“Pulp Friction” (20″x20″) Acrylic on Canvas
For me, Ski Season has become a time of year that images of winter dance in my head and materialize onto canvas with little or no real effort. Remember “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”? Think of me as a crazed Richard Dryfus painting moons rather than molding the Devils Tower. My Studio is beginning to resemble a Super Moon Factory and it is time for a year end liquidation sale so I can make room for more. Keep an eye on my etsy shop for details.
I’ve often read that when you are on the right path composition wise, you can look at a painting upside down and still think it works. This tidbit of advice is finally starting to resonate with me on a personal level for the first time since I started painting some ten years ago. The revelation came to me as I flipped this canvas to paint the sides. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I’m focussing more on anchoring my compositions with fewer and larger objects. Perhaps it is because I’m having so much fun.
“Drawn By Fire”
From time to time my inner critic screams at me “Where is your focus Man? Don’t you know that a jack of all trade is a master of none?”. He has a point. I do have a tendency to be overly eclectic in my pursuits and I agree that in some ways life might be easier had I narrowed the field. The thing is that over and over again the words “WHAT IF” pop into my brain and I must drop what I’m doing and listen to the words that follow. What if I leave behind the safety of that solid career to try to build a new business from the ground up? That was a big one! What if I create videos that showcase the beauty of nature? What if those videos can promote tourism and the arts or sell real estate? What if I follow my childhood dream of being a photographer? What if I pick up a brush and move some paint around to see what happens? What if I use this time that I’m coping with illness to paint full moon winter scenes with cabins and skiers and full moons? WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?
The truth is that listening to the “what if’s” can and will result in spinning wheels. You may be led down a few dead end paths and at times you may feel completely stranded but if you just keep the wheels moving eventually you will find traction. If you keep the wheels moving you will find yourself on a path to completeness that never would have been found had you played it safe. Don’t ever forget that “Every Brilliant Idea begins with ‘What If’”
“Two Steps Forward”
My Wall In The Denver Art District at Grace Gallery
The month of May found me in a state of improving health and the itch for adventure and exercise needed attention. My Wife and I didn’t have to study the map long before placing a pin on the Red Rock Country of Southern Utah. We even arranged to rendezvous with my In-Laws so that we could share the experience. Why Southern Utah you might ask. For one thing, Denver was still getting pounded by turbulent Spring weather just as high pressure was taking hold to the West. Furthermore, this is the time of the year that deep canyon floors are thriving with green hues and runoff from the high country. The two of us and our Italian Greyhound Gracie were packed and on the road, destination Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
The Staircase is special. It is one of the most remote and beautiful places in the desert southwest and during previous visits my exploration had only scratched the surface. The plan for this trip was to do as much desert hiking as possible and to experience the solitude of a wilderness that is now at risk of losing its protected status. I also needed to get a photography fix in the worst way. I had hardly picked up the camera since last fall when I fell ill and I couldn’t wait to get back to it. For hiking, I pulled my old trustee Asolo boots out of storage. They had carried me up half of Colorado’s Fourteeners when I was much younger. Surely they would serve me well in the desert.
It’s always good to have an audio book on hand for long drives. For this trip I selected “Finding Everett Ruess” by David Roberts. His true story documents the life of a free spirited explorer who vanished without a trace from the Escalante region in the 1930’s. The book originally caught my attention because the forward was written by John Krakauer who wrote “Into the Wild”, one of my favorites. The subject of Krakauer’s book was Christopher McCandless, also a free spirited explorer who spent a great deal of time in the Desert Southwest. McCandless, who ended up starving to death in the Alaska wilderness, went by the alias “Alexander Supertramp”. I so much love the story that I named my camper “Alexander Supertramp” long ago.
Sometimes the Universe aligns itself in such a way that you cannot deny that something is meant to be. That is exactly what happened on this trip to the Grand Staircase. Here we were in a rig named “Alexander Supertramp” following the footsteps of a free spirited lost soul and while hiking near the last know location of Everett Ruess, the soles of my Asolo boots peeled off, one after another. You can’t make this stuff up. It was a great trip!
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Alpenglow Winter Adventure #8 (24 x 12) Acrylic on Board
The repetition of painting in a series is an effective way to experiment with subtle variations in technique and color. Capturing the essence of alpenglow has not been easy but slowly I feel that I’m getting closer. The bad thing about moving so quickly is that the similar compositions make it a challenge to come up with a meaningful title for each piece.
