Friday, December 17, 2010

Painting accepted in CCAHC Works on Paper Exhibition

Today's post mail brought some good news. One of my stormy cloud works is accepted for the Custer County Arts & Heritage Center's 32nd Annual SouthEastern Montana Juried Exhibit. The 2011 exhibit, set for January 23rd through March 6th, is titled "Works On Paper." The CCAC is located in Miles City, Montana.
Below is a photo of my work, titled "Thunderhead Over Hobson, Montana."
This work is an oil painting on gesso on acid-free paper. The image measures 18 by 24 inches. The exhibition is not an auction, so this work is still available for purchase.  I'm pricing this painting to encourage a sale.
The thunderhead in this work is one I watched as it grew bigger and taller just east of the Hobson grain elevators (one elevator is no longer standing at this location.) When I finally left (after I was certain I could capture its essence back at the studio) this storm cloud was being pushed fast enough by an up high wind that it tailed me all the way to Lewistown.

Below are two close up detail photos so you can see the layered, sketchy brush strokes that make up this work. I was especially pleased with the results achieved on the more distant grain elevator.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two paintings in 43rd Annual Yellowstone Art Museum Art Auction

Good news arrived in today's snail mail! Two of my oil paintings have been selected for inclusion in the Yellowstone Art Musuem's 43rd Annual Art Auction. The auction takes place in March 2011 at the museum in Billings, Montana. I've posted the two paintings below:

 This painting titled "Prairie King" is a stylized building thunderhead in the late afternoon sky. It's a visualization of any and all of the super clouds that I've witnessed over years of observation. I used birch panel for the support instead of canvas. Sometimes I prefer this kind of surface over stretched canvas because it "fights back" when you attack it with brush and palette knife. "Prairie King" is 20 inches by 20 inches.

This painting is titled "Powerful Storm" and is not as recent a work as "Prairie King" (which was completed this past spring.) "Powerful Storm" is one of my favorite works out of what I've done over the past four or five years. It depicts a tremendous storm I witnessed over the eastern edge of the Belt Mountains about 80 miles west of Lewistown. The far left solitary mountain is an extinct volcano cinder cone. To create this work, I thinned the oil paint and then applied it in several layers so that layers remained visible through successive layers. The whole effect is very drawing-like and textural. "Powerful Storm" is 18 inches by 24 inches.
A further note about this painting: I've recently opened an online art sales shop on and included this painting as one of the few that I initially posted. The notification deadline for the art auction was long past and since I'd not received any word regarding my entries, I figured it meant I wasn't selected. So imagine my surprise when I got today's mail! (which, by the way, was postmarked over a week ago---and it's normally "next day" delivery to Lewistown from Billings.) So, I got to see how Etsy's delete and archive functions work!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Serigraph (silkscreen) Commission in progress

I pulled Colors 12 and 13 today. I'm thinking one more color on the far side of the river, possibly two more. Then the Bighorn Sheep will be started (probably five or six colors on each one.) It's been cold outside; Minus 8 degrees when I left the studio at midnight. It did stop snowing (finally) but the night sky was clear, so with no cloud cover the temperature will drop even more before daybreak. I keep the studio at about 50 or 55 degrees - perfect for working and the screen inks flow just right.
 (Above) Color 12 is a slightly peachy tone that covers the far side of the river and the distant landforms. My lighting was slightly different when I photographed tonight so the colors as they appear in the photo are a bit closer to the actual colors than most all of the previous progression photos posted.
(Below) Color 13 starts to show some definition in the far side of the river and the distant landforms.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Serigraph (silkscreen) Commission in progress

Here are updates for colors number 10 and number 11. I'm happy with the way the rocks are coming out. One more color to represent the surfaces of rock that are sunlit and then the distant landscape and the mountain sheep will be tackled next. This has been a little slower-going than I'd hoped as I'm having to fit this project into a full schedule with other projects in progress as well.

(Above) The serigraph at the 10 Color stage.
(Below) The serigraph at the 11 Color stage.  Just one more color for the foreground and middle ground rocks and then on to the background landscape! Nice to finally see the foreground ram starting to take shape, even if it is only because the color field around him is what is being printed.

