Long past due to add something here. But this is old from the White River Plein Air this spring. That was a cold, dreary day. And now here it is, another cold dreary day before I return to this blog. Time has a way of slipping through our fingers.
This was the third painting I turned in for the White River Plein Air contest. I painted it during the night when all of the other contest attendees were attending some kind of social thing. I hate to say it but I really did not bother to meet or talk to any of the other artists during this event. As soon as I had my panels marked, I was off and away and I did not really see any other artists until I turned my pieces in.
This piece won the First Timers Award. Looking around at the work of painters who won other awards, I have my work cut out for me if I want to have a chance at winning anything in the years to come. Lots of really great painters attend this event.
At the beginning of May, I attended my first ever plein air competition, Plein Air on the White River in the northern part of the state. This area is close to where I grew up so I know it well. The competition is centered around the town of Cotter. The White River has been dammed up in several places, forming Beaver, Bull Shoals, and Table Rock Lakes. The water that pours out of Bull Shoals Dam is cold and provides a great habitat for trout, making Cotter a haven for fly fishermen. Most attendees spent a lot of time around the river near Cotter painting the typical scenes. I, however, in typical contrarian fashion, struck out far and wide and found things no one else would have looked for. This little church is tucked down a long valley about 20 miles from Cotter near Monarch. Monarch isn't really a town anymore even though a lot of people still refer to it almost as if it is. I used to pass by this church often.
It is a very special challenge trying to paint buildings on such small sizes and have them look like how I want. This one was well begun on site but had to be finished up in studio. It was officially the LAST of the 75 counties! YAY!!!
Yesterday, I took down my show at Cantrell Gallery. It was another great, successful show this year but the effort of finishing this Painting Arkansas project really put me under. I guess that was part of the reason I didn't post anything about the show here like I normally would. So, yes, I am done! But I still have to post and document two counties. Both of those paintings sold during the show. I have barely touched a paint brush in the last 2 months but am slowly getting back to work. Be on the lookout for new stuff very soon!
Sometime around the summer of 1989 or 1990, I was selected for a gifted and talented program called Project LAND. This was part of a group of summer programs for high school students that went on all over the state. I had previously attended one near my hometown called Project CAVES in which students were able to study and explore and caverns. Project LAND was a bit further from home. It was based in the Delta town of De Valls Bluff. I don't think I had ever really been in the Delta before this. This program consisted of 4 weeks of traveling the state of Arkansas and camping most every night. It sounded a lot more fun that it really was. We had to wake up early every morning and break camp and load up in vans and travel to the next destination and learning opportunities. We were supposed to keep a journal of what we saw and experienced and the instructors did not allow us to sleep in the vans since we were supposed to be writing in our journals. In many ways, that experience laid the groundwork for this very project of painting something from every county. I don't know if we traveled through every county during those 4 weeks but we must have come close. I do know that as I did research for places to visit for this effort, I relied a lot on my experiences from Project LAND.
At the end of the 4 weeks, I was ready to get home. My dad came down from the hills to pick me up but before we left the Delta, we stopped in at a little white cinder block building just outside of town. Inside, I had my first true experience of barbecue. It was a simple pulled pork sandwich with dry slaw and I will never forget it. It's still to this day how I eat a pulled pork sandwich. For many years, I thought the place was in Hazen which is just a few miles outside of De Valls Bluff but when I went over that way a few months ago, I discovered that white cinder block building was actually in De Valls Bluff proper and not very much outside of town as I remembered it being. I also remembered it being almost in an open field with no trees behind it. I don't know if that memory is accurate and all the trees are the product of 25 years of growth or if my memory is faulty. But I do know without a doubt the Craig's BBQ left an impression on me, as did Project LAND.
Shortly after I started this project, I went down to southern Arkansas to gather photo references of several counties. In fact, I think it was my first trip dedicated solely to this project. I knew I had to do a painting of this courthouse and proceeded to paint one in this exact size that had a lot of promise but I didn't think it fulfilled what I wanted from it. You can see that on here. It was much more faithful to my original photo. This version I think puts the courthouse front and center like I originally wanted.
During my show at Cantrell Gallery last year, I had a plein air I did of this courthouse that focused on the tower. It sold during the show. A few weeks later, someone called the gallery asking if it was still available and when informed it was not asked if I would do another one for them. So I finally remembered and painted this one in time for my show this year. I was pretty happy to oblige since I find this to be among the top ten courthouses in the state. The show, by the way, opens next Friday!
