Category Archives: Uncategorized

Reading other blogs

I always enjoy reading other blogs.  Some I check daily, some are just weekly.  Many are about or by other artists.  It always makes the artist seem so approachable when I read what they have to say in their own words.  Plus, there is so much to learn!

Dinotopia by James Gurney

One of my favorite artists and blogger is James Gurney.  He is the author of the famous Dinotopia series of books.  His own artwork is wonderful.  He works in plein air much of the time but not always.  His plein air paintings are usually done in smallish art notebooks (5 x 8) and are usually in gouache.

Color and Light by James Gurney

I was first introduced to his work through his book Color and Light.  Later I ordered a used copy of his drawing book The Artist’s Guide to Sketching where he and his college roommate, Thomas Kinkade, bummed across America in the 80s.  Wow!  What company!  They also both worked at a movie studio for a time doing background cells for space animations.  And, he’s just seems to be a really nice person.

The Artist’s Guide to Sketching by James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade

Gurney also includes videos of his work, reviews favorite books, museum exhibits and many other artists.  Certainly work checking out.

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/

http://jamesgurney.com/site/

Advertisements

A walk in the big woods.

It was a beautiful early fall day on Friday so I decided that my dog Mikey and I needed to explore the big woods to see how things were progressing towards autumn.  I always take a bag to collect fall things – acorns and pretty leaves, bits of lichen and moss.  Our property is a mix of gently rolling hills and streams with some acres of hardwood (red and white oaks) up on a hill.  It is one of the highest places around and one of my favorite escapes.

Beginning of the walk through the east bean field.

I usually don’t head up to the woods in the deep summer – too buggy and too many weeds. So I was eager to see what had happened since I’d last been up to the big woods last spring.  Of course, this called for long pants and long sleeves, and some bug spray.  Dang, I hate chiggers and ticks!  And biting flies!

An old weathered tree stump on the dry creek bed.

Through the hickory grove. Love the way the light strikes the dead cedar on the left. My companion Mikey waits almost around the bend. He’s very patient.

Another almost dry creek bed. Look closely and you can see plenty of deer traffic through here, especially some very large prints.

I’m always fascinated by interesting patterns of fungus and lichen.

It’s a little early for many of the leaves to have changed color here but there were the beginning signs.  And, as expected, the creeks were really dried up after the past few weeks without rain.  Normally everything is very lush, even in the deepest of summer.

Mikey loves to go into the woods and runs about 20 feet for my every step.  Of course, one will never see any wildlife as he chases it all off.  But I eagerly look for signs and wasn’t disappointed to see some pretty big deer prints in the mud near one of the creeks.

Getting ready to cross under the powerline. Usually this is a cleared path but since we’ve added another path, this one has grown up over the summer. The weeds were taller than me! I’m heading towards that dead tree on the hill on the upper right.

Wading through chest high weeds, I appreciated the brilliant colors of this late patch of goldenrod.

I actually just walked through this (looking back). Path is totally grown over with some fierce briers, snatching at my hat and clothes. I can’t imagine the early pioneers and explorers wading through this kind of terrain, although deep woods really have little undergrowth. This is caused by the open spaces that were created when some trees were taken out.

Reached my “resting” chair, an old chair that we dragged up into the woods on a favorite lookout space. I had to clear the weeds off just to sit down.

Over the past 30 years, we have done some selective timbering.  The last time was a few years ago and a new path was cut to the big woods on the hill.  The old path had grown over but I wasn’t prepared for just how much it had grown over since last spring.  I almost got myself into more work than I anticipated as I had to practically hack my way through the overgrown weeds and briers.  It was a relief to come around to the new path (and mowed) area. I sure don’t know how the pioneers did it except that real heavy woods don’t have much undergrowth.

We’ve hacked our way through the briers and have come out on the downside of the loop with the cleared new path. Yay!

Now the hiking is much easier, exactly what I was anticipating.

Coming out of the top woods, heading back under the powerlines.

