Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014... The End!

Yes, I'm sad this is over.  What artist doesn't want a month to do Nothing but paint uninterrupted,  with orders (from self) not to let Anything stop them?  I feel very lucky that I was able to have a month like this. Painting isn't over, of course.  But choosing when to paint is how I will be proceeding from here on out.  And guess what?  It won't be those perfect, blue bird days.  I've come to enjoy the adversity that Nature throws at us.  But I've always known that, and have never been a fan of 'perfect' days.  'Perfect'... is a matter of personal taste.  Perfect is good for beach chairs and umbrella drinks, not for painting the moods of Mother Nature.  The hardest days, like when I was a little under the weather and thought I was coming down with the full blown winter cold and flu, and had to out in the 40-55 mph winds, are the days when there is nothing going on out there except lot's of sun and blue skies.  I will write more about all of this in time.

Today I went back to Sawhill Ponds near Gunbarrel.  After being tossed out of it's sister wildlife area yesterday, I was eager to walk back into it to explore the ponds.  These were all gravel pits at one time, now reclaimed as wildlife habitat.  Since I've lived here, they have not been full of water, but are this year.  And it's a real treat to be able to explore, observe and paint them.  The ponds there are full to the brim and the reeds, weeds, trees and brush are all looking wonderfully wild and like perfect nesting habitat for the many species of waterfowl that are already there pairing up.  Of course that means that hawks (evidence of a duck kill, a plucked duck, by a raptor greeted me first thing on the trail this morning), owls and other fur bearers, like the beavers, are having a nice life right now too.

I'm a BIG fan of wetlands, marshes, swamps and that kind of habitat.  This area of Colorado is not overflowing with that kind of habitat.  My favorite memories of fishing, hunting, exploring, and painting, during my years in Minnesota, are of plying my way around areas like the river bottoms between Wabasha, MN and Nelson, WI, on the lower Mississippi River in my canoe, or fishing boat.  This is where the cradle of so much of the marvelous bird life we have to see is nurtured and raised.  Everything, but a desert tortoise, loves wet, marshy lands.  I'm no exception.

Knowing the complexity of all of that vegetation is, I decided to make it a pastel day.  Reason is that with pastels I can really dive into all of the calligraphy, detail and textural qualities that is there.  It was an absolutely gorgeous morning, no wind, some clouds, sun.  The best laid plans...

About 3/4th's of the way through my first painting "Habitat 1", out of no where the freight train wind that barrels down the eastern slope of the foothills, hit me square in the back, sending my 'working' pastel palette and a pastel pencil container... flying!  It almost took my entire pastel easel and set up over the edge of the bank I was painting near.  The working palette, for those who don't know, is a separate palette that we use to put the pastels in that we are using on the painting of the moment.  Mine this morning had about 25 or 30 small pieces of pastel in it.  When the wind took it, it went into the weeds, where the pastels are perfectly camouflaged.  I found about half of them, but many were lost.  That's not as bad as having the entire pastel box blow over, but I was still pretty peeved.  I finished up that painting and fought the wind for dominance while packing up my gear, then hiked back to the van.

Big No No... never take your oil painting gear out of your vehicle just because you're not using it... or think you won't!  I left mine at home.  Whew...!  Drove back, picked it up, and went back to Sawhill for the rest of the day.  The wind had died down by now, could have used the pastels.  Murphy's Law firmly in place.  It was still windy some, so I was glad not to have to worry about dumping pastels again.

I decided that I was going to stand  in the same spot for the rest of the day, and paint portions of the wetland habitat that was in front of me.  It's so beautiful this time of year, but SO complex... it's almost scary.  Instead of trying to explain it all, that would be nearly impossible, and instead of taking the other approach and generically rendering it with big blobs of color, I really tried hard to pay attention to my 'impression' of what was in front of me, and to let my need to explain, leave me.  I had a ball painting this way.  Maybe, finally, on the final day, I have discovered something about myself and my painting that is going to make the entire month worthwhile!  It's worthwhile for many more reasons than just that.  But I feel like I had an epiphany today.  I have to think more about that before I try to really write it out, but will.

