Writer’s Block is the culprit. Over the past months I’ve learned, accomplished and experienced so much yet I’ve struggled to get myself to this place where my fingers are once again typing a blog post. I’ve even considered giving up on the whole wordpress thing as life has evolved but in doing so I would be erasing seven years of this journey, 186 posts to be exact. In some ways I wonder if it would be a good thing to light an imaginary smudge stick and let the smoke envelope my ramblings. In so many other ways I am comforted to know that there is a chronicle of my slip into creative madness, a journal of sorts that my kids and my grandkids can use to avoid the pitfalls of the same condition unless of course they are also compelled to be Artists.
You may also find yourself at a junction where you are considering giving up your blog. If it has anything to do with something that you enjoy and are passionate about I offer you three things to consider before walking away.
- Before quitting be sure to ask yourself why you chose to start it in the first place. If your dreams and passions have changed then by all means burn the bridge and move forward but if you still hold close the same hopes and desires as you did then wouldn’t it make more sense to keep at it?
- Just because you blog has underperformed in the past doesn’t mean that it can’t be an important cog in the wheel in the future. Look for ways to make it fresh, alive and more convenient to add to. When was the last time you changed your banner, your bio or page theme? If your long winded posts don’t seem to be getting traction, look for ways to abbreviate them. Likewise, if the short one liners with a picture aren’t engaging your audience consider posting more substance, less often. When was the last time you checked to make sure your links to your other websites and social media are current? Chances are that if you give your blog some TLC, it will in return make a difference.
- If you have any followers at all chances are there are some who have been touched or encouraged by your outreach. They notice when you don’t post and wonder what became of you. Some will assume that you have given up on your dream and in some way that may take the wind out of their sails. Giving up on your blog also means giving up on those contacts.
Recent Paintings at The Gallery
A Painting and a Poem for my Son and new Daughter on their wedding day.
Inhale this moment with all of your senses and hold it in your heart forever. It will be the second wind that will carry you over the peaks and through the valleys ahead. It will be a cache of gratitude that you will draw upon when the bitter headwinds blow. Pause and feel the warmth of the summer sun on your shoulders. Notice the gentle breeze, how it cools your brow and causes the fields to sway and vibrate. Breathe in the fragrance of the flowers and the fresh perfume of life. Hear the velvet noise of the distant tumbling water, a fitting accompaniment for the Lyric of the songbird.
This moment is special! In your mind’s eye you can see pools of deep turquoise colored water reflecting granite and snow and sky. Emerging trickles meander without haste through the high alpine meadows. Ever so steadily these head-waters gain might and agility and vigor. Youthful streams rush down the mountainsides as if there were no tomorrow and in the mist of the cascades, indigo and violet complete the spectrum before you. In your minds eye, it is here that you witness and celebrate the merging of two streams. From this point forward the path will be carved by the strength of the two together. Yes this moment is special! Inhale it with all of your senses and hold it in your heart forever.
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!
Roughly half of my life experience was gathered in the pre-personal computer age. By my recollection, The “old days” came to a screeching halt sometime around the mid-80’s when IBM came out with a big box machine that had a whopping 40mb hard drive. Anyone who could afford a couple grand to have one in their own home bought one. Imagine what was going through my mind as I toyed with one of these machines for the first time the year after graduating from business school. I was prepared for nothing. Learning how to use a Texas Instrument Calculator might as well have been time spent learning how to use an Abacus. I realized that while I was in school learning the old game the rest of the world was busy creating a new game. Fortunately for me, I didn’t exert all of my youthful energy on academics. I was lucky to have spent my college years in the mountains of Colorado where a fair allotment of my time was devoted to outdoor adventures. Hiking and fishing and back country skiing are the experiences that I now find myself celebrating through my art.
One of the greatest lessons that any of us can learn is that everything is constantly changing and that education never stops. At some point, we are all confronted with changes in technology or changes in health that bring about a need to adapt and re-focus. . My chronic illness has for now taken me away from photography, video production and the client base that I’ve established. Over the course of the last six months I’ve redirected my focus to painting yet my marketing is lagging behind.
