Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Passing Time While Waiting

 Yesterday I took my car into the shop for new brakes.  I put it off for as long as I could, longer even.  I know, I'm a car guy, I should know better but I'll admit I'm very lazy and procrastinate when it comes to maintenance and repairs on my daily driver, good thing it's a car that's hard to kill.  

Fortunately I found a good shop not far from home and I can even set an appointment and have a brake job done while I wait. However, I was looking at a two hour wait.  I could have walked home, about 1/2 hour there and 1/2 hour back, kind of silly when the wait is two hours.  Luckily the Jordan River Parkway is just around the corner from the shop, so while my brake pads and rotors where being replaced I went for a walk with sketchbook and pens in hand.

pen sketch nature bush jordan river parkway

The first sketch was a very detailed study of a bush.  Why?  I don't really know, I could see it from the bench I was sitting on and it had an interesting shape and I needed to pass some time.  I don't paint realistically but I still think there is value in doing a little study like this.

river nature sketch jordan parkway

The second sketch was from the bank of the Jordan River and obviously not nearly as detailed, I was just trying to quickly get an overall impression of the scene, maybe to use as reference for a future painting.

I also took a few photos of course, here are two of them.

jordan river nature wetland parkway

This photo isn't the river but rather a pond at the Kennecot Nature Center near Arrowhead Park.

Jordan River Utah nature wetland Parkway

This is the river at the Little Cottonwood Creek confluence. Notice a gaggle of geese are taking advantage of the little island in the middle. Unfortunately our skies are very hazy and gray right now because of smoke from all the wildfires in the west.

Well, it was a well spent two hours.  My car not stops without making odd noises and I got to spend a couple hours enjoying nature and spending quality time in my sketchbook.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Reworking Failures

 Sometimes paintings just don't work, even after several attempts.  But then one day you give it just one more try, possibly years after you had given up and suddenly you get a good result.  Is that a case of just keep trying and trying until you succeed?  Or is it a case of your skills improving to the point where you are finally up to the challenge of that composition you are trying get down in paint?  I suspect some of both.  I experienced this with two paintings recently, one that was on and off my easel for over two years, and one that I thought I finished three or four years ago but never really liked. 

art painting rural farm hay field barn
"Old Fashioned Farm" Acrylic 20" X 16"

"Old Fashioned Farm" was that first painting that was on and off my easel for a couple years.  I even cropped it to a 12" X 16" at one point trying to make the composition work.  I'd had given up for some time, just left the painting sitting on the floor on the side of the easel along with some others.  Finally I picked it up recently and just went over the whole thing with thick paint and knives and finally produced a result I'm reasonably satisfied with.

art painting landscape rural open land countryside
"Country Morning" Acrylic 11" X 14"

This was a painting I made years ago but was never happy with.  However, I listed it for sale anyway and it actually sold, but for some reason the buyer returned it, I guess it didn't fit their decor.  I set it aside and forgot about it.  Then the other day I was in the mood to try reworking an old painting and picked this one.  One of the great things about acrylic paint is you can paint over it at any time with no worries of adhesion or cracking issues down the line.  I didn't hardly change the composition, not even the colors and values either, at least not by much.  The colors are probably a little richer, but I think it's just the texture and simplification that painting with knives creates that took this painting to the next level.

Being an artist is an interesting journey.  The life of an artist is full of ups and downs, not just of the type all of us go through but the ups and downs with the progression of our skills and inspiration.  Some days it feels like you can do nothing right or that just nothing excites you, and other days you feel like a master creating wonderful art and life is so amazing you can hardly believe it, unfortunately it seems to be more often the former, but those days of "brilliance" make the challenges worth it.