On New Years Resolutions and Goals

I am not much for New Year’s resolutions. Usually they fall by the wayside before spring ever appears. However, last year I set for myself a goal to establish a relationship and start showing in two new galleries. I could have set a goal for more, but I wanted to ensure a moderate progression so that I can create and show my best work without stretching my limits.

I did reach my goal fairly early in the year, in somewhat unexpected ways. I don’t want to discourage gallery seeking artists, but it seems when I approach a new gallery with the usual portfolio, slides, materials, etc. it rarely works.

My first gallery encounter was a close call. At the beginning of the year, I usually send out refrigerator calendar magnets with one of my paintings on it. Last year I sent out magnets with a painting I did of Mt Hood, shown below.

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I decided to send a few to some galleries in Portland Oregon (close to Mt Hood) I found just by surfing the internet, just to see what might happen. One gallery in Portland Oregon, probably one of the better of the lot, received one of my calendar magnets & loved my work. They wanted to see some small originals. Usually when I get to this point, it is a shoe-in. Alas, when they got the originals, they liked them, but said they were ‘too close’ to what another artist in the gallery did, so no go. There is a case that several similar artists can create a synergy and boost sales, but I didn’t argue the point.

The first gallery I actually got in called me! It was a new gallery at South Shore Lake Tahoe, and they had seen my work at James Harold Galleries in North Shore Lake Tahoe. Since the galleries were fairly close, I checked with Hal at James Harold Galleries, and he said he had no problem with the proximity, and in fact might increase sales. At any rate, my work can now be seen at Tahoe Village Art Gallery. Below is a painting currently showing there.

Cave rock lake tahow

The second gallery came along unexpectedly, also. Carmel by the Sea is a little over an hours drive from my home and is one of the art meccas in the United States. There are upwards of 90 galleries in that small town. I never made a real effort to approach galleries there, but had been trying to develop some friendly relationships with some gallery owners over the past several years.

I made a visit to Carmel in early May as a precursor to the Carmel Art Festival I would be participating in. The town was fairly quiet as it was mid-week. I walked into one gallery, started talking with the owner, and before I knew it, he asked if I wanted to show there, pending his artist wife’s approval. Things worked out, and I brought a number of works down the following week. The gallery is Sandy-by-the-Sea, and according to them, I am probably their top seller. Below is a painting currently showing there.

Pescadero coastline

Well, after all this, I am setting a goal of at least one more gallery for 2008. I doubt they will ‘plop in my lap’ like the last two, but you never know.

Nomadas del Arte

I received a pleasant surprise in the mail today. I have been honored to participate in the 2008 Nomadas del Arte plein air show this coming year. This recently inaugurated plein air show is somewhat unique as the artists have the entire year of 2008 to come up with two plein air paintings. From their web site:

It is the goal of NÏŒmadas del Arte to bring together two hundred of the best nomad artists working en plein air today to exhibit in one show. Nomadas Del Arte is unique in that artists may complete their paintings at any time during the paint out year in six southwestern states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas or Utah. Four hundred paintings created for NÏŒmadas del Arte will be exhibited for sale in the spring of the next year at a different gallery each year.

The exhibit for the show will be at the Southwest Gallery in Dallas, Texas in April of 2009. Nothing like planning ahead!

The year long ‘paint-out’ really takes the pressure off of doing a good painting in a short period of time which is what most plein air shows require, however, I sometimes work best under pressure! Of course, since I live in California, I will have to travel to complete the paintings. I have immediate family in both Colorado and Texas, plus Nevada is not too far away, so I don’t think that will be much of a chore! I think the trick here will be avoiding procrastinating and waiting until the last minute to do the paintings!

I always like to put some kind of image in each of my blog posts, so below is a painting from the last plein air event I was in, The Seasons of Martis, which won the “Peoples Choice Award”.

truckee river

Big Sandy, Texas, Long Time Friends and a Painting

This might be a long story, and somewhat personal, but here goes….

I just returned from a week long trip visiting my parents in Big Sandy, Texas. I previously had lived there 15 years from the time I was thirteen years of age, and left in 1978. Big Sandy has been of note lately primarily because Lovie Smith, head coach of the Chicago Bears grew up there…and no, to all you Bears fans, I didn’t know him as we went to different schools and were not quite contemporary.

My father, a minister, college professor, executive director of an international charity organization, among many other things, also lived there off and on over the years. When he retired, or at least semi-retired from the ministry, my parents eventually returned and settled there close to where my sister lives. For them, it is a relatively inexpensive place to live and many friends are still in the area.

