Sunday, December 29, 2013

Something a Little Different

An artist can't live on landscapes alone, right?  I decided to try something a little different and painted an old derelict truck, all by itself in a field.

art painting truck abandoned rusty Ford flatbed ranch

"Forlorn Ford"

 11" x 14", Acrylic on panel

My reference for this was a photo I took during the "Antique Power Show" at the Richard Erickson Foundation Antique Power Museum last June. I made a few changes from the reference.  For one thing there was an ugly orange gas can sitting on the fender, I left that off.  There was also some junk on the bed I left off and other assorted tractors and trucks barely in view that I left out and I minimized the landscape to really give it that  abandoned look.  This was fun, I may do more vehicle paintings in the future.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


While I don't strive to put lots of detail into my paintings I think it's worthwhile to spend some time on occasion to sketch something in detail from life.  The more you know about your subject the more effectively you can represent it in paint whether you intend to include all those details or not.  I think pen and watercolor is the ideal medium for this purpose. We had another day of winter sun with bearable temperatures so I ventured out to the Jordan River Parkway again, the same area I went to on Christmas Eve.  I decided to record some details on this trip.

art sketch pen watecolor plein air nature tree

I honestly don't know what kind of tree this is but I thought it was interesting how it had three trunks, one large and two small.  The handful of leaves that managed to hang on through fall added a bit of interest and color.

I fully intended to do two detail sketches but when I saw this scene I had  to sketch it.  Not only was it  a great subject but I was able to sketch it from a position I normally would not since most of the year it is under water;

art pen watercolor plein air jordan river parkway

That far bank looks like it may have been created buy a machine, which is possible because part of the river restoration efforts was to return the river to something closer to it's original path with lots of bends creating endless compositions.  I'm sure they didn't have artists in mind during the restoration but I appreciate it anyway.

I meant to share some of my photos in the last post but forgot so here are a couple from Christmas Eve.

This is the view you get of the river after crossing the bridge that goes over Little Cottonwood Creek.  This is near Arrowhead Park.

Here I am standing in the middle of a marsh, one of those locations you just can't get to except during winter.  I'm looking towards the back of the pond that borders the paved trail in back.  You can see one of the boardwalks that jut out into the pond at the top left.  They have three of these on this pond, great spots for bird watching.

Here are a couple photos from todays walk in the parkway.

This is near where I made my second sketch.  You can see the big (machine made?) bank on the left but this is looking straight west whereas for my sketch I was facing Southwest and from a lower perspective.

art photography winter nature sun dusk blue shadow

"Winter Walk"

Here I was getting back to the trail that would take me back to the car.  It was 4:00 pm, the sun was getting low and it was getting cold!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Sketching

I had the day off today and we finally had some sun and a reasonable temperature after a few days of overcast conditions and snow so I went out and did some sketching.  I went to the Jordan River Parkway again, this time the area near Arrowhead Park.  One of the good things about winter is the lack of foliage exposes scenes you just don't see during the other seasons.  I decided to sketch a bend in the river, this time I got the watercolors out too.

art sketch pen ink nature jordan river parkway

It was still a little cold for attempting an acrylic painting.  I can do a pen and watercolor sketch in 20-30 minutes versus a couple hours for a painting. Not only does acrylic paint not like such low temperatures I don't care for the cold either so sitting in one spot for twenty minutes is much more appealing than sitting there for two hours.  A watercolor sketch gives me enough info to help me recall what it was like being at the scene.  All those bare trees would make a studio painting a challenge though!

I wandered farther into the area up into the marsh.  This is an area that just isn't accessible during the other seasons, it's too wet.  A heavy blanket of snow helped keep me above the moisture for the most part.  I was able to access the back of the pond at the marsh, again something I could never do any other time of the year.  The ground was still quite soft under me so I decided sitting on the stool was not an option and instead did a quick pen sketch while standing;

art sketch pen ink nature jordan river parkway

It may not seem like much but doing a sketch, any kind of sketch helps embed the aspects of the scene in your mind that a camera just can't capture.  I scribbled in a couple ducks that were there.  I don't understand that, if I could fly south for the winter I definitely would! 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Painting Winter - The Jordan River Parkway

I've never been a fan of winter.  I don't tolerate sub freezing temperatures well at all and my favorite landscape element, the trees are all bare.  There is also a distinct lack of color......or is there?  Maybe it's about time I learned to love winter, or at least the artistic possibilities winter provides.

We've been in the deep freeze the last couple weeks here in northern Utah, some days with the high temperature being below 20*F.  That kind of weather isn't very conducive to going for a walk with the sketchbook let alone painting outdoors.  Finally this weekend the temperature broke the freezing mark and today we had sunlight so I decided it was about time I got off the recliner and got outside.  It was the middle of the afternoon before I got up the ambition and with the days so short I only had time for sketching.  I went out to the Jordan River Parkway searching for subjects to sketch and to photograph.  While I only took a pen and kept the sketches quick, (it was still pretty cold ya know.) I was still forced to really observe my subject, even without using color I believe this helps cement the subject in my mind.  I decided it would be helpful to make a quick painting while the day's observations were still fresh;

art painting landscape nature winter tree snow

"Winter Ditch"

8 x 10, acrylic on panel

This is a good example of the kind of subject that only exists during winter. During the summer this  ditch would be full of bushes almost hiding the fact that it's there at all.  The snow also makes the subject more appealing by simplifying it.  Even in the spring before it gets overgrown all the grass and other plants combine to make the subject confusing and complex.  For these and other reasons winter paintings are worth making, hopefully I'll make many more of them this year than I have in the past.

Here are the two pen sketches I made today;

art ink pen sketch nature tree jordan river parkway

art ink pen sketch nature tree jordan river parkway

Friday, December 13, 2013

Red Canyon Sentinels

It's been a while since I last posted, been lazy I guess.  Finally got back to the easel and made this small painting based on a photograph I took while on vacation in southern Utah last year.  Red Canyon is the area you drive through shortly before arriving at Bryce Canyon National Park when traveling from the west.  I'd spent the whole day in Bryce Canyon and on the way to Cedar City that evening stopped at Red Canyon to explore a little and take some photos as the sun was getting low.

art painting red rock canyon utah landscape nature

Red Canyon Sentinels
acrylic, 10" x 8"