This beautiful horse is having her afternoon snack-grazing in the Tulsa, Oklahoma pasture. This is one of several paintings I did from a visit to the area in the fall. This particular painting is 6 x 6 (framed and available at www.waverlyartistsgroup.com or come by Waverly Artists Group and Gallery-Cary, N.C.) but I hope to do a much larger version soon.
Today I am sharing one of the Bison / Buffalo paintings called “Thoughtful Buffalo”. This is a gorgeous buffalo from Texas who I had the pleasure of meeting in person. The sweet looking creature in the painting really is a large and somewhat intimidating creature. However, in this shot I saw a softer side, perhaps more thoughtful side, during that one moment in time. I wanted to capture that and share it in a painting.
Painting Bison, or the American Buffalo, is a relatively new thing for me. However, I am so happy to have had the opportunity to meet with these creatures face to face. It would be hard to think of a mammal more symbolic of our nation than the Bison. Buffalo are considered the largest mammal in North America. If there was any doubt in my mind, it was erased the day that we met them. Eek!
This painting is called “Buffalo Crossing” it is a nice smaller painting, size 8 x 10.
Check out my newest paintings, a series on Buffalo, aka the American Bison:
This fall was one filled with travel, mostly out west: Utah, (western) Texas and Oklahoma. The panoramic landscapes, of Texas and Oklahoma, the steep trails and amazing colors of Utah-all exceeded my expectations. The desire to paint “the American West” was set, like someone lit a fire under me! The beautiful animals, such as the American Bison, cattle, horses, and even a very special donkey, named “Radar” have captured my attention and are all being painted in my studio back home in North Carolina. Sadly, I couldn’t paint everything “plain air”, but was able to sketch, make color references and photograph to supplement my live experiences.
Part of my trip was for a commission (will post soon) I received to paint some beautiful buffalo in Texas. Not just any old wondering West Texas Bison, but there was a specific herd, and hope to paint the clients “favorite” buffalo.
The buffalo’s name is “Baby”, but don’t let that fool you! “Baby weighs in at about 3,000 lbs. He also can run about 40 miles per hour, not bad for such a big guy!
We got to see them first from a great distance (which was good, it was wise to “ease in”). Then, we were privileged to get up close and personal, even feeding a couple of them a treat. This particular herd does “live off the land”, but is used to a few particular human beings. The caretaker of this beautiful herd was kind enough to take my children and I for this up close visit. Even though they knew the caretaker, It took quite some time for them to get even a little comfortable with 2 of my tween boys bouncing up and down with excitement.
(scroll down for images of the some of the these beautiful creatures)
I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to interact with these amazing animals, and look forward to sharing the actual commissioned piece and other studies I did in future entries.
A special shout out to Rick and Cindy Langford, along with “Doc” for the very special journey of painting this incredible herd.
Recently I had a chance to share a meal and chat with the well respected artist and teacher : John Poon.
John Poon is a master of the naturalistic landscape painting-done in the true plain air tradition. Beyond that he is the most incredible teacher of art-gifted beyond words.
I have been fortunate to study with him several times, but felt even more privileged to sit down with him and my list of questions. Knowing that he works with the highest level of professional artists in his classes (that keep coming back to him for more) I had to ask what he felt was the number one area that students and well seasoned artists alike struggle with:
Turns out it isn’t just one thing but that we all share similar struggles in the a variety of areas.
It all boils down to things he has told me before (several times) and that many of us “know” and could possibly teach verbally to others, but often lack in our own work. While he and I talked a long time, it comes down to the basics: Our paintings can totally rock if we use our ability to:
Have a range of 3-5 simple value shapes
Have one strong focal point
Have either light or shadow dominant in your painting.
Does this mean that you can’t have a great painting without these things? No. Of course great art is judged by the individual, and we all have our own personal tastes,-but if you are shooting for anything on the side of “representational” or perhaps heading towards non-representational-it certainly doesn’t hurt to think these things through.
How many times has artist Catherine Martin told me these things? I can’t even count that high. Sounds simple right? It does, but no one said that simple was easy.
These areas that John spoke about come from his knowledge, background and belief in the classical principles of art education. Many great artists do not have the opportunity to study and/or learn such traditional groundings, and we can make it hard on ourselves as we make our own way. Now I am a big believer of breaking the rules (really, just ask my mother) , but I do see the benefit of at least KNOWING the rules that you are getting ready to tear up and break down.
So, if you are one of those folks who know the things that John Poon has mentioned, but are still struggling to implement it in your daily paintings, what to do?
Well, my first suggestion is go take a class from John (if you can get into one), but in the meantime he suggested that you have a check list on areas of emphasis that you want to review for yourself during/after you think your painting is done. He also has a really great DVD available that I have and recommend-available on his website.
One of the books he has often referenced is Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting. http://www.amazon.com/Carlsons-Guide-Landscape-Painting-Carlson/dp/0486229270
You can see John’s work and check on his workshop schedule by going to his website: www.johnpoon.com.
