'Artist's to Watch' in Southwest Art Magazine!

I am excited and extremely honored to be featured in the August 2017 Southwest Art Magazine as 'Artist to Watch'; the Editor's Choice for Up and Coming Talent'.  

I was fortunate enough to have an interview with Kim Agricola of Southwest Art.  It is always healthy to review what motivates you to do creative work and Kim brought up interesting questions and thoughts... I hope that I have opportunity to meet her in person one day.   Thank you Kim for a job well done!

You can find the online version at http://www.southwestart.com/articles-interviews/emerging-artists/emerging-artists-michele-z-farrier or pick up a copy at your local newsstand. 

Morning Visitor

 

Imagine this - it is early morning and 5 below zero.  You stumble down to the kitchen to make some coffee.  While at the kitchen sink, you find that you are nose to nose with a snowshoe hare!  I couldn't believe my good fortune.

I ran to my studio and grabbed the first piece of pastel paper I saw along with a stick of vine charcoal and headed back to the sink.  I figured a quick gesture was all I would get... but maybe two drawings if I was lucky.  As time passed, I realized that I was actually getting time to do a decent drawing and the hare was still there... get the pastels!!!!  

I try to define what causes me to want to paint something prior to working.  Of course, I was in a huge hurry, but it was so clear what was most intriguing to me.  Both the hare and the snow were white, but one was a very cool white and the other very warm.  It was an extreme contrast. Bingo!  I was motivated even without some coffee!

Morning Visitor     Pastel     8x9

Morning Visitor     Pastel     8x9

I think that due to the cold temperature and air movement, my little visitor decided that seeing movement through the window was a lesser evil than moving away from the building.  He did keep a close eye on me though, which I tried to get into the painting.

To add icing to the cake, Bob Bahr, previously editor with the Outdoor Painter Online Magazine picked up the image on social media and did a little blurp on my morning visitor in the January 16, 2017 issue!  http://www.outdoorpainter.com/parting-shot-rare-hare-sighting/

It was my lucky day!  

   

   

Honored to be Interviewed for Outdoor Painter

Painting Carefully From the Start So That Every Stage Could Be a Finish

by Bob Bahr, Editor PleinAir Today

Michele Z. Farrier is very careful with her underpainting, in part because she always hopes that her piece will feel done to her from the earliest stages, when the abstract nature of the painting most simply but effectively states the scene’s feeling.

A heightened example of this approach is visible in Farrier’s “What Lies Beyond,” which was chosen for display in the Wyoming State Museum from January-March 2017. “That one is in the extreme,” says Farrier. “But I like to keep it as simple as I can. Sometimes it’s evident when I get the basic shapes laid in that it needs more, so I do more. Sometimes I’m like, ‘That is good,’ and I leave it like that. I like the abstract quality, but I do want it to read as a landscape.”

“Grain Field,” by Michele Farrier

Like many plein air painters, Farrier is a somewhat dangerous driver because scenes outside the car window sometimes cause sudden stops. “With that piece, for example, I was driving by and I almost slammed on my brakes,” says the Wyoming artist. “There was detail in the foreground and in the shadow, but I didn’t really need it, so I didn’t put it in. When I am driving around and looking for a composition, often patterns made by shadows are what draw me in. Then I want to say as little as possible to convey that feeling. The less information, the more intriguing it is. It leaves it open to your interpretation. Maybe it will remind you of what you felt on a given morning, rather than simply having the piece look like the Tetons, for example.”

“Seeking Shade,” by Michele Farrier

This process works for Farrier in part because she moves slowly and carefully in her beginning steps of a painting. “I do a lot of thumbnail sketches with a Sharpie pen, and use a viewfinder,” she says. “I do many thumbnails and they give me a lot of ideas. I use a value finder or red glasses to see the values in the scene. And I take extensive notes, for as long as 20 minutes, and then when I have the design, I have it all established before the light changes.”

“Corner of the Track,” by Michele Farrier

The next stage is the underpainting, which constitutes a composition created with vine charcoal if she is working in pastel, and a thin wash of Gamsol and a bluish color if she is using oil paints. She generally works on 8” x 10” surfaces and paints with a size 4 or 6 brush. “When I fill in my shapes, that is the slowest stage because values are my weakest area, so I take time to make sure I get them right,” says Farrier. “My underpainting is slow because if that’s not right, the whole thing isn’t going to work. I lay my shapes in pretty thick, and the brushstrokes are very deliberate.”

