 1 blue in this painting!  In fact, all 3 of my major blues are here: cobalt, ultramarine, and prussian.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish all of you out there a Happy New Year!  I don't have any new paintings to show just yet but that's more a function of my laziness about taking pictures than not having produced any work.  I have a new Buffalo River painting as well as a couple of portraits which I'll eventually get around to posting on my other blog, The Art of John D. Wooldridge.  That's a very good thing since it's been a few months since I've had anything to post over there!

2011 was a pretty good year for me.  I won several awards and was accepted into all but 2 shows I entered.  Sales were better than I've ever experienced also.  I didn't do as much heavy lifting on the Painting Arkansas project as I had hoped but I did complete 15 new counties this past year.  I was hoping to be halfway done by the end of this year.  I got close but not quite there.  Around the middle of last year, I made a pact with myself that I would paint nothing smaller than 9X12 in the studio.  The spirit of that commitment was to force myself to produce larger landscapes.  Even though the 2 portraits I did were 8X10, I'm not going to count those against my commitment since I really did intend it to apply to landscapes.  In fact, after that commitment, I did no landscapes smaller than 11X14!  I'm happy for the calender to shift though so I can do some more smaller work and try to get some substantial progress made against this project.  I have photographic reference material for 8 additional counties that need to be done before I ever have to get into the car for more travel!

I'm not much for publishing my goals because it seems as soon as I do I wind up not living up to them.  That's one reason I don't publish any WIPs of my work.  As soon as I take in-progress pictures, I find myself unable to close the deal and the piece gets set by the wayside!   However, in the interest of trying to get over that trend, I'm going to go ahead and establish some goals here.  I'm only going to include those things over which I feel I have enough control to enable them.

1.  Get a gallery
2.  Complete 10 show worthy plein air paintings
3.  Get into a show outside of Arkansas
4.  Complete at least 20 counties
5.  Publish a WIP!
6.  Post more often, even if what I write about seems very mundane to me
7.  Network more online
8.  Participate in a plein air competition

In addition, I plan to join the American Impressionist Society and also submit to join Oil Painters of America.  Membership in AIS is non-juried but OPA is.  I think I have the quality of work to get in, but I guess I'll find out if the jurors feel the same or not.