Sunday, May 25, 2008

Recent painting trip to Texas Hill Country

Looking to the West, 8X10, oil/linen board

This painting was done as a result of my recent painting trip to Kerrville and the Texas Hill Country in Mountain Home, Texas. I spent five days painting and taking reference there two weeks ago. I wish it had been longer. While there I stayed at the YO Ranch and had hoped to be able to wander the private ranch, which has exotic animals such as wildebeast, camel and giraffe on the grounds. Not to mentions thousands of deer and cattle. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to roam the ranch freely, since it is also a hunting ranch, where hunters pay lots of money to visit and kill these animals ( not the camels and giraffes though). Next time I'll probe a little deeper about the ranch rules. I figured with 50,000 acres, there would be plenty of room for me. Oh well, live and learn. But the people there were wonderful and helped direct me to lots of beautiful places at which I could paint. This painting was done back in my studio though, right after I got back home. I took the photo on my way back to my cabin after a long day spent painting in the field. I was beat and couldn't have done another painting if my life depended on it. So I stopped the car and stood by the side of the road and just took it all in. Of course I took some pictures, but that only took a moment. The rest of the time I watched, I took mental notes on the color temp shifts and the values. So many artist's I talk to talk about doing the same thing all the time. They are constantly noticing the complexity in the colors of nature. About how she balances out the warms and the cools. How marvelous it is to really look at the way God has mixed it all up so that it all makes perfect sense when you are experiencing it, but how difficult it is to invent it out of your imagination back in the studio. There are subtleties there that seem to be insignificant, but if you leave them out, your work will always have an amateurish quality about it. That's why I paint on location. It's information you can gain no other way. It teaches me every time, how little I know, and how I understand even less.

Fishing the Llano River (field study), 6X8, oil/linen panel

I did this painting on location on the same trip. I did 10-12 paintings while there, but I only brought a few home with me as carry on. The rest I Fedexed home along with my easel and paints. I'm still waiting for that box to arrive. This was a beautiful spot along the South Llano river which runs through Junction, Tx. I started the painting without the figures, and about half way through, these fishermen came along and make a perfect focal point for this piece. I'm going to start putting more figures in my on location work. They add so much to a painting I think. I love that the main figure in this one is setting the hook. A little action in a painting can be such a good thing.

Morning Texas Pasture (field study), 6X12, oil/linen panel

This was also a plein air piece. There were cattle that dotted the far pasture, and I might add them to a larger studio painting of this. But this one's size made me a little hesitant to try to do that. I love back lit landscapes. That's why I do so many of them. This one was my first piece of the day and I couldn't have asked for a better subject. I was just off the highway, where no one goes slower than 70mph. It's good training for being able to block distractions out while you paint. If you can concentrate while Semi's blow by you, hell bent for leather, then you're ready for all the crowds you attract while painting on location. No doubt.

Thanks for looking, Steve


Frank Gardner said...

Three nice paintings Steve. The top one looks like it could be plein air.
The middle one is my favorite. Love the figures added. great loose confident strokes.

Steve Atkinson said...

Thanks Frank, I love the Hill Country. Having the opportunity to paint it was a blast.