2021 has come to a close with this last plein air study. Here I now stand, after following the rules of classical form for five years of painting, at the precipice of knowing that what lies ahead is toward the abstract. In order to avoid painting another ho-hum landscape, albeit ones with sound harmony and sensibilities, I’ve realized, from recent in-depth studies of the principles of Cezanne, that true art comes from the corruption and violation of nature. One is otherwise making a replica or a copy of her. The picture is the thing. It is its own thing. A two dimensional thing that must be created in its own right. I’m setting out. Wish me luck.
I lived in California for five years in the early 90’s. As a school age kid, I was a California dreamer. Volkswagen beetles and flower power seemed very alluring to me. The entire west did. I eventually discovered it all and, the west and its beauty became my inspiration to paint. The Golden Gate Bridge represented the entire promise of what the west had to offer. Today, it is a vastly different cultural and political climate but, the beauty remains. This painting will most assuredly find a home.
I started this air show painting last week, from a reference photo of a Colorado friend who attended the show earlier this month. Though the scale was a bit daunting at only 11×14, I finally got around to finishing.
This is the result of a two-hour plein air excursion in Des Moines. Though it is not finished, I am hesitant to paint on it again to guard against altering its freshness.
I have just a few adjustments to make, and then I’ll sign this one. Edit: you are now looking at the updated and final version. Thx!
I’ve been driving around the surrounding farmlands this summer and fall, taking photos of future paintings. I just got around to facing, and finishing this one, after starting it a month ago, and being intimidated by the light in it.
It’s rewarding to knock off a small painting of, say, 12×16 but, I’d like to increase my production of larger paintings such as this one. This is still a work in progress and I’ll only fix a few small details.
Farm life subject matter is something not to be overlooked in Iowa. In fact, it’s a challenge not to consider when looking for striking compositions here in the prairie.
To quote, and borrow a phrase from baseball, “I’m seeing the ball really well right now,” I’ve got 10,000 hours invested in getting to where I can execute this sky and palette. If you go out early in the morning and look, meditate, on the color in the atmosphere, you will soon see that, starting at the horizon, all six colors (the three primary, the three secondary) are there. Follow me: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. From bottom to top. So fun to paint. Enjoy.
I am beginning to drive around the state of Iowa more often, scouting for those special places that may be painted in the early or late light of day. This was a barn just east of Adel, Iowa that I found interesting enough to sketch out. The light, however, is the thing I am after.
Trying to build a remuda of skies. This is a rather precarious one we often see here in Iowa.
The fields of Iowa have been in the news as of late. For us Iowans, we live, every day, with the idea that, if you build it, they will come.
This year, in many ways, is a moving year. One major change in my orbit is to get outside and paint more plein air. Here is a little one hour sketch, in order to begin to stretch the plein air muscles.
Three night paint out in Des Moines, in association with Mainframe Studios, Salmagundi, and the Polk County Conservation, began at the Lauridsen Skate Park downtown. This was my Friday night entry.
I’ve lived in the State of Colorado twice in my lifetime. Loveland Co. for one year in 1975, before returning to Iowa to attend University. (ISU.) Then again for six years throughout the late 1980’s in Colorado Springs Co. I knew the state well and, often miss the open range feel of the West.
I painted this very view only a week ago at 12×12. Here is a larger version. I enjoyed the sky and clouds from this vantage point during an early morning rain shower skirting by to the east.
This is a work in progress of the walking bridge that spans Grays’ Lake in Des Moines, Iowa. Currently tacking up a bit so I can add the rest of the bridge structure and railing. Stay tuned for final.
Clouds have inspired me lately and, there is every color in the sky. Ultramarine, Cerulean, Viridian, Yellow Ochre, and Alizarin are all used, though very highly tinted, with Titanium White. This, excluding Burnt Umber, is my entire palette.
Something about this little calf I can’t let go of. My attempt, however, was to capture the ethereal quality of the summer Iowa air and landscape.
18 x 24 oil on canvas – Sold
8 x 24 oil on panel
12×24 oil on panel – Sold
11×14 oil on canvas
20×24 oil on canvas – private collection
11×14 oil on panel
18×24 oil on panel
12×24 oil on canvas – private collection
16×20 oil with knife on mounted panel
I have been fascinated with the aerial lift bridge since seeing it for the first time over seven years ago. Now that we have been spending our summers on Park Point, I have finally gotten around to approaching this marvel as subject matter. I am so taken by it that I intend to keep painting the bridge in all available light. This little jewel turned out to my liking. I hope you enjoy it too!
A knife painting of a typical summer Iowa day.
One of my favorite areas just south of Des Moines to study the Iowa landscape.
I went driving around Iowa on Memorial Day looking for cattle. I only found clouds.
So I have been combing the central Iowa landscape looking for those special little places in that special early or late light. Low and behold this day presented a nice little jewel of a moment.