There’s been plenty going on since my last post in March, much that I am thankful for. I completed a commission and have two new ones ready to get underway. So that’s pretty exciting. I started work last month on a new personal painting project. As always the school year keeps me busy and despite the unusual circumstances that have dominated the school year, I had a great time with the students and they accomplished some amazing things in the shop.
My personal project is for a series of paintings that I unknowingly started last year when I did a plein air painting looking down my street. Continuing with that initial painting, I am going on around the cul-de-sac I live on. This idea was inspired by a photograph I took one evening of a particularly amazing sky. Also, I have resolved that all of my oil paintings will be done plein air or from life, at least primarily, further inspiration for the series.
Other thoughts for new work are brewing which involve a much smaller format than I have traditionally used. I purchased a few 6″ x 8″ canvases and made a few 6″ x 8″ panels too. If I had to guess, this new work will be some plein air “sketches” using oil paints.
So it’s March now and not a lot to report. Haven’t spent a lot of time in the studio but I do keep up with the sketching and drawing at least. Drawing and sketching is a must; whether it’s sitting in my chair in the evenings or taking the time to go outside, enjoy the sun, the air, and the wildlife.
I have managed to start a new painting, a plein air painting at that! There is still an unfinished painting on the easel in the studio from back in August, or somewhere around that time. I could not tell you what the deal is with that painting. Oh well.
The most immediate job is to clean up and reorganize my studio. Need to straighten up that physical and mental space.
By circumstance I finished out the year doing some nighttime sketching. Not a bad way to greet the new year.
During Christmas break I was able to get into the studio and make up for some lost time. As I mentioned in my previous post I found myself wondering off on a series of large format mixed media drawings and I completed a few more of those. The drawings are 26-1/2” on the short side and 40” on the long side. It has been fun and refreshing making these drawings; I plan to make some more.
Finally, the large oil painting I was working was also completed over break, or indefinitely abandoned you might say, and that feels really great. There is another painting on the easel that didn’t make it though and another that has been cast off since February or March. However, the way I see it I am already primed for this year (not that I am ever short of ideas).
This past year certainly had way more than it’s share of shittiness but I must say there was also plenty of good fortune and for that I am truly thankful.
Since school started back I have been all discombobulated. As soon as I would find a rhythm there would be a disruption and then another and then another. Despite all of that turmoil I still made sure I took the time to draw or paint no matter how irregular it was.
Here is a update on all that I have managed to do in the face of a very frustrating school year.
These two oil paintings I started at the end of the summer are still on the easel. Over Thanksgiving break I went in to the studio and made a big push on the painting on the left. Almost forgot how much I love oil painting! At one point I was laying the paint on so thick I thought I might as well just start rolling around in it.
We have a fig tree that was doing poorly in the ground and we finally dug it up to put it in a pot. The fig tree is much happier now. I am very captivated by this tree and so I sat out to do a couple of watercolors of it which turned into this mass of drawings/watercolors you see here.
I have done a few other small watercolors which you can find on my Instagram feed.
While working on a commission (I have been very fortunate this fall to be commissioned to do several small watercolor paintings) I managed to distract myself with these drawings. They started out as warm-ups before working on the commission but I think they are turning into a project all their own.
Teachers will be reporting back in about two weeks and then the students a week after that. Right now we have a half-in/half-out plan for students to return but it looks like we may end up going fully remote. We’ll see.
On to better things – I have been fortunate to have a couple of commissions over the summer and am very thankful for that. Since March I have spent a lot of time with my watercolor paints, more than usual it seems, and have just this week put them down for a bit to get back to some oil painting. I managed to get one oil painting finished just before getting tied up with the commissions and just this week I have started two new oil paintings.
It is so refreshing to be painting in oil again and to be painting large format too! However, I know I’ll be picking the watercolor brushes back up soon. Can’t stay away from any of it for too long.
School is officially over for this year and that is quite a relief. Now I should be able to clear out that space in my head for time painting in and out of the studio.
I did the two Juliet tomato watercolor/mixed media pieces a few weeks ago and then this evening I got out after dinner and started one of some Nasturtiums. The gardening is my wife’s thing, I’m pretty much just the labor, but then I take care of the building projects too. At any rate, it’s been great having so much subject matter to choose from for paintings. I’m thinking we will build our own little Givrney here.
I have also returned to the studio a few times and made some progress on an oil painting I started a month or so ago. This one is giving me a fit with color mixing. For whatever reason I have decided it is important to pay close attention to my color choices and that can get a bit frustrating. However, I might be exaggerating about my frustrations with this painting a good little bit.
The school year, such as it is, is drawing to a close and I’m rolling along with the painting.
I made two watercolor/mixed media paintings of a lavender bush in one of our flower gardens, finished an oil painting I started a few months ago and started right in on another oil painting.
The watercolor pieces are in keeping with the coreopsis paintings I did. Primarily done plein air and worked on in the studio as I felt necessary. None with any real plan and still drawn from life and emotional sensibilities.
These two oil paintings are composed of on-site sketches and photographs. I’m working on them exclusively in the studio. I have so many different ideas I want to explore that it’s nice to switch around from studio painting, plein air painting, and watercolor painting. Helps me avoid getting into a mental rut.
Summer break will start soon with school officially ending (the school year was over for all intents and purposes once we were sent home in March) and I’ll keep rolling on along. It’s always nice having the opportunity to give my painting greater attention over the summer. The only distraction is trying to get caught up with projects around the house.
Online learning for high school students has been… has been… well, it’s been something. I’m always within arms-length of the computer and so not venturing far from home. However, there is some flexibility that has allowed me to take advantage of the down-time and wonderful weather to step away from the computer just far enough to paint.
I have been working on the plein-air painting you see above. This is the street I live on and so much of the landscape and curve of the road has always appealed to me. So far I am four days into it, not including the preparatory sketch, and probably have one to two days left to finish it up.
Last week I got super busy making watercolor and mixed-media paintings of some coreopsis in a flower pot sitting on the deck of my home studio. It was great fun working on those paintings; something quite different than what my watercolors usually are. I didn’t have much of a plan to start with, just sketched something out and went right on building it up from there.
As if all this hasn’t been enough, I had the great fortune to be commissioned by a friend to do two small watercolor paintings that would become Mother’s Day gifts for his mother and his wife. He was such a wonderful, easy to work with client!
All in all, remotely teaching high school students has been… well, something, but having the flexibility to spend more of the daytime part of the day to make art has been the silver lining that has helped make the whole situation mentally manageable.