If painting were a sport I’d certainly be a true weekend warrior. In my mind standing up for eight hours at a time, back and forth hundreds of times to get a longer look just might qualify for exercise. I have to remind myself to take a break and drink some water or walk around a bit. This week I should have gone for dip in the lake while I was up at Allatoona on Saturday. It was a glorious day and all I had to do was take off my shirt and jump in.
I drove up HWY 92 out of Woodstock about twenty miles northwest and then straight north on Old Alabama Rd. to Lake Allatoona. This is the red headed step child to Lake Lanier, but it’s closer. After a search on Google I decided to give the dam a try but I never got that far. I found a day use beach and was lucky that I remembered to bring some cash because they charged me four bucks to get in—It was worth it though. The view was enhanced with sailboats from the near by yacht club. The first is a long view farther north through a channel up past a dock and a group of trees, I stuck some of the many kids in that were having a good time. Might have needed a second tree in the front—I thought the little girl was enough but…
Afterward I walked back to the car with the first painting and noticed the abstract pattern of the lake behind the pine trees and the forest beyond. I found the best spot to take advantage of this and set up for a 12 x12″. This one went together quickly and again I just had to include some of the bathers and picnickers to give it the flavor that it had.
I was pleased with both and also with the new Centurion Linen that I used for the boards. I bought a 60 x 6 yard roll from Jerry’s on the web and it was delivered in four days—for free plus 25% off. Nice slick surface that I really like and for me makes all the difference. Let’s me slide the brush around and the oil primed surface is so much less absorbent than gesso. Let’s face it, this is not a cheep vocation so you must look for the best equipment at the best price. I’ve settled into making my own boards and this saves me a lot of money and I’m use to using canvas but I just love the look that the linen gives me. It’s a bit more but I think it’s worth it.
Sunday I headed to the river and ended up over near Willio Rd. in Roswell. I’ve been here quit a few times before and the reason is there is a good deck you can set up on with view up and down the river. You do have to put up with fisherman though—they think they own the place but in the end usually warm up to the weird guy painting. I did a view looking south with one of the scull boats very common and then I did a close in view of the woods directly across the river. This was a bit different for me without anything but the water and the trees. I had to work hard , but in the end I think it’s the best of the weekend.
I love to paint house portraits. Especially 1800′s style southern classic revival homes. I’ve done so many that I’ve become an expert at the form. The way the fluted columns set outside the corners of the roofs, the classic “golden rectangle ” proportions and white on white clapboard. I love the way they reflect the lavish lawns that so often surround them making them green at the bottom and lavender as they reach for the sky. This one was painted about a month ago in Roswell on Canton Rd. It’s Naylor Hall and is now used for wedding receptions and special occasions. This information is from the website.
“Built in the 1840′s by Barrington King for H.W. Proudfoot and his wife, Euphemia. Mr. King, son of Roswell’s founder, employed Mr. Proudfoot as a bookkeeper in his newly constructed Roswell Mills, which would later become famous in its own right for its production of Roswell Grey cloth used in Confederate uniforms.
Reportedly, in anticipation of Sherman’s march, huge supplies of Confederate uniforms were taken from the mill and secretly stored at Naylor Hall. In the summer of 1864, the Proudfoot’s home was heavily damaged by Federal troops. After occupation, Proudfoot began to rebuild. He remained with the mill, and in his home, until his death in 1871.
In the late 1930′s Colonel Harrison Broadwell purchased the property, naming it Naylor Hall in honor of his wife’s family. He also added the columns, the handcrafted woodwork, and the portico encompassing the original structure.”
Like so many homes in the Roswell downtown area it is tied to Civil War history and fortunate to have been cared for and restored over many generations and many owners.