Farrier will get tighter and more detailed when she thinks the subject matter demands it.

If the painting seems to need more, she does more. “If it doesn’t read well as a landscape, I define it further with details or values,” says the artist. “I do like mark making; I like making marks, but on a very abstract level. It is more natural to me to look at things as shapes.”

“Turn Right at the Silo,” by Michele Farrier

Her goal is to say something as simply as possible, and to leave a record of her work so the piece reveals layers of paint application — as artists such as Diebenkorn did. “What I would love is if I saw something, laid it down, and that’s it,” Farrier says. “I want it to look spontaneous, not labored. The danger is if I start seeing colors, and I lay over too much of what I put in my underpainting.”

 

My Pastels Came Out of Hiding!

I have spent the last couple of years working primarily in oil paints as a means to get more comfortable with them.  My new passion is for mixing color and playing with the intensity of those colors.  I have learned an immense amount and am thrilled that I have stuck with it for a great majority of my last few years. 

 I find that personal mark making gives me, as an artist and viewer, sensation of the artist's movement, which I find intriguing.  Art that is full of layers and marks seems to have endless appeal to me.  Developing this layering and mark making in oils is on my list of goals.  I am excited to explore these concepts and techniques.  

However, as fall approached, I found myself craving the textures and 'brushy' quality that I have always loved using pastels for.  My pastels were calling me!  It took a bit of effort to change out the supplies in my truck and make sure that I had all that I needed... but I was primed!    

Fall Color Study     Pastel     21x22

Fall Color Study     Pastel     21x22

I worked on sanded paper 21x22 as I have traditionally done and had a blast!  There were plenty of trees full of color, but I was seeking a scene that was more 'scrubby' and textured.  

I have not touched this pastel since I was in the field.  I am pleased with the spontaneity of it and want to be judicious in changing the marks and affecting the energy that it has.  I find it difficult to not 'overwork' while in the field and diminish some of the marks and energy.

My plan is to develop some of this style while working in oils.  The challenge is endless!  

 

 

 

Playing with Figures

I have long wanted to work more with the human form.  It is something that I just do not seem to get around to tackling.  I do frequent life drawing classes and have even attempted working in oils while studying the figure.  That being said, I have never tried to develop a painting using figures... until now!

All in a Day's Work     Oil / Canvas

All in a Day's Work     Oil / Canvas

The irony is this painting started out as a series of drawings done from an apartment window over morning coffee.  While visiting, I couldn't believe my good fortune that I could see down into a construction site while all of the workers were heading off to their daily tasks!  It was intense, early morning sun which cast shadows of a multitude of colors... I was in HEAVEN!  I did not have my paints with me, but did have my every-ready sketchbook!  I took photos, but found that most of my information for this painting was gathered from careful notes and sketches of figures and their shadows. Mind you, they were very crude and simple drawings... but enough to convey my own excitement to me at a later date.

I stuck to my original idea for the most part.  The focal area was the figure in front of the dark shadow.  I included the shadow to the left of him as well as his own shadow.  For this reason, I gave this area higher contrast with the building behind, more details and shapes that I attempted to connect.

I struggled a little with whether to get 'ruler' straight with all of this construction, but felt that it would enhance the painting to leave lines freehand and a little lopsided.  The front table definitely had that going on already and I felt that I wanted a sense of human quality in all of the geometry. 

The added painting bonus was the textures!  I wanted to do the whole thing in concrete, it was so fun to paint!  I even broke loose with a palette knife.

I am inspired to get to work on some more figure paintings!  In the meantime, however, I have the good fortune of attending a Jill Carver plein air workshop next week... Life is full of great learning opportunities!

 

Buffalo Bill Whitney Museum Residency was Spectacular!

I was fortunate enough to be invited back to the Buffalo Bill Whitney Museum for another two week residency this year!  I had opportunity to paint in the museum amongst outstanding historic and contemporary works of art, studying by copying and visiting with museum visitors from all over the world.  I also got to spend a few days in the classroom, teaching students, which is always insightful.  I am honored and grateful for such an experience!

