Category Archives: oil painting

Ghost Ranch paintings by Gary Alsum

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Gary is from Loveland CO. These paintings are small, there’s a shine on the right. It’s still wet oil paint.

Darn it, my computer is telling me WordPress is taking up too much space. I hope I can keep posting until I get home and get this puppy to Best Buy where they will fix it for free.IMG_2368

I checked out of the Ghost Ranch and drove all day on a high desert plain. I had the open road for hours. It’s pretty much unpopulated from Santa Fe to Roswell.

I shopped in Roswell for ET souvenirs then decided to head east. Now I’m in Clovis New Mexico.

Got a new phone in Roswell, finally, after my old one died a week or so ago.

It’s hot with a strong dry wind out there. I enjoyed looking at the desert. Not many trees until I got almost here.

I missed my turn onto 60 into Texas by a couple blocks, not too bad for a long fast easy drive through a vast desert, to only be a couple blocks off the route. So, I got a room at the Holiday Inn Express. I remember Clovis is famous. They have a natural history museum with a fossil of a saber tooth tiger, and they also have a history of being a music town. Led Zeppelin played here and so did Buddy Holly to name a couple famous acts. I wonder if the music place or the museum is open on Mon.

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Box Canyon @ Ghost Ranch / oil

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If I could describe the Ghost Ranch, I’d call it mystical.

I have to make this a fast post because it’s hard to stay connected.

A weird thing happened to my roomie and me. Half the time the lights don’t work in our cabin. Sometimes they flicker. Sue told the maintenance guy and he came right over. Naturally they worked then. He left and the lights went out 10 minutes later. I think it’s a bad circuit breaker, but are we haunted?

a view from the Ghost Ranch / oil

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Art camp is great! There’s so much to do and the energy is great! The food is good, the artists are friendly and there’s no drama! It’s so beautiful up here at the Ghost Ranch, I’m not going on the field trips. I want to stay right here.

I tried to make a post with more pictures but it didn’t fly.

I’ll try again with just this, but I have my doubts the computer will continue to work as hoped,

 

Taos Art Museum Fechin House

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This is the front of Fechin house. Nicolai Fechin was an artist and Russian. They have Russian themed things in the gift shop out back.IMG_2353

This is the back of the museum. It’s a privately owned house but they don’t live there. There’s also a studio in back and I peeked in. Some artists were taking a class.

They change their exhibits to include other Taos artists but Nicolai Fechin’s works are always on display.IMG_2352

This is Fechin’s “Indian Profile”. It’s larger than life, charcoal on paper. He did mainly portraits.IMG_2351

This is Nicolai Fechin’s self portrait. charcoal on paperIMG_2350

This is “Eva in Peasant Blouse” painted in 1933, oil on canvas.IMG_2349

This is the by other artist represented this month, Marjorie Eaton. “The Boy” charcoal on paper.

Marjorie Eaton / 1901 – 1986. She was born in California. Her dad was a doctor and her mom died when she was a baby, but her dad remarried and she loved her step mom. Marjorie’s step mom took her to Europe shopping for clothes.IMG_2348

Eaton came to Taos and was so inspired by the natives she became good friends with her models, and had an Indian boyfriend. I don’t know if they got married.

This is “Man in Cloak”, oil on paper mounted on board.IMG_2347

She painted this “Nude” at the San Francisco Art school in 1924. Marjorie was recognized for her talent and had an offer to study with Picasso, but the war happened and she didn’t get to go to Europe then.

She went to Mexico and loved it there. She became good friends with Diego Rivera and Freda Kahlo, among other famous artists of the time.

Darn it, my phone isn’t taking a charge. I’m heading up to the Ghost Ranch today where there might not be a signal anyway. If I can’t get it to charge this week out in the middle of nowhere, I’ll stop at a Verizon store before I head home.

Good things about having no roots

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The main thing is not getting attached to stuff. Every time I move I either give away or throw away paintings. I’m tired of this one so I put it in the lobby of my apartment. Let’s see if it gets picked up. If nobody wants it by tonight I’ll pitch it. If it gets taken I’ll put another one there next week.

