"Spring" 8 x 10" acrylic study
A few years ago, I went camping with a friend in Southwest Colorado.
It rained every day. Looking back at photographs, it's funny now. Pics of me in a poncho, wrapped in a blanket. Pics of us both trying to find dry wood. Pics of my heavy wool sweater hanging on the clothes line, in the pouring rain.
Despite the rain, we had a great time...an adventure of sorts.
The upside of the rain was that the forest was alive with spring growth...flowers, grass, and healthy trees. In the mornings the fog made our campground into a magical place, even if it was cold and wet.
This study is from a watercolor sketch made early one morning.
"St. Aloysius" 8 x 10" acrylic study
As you pass Raton New Mexico, and head into Colorado over the Raton Pass, if you're vigilant and lucky, you might gatch a glimpse of the ruins of St. Aloysius off to your left. It's not easy to find, and it's harder to look at or photograph, since you are chugging along a 4 way highway over the mountains.
I have to say that I passed it and glimpsed it like a ghost in the mountains many times before I had the forethought and planning to be able to pull over to the shoulder "pullout" ramp and photograph it.
Thanks to my telephoto lens, I finally caught a reasonable image of the ethereal church ruins.
Now, before anyone decides to say that this is not a direct representation of the church ruins (I'll be the first to admit) surely you know my penchant for simplifying and reworking any and all of my sketches to my liking. In fact, this in no way resembles the ruins.
It does, in fact tell MY story of a long forgotten chapel in the mountains, wracked by age and time.
Recently I was contacted by the owners of the land and chapel and they are (or were at the time) raising to try to restore it.
I'll bet you can google it and find some link to show the original photos and plans.
"Farmer's Market" 8 x 10" acrylic study
Here's an example of letting go of your preconceived notion of subject matter.
One hot spring day, I was painting in the back yard of a friend, along with a few other devoted watercolorists.
This simple motif was just an umbrella on the other side of the cedar fence in the next neighbor's yard.
I sketched the umbrella and fence and thought little about it until I decided to paint it. As I worked on the design, I added the flowers in the foreground, and a tree in the background to emphasize the umbrella, but the painting had no meaning, until I added the market vendors.
The fence became a booth with produce on top, and the flowers created a park.
Voila! a farmer's market.
"Feed Mill" 8 x 10" acrylic on canvas
Many years ago, when I lived and taught in Mangum, Oklahoma, there was a feed mill, called Honorbilt. It was a Purina feed mill, and it was huge and convoluted with towers and buildings like a lego village.
I sketched that feed mill dozens of times. I'm sure I photographed it too, but those are lost. Anyway, the more I sketched the mill, the more liberties I took with the composition, until it became an abstract composition.
Years passed, and although I painted the mill several times, I found the most joy in painting it as an abstract watercolor over and over.
This acrylic painting is a "third generation" representation of Honorbilt. First as an abstract sketch, second as an even more abstract watercolor painting, and now, as an abstract rendering of an abstract watercolor rendering, of an abstract sketch.
I think that art has life. As such, it is desirable, even necessary for it to evolve.
Who knows how the next rendition of the mill will play out? As they say tritely, "stay tuned".
Approaching Storm...8 x 10 acrylic study
I'm smitten with the effect of the sun shining through the heavy clouds, spot lighting the meadow in the distance. I've painted this effect several times.
It seems like this sketch is somewhere between Tulsa and Claremore, but it could be anywhere in Oklahoma.
Again, this painting was created using only red, yellow. blue and white.
The Blue Whale is at Catoosa, Oklahoma. This is a quick 8 x 10" study, perhaps photographed too soon, since I plan to refine it a bit (or a lot).
I've been here a few times, but never when there were swimmers. I wonder if kids still swim here? Or is not "cool" enough to compete with splash pads and water parks? I think it's the coolest thing ever. How many incredible summer days were spent here over the past 40 years?
Hugh Davis built the Blue Whale of Catoosa for his wife as a 34th wedding anniversary present in 1972. Since then, the smiling whale has greeted visitors cruising down Route 66 and has become a major hub for visitors passing through Oklahoma.