The first piece that I chose to study was Maynard Dixon's 'Medicine Robe'.  I do not have much experience painting portraits, but could not pass up an opportunity to really look closely at a Dixon painting!  I decided to paint parts of each painting rather than entire pieces, so I could then focus on specifics that were particularly educational to me.  In this case, I was interested in the focal area of the figure, where the shapes were strongly defined.  The brushstroke defining the light on the opening of the robe was exhilarating and BOLD!  The simplicity and effectiveness of these shapes is fabulous!  

Maynard Dixon    'Medicine Robe'    and copy

Maynard Dixon    'Medicine Robe'    and copy

The next painting I copied was to study the shadows that were used in falling water.  There were many gorgeous paintings of the lower falls on the Yellowstone River, but I wanted to study how Thomas Moran had established so much depth in the falls.  It was subtle and effective.  The style of this painting is very different from my own work and I thought that it would be interesting for me to attempt to copy what he had accomplished.  I did not have time to let the painting dry in order to get some of the incredible textures that Moran had laid over a dry surface... but I certainly had a chance to study his style.  When copying a masterpiece, you become aware of so many intensional acts in composing and painting... it is so inspirational!

Thomas Moran     'Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone'     and copy

Thomas Moran     'Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone'     and copy

At his point, I spent a few days teaching students age 7-14 in the museum classroom.  We worked on atmospheric perspective by layering tissue paper, form and texture of trees using cardboard as a printing tool, symmetry, cityscapes and even a little felting project to understand the unique qualities of sheep's wool.  The students were attentive and FUN!

Upon returning upstairs to the museum, I chose a Frank Tenney Johnson nocturnal painting to study.  I was intrigued to see what, exactly, the value range was in his nocturnal piece and was BLOWN AWAY with how dark the entire painting was!  When I looked through a red filter, there was very little definition other than the horses flank, front shoulder and left side of the head... and when I went to mix the color of these 'lighter' moonlit areas, I was astounded at how neutralized and dark they actually were!  So much to learn... and so little time!!!!  The museum was busy and I ended up short of time to finish this study, but am thrilled that I got to look at it as long as I did!  

Frank Tenney Johnson     'Down the Moonlit Trail'     and copy   

Frank Tenney Johnson     'Down the Moonlit Trail'     and copy   

I often end up spending extra time at the museum painting because it is just too difficult to stop!  I always want more time!  But I also feel as if I need to 'pinch' myself to remind me that I really have had these incredible opportunities at the Buffalo Bill Whitney Museum!  The staff, students and visitors all make it relaxing and fun... but more than anything, I get to learn so much!

Thank you to everyone involved in helping me to return for these artist residencies.  I appreciate the efforts and support... every minute of it!

Awesome Experience at the Santa Fe Plein Air Festival

I was honored to be invited to the 2016 Santa Fe Plein Air Festival put on by the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico.  The level of work from the 55 invited artists was humbling and inspirational.  If you are in Santa Fe between June 9 and July 4, please visit the lovely InArt Gallery for a treat of a show!  Everything in the gallery was painted by the 55 invited artists in 4 days... impressive!

'Looking toward Shade'  Oil.  8x10.  InArt Gallery.

'Looking toward Shade'  Oil.  8x10.  InArt Gallery.

Shadow layout of Chimayo building

Shadow layout of Chimayo building

Each of the four painting days we had opportunity to join our colleagues at specific locations.  The first day was at the pueblo of Chimayo where a pilgrimage was taking place.  I got some great photos of the pilgrims coming from a variety of pueblos but choose to paint these two buildings while there.  It was a warm day and shade was a true luxury!

The second day was a fun adventure that I experienced with my newly acquired friend Cheryl.  We headed past Ghost Ranch and continued on to a dirt road that followed the Chama River to a monastery.  We did not make it to the end of the road, but came across amazing cliffs to paint... irresistible in fact!   

'Morning Light' Oil.  9x12.  InArt Gallery.

'Morning Light' Oil.  9x12.  InArt Gallery.

The afternoon brought tremendous storm cells that lasted throughout the evening.  The skies were amazing!

'Afternoon Build Up'  Oil.  11x14. InArt Gallery. 

'Afternoon Build Up'  Oil.  11x14. InArt Gallery. 

