Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wisconsin in October

Last year I was off in Sedona AZ for their Plein Air Event in the end of October.
Totally enjoyed it and loved the color of those darn rocks! Tough to paint, but loved it just the same.
However this year, I have to admit, I was glad to be home!
Last year I missed Halloween and having 4 youngsters at home, it was really nice to be here for that. We had beautiful weather and got to stretch it out over 2 different evenings.
We also found some time to carve up some jack o lanterns as well.
Here in Viroqua the town business', up and down Main St. conduct their Halloween Trick or Treating on Friday night, while the town itself did it on Sunday night, what a blast and double the candy, especially after stopping by the neighbors for a huge baggy full of it.
Oh to be a kid again. : )

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Break in the Action

After a hectic, chaotic, and yet very productive summer, I am back at home trying to catch up on a few household chores.
I intentionally slated October to do just that. Prep for my winter studio class, fix the studio window, collect, chop and stack firewood, build a pantry for my wife, and homework with the kiddies of course.
As much as I paint which is quite often, I do take well deserved breaks and feel even more charged up upon my return.
I imagine most folks feel the same way and I was able to witness this first hand during a recent skype conversation with my friend and fellow painter Tim Bell.
As you will see in the photos attached below, Tim is an avid hunter. Tim paints hard and he hunts hard. We were not even able to get through a conversation without Tim running off to take care of business, in his words, "Nobody messes with Tim Bell", especially not this acorn stealing squirrel in his back yard.
Breaks are obviously good, I just choose to have mine without a rifle at my side.

Gotta love the guy! : )

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

San Luis Obispo, CA Plein Air 2010

Hate to say I have wrapped up my plein air events for the year, but it's true.
I cut back this year due in part to the time I spent away from my kids last year.
Missed the 4th of July, Father's day, worse yet, Mother's Day and Halloween. Not good in the eyes of little ones or the wifey for all that matters. What a great year and happy to end it in San Luis Obispo, what a drop dead gorgeous place that is!
After spending an amazing week out on Monhegan Island, ME on the east coast then off to SLO this past week on the west, hard to say which one is more impressive. They are both so different and yet they are both so intriguing, kind of makes me wonder why I am living here in the middle. However the mid-west does have its good points.
In any case, California is beautiful and I always enjoy the challenge of chasing after a William Wendt scene, or scenes that resonate the splendor of Hanson Puthuff and Edgar Payne.
So this year once again I stopped numerous times and hung out painting in the ominous shadow of Wendt's Hollister Peak. Love that place! It really is awe inspiring, and I guess that would be due in part to the proximity of it. Route 1 cuts right along side of it as you drive by, very hard to miss it. There is also a wonderful deserted ranch that sits below. I am sure I will go back again in the future.

I also came across the Baywood Navy, a wonderful collection of old wooden boats that are moored in the inlet of Morro Bay. What a treat that was. One morning I was fortunate enough to catch a gentleman on his way out with his rusty orange Edgar Payne looking sail. Amazing!
With the trip to Monhegan and now SLO I am happy to head into the studio for the winter, I'll still get out looking for some of those wonderful winter Edward Redfield scenes but there will be lots to do this winter thanks to both the East and the West coast.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Little Red Upstaged, who would have thought?

Sorry gals, but I think Allison Hill, from Monhegan Island, has you beat.
This little wagon tends to be the mountain cart of all wagons, an all terrain, off road vehicle for sure.
Maybe Deb and Melanie will get some ideas, creative as they are, and modify theirs before next summer?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Monhegan - After a few touch ups

Here are just a few of the 12" x 16" paintings that were produced on Monhegan Island and have now received a few touch up finishing strokes. I can't wait to get into some larger scenes based on these paintings, but first we are off to California, guess it will have to wait.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monhegan Paintings First Round

Just a couple of images of some Monhegan scenes.
These are all 12" x 16" and they all still need a few tweaks, some more then others but it gives the overall feel of the place.
Again because of the lack of drying time, needing to get these back across the ferry then on to a plane, I did hold off on some heavier finishing strokes, reserving them until back in the studio.
Also unlike a Plein Air painting competition, I did not push to finish them as much as gather as much information as I could. There were way too many great scenes to pass up on by spending too much time on one place. Plenty of time in the studio to do that.
Next trip out, more time and larger canvas'.

Monhegan Island - Words cannot Express

After many years of travel through out the US and Italy, besides Venezia which I do hope to return to someday soon, and of course California which has its own absolute beauty, Monhegan Island is probably the most enchanting, picturesque, step back in time, place I have ever been fortunate enough to experience.
This little one by two mile island has more diversity and charm and character than one can imagine.
Wether it is under full sun or cloud covered, hence the Monhegan gray, it is absolutely charming. I have truly enjoyed the sunsets along the California coast but there is something to be said for the sunsets over Manana Island which sits between Monhegan and the mainland. It must be something to do with the air and atmosphere of the Atlantic ocean, the light is really amazing.
View from the 4 th floor window at the Monhegan House.

Having the chance to chat with some locals and those that have been visiting the Island for many decades, like my friend Janet, who has been making trips to the Island since she was a little girl, there is definitely an allure that keeps you coming back here. This is a working island and not just a tourist locale, and even after the summer season comes to a close about 40 people will endure the winter and stay on the island. I can only imagine how beautiful it is under a blanket of snow.

