Saturday, July 13, 2019

Unbounded Spring

And now, time for something completely different.

Unbounded Spring

5” X 7”
Watercolor and Ink on Paper

It’s been a while since I’ve painted abstracts. Yet it has been on my mind, one of those art swirls that slowly coalesce and then erupt in a frenzy of work. This is watercolor and ink—a technique I’ve used in the past, but not in this exact way. 

The technique was inspired an artist many years ago who came into our 4th grade class to share her art. I was intrigued by the way she filled her paintings with lines and shapes. That was a long time ago, but suddenly the idea resurfaced again.

This piece was inspired by our amazing spring brought on by a wet winter. Even the old-timers say it was the most beautiful they remember. How appropriate that the summer monsoons have arrived and it is raining as I write this post…let the green continue!

Spring Inside

Spring Inside

8" X 10"
Watercolor on Paper

It was a long winter. Not complainingit was beautiful and we needed the moisture. The gift it brought was the most lovely spring I’ve seen—everything incredibly lush and green, wildflowers everywhere. Every plant, every tree took in a big gulp and let out a sigh of relief.

In late winter, before the earth erupted in green, our dining room held a folding table jam-packed with our optimistic veggie starts. We dreamed of the garden bounty they would bring. Nestled among the tomatoes and peppers, was this delightful geranium bursting into bloom.

Early in the year, I started teaching watercolor classes. This painting began as a demonstration to show my students various watercolor techniques (wet into wet, wet over dry, washes, and layering). The blooms lasted and lasted, giving me a chance to finish the painting as it declared spring was on its way.

The garden starts didn’t fare as well. We had a killing frost two-thirds of the way through June that took out good part of the garden plants I’d lovingly planted the week before. That’s Mother Nature, though. You never know what she’s going to throw at you.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Missionary Ridge

Missionary Ridge
17” X 9”
Acrylic on a reclaimed cabinet door

There’s two feet of snow on the ground and more on the way (yay), but I was lost in this memory of our summer monsoon season as I painted this piece. 

We packed up a lunch and our fishing gear and headed out to explore Missionary Ridge, north of Durango. We were heading out to Henderson Lake, to try our luck fishing. It was another sweltering day, but as the road climbed, the air cooled, and we rolled down the windows and let it wash over us in joy.

It was early in the monsoon season, and we’d yet to get a decent rain, so as we watched the clouds billowing and building to the north (right where we were going!), we cheered them on, hoping for a downpour.

Clumped patches of wildflowers in brilliant pinks and purples spattered the grassy hills. Dense stands of deep green spruce alternated with swaths of tree skeletons left behind by the catastrophic fire that swept the ridge in 2002, burning more than 70,000 acres.

By the time we reached the lake, thunder rumbled steadily. The sky to the west was purple with swollen, angry clouds. “Come on, rain!” we said, breaking out our chairs and lunch in defiance. There’s no better way to guarantee rain than showing the weather gods you aren’t taking shelter when they growl at you.

The lake was serene and fringed with lush emerald vegetation, a happy sight, and much needed reprieve from the dry, pale tufts of last year’s grass and parched trees we had at home, just a few miles away. It had been a dry winter and our spring grasses barely made a showing before the heat came on hard and without mercy. 

Despite our taunts, the rain stayed to the west. We tossed a few lines into the mirror of a lake, but the fish took no interest in our offerings. We dawdled for a while longer and enjoyed watching the late afternoon light on the land as the clouds moved on, gifting us with a few spatters as we traveled back down the hill towards home.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Into the Weminuche

Into the Weminuche
20” X 16”
Acrylic on Canvas

It was the perfect afternoon—after a perfect anniversary weekend exploring Gunnison, Tin Cup, and Lake City, we were taking the backway into Creede. Miles from anywhere, we saw a sign for an overlook and decided that’s where we would stop for lunch. 

And what a view it was, looking into the Weminuche Wilderness. The light frosting of snow on the distant peaks contrasted with the autumn gold grasses in the valley below; the deep blue of the sky reflected in the water, a mosaic of ice patches the weakening November sun couldn’t melt during the ever-shortening days.

We bundled up and broke out the backpack stove to make tea and instant soup, grateful for the sun’s warmth.

This is one of those paintings that seemed to take forever…started long ago and set aside several times as I turned my attention to other paintings and other projects.

In early November, I had my first studio show here in Durango after a looooong hiatus. It’s amazing how much time it takes to prepare when you haven’t had a show for a while. Clint installed lights, while I framed and cleaned (paintings and house). 

Just one part of the house where paintings were hung. I had 42 framed pieces on display.

While in the process of inspecting and cleaning paintings as we hung them, I discovered pieces I had not signed, or varnished, or had horrible globs I had to fix. There were older less-favored paintings taken out of frames to make homes for new pieces. Whew—it was a lot of work!
 When “show day” came, we were ready and it was a great day. Plenty of people showed up (you always worry, you know) and they ate and drank, looked at art, and I even sold a few. Not bad for the first show in a new town where I had to build a mailing list from scratch. 

I could barely wait to get back to painting…and forced myself to finish “Into the Weminuche” before I allowed myself to start a new painting (well on the way to being finished, by the way).

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Plein Air Twofer

Morning Aspens
5” X 7”

A couple of times a year I get to go camping for my job with Great Old Broads for Wilderness. Yep, it’s pretty darn cool and we (the staff) all agree, these trips are always magical and it’s a treat to get out from behind a computer. 

It’s hard work, because we’re managing 60 or so participants for these events (we call them Broadwalks)— but it is also great fun and I’ve gotten to meet some wonderful people and see amazing landscapes.

I teach watercolor classes at these events and I really enjoy these sessions. I start out with a little discussion about color and planning the painting, and then do a demonstration before everyone digs in to their own paintings. If I can convince them, the students share their work with the group when we all gather for dinner and the evening program. After four painting sessions this last trip, I had a couple of demo pieces that had the potential to become finished paintings—and here they are!

For this adventure, we went to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area near Ketchum, Idaho to learn about the Endangered Species Act and some of the creatures whose survival is threatened. We camped in the beautiful Silver Creek Meadow—a broad expanse bordered by a breathtaking, rocky ridge. At the edges of the meadow, the aspens glowed in a symphony of greens in the morning sun.

Meadow Sentinel
5” X 7”

This is the other painting I completed that was started in one of the watercolor class demonstrations. This is but one tiny section of a ridgeline that ran as far as we could see from left to right. Its color and texture changed throughout the day as the sun and clouds moved across the sky. It was one of the loveliest locations I’ve experienced so far on one of our events. However, now that I think of it, I say that about nearly everywhere we go.