The Third Day we were lucky enough to go Los Luceros historic ranch.  It is a working ranch that is owned by the state of New Mexico and is on the Rio Grande River.  I have never seen such monumental cottonwood trees... the bosque!  I decided to work toward simplicity this day as the amount of green and underbrush was overwhelming to me!  a fellow painter, Tom was set up and painting in my view, which gave great perspective to the scale and temperature of the day.  I hope to develop this painting at some point.  Thanks for modeling Tom!     

Study of plein air painter at Los Luceros.  Oil.  9x12.

Study of plein air painter at Los Luceros.  Oil.  9x12.

The final painting day I choose to go back to Monestary Road where I revisited cliffs.  The sky was a bit hazy and was reflected in my painting, although the grandeur is hard to beat! 

Cliff Study.  Oil.  11x14.

Cliff Study.  Oil.  11x14.

The following days were spent hanging the shows, socializing and recovering.  It is an experience that I will cherish forever.  The show is incredible and inspirational... go see it if you have a chance!  InArt Gallery 219 Delgado Street, Santa Fe, NM... you will not be disappointed! 

Thank you to Plein Air Painters New Mexico and InArt Gallery!  You guys are AWESOME!!!!

Multiple Paintings Sometimes Help!

As you may have noticed, I have had some 'technical difficulties' with my blog.  My past posts seem to no longer be available... we are working on retrieving them.  I apologize.  In the meantime, I will start anew!

This week I have been doing a number of studies in the same location in order to understand my subject matter better.  I always find these 'series' interesting, as multiple unresolved areas reveal themselves.  It is an opportunity to truly stop and figure some things out.  In this particular case, I was drawn to a footbridge used for irrigation purposes.  I was interested in the strong shapes and high contrast, as well as the intensity of the color of the water in light.

Photo of the location

Photo of the location

My first 'rendition' of this scene was effected by a slight haze of clouds growing as I was doing the painting.  Having your light change is never a good thing... especially if you do not notice it!  I was pleased with the overall 'feel' of the painting, but felt the top left hand corner was not  resolved and questioned whether the composition was possibly too severe... running from left front corner to top right as directly as it did.  The opposite diagonal shadows helped to bring the viewer back into the piece, but I did not feel completely convinced... especially with a weak top left corner.

Irrigation Bridge Study #1

Irrigation Bridge Study #1

...Back to the same location for another look and another painting!

The second time I wanted the water to appear brighter in relationship to the rest of the piece and wanted to angle the bridge toward the viewer.  This would bring the composition more to the bottom edge.  I also wanted to attempt to define the upper left corner more specifically so that it was clear that water was running under the bridge.  I was not particularly pleased with how 'mushy' the brush strokes appeared in relationship to the rest of the image.  Another painting was in order!   

Irrigation Bridge Study #2

Irrigation Bridge Study #2

In this second painting I was pleased with how vivid the water appeared, but felt that the line of the water was completely disorienting.  I wanted it more of a horizontal line.  Also, as mentioned above, the quality of brushstroke in the top left corner did not hold up to the strength of the rest of the painting.  Perhaps I need to take another look at the site!

Irrigation Bridge Study #3

Irrigation Bridge Study #3

In this third painting, I cooled the colors of the water in the upper left corner to bring them back in space as well as simplified the shapes.  I still think that the dark background could be neutralized and cooled (How did I get that ultramarine in there?... geeze... what was I thinking?) I also darkened the bridge a little so that the water stood out even more.  I held true to the interest I originally had with the strong shapes and color of the water, but felt that I lost some of the spontaneity of the brushwork as the painting got repeated.  

I could continue this process for many more paintings, but felt that I had gained resolution of the things that were bothering me and that the excitement an artist feels for their subject was waning as the paintings went on. 

As always, multiple paintings in the same location taught me a lot.  You can identify what you like and dislike about your painting and work with those ideas.  Very fun! 

 I think it is time to move on!

A Different Kind of Work...

I took on a very different kind of work and had a blast! Matt DiGregory, the owner of the new Freight House Kitchen and Tap, was looking for a historic painting of the name sake for his new restaurant in Bernalillo, NM.  This piece was done with strong historic references and field studies of different types.

