Monday, April 28, 2014

Craig's BBQ, Prairie County

Craig's BBQ
14X18, Oil on Panel
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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Columbia County Courthouse, Columbia County

Columbia County Courthosue
18X24, Oil on Panel
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. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Monroe County Courthouse #2, Monroe County

Monroe County Courthouse #2
8X10, Oil on Panel
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!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tan-a-Hill Creek, Scott County

Tan-a-Hill Creek
6X8, Oil on Panel
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.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Palmetto Flats WMA, Little River County

Palmetto Flats WMA
6X8, Oil on Panel
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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Snowy Pinnacle, Pulaski County

Snowy Pinnacle
8X10, Oil on Panel

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.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sevier County Barn, Sevier County

Sevier County Barn
9X12, Oil on Panel

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!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Saline River, Howard County

Saline River, Howard County
8X10, Oil on Panel
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.