Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners

The Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners is an organization devoted to furthering both the artists who belong to it and the area where they paint - the high desert and mountain country where four states intersect (Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico). They have paint-outs scheduled for every month of the year.

Included in this region are Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park and Monument Valley.

They're currently having a Plein Air Painting Show at the Anasazi Heritage Center, Dolores, Colorado, from July 1 through September 7.

An opening reception and paintout (weather permitting) will take place at the museum on July 12 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This will be a juried event, with a "Best of Show" award given at the reception. The paintings on exhibit will be offered for sale, proceeds benefiting both the artists and the nonprofit Canyonlands Natural History Association.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sven Birger Sandzen (1871-1954)

Visiting my parents in Denver last week, I happened to see an article in the Post about a two-day exhibit at David Cook Fine Art of Swedish-American painter (and Renaissance man) Sven Birger Sandzen, who spent much time in the western U.S., including Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion in Utah and Taos & Santa Fe in New Mexico.

As a student of the renowned painter Anders Zorn in Stockholm at age 20, Sandzen wrote to his parents, "Zorn stood looking over my shoulder for about twenty minutes when I started painting...he said: 'Now we will see how most easily we can get a simple, natural, and beautiful result in this painting. What colors will Mr. Sandzen select? Sienna, ochre, white. Fine, go ahead now, broadly and vigorously without being afraid. If one is afraid and doesn't press on, one will never see what the mistakes are.' I was numb with amazement. Soon a light appeared indicating to me how one shall use color - simply, strongly, truthfully." This sense of color would later serve him well when he came out west.

He later studied in Paris and was influenced by Impressionism, Pointillism and Post-impressionist color theory.

Sandzen came to the United States in 1894 to teach at Bethany College in the Swedish settlement town of Lindsborg, Kansas. He learned English there and taught French, Swedish, German, music and choir in addition to art and art history. He lived there for the rest of his life, although he traveled widely and received offers to join the faculty of well-known art schools and universities. The Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery was established in Lindsborg as an educational resource and a tribute to him.

The works that we saw in Denver were a wide selection from public and private sources, a combination of watercolor, oil, lithographs and block prints, including pointillistic woodblocks made with nails. Shown here are a watercolor (top) an oil (above) and a lithograph.

~ Sarah Judson

Lindquist, Emory, Birger Sandzen, An Illustrated Biography, The Birger Sandzen Memorial Foundation, 1993
MacMillan, Kyle, Swedish artist who captured state..., The Denver Post, Friday June 19, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Molly Lipsher - Artist

Molly Lipsher has been painting for more than twenty years. She works in pastel when she's painting outdoors, because it's faster than having to mix colors in paint, and you don't have to worry about them changing in value as they dry. She uses a variety of brands, including Schmincke, Terry Ludwig, Unison and Rembrandt; and prefers Kitty Wallis paper, which is heavy, sanded archival paper.

Her paintings have an abstract, high-chroma quality, but when you see them from a distance, you realize how accurate they are to the light conditions and the perspective of the scenes.

She teaches in private workshops and at the La Jolla Athenaeum School of Art, and she also writes award-winning poetry.

"I believe places have a perceptible soul, imbued by layer upon layer of cultural, physical and historical impact. These aspects of place converge with the more temporal elements of light, location and time to capture my imagination. I attempt to interpret this “soul”, the layering of elements that makes each place and moment unique, however unattainable and impossible to duplicate in art."
~ Molly Lipsher

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Glen Eyrie Paint Out - Success

Last month I went down to Colorado Springs to be a part of the first annual Glen Eyrie Paint Out. It was a perfect weekend for it – the weather couldn’t have been any nicer and Glen Eyrie had no shortage of inspiring views.

There were about 40 artists in attendance and plenty of space to spread out - everyone found something different to paint. On Saturday the artists attended workshops and spent the afternoon painting. (The following day I got to see a picture of a bear that had wandered in that afternoon to investigate.)

Sunday morning, the artists got straight to painting and enjoying the day. A herd of big horn sheep kept running through the grounds too, which made for some added excitement.

Here are some pictures of the castle and of me talking with North Carolina artist Dan Nelson. Local artist Skip Whitcomb was the juror for the works produced that day. He offered up this advice: Plein air painting is much too serious work for us to take it too seriously.