I started with on site studies of the actually building in Albuquerque.  It is a charming building that is listed on the historic building registry.  Although it is standing in it's original state, much has been built up around it and it is empty with plywood windows, giving it little life.  After doing a number of sketches and color studies I took photographs from different angles and headed to the Albuquerque Museum of Art to meet with Glenn Fye, photo archivist.  He was super helpful and interesting.  There were not many images of the specific building, but I got to see a lot of period activity in the area, which helped immensely in giving me a vision for the piece.

Charcoal Sketch
Charcoal Sketch

When I returned home I worked up a number of 'layout' ideas that were small and casual.  I was looking for a composition and historic context while doing these sketches.  I realized at that point that my weak link was going to be in drawing the trucks that may be coming and going from the freight house which was, of course, a huge part of the original use... back to field studies!  I spent a couple of weeks seeking out old trucks that could fit the time period - especially ones that had a hill nearby that I could climb to get the right angle.  My husband joined in and we made it a vacation project.  I have a whole new perspective and respect for older trucks now!

After gathering more confidence in my vehicle sketching, I did the layout above on sanded paper.  This would be my underpainting for the pastel.  Clearly, this is the time to get your composition in order and make any changes that you are going to make.

Freight House
Freight House

Now the fun begins!  COLOR!  I tried to stay true to the historic presence while making a pleasing image.  My focus, as always, was on the light and shadow relationship.  It was a very fun part of the process for me.

The Freight House Kitchen and Tap in Bernalillo NM
The Freight House Kitchen and Tap in Bernalillo NM

Upon arrival to the opening of the Freight House Kitchen and Tap, I was thrilled with the placement and lighting of the pastel... not to mention the food and beer!  All around, it was a very fun experience!

Maynard Dixon Country Visit was FUN!

This year I planned ahead and 'stopped in' to Maynard Dixon Country ahead of the events so that I had time to paint!  It was great as the scenery is stunning.  But, better yet, I had many painting questions lined up for the spectacular opening at the Thunderbird Gallery in Mount Carmel, Utah!  I could hardly wait to see how the invited artists took on the challenges of painting these views... and was I thrilled to learn from all of their work and get to ENJOY every painting... not to mention the artists themselves!  It was, indeed, like a candy store!

Maynard Dixon Country Day 4
Maynard Dixon Country Day 4

 

The temperatures were hot which was a new challenge for someone who lives in high elevation mountains.  I even got to use my umbrella... which I definitely need a better set up for!

Maynard Dixon Country
Maynard Dixon Country

The evening light and cast shadows on the cliffs is nothing short of breathtaking!

Maynard Dixon Country Study
Maynard Dixon Country Study

There was one day that was a bit smoky so I decided to avoid a longer vista. I found this house nearby in Orderville.  I was intrigued with the contrast of the dramatic red sandstone backdrop for this charming little Victorian home.  I thought about what it must have been like to arrive here and build this home so long ago!

Maynard Dixon Country
Maynard Dixon Country

Some days I just plain ducked into shade wherever I could!

I have not had opportunity to work with these studies yet, but learned so much from working in this environment prior to seeing the show... what an opportunity!

The weekend was all that I hoped it would be with a symposium started by Hal Cannon reciting poetry and singing in his storyteller style followed by a presentation by Jill Carver and Ralph Oberg.  Guest artist Robert Goldman was there along with the many invited artists who's skill and sensitivities are mind boggling!  The Thunderbird Gallery Show and wet paint show were both spectacular!  Add a little socializing, great food and music and you know you have arrived in heaven!

Susan and Paul Bingham are to be acknowledged in this and other Thunderbird Foundation events.  They are passionate, organized and FUN!  Thumbs up to them!

The Whitney Museum is an Amazing Place!

I was fortunate enough to have another artist residency at the Whitney Museum again this year.  http://centerofthewest.org/2015/07/27/in-out/  It is part of an incredible group of museums at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming... What an opportunity!