(Above) The serigraph at the 10 Color stage.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Serigraph (silkscreen) Commission in progress

Here's today's update! Only got one color done today but am pleased as now the shapes are starting to become apparent. If I think of it tomorrow, I'll photograph my line drawing that is the basis for this serigraph.
Two things I forgot to mention in my previous post: The image area is 30 inch by 19 inch and the commission is for the Friends Of Missouri Breaks Monument (the Missouri Breaks Monument is a wild/scenic area along the Missouri River north and east of Lewistown, Montana.)
Also, this serigraph is being done in solvent-based inks (Naz-Dar 5500 Series) and a mucilage block-out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Serigraph (silkscreen) Commission in progress

Before I write/say anything, I should note that the colors as seen in these progress photos are not completely true to the actual colors on the serigraphs. I'm photographing these on the layout table and so lighting is not the best and there is also some distortion as I can't get the camera quite far enough away.
In the photo at the right, you are seeing the upper third of the image area -- at this stage the rest of the image area is still just the white paper. In this photo there are two colors: The purplish sky (pulled first) and the lighter bluish tone beneath where the thunderhead will be. Where these first two colors overlap it has the effect of creating a third color. I masked out the remainder of the image area, including the far ram (seen here as white.)

Photo at the above is at the five color stage. The thunderhead is starting to take on a nice decorative shape.

 Photo above is at the six color stage. At this point I decided to stop working on the sky portion of the image and tackle the main body of the serigraph, and especially the lettering that would appear at the bottom of the image.

 Photo above shows the 7th color now added at the bottom of the image. Again, I should note that colors are not entirely true in these photos (for example, the blank area is actually pure white of the paper still.)--and also there is some distortion due to having to photograph at too close a distance. The brown area (actually a salmon-ish brown color) was pulled for the sake of the lettering as seen once the next color is pulled.

 Photo above shows the nine color stage. Again, some distortion due to the camera---the actual serigraphs are nice and straight/squared as are the straight lines of the shape that contains the lettering. Prior to pulling the peachy color over the brown, I hand-brushed the mucilage block-out over each letter (which I'd free-hand drawn onto the screen.)

If you have any questions about my process up to this point, please feel free to email me or, if you've accessed this posting via my Facebook page, then please leave comments/questions there. I will try to reply in a timely manner.
Photo Above shows the eight color stage on the table in the foreground. Beyond that is the screen, which is swung open and fully back so I can brush on the mucilage block-out on the back side (the ink is squeegeed across the reverse side.) You can see that I am also attaching some tracing paper areas to serve as a block-out for those areas that I don't want to print in the next color, but also do not want to cover with mucilage only to have to remove it after the next color run.
The best money spent in the studio this year was the $375 for a used but fully functional Saturn Print Drying Rack (new ones approach $2,000 or more). There are 50 trays, each measuring 40" x 52". Trays are spring-loaded; when not drying prints, the trays are in the upright position---and just a touch of the hand lowers or raises each tray.
I use to have to run (literally) all around the studio to hang my wet prints on make-shift cloths lines and trying to hang prints back-to-back was nuts! And hurrying because the inks would be drying in the screen and could mess up the next several prints! So yes!  This was money well spent!! (even though I had to leave off the top ten trays because my 8-ft high studio ceiling wasn't high enough to allow those trays to be in the fully up position.
But even with just 40 of the trays installed, I LOVE my print drying rack!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Band Shell Mural Project Completed!

Here's the completed Veterans Memorial Park Band Shell Mural. The RFP called for only a new image in the shell, but I decided to also add in the arches and the wing walls as part of my proposal. It was an amazing transformation of the space to make the former faded dark brown arches over into red-white-&-blue. The band shell now appears larger than it did and it is highly visible from across the park and the nearby roadways. In this photo the performers on stage are the US Air Force Brass In Blues. The early evening performance caught the band shell in the setting sunlight cast upon the historic cathedral image on the right side of the shell.

Band Shell Mural Project Completed!

USAF Brass In Blues performance on stage in front of the newly completed band shell mural. The band was great and the singer was fantastic! The performance was a collection of American compositions from Ragtime through the Big Band Era.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Band Shell Mural Project - Helena, MT

Here is the band shell project at Day Eight of painting (not counting the three days of prep work to get the surface ready.)

A close-up photo of the capitol dome. The forms are simplified to facilitate "reading" the imagery from a considerable distance across the park and from the surrounding streets---which is what the Call For Proposals specified.

This photo gives some idea of just how big this band shell is. The scissor lift is extended to it's full height so Nathan can reach the outer most arches to apply the blue paint.

 This photo captures the effect of the setting sun on the cathedral image in the band shell. Note the capitol dome image in the shadow. In my original proposal for the project, I'd stated that quality of light and its effect on the mural was something I considered when I opted to do the work in a gray scale. I'd also opted for the gray scale because one of the requirements of the project was that the imagery below the band shell wainscot walls be "neutral" so as not to visually interfere with performers on stage. The cathedral image was not completed as of this photo.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Veterans Memorial Park Band Shell Mural work got underway last week! After plenty of washing, scraping and sanding the entire shell was primed. Then the "sky" area of the shell got it's coat of light warm gray; it has just a touch of pinkish to it so it takes on a different color appearance depending on the time of day.
Here is a link to an article and related video in the Helena (Montana) newspaper where you can see the old mural that I am covering up:
I don't know how long the newspaper leaves their article/video links online, so check this one out soon.
Here's a photo of the primer being applied (Nathan operating the airless sprayer and me doing the rolling to even out the spray.

