Tag Archives: zen

Dodge Kansas stock yard “Dodge, Queen of Cowtowns”

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I drove the whole way out here to Pueblo CO. through some of the most beautiful parts of the country and this is the first overlook I came to.

The first day when I left VA Beach it was misty and rainy most of the way through VA. Traffic moved fast on 64. When I got to the place where 64 runs along with 81 in the mountains the road was dry but it stayed cloudy until I got through West Virginia. It’s so beautiful up there in the Blue Ridge Mts. and it really looked blue gray in the gray clouds with some clouds covering the tops of the mountains and making the ridge line look fuzzy.  It’s a whole different atmosphere than the beach. I couldn’t stop to take a photo. There’s no place to pull off safely. 64 is an amazing drive but you have to pay attention to the road because it twists and turns so much for an interstate. It goes up and down hill, I mean way up then way down. I kept my car between the lines and looked around as much as I could. I don’t think a photo could do it justice because there’s nothing like actually driving through it and being surrounded on all sides by the Blue Ridge mountains.

After West VA, Kentucky seems boring from 64. I know it’s another beautiful state but you have to get off the interstate to see the beauty and I wanted to keep driving. I made it as far as Shelbyville KY. I said I wasn’t going to drive for more than 8 hours but I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t run into any traffic jams. I drove more like 10 hours every day. I’m not tired.

The 2nd day, I hauled ass right through the rest of KY then southern Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. IN and IL were both beautiful from the interstate. MO is boring from 70. I made it past Louisville with no problem. Twice I wanted to stop for gas and got lost off the exit and drove for a few miles through corn because there’s no place to turn around. No big deal, I’m lost a lot of the time.

I got through ST Louis with no problem on 70. Traffic was heavy. ST Louis doesn’t look so good from the road.

When I got close to Kansas City there was a detour off 70 onto 270. 70 was closed. The detour ran you through the city and funneled you back onto 70. I was on the interstate for 2 whole days trying to get west fast. When I wanted to get off the road last night to find a motel I came to an unmanned toll booth that wanted me to insert a ticket but I didn’t have a ticket! The gate was down, cars were backing up behind me. I was STUCK! at the freakin toll booth! Why don’t they let you use EZ pass there! I used it on the other tolls! So. there was a call button and a voice asked me how long I drove on 70. I said, long time. She said from Kansas City? I said yes. Then a $2.50 toll showed up on the screen and I paid it with my credit card. I was in Lawrence KS.

I’m blaming my lack of a ticket for the turnpike on the construction at Kansas City, MO. Yeah, MO, you need to fix that. I rarely have a scary thing happen to me on my drives, but that made me a little nervous so I didn’t want to drive the interstate today.IMG_2319

Here’s another view of the stockyard. It’s huge. Those tiny gray dots in my photo are cows. Today I found my way to rte 50 which I remembered from a previous drive. It was so beautiful all the way through Kansas and I had the open road all to myself for long stretches. It’s mostly flat and straight so easy to drive and look around. The fields go on forever to the horizon. I saw a lot of cattle, farms with fields of grain for the cows, I saw a lot of cows out grazing in their beautiful fields. I saw a bunch of smaller stock yards. I saw amber waves of grain out there! Once again a camera wouldn’t do it justice because with the wind blowing over the fields the tops of the grasses blow like a wave.  Just like these shots aren’t showing the stockyard well, those are cows waiting to be killed. They will be in your grocery stores this week.

I saw around 1000 wind turbines that go on for miles as you get close to Dodge.

And I saw oil rigs in fields pumping and lots of grain elevators all the length of rte 50. I was on the flat plane most of the day.

Now I’m in Pueblo and I will probably stop driving so much and do more sight seeing.

Driving is a zen thing. A photo can’t give you the feeling of freedom you experience by driving. You see some beautiful bridge coming up and next thing you’re going across it trying to glance down over the side. Or, you see the road up a few miles ahead snaking around some beautiful mountain and a few minutes later there you are.

There’s no place to stop and take a picture, you have to enjoy it that minute and try to remember it because then it’s gone and you’re looking at the next thing.