This was the final painting I did on a big day a few weeks ago that included the Palmetto Flats of my previous post and the barn in Sevier County. This place is deep in the Ouachita Mountains south of the town of Waldron. I expected I would probably do some studio touch ups but the more I looked at it the more I liked the rough nature of this one as it came out of the field.
A fair bit of the time when I was out doing my collecting of material or plein air painting for this project, I would have locations preselected. Using Google Maps to find interesting buildings to go paint or photograph is a great tool. Sometimes I would wander aimlessly til I found something. And other times I would have a more generic idea of where I was planning to go. Palmetto Flats Wildlife Management Area was one of those. I had never heard of it before finding it on a map and web searches did not turn up a whole lot other than the fact that a lot of palmetto plants could be found there and it was a good place to bird watch.
Turns out, Palmetto Flats is pretty isolated and the "entrance" is a little hard to find. Maybe that's why there isn't much out there about it. I had been witness to a fantastic sunrise as I neared Texarkana so I had hopes for good light. But a little while after I got involved in this one, the light faded as cloudcover moved in.
Still, I stuck it out and tried to deal with the change as best as possible. I think there could be a lot more potential in Palmetto Flats. A shame it's so far away.
This is a plein air I did a couple of months ago about a mile from my house. It is rare that we get enough snow here in central Arkansas to last long enough for me to be able to get out and paint in it so I took advantage of this opportunity. Pinnacle Mountain is a state park just outside of Little Rock.
A little yellow house off in the distance beckoned me down this dirt road south of the town of DeQueen. As I approached the house, I came to the conclusion is was deserted but I also noted that there was no convenient place to set up to paint it. The road made a 90° turn just past the house and there was a gate into a field right at the apex of the corner. This gave me a great place to pull off the road and set up but I felt I was too close to the house to paint it. There were numerous little barns in the field but this pair of red barns caught my eye. I had to fight the changing light and odor from a nearby hog farm that was cleaning out a barn but I wound up with a result I liked straight out of the field with no studio work.
I am gearing up for a major show that starts at the end of the month. I have mostly completed my Painting Arkansas project but need some clean up work. Stay tuned for the remaining counties!
Apparently, there are at least two Saline Rivers in Arkansas. The one most well known to Arkansans runs through, unsurprisingly, Saline County in central Arkansas. This one is in western Arkansas. I believe it eventually runs into the Cossattot River. This one was done 100% en plein air.
This is a little plein air I did a few weeks ago. As it turns out, I was very close to the Pike-Montgomery County line. I'm pretty sure I was actually still in Pike County. I think this one would make a nice painting at a larger size.
Harry Louis Freund was a Missouri born, Arkansas based painter. Most certainly my favorite non-contemporary Arkansas painter. He is often identified with the Regionalists Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry. Like them, he painted many murals and scenes that were immediate to his surroundings. Unlike them, he never gained a great deal of national prominence, which is very unfortunate because I feel the integrity of his work exceeds those of his contemporaries with the possible exception of Wood. Freund did not tend to practice as much of the visual exageration that can be seen in the work of Curry and Benton. You can read more about him here.
It should come as no surprise that I identify with the Regionalists in spirit if not totally in style and mannerism. In Freund, I find not only a Regionalist, but an Arkansas Regionalist, and one whose style I find to be very pleasing. In many ways he is almost a way marker for me.
In this particular piece, I like how he captured all of the "stuff" around the building without over detailing. It has that appearance of quickly done well with only enough to tell you what's going on. The trees are well massed but not in the modern day plein air tendency which would have you mass the entire tree shape and then pop in the sky holes. He has clearly here built the trees as skeleton structure with the massing taking place over that. The trees at the edges of the picture may be done more in the modern manner but it is hard to tell without seeing the actual piece. There is also a lot the appearance of dry brushing here so I wonder if he worked this one in layers.
There is another Freund piece of a typical Ozark farmstead which I like a sight bit better than this one but I cannot find any pictures of it. If I do ever find a picture of that, I may devote another Favorite Paintings post to it.
Another old one from my other blog. I have been seriously considering redoing this one as a 16X20. There is a whole lot I really like about this compositionally but it is severely dated in both technique and some drafting. I think this can be a great painting so I look forward to painting it again once I have completed work for my upcoming show.
This was a commission I did for Christmas. The only stipulations placed upon it were that it be of Long Pool in Pope County. I rarely paint high color fall scenes so I took this opportunity to stretch and give it a try. The customer was very happy with the result and so was I!
This is a plein air piece from a few weeks back. I did this the same day as Clover Bend but I often take a while to photograph work. I sometimes like taking on a subject matter that challenges both me and the viewer.
Here's another transfer from my other blog. I hope to get all of the content moved over to here soon so I can shut that one down.
