Monday, July 21, 2008

Who's Your Daddy

"Whos Your Daddy", 20X24" oil on canvas, ©2008

Hi Everybody,
I did this painting as a result of my recent trip to the YO Ranch in Mountain Home, Texas. This ranch, which is located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, is rich in history and animals. In addition to the exotics that roam the 50,000 acres, like Giraffe, wildebeest and camel, they have lots of longhorn cattle as well. If you've never been close up to one of these bulls, you can find yourself pretty intimidated by their size and power. Everything about them shouts power and nobility. Instantly recognizable, Longhorn cattle are prized for the size of their horns. Horn spreads have been recorded over seven feet! These calves were following their daddy and sticking pretty close to him. But they also were pretty interested in me. I did my best to keep a healthy distance from them, since all animals can be pretty unpredictable when it comes to their young.

My aim in this painting, beyond showing the bond between this bull and what I assume were his offspring, was to convey the heat of a Texas day. The sun is so bright that everything fairly glows. I love the boxy lines of cattle, especially the longhorn variety. I can see why Texas is so in love with these animals. They are a ball to paint!

Thanks for looking

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Native Dancer 1, new series has started

Hi Everyone,
it's time for another post! I finished this one yesterday and am excited to have begun a series of native dancers that I've been thinking about for some time. Last week Ann and I had some of our extended family from Norway make the trip to Minnesota. They stayed with us for a long weekend before moving on to stay with other family members. When we asked them what they wanted to do while here, they told us without hesitation that a pow wow was a must. Luckily the Ojibway (Chippewa) were having one of theirs that weekend. It lit the fire under me to begin this series while it was still fresh in my mind. Man, those drumming circles are LOUD! I bought a CD of indian drumming at the pow wow and played it while I painted this piece.

This painting is all about the rhythm, balance, color and energy the pow wow dancers display. No unnecessary details here to distract from the focus. Just pure joyous abandon (just like in painting). It was a ball to paint. I discovered that when you photograph the dancers, often times they are obscured by so much fringe and movement. Usually you can't tell what the dancer is doing. You can't simply paint what you see, but must simplify and construct something out of which our eyes can make some sense. You must paint what you know, not what you see. That's the challenge on a painting like this. So much of this painting is about feel and intuition. You have to feel when it's right and when it's finished. I could have easily allowed myself to overwork it. I also wanted a more energetic and abstract background than I usually paint.

Thanks for looking, Steve