I think I’ll be able to stop driving all day and do some sketching now that I made it to CO.

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Marsh at Pleasure House Point / charcoal and chalk

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It was so nice to be over there. The weather is great! This is a big holiday weekend  so Pleasure House Point will have a lot of visitors. I’ll get back out next week with my watercolors and try to paint this. I’d like to use a bigger paper so I can show more sky and water. I think the biggest challenge will be the edges where the top of the sedge overlaps the water edge. I’ll probably do a couple practices on scrap paper.

A watercolor might be my last art project until I’m at art camp in New Mexico. I should start getting my things organized this week and pack art supplies. I’ll be off the grid and under the radar for a few weeks but when I get back I’ll tell you about my adventure. Driving across country alone is a zen thing. It’s a beauty and vast.

jellyfish / mixed media

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In the aquarium they’re graceful, delicate and so beautiful but they don’t look  good when they wash up on the sand. In fact they look scary and gross on the beach and you might want to stay out of the water if you see them.img_2191

My models move, but slowly, so I thought it would be easier to sketch them with oil paint sticks since that medium forces me to draw faster and looser.

I sketched them on watercolor paper then painted the blue background with watercolor. The oil paint sticks resist the watercolor from going into the paper. It was almost like drawing blindfolded because I couldn’t see the white oil paint stick on the white paper even if I looked at the paper. I could see a little shine from the oil paint stick but it was dark in the aquarium so I moved back away from the jellies exhibit to see what I had and really couldn’t see it until I put the blue background on the paper over the white oil paint stick. I could see the pink sketch as I was drawing.

They have hair like tentacles which I couldn’t draw with my thick clunky oil paint sticks but I like the texture of the paint sticks on the watercolor paper.

The aquarium has a real laid back atmosphere and zen sound effects. They have some great marshy overlooks outside on a nice trail. It gets crowded in the summer but I can sketch more for a couple months without getting in the way of others.

I’m excited because in March I’m moving again. This time within a mile of the oceanfront and only 3 miles from the aquarium. I’ll be able to bike over to the aquarium because the road has a wide sidewalk the whole way. I’ll be able to walk to the ocean, the Neptune Festival, shopping, dining, etc. I’ll be much closer to Back Bay too, but it will take longer to drive to the botanical garden.

Lotus flower / pastel

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This is the tall kind of lotus with the big leaves. I should make this leaf twice this size if I do it in oil paint. I didn’t take the right color pastels. It’s a narrow path and I took some pastels in a baggie instead of my whole pastel collection.

It’s getting too hot for me to enjoy standing around outside to draw. I have to get to the botanical garden when they open at 9 or forget about it because I’m not going out to draw when it’s over 85. At least I can get the zen vibe of drawing in for an hour or so in the morning if I get out early enough. Today the heat didn’t get to me until I was ready to do the leaf. It becomes impossible to concentrate when you get too hot.

I’d like to do more lotus studies and try to paint like Matisse again with the paintbrush on a yardstick. That was fun.

Pine Tree on Sand Dune / charcoal and chalk

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Life isn’t easy if you’re a pine tree on a sand dune. If a sensitive person saw this tree from far away, they might think it was dying, it looks so sad. It doesn’t have a lot of needles and the ones on top are an orange brown.

But when you get closer, you see how it’s filling in the leeward dip in the dunes with greener branches. It looks like the branches came back down to the dune and rerooted, which I heard some trees can do on sand. I didn’t test it for roots because I didn’t want to mess with it.

Then you notice it’s kind of graceful in the way it leans and twists. Is that how it is in the life of a human too? Can a hard life give a soul some kind of stark graceful beauty not seen in the lives of those that had it easy?

That’s my zen question for today. The beach makes me feel all zen. Can you feel the refreshingly cool breeze coming off the bay in my sketch?

canna and coleus / charcoal

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The canna is yellow (the tall stalk like plants) and the coleus is dark blackish red (the shorter plants in the fore ground).

