"Rio Seco Rise" continues my journey to capture in paint prime whitetail in some of the most inhospitable land in the country. The nature of this terrain is rugged, yet there is beauty. The buck was hesitant to leave the cover of brush but the does were worthy lures. The banks of the Rio Seco were lush from recent rains. Although this was from reference gathered two years ago, the memory was vivid. Reference pictures acted to fill in the blanks- the rise in the land, the tweaks of anatomy. A joy to paint!
I'm nostalgic. Flat-out nostalgic. I enjoy steam engine locomotives, old classic cars, and chicken dinner at Ma Grimm's house on Sundays. I really miss those Sundays. That translates to my paintings. My wife recently told me I had a reoccurring theme in my paintings of an animal looking back. I never looked at it that way, but I guess it could be true.
When I'm designing a painting, I think as if I'm one of the subjects. Animals interact in all different and sometimes hilarious manners. They are curious. After a long dry spell, our whitetail will frolic in a puddle just to splash or chase each other as if they were playing tag. They often look back. Some look for familiar changes due to poor eyesight, among other reasons. As I'm at the drawing board, I question what the animal I'm about to paint hears, thinks, and feels. At times on the prowl, or overtaken by hormones and age-old impulses, or sometimes simply grazing.
This brings me back to, well, looking forward. I have opportunities to revisit wildlife that I've not painted recently and explore new ones. As nostalgic as I may be, I am thoroughly fired up about what's ahead. It is now. Like classic cars, traditional, wildlife art is timeless. Not much time to look back these days. Let's look forward!
"Canyon Quiet" InSight Gallery
"Territorial View" Legacy Gallery
7/1/2022 update, "Canyon Quiet" will be the cover of Texas Outdoors Journal, Aug 2022 issue.
I'm deeply grateful to the good folks at Texas Outdoors Journal for honoring my painting, "Points of Interest" with their October cover. This publication is THE resource for outdoors Texas and can be found on newsstands across the state. TOJ Outdoor News Show is celebrating their 29th year on the radio.
"Points of Interest" available thru InSight Gallery
More info: Texas Outdoors Journal Oct. 2021
I live with a painting before it's sent off, the longer the better. I turn it away from view to later return to it, flip it upside down, study, review, only to live with it a week or two more. The last review before delivery usually loops through a process of me pondering a myriad of what-ifs.
I intensely study ways to unjumble thoughts and impulses. Simply saying what one wants to say is a baffling pursuit. With paint, it can be a rabbit hole.
Early last summer we noticed a particular fawn. Short-legged, a little gawky, she seemed to prefer us to her peers. If we sat on the porch to enjoy the evening, "Lil Bit", as my wife named her, came to visit. Her mother's grunts were useless as "Lil Bit" scampered up unabashedly. With no other deer in-sight, she disregarded chainsaw activity, and burning brush to graze alongside us during chores.
When we took to a hotel during our February ice storm, we left a supplement of corn nearby for the wildlife. Two does and a variety of birds were lost, but Lil Bit appeared unscathed.
If this little doe has anything, she has moxie. Although she is becoming more doe-like and visits less frequently, her trailblazing style is infectious.
Available: InSight Gallery
The great people at Sporting Classics were kind enough to include my painting "Gillespie Gold" in the January/February issue.
The painting is featured in the short story by Robert Ellis, "Sermon from the Mount".
More info: Sporting Classics
"Heads Up" could well be the theme for 2020. Much maligned, the year will go down in the history books as a heck of a tough year to get through. However, when things go awry, opportunities are born! I won't sit and cry in my oatmeal, it's time for work and as my wife says, "At least we don't have a skunk in the attic". Well said.
These thoughts stem from a commission destroyed in freight shipping. Other artists told me it would happen eventually. Yep, Murphy's law caught up to me. I had to adjust plans, create a painting to surpass the original, order a new frame, and negotiate reimbursement for the original with the shipper. I'm one to believe that no experience is without a reason and I'm stubborn enough to not allow this experience to eat at me.
Let's keep our heads up, get out there and get after it! In response to the change of schedule I painted "Heads Up" for The Museum of Western Art, Round Up Show and Sale. Always wary this buck has raised his head from a quick graze. I hope it is a scene many can relate to!
The 37th Annual Roundup at The Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, TX will be held Sept 26 -Oct 31.
A strong fall cold front arrived bringing an early freeze. Ideal weather for our whitetail, they appeared oblivious to the frigid temperatures. Our kids visited with their blue heelers and the deer made quick game of these two porch dogs. The does came to taunt each morning casually bounding over the fence when time arose. This went on each morning until a buck interrupted with more pressing issues.
