It’s been a while since I last did any serious gouache landscape painting, so I decided to paint a place we’ve passed many times over the years. This old farm is on Hwy 36 near Centerburg, Ohio.
Water and rocks were always a challenge, so I decided to try this scene from Mayfield Park in Austin, Texas.
It felt good to have a brush in my hand again, although I did find myself struggling with color mixes a bit after not painting for a while.
This is a recently completed commission. It’s 24″x30″, gouache on Crescent board. The home, a bit over 100 years old, is in the historic district of Gadsden, Alabama. Its not as loose as I would normally paint, but the client was very definite about what he wanted. Within those parameters, I tried to present the house in a classic, dignified image. Doing a painting this size in the confines of a 36 foot RV was a challenge. Fortunately, Nell is very understanding, the gouache paint does clean up easily, and I am a reasonably neat painter anyway.
This one is soon to be on its way to the client. A smaller, 5×7 ink & watercolor whimsical piece, also a commission was sent out a couple of weeks ago.
We continue to fill our lives with a variety of projects, travels and healthcare appointments, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
.I probably should apologize to my gouache friends. You haven’t seen much gouache work here in quite a while. But the blog is about art in general and my art in particular, so hopefully you understand that I do experiment with artwork that isn’t always done with gouache. Certainly, I’ll pull out some gouache tubes again at some point. After all, there is a drawer full of it in the studio area. But for now, we have been headed in a new direction.You’ve seen in the last few posts that we’ve spent a lot of time developing our whimsical art. We’ve even given it a name: Whimsitecture. We’ve also been experimenting with ink, watercolor, pencil and acrylics, even Sharpies. There is a storybook feel to the work. At 71, I’m still having fun with my art.
We’ve put most of our booth focus on the whimsical art. At the April First Saturday Arts Market, we did sell several 5×7 gouache landscape paintings, but the real bulk of our sales was whimsy, in a variety of sizes. I’d call this focus on sales a cop out if we weren’t having so much fun doing the work. It’s something Nell and I can do together., and it isn’t really a huge change of direction for me. I’ve played with storybook art before.
I just didn’t realize back then, in my pre-Photoshop days, just how hard it was to write a story and then illustrate it.
But what I remember most is that it was a heck of a lot of fun. The two illustrations above were done with Prismacolor pencils, some 25 years ago.
.And the drawings above, while not storybook art, are representative of the media I worked with over the years: graphite pencil, colored pencil, pen and ink, and yes, even gouache (lower right corner).
So, there really is a precedent for me to work in a variety of media, and to do storybook art, with or without an actual story.
I spent a number of years during architectural renderings for architects, developers, ad agencies and graphic design studios. Most of that work was pen and ink like the illustration above. Altered perspective and a looser, more fun technique suddenly takes us into a storybook environment. The original of this one sold recently. Never underestimate the power of people seeing your work on social media.
A large part of this new work is simply grounded in drawing. By now, if you’ve followed along for a while, you know that drawing is my first art love. Without a doubt, the whimsical work we’re doing now is mostly about the drawing.
And color. Nell has brought me kicking and screaming into the world of wacky, quirky color. While the drawings are mine, the color on many of the pieces above is Nell’s work. We recently sold one of these at Affaire d/Art, our gallery in Galveston, Texas.
….and, of course, a bit of imagination. Consider that this work, in some form, has been part of my life since I was a teenager, drawing hotrod cartoons and World War II aerial dogfights influenced by comic books. While I love painting landscapes, I haven’t been doing it nearly as long as I’ve been drawing things. For me, painting landscapes is a form of translation, putting what I see, either in person or in a photograph I’ve taken, down on board, and wondering if anyone will be able to understand what I’ve painted, or why I painted it.
But when I draw from my imagination… well, that’s when I’m in my element. I can spend time in a pretend world, one that I don’t have to explain. It doesn’t even have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be real.