Not only is it a great place to paint, it has been attracting artists since the mid 1800's, folks like Henri, Redfield, Hibbard, Hopper, Bellows, Connaway, just to name a few. Staying at Monhegan House up on the top floor also adds to the overall experience. This is where all the artists tend to stay at one time or another. I went with Tim Bell and Brett Weaver but was able to hang out and paint with a few others as well. Caleb Stone, Kevin Beers, David Kasman, Allison Hill, Diane Scott, Cynthia Edmunds, Beth Rundquist, Walter and Ann, as well as about a dozen or more I didn't get a chance to meet. Everywhere you look you will inevitably see an artist set up painting.

This trip I was only able to spend 5 days on the island but will surely extend my time as well as the size of my canvas' in future years. I ended up producing 24 paintings, varying degrees of finish, knowing that it was too cool for appropriate drying time as well as smaller studies to be used this winter back in the studio.

The last day before we left Tim and I took a break at lunch and went to Don Stone's studio and was fortunate enough to spend a couple hours with he and his lovely wife Sara. Thanks so much to Mr. Stone for sharing his beautiful studio, wonderful art collection, and his life! What a treat that was.

I will definitely have more to add as this all settles in, however I need to get packed up for California, so no real time to sit and reminisce just yet, but I will.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monhegan Island 2010

Absolutely amazing!
As I prepare to depart this morning to head back to the midwest, I can honestly say, I will definitely be back.
What an incredible experience that I will cherish for many years to come.
More to write when I get back to the mainland.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Monhegan Island Bound

In all of my travels over the years I have only made it as far as Port Clyde when it came to Monhegan Island, ME.
Well, all that will change on Tuesday.
With how much I have enjoyed painting the East coast as well as Apalachicola, Florida's Forgotten coast, earlier this year, I am jacked about finally getting over to Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine.
No cars, not all the homes have electricity, gravel roads, small fishing wharfs, little harbor, boats, big rock cliffs, light house, and all that on a 2 by 1 mile area, surrounded by water! Can't wait. Artists have been going there since the mid 1800's. I have been told that once I go I'll be going back again and again, year after year.
I am sure I will have a lot to add about this during my trip back in mid September.
Until then . . .

Summers End - KAFA

As much as I hate to say it, summer for me seems to be coming to a close. No rush to get to winter yet but now that the kids have gone back to school, days are actually growing a tad bit shorter and God forbid if we get one more rainy day here not sure what I will do. Not much of summer actually, way too much rain, seems like spring. My poor son Ross has been on the rider mowing grass every 5 days or so, even in August! I am looking forward to a beautiful fall.
Seeing that school is back in session KAFA, Kewaunee Academy of Fine Art, had their grand opening of the new school, which has moved from Kewaunee up the lake to Algoma, still Kewaunee county, so the name remains the same.
I was giving a workshop up there last week so I was able to attend and must admit it looks to be a great location for the school.
It is right on the river with a view of Lake Michigan, actually in an old sign painting building, hence the paint on the floor which is a wonderful added effect. A nice long space with a couple of great large working areas as well as numerous work stations. It'll be exciting to see how it all comes together. With Norma Bell, owner, and Craig Blietz, the director, I have no doubt it will be fabulous.
Here is a little YouTube piece that Channel 11 News did while I was there:
Wishing you all at KAFA a great year!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


As much as I enjoyed the workshop up here, I was happy to see the weather improve and was able to spend a few very pleasant days with my wife and kids.
Very enjoyable!

Little Red Wagon in the Northwoods

Over the years while teaching and competing, I have seen a great number of easels and overall travel equipment, always keeping a keen eye out for any new ideas I can steal or utilize.
Deb and Melanie, two very energetic and fun gals that I have been fortunate enough to have worked with in the past, brought as always their little red wagon up to the Northwoods. Yes that's what I said, literally a little red wagon. Love those gals!!

North woods in August

Just got back from spending a week in the north woods of Wisconsin, Manitowish Waters area. Gave a 3 day workshop then hung out with the family, even went up to Bayfield and Madeline Island, very nice place.

After the summer we have had hear in Viroqua, I was not prepared for the weather up north, who would have thought it would literally be 25 degrees cooler! It is very tough to pack for cooler weather when it has been so dang hot here.
The workshop got off to some pretty windy days and even ended on a rainy note, not happy about that, but way out of my control.
Even with the inclement weather the students did a great job. Good variety of folks, lots of good energy and a very responsive and delightful gang.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Want to see an artist get nervous?

Just got done installing the final mural for the Temple Theatre, Encore in Viroqua.

Jim La Sater of Legacy Painting and Decorating, wonderful guy and very good at what he does, could still make the hair on the back of neck stand on end. It happened every time he took out his trusty exacto blade. Even though he has been at this for a few decades, it still makes one cringe.

Take a 62" x 137 " canvas that you have worked on for a few months and have a guy start cutting on it with one of these exacto blades. Then you'll know what I mean.

As always Jim came through just has he did on the other 9 murals.
Thanks nice job Jim!

Closing the Garden Gate

After many years of teaching and always suggesting to students to leave an opening for the viewer to enter into the painting, such as, if there is a fence to make sure and leave the gate open and not closed off . . . . I found myself in Easton this past July and on two occasions ended up discarding my own advice.

I have always said there are no rules in painting, just principals.

On these two occasions I found it better to leave the fence crossing the bottom of the painting and chose not to open a gate.

In the first instance I did beat up the fence and provided a small opening for the eye to travel up through, but on the second I chose to leave the gate shut and gave the viewer a kind of peaking glance into the life of the neighbor, not fully welcomed and yet enough movement within the design to invite the viewer into the scene, and feel comfortable there.

So as I have always said, there are no certainties in painting or in life for all that matters. Just wanted to share that.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Day After Easton

Talk about beating the heat, that is even if you can call it that, after Easton that is!
What a riot, hangin' with the kids at the local swimming hole, Great summer fun!!