The bucks made fast haste of the cold snap. The rattling of tines were heard most evenings echoing across the valley. It's the timeless, sweet music of nature that feeds the soul.
I'm reminded of what fuels me. The new windows overlooking our valley have made the studio a joy to work in and I'm eager to get painting with each sunrise. Much like the blue heelers, I have never been one to let go of a chase.
Art collecting has similar sensibilities. A collector may chase the piece that got away, the one that sold out from underneath them or engage in a marathon hunt for that perfect piece of art. That too is part of the sport of life and I'm told it is thoroughly enjoyable.
"Stickers & Stones" will be included in a two man show I'm having along with artist David Griffin, April 2020 at InSight Gallery. I'll select 6 - 10 paintings for the show.
I'll have more on the remodel, which has been a great journey, and what's on the easel. Stay tuned!
Texas Masters Show at InSight Gallery, March 2, 2018
"La Gran Sombra" (The Big Shadow) 22" x 28" oil/board InSight Gallery - Texas Masters Show
This painting is of a South Texas whitetail from a friend's ranch near Cotulla, TX. Two items set this painting into motion, the whitetail buck and the large acacia tree, (Huisache) he is emerging from behind.
The largest of these bucks instinctively hug the shadows of very early morning or late day, when the shadows become great. The thick expanse of brush south of San Antonio offer ample cover.
I really enjoy the raw beauty of the Brush Country. There is a peace that comes over me sitting in the stand and yet when an animal emerges my heart races with excitement. The camera captures the details and my paint records in sketch, the energy and emotion of the moment.
I can't tell you how many times I revised the drawing for this buck. I took it to different easels, different rooms, in the frame and without. After a break, I'd go back to wipe him clean and begin again. I was determined not to begin painting until I was fully satisfied.
One slight shift of the leg and he was too tense. After much tweaking, I was ready to paint!
I'm keeping several paintings under wrap. I'm doing this more lately...living with them. Getting to the point without forcing. Letting the painting slowly develop with careful editing. It's an easier thing to do now at forty-nine.
"Gillespie Gold" was such a painting.
"Gillespie Gold" 22" x 35"
Another example that I held on to before releasing was "Timber's Edge".
"Timbers Edge" 24"x36"
I currently have three paintings I have been toggling. Not ready to show; they're months in the making. I rack myself making certain I won't later regret them leaving my hands. This is more than income. Art represents beauty, order, nature and all that is good. I deeply regret when I don't hold up my end in some small way. Comment and critique are for others to decide merit. I have to hold to the standards I set. To pull from a previous post, "run the good race".
Inspiration comes from the strangest of places! Recently I found Valisa watching harness horse racing on one of those upper cable channels. It was unusual enough to stop me. In 14 years, I have never seen her do this. Valisa grew up in Florida and her dad liked visiting the racetracks and jai alai. She was caught in a nostalgic moment.
These horses are incredible athletes with graceful long strides reaching speeds of 30mph. The race went the first lap without a break-away. The jockeys (called drivers) were obviously holding back. One name stuck out, Major Masterpiece. Very cool name! By the second lap, I found myself rooting for this horse on name alone.
That is what we artist yearn for, Major Masterpiece! If we paint it all the better, but someone, step up! Paint, make it count!
Lost in the moment I thought, "GO!"...Major Masterpiece was well behind but in a flash bolted to the lead. He was flying. The announcer was hyped with excitement as Major Masterpiece crossed to win. With the quintessential snap of a 1940's radio announcer, he proclaimed, "Major Masterpiece has fled the scene!"
It all resonated so well! Such a springboard of inspiration from such an unlikely source. I remind myself, good things are worth waiting for. With fresh eyes and renewed spirit, I go back to the studio.
Can't believe how fast time is passing. After focusing spring on paintings for Legacy Gallery in Jackson Hole, I am back in Texas getting inspired for the next painting, a whitetail piece for Insight Gallery. Like many of my paintings, I've tinkered with this design in my mind for a while.
I have a faint grid drawing, have the general design sketched in charcoal and refined it. After the initial drawing, I decided I didn't like the buck's back legs stretched quite so far out and moved them in slightly. Also, initially the closest doe was in a different position. At this point, I have my color wash down but found a couple of things I wanted to tweak. I left it overnight to come back with fresh eyes this morning. (note: coffee cup on easel.) Overall satisfied, I wanted to take a look at it in a frame I was considering. I will review it after finished and decide if a new frame is in order. Behind me are small plein air studies and my sketch that will work as a guide throughout painting.