This last weekend I drove down both Saturday and Sunday to the Atlanta History Center. This is the location of the Swan House, a magnificent neo classical house designed and built in the early thirties. It features a huge cascading fountain in the front yard that ties the whole structure in the hillside. I’m not a fan of of “neo” anything as a whole but this IS one romaticly beautiful place and worth the trip alone. And there is so much more to see and do. I painted a straight on view of the house —sort of a homage. Not much in the way of composition but with the back light the whole front was bathed in a wonderful reflective green glow of the grass. In the afternoon I moved around to the back of the house for this view of an vintage Hudson sedan they park near the back entrance. I took a look inside and was amazed at the level of detail in the ceilings and a very graceful and romantic winding staircase. It would be a nice place to set up and do an interior.
On Sunday I painted a view of the Smith Family Farm which in it’s entirety has been relocated from and area outside of town. About six buildings including a quaint farmhouse, a dog trot barn, a slave cabin and more. I painted a view from the barn looking at the house. My wife has a thing for sheep so when I heard them on baying all day Saturday I decided to make an effort to capture them in paint. This worked out well with a L shaped composition and key change from dark to light. The only problem I had was the lack of wool on the shorn sheep.
Later in the day I wondered down into the gardenS for this view of a small waterfalls on the property. Not much water flowing and I think I took this about 40 minutes to far…sometimes I just cant accept a quick effortless painting— just have to make it hard.
All this, and by the way they have a museum too!
Painted w/Leon Holmes after a few cocktails
Over the last few weeks I’ve been painting quite a bit but have no time for the blog. If you’re like me you’d rather see the work anyway so I will upload some the paintings I’ve done. The first group were done with Leon Holmes on his last day here in the US. We spent the day at Vickery Creek here in Roswell along with a great dinner at Salt in Roswell, finishing up with a nocturnes afterward.
The is second group of two plein airs were done on Hembree Rd. in Roswell. There is a stretch of somewhat undisturbed rural beauty consisting of a few early home and a small farm. This is a spot that has been on my list for sometime now.
Hembree Road Farm
Hembree Road Cottage
Painted on Labor Day Weekend in Mountain Park
Memorial Day weekend I spent a a day out at Moutain Park painting this 8 x16 of the lake and Sunday near the railroad tracks on Canton Rd. for this view of a concrete factory
An escape from trees and greens
Last Saturday I drove out to Dacula GA for the third installment of the Gwinnett Parks Plein Air. A lot of driving, even more walking and a bit of painting produced this 12 x16 that takes a bit of a turn for me in that I used a small knife for a lot of it. I’ve been meaning to try this for some time—finally got the nerve.
A very rare long view here in GA
This last week I’ve been working on paintings for the Atlanta Zoo’s Art Gone Wild Event. I will put a post together on this after the auction on Saturday night.
Several years ago I became acquainted with Leon Holmes through the Plein Air Artists site run by good friend, Don Maier. Leon is from Perth, Australia on the far west side of that faraway continent. I’ve always admired his work and his knack for self promotion. It’s not over the top or offensive, just rather smart. He spends most of his time now in Munich Germany smitten by a young gal that he is now engaged too. I’ve often invited him to stay with me if he was ever in the states and he took me up on that late last month on his way to the Forgotten Coast Plein Air Event.
I picked him up at Hartsfield/Jackson Airport on a Monday night the 30th of April and put him up for a few days before he left for the show in Apalachicola. Of course, I wanted to go along, but it’s an invitational and no one invited me! Leon met Lori Putnam at the similar Art in the Open Festival in Ireland last year. She thought he might enjoy it and she was right. We’ve been back and forth with emails for several months arranging the details and came up with a plan . Since I could not attend, I found a fellow painter David Boyd who lives just South of Atlanta who was also attending and we made arrangements for Leon to catch a ride with him down to Florida. In between we spent a day getting some painting boards made. Using my new table saw we cut up several sheets of mahogany ply and instead of covering them with canvas as I do, Leon opted for sanding them and using a few coats of warm colored shellac. I’ve heard of this but never tried it— It certainly was easier and cheaper. I was busy but I work out of my house and even though we didn’t get much chance to paint together we had good time working on the preparations for the show. Of course I was insanely jealous—10 days painting along the Gulf Coast in Florida! It’s something I’m working toward—maybe next year. Everything worked out well and we were able to drive down the night before and drop him off at David’s house in Newnan. Boyd is a heck of a painter —I knew all about him because I’m a plein air nerd and discovered his blog and web site years ago. He uses a mix of brush and knife in a lot of his recent work that gives it a unique look. If it’s possible he’s even more of a maniac than I and has had a lot of recent success—rightfully so. I hope to get down to Newnan for a painting visit soon.