I have big news to share! Much of the work that I completed this winter has now been dispersed to two gallery spaces and is beginning to sell. I can’t explain how good it feels to have successfully made something positive out of my illness. I do believe they call it making lemonade out of lemons.
On the health front things are looking up as well. My energy level continues to improve and I’ve been successfully weaning myself off of the steroids. At the current rate of improvement, I’m hoping to be in remission by the end of the summer. (Polymyalgia Rheumatica)
Have a great Weekend!
Small Paintings to take to this weeks “First Friday” at the Denver Art District
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The first claps of thunder for the season are rattling my studio walls in Denver this evening and tonight’s rain will turn to snow after midnight. More white stuff is expected this weekend. Perfect weather for creating idyllic Colorado adventure scenes! I hope your week is going well!
As promised in my last post I completed this piece this week and I’m sharing.
Something about finishing a job just feels so good, even euphoric. You have arrived at the point where everything feels right and good enough. You sign the painting, hang it on the wall and direct a light toward it at just the right angle. You Love it!
Enjoy those moments of accomplishment because a sobering reality will follow. It’s likely that it won’t be long before you see it with fresh eyes and wonder what in the hell you were thinking. Perhaps it goes back on the easel for modifications, perhaps not. In any event you soon realize that you aren’t finished at all. A healthy dose of varnish will be needed to protect the piece from handling and UV light. What about a name or title? High quality photographs of the work will be needed for potential reproduction and marketing. The tedious task of getting the work to market has only begun.
As if the whole process isn’t overwhelming enough life keeps throwing all sorts of curve balls at us. Shit Happens, right? Take my first ever Colonoscopy this past week for instance. People kept telling me it really wasn’t that bad and now that I’m experienced I have to tell you that I disagree. No person should have to gulp down a gallon of stool softener as if it were beer at a college kegger and no male should have to discover what it is to have water break…over and over again. Anyway, you get the picture!
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My third piece in a new series is underway and the deviation from rising super moon values has been a challenge. I’m trying to capture the essence of alpenglow which in my mind is the time of day that the last direct light from the sun is hitting the clouds and perhaps the mountain tops. In my minds eye there is a magic that occurs in the valleys below where the snow almost glows. Do the shadows disappear or is there just a slight contrast indicating the position of the setting or rising sun? So many new riddles to solve. I’ll post the finished piece soon.
Physically I had a difficult week. Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a roller coaster ride and finding the correct dosage of prednisone to keep the inflammation in check without increasing the side effects of the medication can be the real trick. Finally this past week I felt myself finding some balance on that front when a serious chest cold took me hostage. Once again, having my studio and a passion to paint has been great therapy.
Now for show and tell before signing off. One of my photographs made the front cover of Open Fences Magazine. It was uplifting to see how great it looks and on the other hand it saddens me to think that I may not be in condition to do serious shooting this Summer.
“Midnight Powder” (9×12) Acrylic on Canvas
I don’t have to stretch much further than youthful memories and imagination to find inspiration. The Super Moon Winter Adventure Series is a first hand account of my own escapades in the high mountains of Colorado. It always amazed me how your could ski all night by the light of the moon. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even carry a flashlight. I count myself lucky that I have a way of living those experiences over and over again through painting.
My recent posts gave a few details about the painful autoimmune disease that I’m dealing with. The real story that I hope to share is that art is a powerful healing agent. When I’m painting I forget all about my issues. Has art helped you or someone you know overcome adversity? I’d love to hear about it.
As always I welcome comments and I hope you will join me on Facebook and Instagram.
A little positive thinking elixir to start the week off right. Make it great! If you read my mid-week post you will know that I just returned from a week of camping in the Crested Butte, Colorado neighborhood. I hope you will stop by my Facebook Page and see more of what I’ve been up to. Have a great week!
This week’s mantra came to me while reviewing some of the paintings that I completed several years ago and being reminded how important it is to set the imagination free. About a year ago, I set aside the brush in favor of advancing my photography skills. Hundreds and hundreds of hours have been applied to the craft of capturing the literal world through the lens and then completing the resulting image for presentation. All the while I’ve believed that somehow the photography will make me a better painter. This morning’s exercise reminds me that the opposite is also true. I can allow my painter’s imagination to have more influence on my photography.
I hope you have a great and productive week!