Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some New Paintings..................

'Sanctuario, Atotonilco' 8x10 in. oil

'Afternoon Light, Guanajuato' 9x12 in. oil

'Down NearThe Rio' 9x12 in. oil

'Dappled Sunlight' Guanajuato 9x12 in oil

....... and.........

'Edge of the Cornfield' 8x10 in. oil

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some more trees.............

'Toward Don Juan' 8x10 in. oil on panel
Don Juan is a little village on the other side of San Miguel's Presa, whose water level at the moment is way down, giving way to a sea of 'pink weed' in it's place. We spent a nice calm Wednesday morning trying to get those colors just right.

'October Afternoon' 8x10 in. oil on panel
Did this near S.M. Viejo during Donna's plein air class on Monday afternoon. It was a little windy but all was pleasure after we weighted our easels down with lots of rocks. Mexican autumn is a nice time to paint around San Miguel.

'Through to the Valley' 9x12 in. oil on panel
and this one was done on the afternoon of the 'Don Juan" pic.
We'll be going back to this same place on Monday afternoon with Donna's plein air group. It's a great location - sort of a park-like atmosphere, very quiet and totally beautiful. I hope I've done it
some justice. I like Mesquite trees a lot. Somebody said the other day that they find them ugly ............... I think they must be thinking of 'Sweet Acacia's' which are similar but a lot more scraggly and smaller. Mature Mesquites have a lot of personality.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Trees are a challenge ..............

'Pepper Tree and Corn Fields' 8x10 in. oil on panel

'Morning Light - San Miguel Viejo' 9x12 in. oil on panel

Yep, - no doubt about it, trees are a handful to paint! They're interesting. They have character and are a great compositional device. I've always been strongly attracted to them and they have some great varieties down here in Mexico. However, it's one thing to draw a tree or two and it's quite another to paint them convincingly into their surroundings. You don't want to fuss and overwork but you want them to be true to their species and exude lots of tree essence. You want them to be 'airy' ... maybe even move a little in the breeze. The two examples above were done at San Miguel Viejo this week. Donna's plein air group were mostly turned the other direction and did some pretty impressive work on the old church. I figured it was about time I gave that subject a rest, having done it about 5 times now. So I tackled the trees, corn .............and... rock pile ........
The lightly experienced lady beside me (Gail) also took on this challenge and seemed to think I really knew what I was doing the whole time. Well, the truth is we're all learning. I think my results were encouraging but I plan to concentrate my efforts on these tricky lifeforms for a spell.
Also, I've dropped a purely dry brush approach as it seemed to kill spontaneity a bit but I'm leaning on it more as just another technique to exploit when it's appropriate.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some New Work from Out n About

"El Campo - Octubre" 9x12in. oil on panel
We did a lot of plein air work last week out in the campo. This was the last one just outside of town near San Miguel Viejo. I used to like using 'dry brush' technique a lot when I was a kid but I largely drifted away from it as I got older. Well, about 2 weeks ago I decided to revisit it and all last week I was leaning on it more and more. I like the look of it ( a bit like pastel ) and it was really fun, even on location - once I got used to it again. I can't wait to get back out again but at the moment we're about to be hit by hurricane 'Jova'! We won't see the high winds - the mountains tear them up before they get this far inland - but we'll probably get a deluge of rain. It's looking pretty dark and grim at the moment.

'La Cupula Media Naranja' - Neutla
8x10in. oil on panel
........ this one from the little village of Neutla, about 45 minutes from San Miguel. They don't even have a single restaurant in town. It was very, very quiet in Neutla and the people were very, very friendly. They acted at first like we were from Mars but we ended up getting invited for dinner - great little place - we'll be going back for more!

'La Puente - Neutla' 9x12in. oil on panel
Another from the same place - this one actually done in the morning before our move to the central jardin, where I tackled the 'Cupula Naranja'. We had half the village walk by us over the bridge - all wide eyed at their first site of Donna and I with our easels set up. It's hard to believe they're not used to painters by the score setting up here. We didn't see another gringo all day and didn't miss 'em either.

'Desde Arriba' 8x10in. oil on panel
This one was a little closer to home and the first one done on our new 8x10in. plein air kits. The kits were fine but I'm so used to working on 9x12 and up, it's going to take a little getting used to. I designed the smaller ones to fit in the box on the back of the motorcycle so we could carry more panels of that size. But I like to do some detail before I consider a picture complete and I'm finding there seems to be a sort of critical limit to how small you can go and not have 'hand shake' become a significant factor. The new boxes are lighter than ever though and are going to be a great asset when size and weight are a big consideration.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Upcoming Plein Air Painting Workshop Feb. 24th.-Mar. 2nd. 2012

"Back from the Market" 11x15in. watercolor Donna Dickson

"Reflections in Glass" 8x6in. oil Donna Dickson

"Blanca's Patio" 14x18in. watercolor Donna Dickson

"En el Mercado" 9x12in. oil Donna Dickson

Just to let people know that my fellow artist and wife Donna is giving a Plein Air painting workshop here in San Miguel de Allende the week of Feb. 24th. to Mar. 2nd. 2012. She is the best teacher of oils and watercolors in town and her workshop promises to be rewarding, exciting and fun. She knows all the best places to paint and dine and the best hotel choices in town.
If you're interested, check out the details here:

Workshop Details

Thursday, September 8, 2011

.....A Couple of New Ones.........

