Tag Archives: indiana

Studio Work

Like many artists in winter, I don’t have much time to get outdoors to paint. By the time I get home from work, it’s usually dark. However, I paint every week, often several evenings. These are some recent paintings from photos that I took this autumn.  One is from a trip to the Indiana Dunes in 2015.

As a contemporary impressionist, I try to capture the “feel” of the scene rather than every little detail.  It is often difficult to restrain myself.  I think in this day and age, with the benefit of photos, many artists often fall prey to the tendency of painting every detail which has been captured by the camera.  But that is not actually the way we see.  We see what is directly in front of us but the peripheral edges are often lost. The advent of modern photography continues to tempt us.  But that is not why we are artists. Anyone can take a photo but only the few can interpret their feelings in an artistic medium.

Indiana Dunes, 2015, oil on canvas board, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

Indiana Dunes, 2015, oil on canvas board, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

This first painting is from a trip that we made to the Indiana Dunes in 2015.  Surprising enough, this national park is set on the shore of Lake Michigan in northern Indiana.  It seems to have been carved from an industrial landscape but if you spend some quiet time here, you can imagine what the shore was like 100 years ago.  I wish I had painted this with a little warmer tones but that is in hindsight.  Love the sketchiness of the trees and the ever-moving sand.

Fall Walk, 16 x 20, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Fall Walk, 16 x 20, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

This next painting is from a photo I took on a walk along my country road this autumn.  It is difficult to not go overboard with the bright colors which could lean to garishness.  I had to make a great effort to push back the far trees to add some atmosphere which enhanced the foreground trees and the lovely green of the cattle pasture to the right.

Frosty Field in Autumn, 12 x 16, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Frosty Field in Autumn, 12 x 16, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

The final painting is just a glance out my bathroom window one frosty morning.  Love the early morning light catching the pine tree with the colorful woods behind.  Not so successful capturing the feeling of frost.  It looks more like a river or lake but there you have it.  As any experienced artist knows, not every painting turns out as we wish.  But we always learn something, even from our failures.

Challenge Painting

HikinginCrawfordCounty30x30oiloncanvas

Hiking in Crawford County, 30 x 30, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Last year I decided to participate in a challenge art competition.  This was a local county exhibit with the county plus the eight surrounding counties.  The requirements were:  a box, fabric, a living or formerly living thing, a map and something representing my county.

This is the painting I finally came up with.  The box is the L.L.Bean shoe box.  Fabric background and tablecloth.  A deer skull and some bittersweet.  A map of a local park.  And some postcards of local scenes.  It sounds simple but it actually took me an entire day to set up the still life.

Many of the entrants created collage or 3-D sculptures.  Only two of us did paintings.  I was shooting for something that met the conditions of the challenge and also created a good painting.  Adding the lamp to the still life created its own special challenges as I had to paint much of the painting in a nearly dark studio.  I repainted that lamp four times and I’m still not totally happy with it but the judge really liked the way it seemed to glow on the canvas.  I won second place so I guess it was a success.  What do you think?

Plein Air Painting In the Neighborhood

Mentor Road, Birdseye, Indiana, oil on canvas, 18 x 24, Kit Miracle

Mentor Road, Birdseye, Indiana, oil on canvas, 18 x 24, Kit Miracle

Writers are often advised to paint what you know.  I believe that this advice holds true for artists, too.  You know your own neighborhood best, the most attractive features, the back roads, and the best seasons to view the scenery.

My neighborhood, as the title of my blog implies, is a rural one.  This time of year the farmers are baling hay.  Those big round bales often remind me of the wonderful haystacks of Monet, and their rotund forms litter the fields until they’re tidied away in neat rows.

A couple of days ago, I rode around the neighborhood looking for likely painting spots, especially with an eye to catching some hay bales still lying in the field. Other criteria for me are where can I park and will I need permission to go onto someone’s property.  Most people are very gracious about allowing  artists to venture on their land but it’s always best to ask if you can.

Today I returned to a likely spot.  Actually, I had intended to climb into the field but found that I liked the view from the road better, especially with the roof of a house showing which added an interesting focal point.  The painting went well and I came away with a pretty complete piece.  Some challenges were the wind so I had to improvise a weight for my portable easel.  Also, the flies were ferociously biting me.  Glad to have brought bug spray which is always in my travel bag.  And finally, I am positive that the manure spreader which passed my position three times, intentionally spilled a bit on the curve on which I was painting. Really!

Anyway, here is the final product and a few preliminaries.  It was painted on a toned canvas, 18 x 24, and took about two hours.  Feedback is always appreciated.

Hay bales, one potential view

Hay bales, one potential view

Final view chosen.  Loved the overhanging tree, the shadows and the contrasts.

Final view chosen. Loved the overhanging tree, the shadows and the contrasts.

First laying in on toned canvas

First laying in on toned canvas

Final painting with scene behind.  About two hours.

Final painting with scene behind. About two hours.

Improvised weight to hold my portable easel in the breeze.

Improvised weight to hold my portable easel in the breeze.

Car studio.  Easier than packing everything and a lot roomier.

Car studio. Easier than packing everything and a lot roomier.

Bobcat – Making a comeback

As I have mentioned in a previous post, we have great fun observing the wildlife in this rural area.  Our house sits in the middle of 90 acres (thus, My90Acres), and is a good mix of fields, streams and woods.  The county I live in is very rural and has an abundance of wildlife.

We move our deer cam around and I check the SD card every couple of weeks.  It’s always great fun to see what we’ve “caught.”  Its latest location is near our drive where it crosses a creek on a culvert.  Animals are a little lazy and will take the easy path across the culvert rather than wade through the creek so this location gets them going both across the creek and along the creek.  The cam is triggered automatically and records both day and night with the infrared part.  The animals can’t see it flash at night but they can hear the camera click.  Some of them come right up to the camera and I’m as likely to get a closeup of a deer nose as a flock of birds in the day.

This past month the camera recorded all kinds of deer, foxes, two cats I’ve never seen in daylight, turkeys, squirrels, coyotes, rabbits, possums,  birds of all kinds, my dog, and cars entering and leaving the property.  To my delight, I also recorded this large male bobcat this month.  I haven’t seen him since last year so was glad to observe him again. Based on comparing him to the size of my dog, I guess he’s about 30-34 pounds which is about tops for a male.  Bobcats have been protected in Indiana for a while now but they may come off the protected list soon as their population has grown.  They eat rabbits, possums, rats, and other small animals.  Oh, and chickens.  Not so good.  Nevertheless, it’s so nice to know nature is thriving in the not quite wilderness.  On the other hand, I really don’t want to record a mountain lion or bear in this area – as has been reported.  That would be a little too scary for my taste.

Bobcat in southern Indiana

Bobcat in southern Indiana

Bobcat - arrow points to stubby tail

Bobcat – arrow points to stubby tail

Third photo of Bobcat

Third photo of Bobcat

Ritter Creek, Painting A Complex Subject

Ritter Creek, Final, 24 x 30, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Ritter Creek, Final, 24 x 30, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Ritter Creek is just down the road from me.  Like my last posting of French Lick Creek, this was also painted on a toned canvas.  However, this was a very complex subject, lowland creek bottom with many trees.  Check out my step-by-step demonstration for further information.  Sometimes as the artist, you must take things out to make a better composition.  Ritter Creek, Demonstration