Posts from the ‘Stories’ Category
Inspiration for my paintings can come anywhere, and I am constantly looking for new places to paint. I can be driving in my car, well my minivan, and compose a painting in my head. I start thinking of the composition, the focal point, breaking down the values and mixing the colors. I’m always studying how light affects the mood of a landscape. These are the things that inspire me to paint.
When I finally get the chance to do a plein air painting, or field study, I consider each trip a “mini adventure”, at least they feel like adventures for a mom with 3 young boys. Being in the field is my alone time, my “me” time, and I can immerse myself in my surroundings and soak in everything about the scene. I take journal notes, and not just on the typical things, like date, time, and temperature. I try to remember how I felt that day. What was unique about this place? Did I interact with people or wildlife? I review my journal notes to bring me back to the scene when I get back in my studio. Over time, I have compared my notes to my actual paintings to see how these intangibles are reflected in my work.
I have always marveled at people who can put words into a great story. Writing is not my greatest strength, but give me a paintbrush and oil paint and I can tell a story in my own way, through a painting. So here I have attempted to capture the backstory behind a few of my paintings so that you can get a sense of what goes on behind the easel.
20×20 oil on linen
Off again on another adventure looking for something to paint, I decide to venture up Waterton Canyon. I found a small herd of big horn sheep several miles up the canyon road and start shooting photos like a mad woman. Taking 100’s of photos of the sheep, I get completely distracted and forget how long I have been gone. I have been carrying my easel all day and have not painted a thing. During this time I was studying with a mentor and needed to focus more on a meaning behind my work and not just looking for a pretty scene. This has always been a challenge and I needed to start painting.
On my way out of the canyon the light begins to change. I find myself in the shadow of the mountain with only the sliver of glowing light touching the snow ahead of me. In a moment of desperation to try and capture this scene. I stop, put my camera and easel down, and try to mentally inhale this view. I remember how it makes me feel. I’m confused and cold but feel enlightened because beyond the shadow there is a glimmer of warmth and this touches my soul. The road feels like the journey that I have been on. The road ahead looks bright and promising, but I also know that it is a long and winding road ahead of me. This moment happened so quickly that it would have been impossible to paint but it is a powerful memory that is vivid in my mind to this day. My memory and notes helped me paint this scene when I got back to my studio. This journey of life can mean something different to each of us. I always try to see that glimmer of light in each circumstance of my life.
20×20 oil on linen
The name given to the moon in January by the Native Americans is called the “Wolf Moon”. This moon is prominent in the winter landscape and I love to include it whenever I can. This was another study from my 2010 Steamboat painting trip. Unlike trying to find a wolf, I found this day that the Moon had followed me all morning. By mid-afternoon I felt that maybe the moon in January is like the wolf as it watches me paint. I painted the plein air study of Steamboat Lake with the moon as the focal point. Later that morning I completed a study of a farm house with the winter trees glowing orange. The moon was still in the sky but very faint. “Winters Wolf Moon” is a painting where I combine these elements… the January “Wolf” moon and the cools and warms of a winter pallet.
18×24 oil on linen
As an artist I’m drawn to water. My favorite time to paint is when the lakes and streams start to freeze. The interesting shapes and colors that can be seen in the ice fascinate me. I have to constantly restrain myself from getting too hung up in the details. The original study of “Winters Blaze” was painted in Dillon, CO along the Snake River looking towards Loveland Pass. At that time I completed a small plein air study but the water at that time was liquid and flowing. Over Christmas this year I went back out to this same spot to take some photos. The water is frozen on the edges and looks like liquid in the reflections. Back in my studio I repainted the scene with the beautiful patterns the ice has made.
16×20 oil on linen
January 2010 I took a week long painting trip to Steamboat, CO. Waking up at 5:00 am, I started scouting for a painting site. Sometimes my destinations are predetermined, but this morning was going to be an adventure. Driving up CO-62, the road to Steamboat Lake, I took photos of snow covered barns, the frozen Yampa River, and the morning light with its pattern on the snow. I finally found my spot, a beautiful view of the Continental Divide with horses standing unstirring in the cool morning. The horses finally moved and snorted while giving a soft whinny, almost like they were asking “what are you doing here?” You could see the warm steam from their noses. The temp was around 12 degrees so I pulled out my ice fishing heater and stood out in the cold and attempted to paint this scene. I completed a small 6×8 study with some difficulty because the white paint was very hard to use in cold weather. Getting down the correct color and values is all I tried to accomplish on this cool morning. A few months later, back in my studio, I took out the study, my notes, and photos and completed the larger painting.
18×24 oil on linen
This painting is based on my trips back to my father-in-law’s farm each fall for harvest. He plants soybeans in the spring, hoping and praying that the plants have enough moisture to grow and that a late frost, hail, wind or flooding do not destroy the crop. Extreme heat and dry weather in late summer can also dramatically impact the quality of the crop. When fall finally arrives, and it is time to harvest the soybean crop, it is a time of excitement, relief and stress as the final step in a year long process is completed. His entire year’s income depends on the month of harvest. At 66 years old, he takes his time running the combine through the field, ensuring that dozens of adjustments on the combine are set properly so that none of the crop is lost or damaged. My father-in-law loves to have my sons ride in the combine with him, just like my husband did when he was a boy, 30 years ago. It is a special time of year for all of us, reminding us of the past, living in the present, and being hopeful for future harvests to come.
