Friday, March 29, 2013

Still Life No. 2

Still Life #2 - 12”x9” oil on stretched canvas. The large brown jar shown here was found buried in Waxahachie Creek in an area where I (amateur bottle guy) have found a large number of vintage bottles dating to the early 20th century. When I find a remnant of pottery or glass sticking out of the mud it’s usually broken so I was really surprised that this large jar was intact and in pretty good shape. Most of its glaze was shiny and not crazed. I’m thinking that this was buried there for a maybe 75 years (perhaps preserved by the black clay silt) but I don’t know how to have it dated. Would love to know its true age. It might be a biscuit jar which could have had a wooden lid. Last year’s drought was so severe here that the creek was almost completely dried up in this particular location. Otherwise I’m sure it would have never been found. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Boquillas del Carmen Burros

Boquillas del Carmen is a tiny Mexican village across the Rio Grande from within Big Bend National Park. Before 9-11 it was common for park visitors to pay a Mexican guy (yes, he was Mexican) a few bucks for a quick boat ride across the river. The only reason anyone would ever visit this desolate, but scenic place (other than just to say you crossed the river into Mexico) is for a tasty taco lunch and a semi-cold beer while touring the scenery of Big Bend.

The reference photo for this painting was taken decades ago when we actually did cross the river, and our kids rode burros like this one up to the village from the river. The small building in the background was added just to give some perspective on the nearby hills.

11" x 14" Oil on panel.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chisos Mountains Prickly Pear Cactus

11" x 14" pastel on panel.

As I mentioned previously I'm re-discovering some old slides that I took from years past for some in- studio painting. I somehow like the idea of painting from photos I took 25 years ago. This particular scene overlooks the Chisos basin pour off looking toward the west in the middle of Big Bend National Park. Prickly pear fruit tastes just like it looks like it might taste (like a strawberry) but be warned: use candle or lighter to burn off the tiny hair-like needles that cover the skin. They are quite irritating if you don't, so I've been told.

Once the weather warms up I'll be doing more plein air, but for now I'm thoroughly enjoying the confines of my studio and all of the new/old subject matter. By the way, if you've ever been less than motivated to paint simply because you don't feel like dragging out your stuff, I highly recommend finding some place, any place, to set up shop.  Mine is located in a shed next to the garage. I've got all of my gear within easy reach, a mini-fridge full of beverages, tunes, space heater... and I don't have to put it all away when I'm done. It's only about 45 square feet, but it's awesome!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Blue Jay

This was painted as quickly as I could in an attempt to teach myself to work more loosely.

I painted this same bluejay many years ago in watercolor from a similar photo. The photo reference was found after I got out my old slides the other day and went through the entire inventory looking for subjects to paint. I have about 25 photos that I would like to eventually paint in oil or pastel. These slides go back over 30 years.

This painting is available for purchase:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

View of Emory Peak from Boot Canyon Trail

Emory Peak from Boot Canyon - 14"x11" oil on panel
Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park is the second highest point in Texas. This is the view from the obviously named Boot Canyon. It's remarkable how much the foreground "boot" formation actually looks like a boot, complete with a tucked-in pant leg. My photo reference was from a backpacking trip I took with my friend Jack Orsinger many years ago. We camped overnight near this beautiful spot and made time to climb Emory that day. The trail goes all the way to the top. A view I'll never forget.

This painting taught me a thing or two about how to make my center of interest something other than the obvious... which would be (to most people) the boot. But the distant pinnacles of Emory were my intended focus because of the outstanding light that was shining on its face and the shadows from other nearby peaks that make it stand out like a castle. The trick here was to make the boot look closer in relation to the peaks, a more difficult task because cool colors generally recede and warm colors come forward.  If not done properly, the boot would just look like a dark cutout in the side of the mountain. Hopefully, for those of you not familiar with this famous landmark, your eyes have correctly assessed what the painting is trying to say. For the rest of you it was probably an easy task to recognize this rock.