So I packed Leon off to Florida and got back to my everyday work. Each day I checked in to the Facebook page and the web site for news about the events going on. Leon was an instant hit of course. His easy, relaxed manner and creativity won the day, and then there’s that hat! After winning the Quick Draw he proceeded to paint nearly two dozen works and sold most of them. Honestly, I think he shocked a lot of the more established painters. Dave too did very well and when they reluctantly returned home I made my way down to pick Leon up for his return trip to Europe.
Of course, he was as excited as I was for him. We spent that morning painting in Newnan before we left garnering even more success when the owner of the house we painted bought both our paintings on the spot. So we both were flying high as we got back to Marietta in the afternoon. The next day I played hookie and we went painting at the falls on Vikery Creek. After dinner and a few beers in Roswell we both did night street scenes just down from the restaurant. Wednesday I arranged a ride down to the Airport for Leon and about noon we parted with a handshake and a hug. It was my pleasure to meet Leon— thankful to call him a good friend and hope to see him next year.
This last weekend I visited Savannah for the first time (5/2-4) Looks to me like a huge oversight. It’s Charleston without the snoots. My wife and I drove down and stayed in the Hilton while watching our newest grandchild Matilda while her mother and and father attended a wedding in near by Blufton SC. We went down Friday and came back on Sunday so I only got in one full day of painting but still did three and a fourth was left for some studio work.
What an interesting place, with park like squares spaced every few blocks on a grid pattern. Thousands of places to paint including the riverside with all it commercial traffic. Saturday I walked down to the river and set up looking west to catch one of the big container ships that dock there and unload their cargo. I caught a big orange example under the beautiful delicate suspension bridge that frames the city. While I was painting I had several people stop bye and gave out a few cards. A few hours was all I needed to catch this view and I moved on to a street view of some of the tunnels reaching back into the city from the old wharfs along River Street. The weather grew cloudy here and I put up with a bit of rain but finished this view as the sun broke back out to stay. As I worked on this a group of photographers worked with a B&B band on photo shoot in the tunnels and several times they broke into songs rocking out and amazing me with a four girls singing back up for a guy with a great falsetto. This painting ended up being a bit dark—still playing with it.
Later I hiked to Forsythe Park —on a recommendation that it was the nicest in town. Well, my vote would go to Chippewa Square with the Daniel Chester French sculpture of James Oglethorpe. Forsythe is actually a park anyway. While there I just had to paint the famous fountain and I was trying to finish up when I got told to leave because the place was rented out for a wedding. I pulled over to the side and watched as a good looking couple vowed up. Lather I heard that this was only one of 47 weddings in town that day! That evening when I got back I set up on the balcony of the hotel for a quick 12 x24 of the sunset over the city, I’m still working on this painting. A woman I met Saturday called me on my cell Sunday morning as we were packing up and said she wanted to buy the boat painting so I met her outside the hotel—paid for half my trip! I’m playing catch up here as a few weeks have passed since but I can tell you Savannah is one place I’ll return too.
Yesterday a woman came up to me while I was out painting and said “Oh how blissful —you must be so relaxed” Well, not really—it’s work. I look at it that way. I have long way to go to get to my objective. Painting is rarely relaxing for me. I’m working out problems, getting things roughed in, trying to catch the light, finishing up. In essence, plain and simple I’m working. I love it, but it’s not relaxing. Many people don’t understand this, other painters do. This kind of attitude makes it easier to sustain my level of commitment, I have a job to do and I’m going to get it done—the best I can.
