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No painting at Possum Creek…

April 17, 2011

I made the decision on Friday night not to go to Possum Kingdom Lake after all.  While I believe I would have enjoyed painting in that part of Texas, the logistics didn’t work for me.  I would have spent 6 to 8 hours each day, three days in a row, just making the round trip drive between my home and PK Lake.  I would have only gotten to paint for 3 to 4 hours on Friday, and about 3 on Saturday.  That’s it.  And the 45 mph winds would have been an added challenge.  When I combined those things with the current price of gas, it didn’t make sense for me personally.  Sorry guys, but at my age, the conditions just weren’t good enough.

As it turned out, I made the right decision.  I’m afraid I would have found myself eating smoke.

The photo above shows the fire near Possum Kingdom Lake during the day Friday.  As of this writing (Sunday), the news reports indicate that three fires have joined together in the PK Lake area, over 45,000 acres have been burned, and the fire is still not contained. As of Saturday night, 30 homes and one church had been destroyed, and some 300 more homes were being threatened.  Much of Texas is being plagued by wildfires throughout the state right now, fueled by very dry conditions and high winds.

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Study for Old Red

April 14, 2011

Study for Old Red, 8x10, Gouache

 This one almost became what my friend Les Lull used to refer to as a ‘frisbee’.  It started out to be a really quick study, but the greens went bad on me almost from the beginning.  You’ll notice I didn’t say I screwed up the greens. Nope.  Wasn’t my fault.  It was the greens.  They just went bad on me.  It happens sometimes, at least it happens to me.  So I hung in there, because I really do like this barn.  It’s from a photo taken by my niece, Cathy.  I think it came out fine for a study.  I like Arizona artist David Simons’ attitude about studies.  He says they’re all “studies” until they sell

I need to find some festivals for later in the year, and get back under the tent.  I’ve got way too many “studies”.

Driveway

April 13, 2011

Driveway, 8x10, Gouache

I’m going to join some folks at Possum Kingdom Lake for some plein air painting this weekend.  PK Lake is 79 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas, which makes it about 130 miles from my home.  I obviously didn’t look it up on the map before committing to the paintout, but I’m looking forward to it anyway.  Since I’ve never been to Possum Kingdom Lake, I did some exploring via Google StreetView, and found this back road that takes off from State Highway 16 a few miles from the lake.  It did have a gate, which was closed.  Normally, I’d paint that closed gate, because in this part of the country, an open gate is an invitation for lost cattle.  But in this little study, I wanted the viewer to feel welcome to explore, so I eliminated the gate entirely.  Other than that, this is pretty much what it looks like in that part of the country.

You never know…

April 11, 2011

You never know who’s going to see your work.  The GrannyTown Gazette is the newsletter of the Alden Historical Society of Alden, New York.  The April 2011 issue has a brief article referencing the restoration of a Conestoga Wagon at the Clarence Historical Museum.    It was my privilege to allow them to use the little sketch at left to illustrate the article.

Mystic Trail

April 6, 2011

Mystic Trail, 11x14, Gouache

There is a generally accepted school of thought that, if one is going to paint from photographs, they should be photos taken by the artist himself.  It makes a lot of sense, really.  If you took the photo, you have a connection to the place, and a memory of what the sounds, smells, and air were like in that spot.

But I occasionally stray from conventional wisdom in my approach to my art, and that includes the use of photographs by other people.  One caveat, of course, is that permission should always be obtained.  Beyond that, I occasionally stumble over photographs that reach out to me, begging to be used as the basis for a painting.  This was one of those instances.  Seth Ramsey, a member of my extended family, gave me permission quite some time ago to use some photos he had taken along the Rainbow Falls Trail in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  They were all beautiful photos, but one of them conveyed this almost mystical scene of a trail passing through an arch of foliage, and disappearing into the fog beyond.

One almost expects Bilbo Baggins to emerge from the mist, shuffling around the bend leaning on a walking stick.

Cathy’s Barn

April 5, 2011

Cathy's Barn, 8x10, Gouache

I’ve painted this old barn near Nashville, Tennessee before.  This is the backside of it.  Grazing nearby were horses belonging to my niece, Cathy.  Don’t know who owns this place.  Doesn’t really matter.  To me, it will always be Cathy’s barn.

