What a year its been for my art. My first break was being selected for an artist residency in January. Being able to paint from a heated glass gazebo and have fantastic views of the frozen Mississippi while staying in a luxury resort made for some great memories and a wonderful start to 2017.
My time of reflection last December lead me to searching further tuition and to go deeper into plein air and studio painting and how both can work together. This came about after painting a series of larger acrylic pieces and being dissatisfied with the results and was pivotal in my direction for this year. Fast forward to March and some incredible teaching with Master Plein Air artist John Burton. Then I ventured north to Montague and Mt Shasta for a ten day painting trip staying at friends who live in the wild west. The teachings of John will stay with me forever and the experience of painting on my own in California built a confidence that stays with me when I pick up my brush.
Attending the First Brush of Spring, another first for this artist. Painting in a group of 100 artists for several days. Dealing with all weather and the deadline of producing work was another artist building block. I had a great time. Its on my calendar for 2018.
The original Plein Air study, Honey Bee Tree for Field to Finish of First Brush of Spring.
Currently I am working on my entry for Field to Finish which is worked on over the year to be submitted with the original plein air painting that the major work is based on. The painting is close to finished and its hard not to dabble. Its a journey I have enjoyed and its tempting to paint another. Lets see how much indoor work I am forced to do this winter. I might be able to have two options for my field to finish entry.
Standing in flower heaven for two weeks in May was another highlight for me this year, painting amongst the beautiful Peonies of Allerton. I have returned to the peonies each May for the past 3 years and its on my calendar for 2018!
After several months of traveling away to paint, it was a treat to concentrate and paint where I live. This painting sold the day it was painted and went to an extraordinary collector. A humbling experience.
Warming up for the next big highlight in my year. I had my first invitational plein air competition.
So exciting and unnerving. I had a good start and the first painting set the tone for my week at Ellicott city, MD, Paint It event!. Its a big task to paint as a juried invited artist and I was worn out mentally and physically by the end of the week. I was rewarded for my hard work with a month long show of some work I was proud of and had a sale at the opening night. I enjoyed meeting and socializing with the other invited artists. I miss the group and hope I will see them all again soon.
The hot weather in late July invented another yearly tradition. Boat Week! How I love to paint boats and this land locked midwesterner has found a way to do just that and its surprising what was close to home. I head out early and am home with a new painting by lunch time ready for a meal and a siesta. I came away with three paintings I truly love and currently only this one pictured is still available from that collection.
This painting is now in Australia hanging in my parents private collection. Mineral Point was a great surprise. This open competition paint out for several days in August is a must do. The nocturnal on the main street kept me up way past my bed time and what fun it was! The quick paint was even more fun with an early morning start. Having fun with a sign I had seen. warm beer only....There had to be a painting here. Looking downhill onto a street corner with the sign warm beer only and a kiosk that sold tones of ice and served wine and cheese had me smirking. Yes I painted this fun scene for my quick paint and it sold that same day. This event had a great end of week show with awards. A welcoming small town including the biggest surprise - meeting an old neighbor from my childhood in Australia, who is now a resident of Mineral Point Wisconsin.
Also in August a very quick 5 day trip to Germany, tagging along with my paints in hope to capture just a glimpse of my trip in a small plein air painting. I had a wonderful day painting in the piazza of Donauwoerth. I found a spot in the outdoor cafe and got to work. Pretty soon I had the attention of wide eyed children, eager to see all they could of what I was doing. A waiter tried to purchase my painting even though I did pay for my lunch already. I guess he truly loved it and was blowing kisses at the painting. I decided to not sell the painting as I was pretty sure I was going to break some trade law and I wanted to enjoy it for a while longer. He was very understanding and very sweet as were the two children that stayed as close observers for the entire painting. I was treated to a beautiful song by the older one while I was painting. What an amazing memory, under gorgeous european skies, it was one I will never forget.
Quick decision to attend the Golden Hills Plein Air at Louisianna Mo. in early September was rewarded. Winning a patron purchase prize was terrific and being hosted by such wonderful folks made the event another one to add to my 2018 calendar.
Septembers weather was perfect for painting downtown Champaign and I did some of my best streets capes. Some of my favorite paintings of the year are surprisingly those that I painted in Champaign. Jester on Chester painting captures the landscape of champaign and all its diversity. I just love it. Had a great time and will keep my eyes peeled for future subject matter of this great town.