I had a look at the lotuses standing in the sun and decided to find some flowers where I could sit in the shade to draw. It’s not as hot as yesterday, but sweat was still dripping off my hair after walking slowly around the garden. After cooling off on a shaded bench for a while I was ok to draw. And there was a little breeze that was nice. I haven’t been out to draw for a while and I enjoyed it very much.

A lady I know liked this sketch and asked me if I was going to do something with it. I told her I’ll just put it on my blog. Sometimes I do a lot of charcoal sketches before I get something that I want to paint.

The thing I enjoy about drawing and painting in plein air is not in knocking out a painting in a few hours, it’s hanging around in a beautiful place for as many days as I feel like being there. In fact, the painting is secondary in my mind. I’m so thankful I’m not on some kind of art treadmill where I’m under pressure to do fast unfinished paintings for some arbitrary time limit rule some person made up. That would destroy the zen like experience of it. And one of my main reasons for not fitting into the art scene. I don’t care if fast unfinished paintings are in style. I don’t care if all the other plein air painters out there take hundreds of photos then trace their best one onto a canvas and go back and hurry fill it in like it was a coloring book. I don’t have to do that.

I’m not interested in taking a class to see if I can paint fast. I’m not interested in taking a drug to make me keep painting all day either, because a drug is the only way I could ever get that kind of energy. So, there you have it friends, apathy to the art world in a nutshell. hahahahahahhaha

A Good View at Agecroft Hall / oil

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It’s the most zen place in town.  I’m not a follower of an Eastern religion, but it’s easy to pick up the vibe. That’s one of the benefits of painting in plein air. I have a reason to hang around under a tree like Buddha! hahahahahah

I started on this painting a month or so ago and finished it last week. The trees changed faster than I could paint them. I could keep going and going making corrections but decided not to because I’m starting on the next painting  now.

The banana trees were taken out of the garden before I finished painting them, but I had enough of a start that I could finish them at home. I liked them in the composition. They wouldn’t have lived through the frost. Now they’re in a greenhouse.img_1813

This is what the scene looked like to my camera when I got started. I drew it before I took the photo. The photo looks a lot different than what I drew, so I’m not sure if my perspective is right or if the camera’s perspective is better. I decided my painting doesn’t need the  hedge and close up fence that show in the photo. It might be too much darkness on the bottom of the canvas for a good composition.

The James River isn’t showing in the photo, but if you step 15 feet to the right you can see  it and I wanted to show it in my painting. I hoped after the frost I’d be able to see more of the river when leaves came down, so I mixed my colors for the river and painted it in, knowing I was going to cover it with trees and have small peaks of water showing. I used my artistic license there. If I copied the photo the river wouldn’t be in this painting.

That’s Willow Oaks Country Club golf course on Southside.img_1814

This is my underpainting in gray.

You can see where I stood my easel under a Magnolia tree and sat on the ground on an old beach towel to mix my colors. Cones were falling off the tree all around me but didn’t hit me or my painting. I kept my hat on just in case I got hit because those cones might hurt my head. It’s not as scary sitting under a Magnolia as it is being under a Walnut tree. I avoid the Walnuts trees! hahahahah  Trees dropping cones are a part of the life of your plein air artist. Is that a zen thing?

 

 

Gazebo With Fall Foliage oil

Painting in plein air is my therapy.
Painting in plein air is my therapy.

I enjoyed it so much, sitting on the thick root of an old Magnolia to work on this painting. It’s kind of a Zen thing for me.

I’d be more comfortable standing up to draw and paint, but I walked all around the gazebo and thought the best view was  more uphill from it, under the tree. A big branch was partially blocking my view so I had to move around  too see. I decided not to paint the branch that was in my way, but I also enjoyed the way the leaves glow when the sun shines through them. Have you ever noticed that? This painting wasn’t about the Magnolia, though.

If you look in the other direction from there, you can see the end of the Italian Garden, with a stone wall and roses. It smells sooooo sweet, even in the end of Oct. I’m going back to that tree next year.

What I don’t get is, why am I on this beautiful path alone?