I’m leaving an expensive new “luxury” apt. It’s overpriced. When I signed the lease they had a security guard in the parking lot at night. Then when they had most of the apts. filled they let the guard go. Then cars got broken into. Not mine. The false fire alarms here were so annoying. It’s not only one apt, it’s the whole building and it happened about 15 times in a year and a half. Good thing I’m healthy, but I was a little worried it would scare my Mom or give a friend a heart attack when they came to visit. Then when it was time to renew the lease they wanted to raise the rent $78. I handed in my notice to vacate and started looking at other apts. Then I got an email saying they would only go up $45. I wrote back no thanks. Then I got an email saying they would go up $20. I said no. Then they said they would keep the rent the same. I said I’m out of here. I’m so glad I’m free.

I’m so glad I make all my own decisions and don’t have to listen to any drama.

I’m the freest damn yankee in VA.

Chinese Paperbush / oil

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Do you ever get the feeling a painting is speaking to you? Because I think this painting has something to say, but I can’t interpret it. It’s talking too fast.

First it’s saying something about music, then it’s something about my life. Then it’s telling me something about blooming in the winter, refreshing cool air.  Something else about an altered state of consciousness that an artist gets into when they’re painting. It’s easier than you think it will be. What else?

What does it look like to you, dear reader? Is it only a representation of a pretty bush or does it have a message that you can see?

I went back to the garden 3 times since my last post to work on this in Plein air. I don’t know if you can see all the changes I made on it.

Mums / a pointillism experiment / oil paint

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Pointillism is a scientific style of painting. I never saw a class offered on it but I wanted to try. I read a few articles and they don’t give much information so I had to make my best guess. I’ll give you my questions and if I got it wrong please tell me.

The first thing I could get from my research was that Seurat used the paint straight out of the tube without mixing colors on the pallet. Did he thin the paint with turp or not? I guessed not. Then I saw my dots forming peaks. Did Seurat have peaks on his dots? How large are the dots supposed to be? Can the dots overlap? Can the paint mix  on the canvas when the dots overlap?

One article said Seurat had 11 colors and white. It didn’t say what the colors were. I bought a tube of veridian green  for this painting. I never buy tubes of green because I have a few yellows and a few blues so I can mix the green I need. But to try to stay true to the no mixing colors on the pallet rule, I bought the green. Then I broke the no mixing  rule when I added white to cobalt blue and then I added white to the green. I didn’t use gray because I know modern artists don’t like gray and Seurat probably never used it.IMG_2124

One of the articles said there should be an underpainting. I usually tint my canvas before I do my underpainting, but this time I did my underpainting on a white canvas.

It’s important to keep color theory in mind in pointillism. I took a class long ago in color theory and remember some things like using complimentary colors and using tints of equal value to create the visual mix of gray or the visual mixing of colors that vibrate, and how colors look different on top of other colors.

Is this experiment a success or a failure? I don’t know, but this is my first attempt at pointillism and I’ll try again some time in the future.

Bay Scape / oil

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Should I call this finished or should I paint a ship coming in? I have the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in the painting. Should I add some pelicans on pilings? Maybe some happy little pelicans flying away in the sky?  Or a guy wind surfing?

I tried three times on the sky till I finally got something I can live with. The first time I tried to make a blend of lighter blue on the horizon to slightly darker blue over head without using glazes. I tried to make my blend with thick paint, blending the values wet instead of letting it dry and going over it a few times with glazes to get my blend. That didn’t work. I think blends are difficult.

Then I tried to do the sky with dots like Pointillism. That didn’t work either. I want to try Pointillism but I’m not sure about the proper technique. I’ll try Pointillism on an easier subject some time soon.

So then I tried to do clouds with some blue sky showing through and that looks better.  I used my Maroget medium and glazes on the sky. I like my clouds to look light and fluffy without hard edges. Now, how about that water? I don’t know, I might try again. I’m open to suggestions on it.

I took my painting supplies out to the beach at First Landing State Park a few times when it wasn’t too hot and not too crowded and mixed my colors there, but mainly painted it at home from sketches. Sand got on my painting but I got most of it off when the paint dried.

Diana Fauve / oil

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It seems a little ironic that my first subject to try fauvism is Diana because she’s the goddess of the hunt and fauve means wild animal.