And here is a photo of the band shell all primed and with the sky pinkish gray painted in the shell.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oscar the Bionic Cat

Well, this is a blog site about my art, but I found this series of videos to be of enough interest, that I thought I'd share them here. They are about a two-year old cat named Oscar whose hind legs are cut off in a farm accident. The videos document the medical marvel that gives back Oscar's mobility and life.

Here's a video that shows Oscar his with his first proto-type legs/paws; The veterinarian's comment at the end is especially touching:
Oscar's First Bionic Feet

Here's a video giving some information about the medical procedure that gave Oscar his bionic legs/paws;

Here's a video that shows Oscar with his permanent "legs" (as opposed to the proto-type legs shown in the first video with the veterinarian:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mural Proposal selected!

I've been selected to create a new mural for the Veterans Memorial Park Band Shell in Montana's State Capitol, the City of Helena. I'm excited about this for two reasons: First, I'll have the opportunity to create a large public art work that will add meaning to an existing structure; Second, the mural site is one of high daily visibility to not only people using the park but also passing motorists (both local and tourist.)

The imagery in the band shell represent three Helena iconic structures: Historic Fire Tower, the Capitol building's dome and St. Anne's Cathedral. On the wing walls are: On the left wall, a cavalry soldier with flag (Ft Harrison is across the street from the band shell) and the pick/shovel/gold pan (a subject also on Montana's state flag); On the right wall a WWII soldier with flag and the sod busting plow (also a subject on Montana's state flag--and like the pick and shovel, allude to different eras important to the state's history.) The band shell, not counting the two wing walls, is 48 ft across the opening.
(To access a larger view of this sketch, click the image above.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sidelines of History

This video is one of those interesting tidbits I find while researching art projects. For more information visit Vojtek - WWII Soldier Bear

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Spring Sky Over the Judiths"

"Spring Sky Over the Judiths" and "March Skies #3" (the post immediately below this one) each measure 9 x 7 inches. Both are on board panels and both were brought to their current state in one very short paint session. Both are also what I call "cold" (explained in the post appearing below this one.)
This painting was done "plein aire" outside my studio door. It's very intense painting session for about 15 minutes and then it is set aside as the sky has changed too much to continue. I enjoy working in this manner and am never disappointed with the results. Works like this are always about the paint as well as the subject.

"March Skies #3"

This small painting is based on an earlier larger work which I no longer own, but which still influences my stormy sky paintings. "March Skies #3" as it appears here is a work in-progress, but it may not change much (if at all), as it is now cold. The painting was started before I left for my most recent two-week residency in Oregon and now enough time has elapsed that the energy of the first session is cold. Is there energy still? Yes, absolutely! But it's not the same energy. Also, the paint has dried so additional brushwork will sit on top of this first layer rather than merge or flow with it. And that's an important consideration because this work is as much about the paint as it is about the subject.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Spring Winds" (or, Gusty Skies Over the Judiths")

Painted on a gesso primed wood panel, this oil  painting started as a sketch that developed a mind of it's own, so to speak. Upon reaching a certain stage I determined that it be declared finished and then left alone. Sometimes talk is cheap and I might push a painting too far. This painting, however, works for me. The scratchy, hurried linear marks that make up this work give a feel for the crisp spring winds that pack a good bite for all who were fooled by the sun and so are unprepared for what spring is on the high prairie.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Hmmm. . . . ."

This is a small work in-progress. It is oil on wood panel and measures 8 inches high by 4 inches wide. It's my impression of Neko when she's thinking: "Hmmm. . . what can I get into next?"

Often I paint on small panels to "warm up" before doing anything else. And just as often, I end up liking the spontaneous quality of these small works. Always, the warm up paintings are as much about paint as they are about subject. This particular work will, no doubt, lead to more and larger works based on Neko.

The eyes at this point are simply lifted out of the blackish/brownish paint but I may decide to leave them at this stage. For me, there seems to be enough "attitude" in the gesture of the tail, head and ears. And there is a sense that the cat is lifting itself slightly on it's toes, ready to spring into action.

