What month is this?

I’ll admit I’ve lost track of what day it is. The only way I seem to be fully in the moment, is to paint. Every day. Sometimes simple value studies or charts. It gives me the pleasure of thinking only about the task at hand. I sometimes wonder how people who don’t create some form of art, manage this new normal we have.

I’ve been working on submissions for Fairfield Plein Air. They have creatively redesigned the event to studio work using photographs their community provided. It’s genius I think. Each year in October a band of artists arrive in search of what catches their eye to paint. This year we will be creating studio work of images they found! I know many artists would balk at this format, but I love it. It’s a different kind of challenge. Of course we would rather be in a Fairfield Illinois, painting on location, but this is 2020.

The event planners do a fabulous job making us feel like it’s a second home vacation location. They always have a goodie bag when we arrive and check in. I immediately find the coupon for lunch at the local butcher shop who make superb sandwiches. They are hands down the nicest people with the best food that I will certainly miss visiting this year. It’s like stepping back in time when you enter the shop. It’s a real butcher shop.

I will miss visiting with all the local people who go out of their way to welcome us. Last year as I was in the street positioned in front of my car painting a gorgeous home, a woman came out to check on me. She offered me drinks and snacks! When she returned with a bottle of wine we began to talk and then she found I was painting her house. I received a Christmas card from them and I was looking forward to see them this year. You make friends at Plein air events. Each return visit you feel like it’s homecoming.

I was fortunate to have a family host myself and 3 friends. They have a wonderful cabin by a pond in the woods just a few miles from Fairfield. It is like entering a dream when we arrive. To ice the cake, it’s a perfect place to paint! They turn the cabin over to us for the entire event. Like I said, it’s like a vacation location. The four of us spend at least a few minutes all together at the cabin every day. We may be sitting on the front porch in the swing in the evening having a glass of wine talking about our days work. Last year we all stayed up late one night painting a nocturne together. Friendships you make at these events are priceless.

Our cabin in the woods.
Yes I painted this scene, twice!

This year my work is in the studio from photographs. Here are a couple of them. I can’t show them all, yet! I am getting ready to paint my final one this week. I will frame and ship them off the next week.

What a pleasure this was to paint!

Fingers crossed next year will give me the opportunity to return to Fairfield! #fairfieldpleinair

Working With Gouache

During this stay at home New Normal, I’ve been watching a James Gurney video he just released. The title is Color in Practice, Part 1: Black, White, and Complements!

I tend be be a chart making nerd, because I thoroughly enjoy making them. I painted the first set 5 times before I got one I liked.


Big Boy Locomotive

The brief visit of Big Boy locomotive to Kansas City was an opportunity that I could not resist. He arrived Sunday evening and was on display only today from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. What a pleasure to see young and old excited to get up close to see The Big Boy.

My Uncle George worked for the railroad, and I have a special place in my heart for trains. We heard the whistle blow and saw the steam bellowing as we approached the train tracks. I could feel my excitement as my pace increased. The weather was clearing with beautiful clouds scattered across the sky. Union Station had sunlight illuminating the gorgeous architecture that seemed to be orchestrated for our arrival.

I positioned myself to sketch, trying to remain stationary as crowds of people moved all around me. To my surprise a news crew approached me for an interview. They clipped a mic on me as I continued sketching. I’m not sure if they expected me to stop to talk, but I can draw and talk without any problem. And this evening I was briefly on the 6 o’clock news.


10 Gratitude (Journal) Prompts for November

Healthy Maven blog post for November 6.

1. Who/what made you smile today?

2. What is something you take for granted that you’re grateful for?

3. What is the best thing that happened this week?

4. What cheers you up when you have a rough day? How can you incorporate more of that in your life?

5. When I reflect on my friendships, what friendships are giving life that I’m so grateful for?

6. What do you love about yourself?

7. What friends or friendships am I grateful for and why?

8. What inspires me? Am I finding inspiration regularly or just going through life?

9. What are you grateful for this season? What are your favorite things about fall?

10. I am looking forward to…

I can easily see these as a prompt for a sketch!

I’m reworking for the fourth time, a gouache I painted in Dubuque in October. I’m not sure how many layers of gouache one panel can take, but I’m determined not to throw in the towel.

Fairfield Plein Air

Fairfield Plein Air was a very successful event this year in many ways. First and foremost the residents of this area are so welcoming and truly seem to love to have this event. They are so gracious to the artists in every way striving to make sure we have what we need.

My first stop is Johns Butcher Shop. They make the best sandwiches that are so big I get 2 meals out of one order….for $4! They always give us 2 coupons for a full lunch meal, but I couldn’t wait for my packet coupons. Thus I had three meals there in the week. Cherry smoked ham and cheddar cheese with the works on rye bread. My mouth waters thinking about it. The ladies that work in the shop are wonderful. I felt ‘at home’.

I have a host family that has provided their family cabin for 4 artists to share. Marcia, and Tammie were my roomies. The log cabin is nestled amongst pine trees with a porch swing and table and chairs on the front porch. The porch view is a beautiful pond. This year we had a resident frog that was in the shower.

The weather was great. The outdoor studio just can’t be beat with the chance to immerse myself in painting. I was honored to receive the award for Best Watercolor on my painting of the chicken coop from the judge Nyle Gordon. To ice the cake, my sales were very good. I meant a fantastic couple who brought me wine as I painted their house portrait. Priceless.

Watercolor on Aluminum panels

Painting on Aluminum panels is not a new technique, but it is one that is new to me and I’m loving it. I have purchased small panels and started experimenting. Every manufacturer has their own name for it. Alclad is used in the airline industry. AlumaComp is sold through Jerry Artarama. Jackson’s Art Supply has their own Jackson Aluminum Panel. DiBond is yet another brand. If you don’t mind prepping them with gesso, it is cost effective to purchase through a sign shop. Plus, they cut to your size specific.

I like applying the gesso myself so I can experiment and sometimes control the texture. Brush strokes can be intensified, directional, and the gesso can have different thickness. I’m using watercolors, so all of that is adding to the base challenge of watercolors ‘mind of its own’ on a slick Surface! The paintings can appear like an acrylic or oil painting, yet you have that dreamy fluid watercolor effect.

Another plus, if you don’t use a Krylon varnish to fix it, you can wash it off. Usually there is a ghost image, but a thin added layer of gesso will cover that up. When I do produce a keeper, I spray it with the Krylon. BONUS: No need for GLASS OR MATTING! Yeah!

I also gesso paper. If I use expensive 300 lb. paper and have a flop, I rinse it, dry it and gesso it for a second try.

Here are some examples. The top 2 are on Aluminum panels. If you look closely you can see the gesso brush texture and direction. The beets are on gessoed Arches paper. I found a huge full roll at an estate sale, and have been experimenting on it.

Steelville Plein Air #steelvillepleinair

SPA was good to me this year. 5 days of painting and I brought home one. Here are a few pictures of the event. Also, a few of my thank you cards I painted for the wonderful people who support the arts and bought my work. *Not all paintings were finished in the photos.

Derald and the fur babies joined me this trip. We camped in the Airstream just outside of the city limits. The trailer was subject for 3 artists. 2 sold, one of which was auctioned. It was a fun event. Always well organized by a great staff of volunteers. They never get enough credit! They herd cats all week, and many times I’m sure we neglect to say thank you. Thank you SPA volunteers and generous community! We were fortunate to dodge rain (one hour of rain), and I managed to also dodge ticks and mosquitoes!