Saturday, June 8, 2019

Night of the Snow Blind Moon - Creative Process Blog

Night of the Snow Blind Moon
24 x 30 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
One of the wonderful things about not being on the art fair circuit any more is I can paint what I want to paint when I want to paint it.  Or not paint. This winter seemed to be most about not painting. I was knitting. Something you can do wrapped in an afghan in front of the fire. And before that it was little paintings. And note cards and things suitable for a Christmas market.

Rain on the Mesa broke the spell. I was back to my canyons. And it would follow I was back to thinking of a theme for my on-the-edge series. I begin with a drawing. And as I stretch my own canvas the drawing determines size and proportions.

Minimalist sketch for elk of the snow blind moon - working title

Sky and moon floated and elk masked off in preparation of painting the canyon walls

I pour my skies, float my moons and suns. I do it first as it helps determine what colors I use in the rest of the composition. I had an idea of what colors I was going to use but I seldom do a color sketch. And I had no idea how I was going to paint the elk other than they would not be realistic. I was aiming for a petroglyph appearance.

Working from the back to the front

Next layer forward. Masking removed from the elk in front of painted canyons

At this point viewers started seeing a cat jumping over the moon

The canyons were also poured and the foreground. On the lower right you can even see some drips. It is at this stage I start refining the pours, and defining outlines. Still haven't a clue on what color the elk. Painting totally original pieces, not another church, leaves more questions as to where a painting is going. That can be the really fun part because the painting begins to call the shots.

Cat jumping over the moon gone and first layer of color on elk

Tweaking begins. Refined the sky and got rid of the cat.

Time to play around with the details

The on-the-edge series plays around with the mystical. All my canyon paintings do to some extent with spirals around stars in night skies and ravens in the sky in day skies.  This painting uses heart lines on the elk and spirals on their antlers.  And for days I debated the ravens. It was a night painting. When a flight of ravens is in the sky there is always somewhere a raven all alone and away. That detail was inspired by the missing man formations of airplanes. I debated just the lone raven but in the end put a distant flight across the sky.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Adjusting for Changes

Things change. And art is no different. There have been huge changes in just mediums available. And platforms. When I was majoring in Fine Art at the University of New Mexico watercolors were always done on paper. Canvas was for oil. And we stretched our own as well as learned to prepare the surface with rabbit skin glue and gesso. Acrylics were very new toward the end of my studies.

Little did I imagine I would one day be using intensely colored watercolors on canvas platforms prepared specifically for the medium. I can get the colors once only available in acrylics. And I can float those colors across the canvas. It was an amazing change for me from the pale colors of watercolor carefully applied on hot or cold press paper. And it was a change for the art buyer.

As I educated myself I found myself also having to educate my public. This is especially true on social media like my Facebook page, Binford-Bell Studio.  And as galleries began to fail and fairs no longer attract buyers like they once did, social media became more of the market place for artists and clients to interface. Art buyers want to know the artist. And so I began posting progress photos which ultimately became Creative Process blogs here.

But then things changed again. I blame the iPhone. And the tablet. So quick and easy but if I take a progress photo with my tablet and you see it on your iPhone it is not a true representation of the work. And viewers began to see cats and dragons in the skies. It belittles the work. And it puzzles me because I will look at the painting and not see it. Something fails in the translation. So no more progress photos taken with my tablet. I do after all have a great DSLR camera.

And I will post less progress photos. I will still take them to put into a Creative Process blog, and to judge the status of my own work for me. Some aspects of this new mixed media I work in is very fast because it is poured. But progress slows down as I edit that; refine the accident as it were. And lately I have added another medium to the equation; oil sticks. I joke at exhibits that I will use whatever it takes to achieve what I want.

I just don't want to confuse the viewer with what may be just a transitory dragon created by and iphone and a ipad.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Creative Process - Rain on the Mesa

Rain on the Mesa
20 x 28 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
Been a while since I have painted a canyon scene. My first love was canyons. I returned from a trip to Utah and found all my photographs, while good, just missing something. Photography had until recently been a tool to provide inspiration on paintings. Plein Aire was always too much of a slug.

Lately I have been into painting scenes closer to home: snow capped mountains, Aspens in the fall, antelope on the fat grass, etc. I have missed my more colorful palette.

Sky poured on canvas
 I always begin with the sky. Since I generally pour them to avoid all indications of a brush being involved it is easier to mask off the main part of the painting and pour the sky. The colors and mood which results sets the tone for the rest of the painting.

Then I lay in the colors of the foreground

Tackling the middle

Canvas covered/major color blocks laid out

There is a moment after the canvas is all covered when I am not entirely sure what to tackle next. I had begun this painting with an image of the foreground where I was going to use oil stick to provide texture.