I spent my week in the museum copying paintings.  I have not done that since art school and was excited to work with paintings that had figures in them.  I started working on a copy of a Russell painting that I was drawn to due to it's color intensity.  Every time I have gone to the Whitney I look for it immediately.  It had added intrigue to me because the figures were not necessarily the focus of the painting - hence they were more simplified and abstracted.  It was such a treat to take time to really study the colors, composition and focal development of the painting. I was captivated by the sophistication of movement through this piece and learned a lot studying it.  The other thrill was mixing colors to match the intensity and hue.  I spent a fair bit of time trying to match colors but quickly caught on to a style and palette of mixing.  All in all I was pleased with the outcome and the amount that I learned.

Artist Residency at the Whitney
Artist Residency at the Whitney
Copy of a Remington
Copy of a Remington

The second piece that I copied was a N C Wyeth.  The Whitney has a few of his works displayed right now that are FULL of action.  I do not have a lot of experience in painting figures and was thrilled to have opportunity to spend time with his work!  This piece had me working with atmospheric perspective and figures in motion.  I was working smaller than the original so I took the details only to a certain point, but was pleased.  It is amazing to spend a lot of time with any given piece of art and try to figure out what the artist was thinking while they worked... I was mesmerized!

I was visiting with museum goers while painting which also helped me to define what it was that I was doing as they were curious to know.  The combination of visiting and studying was perfect for me as I welcomed the distraction for a mental break!

Copy of a NC Wyeth
Copy of a NC Wyeth

The first week of the residency I spent teaching in their classroom.  I had two classes daily and WE HAD FUN!!!  We had lots of helpers and fantastic students... Yes, I am spoiled!!!

Teaching at the Whitney
Teaching at the Whitney

Painting was the highlight of the experience as resident artist, but I also had opportunity to share what I was learning with the guests at the museum.  I was thrilled to be able to communicate how exciting the week was for me.  The staff was helpful, comfortable and super supportive; the environment is stellar and my only complaint was that time went too quickly!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West for making this experience available to me.  I also would like the share a great big thank you to the Wyoming Arts Council for making this artist residency possible!

The Whitney Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is an amazing place.  To be a part of it for a few days is an experience that will affect my art permanently.  I am humbled and grateful.”

Images and Description of my Painting Process

This is a documentation of the process that I use while working plein air, in the field.

Notan Sketch
Notan Sketch

My initial work is done in the sketchbook looking at compositions and patterns made with light and shadow.  These sketches are called 'notan' studies.  Often it takes multiple drawings to feel settled with the composition.

Primary Layout
Primary Layout

The second image is wash done in oils that mimics the notan drawing that I have chosen.  It sets my lights and darks. While working plein air, this is very important as it keeps me from 'chasing the light'.  I have a set composition and shadow pattern to adhere to.

Second Layer of color Relationships and Temperatures
Second Layer of color Relationships and Temperatures

Third, I cover the canvas with color relationships (which would include values) as I see the temperatures of the colors.  This takes a lot of practice, but allows color layering which I enjoy and find assists in conveying light, shadow and atmosphere... or, 'life'.

Final Field Work
Final Field Work

From this point, I start putting in 'local' color (the color that appears to be true) being very careful to stay true to my color relationships.

Mustard Bloom
Mustard Bloom

Some paintings are complete at this point.  I take them home and look at them frequently for days or even weeks.  This allows me opportunity to respond to them in many different perspectives, both emotionally and environmentally.  When I do not have the painting calling out to me to 'come fix me', I feel it is done.

After paintings are completely dry, I use Gamvar for a protective layer on the surface and they are ready to frame!

Taking on Challenge

Rather than avoiding the saturated green that is EVERYWHERE at this time of the year, I decided to go for it and do a study in green.  This is easier said than done!

Kiss of Spring
Kiss of Spring

 

This view is directly out of my east windows.  I choose it so that I could work plein air, but be able to return to it throughout the variety of weather that June brings us here in the Tetons.  The composition is fairly complicated, but I wanted the challenge to include both space as well as a large variety of greens and textures... I think that I met my match!!!

As you can see by the layout, I wanted to play on the diagonals of the view.  I have started laying in color at the point that I want to emphasize.  Most of the greens were under painted in a variety of oranges and red violets.

Overall, I am pleased with 'Kiss of Spring', although I still find myself getting more detailed than I want to be when using pastels.  I left the foreground more impressionistic so that the focus would be more on the willow in the top right hand of the image.

There are so many things to consider and keep track of in a work of art... the challenge is always there!

