Weary Sunflower

12″x9″ guache on paper

“Ah, sunflower, weary of time, Who countest the steps of the sun, Seeking after that sweet golden clime Where the traveller’s journey is done; Where the youth pined away with desire And the pale virgin shrouded in snow Arise from their graves, and aspire Where my sunflower wishes to go.”

-William Blake

Golden Hours

diptic 24″x9″ pastel on sanded paper
“Lost – yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”   -Horace Mann
I think one of the reasons I love to paint (plein air especially) is because it keeps me in the present.  The way time ebbs and flows fascinates me.  Sometimes it goes so fast, sometimes it seems to slow, and the lost hours are what terrify me the most.

Thorns Have Roses

36″x24″ pastel on sanded paper

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”  -Alphonse Karr 1856

I love to paint roses, and the ones I encounter most grow on cacti.  Here is a collection of my recent cactus work:

The most recent is in the lower right hand corner.  It is special because I painted it 10 times bigger than I normally work!  Here is a work in progress picture on my easel (look to the right to see my coffee cup to get an idea of scale)

Chama from Skull Bridge

20″x16″ oil on panel
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”        -Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

That quote seems fitting for this particular part of skull bridge because it is where the Conti entail Divide Trail cross the Chama river, down from Ojitos Canton.  No one hikes from Mexico to Canada without a plan.  Likewise, without a plan, paintings often fail.

My plan usually starts with a vision, and then some simple scheming.  I find making thumbnail sketches is usually worth the effort.  They help me simplify my composition and cement my value structure.

value thumbnails on a 3″x5″ index card

I chose to use the center composition, portrait orientation.

I painted my piece alla prima, stood back and tried to problem solve.  First question “did I stick to my values?”  With a quick glance at the value thumbnail and the finished painting, the answer is “NO”

value thumbnail compared to value study of unfinished painting

Could connecting the darks across the middle improved the painting?  I think so!  Judge for yourself.

before and after adding a warm grey