Summer Building, acrylic, 36″ x 48″
This work one in a new series of abstract compositions with a landscape reference. What is important here–as it should be in all visual art–is an interesting visual presentation: eye-catching shapes choreographed in presentation. Except for my signature, the paint was applied with #16 and #20 flat nylon brushs, which enable a loose and varied degree of effects,”brushwork.”
The fellow behind the wheel of this racing Morgan is restoring the car. My sketch reveals a telling view of this British auto, emphasizing the rolling, “sculpted” body design and handsome grill-work. For the pastel painting (shown here nearing completion) I raised my view so the car and its setting, a tree-lined country road, combine to create a dramatic experience.
I’m painting two sisters, very polite and quiet girls. Around this stranger who studies them for details–in order to capture their likenesses and spirit–there watchful return gaze is understandable. My job leads me to note the sparkle of their eyes and features, portals to good natures and intelligence.
Last month I had friends visit from Norway and I took them to the Grand Canyon to hike in.
We chose various south rim trails: Kaibab, Grandview and Hermit. I took my sketchpad and recorded impressions along the way. I expect my sketches and memories will feed new paintings in the months ahead.
My first trip in the Grand Canyon was in 1972. It was a hike from one rim to other and back. Before that trip I read what was then the hiker’s bible,The Man Who Walked Through Time, by Colin Fletcher. I think of that book’s title every time I’m there, for it eroded formations are a kind of time machine for the imagination: alluring, humbling, revealing.
In 1999 I was part of an exhibition of rail art at the California State Railroad Museum. At the event the director of the San Diego Railway Museum introduced himself and invited me visit their museum, suggesting I might get inspired to paint something there. I did, creating, “Shaking The Desert Floor” (see it on my website in the Print section). Last week I created a second painting that incorporates an exciting feature of that museum, a tall trestle. Naturally, I took liberties with the subject, but then I always do. It’s the challenge and reward of being an artist: creating things you first must imagine. In this case I added a vintage circa 1930s passenger train into the setting and adjusted all the elements to tell the most engaging story possible.
This work-in-progress pastel is my rendition of the pre-WWII Exposition Flyer, a scenic passenger train that cut through some of Colorado’s most beautiful terrain. I have it powering its way through a deep Colorado canyon. I’m still working my way through the scene–which is to say I’m working to create a convincing and dramatic view of canyon, fast-moving steam train, and smoke trail. I’ll blog the finished work in the days ahead.
I painted this late-day scene of a train crossing sometime back in the 1990s. Painted with acrylic colors using a watercolor technique on 300 lb. watercolor paper, I came across this work in a flat file last year. It had never been framed and exhibited. Evidently at the time I created it I thought it lacked something. I don’t see it that way now. In my loose brushwork I can easily recall the inspiration: a warm day transitioning from afternoon into evening. Such experiences are important, daily reminders of mortal conditions we can’t stop, only embrace.
In this small pastel study I’m playing with a colorful idea for a future railroad scene. The plan is to open up the cool, shadowed thicket of trees and show a warm, open meadow with a pre-WWII passenger train passing, receding in the direction of the sun.
Rodeo is a competitive mismatch of size and explosive power among animals. Notice how the backward, arched contours of the bull rider’s pelvis, legs, and spine describe action, set in motion by the force of the bull’s forward charge. The painting’s power is in the effectiveness of the “kinetic chain’s” description, that energ- transfer from the explosive thrust of the animal’s hind legs through its body to the rider’s, here arrested for our safe appreciation.
Recently lI have been enjoying creating a series of rodeo subjects. Most are abbreviated paintings, gestural studies directed at the dynamic form of horse and rider in action.
The horse is an interesting and beautiful creature: powerful and graceful, and more than a little opaque and mysterious. I’ve heard some horse owners call the animal “dumb,” which is kind of ironic when you realize the horse is popular with Man in part because it will do the rider’s bidding beyond its personal considerations for safety. In comparison, a mule will not be so pushed around. I see mules on trails in the Grand Canyon and High Sierras. They will stop dead in their tracks and go no further when circumstances demand it. That’s another story for another blog, but on the topic of rodeo and bull-headedness, the next blog coming up will be on bull riding.