Another purpose of painting downtown, I was warming up for my 5th plein air competition/event of the year. Carmel on Canvas in Indiana.
This town of roundabouts had me turned around.
The streets were lined with many great sculptures and many great artists. I enjoyed the challenge and had some of my biggest learnings at this event. Getting bogged down in architectural detail is somewhat problematic as the light changes. Must learn to be happy with an impression of the building and the light more than the architectural structure that is in front of me.
October 2nd Road trip to California in 2017! Ok this one was different. I was passenger on a three day drive into a three week long trip. Our travel took us to some pretty remote western california deserts and the best I achieved was painting at an event called "the best in the west jet event" and raising $1000 for make a wish with my plein air painting that was raffled off at the events banquet. Painting for a day at the Grand Canyon gave me a taste of what it was like to paint in such a majestic place. Definitely a hook I would like to go back to. Managed to paint at an aircraft museum for a day. Painting a landscape staring an F-16 was a fun challenge that fit with my affinity to aircraft. To see some of the beautiful redwood sequoia trees while on this trip was a delightful event. Those trees are truly heavenly. Unable to paint them in the time spent visiting they will haunt me forever with their majestic beauty.
Its a powerful experience to paint everyday for a year and watch the work evolve. I now know my voice and am seeing it develop. I know my artistic strengths and weaknesses. I am knowing myself as an artist and its a powerful thing. It is a life long learning journey that I am so very glad to be a part of and to have made that full-time commitment to. Looking ahead to 2018 I am hopeful of more of what I enjoyed in 2017. I am thankful for the many opportunities that came my way this year, for my supportive family both here and overseas, for the 100+ paintings that came from my brush, thankful for the many commissions, for my customers and collectors and supporters of the arts and thankful for the support of my local retail partners. Thankful for the judges that said yes to my work and for the juried events I have attended this year. I can't wait to see what will come from my heart and brush in 2018.
Painting downtown Champaign in some beautiful September weather produced some of my better street-scape work. I don't know if it was the weather or the place or something more divine.
The Blind Pig
What a fun gathering place for folks to gather in a whimsy setting created by the elaborate gate, pigs and lights. This painting helped break the ice to paint in the city of Champaign. Unsure how welcome it would be to bring my plein air gear and start painting in the downtown area: for some reason it has felt intimidating when thinking about it. Wish I had done it years ago now. The vibe is welcoming and respectful. I had a lot of fun my first day and look forward to many more visits.
We are Unfinished Art
Keen to come back to Champaign and paint the Virginia Art Theater. While the roofline was a little daunting to paint, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to paint in big white letters on a red background the word ART. The painting had only indicated parts of the art letters- when publishing on instagram and my Facebook art page -I thought yes, unfinished art. The movie on the sign was a horror movie with Texas in the title. First thought that would be fun to include a cult horror movie to add some spice to the art. Looking at the work the next day I felt strongly we needed to have it as a small beacon of rebuilding and hope as Texas was just flooded from the first hurricane this summer. So I painted in the title It's a Wonderful Life. In thinking about the entire experience of painting this building and what I was thinking over the course of the painting it was clear the title needed to point to us, we are Unfinished art. We have our creator to thank for this life on earth and we are his unfinished art.
Jester on Chester
Painting on one of the busiest corners of Champaign brought all kinds of folks in my path or really I was in their path. I had two days of interaction with the friendliest folks of the Midwest. So many conversations, so many questions, so many that the painting is a memory of truly getting to know the belly of Champaign on many levels. Meeting total strangers, a few of them homeless but proud to be making it to 40. Surprise meetings of good friends I have known for years, new friends that are involved in the arts. All were enjoying seeing artwork happen. Art does heal. To me the painting of Jester greeting with his opened hand reflects the diversity in all the life that stopped to chat and it was a privilege to meet everyone.
Humpty Dumpty's Worst Nightmare
I just had to come back and paint the sculpture around the corner from Mr Jester, Mr Eggwards. Setting up mid morning I found the sun was from behind. I used this to great advantage, capturing the cracked egg-shell like shadow patterns created by the backlit tree directly behind Mr Eggwards. The quirky nature of this subject fits my sense of humor and was a blast to paint. Definitely one of my flavorist paintings from September.
The best is yet to come, by invitation of Kraft Properties Urbana, these works and more new artworks will be on show November 3rd from 5pm at the Urbana First Friday at 133 W Main Street. Hosted by David Kraft.
Come along on the night to enjoy the show and First Friday's festivities. One night only!