September 1 And The Tally Is . . . .

“Woodside Afternoon”
oil on linen on panel, 12″ x 16″
“Woodside Morning”
oil on linen on panel, 12″ x 16″
Today is September 1. I celebrated that fact with a few other artists, but one in particular was none other then Elio Comacho . . . .in the flesh.
Elio and I have become sort of blog-buds in the last few months . . .he and I both being neophytes at this blogging stuf, but also we have found each other to be strong minded and informed painters who don’t mind a punch to the gut now and then. We both know syrupy crits are just that: sweetness and light. But they don’t do much to help one really look at what they are doing and attempt to grow above that. For that reason I have always welcomed his straightness . . .even when I don’t agree. The best painters I know look for peers or superior painters to help them sort out what they are doing.
When you just don’t know ‘what for’ or ‘how to’ or ‘why,’ its best to do the wise thing; grow by someone else’s experience and mistakes rather than your own.
So, today I drove a little more than an hour and spent the day with Elio teaching his workshop. If anyone out there has the chance to take from Elio . . .any instruction at all . . . grab it with gusto and hold on for the ride. He is a high engergy guy who NEVER sits down. After his demos, he is at every painter’s side coaching and critiquing. And today we had killer heat! He never faded the whole time. Believe me, this guy gives all he’s got and then some. High energy and totally in it for the improvement of the painters who come to his sessions.
Mind you, I am the sort of guy who likes someone who has a little mischeviousness behind their eyes! That is the sort of person I relate to the most. What I dug about Elio was I could confront him and he would take me on! And, he was most always right. I really enjoyed the twinkle in his eye, his energetic, all business ‘let’s paint’ attitude and his well earned painting wisdom.
He is like I am/was. He wants this stuff! And he wants it baaaaad! That means his whole life is about painting. Man! Is it ever nice to meet someone who cares that much! I don’t get to meet them often, but when I do, it is a complete connection.
So, I took as much as I could get from him today and tried to do all that he was attempting to show us. I am sure you can see him in both these pieces, but frankly, I needed to be shaken up and shown a way around the obvious. I will fool around with his style for a few paintings until I really understand the theme of what he teaches (color harmony, stroke energy and rhythm and mood) (Boy do I ever know about MOOD!)
Thanks, Elio, for a terrific day. It was strong, directed teaching with challenge and coaching. I say “Way to go!” . . .I’ll be back at the first chance I get.
Wait! There is more. These two pieces that I did with him up on that H O T moutain top were the last of the series I had set out to do on May 1. I committed to 100 by Sept first. Remember?
I didn’t make the finall tally of 100. I made 96. Four short. ‘Scuse me while I go whip myself!! πŸ˜‰ As I told him, my next 100 (by March 1) will be with a goal of being more finished. I have enjoyed this little exercise and intend to carry on with daily painting. Compared to what Elio and his mentor did to reach their skill level, I am loafing at one per day.
So, enjoy these two pieces. I worked hard at 1. more paint and 2. strokes and 3. temperature progression. There is more to be done, but I sure had fun today with all the class members and skidding to the finish line with just a teensy bit less then I had hoped . . .but an honorable finish.
“Tournasol Space”
watercolor on paper, 30″ x 22″
The nice thing about painting outdoors is that the images of what I paint is sometimes burned into my memory. I find that if the location had a lot to offer in a spectacular sense, new images begin processing themselves in my head. Unknowingly, I memorize much of the character of the place after staring at it and painting for three or four hours.

My stint at the edge sunflower field near the farmhouse where I stayed in France was no different. Also, the vision of the different shaped fields, all tilted and undulating into the distance, was something I just could not shake. At my desk at work, I found myself sketching as I was on the phone. Before I knew it, I had the elements of two or three interesting paintings . . . .each offering different challenges.

The challenge in this piece was to not allow myself to become tight and edgy. In watercolor, looseness can be fascinating, particularly when an image is represented well without actually stating it. I find that more of a feeling occurs when that is accomplished; Thus, the goal of avoiding a tight rendering. Also, green can become very tiresome in a painting, especially if it is large like this one. I had to resort to blues and violets to bring about the sense of greenery here. Those colors set off the yellows and occasional orange, obviously.

Gradations of intensity and textures play a large role in this piece to bring about the feeling of space.

As for the execution, big, really big, brushes were used to saturate the whole page with initial color while the vertical paper gave gravity permission to do the painting. Then, mark after mark with progressively smaller brushes, β€˜things’ began to appear in the paint without painfully executed edges . . . .just suggestions. Gradually, over three to four days, the painting developed with a lot of time and consideration between applications of paint.


