Friday, June 27, 2014

Meraki Mustangs - The Creative Process

Meraki Mustangs
I talked in the previous blog about how this painting made the most use of new odorless oil products. As I have painted with larger and larger canvases I have more frequently encountered the problem of watercolors drying to fast. To counter this I have used a mixing medium that slows the drying process. But it also changes how the watercolor behaves. I used that medium for both the sky and the under coating of the foreground in this 22 x 46 inch canvas.

I like the effect liquid watercolors give me especially poured and also how fast a large segment of canvas can be covered.

Sky and foreground poured and mountains and sun completed with watercolor

With the use of salt (varying grain size) and soap and metallic powders floated on a very wet surface a variety of effects and textures can be achieved very quickly. I have been using oil sticks in the foreground of several paintings to enhance textures already begun by dropping paint and salt.

Painting the horse in with watercolor

In past horse pictures I have painted the manes in first but I already knew I wanted to use oil sticks brushed in for the manes. I wanted a more wild look. But at this point I became rather dissatisfied with my horses done in watercolor so the watercolor became an undercoating for the oil I will apply with brush.

Oiled in horses if you will

Oil sticked foreground and oil painted middle ground under horses

Using the oil on the horses and then darkening the ground under and behind them made the horses stand out from the watercolored background. And the use of oil stick on top of the textured watercolor and salt foreground created distance. From this point in the opening picture was a lot of tweaking. Mainly of colors of the horses so they did not over power each other. I also roughed up their legs to give them more a sense of movement. In the picture above I had signed it but not added my signature ravens in yet. There was a bit more tweaking to do.

Became a fan of Binford-Bell Studio and see postings of future work in process.

Parade of Wild Horses

Dead Horse Mesa - SOLD 2011
10 x 18 Mixed Media

A friend, in a casual conversation over coffee, asked me if I ever painted horses. I replied not since I was 16. And what girl does not paint or draw horses in her youth? But I was growing bored with subject matter for paintings and it seemed a possibility. I borrowed a skull from a friend, and inspired by the story of Dead Horse Mesa which I had visited in Utah I began to sketch. And photograph.


I didn't want to do just another western wild horse painting. So Dead Horse Mesa contained just skulls taken from my photographic study of Horace, the borrowed horse skull. Frankly, I was rather surprised when my small study sold almost immediately. So did a matted and framed photograph of Horace to another patron. Encouraged I painted another version. Hey, Monet did lots of lily pads.

14 x 31 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
I liked the new painting a lot and decided to venture into whole horses. And a day time paint scheme. And hence Spirit Run which has become my brand on my various social media and on rack cards and advertising. I always thought Stampede fit better but it could be seen as more macabre while Spirit Run was more positive and lively.

Spirit Run
14 x 30 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
When I gathered both of these two paintings to be inventoried and packed for the trip to Trinidad for my first show in Colorado I noticed they were mislabeled. I always sign my paintings on the back canvas edge to avoid confusion but the framing had partly obscured the names. Spirit Run gets lots of positive feed back and I have actually considered making a poster out of it since it is so identified with my studio. It was also the beginning of playing with oil sticks. Up to that point my paintings were watercolor with ink (mixed media unless you are Chinese and then just plain watercolor). The oil stick addition made them truly mixed media.

Artists, it is believed, repeat a theme because they have not totally explored it fully. Ergo Degas and his dancers and Monet and his lily ponds, Van Gogh and his fields of grain. Me and missions and canyons. Though you can also argue it is because what is in their world. Running horses really are not in mine. Lots of just standing ones which I have photographed for reference. But then I must also assume melting clocks were not in Dali's world either - at least the solid world. 

Mystic Mustangs - SOLD 2014
19 X 44 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas

When I began Mystic Mustangs this spring Dead Horse Mesa was the only horse picture I had sold. You could argue I was the only one captured by my wild horses but Mystic Mustangs sold with in days of its completion. I might even have been able to create a bidding war for it. It was one of the most expensive and largest paintings I had done. It also used a lot more oil stick in the foreground. It doesn't take a lot to encourage an artist so All My Pretty Ponies.

