Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Fall!

This week I painted outside at Arcola Mills, a beautiful location on the St Croix River inbetween Marine on St Croix and Stillwater, MN that is open to the public for the month of October. Needless to say the painters are showing up to take advantage of this. I painted Monday by myself but then painted with Tony Hilscher on Tuesday and with Kami Polzin on Wednesday.

The color along the river up here is surprisingly still green. The make up of the tree population, mostly soft maples that survive the seasonal floods, has something to do with it. I'm interested in seeing if they ever do peak out or simply succumb to the season and just drop their leaves.

Yesterday I took out a new pastel rig that I plan to use for field painting to try out. It's just a shelf that I made of 1/4" ply wood that leverages on my tripod legs to hold the pastel box (a Dakota travels size box) and a board that attaches to my quick release plate for the tripod. It worked beautifully so I plan to have the dust sticks out more often now. I'll take some shots of the easel and get it on here soon.

I hope you are all enjoying the Fall... it's been an amazing one here. I'll be heading off to Fredericksburg, TX next week to help celebrate the opening of R.S.Hanna Gallery (and the wine festival of course), and then onto Scottsdale, AZ where I'll be teaching a pastel 'Field to Studio' workshop October 31- November 4 for the Scottsdale Artists' School. By the way, I think that there are probably still openings for that one if you're interested.

'ARCOLA FADING GREENS' oil - 12x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This one has already been posted here but it's part of the past week so...
I like the square format and am going to do more of them. I have a couple of these 12x12's sitting in the studio now and a couple of 24x24's as well. This day I was dealing with the fall season that still looked like August or earlier. The greens were quite gray, a challenge.

'ARCOLA GLARE' oil - 9x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Today Tony Hilscher and I just happened to show up at the same time to paint, so we did. As soon as I walked to the river the blast of light from the rising sun said to me... Paint that! It's a challenge that I hope to conquer some day. Was a beautiful day to paint.

'SLIVER OF LIGHT' oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I was lucky to meet Kami here today to paint. We were both talking about the lack of color in the trees, they should have been warmer than they were. There was some cloud cover in the sky on this morning so I thought that I'd back off of my view from the day before and try to capture that overall atmosphere. This is a very simple design, it's all about the sliver of light that broke through onto the surface of the water. I grabbed that right away and am glad I did because before long the entire surface of the river was once again a bright reflection.

'BLUSTERY OCTOBER DAY' pastel - 8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Yesterday I took out the pastels. I'm going to be teaching a pastel workshop as I mentioned in a couple of weeks so I wanted to test out my new easel rig and get the groove going with the dust sticks. Good thing too... for half an hour I felt like a total newbie to pastel. I've been sloshing around oil paints with goofy brushes so much lately that it took some time to get back into the careful and controlled way of working required with the pastels. Things like not having the color you want, but remembering that I can mix colors on the surface, wipe them down, layer back over again and I may end up with something similar to what I'm looking for. My rig worked beautifully too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Since Kansas some local Fall!

Since Kansas I've been in withdrawals but have also been out either painting or photographing our own magnificent fall color. The last couple of years I've been out of the area, San Miguel de Allende and Cape Cod, each fall during the peak of the color. I don't realize what that means until winter sets in and I'm anxious to revisit Fall in the studio and am at a loss because I didn't do my homework in either paint or pics or both! It is here and gone so fast that there's always a little conflict between painting two or three paintings or painting a taste of it and then taking several hundred photos. If I had my wish, I'd never step inside with a paintbrush again... everything would be painted outside on location. But we all know the things that step inbetween wishes and reality when it comes to outdoor painting.

Like this past week... I painted the painting below "Lake View" and it was as perfectly calm and gorgeous as you can imagine a Fall day to be. That was it, that day was the one. Good thing that I painted two paintings that day... that painting and "Oak Grove"... because the following three days came with quite a wind. Gusts up to 45 mph one of those days did a number on all of the leaves that had changed over and they're down now. The beauty is still out there to be savored, but there is something about walking into the maple forest at peak and being enveloped by the veil of golden light that cannot be photographed no matter how hard you try.

Ending this, I'm happy that I was here during the peak this year. I have enough inspiration stored within me and on my flashcard to last most of the winter. I hope that you were all able to make it out into the beautiful fall that seems to be surrounding most of the country this year too.

'Lake View' - oil - 11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I was lucky to be invited to paint on the property of some friends who live on a lake with a beautiful woodland not far from me. Everything was perfect this day, the light, the wind, and the temps. Not to mention that the Fall leaves were at peak and still all affixed to the branches! What a treat to be able to be outside at times like this it is.

'Oak Grove' - oil - 8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
In the afternoon, following a lot of photographing in Wisconsin in the Interstate Park, I wandered back over into my neighborhood. There is an oak savannah near me that captures my eye every single time that I drive past it. It's on a corner of two intersecting roads that I turn onto every single time I leave town to drive south or west of here. This day the oaks were alive with color and I finally had to stop and try to grab it. I also want to paint this in winter, and will. The problem is that this is a large area of large oaks and some maples and putting that on an 8"x10" canvas hardly begins to make the statement about the impact that this location has on me visually. I hesitate to say how big the canvas for this location should be...