Looking For New Stuff

“Imported Olives”
oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
As a painter looking to grow, I am always seeking ways to get the paint on the canvas in a more appealing way. I find myself browsing in places I otherwise would not . . . .such as the Good Will store . . . .to find interesting objects, too. Yesterday, I found a few things. These came from another store. I found them interesting because they presented new challenges. A ball of string . . . .very interesting texture and the size appealed to me as a possible interesting contrast object in a painting. This lop-sided, goofy shaped dish with its unusual markings and colors offerred some other possbilitities in the area of shape and pattern. Then, as if I had come to this market with this purpose in mind, I found myself looking for something tall and slender that would offer a compositional balance. When I saw it, I immediately knew it. But what a dumb thing it was!! A jar of olives? Fer gawd’s sakes!! And a ball of string? What possible relationship could these two things have? Welllllll . . . . . .the colors of the label offer great interest against the warms of the olives and the ball and bowl. And the rectangular shape of the label in the painting will make a nice counterpoint to the curvilinear shapes in the rest of the painting.
“What the heck!” . . . .”Go ahead and paint it. The only thing I have to lose is a small piece of linen . . .and I can always paint over that, if I want to.”
So I did. It is in a frame in my living room (where most of these end up to dry and to continually watch and re-evaluate). And I can’t take my eyes off it!!

Nearing a Goal

“Tea and Spritz”
oil on gessoed masonite, 6″ x 8″
“Waiting for Tea”
oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″

I feel good today. I have reached something most would think crazy and impossible. Since May 1, I made a committment to paint daily, save Sundays and to have at least 100 paintings completed by Sept 1. Today, I painted numbers 80 and 81 ! With 19 left and a return from outta the country on August 7, I should have enough time to reach the 100 without strain.
Moreover, looking back just two months, I can see a lot of growth . . .which is the very reason I took this idea on.
To all of you who visit regularly, Ed, Elio, Robin, Nava, Chris B, Ev, and of course, Silvi . . . . . .TTFN! Or ta ta for now! We are on our way. I am putting together the last of the household details and we are gone. Check in once in a while. I’ll be lookin in here via internet cafe a few times per week . . . . I just guess I can’t be without yall fer very long! It must be all the support you guys are throwing my way!
OH!! I almost forgot! Bye, Mom! :p)) (Can’t ferget her!!!)

A Few Thoughts

“Olive Oil and Onion”

oil on linen on panel, 10″ x 8″
Yesterday, I think I moved back into the zone. It seems if I am off for a week, it takes that long to regain my edge. Today was confirmation of being back into it. Yesterday’s piece drew lotsa comments verbally and here. It seems many folks like the brushwork that shows up on smooth masonite. I am not sure, yet, what’s right for me. My difficulty is that I like it all. If my watercolor background is any indication of where I may go for ‘style’ . . .you can bet I’ll be all over the place. I am just fascinated with all the things paint can do and like to mess with it.
After this weekend at the plein air show, I am more convinced that, in spite of my low sales, I just do not wish to be a ‘manufacturer’ of the same stuff all the time. In other words, I paint for me, not the market. I may regret that, but for now that’s how it has to be.
Another thought . . .I awoke in the middle of my sleep last night and realized I had not put olive oil into a glass container. With its greenish color, I couldn’t resist pairing it with a red onion. Salad anyone? πŸ™‚
Another thought. Tomorrow is my last oil painting for three weeks. I am worried about that. I sure don’t want to loose the ground I have gained. But then the trade off is a good one: three weeks in France! I will try to make at least three postings while I am there . . .but we shall see. We have some great folks house sitting for us, so I won’t have to worry about the house while we’re gone.
My last thought today . . . .I still cannot believe I am doing this! I mean taking folks to Europe to paint! I remember thinking to myself back in the nineties that maybe I could be good enough, someday, to do this. This is my fourth trip there with an art purpose. Man!! Dreams do come true! If you are someone who dreams about such stuff, stand by it and don’t let anything keep you from it. (This stuff makes me weepy. No kidding!) I have so very much to be thankful for!!!


