Saturday, June 23, 2012

Protective Love

Twice on my road trip across Kansas and Nebraska, I have come upon a sight that will undoubtedly become a painting in the near future. Beautiful brick silos that have outlived their original purpose of grain storage for some hardworking farming family and who now is a protective shelter to what started out as a small sapling. Years of being protected from the harsh elements has resulted in the growth of a full grown tree. At some point the height of the tree exceeds the tallest point and has now broken through the ruins of what once was the roof and now the height of its branches are far protruding and cascading over the shelter that once completely surrounded it. This picture makes me mindful of the protection available to all of us who are called sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father whose greatest joy is to surround his children in his protective love.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalms 91:1-2

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Frustration to Fruition

How long is it in an artists evolution before painting becomes so natural that you no longer hesitate to achieve the perfect grass, trees or rocks? I mean these are the staple to any good landscape.  Here is an example of my question-I started a 24 x 36 inch painting of a series of grass covered hills and find myself painting over my grass twice now and I'm still not happy with the results. This bothers me is that I went to bed frustrated and woke up this morning feeling even more frustrated about this painting. Even if I don't go back into the studio today, I know the half finished painting is there and so are those grassy hills that just don't seem right.

 I find myself still painting at times out of order and thinking to myself, "How long before this process of creating a painting becomes natural and EASY?" I know that I try to paint too quickly and don't spend enough time really thinking about where I am going with my composition, otherwise I wouldn't still be painting a tree before I've finished my background. I think better planning out the steps of my painting will help me with this. I always know the basic subject matter that I am going to paint but I don't spend enough time focused on the steps needed to achieve that painting. The one I am working on now started out well enough.  You can see the progression of the painting as I follow these steps:

STEP 1-Sky is painted w/clouds.

STEP 2-Lay base layer for the distant rolling hills.

STEP 3- Paint the distant grass details on those hills.
 (It is in Step 3 and find that painting this much grass with my fan brush is time consuming, painful to my back and makes me very tired.  This is the step that I rushed through because a 24 x 36 canvas covered with grassy hills gets tiring and then I thought I would like the way the grass looks better if I paint the foreground trees. MISTAKE.

STEP 4- Paint details of grass, dead tree and shrubs in the foreground and maybe add a deer as an additional focal point. 
 Not yet finished because I still need to add much of the foreground details which include the tall grass, the road and the dead tree. I added the deer last night and I think he looks great if I can say so myself.  This one probably will be several more weeks before I feel it is completed and ready to be added to my gallery page, but at least I find myself today warming up to it.

The road is steep here because of the hilly terrain and the overgrown shrubbery hides your view as it descends down the other side.  You can only see a hint of it as it continues around the grassy slopes covered in summer wildflowers.  Suddenly, you stop dead in your tracks as you notice that you have just startled a young buck feeding on the tall grass and you know that at anytime he will bolt but for this moment you both are frozen as you stare in awe and try to memorize the ripples of his muscle, the shade of his fur and the number of points on his rack.  If this painting makes you feel this way, then I have succeeded in transforming my Frustration into Fruition.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Imitation is Flattery

This week I realized that someone has been watching me.  Not like stalking, but watching my progression as an artist and I believe that I have inspired that person to follow their own art passion.  When I received the invitation to  read their blog and check out their Weebly website, it began to dawn on me that these are the same steps I took.  Even down to joining their communities local artist guild.  When I started thinking that I might actually be able to achieve that life long dream of becoming artist, I didn't have a real clear idea of just  what the first steps should be, but I knew that painting every free moment to develop and improve my skills certainly needed to be at the top of the list.  So painting I have done and I can look around my home and find past paintings staked all around and hanging in every room.  Painting, however is just a part of the whole successful picture.  You need unrelated people who want to stare at your work in amazement and not just step over it as they move from room to room.

Both networking and marketing are also vital in becoming a  successful artist.  To really network, I first figured that I had to start rubbing elbows with other artists and find out what the opportunities in Las Vegas were for me.  I got up my courage and I joined the local art guild a year and a half ago.  Crazy person that I am, I now find myself their treasurer, workshop director and this month keeping their website updated was added to my growing list of guild responsibilities.  I also asked artists on facebook to become my friend so that I could constantly be inspired by amazing artwork each morning when I log in.  It is almost as if I have the pleasure of attending a gallery opening each and every day.  So at this time,  I think I have the area of networking covered.

