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Drip


Drip

Many things in life come one drip at a time. When that drip lands in the same spot, over and over, as most drips do, that spot is changed. If the landing spot is organic in nature, it will become enhanced by the addition of constant water. If the spot is inorganic it will become reduced by abrasion, rust or corrosion.

spigot-_web

45 years ago, when acrylics were still emerging as a “new” medium I felt compelled to paint an acrylic memory of a water spigot from my childhood front yard in Arizona. Over the years since, one drip at a time, I have built and eroded and added and removed, often without notice, so many things made of small drips of divergent materials. some made of time, some of effort, some drip dripping ideas yet to be acted on.

The water spigot (faucet to us now-a-days people) became an allegorical encouragement to me over the years, reminding me that both time and my efforts were ever flowing.

Somehow as time flows out and away, progress and accumulation, in both materials and experiences, drips in. Some things become corroded, some become nourished. As I age, many things become easier to grasp and harder to carry. Ideas are like that, projects are also. Relationships become more nourished and more abraded as well.

As long as there is pressure in the pipe there will be the possibility of a drip, no matter how good or new the gasket, it will drip sometime. It will add to life, it will subtract too.

The more we lean to the natural side of things, the more the drips nourish.

This little painting has reminded me of my childhood one drip at a time, and now of my many years passing since I painted it. Drip drip drip.

 

 

Getting in a Rut to the Moon


27-Southbound-2_webHOW  WIDE ARE RAILROAD TRACKS ANYWAY?

Glad you asked.   The real answer involves horses.  Stay with me, okay?  After the Civil War, the Congress declared that all new railroad tracks had to be a standard 4-foot, 8 and one half -inches.  Before that time there were not so many rail roads and the track sizes were all different sizes all over the place, whatever each rail company wanted, it did without measure of any other rail company.

Standardizing is of course a good idea, but why the odd number? If you can pick any size why pick 4 foot 8 and a half inches?

For a start – because the English made them that way, and English ex-patriots built our railroads.  Fine, but why did the English build track that size?  Well… Because the Romans did, not rail track, of course, but they did build roads, and the wheels on their chariots cut ruts into the stone roadway and if your cart wasn’t that size you had a really rough ride going in and out of the ruts. This forced everyone after them to make wagons the same size.  Four feet, eight and a half inches between wheels- because in ancient Rome that was the size of their war wagon wheels and that was determined because it was the width of the back end of two war horses harnessed together. Someone way back then had decided that the wagon should not be any wider than the horses so they could go through the same openings. Time has a way of carrying its’ ideas forward so … it gets better.

You know those huge booster rockets on the space shuttle?  Engineers wanted to make them fatter, but they couldn’t because they had to be shipped by train and had to fit through a tunnel.  Tunnels are only slightly wider than rail cars that run on the tracks, you know 4 foot 8 and a half inches, which means this: engineers had to design a sophisticated rocket capable of thrusting a shuttle and people into orbit to go to the moon…but they also had to honor how wide a horse’s rear is, times two, because they shipped parts of the shuttle by rail cars which had to go through tunnels and gateways. Rail cars are, however, wider than 4 foot 8 one half inches; some can carry 12 foot wide cargo on special carriers, but is generally limited to 10 foot wide carriers.  This limits the size of rail cargo in many areas and limited the size of the booster rockets.  Keep in mind that many of today’s horses are much larger than the ancient Roman version and if they had them would we would have had bigger boosters?  Not really the point of this story.

Recipes are ruts too!

When I was a child my mother used an old recipe handed down to her from her mother. It was for a beef roast. After doing all of the sauce and meat prep, the final instruction was to cut 2 inches off the rounded end of the roast before setting in a pan and placing in the oven. Every time, for many years, as my mother made a roast she would dutifully follow these instructions. One year my grandmother, (my mother’s mother) came to visit. Mom decided to make the traditional roast and just offhandedly my mom asked her why she had to cut off two perfectly good inches of the roast before inserting into the oven. Time has a way of carrying things forward-remember? Well, Grandma had a really good laugh….. “Dear,” she said, “I was cooking on a small wood stove and if I didn’t cut 2 inches off the end I couldn’t get the door closed. I wrote the instructions so I wouldn’t forget at the last minute!”