Matisse said you should use color to express emotion and I thought he!!, I’m not emotional. Then I remembered the plaque at the museum said Diana represents the feminine ideals of independence and chastity so I thought about those things when I was working on it and picked colors I like to work with.IMG_2078

Yesterday when I got home from sketching at the museum I knew my sketch wasn’t right. I wanted to correct it but not go back to the museum so I taped my sketch to the wall and taped a piece of charcoal to a yardstick so I could stand back and do it again. The first try I taped a sharpie to the yardstick and that sketch looked real bad. Almost human. So I tried charcoal and got this sketch which looked better than the sketch from the museum. You can see places where my charcoal on a stick went somewhere on it’s own.

I tried two more but this one was the best so I used it for my painting. I’ll do the charcoal on a stick practice again. I’m pretty sure Matisse did it thousands of times. It’s good to stand back from what you’re working on and you can’t really focus on any certain little thing too well. It seems like you have to draw a bunch of lines and pick the one you want. IMG_2081.jpg

Here’s a few fauve portraits for you. The one on the left is Matisse, Madame Matisse. Then portrait of Matisse by Andre Derain. Then portrait of Derain by Maurice Vlaminck. On the right is portrait of Vlaminck bu Andre Derain.

It looks like your sketch doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. That’s a nice thing about fauvism. I don’t know if mine fits in with this fauvism thing but it was kind of fun and easy to do. I’ll probably do another one from a marble bust.

An interesting story about Matisse is that he cofounded an art school with some other artists but he didn’t want to be paid because he didn’t want it to be an obligation. He went on Sat. and did the critiques. He must have been a harsh critic because another teacher said it took him all week to build up the confidence of the students and on Sat. Matisse would destroy it.

On the first day of school the students were so excited to do fauvism they hung all their bright fauve paintings in the room and when Matisse came in he was mad and told them to take all that garbage down. Then he made them sketch busts! The students were not happy.

Crabapple Tree / oil

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Why did I paint this? Why does any artist do their own type of art?  The answer is this. The mind seeks balance.

Imagine all the different types of art. there’s the visual, music, literature, dance and all the crafts are an art too. Imagine all the artists of the world. every nationality has artists. They come in all personality types with all different types of backgrounds and beliefs. There’s no two alike. You might never find another like yourself. All these things shape how an artist reacts to their own life through their art so that each artist will give you a different interpretation of a subject, if left to their own judgement. If an artist is trying to learn from a teacher they will paint like the teacher, but as they go on and work on their own, their own personality will be reflected in their art.

If an artist works at a regular job to pay bills they don’t have as much time to devote to art as I do since I’m retired. Younger people have more stress than I do. They have more responsibilities and obligations. When I was working full time I didn’t do much art beyond pottery classes and things like that because I couldn’t keep up with the job, exercising, raising my daughter, cooking for my husband, housework, etc. I was too tired for art. Also I was depressed for years. Now I’m ok and I tell young artists who are depressed, Hang in there, stay alive, it gets better when you get older.

But, if an artist is pulled in a hundred directions. That artist would want to simplify their art. This is one of the reasons that a lot of modern art is simplistic, the artist needs to balance the chaos and frustrations of the fast paced world with their art. In my case, my life is so boring it would drive you INSANE in less than a week, I bet. But I’m ok because I get into these complicated studies of trees or whatever my next subject is. Plus, now that I feel better mentally, I think I might be immune to any more mental illness.  I’m not going to tell you how bad it was.

Even though I’m trying to copy the colors and values of nature and drawing from life and painting in plein air, my own strange life experiences show up in my paintings. I can see it in there. I read other artists saying they aren’t trying to copy nature, they’re giving their own interpretation of it. I’m trying to copy nature. I can’t imagine something more beautiful. But my painting doesn’t look like nature, exactly. There’s too much of my personality in there. What do you see about me in my painting? Do you see I have patience, persistence, attention to detail? Too much time on my hands? Can you see I’m capturing more than the camera can? I’m balancing the boredom and loneliness of a life with no meaning or purpose with art. And I feel better than I did in years! Isn’t that weird? I chalk it up to painting in plein air. It gets me outside in the fresh air and that’s good for your health, mental health too.IMG_2028

This is a photo of the crabapple tree. The painting took a long time to do and I worked on it at home a lot. I mixed my paint colors in plein air and checked my palette against what I see in real life then went home to do the more time consuming part of the painting. I don’t use a photo for reference, so that’s one reason my tree isn’t like the photo.