"Callejon Cruz del Pueblo" 28x22ins. oil on canvas
I always love painting on this calle - no traffic! -it's always quiet and beautiful and the folks who live up there all seem to understand what we're doing. A hard climb to get up there without benefit of taxi but worth it. All you can hear is a distant, white, city noise, overlayed by bird song. I think this painting kind of sums up what I feel about the place.

"Across the Rio Laja" 24x36ins. oil on canvas
This scene is right where the Rio Laja spills into the Presa Allende. The town is actually quite nearby but you'd never know it from over the other side of the river, - another quiet, enchanting place. I was trying very hard to get the air and the passing cloud shadows happening in this one.

Monday, September 5, 2011

View from the "Luna Bar" atop the new Rosewood complex

San Miguel Vista 22x28 ins. oil on canvas
This was a commissioned piece I just finished for Robert and Debbie Burns, done from the Luna Bar on the roof of the new Rosewood complex. The challenge was to say as much as I could about a typical late summer evening with the picture featuring the Parroquia (of course) and those omnipresent summertime thunderheads for background. It's always kind of a toss-up at this time of year as to whether the sun will actually set on a clear horizon, - this particular evening it's going to be too close to call .....................

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

While on the subject of Light ................

"Ex Veritate Lux" oil on canvas 30x40 ins.
...........don't ask why. It's remotely possible that you could bump up against an individual that sincerely feels that visual statements like this have at least some therapeutic value - if only for the painter. Well.... given the boat we're all in, it felt like trying to bail the Titanic with a teacup.
For the dead language challenged (like myself) the title means "From Truth ....... Light".
In case you hadn't noticed, in our present world it's "From Lies ........ Darkness".
You're going to need more than good luck to come out on the bright side of this one.
But ............. now for something a little lighter -

"Centro San Miguel" 9x12 in. oil on panel SOLD
It remains to be great fun to throw color and light at a little board in the streets of San Miguel. Our new studio/gallery is on the upper floor of the yellow building. I think we've got the best view in town!

"En los Portales" oil on panel 14x14 ins.
Yes - more color and light ................ it's what it's all about. Much more fun than the dark stuff.
Maybe if we all just ignore the dark stuff it'll go away???????
I would suggest that you go for a mix! - it has more resonance - yin/yang - places you on an actual planet, in the middle of an actual universe. You might even begin to see where the leaks in the hull really are ........ yes, - it's possible you could be looking in the wrong direction, friends.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"In the Cool of the Morning"

............and here's the finished picture. I'm pretty pleased with it. It was a subtle study in "warms and cools" and painting from the dark looking out to the light is always a challenge - you really have to use your head - I used to really screw that type up! I may do a larger version of this down the line and think out the peopleing of it a bit better. However, I didn't want it to be swarming with living souls because it was started early in the morning and I wanted to preserve that early morning feel.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Raw One in the Making.

...................... and, here it is! - and Yes, I was sorely tempted to touch it up before posting it. The picture is missing all the people that were passing through and all the cafe tables, not to mention a great deal of noise and confusion. We were out there for about 3 hours in all and I worked on it for all but about 30 minutes of that time. I would have worked the whole 3 hours if it hadn't been for a couple of Senoras that came along washing windows. I'd been utilizing a window ledge as a godsend of a tool holder............ I got bumped........ and man, were they slowwwwwww......
Anyway, that's what a mornings work looks like in San Miguel. I'll work on it some more, maybe tomorrow, and will post the finished, fussed-over product. Oh, and by the way - it was a bit of a challenge, that one, with lots of onlookers - up close and personal.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

..........finally getting re-settled and Back to Work .........

"Summer Morning - cuna de Allende" SOLD
9x12in. oil on panel

I started this one plein air with Donna's group this past Monday. It was a great session with everyone in the group getting good results. I fussed over the painting later, of course (always do) and added the principal figures. I can't seem to leave anything in it's raw state - always have to make a little "finished" painting out of it ................ oh well....................
But anyway, it's gratifying to me somehow from start to finish - what you sees is what you gets. But I just had a thought- Donna and I are going out "solo" in the morning to do some plein air.
And this time I won't touch it after the initial work in the street - I'll post the results - it should be interesting ........... I wonder if I can, in fact, be restrained .......................