This weekend I painted at least 20 hours. If I was doing it full time I shudder to think the hours I would put in. The weather has been glorious —so make hay while the sun shines! Saturday I went back over to McFarlane Park with a composition I did a sketch of last week when I was there early in the morning. The shadow of the fence leads you right up to the brightly lit farmhouse bracketed by those huge ginkos. This is 12 x15 and I think I took it just a bit too far, the shadows are bit dark too. Not so with the the other I did later in the day, a view up Farm Road featuring a white fringe tree. The color of this tree was a phosphorescent pale green—striking! And the little 9 x12 went together quickly and just the way I saw it.
Later in the day I repainted one that I started a week back. It’s a view though a gate towards the stable on the property. It’s 12 x12″ and I used an oval composition with the branches of the overhead tree and shadows below completing the circular flow. Although better than it was, is not as impromptu as I like, that’s hard to master—I’m working at it!
Sunday morning I wanted to do a construction scene and I found this almost new diesel shovel near by at a new home site. It ends up being a portrait with not much composition involved. Still I enjoy doing this kind of thing if only for the color and change of subject. In the afternoon I drove over to Mountain Park with the idea that the clouds would be pretty good. I worked on a rather large 18 x 24″ for nearly five hours. I was thinking it was done but when I got it home it just had no life to it so I’ll drive back over and give it some more light next time. The clouds were the focus of this and I was a bit too subtle here. Just got to hit ‘em over the head with it. Might of been better to go vertical with it but I could not set up far enough back.
Fellow painter Leon Holmes is coming in this evening from Munich on his way to FLA for the Forgotten Coast gig. It will be fun to meet him. I’ll catch you up next time.
Nearly two years ago I was looking for places to paint and ended up at McFarlane Park in Cobb County. Since then I’ve spent many sessions recording how this quiet unspoiled landscape looks at all times of the year. With spring in full bloom and a show planned for October I went back over to this farm park to see how it looked. I was greeted by a mix of flowering trees, red bud, dogwood and cheery all in their prime.
I was attracted to the red bud, a wispy dark barked tree with intensely redish purple blooms. The white fences that surround the front acreage are quite wonderful and frame up views and accent others. I set up and worked on a view down a path to one of the out buildings, a stable like structure with white clapboard. Just a perfect bit of structure to ad to this colorful landscape. I worked on a 12 x15″ — an odd size but I love it. A bit bigger than 9 x12 and little more square, Just about everything I do this size works. The problem is framing it. I had one made at JFM with a linen mat and I used it in the Marietta show. I’ll need to buy several more before my shows in August and October.
After about three hours on this view I set up a did a 9 x12 vertical of a magnificent dogwood on the property. I love dogwoods but struggle with them because they have delicate bent limbs and are sparsely flowered. The lace like appearance is easy to cover up with too many booms. You have to be very careful to not overdue it. I’ve painted the one in my back yard many time and am still not satisfied. Later in the week I tried again on an evening after dinner. Still not sure this is successful—at least I’m aware of the problem.
The following weekend 4/11-13 I was back over to McFarlane on Friday morning with a old college friend Kathy Gray-Farthing who was in town for a Photoshop conference and had the morning off to paint with me. It was great to see her and we painted the same building from the opposite side. This time the forest floor was covered with a carpet of Blue Bells and occasional Yellow Corn Flowers— Quite mesmerizing. I got a good start on it Friday but we had no sun so when the next day it was gloriously sunny and warm I went back over and put in some more hours on in.
This next weekend begins the Gwinnett Parks Plein Air Challenge, a show that I’ve participated in twice without finishing in the money. It’s a long drawn out affair that last all summer with four sessions at parks in Gwinnett culminating with a show and final judging in September. With not much else going on locally I still was eager to give it another go. Lot’s of very good painters will be competing and a win would be a great achievement. We’ll see. I’ll post my first work from Alexander Park next week. Happy painting.