My marketing plan has been also a time consuming process.  I soon learned that all successful artists seem to have both a blog and a website and many have newsletters.  I think it is very important to figure out right away what your internet niche is, so that you and your art work can stand out.  One dear artist friend on facebook, Nancy Medina, paints the most amazing flowers and lives in Flower Mound, Texas.  She blogs about her 3 pug dogs and sells painting faster then she can clean her brushes.  There are artists who specialize in equestrian art and are always posting pictures of themselves out in some remote desert or pasture, with their plein air, french style easel looking great while wearing cowboy boots and jeans.  The artist that helped me get started by providing amazing online lessons so that I could learn to paint clouds, trees, and mountains just like Tim Gagnon.  His style is unique and his trees and clouds are amazing.  I could watch his Youtube videos for hours.  It is a toss up between him and the late Bob Ross.

So for over a year I have studied and watched other artists to realize today that now I have someone watching and following my own steps.  It is a rather humbling realization but on the same hand I feel so complimented.  I must be doing something right.

So here I am...a 50 year old church accountant, wife, mother to six and a soon to be grandmother of 5 trying to find a niche that will set me apart from all the other artists that are trying to survive in an economy where people are spending their savings on paying bills and necessity rather than spending it on works of art.  You have to self analyze and dig deep.  What really excites you?  For me, I have always loved the state of Nevada.  From the first time, almost 34 years ago when my soon to be husband took me out and we found the ruins of an old mining operation near Sandy Valley, I have been hooked.  I love history and this huge state is chalked full of pieces of history scattered all over, waiting to be discovered.  It is a rockhounding, history buff and yes, an artists dream come true.  So there is my angle...I'll be a Nevada artist, and spend my rest of my days trying to capture the essence of Nevada with some paint on a canvas.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Old Characters and Wild Horses

Because of the recent long weekend that we had in celebration of Memorial Day, Brad and I decided that we would pack up the truck and take a trip up towards Goldfield, Nevada to check out some of that area and I hoped to get some good inspiration. I have for years seen the road sign that points off to a distant mountain as you travel from Las Vegas to Reno and have yearned to take that road. The sign clearly reads "Silver Peak". That name evokes images in my mind of forest clad mountains, ghost town ruins and the possibility of a real adventure. Accompanying us was our friend Wally and our little red-head, Laura.

The drive to Goldfield is about three hours so it was a long day of driving. Goldfield is an amazing little town that everyone drives through on the way to Reno but never stops. On this day, we did stop and were entertained by Bill Vanderford, the owner of the Gold Strike Jewelry Store and according to his business card, consulting geologist.  Believe me when I say, "You can't miss it in Goldfield."  He was the kind of guy that I would classify a "REAL CHARACTER" with the bluest eyes I have ever seen. Transplanted from California, he and his wife were content to etch out a living by selling jewelry and rocks to the few travelers that are brave enough to stop.

Goldfield has amazing standing buildings in every degree of decay scattered throughout the small town, standing as monuments to the sturdy stock of miners and pioneers that they served. Hotels, saloons, banks and even the old high school is amazing to look at. It is about as close as you can get to being transported back in time to the REAL wild west. If you are ever driving Nevada State Highway 95 from Las Vegas to Reno, take the time to stop and really consider this little bend in the road that requires you to slow down. Bill would love the chance to pull your leg for a while and try to sell you a treasure.

Silver Peak turned out to be rather disappointing.  There is an active Lithium and salt mine so the area was surrounded by pools of what appeared to be acidic water.  We decided to turn around and not travel up that road any further on this day.  Just a few miles back on the highway, we did turn down the road to Gem Field and we were able to pick up some beautiful Agate and Opalite rocks.  While we were there, we were treated to a spectacular show by the native wildlife.  As we were photography the herd, the stallion came trotting over the hill in protector fashion.  Here are just a few of the amazing animals that we managed to capture with our camera from our trip.  I can see painting burros and wild horses in my near future.