"Arcola Fading Greens" - oil - 12x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
We're lucky that one of the nicest pieces of property on the St Croix River is now open to the public for one month. This is not the case normally although many of us from the area have been able to paint it some in the past. The Minnesota State Park System is manning it with rangers and volunteers until October 30th from 9am-5pm. The turn out has been enormous from what they were telling me this morning. It would be incredible if this property became open on a regular basis. It's very special and provides a different view of the river than is available elsewhere. The color is not as advanced down in the river valley as it is along the hillsides. I guess the warmth of the water keeps things slightly delayed, and many of the trees are soft maples and they don't turn to the brilliant golds and reds of their hillside cousins the sugar and red maples. It was still a very nice morning until the sun faded away, and I met some nice folks who were there for the programs that the park provide to the public. I'll be back.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Painting in the Flint Hills of Kansas!

I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend Kim Casebeer to come and paint the Flint Hills of Kansas with a group of very fine fpainters last week, September 29 - October 2, 2011. Along to paint was Cally Krallman, Phil Starke, John Potoschnick, Susan Lynn, Dick Sneary, Joseph Loganbill, Debra J. Groesser, Judith Mackey, Michael Albrechtson, Kim and yours truly. We stayed at the Flying 'W' Ranch, a working cattle and dude ranch owned and operated by Josh and Gwen Hoy. We had wonderful facilities, bunk houses and Josh is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) trained chef so the food was amazing and welcomed each morning and evening.

We had the most unbelievably good weather, warm and no wind for the three full days we painted. Not a cloud either... we were wishing that one of those would show up to break up the pure blue sky. The color at this time of the year was rich and full of the warmer side of the palette and a treat to paint. Kansas surprised my notion of what I would find there, that being a notion that it would be flat and agricultural. There's plenty of that, but the Flint Hills contain a huge amount of woodland riparian habitat that is broken by prairie and some agriculture. It's a great combination of textures, vistas, color and elevation change for painting. There is something about the vast open landscape and a near absence of any sounds other than grasshoppers and birds that I love. I really enjoyed myself there and am going to be sure to include it as a painting location again soon.

I painted a total of 8 paintings, wiped one off. The larger piece here "Morning View of the Flint Hills", a 16x24 oil, was painted for 3 mornings for about an hour or slightly longer each session. The shadows on the hills in the distance disappeared fast as the sun rose. Being that they're about the only thing that gave definition to the landscape, I would only paint for a short period of time while they had some form shadow to them. I guess you could say that I would have painted about 11 or 12 paintings in the 3 days if I had been painting smaller each of those mornings. I'm glad that I took on this one though, and it's not that large, but painting something that is new means learning the language of the land in paint. It's an exploration and period of discovery which slows things down a little bit.

One last thing, if you go there be sure that you have good tires with a large number of plys. The non paved roads are covered in broken, crushed flint and guess what flint is really good for? Making knives and arrow or spear points. They will go through even a good new tire, we found that out with one of the painters vehicle. Driving slow on the roads is a help. For the beauty, it's worth the $13.50 that it cost our painter to have it fixed in Cottonwood Falls where the gentleman spends most of the time fixing "rock slices" in tires.

'Flying W Ranch' oil-8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This was the first painting I did when I arrived on Thursday afternoon. Parked the truck, got out the painting gear, wandered for a few minutes and then painted this one! I love this job.

'Morning View of the Flint Hills' oil-16x24 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I spent 3+ mornings on this painting, about an hour or so per session, like I mentioned above.

'Flint Hills Autumn' oil-12x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
We had unbroken blue skies, which are nice, but for painting it's nice to have some clouds to play with compositionally. In this painting I waited and waited for one to appear, it didn't. Finally a jet flew over at altitude leaving a contrail for me to add to the sky. I probably would have anyway, that or a crow or three. But it's good when they help you out. This was a late morning painting, the landscape becoming quite flat by the time I painted it. I was counting on the design to help hold it together.

'Sunset on the Hills' oil-9x12 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
Josh Hoy loaded us all up in the back of The Plains Drifter, a 1956 grain truck that has had the bed converted to carry guests out into the hills on rides, and we went up to a high point to paint the end of the day. The color was astounding.

'Stock Pond' oil-11x14 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I painted with Michael Albrechtson and John Potoschnick one afternoon on the Magathon Farm. We found some shade around one of the stock ponds on the farm, complete with stock. As we were painting some of the milk cows decided that they liked John and got very close, a noses' distance from him. All of his "Go away cow!" commands didn't do a bit of good. They wanted to watch his magic.

'Mike's Green Day' oil-5x7 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This little monochromatic green painting, painted only with terre verte and white, is the result of a rather mischievous idea that I had for us all to do an 'all green' painting one morning. The reason is that Michael Albrechtson when showing us his work the night before was having a fit over his use of 'green', stemming from, according to him, his having been in the studio for a long period of time. We didn't think he was all that overtaken by green in the work, it looked quite good to us. But to help him along we pulled this little prank and that evening 7 of us laid out our green paintings all at once, much to his surprise and dismay! He got a kick out of it, good natured as he is, and we all had a laugh about it.

'Road to Bazaare, KS' oil-14x18 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
I drove back up to the area where we had painted the sundown piece the night before and found this view to the east that was captivating in it's 'largeness'. This was an interesting painting to me. It's painted quite thin, just enough paint on it to grab the fast moving light and it's color. I used a lot of sketchy strokes, laid down fast and untouched. The effect is one that I like and am finding myself using a little bit here and there since.

'Hot and Bright' oil-8x10 ©2011 Marc R. Hanson
This was my last painting of the trip. I stayed an extra day to get one more morning's work on the larger piece above and then had lunch with some of the group before they departed. Following that I went to explore another area that sounded intriguing... Sharpe's Creek Road. It was a beautiful place. I took a lot of photos but decided to do this one last painting. It was 'hot and bright' and I was tired and ready to hit the road.