Archive for the ‘Shaped landscape series’ Category

The 2020 Art Plan … Then; and Now!

June 19, 2020

When 2019 came to a close and 2020 was about to get started, I was REALLY energized.

So, I sat down and made a plan.

Here is the thing, 2019 had been a wonderful year, I was happy with the success of my teaching of regional and local classes and workshops; and I had even branched out a bit and taught workshops in San Francisco, Chicago, and Richmond. I wanted to continue in that direction.

SF, Libertytown, & Chicago
Teaching at San Franciscos Palace of the Fine Art, at Fredericksburg’s Libertytown Art Studios, and under the “L” on Congress & Wabash, Chicago.
Chicago, 2017 and 2019
My July 2017 sketch of the elevated train at Wabash & Congress and a shot of that same location during my USk Chicago Seminar Workshops in June of 2019.

I had also completed a solo show of my large Natural-Family-History series of drawings at Troy University as well as participated in a really fine exhibition of Urban Sketching in the DC area.  I got to make new friends, meet fellow artists and colleagues. and to deepen my connection with folks I have known for a long time. 2019 was full of art travel and art adventures and I wanted to follow up on those without destroying what is good in my more local/regional art practice.  The idea was to continue to add a bit more spice to my mix.

2019 had also been more than a few intensely momentous and life altering events too. Not the least of which were the death in the Fall of my Mom and of her oldest sister. They were the last of their generation on both the maternal and paternal sides of my family.  I wanted to embrace all of this complex life stuff too and make sure that I was centered as I moved forward as a human being as well as an artist and artist–educator.

Studio images #1 copy
My studio storage area … in full “reorganizational mess” mode. That time during the process when things have to get far worse before you can make them better!

So, The 2020-2021 Plan.

1.  Hiatus. Unplug through Christmas and take January off, Organize my thoughts as I cleaned, decluttered, reorganized, and inventoried my studio. Research/explore ideas and activities for moving forward in 2020 and even into 2021. 

2.  After my efforts to reorganize and refocus, I resolved to enjoy a short and low key Valentine’s week romantic mini-vacation on the coast of Florida.

Studio images #2 copy
This is the small office sized part of my studio. I mostly use this area for doing design work. It is also where I process small works on paper or sketches storage, exhibitions, or shipping.

3.  In mid February, refreshed from the period of contemplative and reflective activity, I would begin to doff the protective hermit robes of seclusion. With a newly completed detailed but still highly flexible plan for the coming year, softly and slowly I would begin to reboot back into an exciting and busy 2020. A major part would be bringing my two major studio projects (the Natural Family History series of drawings and the Shaped Landscape series of water media painting) back up to full speed again while still tapping into the excitement of urban sketching!  

4.  New classes and the newest sessions of my regular classes awaited my attentention, workshop planning for 2020 and 2021 were ramping up, opportunities for exhibitions and workshops were at my doorstep, and unfinished and new art projects were calling for my attention!

But something else had been emerging in January, February, and March! The official name is SARS-CoV-2; best known to most of as Covid19.

By mid-March my plan wasn’t looking very healthy. And over the past few weeks, I think the specifics of my 2020-2021 plan have all withered away. As of today, I have pruned all of the “busy, out in the world” projects from my calendar through 2020.

Here, as the late Spring days of early June wane and the Summer’s solstice beckons, the ideas that birthed my joyously busy and fulfilling calendar are very much alive and well. So, what do I have left and how do I proceed?  Obviously my goals aren’t really going to change much; but my shorter range objectives need to shift/pivot and because of that my actions have all been adjusted.

Studio images #3 copy
This is the larger part of my studio; the area where I work on mylar, large paper, or mixed aqueous media pieces on panels.

So, I have a NEWER 2020-2021 plan.

1.  Make Art. Use the time at home and the newly refreshed studio to create new art. Revise some of my older abandoned and unfinished works of art. Concentrate on the Natural Family History series, the Shaped Landscape series, Maybe revive my large (30×40) studio watercolors that I used to enjoy so much.

2. Make lots of Sketches. Post them online more so that folks can see and enjoy them. Also make sure ALL my new small pieces are also in my online SHOP just in case those folks can get them if they want to do that.

