Last year, one of my biggest collectors, who also happens to write and direct musicals both off and sometimes on Broadway, asked if I would paint something that could serve as a poster for an upcoming musical he was working on titled, "During Wind and Rain." The musical is based upon real life events that occurred in one single family in Desha County, Arkansas around the turn of the century. It is a tragic story of multiple deaths and the shadow they cast upon a once prominent and wealthy cotton farming family. I was intrigued and wanted to do it. This is the study upon which the final piece was based. The musical opens in North Little Rock, Arkansas in April and I can't wait to see it.
Back in the '80s, elk from the Rockies were introduced in the Buffalo National River park. Before white settlers came and hunted them to extinction, the region was home to a smaller subspecies known as the eastern elk. Today, the elk herds attract many visitors to the park mostly during the fall when the big bulls join the herds in the bottoms for rut.
I started and did most all of the work for this one last year but was never certain I was done with it until a few weeks ago so I'm taking credit for it in 2017.
My friend from Finland sent me some glorious sunrise pictures from the countryside north of Helsinki a month or so ago. Her description of the experience of the moment was inspiring and I had to do a painting of it.
Let me just lead this post off by saying this is old work. This is from 2009 and was my first in a short series of experimental pieces incorporating encoded messages. I mentioned these in passing to a friend who expressed a desire to see them. That prompted me to take a look here and make sure I had posted them. I looks like I never actually did that. For a while, I kept a separate blog for all of my work that was not directly related to Arkansas scenes but I found that was too much and I abandoned it and tried to upload everything that was on that blog to here but I guess I missed some things.
I have quite a lot of new works that will be uploaded soon. These older coded pieces will get posted interspersed with new work. I won't give away too many secrets as to how to figure out what this says but it really have a message in it. If you want to figure it, by all means, please take a crack at it!
This past autumn continued a streak a less than optimal peak color in the state of Arkansas. The weather was warmer than average and rains came too early. This location is just east of Little Rock on an oxbow lake of the Arkansas River. A local road bike runs past this so I knew from having sped by it in the past that is a nice peaceful and picturesque spot that might be worthy of painting. I went by there one Saturday in November and snapped a photo for a photo exchange with a friend who also did a digital painting of this scene.
I started this little plein air close to sunset over the summer vacation to the Grand Canyon after a couple of other failed attempts at larger sizes. The Grand Canyon is an imposing, intimidating place to paint. Not only is the vista unimaginably huge, the sky and colors so profound but there is also always the presence of humans and potential watchers making it even harder to work.
This one was completed in 2016 so it does not count towards my 50 in 2017.
This a plein air from near Waco, Texas done just before the end of 2016. If you've ever tried to do a sunrise or sunset in plein air, you know how hard they are, how quickly the sky changes it's character and intensity. The entire palette can shift on you in a minute or so, going from vibrant yellows to reds and pinks. So it is a tall order to think that I might have finished this one as is on-site. It had some pretty extensive studio work done and is therefore my first completed piece in 2017!
I have been doing the "7 Day Artist Challenge" on Facebook and I decided that I would refresh people's memories of some older work. This one was completed several years ago and somehow escaped being posted anywhere except a small, fairly low res image on my main website. I had no other good photos of this painting so I reshot it and now have it properly cataloged. It was intended to be a commission for a friend of my late wife whose husband built this barn outside the small Perry County town of Bigelow. When it came time to deliver, they just never replied. I think it was their loss as this has been one of my favorite pieces since the time I finished it.
This is studio finished plein air from Cadron Creek in Cleburne County, Arkansas just north of Quitman. This was from November when I took some more paintings to Ellen Hobgood Gallery in Heber Springs.
This one was still finished in 2016 so it doesn't count towards my 50 in 2017. I have finished 3 so far so with a couple more I'll be on schedule to make the goal. I'll be getting pictures of those pretty soon.
A little plein air from Palo Duro Canyon in Texas that I m finally pleased with. Palo Duro was meant to be a warm up for the Grand Canyon during summer vacation of 2016. But I would up not doing very much while at the Grand Canyon.
This was completed during 2016 so it does not count towards my 50 in 2017.
Usually around the first of the year I will do up a little post that sets myself up for disappointment in the coming year. Goals, resolutions, expectations, call them what you will. I have long had a bizarre relationship to them when it comes to my painting. In other areas of my life, I don't seem to have nearly as much of an issue with this. But for some reason, when I set a goal in painting, I promptly ignore it. Last year, I avoided doing this setting of goals post, opting instead to make a post of a very personal nature towards the end of February. That post contained a "not goal" of going into my studio almost every day during the month of March. I did well enough with that.
Make no mistake, 2016 was a struggle. There were times I was ready to give up the fight and just quit painting. My show at Cantrell Gallery was a large factor in me continuing. The encouragement of some fellow artists on DeviantArt also played no small part in my ability to keep trudging forward. One person in particular has been instrumental in helping to lift some of the veil of darkness. Someone who I feel provides some of the enthusiasm for my work I had been so missing, that helps me say, "yes, I am on the right track here!" This person has also helped me to regain some of my focus in other areas of my life. Dare I say that I can dream again somewhat. Now, I know that time and tide have certainly helped to carry me away from that farthest shore of death but I can most definitely trace the feeling of some creeping tendrils of life and joy to the past month and half or so.
So here I am daring to dream a little bit again. And with that comes the notion that painting must play a large part in whatever future I have. I have two or three rather disparate notions of what my future might look like but in all of them, painting must form the focal point in order to make them achievable. Therefore, I embark once again upon the creation of some "goals." (Yes, I will use that dirty word.) And as always, I try to make sure my goals are things which I am in control of and not something like number of sales or anything like that.
1. Get into another gallery! (Am I really in control of this?? A little bit at least. If I never submit, I will never get in....)
2. Make 60 blog posts!! This would be an annual record for me.
3. Complete 50 paintings!
4. Hang in 2 national shows (this will become much harder now that the Diamond National Show in Hot Springs is defunct.) I guess if the show is online that will count as hanging but if you know me, I'm not much for online shows so they must be seriously reputable, like OPA or OPS shows.
5. Hang in 4 local or regional shows (This will probably require me to get re-engaged with Arkansas League of Artists as well as some other local organizations.)
Lots of energy is required for these and I am still very much constrained by life so I will be plenty happy with any 3 of these.