"Temprano" 9x12in. oil on panel

This was one from two Monday's back. Donna, Steve, Gary and I settled on the old "ten ten pie" cafe. This is the third I've done of it over the years and it keeps getting more fun with the passage of time. I thought I'd kind of exhausted the possibilities after the last one but they swapped the old green umbrellas for orange and it was no time before the new ones took on a nice faded tint in the unrelenting Mexican sun - while retaining a strong, orange saturation on the dark underside ................. they're done "to a turn" now - just what that corner wanted - love it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our new Gallery/Studio overlooking the Jardin Principal

Looking from the gallery space back into the teaching area. We had to do a lot of renovating to get it looking like this. People can now browse the gallery without having to feel like they're interrupting the classes.
Looking from

Looking from the Studio/Classroom area out to the Jardin and into the Gallery area. It's a great space - skylights and there's always a soft breeze flowing through. When you take a break it's great fun watching what's happening in the park below.

"La Luz de la Tarde"
Oil 14x18ins.

This is the last picture I did before moving to our new gallery and residence. It was sad to leave that place as the view over the town and plains beyond was unmatchable but our new gallery/studio is overlooking the Jardin Principal and the space, light and view are superb. It's going to be more convenient for Donna's students and we think that in the long run we will get more traffic through the gallery. The large building we're located in is beautiful and is still in the hands of the Sanchez family who first came over from Spain in the late 1500's. It's apparently the only original large structure in town that is still in the hands of the original family. They also we're part of the conspiracy to revolt against Spain in the early 19th. century. I think we may be here a long, long time as things finally feel just about right for us.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Abandoned Church at Pozos" 14x18in. oil
This one was the second and larger of the two I worked on the day of an outing to the "ghost" mining town of Minas de Pozos with my wife Donna's group, about two weeks ago.

"Up on Montitlan" 12x9in. oil SOLD
This one from a Sunday plein air excursion with our group a few weeks back. There are some fabulous views of the town and beyond as you go up the hills - really inspiring but they are quite a challenge to paint! I always kind of do the background as a generalized blur and plan to differentiate near the end of the session but find by the time I get there I'm just about exhausted and no longer have the freshness required. I relied on the camera here to finish it up back in the studio but it irks me to lug that thing around and half the time I forget to snap one anyway before I start painting. Most paintings I work on fore and background and everything else all at the same time, together. Somehow I can't do this with these big overviews and I don't like the way a painting loses integrity if you chop it up and give your full attention and energy to just one or two "favorite" areas. That is just what I used to do many years ago - everybody does at first - maybe I'm afraid of getting lost in all the little church spirey detail in that background and losing too much time over it as the light changes. However "we shall overcome" (maybe).

"Abandoned Church at Pozos" 14x18in. oil
This is the larger of the two I painted with my wife Donna's group a couple of weeks back at the "ghost town" of Las Minas de Pozos, a largely abandoned mining town from the last century, not too far from San Miguel. It was one of the most comfortable paintings I've done outside in a while, as the old concrete floor we stood on was level and weedlees and well-shaded from the partially intact vaulted ceiling over our heads. We had a great time and all returned to S. Miguel late in the day, exhausted but happy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Callejon del Puebla" 14x18in. oil on panel
This one was from our plein air outing with Donna's group two Sundays back. It was a fantastic location up on the hill - out of the traffic and beautiful! - a bit of a climb but worth it many times over. The picture was pretty much as you see it now, after about 2 hours work. I hope the excitement I felt while doing it comes across to some extent. We plan to return again soon to Callejon Cruz del Puebla.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just completed ........

"Afterglow" 24x36ins. oil on canvas

Well, I just couldn't resist seeing if one couldn't squeeze a little more out of that photo of the parroquia. Some might find the alterations a little interesting. I'm pretty happy with this one (it was a major challenge) and we'll be hanging it in the gallery at #1 Pila Seca first opportunity.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Views of the town from our rooftop terrace ...........................................................................................................

- Our Place and the view to the North -
"Las Monjas" Iglesia in the background.....

- Looking west, down the hill and over the plains toward Guanajuato -
The owl palm is just out of the frame to the left

- Looking East up the hill to the Parroquia -

There is a barn owl that lives in a palm tree about 100 yards south (down the hill) from us and he/she comes out about a half hour after sunset. It often flies around with a "buddy" during the night and now and then they fly around the Parroquia steeple. They're huge and bright white in the city lights at night but all the same, not a soul we have mentioned it to has ever seen them. When the two of them are together and they fly over our terrace, they make a sound like very loud crickets. The first time I heard that, I thought the aliens had landed.

A few new paintings...........

"Barranca Fountain" 12x9in. oil on panel

"Sunday Afternoon at the Jardin" 9x12in. oil on panel

Morning After the Rain "Reicker's Ranch" oil on panel

Here are a couple of plein air studies from the last 2 outings with Donna's class - "Sunday Afternoon at the Jardin" and "Barranca Fountain" Also I finally completed a 14x18 started at Reicker's horse farm many months ago......... a little worked over by now but it's got the feel of the place I think. I like plein air painting the best and as time goes by I'm finding I can get them closer to a satisfying completion, right there on location. I sometimes think I should do nothing but plein air but somehow things find a way to get me stuck in the studio again. I suppose I would miss doing large elaborate things now and then, anyway. But I'm not complaining - things are going well for us and the weather has been beautiful this "winter". I see I claimed I was going to post some views from our deck last time. O.K. - I'll dip into the files and see what we have.