In part two of my time with John Poon I will share some of his personal favorites with you (artists, play lists) and more!
I am honored to be a Featured Artist with an exhibit of some of my freshest work showcasing the coast and mountains of North Carolina.
David Stickle-Master Watercolorist, and I will be the Featured Artists of this show: Please join us this Friday, August 29th from 6-9 pm at the Waverly Artists Group Studio & Gallery for the opening of this show.
We will also have live music by our harpist friend Stevan Jackson, and the drumming circle Rhythmicity. Our food treat this month is from Von Fass who will present bruschetta and bread dips made with VOM FASS Oils, Vinegars and Spices.
Come tonight and celebrate with us all the beauty in our community!
I was recently commissioned to do a covered bridge painting. I love a covered bridge-whether in person, or in a photograph or a painting. Give me the chance to paint one, and pay me for it…YES PLEASE!
A covered bridge in the mountains of North Carolina in the Fall? WOW-could I get a better subject?
I love to paint landscapes, and so this should have been “all in a days work”. But it was actually more challenging than expected. One reason is that I could not get to the bridge to paint it in person. It was in the Western part of North Carolina, but still not a quick trip. My wonderful customer did provide me with quite a few photos. However, all those photos were taken on an overcast and somewhat rainy day. The pictures were taken in the fall when the colors were brilliant, but with the weather-the photos themselves were just about black and white-or like a gray scale. They were also taken in a horizontal format- all pretty close up. My customer wanted a vertical painting with lots of color.
So, here is the test for me the artist-to paint what I DONT see. I started with lots and lots of sketches. When I finally settled on a drawn composition, I began to work on some value studies. Since the photos I was working from were all basically one value…I found another challenge. However, in a way it was freeing, in that I could design and choose to do exactly what I wanted. I am very fortunate that this customer knew my work very well, and had given me total and complete artistic freedom. She even said I could throw in a waterfall, or people. 🙂 Well, this is a rare opportunity, and took a great deal of stress off of me. Commissions can be scary-if you are a people pleaser, which I am. You hope and pray they will love it and that they will see all the love you put into their painting. I am fortunate that I have had great success so far with commissions (knock on wood!). In this situation, it was a special gift for someone she loved-I knew she was happy, but it made my day when I heard HE loved it too.
When someone loves what you painted and enjoys looking at it everyday-it is a wonderful feeling!
A recent trip to the North Carolina Outer Banks gave me a great opportunity to do some painting-and the first one off the easel is this 6 x 6 “NC Shells”. Done on Cape Hatteras en plain air style! It great to combine things I love: being outdoors, being on the beach, being with family, painting, and even having a beer! Things could be worse-no doubt about it.
For the first time ever, I painted sitting down in a chair (Hey, it was vacation!), which was certainly different. It gave me a great chance to get up close and personal with my shells.
The only disadvantage: Sand in my beer. Oh well, better luck next time!
Recently I was at a celebration being held at the beach. I was responsible for some of the decor for a particular evening, including picking up lots of beautiful sea shells to incorporate into the design. As I was gathering up the “beautiful” shells, the thought occurred to me that my choice of shells may not be pleasing for the others. That the shells I had in fact picked, could be perceived by others as “ugly ducklings” My selected shells did not look “perfect” at all, but they were beautiful in a way that was attractive to me. However, I reminded myself that this was not about me. I really did want to please everyone involved and so I tried looking for shells that “they” would like. Hmm. What do people want in a shell? What attracts you to a particular shell? Perfection, character, something standard, or something unusual?
Funny, kind of like saying what do people want in art? Or what do people want out of life? Some people want money, some want time, some want change, some don’t want change. In art some want it to “match” their decor or a color scheme. Others just fall in love with a piece of art and get it, knowing it will be at home, somewhere in their home-they just love it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?
I wondered what “most” people would find beautiful.
I was thinking that maybe the “average” person might think that these shells were the “best”. They are traditional looking shells, and all are in good shape:
But, what about these shells? They are smooth as glass to the touch, like they have been sanded to a silk like surface with years of sand and ocean washing over them. They are a sensory delight in the hand.
Or what about these cool shaped shells? I call these my “guitar pick ” shells. Some remind me of a guitar pick and there are couple that remind me of shark’s teeth. They are so neat!
But also beautiful are these shells with vibrant color:
Or these with great pattern:
These were special because they had a hole in the middle (I put ribbon through them and hung them from a sea branch bouquet).
And finally-this one: Depending on how I looked at it, it reminded of me of either the cochlea or a fortune cookie.
Now, I have my favorites, but for now i will keep those to myself. What I do want to know, is what is YOUR favorite, and if you know why, tell me. Which ones would you have picked up from the sand and taken home?
“Just Ducky” is my first “bathtub painting” . This is something very different for me, and so far has gotten an excellent response. I have always loved doing “interiors”-that is paintings of scenes inside a home/barn/office, and while this does go in that category-I think its in a genre all its own!