Saturday, October 29, 2016

Painting in the Rain

One thing about being in a painting festival is a certain pressure to make your time count. Today is a gray drizzly day, and I wouldn't necessary rush out with my plein air gear. But during a festival that is exactly what you do, moaning a bit all the while. But off you go. This painting was completed during an outright scary storm, one that pelted the local area with 5" of rain and constant lightning and thunder. I headed out to find the north edge of the storm because the evening light behind the clouds was interesting. I enjoyed the setting of the small harbor, which no surprise, I had all to myself except for curious ducks, and the line up of grounded boats.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Boats and Bridges

I live near the Mississippi and see it every day, and I love being near one of the world's great rivers. Lake Superior is a much different body of water - it is massive, cold and you cannot see across it. There is much life in it and birds swim its surface and soar over it. Unusual birds are sometimes seen in the Duluth area - seabirds like Jaegers, or hawk owls who have flown south of their usual range. Duluth is a deep, long, narrow bowl. Its steep streets rise out of the central part of the city to an encircling ridge. Migrating raptors sail over the ridge by the thousands in the fall. Hawk Ridge is a popular spot to watch this wonder. And it is a beautiful place to watch the port: from the open water of the lake through the canal at the Lift Bridge, past docks and elevators 'til it disappears into the fresh water estuary and wetlands of the mouth of the St. Louis River.

Painting in Duluth meant viewing the water with an awareness of the impact of human activity on the lake - the simple geometries of elevators, the arcs of bridges stitching across the sky, ever-present boats, from delicate rowing shells to gigantic ore boats. Focusing on building painting compositions from boats was a good way to find painting spots in an unfamiliar place and working with their bobbing, turning forms in changing light conditions was a challenge.

Bridges are interesting elements to work with as well and Duluth has many. From certain vantages you could see several of them, once again providing structure to build a painting around.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Jumping into Lake Superior

It is always a challenge to maintain a website, which is primarily static, when what most artists work within is ever-changing body of work - whether finished or just a faint ghost of an idea that may take years to turn into something more. I recently got an email from someone asking me about new work and I decided this might be the best solution, an opportunity to show new work and the journey that  led to the work, as well as side trips that might end up being the main journey in the end.

This summer I spent a bit more time than usual immersing myself in new places and these experiences have led to some new art and some ongoing thinking about how art and other interests can be braided together.

I will jump in with one of my summer highlights, participating in Plein Air Duluth, a challenging and beautiful week painting along the Southwestern corner of Lake Superior. It rained, gale force winds blew and on the quiet days the biting flies bit. I crawled under a bridge to paint, I painted in the back hatch of my little car while lightning crashed all around me and a row of ducks lined up to watch, I stuffed myself and my easel in the protective bows of a tamarack, but I painted. There were moments of sun, conversations with curious folks, and quiet moments when I startled a wild animal who didn't expect a painter to be standing in the middle of its usual route. And there was always the water, somewhere in view, always my favorite thing to paint. This is a piece done on Park Point in the Duluth harbor amidst persistent sun showers and is now hanging as part of a show of work by the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota at Como Conservatory in St. Paul.