Don’t you wonder how much of our daily life is run in a rut?

I heard once that a rut is a grave with both ends knocked out, but sometimes it is good to have something to keep you on track as well and often it leads to someplace or some way that is worthy of going. Ruts are not all bad but I can’t help think that without some ruts we missed a lot of roast and we could have boosted more cargo to the moon, too!

I got into a rut of not posting often and now I think I’m out of that groove!

Thanks for reading on my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Fiddle Book!!!


A great little music book, first edition is sold out and new edition is really worth the cost for young musicians who need a book of songs to build a set of presentation or front porch performances. Julie has take great care to make this a must have music book! do your child or friend a favor and also help the Crescendo Youth Orchestra.
Get the book

julieviolin's Blog

Waltzes, Hoedowns, Showpieces, Traditional, & Patriotic Tunes Waltzes, Hoedowns, Showpieces, Traditional, & Patriotic Tunes

Hello! Final proofing edits are nearly complete and I’m getting ready to make another print run of the Red Fiddle Book. Books are $15 each and help support the Crescendo Youth Orchestra in Hibbing, MN. Send check or Money Order to P.O. Box 73 Hibbing, MN 55736 for $15 each + $3 shipping (up to 5 books per shipping cost).

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Seagulls Swarm


Diving for pop corn

Diving for pop corn 6″X9″ Aquarell water graphite on illustration board.

Ever entertaining

The seagulls are always an attraction by Lake Superior and especially near the popcorn stand. This is a quick water pencil sketch, as the birds do not pose in the air, one must build birds in short dashes and flashes of glimpses and brush strokes. The water graphite media is great for this as the tone and details can be enhanced with strokes of water both in process and later. I have found a #4 or #6 round sable works well to render most any small sketch. Then I found the water handle brush, it has it’s own water supply in the handle. A slight squeeze and you have a drop of water on the bristles. Quick and flexible and easy to carry both pencil and brush and water in your pocket.

 

Something to say for the new year


Contemporary-Resort_web-

Sunset on Contemporary Resort Hotel Disney World (1972)                                                                                               Acrylic on Illustration board 8″x10″

Something To Say For The New Year

Here is a truth:  often a painting is done just so the artist can get to do a small favorite thing, or idea.  Entire paintings are done just to get to put highlights on a glass, or shadows on a lemon or sunbursts in the distance.  Whole landscapes are painted just to show a small flower in the foreground, or a water drop about to fall from a rose petal.  A moment of inspiration to render an idea, so simple a truth that it cannot be rendered simply, but surrounded by complexity of seeing our world, lest the idea be lost.  When done, often the original intention of the painting goes unperceived to the casual viewer, but it is there.

Every artist has something to say, even if it is vapid and shallow.  Many just love to paint.  Great masters labored to say things of worth, depth, with a genius and clarity.  Some masters did this early in life and some late.

As time passes, talented and developing artists gain a voice, learn some way to communicate in their work and contribute to the world wide body of work.  A few are late bloomers and decide to speak after many years of mumbling out their art.  Whether small or genius, the years usually have trained the work into an acceptable voice or even into excellence.

Once an artist learns that their work really is just their voice, applied to materials with tools, and that the observed perception rendered is in the mind of another, something we can not control, just influence, the artists begin to offer up a communication of worth.  Their art resides in the mind of the viewer as in the art itself.  The Mona Lisa is in the mind of millions of people, each with their own thoughts about it, no matter what Leonardo wanted.

Good art is common to the understanding of all; it is spoken of as if it came from the artist, but it did really?

It came because the artist was observing through time, things others have experienced and the artist spoke it out in an image remarking about that time.  Seldom if ever does an artist say something new that is actually profound or unknown, but really says something already known that is put in a new and perhaps original way; it is understood by the masses because they already have some understanding of the topic, subject or image. That can become a profound perception in the world.

A six year old child with a crayon can make you cry with their clarity of seeing and saying what you know; if that clarity remains, as skill grows, they become a master, an artist.