18×24 oil on linen
In July I was pleased to be part of the Telluride Plein Air Festival. This was my first time in Telluride although I grew up in Colorado. I was amazed with the views and the scenic beauty of the San Juan Mountains. I decided to drive up to the Alta Lakes early one morning. I drove along the difficult and rugged dirt road to the historic mining town of Alta and the surrounding lakes. I gripped my steering wheel as I drove along cliffs, canyon drops and steep switch backs. Finally, after reaching my destination, I could breath easy and admire the views the Alta lakes. I was drawn to reflection of the ice glaciers and the combinations of warms and cool colors. The water was so still it looked like glass. As I was painting at this location I could see a man with his faithful dog climbing up the glacier. It took him around 2 hours to get to the top. I watched in amazement as he set his skis down and within minutes skied to the bottom. I thought to myself how my little adventure to get to this lake was nothing compared to the journey of this man and dog!
“Red Barn” Outside Seneca, KS
November 22, 2010
“I enjoy painting barns especially if they are red. It seems like most of the time these beauties are torn down to make space for a new metal barn or building. I have a hard time finding red barns now a days. My theory to this, well actually my 5 year olds, is that Farmers want a place to store their expensive tractors with out the birds nesting in the rafters and pooping on their expensive equipment. I think this because my wonderful father-in-law, George, covers his John Deere tractors with old bed sheets to protect the beautiful green paint from the birds in his barn. I don’t blame him because I have been to John Deere dealerships with my boys. Tractors are EXPENSIVE! Anyway, back to the point, I don’t always see a bright red barn like this and I’m thrilled to be driving by one this morning.”
“I set up my easel on the side of this country road and begin composing the scene in my head. A few trucks pass by and always with a wave. Out in the country you get a lot of waves from the locals and I enjoy this over the day to day Denver road rage! I’m sure the local farmers are surprised to see an artist on the side of the road.
Today I have a few very forward visitors. They are horses and happen to be my favorite company. They see me on the grass on the side of the road and immediately cross their field to pay me a visit. Before I know it one had his muzzle in my painting bag while another was trying to chew on my painting. They stood there watching me for quite a while before they realized that I didn’t bring any food and I was probably was not going to give them any. I need to remember some carrots or an apple next time. My friends ended up being painted into the foreground. Perfect! Who doesn’t enjoy a few horses in a painting!”
October 20, 2010
“This morning was fantastic! I drove out to RMNP early to hopefully get some elk photos and maybe hear some bugling. I would have to say that was quite the experience. The elk were all over the place but it was the tourist that made it so interesting. They were out in herds as well armed with their cameras. Some of them got so close to the elk that I was nervous for them. Several young bucks were approaching the herd and before you could even think to get out of the way a large bull would start charging. Cameras flying an a lady grabbed her child from the ground. A few tourists nearly got knocked over. It was crazy and I’m not exaggerating at all. Never mess with a bull during the rut.”
“I just completed a painting at Dream Lake and now found my second location at Nymph Lake. It is covered with Lily pads and quite beautiful. I really took time with my sketch thinking of how much I love how Monet painted his lily pads. He gracefully grouped his lilies into shapes. I also think of Clyde Aspevig and how he would incorporate the pattern of lilies into music. I dive right into painting keeping all of this in mind.
It is a busy day at RMNP and I have many tourists stopping by to see what I’m painting. A few even take my picture and ask me to pose in front of my work. I usually paint alone so it is nice to have some visitors and short conversations.
“Lily Pad Lake” takes me about 2 hours to complete. I’m feeling happy to have such a wonderful day at RMNP.”
June 10, 2010
Roy and I took a trip to Jackson, WY for our 10 year anniversary and of course we turned it into a painting trip.
“Roy and I got up at 4:40 am and took Moose Wilson Road into Grand Teton National Park. We were planning on hiking to Taggart Lake and on our way to the trail head we ran into a herd of large elk still in velvet. They were absolutely beautiful and we were lucky to get some great photos. Roy was quite the husband as he carried my pack with easel for 3 miles until we reached Bradley Lake. I found a great spot to paint so set up and started painting while Roy was off to scout out a few more painting spots for me. After about 30 min. of painting and felling a bit chilled by the morning air, I decided to try and warm myself up by sitting on a rock like a lizard. I got a text from Roy that he was on his way up to see Surprise and Amphitheater lakes. He ended up bush wacking his way up snow fields to see if there was anything for me to paint. Total of a 13 mile hike for him! I figured I had plenty of time to either finish my painting that I started or look for something more inspiring. I looked over my shoulder and saw a side lake with 3 pine trees backlit. The lake water was so clam and glass like. Ok, now that is what I came all the way up here for. I sketched out the scene and completed my field study in about 1 ½ hours. As the morning slipped away the air got warmer and the tourist started to emerge on the trails. The thing about plein air painting you will always get people stopping and looking at your work. Seems like most of the hikers were impressed. The funny thing is that I came all the way up to this lake and ended up painting something unexpected, a small side “pond”. Think this may make a great larger studio painting!”
Roy starting on the trail with my pack