I started thinking about the concept of “postcards from the imagination” while writing a recent posts and I think it really represents me well. My paintings are regularly conceived in my imagination and I’ve learned a great deal about composite photography techniques which allow me to imagine new ways to present my photography. For now, my ambitions of doing shows is beyond what my health will allow but thanks to technology I have a storefront window to the world. It’s time for me to start selling some of this new work and all that stands in the way is a little hard work and a lot of education.
What do you think of my new brand? Which banner is more effective?
Does this sound familiar? It’s the end of a long painting session and you’re thinking “I’m really pleased with this one”. You place it on the wall, throw some light on it and admire it. Even your dreams are filled with admiration for what you have created. Then the next morning or perhaps a week later a sinking feeling overcomes you. Maybe you see obvious mistakes or maybe you just know that something is not right. Even worse, You might begin to question whether You love it or hate it.
Beware the inner critic for it can land some pretty good punches. So much so that it might cause us to place a perfectly good painting in the reject pile. Or it may cause us to place layer upon layer of revisions to the canvas until all of the original magic is gone. In this post I’m featuring a painting that could have suffered the same fate. This painting was one of the first starts in my “Super Moon Winter Adventure Series” yet it was the last to be completed and signed. As it turns out, each revision to this piece was made with confidence thanks to a shiny new tool that has become central to my process, the iPad. I’d like to share with you three ways that I’m using the iPad in my workflow.
I use my iPad as a sketch book. I first learned how to use several painting applications on an early generation iPad. In particular, I learned to favor a program called ProCreate. Procreate is highly intuitive and it didn’t take long to learn how to select canvas shapes, brushes, colors, values, opacity, etc. I’m definitely having more fun sketching and therefor I’m sketching a lot more. I find myself grabbing a half-hour here and an hour there dreaming up compositions in ways that I never knew were possible. I so much enjoy the iPad that I bit the bullet and bought a new iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. The iPad has allowed me to do my visionary exploration digitally and my painting has become more deliberate and efficient because of it. When the time comes that I want to translate a digital sketch onto the canvas with real paint, I’m much more prepared than I would have been with a simple pencil sketch.
I use the iPad to make revisions to my paintings in progress. It’s not unusual for me to digitally review my progress several times before finishing a piece. I often arrive at decision points in my workflow where I need to establish the size of a tree or person or the placement of a rock or a cabin. In the past I’ve made a lot of those decisions on the fly only to later spend hours making changes, often ending up with a disaster. We’ll call this exercise “Repeal and Replace” ;). Now when I get to that point, I snap a pic of the painting with my phone. That picture magically ascends up in to the cloud, then returns to earth and lands in my iPad where I can open it up in ProCreate. With the Apple pencil in hand I can begin making revisions that make sense. Once I’m done with the revisions I convert to jpeg and use the new image as reference material.
I use the iPad to view reference material. With whatever means possible, I hang the pad on my easel as close as possible to my canvas. Not only do I have access to my sketches and revisions, I have access to all of those photos I saved on purpose to use when the time is right. One of the coolest features of the iPad is being able to magnify the image easily using that pinching and spreading motion with two fingers. I’ll confess right here that I use that feature so often that I occasionally make the mistake of trying to magnify the actual canvas using the same technique…Embarrassing!
If you aren’t already using digital technology in your workflow, I hope this post encourages you to try it. It’s a lot less intimidating than you might think. If you are already using new technology to help you paint better I’d love to hear about it.
During the winter of 2011 I found myself out of work for the first time in my adult life. Cabin bound at our remote home in the high mountains of Colorado I spent endless hours teaching myself how to paint with oils. By Spring I had completed a dozen or so pieces that I referred to as a “Full Moon Winter Adventure Series” At first my palette was limited to Paynes Grey, Titanium White and Liquin with which I concocted compositions in shades of grey. Images of mountain settings, log cabins, skiers and skaters seemed to flow from life experience and imagination with absolutely no visual reference. As the series progressed I added Cerulean Blue to better represent the atmospheric colors of a full moon winter night as well as a primary reds and yellows to represent firelight. At the time I was quite pleased with the outcome. I had leveled up as a painter; made great improvements over my earlier attempts at painting.