All My Pretty Ponies
19 x 29 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas
I probably spent more time "researching" this composition than any of the previous horse pictures since Horace and Dead Horse Mesa. And let me say a great thank you to Google Images. I sat in front of the computer for days with my sketch book going through the thousands of images of running horses. This was designed to be a study for a larger painting (22 x 46) with more horses. And I had stretched the canvas and begun working on the sketch for the bigger painting while still painting All My Pretty Ponies. Before I was done with that sketch I began work on a smaller horse painting Tres Amigos.

Tres Amigos
20 x 20 Mixed Media on the Diagonal

I used Tres Amigos to explore some of the coloring and techniques I wanted to utilize in the planned larger painting. In that sense Tres Amigos is another study. Artists are always studying. And as studies are generally smaller on scale and therefore less expensive it is a great opportunity for patrons. Tres Amigos also was test of night sky vs day sky.

So now to the main event: Meraki Mustangs.

Meraki Mustangs
22 x 46 Mixed Media on Canvas
I have done a couple bigger paintings but have never made such extensive use of oil. Watercolor could almost be considered just an under-painting for the main subjects. I have not painted in oil since my college days. I have stayed away from it because of a toxic reaction to solvents. But the oil sticks and new solvent free oils have allowed a return for may artists to this medium. Will I go totally oil? I do not think so. I still like the effects I can get with liquid watercolors and their brightness. The sky, mountains, sun, and foreground effects are all watercolor. But the oil adds texture and richness. And takes a really long time to dry.

I will be doing a Creative Process blog later about the painting of Meraki Mustangs. And unless sold before they are packed all the parade of horses will be on display at Gallery Main for the month of July. Opening reception is the 11th from 5 to 7. Stay in touch daily with my continuing artistic explorations at Binford-Bell Studio on Facebook by becoming a fan of my page.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Week 25 - 2014 in Images

Day 169

Busy week at the studio. Paintings became to come off the wall so I could clean inventory and tag them. I decided to get back to being more professional and create a new inventory with inventory numbers and tag all my paintings consistently before I box them up. I had been so long since I had done that (2011 before my two year hiatus from painting) I had forgotten how to modify my spread sheet. And it turns out only a small handful of my photographs (those printed) were on any inventory. I have this folder of copies of entry forms for photographic and painting exhibits.

In the middle of this left brain muddle the opportunity to visit Eagle Nest Dam presented itself. One of the heights of the tour was this old truck at the Gateway Museum in Eagle Nest where the tour originated.

Day 170

And it was a gorgeous day in the neighborhood. The week had been windy to the extreme which made it good to be inside working on that inventory for my one woman show at Gallery Main. The show runs for the month of July in Trinidad, Colorado. And at my studio during that month will be a show primarily of my printed photographs and some of my lessor paintings.

But I digress. The day of the historic tour was still a bit windy but not what it had been. And the skies were noisy (photographic term) which makes for interest above the horizon.

Day 171
And it adds unique lighting to ordinary objects. Eagle Nest Dam is not that ordinary. It is the largest privately built dam in the United States and dates from 1920. The town of Eagle Nest was named after the rock in the picture below. No eagles the day I visited but the lake beyond the dam is now residence for several pairs of Bald Eagles.

Day 172
Eagle Roost Rock at Eagle Nest Dam

Lots more dam pictures and look for a blog featuring them on Sidetracked Charley in the future. Mean time it is back to that truck. Love trucks. There is some other interesting old and rusty things on the grounds of the Gateway Museum and I plan a return just to photograph them.

Day 173

Meanwhile another picture from the dam tour. This one of the spillway to the side of the dam. My photographer's eye was attracted to the intricate intertwining of roots and rocks at the water's edge. Considering halving the photo horizontally to focus on just those roots.

Day 174

And when the winds stopped a foggy morning to record. Before going back to that dreaded spread sheet inventory.

Day 175

Monday, June 23, 2014

Magpie Tales 225 - Sweet Summer

Sweet Summer by John William Waterhouse
Mag 225

The summer of innocence
just newly spoiled
celebrating your sexuality
before it must to be hidden inside
the diary.

The summer of sweet love
before you knew its curse
and he left you for another
less innocent
more ripe.

The summer of awakening
of knowing why it is forbidden fruit
which all to quickly spoils
like an improperly corked vintage
gone sour.

J. Binford-Bell
June 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Week 24 - 2014 in Images

Day 162

A friend of mine posted a challenge in photography of ordinary objects. Seen through a camera lens I do not know any object is ordinary. Something about the medium takes it out of the ordinary. But this week I tried to focus on the ordinary images in my life.