Ned Jacob Workshop was a Great Opportunity!

Boy, did I learn a lot with Ned Jacob!

Ned Jacob Demo
Ned Jacob Demo

The workshop was designed to have students working plein air on paintings and drawing of horses... of which I know very little!  Added to my limited experience and knowledge of horses, the weather was cold and wet... adding to the challenge.  The interesting part to me, however, was that I was forced to look at subtleties due to the lack of light and shadow.  Without a 6 day workshop scheduled, it would have been difficult for me to follow through with all of the challenges.  I am so grateful for the experience!

Ned was adamant about getting long lines and proportions set right away.  I honestly could have spent the entire week just working on this!  To watch him work was like seeing magic performed before your eyes.  (By the way, the horse model is in the shed while Ned is sketching - we shared time out of the rain!)  It was so inspirational!

We had live horse models all week which was fantastic.  Special thanks are in order for Susie and Kathy for bringing in and managing the horses - as well as to Ned, who taught me so very much!

'Just a Place' and 'January Thaw' both juried into the PAAC National Juried Fine Art Exhibition and Sale!

I am thrilled to announce that 'Just a Place' and 'January Thaw' were both juried into the Plein Air Artists Colorado's 19th Annual National Juried Fine Art Exhibition!  The show will be at Mary Williams Fine Arts in Boulder, CO, August 1-30, 2015.  I feel honored to have art represented in this venue with so many talented artists!  I have special thanks in my heart to all individuals involved with the organization, jurying and execution of this show!  Thank you!

Just a Place
Just a Place
January Thaw
January Thaw

 

It is insightful to me that both pieces were done in the field with strong focus and immediate enthusiasm for the subject.  As a plein air painter, I often drive around casually searching for a 'spark' in my soul in response to what I am seeing.  At times I have an idea of what I am looking for, but most often I just pull off the road and meander around with a sketchbook.  Almost always, something strikes me as interesting... but sometimes, I cannot stop the truck soon enough...I am hooked from the first second!   Both of these paintings were situations like this.

For 'January Thaw', I saw snow curling off of this roof every time I drove to town and the temperature got above freezing.  I observed it many times, always curious about how I would paint that crease of snow.  Then, one day, the sun struck through the trees lighting it up as if by spotlight and I had to paint... THEN!  (Groceries are not always that important!)  I had two good hours before I was in the shade and feeling uncomfortably cold - which was just enough time!  I knew that time was of essence and got my notan studies down quickly.  It was a day of complete focus and satisfaction!

'Just a Place' was initiated by the fact that a cold wind was blowing and I was desperate to get out of it.  I hiked around a few locations before spotting the sun hitting this concrete wall... out of the wind!  When I started sketching shadow and light, I realized that many angles were coming together in a gorgeous composition.  I recently took a week workshop with Jill Carver where she stressed multiple times the importance of seriously problem solving ideas with mini sketches prior to painting... like doing MANY studies before committing to a painting.  This concept really came to fruition for 'Just a Place'.  By the time I had done multiple notan studies, I knew exactly what I was focusing on and how I was planning on achieving it.  Snow was not even completely melted at this point so colors were neutralized and subtle.  I had so much fun painting this!

All in all... you never know what will hit your soul with good focus... but when you find it... it is AWESOME!

The opening reception will be at Mary Williams Fine Arts in Boulder, CO on July 30th, 5-8pm.  I hope to see you there!

An Inspirational Week with Jill Carver

I am honored and humbled to have studied with Jill Carver for a week in Texas.  The workshop was stationed out of the West 1077 Ranch in Bandera where we were treated like royalty, ate incredible food and had insightful conversations amongst ourselves.  What a week!

Notan Field Study
Notan Field Study
Jill Carver Workshop
Jill Carver Workshop

 

The workshop itself was inspirational and FULL of concepts, specifics and thought processes.  Jill shared many aspects of her painting process including basic technical perspectives, time management, ideas and focal areas as well as philosophies of working.  It was an opportunity that I am thrilled to have had!  My mind is swimming in potential!