The paint out was so much fun to be a part of and I want to thank all of the folks at Glen Eyrie and all of the artists, namely Gary Bradley and Skip Whitcomb for making it a big success. I can’t wait to see everyone again next year.

~ Alicia

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hillsboro, Oregon: Outdoor Painting Event

Here is one of the tableaux vivants ("living pictures," historically correct scenes from the early 1900’s to the 1920’s) that will be available, along with the sights of Main Street and the Saturday Market, for artists who participate in Hillsboro Plein Air on Saturday, July 18th. Hosted by the Walters Cultural Arts Center, the event will run from 9am to 2pm, with tableau vivant presentations from 10am to 1pm. Registration and check-in begins at 9am on the 18th. Pre-registration is suggested and artists can call the Walters Cultural Arts Center at 503-615-3485 to register. The cost is $15.00.

There will be a catered reception and awards ceremony at approximately 2:00 pm in the Arts Center lobby for the artists and interested members of the public. Awards and door prizes for artists will be announced at approximately 2:30 PM. The reception will include musical entertainment for all visitors to enjoy. Participating artists are invited to leave their works to be exhibited at the Walters Arts Center during the month of August.

Artist and paint expert Robert Gamblin will judge the competition. The founder of Gamblin Artists Colors in Portland, Oregon, he has developed painting mediums without turpentine, which is toxic, using instead odorless mineral spirits and alkyd resin.

The Arts Center is conveniently located just two blocks off the MAX Blue line at 527 East Main Street in Hillsboro, Oregon 97123.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Glowing Testimonial

Janet Kingan sent us this e-mail today:

"Hi, I just wanted to tell you how crazy I am about my 9 x 12 Guerilla Box!! I took it to Ireland with me and painted every day. It was fast and easy to set up, and to travel with. I was especially pleased with the covered palette tray. Best money I ever spent on my painting!!"

Glad you enjoyed your trip, and your box, Janet! Thanks so much.

We love to hear from our customers, whether it's a compliment like this, a request for technical assistance, a complaint or a suggestion. We value your input.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Michael Ome Untiedt - Artist

We met Michael Untiedt in 2004 when he was doing a painting demo in the Plein Air Magazine booth at a trade show in Denver. His website has lots of pages. In addition to his paintings (domestic and foreign) there is a newsletter of stories called the Right Brain Express and a critique page for other painters (one of the criteria listed is "If I were an art thief, would I take the risk of stealing this piece?"). There is also a page that explores his work for the Jefferson County Open Space Art Project west of Denver.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bob Dylan - Plein Air Artist

Okay, it might be a stretch to call him a plein air artist. Most of these were done indoors, but the drawings were all done on-the-spot.

Bob Dylan has been drawing & painting since at least the seventies when he took lessons in New York City from Norman Raeben, son of the noted Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem.

He recently assembled an exhibit of prints based on drawings he'd done between 1989-1992 while on tour in Europe, America and Asia. The drawings were digitally enlarged on deckle-edged Hahnemühle Museum Etching or Innova Soft Texture paper. Dylan then painted them with watercolor and gouache, sometimes doing alternate versions of the same drawing, using different colors to change the emphasis or mood. The series, called Drawn Blank like the book it is based on, has been on tour for the past two years.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paul Kratter - Artist

Bay Area artist Paul Kratter is another graphic artist who turned to plein-air painting for inspiration after a career in illustration.

"My style changed almost overnight, although my approach remained intact, utilizing solid drawing skills and portraying strong graphic shapes. Painting outdoors has become a passion. I continue to participate in a number of plein air events annually in California. Each has its own unique topography, light and challenges, which forces me to keep my work fresh and loose.

The first impression I try to capture is a strong composition. I look to simplify the scene by making bold, graphic shapes. The light and athmosphere are ever changing, and I want to quickly establish a color script. One of the first things I determine is what is going to change the quickest. This is the key area to capture and determine the feel of the painting." - Paul Kratter

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nancy MacDonald - Artist

Nancy MacDonald is a British artist with a degree in fine art from the UK, who moved to the warmth of San Jose, California in 1996. From 1999, she spent two years in Japan and used that period painting life portraits of many Japanese and Filipino models. In addition to the pleasures of the California climate, she is privileged to have spent several years under the tutelage of Bob Gerbracht working in Pastels and Oils. (Check out Bob's book People and Places, about his experiences as a painter.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Urban Sketchers

Urban Sketchers is a network of artists around the world who draw the cities where they live and travel to. There is this blog, which is by invitation, a Flickr group, where anyone can share their location drawings, and a Google group to stay connected and foster discussion. USk was started on Flickr by Seattle journalist and illustrator Gabi Campanario in November of 2007. The blog was launched in November of 2008.

