I’m pleased to invite you to an exhibition of my artwork of the City of Redlands, sponsored by A.K. Smiley Library. I visited Redlands for the first time a quarter-century ago and it continues to inspire me, personally and professionally. There will be three dozen original drawings and paintings on display, with dozens more to examine in a digital slide show at the exhibit. My entire inventory of Redlands art can be examined online at:
The show runs April 13-20 in the Library’s Assembly Room. A reception will be held Sunday, April 13, 4-6 pm. I hope to see you there. A.K. Smiley Public Library,125 W. Vine St., Redlands, CA. 909-798-7565.
The drive into the California Historic Site, Kimberly Crest attracted me one day and led to a small pastel on a brick-red ground. A larger pastel painting issued from this, above, this one painted on a cool grey pastel paper. The two paintings approach the subject of an arresting afternoon filtered through a thick mass of mature trees from apposing directions:cool and warm, but each express the feeling nicely.
Like most kids who saw The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, I was taken with them. They presented something exotic and new: the hair, the exuberant music, attractive smiles and refreshing personas. Their youthful talent and style was both unique and refreshingly genuine, and the right salve for a nation frightened by the real prospect of thermonuclear war and reeling from Camelot’s unbraiding in Dallas. Fortunately for the world, not just Americans, these young musicians were the real deal. Fads come and go, but The Fabs have stayed and the world is clearly better for it.
I was 8 years old when this polished skiffle-group played Sullivan and I followed them as closely as newspapers, magazines, and TV would supply at the time. There was a lag in communication then, the result of slower technology and gatekeepers, which has since changed. Then our imaginations were forced to work hard in wonder at what the group was up to between songs and LP releases. As I look back on that I realize I was surprisingly mature, at least in this one regard: I may have enjoyed their films with Richard Lester, but even at that pre-teen stage I knew that presentation of ‘Beatles life’ was fanciful and their real substance–dare I say their ‘magic’–lay in the art they created in the studio.
My art studies were just beginning as Let It Be played in movie theaters; The Beatles, as a group, were no more by the time I reached junior high. At that point I was some years away from the refinement of my visual storytelling skills required to consider teasing out The Beatles’ spirit in visual terms.
This Beatles ambition of mine finally got underway several years ago when, at a show of mine that featured several paintings of local musicians, a client and I shared our love for Beatles music and he challenged me to realize this painting ambition. The time seemed right and several studies were created as warm-ups for larger, more complex compositions to come. My aim was to cover different years in that groups’ development in at least a few studio scenes. Unfortunately, those big, finished artworks got delayed; as Lennon’s wisdom suggests it can happen ‘while you’re busy making other plans.” Now I’m back on it. Stay tuned.
Examine more of Brad’s work at Brad Faegre Fine Art
In the Fine Arts Building at the Los Angeles County Fair my artwork was exhibited in 1990. For three weeks I also demonstrated watercolor and pastel painting for the public. In one demonstration I created Steaming From The Rim, a pastel painting of engine 18 of the Grand Canyon Railway, which was preparing to take passengers to the South Rim from Williams, Arizona, and back. It was during this fair exhibition that I first examined Union Pacific 4014 “Big Boy,” then on display at the RailGiants exhibit on the Fairplex grounds. It was in the summer of the following year, while driving through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, that I imagined one of these 4-8-8-4 steam behemoths pulling freight over that mountainous terrain in the snow. Thundering Over a Frozen Mountain Pass was visualized and soon painted in my studio. That articulated engine, UP 4014, is now being moved and will be restored to service by Union Pacific in the next few years. I’m looking forward to experiencing that monster thundering past, but maybe not up to my chest in snow.
To purchase the print of Thundering Up A Frozen Mountain Pass and Steaming From The Rim, click this link
Detail of Thundering Up A Frozen Mountain Pass
Examine more of Brad’s work at Brad Faegre Fine Art
Deep in the Grove, pastel, 11 x 17
I never tire of opening up a new set of pastels and gazing at them for a minute or two. The rich array of colors are only enhanced by their orderly display. It’s always tempting to think about leaving them that way. Like a new box of assorted chocolates opened up, the invitation to dig in causes the hand to hesitate: too attractive to disturb, too tempting to leave alone. In this composition of citrus ripening on a warm morning I selected a rich rusty orange to begin composing.
The first thing I do with a new pastel stick is remove the paper sleeve and expose the full surface of the ‘painting stick;’ its sides provide an added range of expressive possibilities. I begin all my compositions by ‘carving out’ several descriptive and rythmatic shapes using flowing lines of uneven weight. This is achieved by modulating hand-pressure on the stick, lifting up and tilting it as needed for expressive effect. As you can see in the finished painting this first rust-red color appears in places through all the colors that followed it. The earliest marks remain visible, contributing to the overall visual complexity of the finished painting surface and its impact.
