As I said yesterday, I’m already thinking of the December holidays since the artists here in Lower Town are getting geared up for the special events we have planned for the month. In preparation I’m doing some small paintings to maybe be used as cards or something. We’ll see. This is a lot like yesterday’s paintings since they were all done together. See how it compares.
Sometimes it’s just fun to play with paint and salt. There are several little tricks you can use with watercolors and salt is one of them. Like everything else, you don’t want to use it too much because then your paintings begin to look gimmicky. But for things like frost and other things with a sparkly quality, you just can’t get a better effect than to use salt.
But why Christmas at the end of July? It’s already on my mind as Lower Town has started to plan for the December holidays. I got the idea of lights shining through a frosty window pane, and that’s what I’m going for here. I made two others, kind of an assembly line process which you’ll get to see in the coming days. All similarly done — just fast and fun without too much preconceived notion of what the finished product would look like. After several days of tighter compositions, this was a welcome exercise.
Maybe you can tell I’m missing Mexico. This is another view not far from our casita. Behind the pond in front just beyond us stretches a grazing field filled with cactus, scrub, and grasses that is used for cattle and livestock to graze. The villagers constructed an elaborate waterway many decades ago that consists of a series of ponds and connecting streams that ensure a ready source of water for their animals. The dam that keeps our pond in check is over 400 years old. So their ingenuity goes back a ways.
This is one of the streams that runs through the field. Dave and I like to explore there to look for wildlife and flowers, or any other thing that catches our fancy. The view stretches for miles to the north, the distant mountains part of the Sierra Madre that head south from the US border. From our vantage point we sit at around 7,000 feet, so while it looks as though we’re at a low elevation, in reality we exist on a high plateau of farmland and semi-arid scrub land with mountains all around us.
I wanted to do a landscape today and so I thought of our village of Alcocer, where our casita is just outside of San Miguel. One of my favorite little scenes there is the small adobe building across the arroyo from us. It looks old but obviously has stood the test of time. I’m not sure how our neighbors use it, but when the sun begins to sink low to the horizon it hits the building in such a way that it lights up like a vision. I’m always mesmerized by it.
I’ve approached this in a fast and loose way, to get the feel of the place. It’s age, all the deep shadows caused by the thick scrubby vegetation of mesquite, huasache, and nopal cactus that are common throughout the area. I love the earthy tones and how the adobe reflects its surroundings.
This weekend became super busy so I’m realizing that my painting a day may be a weekday painting a day.Â If I get one or two done on the weekends, fine. But it may be just during the week. Keep tuning in.
We have sunflowers in the front and back of the house this year, in shades of yellow and orange. They stand tall and elegant in the sun in honor of their namesake. Last week my cat, Dove, became very intent sitting on her chair in my studio windows, and I knew there was something out there commanding her full attention. Just outside directly in front of the windows was a pair of goldfinches. The male flew away before I could get very many pictures of him, but his lady was determined to get her fill of her favorite food, and so I got several pictures of her. She’s kind of a greenish gray with hints of yellow. Just a little speck of brillance on an already radiant flower.
I seem to paint a lot of farm animals, but I like them and I never tire of doing so. Today I went back to a picture of a neighbor’s goat in our village of Alcocer that we took a couple of Springs ago. This little guy was just adorable and I’d wanted to paint him for some time. The small format seems to suit him well.
I’m back on track, having finished today’s painting on time to get it photographed and posted before the end of the day. Dave and I went on a drive a couple weeks ago on his day off to spend the afternoon at Mermet Lake in southern Illinois. It’s about an hour’s drive from Paducah and is just a fantastic natural area with loads of water fowl and wild life. Right now the water lilies, or lotus, are in full bloom all over the lake. They sit tall above the water like dancing ladies. So I couldn’t resist painting a few.
I got started later than anticipated yesterday and so by the time I finished my little painting it was too late to photograph it. So, here it is, yesterday’s painting. This little guy is a Mexican horse, or maybe it’s a pony as it turned out from the way I painted it. He’s looking out from some of the ruins in Real de Catorce, an historical town up in the mountains of central Mexico on the way to San Miguel. It’s an interesting town, accessed only through a mile long tunnel carved through the mountain like catacombs. The streets are steep and meandering. We stopped on our way south last year to explore and were charmed beyond belief. This little guy was peeking out of an abandoned hacienda at the edge of town.
Watercolor on paper
4.5″ X 5.5″
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Dave, my in-house art consultant, has convinced me, along with another knowledgeable friend, that my pricing on these daily paintings is off. Pricing is always a tricky business, and when you start something new like this you kind of have to gauge response and what others are doing. So, taking all that into consideration, and because I value their opinion and judgement, I’m changing the price on these to $50 each.
Todayâ€™s selection is an image from our first trip to San Miguel de Allende. Just to the east of town is a nature preserve with a man made reservoir that attracts myriad water birds, among them Black Ibis. Exceedingly shy birds, weâ€™ve never been able to get very close to them, and absent a telephoto of some power, this is about the best you can do. Later, when we rented a house on the east side of town while building ours, the ibis would make nightly sojourns from east to west to roost somewhere for the night. Their trek invariably took them directly over our house, making them a special bird indeed for us.
â€œBlack Ibis Flightâ€
Watercolor on paper
4.5″ X 5.5″
Contact me for purchase details
On another note, yesterday brought a reason for celebration other than starting this series of small paintings. My painting, “Mexican Place Settings,” which I’ve posted as a new work this spring and also as part of a post during Quilt Week, was accepted into the 63rd Annual International Exhibition 2009 Aqueous Open. This show is put on by the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society, and for me represents my first acceptance into a watercolor society show of any kind. Strange as that may seem, and for all the other shows I’ve been in, none of them have been exclusive watercolor exhibitions. The show will be at be Galleries, 3583 Butler Street, in Pittsburgh, PA from November 3 – 28, 2009. The opening reception will be Saturday November 7 from 6 – 9pm.
Recently Iâ€™ve felt stalled in my work as though Iâ€™m stagnating in an isolated pool. It hasnâ€™t helped that over the past few weeks Iâ€™ve had one rejection after the other for major wholesale shows and grant awards. One of them even sent me comments from the jurors that focused on my technical skills. That might be okay if I were just beginning to paint but Iâ€™ve been at this medium for 30 years so I think Iâ€™m past that. So Iâ€™ve decided to crank things up a notch and give my promotions a shot in the arm, because thatâ€™s really whatâ€™s been stagnating. The vacuum Iâ€™ve created has become too stifling so itâ€™s time to break out.
Since the economy is still in the drain and people continue to have less money to spend on non-necessities, Iâ€™ve decided on a strategy to make what I do more affordable and at the same time get more stuff out there. For a number of years now a lot of artists have gotten into the concept of doing a painting a day. It started with one artist who wanted to challenge himself, and so he began a discipline of painting a quick study and posting it on his blog each day. Soon it caught on, he developed a following, sold most of the little gems, and the rest is history. Iâ€™ve toyed with the idea of following his and othersâ€™ leads but have always rejected it as too much work. Iâ€™ve now decided thatâ€™s just been my excuse for not diving in and seeing where this might lead. But not anymore.
Iâ€™d like to grow my following and sell more paintings. Starting small is manageable for me and hopefully for more people who like what I do but donâ€™t feel they can fork out a lot of money for the big stuff. My goal is to do this for 100 days. We’ll see what happens and I’ll go from there.
So, this is my first one. Calla Lilies is the title. Watercolor on paper. All paintings will be $50 plus shipping, which will be around $12 cause these will be unframed.
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