I want to thank everyone who has been following me along this month.  I know that there are many who I have not communicated with who are reading and looking in... Thank You!  And to all of you who've commented, purchased the paintings, and been wonderfully supportive... Thank You!  I'm not going to write much more right now, but will in the near future, about what I found out, what I learned, and more.

For now, it's been a fun way to spend February.  I'm going to miss it... but am looking forward to a more relaxed March, like you wouldn't believe!

Thank you again for looking in... Enjoy!

2-28-1 "Habitat 1"
Pastel - 8x10

2-28-2 "Habitat 2"
Oil - 8x10

2-28-3 "Habitat 3"
Oil - 8x10

2-28-4 "Habitat 4"
Oil - 8x10


Susan Lynn said...

Mark, it has been so inspiring to watch your journey through this month. These last four are my absolute favorites. I hope you are feeling an incredible high right now.

And I hope you'll be painting at Door this year - Dick & I will be there!

Linda M. Epstein said...

Perhaps not for you, but wow how the month flew! Thanks for taking us all along for the ride. Seeing you go out, literally and embrace this new area under such conditions, well, hurrah for you.

Opened your blog from my top-sites and was sad to read it is over, huh? But it is the end of the month, it was wonderful to follow, thanks!

Carol Horzempa said...

Marc, I really enjoyed following your journey! You've inspired me to try some plein air painting at a nearby swamp here is Wisconsin. Of course I am not as hardy as you and will wait until spring.

Doug Malin said...

Mark: That was an incredible journey… long days, adversity, rewards… a great "story"… extraordinary paintings… and very inspiring. Thank you! You are one of the greats! Doug and Angie

James M Coulgter said...

Well done Marc! I have shared a similar experience when I sold all my belongings and moved into a 20' travel trailer with my dog Romeo. We traveled full time for 3 years from AZ up thru CO, WY, MT, and then over to the West Coast to Oregon and CA. We camped in the forest campgrounds most of time. No TV, phone, or computer to interrupt. I finally got one of those "Box Phones" the second year. I really accelerates you artist skills and connects a person to NATURE.

Anita Stephenson said...

Dear Marc,
I have been watching and reading all month, and am totaly awestruck and always I have to say that you are so awesome and so hardworking. You deserve to paint like you do, you have made the committment to do so, and it shows! Thanks so uch for sharing!

annie compton said...

Thank you thank you
It has been a pleasure to follow your days ( and days) work
Know you are glad to have done the job you set out to do
But I will miss the evenings treat of your work and comments
You and your work are pretty Inspirational, kid

miek said...

How very lovely, that Habitat 1!!
Thank you for letting me be part of your adventure. Wish I was living close, so I could join your workshops. But Holland is too far.

Jane Ward said...

Thank you so much for sharing each day of your magical month of painting and also the natural wilderness it's been a joy.
Lovely to know through your words and paintings it is all inspired work by nature.

Laurel Daniel said...

CONGRATULATIONS, MARC!!! It has been complete and utter joy watching your vision come to life. I would love to see the whole body of work together in the show. You are incredible. Truly.

John Fleck said...

Habitat 1 has a wonderful George Inness quality to it.

I have looked forward every evening to seeing your work for the day. Very inspiring!

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thank you so very much everyone! It was a tough month at times, but to be truthful, I looked forward to every day out there painting. Except for a short period where I was on the edge of coming down with an illness, thank goodness for Zicam and Emergen-C, it was a treat and privilege to be out there all month.

I'm feeling ready to catch up on bookwork, get this show up and viewed, then back to painting. This is such a great time of year to be out painting, I want to be sure not to miss it.

I'll see you and Dick in Door, Susan! That's great, can't wait to see you guys again.

After I get a few things caught up, and have had a little time to digest the month, reach some semi-conclusions about it, I will write up a post of my thoughts about it all. The practical issues, the inspirational issues, and what I think I took from it.

Many thanks... Marc

Christine Lashley said...

Marc loved it all! And you are a good writer to boot. Your work is so inspiring. Thanks for doing this incredible project. Hope to paint with you again soon at a plien air event.

Unknown said...

It has been wonderful to follow! I admire not only your stamina but your wonderful work! Thank you for sharing this, it is inspiring!