Is it done stage

At last happy with the foreground I become critical of the sky again. In this case I did not like the sky around the sun all that much. And having committed to calling it Rain on the Mesa the rain needed to be punched up a bit.  Watercolor is fast and quickly drying. Oil stick takes longer to dry and I end up with more time to fuss with the painting before applying UV varnish. With painting I used qtips to lift some color around the sun and especially the dark at the point of the mesa. As well as detail work with watercolor pens and pencils.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Recent Views in Black and White

Naked Aspen
 Been a while since I posted on this blog. Sorry. Mind has been elsewhere. I have taken pictures and most began in color but there is something about January, and February, which begs for black and white treatments.

I will not bore you with too many words. I will let the photographs speak for themselves.


Shadows across a snowy drive

Peeling paint 


Shadows across the snow

Light through delicate flowers

Studio Fence Guardian

Friday, January 4, 2019

Clouds of 2018

Clouds in Shades of Grey
If the monsoon clouds are not colorful then they look best in black and white. It always rather amazes the number of shades of grey in the clouds.

Black Lake Dawn
I bought my house because of the dawns. My windows don't face the setting sun but the east. Dawns do some marvelous things.

Storm Building over Ute Valley
It was a spring with fires all around us. Not always easy to tell which clouds were effected by a fire on the other side of the mountain and which weren't. The Ute Valley clouds above were just clouds I think. But the pink clouds below were at least colored by the Ute Park Fire.

Angel's Fire
And a fire to the west of my house seemed to give the clouds silver linings.

Partly Cloudy
But the last photo is at the least clouds generation by the Ute Park Fire and color intensified by the setting sun.

Clouds and Smoke and Sunset

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Trees I Have Known in 2018

Lone tree
This is one of my favorite trees featured in 2018. And as I selected my best trees for the year I noted it is the only single tree all alone in its landscape. And it is the only tree in this blog which is included in its entirety withing the frame.

Some years back before I began focusing on trees as something other than an element of a landscape I read a photography blog about how it was not necessary to include the top and bottom of a tree in a picture. Which then brings up the question of where to cut off the tree. Are tops or bottoms most important.

Skeletons of Trees from Ute Park Fire
This is a photo of just the tops of denuded pine trees in the Ute Park Burn Scar.

Trees in the Snow
And this is a photograph of just the bottom of fir trees after a snow. And, you could argue, a photograph of the light which fills the forest in which the trees stand. I really like this particular photograph of trees because of the light. Which brings us to shadows the trees cast.

Shadows in the snow
 Aspens are a wonderful subject for shadows and especially aspens in the winter with snow at their feet. Even the shadows do not reveal the tops of the trunks.

Trees on the Shore
The shadows of these trees on the edge of a frozen lake is all about the tops of the trees. And like the trees in the snow photograph it is also abut the light in the forest.

Snowy Trees
This photograph also appears in a recap of landscapes for 2018 which raises the question of when is it a landscape and when is it all about the trees in the landscape. That question comes up with photograph number one in this blog. You could argue it is a landscape with a tree.

And you may have noticed that except for the first photograph they are all in black and white. Trees are great without color. It was only after realizing you did not have to have the whole tree in a photograph that I came to the conclusion that trees are not in need to green to be a tree. The first tree will now, in the depths of winter be without leaves. I want to go back and photograph it stark and bare against its landscape. It has nice bones.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Still Life Photographs of 2018

Silk flower in an alley in Trinidad

One of my "tasks" of each year is to review the photographs and pick what I believe are the best in various categories. My father told me my first year of college when he handed me yet another of his old cameras for my Photography 101 class that college was not so much about learning the class content as it was about  learning how to teach yourself for the rest of your life.

As a photographer that is about judging myself and tracking my progress. I give myself homework and tasks and subjects to work on to hone my skills. I confess they are seldom about f-stops. I love best photographing landscapes but I also set myself the task of seeking out still life compositions where I find them. The photograph above also included textures which was another task.

Lake shore in Spring

The still life of the rocks along the shore was definitely about texture. I confess to loving texture in photography. And this was not exactly a "still" life as the lake was moving beneath the slowly melting ice. You could hear it groan and complain. And rocks which had been tossed upon the lake by I assume bored teens were beginning to melt through the ice and now and again one fell through and left a hole.

Crystal Reflections

The still life Crystal Reflections, a crystal bowl on polished granite, essentially has no texture. Just light refractions and reflections.

String of Garlic

The string of garlic hanging on a stucco wall was of course about texture. I could have satisfied my assignment with just one photo but I photographed it for several days in a row at different times of the day because it was also about light and shadow. I printed this one 18 x 24 on canvas. It hangs at Enchanted Circle Brewery with other photographs of mine. 

Tin Heart

Some still life photos are a basis to play with photo editing programs. The tin heart above I used for note cards. I played around not just with the texture but the crop on Crystal Buddha. I wanted to reduce the original photograph to its essence if you will. To me this defines our delicate world in the hands of mighty forces.

Crystal Buddha 

And like the crystal bowl some still life photos are an attempt to capture the light which plays on them. Photography is all about light.

Holders of Light