A sixty year old can pick up a pencil and start drawing for the first time and make you laugh, but if they have something to say, regardless of how poorly they might draw it, if it touches us all, it is art.  That is why cartoons are so powerful, they speak to us and about us all, and are often done by young artists who grow old in their craft.

A master does both, renders beautifully and has something to say. Saying something is the highest form of art, and saying it well is glorious.  Having accumulated the skills to render, it becomes very important in delivering the idea in its whole form, even if it is just a rose with a water drop.

This puts more artists to silence than any other thing, recognizing one’s own inability to say it well or even to know what to say.  Better to say nothing so they don’t.  So many young and new emerging talents silence themselves long before they discover they were actually on path to arrive, but judged wrongly their primitive learning as lack of talent.

Just because we, as artists, can see our own work path and struggles is no reason to withhold our work.  What has changed is the internet and speed in which we hear feedback.  We can post our images, and get comments; the pain and glory are instantaneous, and both are also fleeting.  The amount of really fine art work out there is astounding, access to visual resource is so huge it is daunting.  Both discouraging and encouraging.  It is still one person viewing one image one at a time. Perhaps hundreds or thousands or millions of people, but each one views it one at a time.  It is personal, it is a singular event and a singular response.  Not a crowd or audience of thousands, just thousands of individual observers with no crowd influence, no one watching them while they observe.  They comment, and it is powerful, it is direct.

So take a good idea, even a tiny one, and build a painting around it and show it, or write a new book and publish it, or take four notes and build a symphony around them and perform it.

jmc/emc

Loco-motive Christmas


I think most people love trains, especially at Christmas! So a couple few years back doing a card with a train engine just seemed to be the ticket. My family had been giving me train parts for a few years so I could put one in my studio, you know up overhead so it goes around to my delight and for everyone else a distraction. It is an LGB that stands for Lehmann Gross Bahn a German toy train company.  these train sets are a large gauge (G scale) and designed to go in the garden or outside as well as inside. So that year on my birthday I finally had received enough pieces to put the train on enough track to go around the kitchen and dinning room floor. Kids and grand kids all helped, real smoking smoke stack, light in the front and all. My wife loved it for a couple hours then started pointing to the upstairs where my studio is and began mumbling something about the ceiling. It just seemed to be the perfect Christmas card subject. I scanned a photo of the engine into photoshop and painted in a background. The original engine was all yellow, and that would never do for christmas so I added some red and black. Distractions have kept me from getting it put up but I think this year I will get it installed into my studio. Since that time I have been collecting a few pieces of old Lionel trains and now have enough to put one of those together too.

After Christmas i will also post a few rail road paintings I have done.

If it were mechanical it would be easy.


So for months now I have wondered why incoming comments were sparse; was it my writing style . . . was it my postings?  Maybe bad art work and content?  Self-doubt reigns supreme!

I went out on the internet and looked at and responded to many great blog sites; it has been both fun and enlightening, and I actually have received some great comments, too.

I did not notice, however, all the comments I have received were from blogs I visited. I am kinda slow on this uptake!  Until yesterday when someone asked me where my comment box was?  It had disappeared, and I had not even noticed!  Well, cut me some slack as I am not a techie.  So back at the controls, might as well be trying to land a 747 after the pilot passes out and they ask for volunteers, “Hey, I’ll do it,” (better than not trying, huh?).  I know, it is simple, right, then you look at the dashboard and it is “deer in the headlights.”  Keep  aixelsyd (dyslexia) in mind here. Well, gladly we are on the ground and it is just the dashboard of wordpress.

