Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Steal Like an Artist

Bought this little black book by Austin Kleon called "Steal Like an Artist".  It arrived in my life at a perfect time.  Best way to describe the book is that it a guide to help break through "creativity block".  I have been teaching art for many years now and have seen and experienced that pain.  I always knew it was "all in my head".  This book covers some of those "in your head misconceptions" and lets you move forward.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finding Inspiration

  Today  was a fabulous day.  The sky was clear and summer was kind  with just the right amount of heat accompanied by a soft breeze.  Plein air painting reminds me of why I became a painter.  Sonoma County is breathtaking!

Just a few days ago I was cursing my latest work.  I am entering my final semester of grad school and am buckling under the pressure. My last two pieces were painted without joy.  I even started to wonder if I really know how to paint at all.  When I get to that level of frustration,  I remind myself that it takes that energy to have a breakthrough.

  For me finding inspiration sometimes just takes removing myself from a pattern and going a new direction. So today I removed myself from the studio, got up extra early to catch the morning light and set off to the local tractor haunt.  It was just what I needed to rejuvenate.  Inspiration found!

This is about half done. I will post the finished piece in a few days....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Art of Old Tractors

I love old tractors.  Especially the vintage ones. They have great curves, include wonderful texture of rust and peeling paint, lean at jaunty angles on flat tires and have exhaust pipes adorned with rusty coffee cans. They have personalities and keep stories of plowed fields, dry spells, floods, parade rides, and near misses.

 I fell in love with painting them over six years ago. The old retired ones spoke to me the most and the mystery of their exposed engines combined with their massive tires intrigued and challenged me as a painter.  I was fortunate to find another local tractor connoisseur.  A man named Bill who keeps his extensive collection on Stonypoint Road in the next town.

    He owns hundreds!  After obtaining permission from him to paint on his land, I painted my first tractor there.  It was among these tractors Bill came stomping up to inspect my handiwork and loudly exclaimed "Your not going to paint that flat tire are you?"  This moment later developed into a series all titled "Bill's Flat Tire” which turned out to be one of my best selling collections.

  Three years ago I entered Grad School at the Academy of Art.  It has been a whirlwind affair as I teach three days a week, drive to San Francisco two days and madly do my homework on the weekends.  It has been an amazing experience!  

I found myself painting works I never dreamed of and added figure, portraits and cityscapes to my portfolio.  I also became torn on what I wanted to paint my final series of for graduation.  Last semester one of my teachers advised me to paint what I am most familiar with and what speaks to me.  

   I took a deep breath, stood back and looked at my work.  It was still those beautiful old tractors calling to me.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

This was a painting I did during the semester trying to work on incorporating more figures into my scenes. This piece went through several transitions and finally found its balance when I added the green figure in last which allowed the viewer's gaze to move beyond the cyclist.

This is a commission I just completed for one of my collectors. This is of his family's Ford tractor purchased new back in the forties. It sits on his family's ranch out in Northern Colorado. I found myself painting much softer after a semester of figure painting. Skin has so many more subtle transitions that it made me see so much more when painting other subjects.

My blogs have dwindled since my enrollment at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Between teaching art three days a week, taking two classes in the city and trying to keep up with my homework on the weekends, I have lost almost all contact with the outside world. Now I am between semesters and have a moment to reacquaint myself with old friends and my blog.
Last semester I took figure painting and have never worked so hard in a class. It is funny remembering how when I first started painting and developed "painter's vision". By "painter's vision" I mean I suddenly saw the world as a painting. Colors of fields and old twisted fence posts took on a whole new interpretation. This vision was limited to my subject matter which consisted of landscapes, old tractors and cityscapes. Now with figure painting, I get a whole new vision of people. Their faces now morph into interesting shadow patterns, color notes and cast and form shadows. Above is a painting I did for my final last semester.