9-18-2016: I’m In Dubois, Wyoming For The 15th Annual Susan K. Black Foundation Art Workshop/Conference

a grand tetons
The Grand Tetons on a fine fall afternoon

I flew to Jackson Hole, Wyoming last Wednesday and spent a few days cruising the art galleries, the annual auction art and a stop at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Also had time to do some wildlife watching and location sketching and painting. I drove east to Dubois yesterday afternoon and had dinner with an artist friend and colleague who lives on a ranch.

I’m going to try to post something every day of the workshop, which begins this afternoon and runs through next Saturday morning. There are instructors and artists here from all over the country, including James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. He was the featured artist the year before last, when I also attended.

Here’s some photos from the wildlife watching in Grand Tetons National Park:

Mule deer buck
As seems to sometimes be the case, it’s the end of the day, the light is gone and I’m heading back to the motel on Antelope Flats Road and suddenly realized I was driving between two mule deer bucks, one on either side of the road. I stopped turned around and drove slowly along side them. Then the bigger of the two turned towards the road and I stopped, shooting through the windshield as he crossed the road right in front of me
a black bear
Sometimes lucky is better than good. I showed up at exactly the right moment to be stopped by the ranger and photograph this young black bear crossing the road. Was this going to be a theme for this trip?
late light cottonwoods
The fall colors were at their height, these cottonwoods glowing in the late light
a bull bison
I saw no bison the first day. The second afternoon there was a BIG herd to the north of the famous old barn, way too far for photos. I hadn’t driven down Mormon Row yet, a dirt road with old homesteads on either side at one end which connected with Gros Ventre Road at the other. About half way was another herd of bison! And pretty close to the road. I stayed until the sun dropped behind the mountain behind me
a cow moose
I was driving through the Gros Ventre Campground in the morning, well-known among wildlife watchers as a moose hangout and spotted a cow moose laying in the bushes. Took a few “I saw her” shots and moved on. Really needed a restroom after hanging with the bison so headed back to the campground. On the way out, by golly, there she still was, only on her feet and browsing. I mentioned seeing her to someone in town and they told me that she’s always there
a bull moose
In all my trips to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons over the years the one animal that I had never got a full view or decent photos of was an adult bull moose. I was driving back to the motel, quite happy to have seen the cow, when I saw the row of folks with scopes and cameras on the riverbank. What the heck? I walked over just in time to see this big bull emerge from behind the cottonwood. It had gotten dark enough that I sat on the ground and used my knees for a tripod to get a number of shots of him.
oxbow
Yesterday I drove north from Jackson and stopped at this iconic view of Mount Moran from the Oxbow, where the Snake River makes a curving bend. Then it was on to Dubois

Five Reasons To Do Small Paintings

Over time, I think most painters end up with preferences for size, ranging from true miniatures that may only be an inch by an inch to, well, big, really big. Like ten feet high.

I’ve tended to stay in a middle range, which happens to be what has NOT been selling during the recession. But before the meltdown, I had decided to start doing art festivals and I needed a large body of work. Most of the paintings are 12×16″ to 18×24″.

Then I joined the Lost Coast Daily Painters and found myself needing to have a small (5×7″ to 8×10″) painting to post every week. It was hard at first to work that small, but I got used to it and started to see some definite advantages:

One, they are more affordable for people.

Two, many buyers and collectors don’t have room anymore for work that is much bigger and it encourages them to take a chance on a new artist. That would be me.

Three, small works seem to be considered appropriate for gift-giving, so that expands the market a little.

Four, for me as an artist, I’ve found that it’s a good way to study various painting problems, like capturing light effects, without investing time and materials in a larger piece that might not pan out.

Five, they force me to focus on one idea and to keep it simple.

Here are three recent small works:

Arcata Bottoms Stormlight oil on canvasboard 8x8"

I wanted to capture the light effect of dark clouds and sunny areas. Working in a square format was fun, too.

Black Bear, Grand Tetons oil on canvasboard 16x8"

I’ve struggled with how to paint this kind of light effect- foreground shade and background sun. It’s a push and pull process. I think this works pretty well.

Reticulated Giraffe, Samburu oil on canvasboard 8x10"

Once again, I’m studying how to do a light effect- the high key shadows and reflected light on the head of the giraffe. I also ended up with a postive/negative shape relationship that I like. The color of the giraffe and the sky form a complementary color relationship, too.

What has evolved over the past year is an interesting split that is working well for me. I’m doing a lot of smaller pieces like the ones above (I plan to have 30 or so available at the Marin Art Festival). And then I’m painting larger, major pieces that can require a lot of preliminary work. With luck, you’ll see the latest one next week.