But it does have to be fun. I don’t have the greatest imagination in the world. In fact, a lot of my storybook work is pretty simple and tame compared to the work that’s being done in videos and gaming, and especially in the fantasy movie industry. But when I forget about all that, and just do the work for myself, something magical happens.
I don’t discount the value of painting. It has taught me to see better. It has given me an improved foundation for every piece of art. And it has also provided excellent reference material for storybook environments. Consider the following painting of a wonderful location we hiked through in Ohio:
And then see the storybook sketch inspired by the painting:
But the best part is the fact that I can dig into my imagination…
And turn something as simple as a walk in the woods… into a wonderful adventure.
Grab a pencil, or a camera, or a brush, and go find your adventure.
We rotated the work at Affaire d’Art in Galveston, TX. This rotation features the new whimsical work in pen & ink and acrylic and watercolor. It’s a treat to see these fun pieces framed and on display.
Speaking of treats, the 8×10 drawing above was accepted in “A Juried Affaire”, a show at Affaire d’Art, which opened this past Friday night. The show runs until April 12.
And we spent Saturday at the March edition of the First Saturday Arts Market in the Houston Heights. It was a cold, mostly overcast day, and the weather, along with a competing event a few blocks up the street, kept the crowd low. While we didn’t get a lot of traffic, we still sold a gouache painting and a number of our tiny whimsical pieces.
We’re beginning to look at spring and summer plans. Hopefully, we’ll get some travelling in, along with doing more shows and markets. Now that we have relocated to the Georgetown, Texas area, we’ll be looking at the local art scene as well as opportunities to show in central Texas and the Hill Country. We also are working on ideas for putting greater focus on our whimsical art.
I’ve been experimenting with some new work, and having a lot of fun in the process.
This whimsical storybook art takes me back to my beginnings with pen and ink, but with the addition of watercolor. In addition, Nell and I have been collaborating on some paintings in acrylics with a somewhat fauvist look. They are inspired by the miniature whimsical pieces we developed for markets and festivals. More about that in a future post.
We now have work in a gallery in Galveston, Texas. Affaire d’art is located on Post Office Street in the historic district. We’re looking forward to working with owners Alicia Boles and Nikki Thompson.
In addition to Affaire d’art, I have gouache paintings displayed for sale at Gen’s Antiques in the historic Heights area of Houston, and another group of paintings displayed in the lobby of Pure Barre, a fitness studio also located in the Houston Heights.
In a couple of days, we will be moving the Mountaineer fifth wheel RV to the Liberty Hill area, a few miles west of Georgetown, Texas. (Austin area) While we will continue to be active at the First Saturday Arts Market in Houston, we also hope to become involved in arts activities in Georgetown. And, of course, we hope to resume our travels. We’ll keep the fifth wheel trailer parked, to be lived in as a home base, with the intention of doing our traveling in a much smaller motorhome.
We’re really looking forward to seeing what develops in the new year.
I apologize for the down time. My laptop has been down for a few weeks. There has been some painting done, however, with some new ones and some being touched up and, possibly, finished. Here is a sampling:
Brushy Creek runs under I-30 in Round Rock, Texas. This painting was done from a reference photo.
I’m looking forward to doing a lot more river scenes when we move to the Austin, Texas area. This was done from a photograph taken while driving in west Texas.
A favorite place to watch boat traffic, pelicans and dolphins is Roberts Park in Port Aransas, Texas. One can sit beside the waterway leading from the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Corpus Christi and watch huge ships passing by. We’ve been fortunate to see some interesting things, including this pickup of a pilot who had brought the tanker out of the port. Done from a reference photograph; I’m still not sure this one is finished.
I have revised and updated my WordPress website and, going forward, it will be my primary art showcase. This blog and the travel blog will remain. I’ve expanded some of the galleries in the showcase to include examples of watercolor work and pencil sketches. And to make It easier to get to, it now has its own domain name. Please go and spend some time browsing the galleries at