Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Daisy, a Beagle

A friend lost her Beagle late last year. She was very attached to Daisy, who died at the age of eleven from congestive heart failure. I painted this portrait of Daisy and gave it to her. Our pets are like members of our family, and it's devastating when one of them dies. I know she feels the same way, so I hope the gift cheers her and helps her remember the the good times.

8"x 10"oil on canvas

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sharing the Joy

Every year I teach a fall and a spring class at the local Senior Center. I ask them to commit to four sessions because I really don't want people who expect a paint by numbers class. I enjoy teaching retired folks who have a genuine interest in learning the craft.

When you retire you should try all the things you wanted to do when you were working but didn't make time for. Notice I didn't say "have"time for. That's because I believe if you really want something you will make time for it. The time may only be available if we're willing to give up another activity. I stopped watching television in order to have time to paint. I'm pretty sure I didn't miss anything. When I play Trivial Pursuit I don't so well in the Entertainment category, but that's OK.

In our  four two-hour sessions at the Senior Center we don't have time to learn much more than the basics, but you can do a lot if you have just a little knowledge about painting. We cover value, color, proportion, line and color mixing. Some of the students have paints at home and they work on projects between sessions. Those are the people who do some good work.

One of the most important aspects of the class is mutual encouragement. We all paint a little differently and there is no right or wrong way because marks and style are very personal. The truly wonderful thing about this group is they all make a point of building one another up.

They prefer to paint landscapes, and those kind of subjects are more forgiving for beginners. Here are a couple of the paintings we did from the last two weeks.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Art at the Arnold 2015

I attended a painting competition a few weeks ago in Columbus, OH. Art at the Arnold is sponsored by the Arnold Sports Festival, an extravaganza of sporting competitions that began as a body building competition in 1989. The event has grown to the point where it now includes sports as varied as ball room dancing and cheer leading. I found it interesting that this year chess and horseback riding were added to the list for the children's expo.

Two years ago I was able to meet Arnold for a few minutes, but with all the new events that are added every year, his time grows more valuable and he didn't visit the artist's stage this year.

I tackled a difficult subject: four gymnasts watching their competitors. I used a photograph I took of some young gymnasts. I had six hours to complete it so I kept it very loose and tried to focus on their expressions. Needless to say, I didn't win, but I enjoyed the experience very much.

With another six hours of work at home, my painting acquired a more finished look and I'm happy with it.

I've decided that my paintings of people need to tell a story, so they are becoming a bit larger and more involved than ones I've done in the past.

Up Next

16 x 20 oil on linen

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

Cockspur Island is an islet off the southeastern tip of of the Savannah River. Cockspur Lighthouse sits on this islet, which is often covered by high tide.

Documented references tell us the first brick tower, used as a daymark, was built on Cockspur Island between March 1837 and November 1839. In 1848, John Norris, a noted New York architect, was contracted to supervise construction of an illuminated station.

Norris's duties were to "repair, alter, and put up lanterns and lights on Cockspur Island...and to erect a suitable keeper's house." This first tower had a focal plane 25' above sea level. The beacon housed a fixed white light emanating from five lamps with 14" reflectors visible for nine miles.

The structure was destroyed by a hurricane in 1854 and rebuilt and enlarged on the same foundation the following year. At the start of the American Civil War, the light was temporarily extinguished. On April 10, 1862, Union forces in eleven batteries stretching along the beach at Tybee Island, started a long range bombardment of Fort Pulaski. Thirty-six guns participated in a thirty-hour siege of the fort with the Cockspur Lighthouse in direct line of fire.

Following the surrender of Fort Pulaski on April 11, 1862, the little beacon miraculously only suffered minor damage. Theories abound as to why the tower escaped destruction. One theory suggests to effectively hit the Fort walls approximately 1,500 yards distant, Union artillerists had to fire shots at a high angle, thus passing over the tower. This strategy, coupled with the short duration of battle could explain why the tower was spared. Soon after war's end, April 25, 1866, the beacon was relit and painted white for use as a daymark.

Hurricanes plagued the Cockspur Lighthouse. On August 27, 1881, a massive storm struck Cockspur Island, causing water to rise 23' above sea level. The storm surge filled the lighthouse interior and destroyed the Keeper's residence.

Man, not nature, extinguished the lighthouse. To accommodate large freighters, the increasingly busy Savannah port routed vessels to the deeper, more navigable North Channel. Effective June 1, 1909, the beacon light was snuffed.

As the threat to the beacon by salvage crews and other private interests grew, the National Park Service looked into the acquisition of the light. On August 14, 1958, by presidential proclamation, the Cockspur Lighthouse was transferred from the United States Coast Guard to the National Park Service.

The National Park Service is dedicated to the preservation of this historic marker. The lighthouse remains open to the public, though access is limited by the terrain of Cockspur Island.

We painted this lighthouse in one of my painting classes recently. I demo in acrylics because that's what they use. Sometimes I'll finish the painting at home in oils and that's how this painting happened.

Cockspur Island Lighthouse
11"x 14"oil on canvas

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Memorializing Loved Ones Through Portraiture

This is a portrait of a lady who was very dear to me, my mother-in-law. She passed away five years ago but when I close my eyes I can still hear her gravelly voice and see her kind smile. Barb was gracious, beautiful and loving. I painted her portrait a few years ago but I was never happy with it. The reference photo I used was blurry and out of focus so the painting was too. Recently I came across a picture of her with one of the kids that was taken when they graduated from high school. This image was much clearer so I tried another painting and I think I succeeded in capturing some of her inner joy this time.

Barb  8"x10"
oil on canvas