Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prairie Plein Air

Gosh I had a great weekend.

I was lucky enough to spend two days with some terrific people at a plein air painting workshop hosted by Graham Gallery, held at Prairie Loft Center, and led by instructor extraordinaire Amy Maclennan.

It was a terrific time. The weather cooperated perfectly, and the staff and crew at Prairie Loft took very good care of us, as did the always patient and attentive Angela Graham herself.

Painting en plein air is a special challenge. Not only does the artist deal with all the usual artist type stuff, but must also figure in the moving sun, a variety of bugs and other flying things, the lack of a close kitchen and bathroom, an overwhelm of intense and saturated color, heat, wind, and spectators.

The breeze kept the heat bearable, Amy shared her knowledge of color theory in a clear and concise way, and the Prairie Loft folks were helpful with facilities. As for the sun, well, it is the center of the universe. Workshop participants enjoyed sharing their expertise and I got some new friends out of the deal. Even the folks passing by were fun.

The weekend culminated in an auction of artwork donated by workshop participants as well as area artists, the proceeds of which will go to supporting the growth of Prairie Loft and its programming. My workshop piece was purchased for a very generous price, and I'm really pleased and honored.
Thanks to Angela, Amy and the Prairie Loft folks for an excellent event; thanks to Kathy for her purchase; thanks to Jerry for breakfast; and thanks to Todd for reminding me to have fun.
Gosh, it was a great weekend.
What made your weekend great?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Graduation Speech

It's the middle of May, so it must be graduation time.

Commencement addresses flowed like the Platte River in spring the past few weekends in my neck of the woods, and probably yours too. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Mr. President himself, and even Laura Bush shared pep talks and snippets of wisdom to the new Grown Ups.

Wanna hear mine?

Based on what I've learned the past couple of years being a solo-preneur (that's like being a one- man band for those of you who aren't up on the new lingo), and based on what I've learned in 60 days of daily painting, my graduation address would sound like this:

Show Up.

And after the applause dies down a bit, I'd add: Ready to Work.

Since I've declared my status as a full-time working artist, I've learned that in order to accomplish . . . well . . . anything, a person absolutely must Show Up.

I'm painting 100 5 x 7 paintings in 100 days, as you know. All the fancy-pants ideas and materials and brushes and witty blog posts do not accomplish 100 paintings in 100 days (nor anything else that comes with living on Planet Earth). Showing Up does.

Showing Up puts you in a position to confront life as it is right now. Not as you want it to be, not as your coach told you it would be, and not as your Mom or Dad threatened it would be, but as it is right now. Look closely. Satisfied?

The second part is Ready to Work. Showing Up gets you there in the right place. At this point Showing Up is simply potential, like squatting into the starting blocks of an 800 meter dash. Bending down and shaking out your ankles and calves and getting that mean look on your face is all fine and dandy, and may even impress someone, but are you prepared to blast out of the blocks and run hard for a very long time when the gun goes off? If you haven't done the work you might just dive right onto your nose. Wouldn't that be classy.

Ready to Work means sticking with whatever you're doing until you're satisfied. Ready to Work means willing to look like a dork for awhile until you figure out exactly what you are supposed to accomplish. Ready to Work means searching out answers. Ready to Work means finding mentors and taking advice and putting their offerings into action.
You'll have to put off some of the fun stuff probably, because you'll have committments to those mentors and advisors, and yourself.
But that's cool because it won't be long before Showing Up Ready to Work becomes the fun stuff.

I promise.

So to Brian, and Kayla and Courtney and all you other immensely talented graduates out there, the world is your oyster - if you Show Up Ready to Work.
How will you show up?

Top: Day 45 Concrete River 2009 5 x 7 oil on gessoed board
Middle: Day 57 First Light Heifer 2009 5 x 7 oil on gessoed board
Bottom Day 63 More Peonies 2009 7 x 5 oil on gessoed board
Banner Day 62 Peonies 2009 7 x 5 oil on gessoed board

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Show, No Tell

Day 9 Discarded Scissors 5 x 7 oil on gessoed board

I've been hacking away at this blog for an hour trying to be clever and witty and wise.

Hm, does that sound like something from a musical?


Too much gardening and enjoying the balmy weather has left me slightly daft. Rather than torment you with blather, I leave you with a few favorite pieces from my daily painting series, Off The Highway.

Day 54 More Lilacs 7 x 5 oil on gessoed board

Day 37 Cow 5 x 7 il on gessoed board

Day 39 Discarded Teacup 7 x 5 oil on gessoed board

What's got you daffy these days?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Big 5-O Winners!

If you've been paying any kind of attention, you know that today, Friday May 8th is Day 50 of my 100-days-of-painting journey. I'm working with Mavis Penney of Labrador, Canada, to paint daily for 100 days (minus weekends, of course). You can follow along to see what we've accomplished Off The Highway.

To celebrate this major milestone, Mavis and I decided to give away our Day 50 paintings. All who left comments, no matter how brief or how clever, had their names put into a hat (or in my case, a lovely Nancy Fairbanks bowl). This morning Mavis and I met via phone line, and with great fanfare and anticipation drew out the winning names.

The winner of my painting, "Ponies in Light", whose name was pulled out of a hat by my cohort Mavis, is blog commenter Cory. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing this journey with us!
I drew Vicki's name, who will soon receive Mavis' lovely 5 x 7 watercolor "Ice Melting at Birch Island". Congrats to you, too!
Gosh, I hope they're as excited as we are!

Which leaves the will we celebrate Day 100?

Cake and ice cream for everyone?
Stay tuned!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oh The Agony

For those of you who stayed up late last night to catch my latest missive, my humble apologies.
I have been waylayed, attacked and dismantled by a computer virus. Or rather, my computer has.
It'll be another day or 2 before I - my computer - will be up and running with a clean bill of health. So, in the meantime, skip on over to Off The Highway and see what's going on there.
And speaking of Off The Highway...there's still 4 days to leave a comment there and get your name in the Big 5-0 Raffle!