Monday, March 31, 2008

Lake Pleasant plein in the neck

In the previous post I mentioned that I had an unsuccessful day attempting to paint wildflowers two hours from my home in Prescott. My destination was Lake Pleasant, one of the larger desert lakes in the Phoenix area. I won't bore you with the details of why it went poorly. I'll just share some of the photos. I did learn that plein air painting is harder when you have a headache. Oh yeah, it was a Monday, too. I hate Mondays. On the plus side, I got in a good long hike (maybe too long). I did see some wildflowers and at the end of the day I took a few decent reference photos. Maybe I'll get some pay back later in the studio.

Also, a rare occurrence happened while shooting these photos. Near to where I was standing taking pictures, an arm of a saguaro suddenly cracked and broke off. The six foot long arm bent over with the sound of a hundred twigs breaking at once and was left dangling by the few twigs that failed to break. Bad day for the plants, too. Do you think it was trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"How long did that take to paint?"

Yesterday I painted a 24x24 panel of the Superstition Mountains and for some reason it got me thinking about the question that is the title of this post. This has always seemed a strange question to me because, apart from all the other things that are required to create a painting, the time spent really is of minor importance, especially if the questioner means the amount of time spent actually working at the easel. The question fails to consider the time spent leading up to this imagined "easel time". Does it really matter how long it took Van Gogh to paint The Starry Night? Perhaps in an art history sense it matters, but would knowing the time in days or hours deeply affect your enjoyment of the painting?

Day After It Rained, the piece pictured here, is a prime example. It is the result of a lot time spent hiking, painting and photographing on location and still more time in the studio working up ideas and drawings that reflected what I hoped to paint. Also, I am happy the way the saguaros turned out, but that is only because I have seen, photographed and painted thousands of them. I've also examined the many ways other artists paint them. The ones painted here would not appear as they do had I not committed myself to all that "saguaro time".

More abstractly, should I also include the time I spent the day before? The one where I raced around for eleven hours trying to see and paint this years wildflowers two hours from my home only to arrive back at home virtually empty handed and somewhat dejected. I converted the angst from that "wasted" day into having a more productive day painting the work here.

Extrapolating backward, isn't each completed painting the sum total of the artists experiences and practices up until that point? Couldn't I answer the time question by simply giving my current age down to the second it was finished? Could I go further and say it is in my genes to create? My grandfather was an artist, my father is also very creative. Maybe I come from a long line of artists that stretches back through the millennium, back to the cave paintings of our neolithic ancestors and beyond. Could I attach more time and go back to one of my pre-homo sapien primate relatives who first thought to draw a line in the sand with a stick just to see what happens? Can I say proudly that this work took a couple million years to make?

Maybe I'll just say 4 hours, 27 minutes and 53 seconds, give or take a few million years.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Art Shows and Celebrations

I'm pleased to announce that I've been accepted to be a part of the 34th annual Phippen Museum Western Art Show and Sale. This show is the highlight of the many art shows held on Prescott's historic downtown square throughout the spring, summer and fall. The show is Memorial Day weekend, Sat. to Mon., May 24, 25 & 26. This will be my first art fair event, and I will be participating in my first Quick Draw event on the Sunday at 2:00 pm as well (a little scary that last bit is!) More on this as the event dates get closer.

More good news! My painting titled Far Summits has been accepted to be in the St. George Art Museum's "Zion National Park: A Century of Sanctuary" show this August. From the museum website...

Zion National Park is turning 100 in 2009. As a part of the celebration, Zion Natural History Association, in partnership with Zion National Park, the St. George Art Museum, and the St. George Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be hosting an exhibit entitled, “Zion National Park: A Century of Sanctuary.”

The Zion National Park centennial exhibit will premiere at the St. George Art Museum and feature three components: a historic exhibit in the Main Gallery, a juried exhibit in the Mezzanine Gallery of recently completed paintings, and a contemporary installation about Zion in the Legacy Gallery. The former will feature photographs and paintings covering the early years. The second component will be a juried (by Peter Hassrick) exhibit featuring the finest recent paintings of Zion National Park.

The Zion National Park centennial exhibit will be on view at the St. George Art Museum from August 23, 2008 to January 24, 2009. The historic works and installation will not travel while juried exhibit may travel to other venues in 2009.

Having been lucky enough to have climbed in Zion on several occasions, I feel honored to have a work of mine in this show. Zion is an amazing place!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

View from Brin's Mesa

So many things have happened prior to this initial post that any attempt to provide a Reader's Digest version just won't seem right. I will try to keep things current and only insert comments about the past when it seems appropriate.

The other day I got the chance to hike up the Brin’s Mesa trail above Sedona. I came away with some nice photos, a 9x12 and some ideas for future visits to this beautiful section of red rock country. Next time I will try to get on top of the mesa before sunrise to get the longer shadows I'm certain I missed by getting a late start.