oil on gessoed masonite, 6″ x 8″
No. That isn’t ‘curious’ . . .it’s curios, as in souveneir. These pieces of civilized flotsam are little reminders of some significant event . . .a year long trip to Japan . . .a special gift received from a wonderful class. . . .they reside together in this still life for one reason: contrast and similarity.
Again, oil on gessoed masonite, I darned near gave up on this one. It took me longer than normal . . . .and not because it is a particularly difficult subject. It just wouldn’t co-operate . . . . . . .at least until the end.
My head is banging away on a wall here at home as I replay watching an artist demo a painting in our mutually shared booth at the plein air show this last weekend. He could knock out fabulous work in 90 minutes, frame it, hang it and sell it before the day’s end. Our two days together and our chats were most educational. Now I want to try many of the things we talked about . . . . .all that banging around in my head as I painted this piece. Conflict.
Conflict? Whadddiyamean? I mean I am VERY easily influenced by watching other artists paint. And it is darned difficult not to let myself emulate. . . .especially while I paint.
I am also packing to leave this week on a long 3 week trip, so I couldn’t get outside into the beautiful weather to paint. . . . .discussion going on in my noggin about that. . . . .Then there is the lessons I have to give while there . . . what to do? . . . .And the voice of my wife shouting into the studio with one request after another.
I guess I have to live with the confusion of all the thoughts and get busy to pack for the upcoming journey. If only!

More Red

“Red Cup”
oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″
This morning was red again . . .but not so early today. After all it’s Sunday! Normally, I don’t make paintings on Sunday, but after the poor showing a week ago, I figger I better make up the losses. Inside of the painting per day promise was another goal: 100 paintings before Sept 1 of this year. So, what ever I can produce will help that goal.
I was anxious to give this cup a go today as it was part of the ‘loot’ I gathered at the import store. My wife suggested I use this little japanese tea cup she had brought home from Japan when she was an exchange student there a few decades ago. The two make a nice contrast.
This piece, in a frame, is a perfect mate to the two I painted in the last few days. In fact, the set is framed and on view in our living room in an out of the way corner. Niiiice!

Swept Up In It

“Red Teacup”

oil on gessoed masonite, 8″ x 6″
Funny how one suddenly awakens to being conscious of one’s own curious mental state. I have been swept up into the world of small still lifes without ever having purposely allowed it to happen. My gosh! Aren’t there myriads of things to paint other than vessels of various kinds? After a haircut yesterday, I found myself wandering in an import shop and buying up a bunch of second rate glassware and a few items of pottery . . .teacups mostly. After I bought them, I couldn’t wait to get home to paint them!
Whaaaaat? Uh-oh! I have caught a still life bug! This probably happened because I was house bound for a couple months caring for my injured wife. I only painted stills because it was convenient. I couldn’t leave the house. But now . . . .I get all squiggly inside because I love to look thru and attempt to paint distortions in glass! Eeegads! What happened to all that masculine, outdoor, plein air stuff, Mike?
I suppose being too busy with other aspects of life prevents me going off to spend half a day or more painting. This morning, I rose at 4AM to complete this piece. No, I didn’t set an alarm. My painting ‘jones’ woke me. (yes, I have it bad!) I have to be at an all day art ‘show’ at the museum to talk with folks and maybe sell a few paintings . . . .and for a little while tomorrow, too. So, I had to get this painting done before the day’s activities began.
So now you know the story behind this painting. There will be more of this glassware, I assure you! And just look at how rich and delicious that red teacup is! What is it about red? It hums!

Puttering Day

“Surf Stump”

oil on linen on panel, 8″ x 10″
Big family events are afoot. Today we are meeting our daughter’s future in laws and entertainting them. As well, Daughter and mom are out seeking wedding locations for a not so far off date. I got stuck with tidying up. Stuck might not be the right word. Shall we say ‘elected?’ πŸ˜‰
I know what will happen this evening. Everyone will want to go to the studio to see what goes on there. And it is a big mess. I gotta git bizzy!
Today’s painting really isn’t done today. It has been held back for a few weeks waiting for a day like today when I simply cannot paint. I almost got my feet wet doing this one. I was perched on a rock with my easel and the waves were lapping at my feet while I tried to characterize this ‘stump’ of a rock and how it is being clobbered every single minute of every day.

Reflections and Light

“Reflective Surfaces”
oil on linen on panel, 6″ x 8″
Today’s piece was out of necessity. Necessary because I didn’t go outside to paint today. Now that I think about it, I should have. It is beautiful weather! I also promised I wouldn’t paint more ocean cliffs.
Elio Camacho, an extraordinary painter who really understands the characteristics of color and working temperature, intensity and value simultaneously, is gracing my paintings with some truly instructive critiques. So, when I went to the studio today, I had his crits in mind and set out to put some of that stuff to work.
Ouch! I got lost in making the reflections work!! And value relationships. I am going back to the studio, pulling out another study canvas and painting colored blocks and going to work on temperature contrasts.
Am going to fool around with cobalt turquoise and indian yellow and quinacridone rose. That should give me a start toward making something new and exciting happen with color.