Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some Paintings from May

8" x 10" Oil on Panel
It's late May and the valley trees are beginning to reach their sumer fullness. All that green can cause problems for landscape painters. Call us particular but It's preferable our paintings don't look like they could be titled, "Green #1", "Green #2", "Green #3", etc. Not only is it a challenge to find variety in green but it can be fun, too! It's also easier when the backdrop in every painting is the Wasatch Mountains!

The painting above was painted at a marsh by the lake, looking back toward Rock Canyon. I set up my pochade box at the end of a paved bike path. It's a natural place for people to pause while turning around to head back the way they came. It's also easy then for them to take a look at what I'm doing and visit briefly. I enjoy talking with people as I paint, as long as it doesn't take too much time. I gotta work.

8" x 10" Oil on Panel
The second painting was done on a hazy, partly-to-mostly-cloudy day. I was set up in a parking lot for the bike trail that parallels the river. It was another place for people to see me as they pass. I get to hand out a lot of business cards that way. The cloud cover thickened into a solid overcast and began to threaten rain so after finishing this painting I packed up and headed home. A little later the weather improved so I headed back to the same place. There for the second painting of the day I painted a tree that was just to the right of the one I did earlier.

10" x 8" Oil on Panel
The last painting was done three days later in another part of the valley. It was painted in a spread-out rural area away from local towns and cities. I've painted here before, but have rarely been visited by anyone as I work.

9" x 12" Oil on Canvas Panel
You, however, are welcome to visit this blog for as long as you like and as often as you like! And if you see me out painting someday feel free to stop and say hi!

Photo Courtesy of Scott Froerer

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Solar Eclipse / Another Use for Sketchbooks

The computer image above is a little something I did to show how last Sunday's solar eclipse went where I live. I went to a street by a friend's house where he, his daughter, some curious neighbors and I took turns observing the eclipse through his welder's mask. I showed how an eclipse can be viewed using two pieces of cardboard. A pinhole is made in one piece of cardboard and the image shown through that onto the other piece of cardboard where the eclipse appears upside-down. That's another way to view the eclipse without injuring your eyes.

Observing an eclipse is more than just seeing the changes in the apparent shape of the sun. It's also seeing the change of lighting on the landscape around you, feeling the drop in temperature, and noticing the unusual stillness that settles in the air during the peak of eclipse. Eclipses are just so cool!

I wrote about sketching during a lunar eclipse here.

Last Sunday's eclipse reminded me of another partial eclipse I viewed a number of years ago. With my old '67 Plymouth Belvedere loaded with camping gear, sketching supplies and water, I traveled to a desert canyon in Southern Utah. Parking at the trail head, I backpacked into the canyon and made camp. (That was back before government bureaucrats put the kabosh on that sort of thing.) That day I explored and sketched. The next day I hiked up the canyon to a large panel of Indian rock art. There I flipped to an available page in my sketchbook, one that had colored pencil color studies. Using a needle from my sewing repair kit, I poked a tiny hole in that sketchbook page. That pinhole was then used to shine an image of the solar eclipse onto a flat rock there below the pictographs and petroglyphs on that towering red rock cliff. That's how I viewed the eclipse that day.

A page in my sketchbook used to view a solar eclipse.
A closeup of the pinhole and sketches showing the partial eclipse.
That day the solar eclipse eased the usually overbearing heat of the Southwest desert in summer. A man from Ohio (who now taught school on the Navajo Reservation) arrived with his view camera to photograph the rock art. I told him about the eclipse and showed him how I projected the image through the sketchbook page's pinhole onto the flat rock. He had not been aware of the eclipse and remarked,

"So that must be why it's not too hot today!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Dot on Her Forehead

12" x 9" Charcoal Pencil on Paper
Here is a more recent sketch from the weekly drawing session. It was done in the usual amount of time - two or two and a half hours. It's one of my back-to-the-basics studies. Of course I enjoy color, and that's important, but most of my sketches are black and white. Color plays a role in form, but I think the greatest weight of the form is carried by values - that is, light and dark.

Our model that night had spent some time in India and had traditional Indian clothing and jewelry. And of course she had to have that dot on her forehead. It's called a "bindi".

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Friday, May 11, 2012

West African Man

Pastel on Gray Paper
It seems about time on this blog for another sketch from the weekly drawing session. This pastel study of a man from West Africa was done a few years ago. He was wearing a very colorful outfit which I'm sorry I didn't have time to finnish drawing. I focused mostly on his head, especially his face.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rubber Boa!

Last Saturday I took a long hike up a local canyon to do some plein air painting. Halfway up the canyon I came across an odd-looking but familiar kind of snake, a rubber boa. A few days later I told some people I know about the encounter and someone wanted to know how dangerous rubber boas are. Well, I think a few photos I snapped during the encounter might illustrate exactly just how dangerous these snakes can be:

Yeah, they're THAT dangerous!

Rubber boas are actually the most docile snakes I've ever come across in the wild. They are non-venomous. They're slow and have never even tried to bite me even when I've handled them - and I'm so fascinated by these snakes I catch them every time I see one. They have disproportionately tiny eyes and a tiny mouth even for their small size. Unlike most snakes that have pointy tails (or rattles!) rubber boas are rounded on both ends. These features, along with their coloration, give the rubber boa the initial appearance of a really big earthworm!

Rubber Boas are generally nocturnal. I've come across them only three or four times over the years in my many hikes in the Wasatch mountains. You can read more about rubber boas here.

Rubber boas have defense strategies but I've never seen them in person. I carefully pick them up and handle them gently. They seem cool with that. After a few minutes of awe and wonder I set the snake back where I found it and let it slither off in peace.

It might be better to not handle the snake at all, but uneven lighting prevented me from getting a good photo of the snake on the ground. Besides, I'm such a kid when it comes to nature!

Caution: Catching snakes is not recommended if you are not properly trained and experienced in the matter. If you don't know the difference between snake species, learn! Most snakes can bite. Venomous snakebites (such as rattlesnakes) can be extremely serious. It may seem macho to handle venomous snakes but loosing a hand, arm - or your life - is not macho! I've never tried to catch a rattlesnake and give them a wide berth when I come across them in the outdoors!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Show and Demo

Photo courtesy of David Hawkinson.
The Terra Nova Gallery has a new show opening this Friday, May 4th. It's a group show that will run through the month of may, and I'll have a few small paintings in it. There will also be demonstrations Friday evening by a few painters and other artists. I'll be one of them. Everyone's welcome to come see the opening and enjoy the demos, including whatever on earth I'm going to paint!

Terra Nova is located at 41 West 300 North in Provo, Utah. Phone: 801-374-0016. You can find more information on their website:

Come enjoy the show!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The End is Near!

Photo Courtesy of Ron Escudero.
The end of my show at the Window Box Gallery, that is. There's just a couple days left to see it. You can read an earlier post about this show here.

There's some red dots (denoting sold works) but there's still plenty for art collectors to choose from. These are oil paintings painted alla prima en plein air. (I love using French words!) They're paintings of local landscapes, some painted in beautiful places just outside of town. I hope these paintings will encourage people to enjoy and take care of the wonderful natural places we have here locally.

Although the show ends Thursday, May 3rd, I hope to continue to work with the Window Box Gallery and encourage you to visit their gallery from time to time to enjoy the artwork. The gallery is located at 62 West Center Street in Provo, Utah. Au revoir!