Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Week 12 - 2014 in Images

Day 78

Winter came this week (note I did not say returned) but sporadically and halfheartedly. Spring had already made inroads with the melting of ponds and the fluffing out of aspens getting read to leaf and bloom. Pictures became a strange mix of seasons.

Day 79
The first color of spring in the mountains is blue. The skies turn almost teal, the just melted ponds a sapphire, and the shadows a deep Prussian. All in contrast with the white snow and the white trunks of Aspens.

Day 80
It is hard to not take pictures. But it has to be done fast because all too quickly the spring snow is melting. The snow on the branches falls on your head and soon you are walking in mud. Good time to retreat in doors. The weather can change rapidly in the spring which I much prefer over extended storms.

Day 81

Day 82

There is something about the melting of ponds which gets me going on reflections be they in water or glass.

Day 83

The pond below is my favorite for reflections but it is almost always the last to melt. Still well worth waiting for with the shades of blue reflected in the ice and open water.

Day 84

Today it is snowing again and the sky looks like the one in Day 83. Never fear. It will not last long.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mystic Mustangs - The Creative Process

Mystic Mustangs by J. Binford-Bell
19 x 44 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
I have been wanting to do a larger version of an earlier wild horse painting for some time. It required more horses. I did this sketch one horse at a time. And then transposed them onto a larger sheet of tracing paper. I didn't have a large enough light table so I used one panel of my studio French doors.

Once the horses were overlapped and positioned I outlined them and then put the sketch on the table to fill in background features and elaborate on manes and tails. I also had to erase and re-position some legs for clarity.

Beginning of the sketch

Then stretch the canvas and transfer the sketch. Not easy with larger paintings because of slippage which can occur. Then all the tops of the horses had to be masked off so the sky could be poured. A long thin sky isn't easy to pour especially with the added details of manes and heads and mouths. I work on the flat in this part of the process. The table was once white.

Trying to get the sky right

Still not happy with sky but moving ahead
I have made myself a functioning easel using my flat files. Not everything at this point can be worked vertically but working details horizontally can be a bear in a painting this size. So the manes were worked on the easel and below the foreground was worked on the table. Salt was added to the washes of ground for texture. Once it is dry the salt will adhere to the canvas.

Background and foreground base filled in

Coloring in horses

Filling in the foreground using oil sticks

This was personally my least favorite part of the process. I still hated the sky. The detail of the horses seemed to only make it worse. There was entirely too many legs.

Sky improved

I got to the point I was going to toss the painting if I could not get the sky right. So back to the horizontal with the painting tilted just a bit legs up so I could control where the paint ran. The ink stick shrubs in the front began to draw the horses together, but still too many legs.

Getting close enough for ravens
In fact this next step was about the longest. I added shadows across the legs of the mustangs and pale washes over the mountains to get them to recede behind the herd. Brought in more colors into the mesa and vegetation. And used fine detail brushes to bring out details in the horses heads. The differences between the unsigned version above and the finished and signed piece at the beginning are often subtle but very significant to me at least. There are still just as many legs but they are not distracting from the spirit and movement of the piece. The painting is about horses but it is also about the mesa they inhabit.

A friend that followed my progress postings on Binford-Bell Studio remarked that it took me only four days to get from the pouring of the sky to the painting just above this one. But the sketch had taken a week even with reusing some horse drawings from the smaller painting. And the tweaking took another week. I used inks, watercolors and oil sticks.

Week 11 - 2014 in Images

Day 71
I love reflections be they in glass or mirrors or ponds. I took the opening photo of the week quickly. I want to revisit the China cabinet and spend more time. It has been a busy week and my HAADD has sprung into full force. A week to make lists in order to get everything done I needed to do. Taxes loom. I avoid.

Day 72

And photos have been catch as catch can. The Nikon D3200 is back and performing well but I am treating it a bit like a test drive. I can tell I am a great deal more comfortable with my old D90.

Day 73
This week's subject matter is certainly varied in part because of the test driving of the D3200 as well as not taking a lot of time to seek out photographic opportunities. A bit reminiscent of the old photography 101 assignment where you must take pictures as you march across campus finals week. At some point you will aim at random leaves or stray clouds. But this week did give me some interesting weather.

Day 74

The sentinel tree is my neighbor across the street and I have photographed it a thousand times. It is a perch for the ravens and the hawks and a point of interest set against clouds and always catches the first rays of the sun coming over the mountain. These clouds signal a change of weather and no need to go much further than my porches for pictures.

Day 75

Snow came again. Snow of the heels of freezing rain following rain. Lots of moisture in comparison with the last two months. We have not had enough snow to cover the grass since early December I think. But at least this counted for snow.

Day 76

And it kept trying for a few days. It looked like it could be very serious when I took the Day 76 photo, but I do not think it hung around long after I took it. The fact that my ladder and wheel barrow never got stored for the winter is a pretty good indication of what winter was like. I have seen snow,  some winters, that would have been up to the third rung.