3.  Give more! Start sending out free educational handouts (materials and techniques, design ideas, color theory, and other art info) to former students and other interested folks. No charge, no strings attached. Gifts.

4.  Learn something new. Explore the use of modern video technology. Make art videos with my digital SLR camera, my iPhone and a little GoPro Hero camera. Play with iMovie to learn how to edit videos too. (Give lots of little videos away as well … see #3 above).

5.  Try Re-connecting. Learn to use video technology and other social media to reach out to art colleagues, friends and even clients. Personal mail and phone calls are good too.

6.  Stay centered. Be safe and vigilant. Be patient and hopeful. Be thoughtful and playful. Be ready to be kind and helpful to others. Mostly, simply and humanely, be myself.

Actually, at the core, I guess that was the purpose of the previous plan too. The new one is just without the physical handshakes and hugs, without sitting together and having an iced tea or a cold local beer with old and new friends. There are no gigs, no airfares, and no driving all over the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast or into the Ohio River basin. I will miss those every now and then.

But there is art. There is reaching out as best I can. And there is being whole, being me.

So, here is a video to seal the deal … to start pushing myself down the path of my new plan just a bit!

’til next time … Wishing you peace, beauty, safety, and good health!

Springing into Summer: The Studio Work & Sketching Afield

June 1, 2017

I have been working up several designs for new multi panel pieces recently, pieces for my “Shaped Landscape” series. One of the new challenges is to come up with formats that I haven’t used before. During the winter and early spring months, I spent a lot of time playing on gridded paper. Trying to come up with new multi-panel formats  is fun and I am intrigued by several that are radically different from my earlier attempts. There are also some panel configurations that I will try that are tweets of old shape arrangements … but in a new scale or with a very skewed scale relationships.

To the right you can see an image which occupies a small portion of a recently started panel. It is part of a new piece using watercolor over pencil … so far. The panel is 12×12.

Below you can see the reference photo that, along with my previous on-site sketch, I used while working on this piece. My intent is for this panel to be paired with at least one more panel … probably two or three … that present a wider view of the landscape as well as enlarged landscape details.

 I am really not yet sure which of several options I am toying with for the overall panel assembly or arrangement. As I said, during the winter I made a lot of sketches and small cardboard mock ups, sort of 2-D maquettes if you will, of possible arrangements of multi sized panels. Frankly I was a bit surprised at some things I came up with … at once simple but more complex than the configurations that I have been using recently. Can not wait to get images that will match up with the new formatting ideas!



the partially finished 12 x 12 panel


My other project recently has been to get out of the studio, get out of the classroom and be outside sketching, drawing, painting photographing, and writing notes for images. As part of this, I have been drawing more urban images in the towns and cities of my region or in my travels. It reminds me of my youthful endeavors … as a teen drawing the brownstones of Wichita and as a young adult drawing the warehouses and older buildings of eastern NC.

Across From The City Market, Watercolor and Pencil on Paper, 5 x 7




Above are another two recent cityscape pieces … both 5 x 11 with watercolor over pencil. The lower one also has areas of brush and ink and even a little work with a fountain pen.



These cityscapes have been fun and I will continue them. While they feel like a diversion in some ways, I suspect that something beyond that will emerge from the work. Just not sure what it will be. During the past few years my sketches have been more rural; scenes found along the roads, stream banks, and trails surrounding the Blue Ridge.

It was that kind of work that I have been doing this week.  In fact today was pretty productive; I started three more rural sketches this morning and afternoon … though life logistics intervened each time and I didn’t quite finish any of them. Here is the earliest stage of one of them, when it was just pencil on paper. If you look closely you will see notes about color written on the paper … even within the sketch itself!  Yes, I will have to erase those before I start in with watercolor. Or maybe just ink and ink wash.

I will write more about some these a bit more … but that will have to be later. I need to cook some dinner.

I am thinking about Teriyaki chicken and grilled/roasted peppers and onions served over a bed of lettuce … covered with a big handful of red grape halves heated and tossed with black pepper, cinnamon, and  bit of cumin seed?







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