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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The great pumpkin patch

Fall would not be complete without a trip to the pumpkin patch to paint of course!  There's just something about being surrounded by pumpkins, witnessing the leaves tumble all around, hearing walnuts plop to the ground that gets me ready for the season ahead.  Orange is one of those colors that makes me smile. 
We are thankful to farmers Scott and Tracy of Creekside Valley Farm in Mequon for letting us explore and create on their beautiful property.  They have created a work of art on their land and we are grateful they are sharing their vision. 
These small plein air pieces will be used for larger paintings when I need an infusion of orange, most likely in March! 
I love how the buildings were connected in the distance
Creekside Valley Farm, 6 x 8, oil
The scarecrow captured our attention
"Hildegard's Pumpkin Patch" 8 x 10, oil

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Driftless wanderings

Here's a recap of the many plein air stops along the way during the Mineral Point Summer Paint the Point event.  It was just too beautiful NOT to paint almost the entire 3 days of the event.  Thanks to all who worked to hard to organize/showcase the event and throw us the big party on Friday evening.  As always, it's hard saying goodbye to Mineral Point. 
Working on "Rolling"
Sunset at the Gevelingers....followed by a lovely campfire.  A very fun evening.

Early sunrise painting
Another early morning painting, The Shortcut
"Gevelinger's Pasture"
and here's one I started outside of the map boundaries, will complete was just my subject. 
Another sunset
My first ever competition "nocturne" painting and I had to fight off bats the entire time.  It made for a quick painting that I love.
Friday morning, I fell in love with dramatic rain clouds that were forming.  Hoping that area of the state gets much needed rain.
On exhibit at Longbranch Gallery
Our home away from home for the few days....Brewer's House.


Monday, August 10, 2015

A Happy Place

Imagine yourself immersed in a nine acre field surrounded by 500,000+ sunflowers on a bright sunny day.  It was such a treat to stop in at the Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton on my way to a painting event in Mineral Point.  It was a visually overwhelming experience with so many paintings going through my mind it was hard shutting down the right side of my brain that evening.  I joined painting buddies Wendie and Lynn in the field and enjoyed conversation with many families and people who were interested in painting. 
That's me painting at the Pope Conservancy
My finished painting
Wendie Thompson painting
Lynn Rix painting

Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 Cedarburg Plein Air Event

This event has come and gone, but wanted to share some of the experiences and learnings that unfolded during the week long event held in mid-June. 
First morning at South Shore Beach in Port Washington
The first few days began in Port Washington, a town where I paint often.  So grateful to live close to Lake Michigan and Port Washington has such great access points. 
South Shore beach, mid-day
"Serene South Beach"
The following morning I was up before the birds, jumped in the car and headed back to Port to catch the sunrise.  Much to my surprise, being set up by 4:30 a.m., the pre-sunrise turned out to be the amazing part of the morning.  Plus, I had a chance to use my new clip-on reading lights for the pre-dawn magic.  What a peaceful experience and I had a chance to watch the town and marina wake up.  Heard lots of excitement in the voices of customers who were on fishing charters and ready to catch the big one. 
Predawn set up with clip on lights
"Port Before Dawn"
Then it was off to paint in Cedarburg, always love this spot. The following day I went back to one of my favorite subjects, cows.  Painting cows plein air is challenging to say the least.  Like chickens, they are always on the go.  But this opportunity was one I couldn't resist.  Farmer Mike told me one of his cows just had a calf, so I hiked to the spot and quickly began sketching in the newborn.
Getting right to work
"Mother Knows Best"
On Saturday morning the artists take part in what is known as the Quick have 2.5 hours to find your location, get inspired, paint, frame and turn it in.  I'm always inspired by chickens so I set up at the most beautiful chicken coop ever.  Here's my set up and painting of The Conversation. 
My Quick Paint set up
"The Conversation"
With dark clouds on the horizon, my friend Lori and I found a delightful farm with more chickens and beautiful flowers.  It was fun painting with a friend and gracious hosts.  The overcast skies were so beautiful and we managed to get the paintings finished between the raindrops.
The set up
"Me and Julio Down by the Henhouse"
The next morning, I hiked down to Lions Den Gorge.  Had wonderful conversations with families who were taking a hike on Father's Day. 
My painting at Lions Den along Lake Michigan
That afternoon, I'm back at the coop for a relaxing evening with friends (both the human kind and feathered friends).
This year, we added historic Thiensville to our painting area for one day only.  I was out the door early and am fond of the Fiddleheads in Thiensville.  Many, many years ago they gave me my first solo exhibit and I've always been grateful.  The tall pines always get my attention and once again, enjoyed watching my little town wake up.  The deer came up by the river and we both startled one another.  The sound of their hoofs scampering across the pavement is one etched in my memory now. 

