A God Creating For Our Enjoyment

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Forty tubs of paint, four dozen brushes, mineral spirits, paper towels, trash bag, extra large diet coke, one 12x16 canvas, one 20x24 canvas, one umbrella, one kitchen step stool, can of Deep Woods OFF - I think I have everything I need. Oh yes, my Julian French easel and my Molly, my protector from passerby's.  Nothing like a good barking dog hiding under my easel to keep people moving. I wonder, could carrying all that for twenty years be the cause of my bad hip? Over the years I never eliminated one of those items for going out painting, not even when I knew I would be hauling it all up and down hills through the woods and over streams. Knowing the reward of coming home with a good painting gave me the energy to carry it all out there. Heaven help those I ran into on the way back if I failed to get a good painting. On a nice day my foot was my answer to those non-painters. 

Can't  imagine what people thought who saw me out painting, not many people know what a french easel is and setting up in a steam might be a  sight for some. I had farmers stop and ask if I were OK when I set up on the side of a hill covered in ice and snow. Crashed into a big old dead tree that day when the ice cover gave way and my french easel and myself took a ride down to that dead tree I was attempting to capture on canvas. To keep the swelling down I laid in the snow for an hour before packing it in. First case of black leg that evening. Second case came when I discovered my friend Gary couldn't steer a toboggan, again the tree won. 

Those first trips out painting were to get paintings done, but then those trips out turned into study sessions. Seeing and capturing the colors of a stream was the reason for sitting in the middle of it with my easel and my paints. I wanted exact color - not a color close to what I was seeing, so I had my emerald green there to mix a touch of yellow ochre to get that one lone rock at the bottom of that stream. Seeing the array of colors out in nature was my goal for going out. A friend happened upon the same spot I'd painted the week before, with his painting he showed me the beauty of nature, but he did not prove to me there is a God. When I look at what is out there or at a face in my studio I see the work of God.

I am not religious but the only way to explain it is with God. The dead tree in my friend's painting I recognized right away and I could see he'd put the grey trunk in very actuate. What he missed were the subtle variations of grey and violets that were there. Where one needed a  Quinacridone or a cobalt rose to get the grey in the trunk of this tree, he used a simple cad red.

For me painting out on the spot is seeing all the incredible colors out there and wanting to capture them, not just the fact there are dead trees that can make for a nice painting but that there is a God creating for our enjoyment. If a limited palette is your choice why not stay in the studio?  

An Army of Hope on the Move

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 Apple season; roadside stands selling the best apple cider, fields of gold and artists looking for those hidden places to capture on canvas. Autumn is closing in, inspiring artists to get out of their messy dusty studios to create prose with color and brushes. Fingerless gloves, worn hats, paint spattered pants and smocks - an army of hope is on the move. Art exhibitions are in the making. 

I remember in art school, everyone who'd planned weekend trips to farmland returning on Mondays with paintings of red barns, white houses and bright yellow maple trees, all painted from a distance. Three, maybe four, weekends the autumn colors would inspire then it was back to nudes and costume models,  a few still-life paintings of Indian corn and pumpkins would get frames for those winter time art exhibitions.

This is how it was and still is for many because this is what artists do. A few will see more when out there hunting for those award-winning paintings. I remember my first trip out painting on the spot. I chose the Aurora Round House, not because I wanted to be different, but because I had no car and no way of getting to my relatives farms. Even if I did get manage to get out to one of their farms I'd have been put to work. So I carried my paints a few blocks to the railroad yards and did a painting of the interior of the round house. 

Monday at school all I got were puzzled looks. One of the teachers recognized the fact I was familiar with my subject - which I was, it was where my dad worked so I was quite familiar with the round house. It's important to know your subject. Even a red barn from a distant can be more interesting in a painting when you are familiar with the workings of a farm. Uncle Melvin's red barn was in need of fresh paint and and new framework around the doors from all the cows scratching their backend on those doorways. When I did make it to his farm I did a painting of my cousin's rabbit hutch. Every time I got to one of my uncles farms I found things more interesting to paint than just the barns themselves. As a kid I loved exploring the barns, watching the cows from above and the barn owls feeding mice to their young. It's why I understood Andrew Wyeth's paintings.