“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
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!
The old saying “two steps forward and one step back” is a go-to mantra that often comforts me. It reminds me that nothing worthwhile comes easily. It is a way of verbalizing my intention to keep trying even when I grow tired of setbacks.
I can’t express enough how much joy painting is bringing me these days. It is giving me a reason get up in the morning and push through the physical pain that I’m currently burdened with. Without a strong desire to create art my forward movement would have surely ceased weeks or months ago. Instead I am kicking and gliding like the two skiers in my painting, already thinking of the adventures to come.
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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.
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?
“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.
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.