After a week or so not painting, (visiting the grand kids) it's sometimes hard to get back to the routine.
It seems like it's a little hard to make the mess, get the clean water, come up with the idea, whatever excuse it takes to get back in the saddle.
I find that when I hit that little "brain-block", i revert to the old "Still Life with a Guitar" trick, where the colors are arbitrary, the composition is arbitrary, the design is arbitrary, and to quote Drew Carey, "The points don't matter".
This little 8 x 10" study has all my "crutch" elements, and is painted using only red, yellow and blue + white.
It's a little busy ( a hazard of restarting after a hiatus), but things will simplify after a couple more.
Anyway, it's a nice little painting, I think
"Southfork Falls" 8 x 10" acrylic study
In some places south fork of the Rio Grande River hammers it's way through the boulders and pines.
Depending on the rain, sometimes it's shallow. Sometimes, It's way more noisy.
The aroma of the pines and fresh mountain water is intoxicating.
The first thing I always want to do is drink it, but fumbling over the huge boulders is a dangerous proposition. More than once, I've slipped and fallen down toward the river.
It always makes me wonder what I would do if I was incapacitated and unable to climb back up to road.
The roar of the river would definitely drown out any cries for help.
Nevertheless, I always do it, addicted to that first taste of pure mountain water.
This 8 x 10" acrylic study focuses on the fresh mountain water splashing down from up above.
"Summer Afternoon" 8 x 10 acrylic study on acid-free canvas
Really not a great narrative about this. Yes it reminds me of my grandmother's house, but no, she would never have a fancy hat like that....more likely a homemade bonnet with big bulky straps to tie under her chin.
The chair? Well actually that was her chair....I just purpled it up a bit to offset all that yellow.
Flowers? Definitely! Cat? Sadly, usually Siamese, because they were good hunters. Usually 2 or 3 at any given time.
Mouse cats for the barn, but some of the more docile ones always became favorites of the grand kids.
Bright sunlight, bright flowers belie the hard work that went on all day, working the gardens, or God help us all, chopping cotton, which I was subjected to for several years. Easy weight loss plan, back when I didn't need to lose weight.
I made a narrative after all. Now let me think about it. Maybe there's more.
Enjoy this 8 x 10" acrylic painting.
A few years ago, I wandered off to Colorado by myself. All the many times that I went before, I was with family or friends, and my wanderings were tempered by the group's need for regular meals and sleeping patterns, and semi-compromised schedules of sight-seeing, and shopping.
As I drove out the straight red line map-course of my Garmin, along the top of Oklahoma, through the panhandle, I feared that I would be plagued by loneliness, and the disorientation of being alone.
By the time I got to the end of the panhandle, I began to be excited at the prospect of doing what I wanted when I wanted.
I stopped at Alabaster Caverns, Folsom, New Mexico, Capulin's extinct volcano, and everything else that caught my attention.
I slept in a tent in a road-side rest stop close to Clayton, New Mexico, downwind of the massive cattle feed lots (not recommended), with a howling panhandle wind, and broke my lantern on the first night of my exploration.
Finally in Southfork, Colorado, I planned on camping in the mountains, but a friendly lodge keeper let me sleep in a room over the laundry, saving cash for other things. Later I camped at Silverton, and Chaco Canyon, but for now it was nice to have a bed and home-base.
To the point, on one particular day of exploration, I made it to Big Meadows Lake, a favorite place for my family and extended family to visit and fish on every visit.
Being unencumbered, I decided to hike around the lake. It sounded like a giant proposition, but having water and time, I wandered at my own pace, and made lots of sketches.
This painting is from one of those sketches.
The original path was a little less defined, but still maneuverable. The rocks were bigger, and sometimes hindered a straight line hike.
The forest hugged me in a tight embrace. I thought I saw the trees, then i looked up and saw that there were more, and looked up further to see even more, and realized that one step off the path and I would be in wilderness.
8 x 10" acrylic study on canvas
Micheal W. Jones
Thoughts and work from a mid-career artist working his ass off every day
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