I enjoy painting leaves. They are, however, more difficult than they look. These particular leaves started curling shortly after I began the painting. By the time I was done, the color had faded from nice red to the much more dull orange and the one on the right had curled almost double upon itself.
I believe perhaps Clover Bend is names after a bend in the nearby Black River but I'm not entirely sure. There is a historic community school there from the WPA era. Possibly a precursor to the WPA community in Dyess made somewhat well known as the boyhood home of Johnny Cash. I think I am going to go visit that on Monday. This is a plein air painting I did 2 weeks ago. The weather was chilly and drizzly. I know a lot of plein air painters who would not have even bothered to paint that day but I think if you only paint on sunny days all of paintings will wind up looking more or less the same. There is challenge to this flat light that I like.
Sometimes, a plein air painting will sit and gather dust for quite some time before I either decide it's done or figure out what it is I want to really to do with it. This is one of those. I painted this after I dropped off paintings for a solos show at the Van Buren Center for Arts and Education toward the end of 2012. It has sat in a corner ever since then. I got tired of some of other things I was working on one night and just decided I had nothing to lose by throwing some more paint at this one. I don't like to leave paintings totally abandoned so I'm glad I was finally able to make myself happy with this one.
This was from a picture I took on my way to a 25k trail race at Village Creek State Park near Wynne a few weeks ago. The sun was rising behind me and the contra glow rising from the ground made me think the earth was glowing and giving off it's own light. Thus the name, "Lit From Within."
About 2 and a half weeks ago I took a trip up to Heber Springs to deliver a new batch of paintings to Ellen Hobgood Gallery and I took the opportunity to stop off at this local landmark to paint. It was a very cold morning and the box canyon this fall is in does not have a very easy way in. Luckily I was using my new Guerilla Painter box and ultra light tripod so it was at least manageable to get everything down in one trip. I set up on the side of the canyon that got some sunshine in hopes of staying somewhat warm as I did not really dress appropriately for the cold. I managed to tough it out for about and hour before I realized I just wasn't going to finish it there. Because of the wet painting, it took 2 trips to get everything out and I was freezing by the time I hit the car. Made me retire to the warmth of the coffee shop in Heber while I waited for the gallery to open.
Fuzzybutt Falls is a fairly easily accessible fall in the Ozark National Forest. It's tucked back into a box canyon near Six Finger Falls. The stream here feeds Falling Water Creek. I can only speculate as to why it is called Fuzzybutt Falls and perhaps I would rather not know. Still, beautiful little water fall.
This was a little plein air I did at Burns Park in North Little Rock a bit before Christmas. I had the very interesting company of 4 skunks (1 of which was albino and a another was almost totally white) while I painted it. They rooted around in the leaves nearby like I wasn't even there, wandering to and fro. As they got a little too close for comfort and I began to think about leaving, I shined my light on them a spoke loudly but calmly to them, telling them to leave me alone and go away. To my surprise, they complied and ran off nicely to the nearby woods. The admonishment didn't last too long, though, as they came back a while later. I kindly asked them to leave on several occasions, each time they would run away and come back, not unlike a group of young children.
Calhoun County is one of the smallest in Arkansas by population. It is smack dab in the middle of timber country and I suspect the small population is due in part at least to the fact that timber companies own most of the land!
This painting was much more difficult than I believe it should have been and I'm not sure why. It was also terribly difficult to photograph. I may revisit this subject sometime in the future.
This is my first completed new county of the year! I have put myself under the gun in the first half of the year. I have committed to Cantrell Gallery that I will have this project complete by the time my show there hangs at the beginning of May! I have 13 counties left to do. Not sure how I'm going to pull this off.
Here's some new work for a change! A few years back my family went on a waterfall hunting trip and found this little cascade upstream of the main waterfall we were trying to find. It was a grey and humid day but the water was freezing cold. I told my wife that if she would get into this waterfall, I would do a painting of it and name it Laura's Falls. And she did. Shortly after getting back I did a 5X7 of this scene but was not happy enough with it to post it so I finally got around to redoing a larger version with which I would be happy. I think we need to go back some time and visit this place again.
Way back in 2012, I went to the East Coast to visit family and it just so happened that fellow painter Ralph Parker was going to be close by. Ralph is traveling the country in an RV and painting all along the way. I made plans to meet up with him at Gettysburg National Military Park. I had been playing with gouache as a medium for plein air painting and figured what better time to really work with it than alongside one of the best gouache painters I've seen. We set up at the Leister Farm which General Meade made his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg. I finished 3 paintings that day in what was at the time my most successful day of plein air ever.