Last Saturday night, July 8th, local gallery, Gallery 5, hosted an artist’s reception for master painter, poet, novelist and activist, Dixie Salazar, as introduction to her stunning one woman show there this month. The show is a milestone event, one, gallery curator, Jon Bock, has been attempting to procure for many years. Ms. Salazar embodies a major presence in the Central California art scene and securing a retrospective exhibit of her work for our small town, up here in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is quite a coup for the local creative community.
Which is why I was puzzled by the poor turnout last Saturday night. In addition to gallery personnel, the guests were myself and my wife, two personal friends of Dixie and two other local residents. What gives? The show was well publicized. In addition to all the online marketing Gallery 5 did, on behalf of the reception, I know I personally, spread the word to local artists I ran into at art organization gatherings, in the final days leading up to the opening. There was live music, barbecue, drink and personal readings by Dixie of some of her exceptional contemporary poetry.
Was it the heat? The voluntary $5 donation to cover the cost of the barbecue? Dixie’s work suggests story, like Chagall, contains the color harmonies of Matisse, the liveliness present in the works of VanGogh and Gauguin, all uniquely synthesized through her personal brush. Did they not like her work?
Whatever the reason, while it’s too late to meet and pick the brain of this petite giant, too late to hear her read her poetry, the show will still be there until July 30th. I’ve seen it twice already and plan to return multiple times, before it’s gone. I urge anyone in the area with even a fleeting interest in art to not miss this museum quality show!
I recently finished this painting, begun en plein air, in Yosemite, during my stay as a Yosemite Renaissance artist in residence and I thought I’d walk you through its various stages from start to finish.
As many of you may have heard, during my residency, I invited many of my local artist friends to come up to the park and paint with me. This whole trip came together quickly, but even with short notice, 7 of them were able to make it. On this, our last day, 4 artists were painting with me.
Anderson’s Cabin, is located in Pioneer Village, in Wawona, a collection of historic Yosemite structures from all over the park, brought together in one location to form a little trip back in time hamlet. There are many great structures to paint there, but we all decided on this one on that particular day.
I started this outdoor painting, as I most often do, with an ink blue turpentine wash (50% painting medium, 50% solvent) underpainting. I find shadows outdoors tend to be cool, so the blue is a good choice and since I always work from dark to light, using the one color prevents me from having to mix multiple dark colors, prior to getting all my darks blocked in. Mapping the scene lighting out quickly is critical in plein air painting, as the light changes very quickly. Not having to mix multiple dark colors significantly speeds the process.
With the darks laid out, I quickly washed in general area color, prior to roughing in opaque paint. That way, if I miss tiny patches, known as holidays, with the opaque paint, they don’t show, the underlying canvas having been pre-tinted. With my darks down in ink blue, I begin adding medium value opaque colors, then lights and finally start replacing the ink blue dark wash with dark colors of the correct hue. Here’s the painting at the end of my 4 hour, on location, painting session.
I’m rarely happy with the final result of my plein air sessions and generally either work into the canvas back in my studio or use the painting as a color sketch for a larger studio painting. I’d committed to a show of the works we produced during the week, so, in the interest of time I’ve decided to add more detail to the actual plein air canvas this round.
Reviewing the reference photos I shot on location, I realize that in painting the roof I painted out all the shadows from the trees. During this first session in the studio, I begin returning the shadows to the roof, add dark grout to the chimney and lines separating the individual logs that make up the walls of the cabin. I also finalize the sky and clouds, since everything else will be painted over this.
During my next session I finish most of the detailing to the roof (I found I needed to add light values, as well, in order to get the shadows correct), I begin to detail the log walls of the cabin and start adding back branches (painted out by the sky) and foliage to the trees behind the cabin.
Another day and it’s about working the values on the chimney side of the cabin. I needed to adjust until that side of the building looked like it was truly in shadow. Detailing the stone chimney, including adding the light that hits its stones here and there was a bit tricky, but I finally got it to a point where I was satisfied. I realized the ground shadows, there in the morning, but painted from memory, at the end of the day, were wrong, so I changed those.
Through a couple more sessions I detail the foliage and trunks of the trees.
One last session of final details, including the detailing of the rock border around the grass in front of the chimney, takes me to the finish, shown at the top of this post.
I popped the painting into a floater frame and took it wet, along with the other finish (El Cap & Dogwood) and plein paintings I created during the week, over to Gallery 5, so I could help Jon Bock install the show. The show is titled, “A Week in the Park: Plein Air Works by Trowzers Akimbo & Friends.” It’ll be there through June 22, 2017.
It was a busy week setting up my solo show, A Pair of Trowzers, at the new Gallery 5, in Oakhurst, CA. Many of my pieces are large and have to been transported from my studio to the gallery a couple at a time strapped to a contractors rack installed on my pick-up truck. I had to resign myself, early on, that not much new painting would be accomplished that week, as all waking hours would be needed to mount the exhibit. I’m pretty spoiled in that area, holding myself to at least 4 hours of dedicated painting time a day (from 4pm — 8pm). If other crisis prevent me from getting into the studio earlier in the day, I always at least have those 4 hours to hold onto. Not this week! Hey, getting a solo gig is always an accomplishment, so you’ve got to “roll wid it!”
We were successful in getting all artwork transported to the gallery before the rains hit that week, so, we had that going for us! Don’t know how many of you have been involved in the nuts and bolts of mounting a show, but there’s usually several days of moving the pieces around, leaning them against the walls to see how they work in the space and against each other. Well, I tried something new this time. When I discovered the gallery owner/curator, Jon Bock, had a floor plan available to me, I decided to build a quick a dirty 3D model of the space using Google Sketch Up and attempt a virtual organization of the exhibit. I feel having done so saved me a day or two in actually putting things together in the gallery. I only transported pieces I new I was going to use and I had plan for how it all fit together. I was CCO with several computer game companies from 1989 – 2011, so I’ve had a lot of exposure to 3D modeling and animation software. I wouldn’t recommend the uninitiated from sitting down and learning a 3D app just to accomplish this, but since the skills were in my toolbox, it was a no-brainer for me. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop by and view the show.
Here are the particulars: A Pair of Trowzers
February 18 – March 26, 2017
40982 Highway 41
Oakhurst, CA 93644
Artist’s Reception, Saturday, March 18, 2017, 6pm-8pm
I’m back in the studio painting again now, my natural habitat.
Tomorrow night, Wednesday, March 1st, will be the second night of four in my Painting Workshop at the Artists’ Loft, in North Fork, CA. If you missed last weeks first class, but wanted to be part of this workshop, don’t worry, you can start with this weeks installment and we’ll catch you up. Last week I walked the group through my personal 3 stage indirect painting approach, with a demo, and got everyone started on their own paintings. This week will start the one on one discussions, providing attendees with answers and help on the specific issues they’re facing with their own individual pieces. The workshop is open to all experience levels and oil, acrylic, watercolor and soft pastel mediums are all welcome. The cost is $35 per student per week, with sessions starting at 6pm and continuing to 8pm (our end time is soft, as we stick around until all questions are answered).
The Artists’ Loft
6pm – 8pm
Wednesdays, Feb 22 – Mar 15, 2017
32870 Road 222
North Fork, CA 93643