So I will give it another try!

jmc/emc

How House Coffee and Wildflowers Go Together


A-coffee-cup_web Graphite on drawing paper 6″x6″

There is a place, a bakery actually, I really like to go in Duluth, MN.  It is in Canal Park and is called Amazing Grace Bakery.  It bears no resemblance to a bakery and it is within a renovated waterfront 8 story building.  First three floors are retail and offices, with studios and services on the next four, apartments on the top. The bakery is in the basement down eight stairs from the outside, with windows looking out at the ankles of passersby.  A stairwell, with wood handrails polished from heavy use, leads most of the way down to a wooden heavy single glass panel door, smudged from in and out wrong-side pushes.  The entrance is compressed with merchandise opportunities, weekly free papers, small bulletin board and a vending machine that does not fit the custom alcove built for vending machines because it shares the space with afterthought plumbing improvements.  It was once the doorway that led to the coal room that is now this bakery/coffee house/open mike stage/study hall for the local colleges/favorite place for artists to get a cup of coffee and not look different, but still feel different (or for some to look very different).

window_web     room-view_web     at-counter_web     guy-reading-2 Graphite on Drawing paper 6″x7″

It is not the coffee that attracts people, although without it no one would come.  It is not the bakery, either.  As bakeries go, it produces oversized cookies and muffins, and fresh bread that is used mostly for oversized sandwiches as off center as the exotic coffees.  The bread is sliced diagonally and too thick, making an assembled construction that must be disassembled to eat.

It isn’t the decor or the room appointments.  Nothing matches, save the three styles of chairs, and they don’t match each other.

The tables are rectangles and circles.  Rectangles are painted black on top as checkerboards.  Round ones are dressed with cloths as if they are the ladies of the room.  Each table, both square and round, has a small vase with a fresh cut wild flowers, embellished with a fern bow or babies breath twig.  Each vase is a different unique item.  The only common thing about them is they are all small, inexpensive and unusual.  They all have this one thing, each one is different, no two alike.  Some are jelly jar simple.  Others are chipped china porcelain.  Some look silver, some brass, others are handmade pottery.  Together they tell a story of someone who watches, someone who shares.  Sitting at any table on any day, the vase tells a story of being found, or saved, collected or gathered.  Perhaps some given because it is known that this place collects such things.  They match the customers, none of them match either.

Entering any place for the first time strikes at memories and comparisons.  We all do that, check out for telltale signs of comfort, safety, personal fit.  Scan the layout, read the menu, ask vapid questions about strange looking things behind the counter.  Usually within a few seconds we can tell if this place is for us.

So the waitress asks, “Can I help you?” – “I’ll have the house coffee,” I reply.  “For here or to go?” and the question raises a blush of doubt.  A regular would know if they wanted to stay, if it was safe to stay.  Besides, where do you take it to go, without knowing the neighborhood?  Others may ask for the café latte’, or Mocha, maybe the espresso two bean double.  A large cup of house coffee is a license to be able to take a table and look as normal or as strange as others in the room, to have a license to sit way too long at one of the tables and do one’s own thing.

Sometimes only a moment is embarrassing. “Let me know when you decide.”  She turns to the next customer who spurts out a string of coffee descriptions and names that ends in a double latte’.  It could be one cup or several, it is hard to tell for the unfamiliar, the uninitiated, regular coffee person.  The coffee machine makes grinding sounds against indecision.  She turns back, “So, you decided?” “For here,” I reply. “Small or large?” “Large.”

     Conga-drums_web     Flowers-and-vase-2_web 

Graphite and watercolor pencil on drawing paper 6″x7″

Coffee is served in a large round-handled cup too full, too slippery for one-handed gripping.  She hands change right over a tipping basket, with a sign saying, “Big tippers make better lovers,” shaking the basket which becomes a familiar sound during a half quart coffee experience.

Then I realize, like the wild flowers and everything else in the room I, too, have been collected to sit among the eclectic and become part of someone else’s new experience.  I have sat and drawn and painted in Amazing Grace Bakery for years now, while taking my breaks from the plein air work in Canal Park, the streets, lake front and hills of Duluth, Minnesota.

.flowers-and-chekerboard_web

jmc/emc

How to get a painting started (Part Three) 3 great ways to be more effective in the studio


3 Great ways to get a painting started.

(A three part posting)

Part 3 – Make critical choices.

You may think this is so obvious but most people never start this way. They just start.

The keys to getting an image going is simply to make choices about the work, to name what you are doing, pick a viewpoint to express it, and set up for success by getting all the choices made in all critical areas before starting.