Day 77

But the good news is the ponds have begun to melt. And I have begun to focus my camera on pond reflections for the next week. Doesn't look like a big mud and flood season, however, unless we get a bunch more of these little snow storms. They do make for pretty pictures.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Week Ten - 2014 in Images

Day 64

The week was a lot about sunrises. And and sky watching. Spring is here and no telling what the weather will be on any given day. We have actually gotten some snow. Wet, spring snow.

Day 65
It certainly has made for more interesting things to point a camera at. But I admit to still having my mind in painting, and perhaps all the more so since the studio has been so warm most days with the warm spells between the fleeting snows.

Day 66

Day 67
Nikon notified me the D3200 was coming back so I seemed to want to use my D90 more on those spring skies with their new clouds.

Day 68
I took the picture above of the ever faithful Sentinel tree because of the clouds. I want to do some clouds like this in a painting. And this photo is proof there are clouds like this.

Day 69
And spring brings clear ice which freezes into such wonderful patterns. Ice in winter is white. So out an about with the camera to record the ice and in the afternoon attack the garden prep. Or hop in the car and head to the local thrift shop in search of a better camera bag for the two cameras. When the 3200 came back I could not find where I had put its accessories and batteries, etc.

Day 70

Meanwhile I sent off four new photographs to be printed for entry into an exhibit. They should be here tomorrow. It is always interesting to see my digital images in concrete form. That happens with such a small percentage of the photos I take. But they are always there and available for anyone to purchase in whatever size. Stop by the studio this weekend and see the new painting and the four new photographic prints.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Music Played On

Lee Plaza Hotel
Visual prompt by The Mag
The Music Played on

The dancers were gone
The clinking of ice,
the giggles of debutantes,
all silent
but the music played on.

She heard the strains
of the violins
the rhythm of the ivories
her hall of memories.

He whispered in her ear
nibbled her neck
led her around the floor
and left
her to forever hum the music.

March 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week Nine - 2014 in Images

Day 57 - Full Studio

With the Nikon D3200 at the repair facility for Nikon, and busy working on paintings destined for The Old Pass Gallery in Raton a lot of my photography lately has gotten shoved off to the side. Biggest photo shoot this week was Trinidad after I dropped off these paintings in Raton. So far nobody has ever visited my studio when it is in this type of total chaos but that is not unwelcome.

Day 58
Reflections of Trinidad

As soon as the paintings went to Raton I began going through my photographs to pick entries for the Ralph R. Solano Memorial Photography Exhibit in April. So it went from a mess in my studio to a mess in my computer corner. BTW, Day 58 above, is one of the photos I picked to be printed on metallic paper to be matted and framed for entry.

Day 60
Umbrella on Main

And when I sent Day 58 off to the printer I had not yet post processed Day 60 or it might have gone along instead of one of the other three I sent.

Day 62
Umbrella in the window

I love umbrellas and reflections and windows. I could looking back through my photographs mount a small exhibition on each. What surprises me are the number of umbrellas.

Day 61

Yes, the day numbers are out of sync because I wanted to place the photographs by subject. This is one of the photos I took off the beaten track in Trinidad. And yes, another reflection.

Day 63
Caboose House
I really want a caboose on my property. Prefer red but the green is nice. Really wanted to begin renovations but was satisfied taking a photograph instead. Hope to go back soon and take more photos.

Day 59

Will end this week's review with Day 59 which I took before departing to Raton and Trinidad.  It just seemed so out of place with the week's activities.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Creative Process - Making the Hard Choices

Trinidad Reflections

I was recently in Trinidad, Colorado and walking along Main Street snapping reflections and a man stopped to ask me what I was taking pictures of. I pointed at the dirty window and told him to look beyond it to the world reflected in it. His face lit up when he saw what I saw. My hope is my work, be it paintings or photography, produce that epiphany again and again and again to all the people that do not stop and ask me what it is I am taking a picture of.

Artists create not in a vacuum or silence but within a world of their own making which exists only because of awareness of the world outside. My goal, as an artist, is to communicate to that world what I see. And my chance to do that is to enter exhibitions and contests and launch shows. I just sent four new paintings off to The Old Pass Gallery in Raton for the New Mexico Women Artists exhibit in March. And yesterday I went through literally hundreds of photographs to select four or five to have printed to enter in the Ralph Solano Photography Contest in April.

Between Seasons

It is not all about the photograph. It is about the photograph's voice. There are lots of photographers with fancier equipment that can catch every single crater on the full moon or stop a bird in flight across a marsh, but for me photography, like painting, is about the message. And so first the photograph has to speak to me even though it could have been months since I and the camera had that conversation with the subject or, like the opening picture of this blog, it could have been just a few days ago when I clicked the shutter.

Old Chevy

It could be one which has always been a personal favorite of mine. Or once I took and forgot I took until the photo review began again.

In the Rear View Mirror

I have two photographs already printed which I can enter into this exhibition. I can only submit five, but I found myself sending off another four jpegs to my printer. That is where photography gets expensive.


But the message never gets out of your head until someone else sees it. My head can be a very noisy place. Definitely not a vacuum or silence. And it has gotten noisier since I have been planning for my one woman show in July at the Main Street Gallery in Trinidad, Colorado: Meraki. The essence of myself I put into my work be it photography, painting or poetry.