This past week I spent several days in a beautiful aspen grove. On about the third day I decided to do a study of an individual aspen tree. I noticed what I thought was an odd growth tucked between two branches. I got out my binoculars and discovered it was a broadtail hummingbird sitting on her nest! I spent a delightful couple of hours watching her as I worked on the drawing.
On my last day I spent a few hours doing a study of the trunk and branching of a ponderosa pine.
it's been a wonderful trip. I am headed back to Texas, but will return to Colorado in just a few weeks to teach a workshop in Telluride.
I am in Colorado on a two week sketching trip! The mountains are beautiful and the air is cool, but I still seem to find myself in the woods, whether it's an aspen grove or stands of huge ponderosa pines. Here are a few drawings. All are charcoal on toned paper.
While I have been shockingly unproductive in the studio since the Lennox Woods Show opened on March 29, I have been busy teaching and doing lots of things that have needed to be done for a long time. Years, in fact, in some cases! One of those things was to create a stand alone site for The Landscape Atelier. It is still a work in progress but it's up, so click on over there for a visit!
I have been having a great time this week filling orders for remarked catalogs, that is, Lennox Woods catalogs which include an original pen and ink drawing. Each one is different and includes a personal note. Click for larger view.
If you would like one of your very own, click here.
I am still decompressing from the show and the week long workshop at our new Atelier space immediately afterwards, But I do want to share the final film which played at the opening in both venues. Allen Phillips did a great job!
Only a few weeks away from the opening of Lennox Woods- The Ancient Forest. This project has been two years in the making and it is hard to believe we are almost at the finish line!
For those of you who are in the Dallas-Ft Worth area and plan to visit the show, here are some details. The show is in two venues- Galerie Kornye West and The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), both located in the Cultural District of Ft. Worth. March 29 is Spring Gallery Night, an annual event sponsored by the Ft Worth Art Dealers Association., so there will be other galleries hosting events as well. Spring Gallery Night runs from 12:00 noon to 9PM on March 29. The Lennox Woods show will open at noon at both venues.
I will be at the gallery from noon to about 5:30 and I will be giving two gallery talks, one at 2PM and the other around 3:30 PM.
BRIT is hosting a member reception from 6-8 PM which the public is also invited to. I will be there from 6-8 PM and will be giving a talk at 6:30 PM.
The show will hang in both venues through May 8.
Catalogs (which include five essays about the Woods and the work, as well as color plates of most of the paintings ) will be available for sale at the opening and are also available for purchase here. A portion of the proceeds from catalog sales go to benefit the Red River County Historical Society. You can read the Southwest Art Magazine article about the show here.
With cold temperatures and an ice storm just this week, it is hard to imagine that spring is just around the corner. But, it is! So, it's time to start thinking about painting and drawing outdoors.
Field Sketching I and II online classes are coming up in April and May, just in time to kick off a great season of work outdoors!
Working from Nature and direct observation is the time honored way to learn how to paint landscapes. Unfortunately, many aspiring landscape painters miss the essential first step: learning to draw and sketch in the field. If you are unable to draw the landscape you will have a much more difficult time learning to paint it convincingly.
Most classes and workshops jump into plein air painting without giving students any tools to make a success of their efforts. This course is designed to give you the tools to draw and sketch in the field with confidence, both improving your plein air paintings and leading to better, finished work in the studio.
I am happy to say the Lennox Woods Exhibition Catalog is now available! It contains 64 pages, with five essays about the history and ecology of the Woods and of course, the art. It also has over 40 images of drawings and paintings.
About this time last year we started thinking about a new space for a studio and for The Landscape Atelier. The south side of the historic square in our little town was being renovated, and a 4000 square foot, north facing brick storefront was available. The building is close to a hundred years old and in its time it has been a grocery store, a clothing store, movie theatre, and most recently a flooring store.
This is what is looked like in April 2013.
Now, almost a year later our new space is almost ready! It includes an exhibition space, studio, kitchen and full bath.
We are really excited to welcome our first group of students to our new space in March!