Six continents are represented by members. To become a member of the Urban Sketchers network, email a link to your urban sketches (blog tag or flickr set) and they'll be added to the list. Note: That will not make your drawings show on the blog but they'll keep a close eye on your work as they look for new correspondents. Send an email with your name, city and URL to urbansketchers at gmail dot com to join.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Terri Ford - Pastel Artist

Terri Ford has been a studio artist, has traveled extensively, done many portraits and is now focusing on plein air. This painting is a dune study from Carmel.

"Whether loose or tightly rendered I strive to convey an honest and compassionate portrayal of all that I paint. My interest lies in creating paintings that reflect the extraordinary character within the ordinary." - Terri Ford

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cecy Turner - Artist

Cecy Turner was the proud winner of a ThumBox pochade box at the Richardson Civic Art Society 43rd Regional Juried Art Exhibition in Richardson Texas.

This 8"x10" plein-air painting of a heron reflected in still water illustrates this quote from her artist's statement:

"I am fascinated with the glow of reflected light on various surfaces. Painting on location on a regular basis has opened many doors for me. I cannot improve nature, but I can rearrange and simplify it to correspond to what I feel." - Cecy Turner

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Closing the Lid, by Lady Guerrilla Painter

The Guerrilla Painter and I were traveling recently, and I mentioned to him that I was having trouble getting the lid of my ThumBox to close easily. It didn't look like anything was in the way, so I asked him about each of the items I had in the lid and on the palette.

"The palette extension kit combined with the covered palette tray?" He said they should work fine together.

"I have two of our watercolor blocks in the lid..." There should be no problem with that, he said.

"And, of course, the palette needs to be in all the way..."
We couldn't see anything wrong.

I played around with it for a minute, trying to see what was making it difficult. He noticed that I'd stowed my Composition Finder underneath the covered palette, and he said, with a twinkle in his eye, "I put all kinds of things in the lid and on the palette, but I wouldn't go so far as to include a Composition Finder. I mean, there *are* limits!"

Sometimes, two millimeters really makes a difference.

Monday, June 1, 2009

NAMTA Annual Trade Show

A few weeks ago a few members of our staff and I traveled to Louisville, KY for the annual NAMTA trade show. Over 150 booths were set up and manned by all the big name art material manufacturers and suppliers for art retailers like us to come see what’s new in art supplies. This is one business trip that requires good walking shoes and plenty of room in your suitcase to haul home lots of free samples. There ends up being way too much to see and do but I couldn’t ask for a better trip.

The NAMTA organization (International Art Materials Trade Association) not only works to unite the art material suppliers and retailers but they also serve to better anyone who works in the fine arts. The organization offers scholarships and grants, news about what’s happening in the art world and resources for everyone. These guys (and ladies) do an amazing job.

On top of a fantastic trade show, we also got to enjoy the city of Louisville -pronounced “Lou-ah-vull” (I was corrected every time). It rained everyday while we were there which we enjoyed quite bit because we just don’t get a lot of rain in Colorado. The city was so friendly and there was no shortage of fun things to try to fit in to our busy schedule. On the first night of the show, we had the president’s reception dinner at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchhill Downs. It was a lot of fun; we sipped mint juleps and talked art and horses all night long.

Not surprisingly, Carl managed to get some painting done with his ThumBox. He painted the Alvin booth from across the aisle. There was too much going on for me to even think about trying to paint any of it – but Carl has been doing this for years and he loves the challenge.

The trip was quite a success. I found some new products that you might enjoy and you’ll see them online or in our next catalog soon. There is still a lot of sifting through samples to be done. I already added one find to our website, “The Artist’s Book of Excuses”. It’s a funny little book about plein air painting that any artist is sure to love. Yes, this trip had it all: a great host city, lots of fun things to do and see, an amazing trade show filled with tons of products for artists and some great folks, and the NAMTA organization to take care of us all. I only wish it was open to the public… any artist would have loved it!