Day 163
Radicchio in my garden

Frankly even the plants in the garden did not look that ordinary once in my view finder. Even less so on the computer screen. The camera makes you look at ordinary objects and see the extraordinary in them.

Day 164

Even the lowly snapdragon when looked up to became a giant. Okay I added the sun spot. But because it just seemed to call for it.

Day 165

And my dirty studio windows happened to be reflecting the most extraordinary storm clouds the day I took the picture below.

Day 166

Day 167

These were those clouds. I think the clouds that day were way beyond ordinary. But they are fairly common in my world because they build up over the mountains that surround my valley.

Day 168

And this fountain is an ordinary part of my routine. I stare at it and toy with how to capture it. Another attempt on Day 168. An otherwise ordinary day. Except I had my camera with me.

I daily post another photo on Binford-Bell Studio Page in Facebook. I also post progress photos of my paintings as I prepare for Meraki at Gallery Main in Trinidad, Colorado. Check out my page and my posts.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Meraki - Preparing for the One Woman Show

All My Pretty Ponies
19 x 29 Mixed Media
Currently on Exhibit at Angel Fire Visitor's Center

A Greek noun meaning the soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself which is put into your work.

I have done fairs before. And even an exclusive small exhibit dedicated to my work in the lobby of a framing shop. You learn to not pass up opportunities as an artist in a changing economy. My works are at the Chamber of Commerce in Angel Fire and the Visitor's center. My studio also serves as an exhibit space for my work. 

I have never spent almost a year preparing for occupation of a whole gallery with just my work. Fairs are 10 x 10 moving one woman shows and I have in the past done as many as eight in a year. A gallery is just four fair booths. Right? First question was did I have enough work to fill the gallery space. Yes. Second question was did I have enough work to fill the space without gutting my own open studio and the gallery which represents me in Cimarron and my venues around Angel Fire. Perhaps. Third question was would I mount a show acceptable to me.

That is when you stand in the middle of your exhibit space in your studio and stare. Then off to your computer and review your images of every painting in your inventory. Then upstairs to empty the boxes of stored works. Wise to remember that this opportunity has come after only just returning to painting after a two year hiatus. It was my first works after that hiatus which were entered in gallery exhibits that attracted Gallery Main to make the offer. They had no questions about the quality. But I had questions within me. And what artist or performer doesn't. Actors will tell you that stage fright can be used to mount a stellar performance.

36 x 21 Mixed Media
Currently on exhibit at Binford-Bell Studio

I decided while I could mount a respectable exhibit with pieces on hand what I really needed was some magic to hold it together. I needed some larger works to speak for the others. I have now painted 13 such works and have one more just begun. If time a triptych I have dreamed of. There is something almost mystical about painting one painting after another. I understand how Georgia O'Keeffe died with 1000 works in her studio. How Salvador Dali's work plunged in value after his death because of what he had "horded" in his house. How Picasso had rooms full of paintings. Each painting seems to begat another. Which is good because while I have been painting for the show paintings have sold from my studio. Magic happens.

I have done bouts of extended painting before - binges for fairs. I quit fairs for several reasons not the least that I think it damped my creativity. The tendency is to cookie cutter out the subjects you know will sell. Whereas this time I was leaping from one inspiration to the next. Only criteria was they be larger works. I certainly had an ample amount of smaller and medium sized paintings. I was painting these paintings for me. They are of me. Meraki.

High Pueblo Dawn
Canvas size 28 x 28 Mixed media
Currently on exhibit at Binford-Bell Studio

Now there are just 15 more days. There is inventory and boxing and sending information to the gallery. And more painting. I did after all just begin that one more painting my muse has been whispering about. I have been back to Gallery Main a few times. Sometimes it looks entirely too huge to fill and sometimes too small. Some days I stand in my studio and look at those walls and the paintings on them and wonder what possessed me to commit to this. And other times I will walk into my studio to begin painting for the day and marvel at who it is who has painted all this.