I have gained so much from the workshop.  One practice that I am excited to hold dear is taking time for observation and analyzing what it is that I am observing - specifically.  My primary interest in plein air work is observation, so it only makes sense that I would be as complete as possible with it.  However, I learned in the workshop that I tend to get distracted by the quickly changing light and want to 'get to work' right away.  Jill often had us on a timer where up to 1/2 of the 'painting' time was on doing notans, trying a variety of different horizon lines...or angle changes.  The goal was to slow down and REALLY look at what had interested us and what our focal area would be...THEN paint.  I LOVED the practice and found that I am much more grounded and confident as to what it is I am observing.  Since returning from Texas, I have found that this practice alone has changed my world!

My head is still swimming... but I am settling in to some of the things I have learned and am feeling very grateful!

I have a special spot in my heart for Jill and the group of incredible artists that were there with me for the week!

Photo credits: Molly Johnson

Spring has Sprung and there is Action!

Spring has Sprung and there is action everywhere!

Shift Change
Shift Change
Cottonwood Stand
Cottonwood Stand

 

These two pieces, 'Shift Change' and 'Cottonwood Stand', have both sold in the last couple of weeks!  Both are done in pastel.  I am thrilled that they have found happy homes - one in Queretero, Mexico, the other in San Antonio, Texas.  Thank you to those who have purchased these pieces!  I would like to put forth a special thank you to Guchiebird's in Driggs, Idaho for showing my work.

I am heading out today for Texas to take a workshop with Jill Carver.  I am super excited.  Her sense of form is very strong... but her execution is fluid and loose.  I think that I have much to learn from her... not to mention getting to interact with a group of incredible artists while there!  Keep posted for my experience while in Texas.

What a nice send off I have gotten over the last couple of weeks!

You Know That Winter Has Been Mild When...

...  you get out plein air painting in January and February!

Corner of the Track In Process
Corner of the Track In Process
Early Spring in the Tetons
Early Spring in the Tetons
January Thaw
January Thaw
Corner of the Track
Corner of the Track

 

I have been thrilled to get out and work on my 2014 theme of SIMPLIFICATION.  How can it be SO difficult to 'keep it simple'?  As you can see from the pieces above, I have kept my subject matter to a manageable number of shapes, focusing on basic shapes in light and shadow only.  This is accomplished by changing color temperatures within these shapes rather than extreme value changes... gee, it sounds easy enough!

I have a feeling that this is going to be my 2015 theme as well!  After all, practice makes perfect, right?

Keep posted as I will be attending workshops, making an appearance at the CLICK Visual Artists Conference, teaching workshops and THRILLED to be invited back to do a residency at the Whitney Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming... not to mention painting!

TAC Class was FANTASTIC!

Yesterday, I taught a day long workshop, Basic Practices for Drawing and Composition for the Teton Arts Council.  I feel so honored to have worked with such a great group of people.  The focus was high and the work successful!

IMG_4896
IMG_4896

 

The class was designed to give helpful tips on 'checking' your work when it doesn't feel quite right.  We worked on contour drawing through prints and freehand work, line quality, checking angles/negative shapes and sizes as well as notan studies through still life, proportions of the human figure and face.  With our last bit of time, we played with brushwork.  Yes, I am worn out... but feeling so fortunate to have spent the day with this group.  What a great day!

Thank you to the Teton Arts Council for their support!

The Challenge of a Vehicle...

A few months ago, I took a workshop with Time Horn, who paints incredible light on buildings and vehicles, among other things.  During the workshop, I couldn't resist attempting my first vehicle.

Out Back of the Shed
Out Back of the Shed

 

I had two hours until the car pool was leaving so I made haste!  The layout (which is basically a drawing with brush and paint) went in quickly and reasonably accurate.  I felt like I was on a roll!  The wonderful experience was actually observing that the colors on the truck were  reflections of the environment - not the truck itself.  It is so obvious... but very exciting to truly observe it while painting!  Oh so fun!

Of course, I ran out of time.  Lucky for me, Tim came over at the last minute and told me to get the highlights in quick - I only had 5 minutes!  I wanted to fuss with colors and temperatures, but forgot all of that and just laid in highlights.  What a difference that it made!

I have worked a little more on this piece at home but have decided to leave it mainly the way it was in the field... it is too easy to loose the spontaneity that I love so very much.

Tim Horn Workshop cropped 72
Tim Horn Workshop cropped 72

I will definitely be looking for vehicles to paint in the future!