“Finding Balance” 18″x24″ Oil on Canvas (2011)
I now find myself being forced to take time off from my business for health reasons. My battle with a painful autoimmune disease, Polymyalgia Rheumatica has once again left me house bound through an entire winter and once again I am striving to level up as a painter. Fifteen pieces later, I’ve completed a series that I call the “Super-moon Winter Adventure Series”. This time however, I’m using top shelf acrylics and lots of colors and I’m having a blast. I’m also experimenting with wood panels and painting board in addition to canvas. The verdict is still out on which support I prefer.
For reasons that I can’t describe, these compositions just seem incomplete without the inclusion of people. I guess I don’t really buy in to the idea that an image can be adventurous without an adventurer. My male figures often closely resemble me or at least the me of my minds eye, even if I set out to draw a human shape that is entirely different. Ooops..I did it again..that guy looks a lot like me.
Back in 2011, I painted a lonely ice skater gliding over a frozen pond and I titled it “Finding Balance”. Once again I’m compelled to compose adventurous ice skating scenes and I’ve included two of the new pieces for comparison. I’ve been so busy painting that as of yet I haven’t titled them. As always, I welcome critique and comment.
In my next post I’ll show more from the Super-moon Series and I’ll talk about a surprising way that I’m using photography to paint better. Until then take care and remember that Art Is Therapy.
If there is one virtue to growing older, it’s that I’ve learned to identify the things that make me happy as well as the things that do not. Finally, finally, finally I’m spending more time pursuing the former and less so the latter. What took me so long? Here are a few photos from my unplanned Monday Morning photo outing. I awoke to the expressive alignment Venus and of a waning crescent Moon and everything fell into place from there. Before it was all said and done, I had witnessed the most gorgeous sunrise from the edge of the crackling ice along the shore of a nearby lake.
As 2015 winds down, I find myself taking note of the things that make me happy and I’ve made a list of 16 things I want to accomplish in 2016. Here goes!
1. Move on from past mistakes
2. Appreciate NOW more
3. Spend more quality time with Family
4. Do something good for a Friend
5. Be a Peace Maker
6. Meet new People
7. Go places I’ve never been before
8. Go to familiar places and look for something new
9. Shoot More Pictures
10. Make More Videos
11. Pick up a brush and paint with reckless abandon
12. Be inspired by the work of others
13. Improve My Skills
14. Share my work with more people
15. Write more
16. Learn new things every day.
“Finding Balance” (18″x24″) Oil on Canvas
Life is so fragile, so fleetingly temporary, yet I live it as though it would never end. If I woke up one morning knowing that it would be my last, all of the complexities of life would be boiled down, reduced to two simple choices. Would I choose to spend the time that I have left filled with Fear or with Love? Would I choose to spend my final moments on Earth remorseful about the mistakes that I’ve made and angry that I don’t have more time to make amends or would I choose to celebrate the fact that I am alive and present in this moment, thankful for the fullness of Life? It is so easy to predict that I would choose the latter, yet in truth the gravity of habit would likely make the choice for me.
Breathe-In Peace – A Digital Sketch
Our trip to Colorful Guatemala is now a fading memory but it did supply me with blogging material to keep me busy for a month or so. Two planned hip surgeries for my wife in the past 5 weeks have made for a bit of a bumpy landing back home in Denver but we are getting through it. I think the toughest thing about spending a lot of time in the hospital for me is that it’s hard watching someone you Love going through so much and memories of other traumas come flooding back to me. It also is takes me away from my creative space and slows my productivity to a snails pace. I find myself trying to feed my painting addiction with an iPad and an App. I find myself walking the grounds of the hospital looking for photographic opportunities with my i phone and I find myself rambling about my plight on my Macbook Pro……Thank God for technology!
“Early Train To Aurora” – Heading to the hospital one week ago
University of Colorado Hospital
The Anschutz Campus of the University of Colorado Hospital is an amazing facility that rivals the best in the world. People often joke about losing money in Vegas, that they helped build the place and must go visit their money occasionally. I make the same jokes about Anschutz but also feel lucky that my family has such excellent care. You can’t go wrong with a place that hangs a Bierstadt in the Lobby.
Art fills the gardens, lobbies, hallways and waiting rooms at UCH. Thousands of patients with all sorts of serious afflictions spend days and nights in this place and the art has a powerful healing quality for them and for those who are supporting them. Have you personally experienced the healing power of art? I’d like to hear about it.
“Let It Out” – my own healing digital doodling