Detail of painting
Road Bends, pastel, 12″x16″
I painted several times along this stretch of road on the outskirts of Redlands, CA. Once a ‘sea’ of citrus trees quenched the eye in all directions, but by the 1990s orchards were disappearing, replaced by stark and dusty places and nostalgia for what’s gone missing.
Lake District is a 30 x 40 canvas painted entirely with a #20 & #16 Flat, artist’s nylon brush; only my signature was applied with a small #6 Bright. This close-up detail of the acrylic work illustrates what expressive flexibility and communication opportunities a large brush provides the artist. Yes, like all skills that we wish to master, much practice is required. However, perseverance pays dividends in the end.
Years of trial and error have rewarded me with the pleasures of accuracy and finesse. Good results begin with knowing artist’s materials and methods well. Good technique, necessary eye-hand coordination sharpens the creative mind to employ options, the moment-to-moment discovery of the inner spirit. The pleasure of waving-off a sharp, precise line or edge for a jagged one, knowing the latter will express and evoke more–well, this developed ‘touch’ is a freedom of an amazing sort. In words it’s akin to flight and love; at least in my mind it feels that way. Words don’t do this ‘creative freedom’ justice. I can tell you I often feel quietly giddy inside as I work. In that state of mind, watching the marks I put down, there is bliss. And after I put down my brush and scan the mysterious lands I’ve created, beyond the simmering satisfaction of the image created, I feel humbled by how untraceable so much of what I do is to me.
Lake District, acrylic, 30″ x 40″
Rhodes, acrylic, 36″ x 36″
In this composition of abstracted form some of you will recognize what appears to be references from common experiences, like a winding mountain road, a rocky cliff, maybe trees, an open field, a sunset sky. Others viewing the painting will find different worlds within the assembled shapes and colors. Whatever associations we make bring this composition into personal focus. Ambiguous subjects invite this freedom to participate. The best art relies on allowing viewers some space to find themselves.
Happy Vertigo, acrylic, 24″ x 30″
The interesting thing about this abstract work is the number of possible creative decisions that can be made at any given moment. Several of these recent abstracts begin with the idea of creating a compositional box within the canvas edge, loose and distorted. This compositional framework is intended to intrigue and involve as well as confuse and confound a viewers’ natural tendency to look for representational references: the rules of perspective, like the diminishing size of shapes to suggest depth and distance, or color, value, and hue intensity shifts that create the illusion of space in 2 dimension, as well.
You see this ‘compositional box,’ (clockwise) in the sliver of sky (top left); the rock wall (right); the orange-red edge surrounding my signature (bottom right and unfortunately partly cropped out in this iPad photo); and the orange arabesque shape hugging the left canvas-edge that ties both foreground rolling hills to far-off fields into one undeterminable, flattened space.
The overall roller coaster-effect is likely a subconscious ‘tip of the hat’ to Chuck Jones’ visual wit and talent for making vertigo-inducing cartoon fun.
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After a painting dry spell I recently got back into the the swing of it by painting out in the field–a very lush Afield–at Bel-Air Country Club. It had been several years since I made the rounds of all 18 holes, so I enjoyed getting reacquainted.
Bel-Air Country Club was designed into the terrain of canyons flowing south out of the hills above Los Angeles in the early 1920s. From a landscape painter’s point of view the choices Bel-Air serves up almost demand a coin toss to get started. After a tour of the golf course I chose Hole 3 as a good morning subject.
Hole 3 is a three-par that includes a water feature out in front of the green and a screen of mature, twisting Hollywood Junipers bordering the sides and back. By mid-morning the sun was high enough to light the green and leave the tree shadows hugging the putting surface. That pleased my eye, and since shape-making is my first impulse as a visual artist (and the most significant consideration in my drawing and painting), I composed this view where shadowed trees frame a vibrant putting green and bunkers.
Once this little acrylic study of Hole 3 was done enough to my liking, I loaded my equipment in the golf cart and continued on–on past many future paintings–before settling on Hole 17 for an afternoon’s painting.
The set-up at Hole 17
It’s worth noting that Bel-Air Country Club has three tunnels cutting through the canyons that separate parts of the golf course, one 350 feet long. Golfers arrive at the elevated tees of Hole 17 through the shortest of the tunnels. The vista they find is all the more impressive following that narrow and shadowed underground approach. From the tees your eye cascades down into the canyon, right in the direction of the green and revealing more of the hole’s dramatic backdrop, the campus of UCLA and the city of Los Angeles, beyond.
My plan is to revisit both of these ideas in larger paintings, widening both compositions, when I do. The scene of Hole 3 will include more putting green and a more complicated foreground frame of twisting tree trunks and limbs, as well as a bit more sky appearing through the tree canopy. Likewise, Hole 17 deserves a larger, wider treatment, one that includes more of the screen of mature eucalyptus trees that border the tees on the right. It is a beautiful scene from anywhere on the hole. The great Bobby Jones called 17, “one of the best all around holes I have ever played.”
To see more of Brad’s work visit Brad Faegre Fine Art