Once you begin, most of the heavy lifting has been done and you are committed and confident.  Getting organized, applying decisions and taking risks may sound so simplistic, but they are the most important tasks in getting a painting or image started.  Just getting the choices made and acted on is over half the battle.

Start like this; Choose a style to portray your concept.  Loose or tight, traditional or experimental, expressive or photorealistic, modern or old or fantastical. Choose materials and mediums that best represent this particular piece. Dark, light, bright or subdued, opaque or transparent, brushed or transparent, etc.  Surround the work area with accumulated information and research that supports the concept you are rendering.  Sketches and value studies, too!

Decide the right size of the finished piece that best allows full expression of all elements; don’t go big just to be big or small to conserve resources.

Choose and locate the center of interest; don’t let accidental placement of any element ruin your work.  Every element is a choice that belongs.

Keep the idea clean and simple.

Choose only elements that support the overall concept you are working on to include in the image.  Don’t place favorite things in just to include them.

If you are painting horses, don’t put in locomotives unless it is a robbery. Add  what belongs and only choose elements that contribute.  Leave out things  that might be there in your research if they don’t contribute to the ideas or to picture balance.  Like roads or trees in a photo if they clutter up a picture.  If something is not fun to paint, consider choosing not to paint it.

Choose a direction for the light to be coming from and stick with it. The more defined this is, the better the image will be.

Choose a color pallet, and resist adding colors after you have started.  In my opinion, 5 To 9 colors is optimum.

Decide what goes where and why in a sketch; change the sketch if needed, work and rework it as necessary.  Do a value study if you are not sure of your composition – a color study if you want more confidence that it will work.  Stick with it once you start rendering.

Never think you have to follow any of the colors or shapes in your photo research, but pay attention to the shadow and values, looking for the consistency of patterns in the research, then alter it to suit yourself.

Choose to start!

Go render your world.

jmc/emc

(Part two) How to get a painting started – 3 great ways to be more effective in the studio


3 Great ways to get a painting started.

(A three part posting)

Part 2 – Establish a viewpoint.

A viewpoint is two things.  One: how the viewer sees the image; and Two: how the image portrays your concept.

How do people understand how to view your idea?  You can also have a point of view embedded into the image such as perspective, but that is not the viewpoint of this discussion.

Are you painting to show how well you paint, or to say something, or to respond to your life experiences and your accumulated opinions?  Or maybe you just like to paint stuff.  Some folks paint flowers, some dogs, some events of the world and some paint the fantasies of all our dreams.  Whatever you paint it has a viewpoint, even an abstraction has to be abstracted from something.

Every piece of artwork needs to establish a definite point of view, both visually and emotionally.  Ask yourself:  how will this image tell the story, is it close up, far away, from the side or below?  Where is the horizon, where is the vanishing point, the perspective, or is there one?  Will you use color or texture or special effects to tell the story? Are we in the picture with the subject or outside looking in?  What is the object of the painting?

Will the viewer gain or see a specific opinion, an anticipation, or disgust, or sympathy for the subject?  Does your subject need to push the viewer in a direction, as in taking a different look at something?  Or they may have overlooked something; perhaps your painting is just to show beauty.

How is the art piece going to set in the world?  Is it emotional, or shocking, or nostalgic?  Is it a visual perspective or an environmental foggy wet, or desert dry viewpoint?  A bug’s eye view or a bird’s eye view, or a leader or a follower?  Is it everybody’s view or a special peek?

There are so many variations on this, and you can use many viewpoints in one picture, but the core idea needs one main viewpoint to focus on.

By establishing a conceptual and/or visual viewpoint you can get control of, and use of so many variables.

Start by thinking how someone will first see the image, and then how the image is rendered both in style and in choice of media, and then how the elements in the image are portrayed.  That can include perspective or graphic, or abstract or brush stroke style, etc., etc.

Here are 3 elements to establish:

1 – Establish what is being communicated;

2 – Establish what is being seen;

3 – Establish how it is being portrayed.

These 3 points may seem very simple but they are most often overlooked.

Now you have established a viewpoint:  we are seeing this idea in this way, and you are ready to put a view point into perspective.

jmc/emc