The view from the top of the woods on the hill. If you enlarge this photo, you’ll see farms in the distance which is about a mile or more away.

Easy walking through the lower woods. These are mostly hardwoods, red and white oak.

Poor Mikey was as tired and thirsty as I was. I have never seen him lie down to drink. I think he really wanted to roll in the water on the cool sidewalk.

Mikey and I had a good hike (about a mile and a half for me) and much more for him.  But we were both exhausted by the time we returned to the house.  An immediate shower was called for to help prevent any chiggers or ticks from digging in.  So far so good.  Lots of good material for future paintings and a pleasant way to spend a fall morning.

You Can’t Go Home Again…or Can you?

Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You Can’t Go Home Again” but I think you can.  I had the opportunity to visit my hometown, Richmond, Indiana, last weekend on a plein air painting adventure with Indiana Plein Air Painters.  I hadn’t been back for at least 15 years and did not have high expectations due to some economic problems that I’d heard about.  I don’t know about that but the town sure looked pretty to me.

Richmond sits on the Indiana – Ohio border in the eastern center of the state.  It is an old town with lots of Quaker settlement as well as many other religions.  Since the late 1800s, they’ve embraced quite an art scene including one of the few in-school art museums at the local high school. I grew up thinking that everyone passed famous paintings on the way to class.  Little did I know.

Richmond known for it’s beautiful Glen Miller Park and Millionaire’s row, along with some of the most exquisite old houses and varied architectural styles.  I could find many subjects for painting there!

The pond at the beautiful Glen Miller park, adjacent to Millionaires Row

Typical houses in old Richmond, Indiana

The event was only one day so I decided to visit my old alma mater of Earlham College and paint Stout Meeting House.  The weather was perfect with a slight breeze and a very peaceful campus due to summer break.

Plein air painting at Stout Meeting House on the campus of Earlham College

Stout Meeting House, Earlham College, Watercolor/pen and ink, 11×14, Kit Miracle

Later I took some time to visit my great-grandma’s house, one of the oldest log cabins in Wayne County.  I was so pleased to see that it had been lovingly restored and looked better than when my great-grandmother lived there.  No one was home but I promised myself to stop by on my next visit.

Great grandma’s house, Richmond, Indiana

And I had forgotten how many beautiful churches Richmond boasts.  It seems as if there is another church on every corner.

Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Indiana

So, although you can’t go home again, you can visit it.  Your hometown just might surprise you.  I’ll be back soon and longer.

What pigments are you using?

I was taking inventory of my paints in my studio recently and it dawned on me that I have a LOT of paint.  As I was sorting my paints into categories by color, I realized that I didn’t really know all of the various nuances of the paints I was using.  Yes, of course, I often to return to favorites and use them  frequently.  But I decided it would be helpful to have a chart of samples of each hue.

As you can see by the charts below, there can be many slight variances by manufacturer.  Some qualities you cannot actually see but you know in the “feel” of the paint, i.e., creamier, richer, stiffer, etc. Although I generally use Artist grade paints, I had accidentally ordered some Student grade paint.  You can see by the sample comparing the various Raw Sienna varieties that one is much thinner, meaning there are more fillers and less actual pigments.  It always pays to buy the best you can afford. Oh, and I had 58 different colors or brands of oil paints.

Color sample chart #1

Color sample chart #2

Other variations include how the pigments behave over time.  Some yellow or change color. Others thin, particularly something like Titanium White, which means if they are applied over a darker ground, you may find the background bleeding through over time.

While I had all my paints out, I also decided to create a few charts of the pigments that I use most frequently.  My top ten oil paints are:

  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Sap Green
  • Winsor Green
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • French Ultramarine
  • Prussian Blue
  • Cadmium Red
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Cobalt Violet
  • Ivory Black

Although it is rare that I would incorporate all of these colors into the same painting, I often try to have a cool red and a hot red, a cool blue and a hot blue, etc. Usually just one green and no black.  My favorite brand is Winsor Newton but I try some others, too.  For instance, I love Richeson’s Hansa Yellow Medium because it’s so creamy.  There are no hard and fast rules about how many paints you need, except that generally fewer colors will result in the artist creating more colors by mixing, resulting in greater harmony in the long run.