Opening Reception July 11th at 5 p.m.
Gallery Main
130 East Main Street
Trinidad, Colorado

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Week 23 - 365 Days of Photographs 2014

Day 155 - Cimarron, New Mexico

What is it about June which always makes me feel so far behind. And with a one woman show of my paintings in July I really do feel very far behind. Trying to avoid panic with photography. There is nothing in life which cannot be avoided for at least a few moment when behind a camera. Or in front of the computer immersed in post processing a photo. And if that photograph you are working on is of a place you visited on a leisurely afternoon all the better.

Day 156

And lacking a scenic spot there is always the morning light through the blinds and the patterns captured. Photographs can focus on a reality we missed in our busy lives or like the photo below, alter reality. Eagle Nest lake with the tiny pontoon boat looks healthy and full. Cropping deleted the yards and yards of dry shore line once covered with water. Eagle Nest lake because of the drought is at less than half of its capacity.

Day 157 - Eagle Nest Lake

Or the camera can point the eye to the deterioration of what we viewed as quaint. Thankfully the house below isn't mine. Sadly mine may have as much to be fixed but is less picturesque.

Day 158 - Sun room in New Mexico?

The green house/sun room above has added screen to protect the plants once raised there from the south sun in summer or from the hail of our monsoon seasons? No owners to ask. But it and the plastic and poly bow green house I built made me very aware of layers we apply these days. The window next to the green house is single pane and no screen but the window featured below is double pained and screened. The dog looking out is less visible than the remnants of sheer curtain in the photo above.

Day 159 - How much is the doggie in the window?

Double layered glass makes for some interesting images especially when you factor in reflections like in the self-portrait below. Selfies are easy with smart phones but more difficult with DSLR's. I liked the one below because it includes my camera and beyond the double glass a painting of mine layered in with the reflection of the aspens behind me. A friend said it seemed anxious. I am anxious currently. See opening paragraph about the one woman show.

Day 160 - self portrait

To wrap up on a more calming note I leave you with a black and white of a fountain in a pond set in the valley surrounded by mountains. In color it is almost too busy. In black and white it has a serenity which almost allows you to hear the soft sound of the water falling on the surface. And I remember the birds swooping over the surface beneath the spray making high pitched calls.

Day 161

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mag 223 - For the Record

Visual Prompt by The Mag

For the record

Taped conversations
in the Oval office
One maniac to mega-manics
recorded history

Gone from the record
Eighteen minutes.
One maniac or just the secretary
editing history

Hearings all recorded
in Senate chamber
One maniac on trial for months
over 18 minutes

J. Binford-Bell

President Richard Nixon
Watergate Hearings

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Week 22 - 2014 in Images

Day 148

Day 148 was a very special day for me because on that day I was able to see clearly out of both eyes at last. The world was really puddle wonderful as e. e. cummings would say but all the images for this week were taken the before my surgery and through the use of modern technology scheduled to post on the appropriate day. Meanwhile I was out with my camera taking photos with two good eyes which will be posted this week coming up.

Day 149
But I had one good eye for almost a month and when these pictures were taken. What I noticed was my new found joy at the quality of light. Cataracts make everything too bright or too indistinct. Sunrises and sunsets become less than enjoyable.

Day 150

Day 151

Modern surgical procedures gave me back the light, and as I have said before, the edges. And the pleasure of spending time on the computer photo editing some of my previously taken photos.

The last three photos of this week were posted because they will be May 2014 for me: The May 13th snow storm, and the feverish building of the bow tunnel after that and before going under the knife again.

Day 152 - Memories of a May snow storm

Day 153 - Walking the Fence Line

Day 154

Regardless of my artistic intentions when out with a camera some photos are a recording of a time and place, a period of my life which I must mark. If I am lucky those images captured sometimes speak volumes to others. Sometimes they speak just to me. Image 153 - Walking the Fence Line surprisingly speaks to my of my childhood. No, I never lived on a ranch, but I have known lots of ranchers and spent time on ranches and farms as a guest laborer if you will. The work goes on whether there is 10 inches of snow or not. There is no calling in for a sick day or a snow day.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Let's Take a Trip

Lips supplied by The Mag 122

Just a little trip
You know I never lie
Come away with me
down the rabbit hole.

Trip the light
of wonderland
Just a tiny trip
to a land of nonsense.

You know you want to
escape this reality
trip among the stars
with Tweedle Dumb and Dee.

Take this magic pill
and come away with me
a short walk along the briny sea
with me and the Carpenter. 

J. Binford-Bell
June 2014