I wake early. My days vary. Sometimes I work in the studio, but often you will find me in the field . . . that is, if I’m not out setting up or delivering for a show. I enjoy travel and new places.
A typical day is not really typical because I’m always open to change. The freedom to create makes that necessary. Yet, some things repeat - in preparing to apply the oil to canvas. I generally clean my palette before starting each new painting with fresh color. That action gives me a clean slate for the challenge. It, also, clears my head and gives me space for a “thumbnail” in oil, which is a miniature color and composition sketch of the painting that is to follow. I do this study sketch right on the palette, for reference in mixing larger quantities of the colors I will use. Sometimes I wipe out the sketch and start over. When the thumbnail is well composed, the larger work is likely to “flow”.
Whether I’m in the studio or out working en plein air, I still do a sketch on my palette, except that plein air paintings require traveling, selecting a “view” and getting comfortable on-location first. I’ve come to enjoy a companion or two when I paint outdoors but I often go alone (with my dog) to find the best “light” and inspiration. Group trips require coordination that isn’t always timely. However, a shared xperience can translate wonderfully into the work. Either way, I always see “getting out” as a refreshing break from time in the studio.
Frequently, I get out just to walk with my wife, Vicki, and 4-legged partner, Weasel. In addition, I gravitate to various projects that free up my mind- like summerizing the cat’s house that I originally made for the dog, remodeling my new van with conveniences for long trips, making frames or hanging new artwork in the gallery. These and similar activities allow me to come back to my landscape and western artwork with a fresh outlook. Lawn care and enjoying our patio offer a glimpse of nature, which has long been my muse- the sunrise, birds, animals.
Vicki enjoys gardening too, but she prefers her computer and writing to camping and painting. However, there are times when she brings a useful viewpoint, a fresh look and conversation to what I’m doing. Together, we’ve made what we love into a business that supports us; a lifestyle centered around home and gallery, that nourishes our dreams of 30 years together- dreams that have taken root in our lives one day at a time.
We both value living simply, in some ways that makes me think of the way I keep going back to the “basics” when I teach or have a problem with my own work. The traditional rules of color, composition, values, edges, and so forth provide a foundation of understanding and confidence; concepts that translate, with practice, into beauty and art as they merge with individual creativity.
As the end of the day approaches, I like to spice up the evening meal with something colorful and tasty- it’s an exercise in treating myself and sharing with Vicki. Then our pets gather around while we watch a good movie or visit with friends. Now that I have a few more comforts in my van, evenings on-location are just about as cozy as being at home!