It's a sprint to the finish line! That's what I told a friend yesterday. Actually, it's more like a slow motion ant farm. With two ants (me and Steve).
I have a brand new online class starting at the end of February. This one is called Understanding Values in the Landscape. Value problems account for a lot of what goes wrong in painting. So, learning to sort out those pesky values is an essential part of learning to paint well. We'll cover Carlson's Theory of Angles of course. In addition, we will study how to create certain effects of light by careful attention to the value range or 'key' which is used and how to compress the value range effectively from what is seen in Nature and what our materials are capable of producing. Students will learn the value ranges to use to create the illusion of a sunny day, an overcast day, a foggy or rainy day, backlighting, patchy sunlight, nocturnes, etc. So, give yourself an early Valentines Day present, and sign up here!
I am very excited to say that I will have a feature article in the March issue of Southwest Art Magazine. The article will include the work for the Lennox Woods show! After spending the last two years working on this project, it is very gratifying to have this happen at this time.
My schedule now is long days in the studio followed by dinner and returning in the evening. I have about five weeks to finish and there is still much to do.
(click for larger view- pardon the homemade photography)
Sometimes it's just less. One of the great challenges of this project is to find a way to convey the Woods in a way that is authentic but still suggestive and full of mystery. And to do that in sizes ranging from 12 x 16 to 72 x 96. In a 12 x 16 you can use one brushstroke to describe what requires a complicated passage in a larger work. But more importantly, you have to find the right balance between what Asher B Durand called imitation and representation. There are some things which can be imitated and some things that can only be represented (I would use the word suggested perhaps). The right balance is essential to capture a sense of place and yet retain the mystery and mood you want to convey. I wanted the paintings to look like the Woods without being literal portraits- to convey a palpable sense of what it feels to be in this place. That requires something more than suggestive generalization and less than simply copying what you see.
Spreadsheets. Not a word I would have ever included on a list of things I might learn about over the course of working on my solo show. But, here I am two years later finding myself creating spreadsheets to keep track of and organize over forty paintings for the show.
The exhibition will hang in two separate venues (Galerie Kornye West and The Botanical Research Institute of Texas) and is organized around the theme of the four seasons in Lennox Woods. Early on, I worked out the number of pieces I would paint for each season and the size ranges and how many in each range, and roughly how many of each would hang in each venue.
As the work begin to take shape, other things needed to be kept track of- what pieces had been photographed, what was finished and what was work in progress, how many of each group still needed to be started, and the frame status for each piece.
Then, some pieces were sold and others left the studio for the gallery. Some pieces were varnished and others had not been (making it easier to work on them again if I wanted to).
When we started working on the catalog I needed to keep track of what information had been given to the designer of the catalog and what was still needed. And, of course, the deadlines to get the work finished, photographed, framed and delivered.
It turns out, spreadsheets are a great way to organize all that information in an easily accessible and organized way. Spreadsheets. Who knew?
Lennox Woods is a 300+ acre oasis of old growth forest surrounded by fields, pastures, third or fourth cut woods and pine plantations. Driving down the dirt road to its unassuming entrance one can immediately see the change in the landscape. The fact that the Woods exist today is because from the mid 19th century, the Lennox family preserved them, protected them from logging and then gave them to the Nature Conservancy to be protected in perpetuity. It could have all turned out very differently.
I thought a lot about all this while I worked in the Woods over the last two years. But, I also came to understand the idea of "what might have been" in much more personal terms. When I first came to the Woods I had certain ideas about how I would paint them. Although I spent several months just looking and drawing, I did have some preconceived ideas of how I would approach the work. Over time, many of those ideas dissolved and reformed into new ones- influenced both by the Woods themselves and the rhythm of my own life. Those things combined to produce a very different body of work than I would have produced in a shorter span of time or if my own life had not been upended in various ways during the process. I don't know what that work would have been like, but I feel confident that the body of work that I will exhibit this coming March will be stronger, better, and deeper. That is something else I learned in the Woods.