Twice a year my favorite art shop has awesome sales. I came across this huge 24×48 canvass about 2.5 years ago and it was a bit of an impulse buy. It’s not very often that you find a canvass this big for under $50.
Buy now, find inspiration later.
This canvass has seen 3 different starts. First it was going to be the golden gate bridge as a gift for someone. Then I realized that was stupid and gessoed over it. Then I started a black and white piece of snowboarders hiking a ridge at silverton. That sat for almost a year and a half before I broke out the gesso again.
I found my final inspiration after completing Indian Peaks Campsite. I really liked the simplistic, almost cartoon-esque feeling, that small piece had. I decided that I wanted to do a bigger version like that and really push myself out of my usual aesthetic. I tend to do very detailed, realistic pieces– usually working too close to the canvass. But with this large of a canvass I couldn’t allow myself to do that. I wanted to focus on brush strokes and movement in this piece and not get caught up in the fine details. It was more about the journey and less about the destination. Now I just need to find wall space big enough to hold it.
Third time’s the charm.
Spring in the Indian Peaks. 2015. acrylic on canvass. 24×48
Most paintings require multiple days or weeks to complete and
sometimes most of the time I am just too impatient. Sometimes I just need to feel like I’ve accomplished something and that I’ve exercised my artistic muscle. I’ve discovered the best way to accomplish both those things is by doing mini paintings. I found some awesome little 4×4 canvasses at Michaels and some old canvass sheets that I can use for painting practice.
Summit County Aspens. 2014. 4×4.
Mini 14er. 2014. 4×4. Christmas gift for my mother.
Indian Peaks Campsite. 2014. 4×6.
The Maroon Bells are probably the most photographed peaks in Colorado so when I decided to do a painting of them, I was pretty much setting myself up for failure. Not only is everyone familiar with what they’re supposed to look like, but just the nature of the rock face is really hard to paint. After a certain point, I realized that I was free to take artistic liberties with it.
I started from the top of the canvass and worked my way down. I liked the way the paint met the canvass on the right side so I thought I’d leave it for a while as I filled up the left side. After completing the left side (and after getting really sick of painting trees) I decided to leave it as is. I tend to make pieces too realistic at times, and I thought it’d be nice to mix realistic with artistic. I thought maybe I’d “finish” it after taking a few weeks away, but after letting it hang on my wall for a month I’ve decided to leave it.
One Friday evening while sharing a pitcher at our local haunt, Elliot shared a photo from his childhood with me. I immediately thought, “I want to paint this!” and made him email it to me that second. It’s not that often that I’m immediately enamored with a photo so much I can’t wait to start painting it– let alone one with not one, but 4 faces!
I avoid painting portraits like the plague. But as we all know, you can’t get better at something if you never work at it.The biggest draw was the clothing. Painting the folds and shadows of clothing is one my favorite things to do and I took this painting as a good exercise/challenge.
After a month of work, I finally had a piece I was pretty proud of.
“Four Brothers” 2014. Acrylic on canvass 12×16
Winter Peak. 2014. Acrylic on Canvas. 20×30
I’ve gone back to my comfort zone (black and white) and I couldn’t be happier.
The best part about painting winter landscapes is working on capturing movement with brush strokes. This piece didn’t have as much movement as Whistler since it was more of a static scene, but I was still happy with how the snow and trees turned out. Trees have become a recent favorite of mine to paint, but the exposed rocks on the mountain ridge have proven to be a fun new challenge for me as well. It really makes me focus on shutting down my right brain and just letting the brush do what it may. It’s more about capturing shadows and highlights than trying to paint what a rock looks like. Meanwhile, trees are all about keeping the brush moving, using lines and the abstract to portray something real we see every day.
Since I’ve still been struggling to find motivation and patience to start a new painting, I’ve at least satiated my hunger for making art by sketching. To make things more challenging (yet a good exercise) I’ve been sketching with ballpoint pen (and even at one point a sharpie). That way, when I screw up, I have to figure out how to work with that misplaced line/shadow/splotch rather than letting the left side of my brain take over and erase that “mistake”. Work with what you’ve got!