Color samples made with Cadmium Lemon

Color samples made with Titanium White

DeLallo’s Italian Market

DeLallo’s famous Italian Market

Life is not all about art and gardening and books.  Last week we went back to Pennsylvania to visit relatives and I was fortunate enough to stop in DeLallo’s Italian Market in Jeannette, PA near New Stanton.  Wow!  The place is amazing.  Best I’ve seen outside The Strip in downtown Pittsburgh.

DeLallo’s vegetable display. They tear this down every night, edit it and create the display anew.

The fruits and veggies are displayed so beautifully.  We were told that the staff takes each display apart every night, tosses any less than fresh items, and restocks the display.

The olive bar at DeLallo’s

And the olives!  I love olives.  I’ve never seen any olive bar this long and well-stocked.  Needless to say, I purchased enough to keep me happy for a long time.

The cheese display was three times this large.

Then a quick stop by the extra large cheese display. Fresh or aged, they have everything you could imagine.

My granddaughter was fascinated with the colorful and glorious bakery display.

Olive oil, anyone?

And who could decide on which olive oil to buy?  We buy by the gallon.

Yummmm. Bread!

Finally, the bread display.  The aroma carried throughout the store.

So, imagine me on my patio, glass of wine, cheese and olives, and a good book in the sunshine.  Ah, life is good.

Something Different

Times Square at Night, watercolor, India ink, Kit Miracle

The first month of retirement has been interesting.  Everyone keeps asking me, “How’s retirement?”  “I just feel like I’m on a long vacation,” I reply. And mostly that is true.  I’m starting to feel very relaxed.  Sleep better.  Crossing some things off the inevitable list.  This time of year there is so much to do in the country: finish the garden, planting, cleaning, etc.

However, I am still finding time to paint and spend in my studio.  I’ve been working on some larger figures in landscapes and have two drawn out.  I decided to take a break and work on this watercolor of Times Square at Night this week.  If you have ever been there, then you can appreciate how bright the lights are, no matter the time of day. Times Square is always awake, always exciting.  That is what I was trying to capture in this watercolor with India ink overlay.  Somewhat abstract for me but more detail would not have been beneficial.

Lifetime paid vacation

Leaving the office on the last day. Walls empty. Bulletin board empty. Most of the paperwork gone. Lots of memories.

Finally.  After years of working, I retired this week from my job as Director of a performing and fine arts center.  I can’t believe the time is finally here.  It seems as if I’ve been traveling towards this day since my first paid real job when I was sixteen.  At first it seemed it would never arrive, and then the past few months, time kept speeding up.  I did what I could to clean out and organize.  Trained my replacement as best one can in only a week.  We’ll see how he does.

But for now.  What to do?  Paid vacation for a lifetime.  My list is long but I think it’s important to have a life, not just a To Do list.  There is always something to do on the farm.

Cleaning out my studio. Painting.  Getting back into the exhibition thing.  Traveling for plein air painting events or just to travel.  Gardening. Reading.  Just kicking back.

Hopefully, you’ll see lots more work on here.

More paintings Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are the kind of place which could supply years’ worth of painting inspiration.  Here are a few more paintings of my recent trip to the Keys, based on sketches and photos.  They just have a totally different feel from the other landscapes that I work with.

 

Sunrise Florida Keys

Isabelle’s Place, oil on canvas board

Among the mangroves, Florida Keys

November sunset

November sunset

November sunset

Beautiful November sunset.  Just turning out of my drive when I caught this one.  It looks like November, doesn’t it?

Interior with Desk

Interior with Desk, Final, oil on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

Interior with Desk, Final, oil on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

This is a recent painting of an interior.  I’ve got step-by-step images on this page.

Interior with Desk Step by step