"Morning Brew"

So the last day of the event is full circle for me....begins at Lake Michigan (in Port) and ends at Lake Michigan (Lions Den Gorge).  I really enjoyed this morning, but didn't have time to finish it.  The event was wonderful and full of fun, exploring and learning.  Believe it or not, there were about 3-4 more paintings sprinkled in throughout this week.  Some I forgot to photograph, others are really unfinished.  As always, thankful to all the property owners for letting us explore and create. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Spring babes

Painted again at Lions Den Gorge in Grafton before mosquitos season gets underway.  The evening was beautiful and I enjoyed watching a duck family nibble their way through the waters, bathe and head off to bed. 
Driving home on a country road, I noticed a car stopped in the middle of the road.  The driver told me the deer had just given birth to the fawn.  So we patiently waited for the fawn to stand up, nurse and move to the side of the road. 
These are the unexpected and wonderful experiences that happen only when you're outside of the studio.  The springtime babes are so beautiful and inspiring.   

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Green Season

Unlike the vast majority of artists out there, I am a bit sad to see the winter landscape fade away.  Must be my Norwegian heritage.  In Wisconsin, it seems to turn green virtually overnight.  All this green presents a painting challenge (for me at least) and I'm continually working on ways to tone down the brightness I see before me. 
Last weekend, the Wisconsin Plein Air Painters group met at Lion's Den Gorge in Grafton.  For an hour, I was all by myself listening to a very vocal oriole and watching a green heron play hide and seek with me.  This is the reason why plein air painting is magical.  You're out in nature seeing, hearing and experiencing things you wouldn't within four walls of a studio.  Here again, I intentionally selected a spot with minimal green -- just a personal preference.
Lions Den Gorge, Grafton
I'm back chasing summer sunsets again.  On this particular day, the clouds were full and dramatic.  Naturally I thought the sunset would be spectacular.  At about 7:45, with only 1/2 hour until sunset, the clouds just vanished and I knew the sunset would be less than sensational.  That's when you have to improvise as a plein air painter and change your plan mid-way through the painting.  I noticed these stunning backlit cattails and decided to switch my focus to that subject.  I am happy with the peaceful ending to my painting!
Sunset, May 24
"Cattails at Sunset"

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mini Madness at the Cedarburg Cultural Center

While March Madness sweeps the country and smells of spring fill the air, there are tiny little pieces of art on display through March that are worth a visit to the Cedarburg Cultural Center.  These pieces of art may be small in size, but are powerful in statement.  29 Wisconsin artists have been juried into this exhibit and I was fortunate enough to receive one of the awards.  My mini theme is tiny clusters of farm animals, including Brace, Brood, Clutch, Herd and Litter. 
Stop in to say HI during Wednesdays this month at the Cedarburg Cultural Center as I'm artist in residence.  I'll also be teaching a workshop at the end of the month as well.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Winter Plein Air in Mineral Point

A brave group of 19 artists made history in Wisconsin for the first ever Winter Plein Air event in Mineral Point.  Was it cold?  You bet.  But we all endured, had fun and explored the town and surrounding countryside to find so much artistic inspiration. 
My first day out began at Jailhouse Alley as a fresh coat of snow had fallen the night before and the muted landscape just called out to me. 
"Good Morning Mineral Point" set up
Then I quickly packed up to meet beef farmer Steve as he told me the cattle are fed around 10 a.m.  At this point in the morning, the winds really began whipping across the hilly fields and the conditions got pretty tough.  I managed to keep my easel upright and took a few breaks in my car to get out of the wind.  I really enjoyed watching Steve portion out the hay in a beautiful, artistic pattern across the hilltop.  Another studio painting is anxiously awaiting further exploration of this subject and their lovely farm.
"Angus Brunch Bunch" set up
Steve feeding the cattle
That afternoon I explored another building on Steve's homestead farm, an amazing old barn.  Once again, the snow was drifting with winds whipping, but I enjoyed painting this old structure.  This painting too will be used for a studio piece in the very near future. 
A big part of these events is the time spent with fellow artists.  A bunch of us stayed at the historic Walker House, a hotel built in 1836!!!  And unlike summer events where some artists paint throughout the night doing nocturnes, we actually had time to have dinner together after the sun went down around 5 p.m. 
The Walker House Hotel, built 1836
My mornings in Mineral Point began before sunrise enjoying a yummy breakfast at The Red Rooster.  I always enjoy the conversations and even had a local man purchase my breakfast one day!  What a treat, thanks Brad. 
The fun wallpaper at The Red Rooster
That morning I painted something that caught my eye the day before on Shake Rag Alley.  This crazy tree was still covered with snow and I was drawn to the complexity of the branches against the simplicity of the historic buildings of Pendarvis.  A world of contrasts.
Thank you to all the event organizers and the people of Mineral Point who always welcome the artists....see you in summer when it's about 80 degrees warmer!