I’ve been doing ballpoint pen sketches here and there for a couple months and I just kept adding them to my previous post about sketches. Since that was starting to get a bit long I decided to create this new post for your viewing pleasure:
Never Summer. 2014. ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
BroLine. 2014. ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
Smitten Kitten. 2014. Ballpoint pen on paper
ABasin. 2014. ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
Indian Peaks Tent. 2014. ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
Untitled Skier. 2014. ballpoint pen on paper. 8×11
Snowboard Chick. 2014. ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
View from Copper. 2015. ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
Keep checking back because I’ll inevitably just add more pictures to the end of this post rather than writing a new one each time.
I finally made it out of my artist’s block!
I was snowed in this weekend (and nursing a concussion I got snowboarding in Utah earlier this week) so naturally I sat down and stared at a canvass until something happened. If I can’t be playing in this epic snowfall, I might as well paint an ideal snowscape and escape mentally.
The main goal with this piece was to capture movement with a static environment. The brush strokes were done in a way to imitate the route and turns a skiier/rider would be taking so even though I couldn’t physically be snowboarding, my brain and hand were.
“Whistler” 2014. Acrylic on Canvass. 8×10
It took a while, but I finally managed to get around to finishing another piece for my Across the Divide collection. This time I mixed it up a bit with 1. color and 2. a non-winter piece.
Summer’s Black Diamond. 2014. Acrylic on canvas. 18×24
The good thing about knowing tons of active Coloradans is the endless supply of inspiration. This fall I met a really fantastic group of adventurous spirits in Golden, CO. Not only did they inspire me to take on my own adventures, but they had some really great photos from their own trips that fell right into my wheelhouse of painting aesthetics.
The title came about from two different ideas. The most obvious reason behind the name is gear bag to the far left is the brand Black Diamond. The other reason gets a little more abstract: The hardest routes in snowboarding/skiing are labeled as black diamonds. The route this group is about to embark on isn’t the easy route, but they’re about to take on the hardest route, the black diamond.
As I’ve gotten older, (and perhaps a bit more Boulder-esque) I’ve grown to appreciate holidays for spending time with family/friends and not the commercial aspect. Don’t get me wrong– I like giving gifts, but now I prefer to make gifts as to buying things since it means a whole lot more.
This year’s lot:
Gift for my Brother: Frankenstein and His Bride. 2013. Pencil on paper. 9×12.
Gift for my future sister-in-law: Cat’s Squirrel. 2013. Acrylic on Canvass board.
This squirrel was actually was a lot of fun to paint! I poured myself a glass of wine (or two) and just went to town. Using a lot of paint on my brush I acted fast to be able to blend colors on the canvass. I love how this one turned out because it’s more “artsy” than my usual work.
Gift for my sister and brother-in-law: Sir Vance. 2013. Acrylic on canvass. 9×12.
I always love painting in black and white and enjoy it even more when it’s doing the folds of clothing. I heard how much my brother-in-law loved Carl so I knew I had to do a piece like that for Christmas, except with their cat, Vance.
Flatirons. 2013. Acrylic on canvass sheet. 18×20 (?)
I’ve always wanted to paint the flatirons, but have never had the motivation to attempt them. They may look simple, but are actually very challenging especially since I see them every day and haven’t perfected painting rock yet. I thought the flatirons would be a good choice as a gift for my parents. Perhaps it’ll motivate them to visit some time.
We’ve been slow at work. Normally when bored at work, I peruse the internet looking for inspiration. Last week I decided that a better idea would be to exercise my skills and sketch. So I grabbed some scratch printer paper, a bic pen, and a couple pictures I plan on painting eventually.
“Ridge line Scout” 2013. Ballpoint pen on paper
“Colorado Daydream” 2013. ballpoint pen on paper.
“Skier’s Climb”. 2013. Ballpoint pen on paper
“Skinning” 2013. Ballpoint Pen on paper.
“Powder Trees” 2014. ballpoint pen on paper. 8×11
“Summit Selfie” 2014. Ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
February Daydreaming. 2014. Ballpoint pen on paper. 5×7
Stay tuned for more sketches and eventually paintings based on these pictures.