Feeding Frenzy (aka The Garage Sale)

April 3, 2011

It was still dark when we pulled into the line on Saturday morning, the trailer attached behind us, our daughter and son-in-law in front of us in his pickup truck.  Our goal of travelling the country in the RV, sketching, painting and drawing, was coming another step closer.

We had driven down to Houston on Friday.  The trailer was fully loaded with boxes and boxes of items pulled from shelves, nooks and crannies throughout the house.  We had managed to fit the kitchen table (sort of “farmhouse modern”, I suppose) into the trailblazer along with its four chairs.

On Friday evening, we had reassembled the table and loaded it and the chairs into the back of the pickup.

Now, well before the crack of dawn, we were lined up to enter the parking lot of the Sienna Plantation community center in Missouri City, Texas.  We got our booth assignment and rolled very slowly and carefully between booths already set up, parked cars and trucks, and people walking everywhere.  Son-in-law Scott and daughter Carol stopped in fron our designated spot, jumped out, and along with Nell, unloaded the table and chairs and a couple of other items.  Scott moved the truck away, and I pulled into his spot.

As I walked around to unlock and open the trailer, one of the girls joined me and said “we sold the table and chairs”.  It was around 5:30 am, the sale wasn’t supposed to start until 7am, and people were already buying and selling!  Fortunately, another vendor bought the table and chairs, so we were able to use it the entire morning to display our wares.  The hour or so before sunup was crazy.  As we carried boxes from the trailer to the booth area, we had to work our way around the shoppers, who were, I kid you not, shopping by flashlight!  And they were buying… and buying.  It was like being surrounded by a school of sharks… at night.  I’m going to hazard a guess and say we sold between 80 and 90%  of what we took to the sale.  And we probably sold 75% of that before 8am.

Around 10am...

For the first hour or two, what was supposed to be a clear day started off very cloudy, with a very light mist in the air.   We didn’t even have time to set up the canopy, and the mist was coming down just enough to start covering everything with a slightly wet coating.  Things were  wet, and people didn’t care.  They bought them anyway!  It was amazing.

It was hectic, but fun.  One man spent well over a hundred dollars just buying our stuff.  He would wander off to other booths, and usually return empty-handed, and finally told Nell “Nobody else has stuff as good as yours.”  Of course, we weren’t selling typical garage sale junk.  These were things that had decorated our house.  The fact that we were nearly giving them away helped tremendously, I’m sure.  A very enterprising young man, around 14 years old, wanted to buy a game.  He made an offer.  We countered.  He stuck to his offer.  We countered again, and he wouldn’t budge.  He knew exactly what he was going to pay.  I was so impressed by his business acumen (and didn’t want to take the game home), that I took his offer.

And there were, of course, a few “giveaways” to small children.  “But I don’t have any money.” said one little boy who had been covetously fondling a bag of cheap little toys.  Hearing him carry the bag into the next booth and say “Mom, they GAVE me this!”  was priceless, as was the look on the kid’s face who, close to the end, asked how much another game was (it was marked at $3.00).  “How much have you got?” I asked.  He held up a dollar.  “It’s your lucky day.” I said, and he walked away delighted.

The best story of the day was the little plastic bag with some of those little wooden massage roller things.  I think they had been acquired as a gag gift.  They sort of resembled some kind of midieval instruments of torture, but the bag was clearly marked “Massagers”.  It sat for the entire morning, with a little price tag that said “Free”.  No one took it.  The man next to us said we should have put a price on it, and it would have sold.

If only we could have art festivals like this!  (At our normal prices, of course.)  People arriving early, full of eager anticipation to see what we’ve brought this time, money in hand, looking carefully at every item, that fire of desire in their eyes, wanting everything they see.  Ah, the stuff of dreams.

When it was over, we had made several hundred dollars.  About five small boxes of leftovers were dropped off at Goodwill, and we drove home with an empty trailer.  Now, before the money goes to something else, we need to get to Home Depot and look at base cabinets for the RV’s art/computer workstation, and decide on some new flooring to upgrade it a little.

Another major milestone accomplished.