We visited them last August to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. I decided to go back solo this time just to spend some time with them and chew up some frequent flyer miles.

Several months ago, the church my father attends, and occasionally speaks, approached me about donating a painting to hang in the church building which was currently under construction. All the church officials and many of the congregation are long time friends of mine.

I don’t readily advertise it, but I am regularly asked to donate paintings for charity and non-profit fund raising, and I generally oblige to those I am acquainted. Usually it is a small painting they can auction off to raise money for some good cause. In the case of this donation, after some exchanging of emails, they wanted a large painting in the entry way. It wasn’t too hard for me to agree and I sent them photos of 3 or 4 paintings which I thought might work. Out of the lot, they readily chose my first recommendation, which turned out to be a 40×30 canvas of Cascade Canyon in Teton National Park.

This little story finally gets to the point of this post. The church sponsored an informal reception in my honor in the new church building to unveil the painting. The event was last Tuesday, and to my surprise probably 50 people attended, many of them long time friends, and some I had not seen in years. Among the attendees was Wiley Black, my high school English teacher, but also an artist. He encouraged my artistic endeavors at a young age and I attribute much of my early interest in art to him. Below are some pictures of the reception.

I gave a little talk before the unveiling.

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My parents did the actual unveiling of the painting.

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My parents and me.

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Wiley Black, my high school English teacher and art mentor.

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I could not have imagined a better home for “Cascade Canyon” and hope the congregation enjoys it for years to come.

Carmel and Big Sur Postscript…Sadly

Yesterday’s blog was about a wonderful and unique day at Big Sur. Storms in the Pacific Northwest sent ferociously high surf down the coast and created a unique situation for many of us by the California coast. After almost 30 years living in the area, I have never seen the coast quite like it. It was a unique painting experience.

The wonderful surf I enjoyed painting yesterday, also a surfers ‘paradise’, was also deadly for one highly experienced surfer, and dangerous for many others. The news of the waves and tragedy, plus the many rescues, was one of the top stories in the local newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News. You can read about it here.

The surfer, Peter Davi, drowned while we were painting not much more than 10 miles north of where we were. My condolences to the family and friends.

I searched through my photo archives and found a photo at one of the same spots we stopped just to take a picture yesterday. Here is an older photo when things were calm–

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Here is a photo in almost the same spot from yesterday…remember there is no fog, just mist kicked up by the violent surf —

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Once again, sorrows to Peter Davi, friends and family.

Carmel and Big Sur

Sandy-by-the-Sea Gallery in Carmel wanted a few more of my miniatures, so I took a day trip to Carmel to drop off paintings and do a little plein air work. Nick White, one of my good plein air painting buddies came along. I decided I wanted to paint along the Big Sur coast in the afternoon rather than my usual morning stints, so we left around mid morning.

We arrived in Carmel around 11:00 and stopped by the gallery to drop off 5 small paintings, including one I just did at Elkhorn Slough, shown below.

Elkhorn Slough

Misty Elkhorn * 8×16 * Oil on board

After lunch, we headed down the coast to scout out a place to paint. What a wonderful day!! A large northwestern storm had sent huge swells down the coast and the entire Big Sur area looked like a sea of churning whipped cream. This same storm system was pounding Washington and Oregon with floods, even closing Interstate Highway 5.  I remarked to Nick that what looked like fog was actually mist kicked up from the churning water. The waves were probably 15 to 20 feet high and the ocean churn probably went over a quarter mile out.

We were at the southernmost tip of this storm system, so the sun was peeking in and out of the cloud cover. The painting mood today was definitely misty, gray, churning coastline! What a great time to paint!  Below is a shot from where we painted.

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I had been doing a number of 8×16 paintings lately and really enjoyed the change from some of the more standard plein air sizes. With the grand panoramas before me, today was a good day to paint in that horizontally elongated size again. I set up fairly close to my car with a nice camping chair to occasionally rest and spare my back, so we painted for a couple hours.
Below is a shot of my easel with Nick painting down the hill a bit.

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Here is me beside my easel and painting.

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This is a quick snapshot of the painting sitting on my easel, the snapshot a poor representation of the painting, definitely a keeper, but maybe needs a little further touch-up.  I’ll try to get a better image in the next couple days.

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We finished around 2:30 and then drove further down the coast for some picture taking and general sight seeing. We went as far as Bixby Creek Bridge, shown below. Notice what looks like fog in the background is actually mist kicked up by the surf.

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All too soon, it was time to head home. What a great day trip!!