Neko, by the way, is a small black kitten growing into a leggy long-tailed mischievous cat who needs to know absolutely everything about everything in the whole house! Neko's fur is black, but her attitude is pure sunshine!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"North Of Town"

"North Of Town" is a 5 x 7 inch oil painting. The town referred to is Lewistown and time of year is late winter, when the snow is getting yellowing thin. This is a memory work--i.e., I created it based on landscapes recalled from auto trips taken in the area. My initial intent was to create a study that would resolve some compositional thoughts leading to a larger work. When it reached this state, it felt "finished." Pinning it to the studio wall, I left it to dry for several weeks and then decided to sign and frame it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back Home (for a while)

I'm finally back home! The return road trip was long but uneventful. But I've hit the ground running here, as I have several new project applications to get into the postmail and email within the week or so.
The Redmond Proficiency Acadamy students got their mural project off to a good start the week I instructed there. The school set up a "moodle" access for me to stay in touch via the internet between now and when I return to Redmond in late April to facilitate the actual painting. Sometime over the next few days, I'll be posting some photos of all the residencies I conducted in Oregon since January.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mid-week point - Artist Residency at RPA

Since the previous blog post, the first week of my artist residency at Redmond Proficiency Academy is at the mid-point and the mural is starting to form as an image with specific elements. Working with a small core group of students, I've taken them through the following steps since beginning on Monday:
Site Visit - After a brief introduction and overview of the mural project, we visited the site where the completed mural is to be installed. There are actually two sites involved; one is a temporary site in the City of Redmond Centennial Park and the other is the permanent location the mural will be moved to at the end of summer.
Brainstorm Ideas - Group discussion to generate ideas for subjects that may be included in the mural. Follow-up research for source images was begun after the brainstorming session.
Formal Meeting with the "Client" - Students met at City Hall with Economic Development Director and representatives from the RCAPP and the Centennial Committee. A pre-meeting group discussion generated questions the students determined they needed to ask at the meeting. The meeting ended with a visit to the mural installation sites led by the Economic Development Director; additional questions and concerns were discussed at each site.
Formulating the Basic Composition - Students discuss and map out what images go where in the mural. This process will continue through the end of the week.
Creating a Budget - Students create a budget, working with unit prices and then calculating total costs. I also introduce line items that are typical requirements in "real world" proposed budgets and discuss the purpose of each and why it is needed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Final Residency begins Feb. 8th

My last artist residency in Oregon begins in a couple days. This will be the first time I've conducted my program for a proficiency acadamy. I'll be working with about 20 high-school-age students in the City of Redmond. For this residency, I've proposed to conduct one week of "real job" introduction for the students. Students will be required to perform all the tasks and steps that a working artist must successfully complete when applying for an opportunity to create specific public art.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Two Artist Residencies completed and two more to go

I'm about to begin the third Artist-In-Residence on my loop through eastern Oregon. This trip began with two weeks at the elementary school in the town of Irrigon. After that, it was on to Canyon City and now La Pine. The last residency will be in Redmond.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


My artist residencies in schools are off to an earlier start this year. I'm halfway through a two-week residency in Irrigon, Oregon already. The students will be creating a large mural of the Oregon Trail and Native Americans. Grades involved are K-3, so it should prove interesting and a challenge. But, judging by the first two days here, I'm sure they can handle it.
After Irrigon, I'm off to Canyon City for a week, then La Pine for a week followed by a residency in Redmond (all in Oregon).
My blog entries will be slim or absent until I return.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Petrolia Reservoir Memory"

To create "Petrolia Reservoir Memory" paint was applied and removed several times. Each time some paint was left behind to interact with the subsequent layers. I enjoy working this way as the resulting art is as much or more about the paint as it is about anything that inspired it in the first place. Petrolia Reservoir, which shows up as "Lake" on some maps, is located southeast of Winnett (east of Lewistown.) This painting is 5 x 7 inch.

UPDATE: Benches completed and delivered!

All fourteen benches ready for delivery. The gold disk visible on each bench backrest is a cast metal replica  of the Rotary Club emblem. The local Lewistown Rotary contributed funding to the bench portion of the street amenities project. To see more photos of the the finished benches visit

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Cloud Deity"

Even though the subject of "Cloud Deity" is a building thunderhead, I find this a peaceful work to gaze upon, in part because it is essentially a memory of late summer recalled in the studio as winter is tightening it's grip outside. I frequently shift the sky hue on either side of a cloud. Sometimes the shift is subtle; other times drastic. My small paintings, such as "Cloud Deity" (5 x 7 inch), are usually driven by the sky. I think the small format of these works causes viewers to acknowledge his/her own small presence on the land form in the painting while at the same time the sky is portrayed in a manner that speaks of it's overwhelming expanse.