Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Today started in the 50's and deteriorated from there to snowing and 31 degrees when we finished up. Tim had put off Monday's outdoor session. Tim was too busy on Monday to paint. We decided that Tuesday would be good because it would be warmer. I had just eaten breakfast at 11:00 and Tim called to ask what was the 'call' for today to paint or not. Let's paint. I miss the outdoor exercise and pushing myself to create whatever the circumstances. I suggested we eat later and paint while it was moderately cool and would drop by the hour. We headed towards the Eel river out to US31. Along the way he asked, "I haven't thought about where to paint today; what do you think?" I had passed a small island out in the middle of the Eel day after day on the same road towards home. I wanted to photograph it. "Look over there, that small island. Let's try it. It would work I thought as a good subject. Tim pointed out that the property was posted on the other side and no where to park on this side near the island. Let's try the other side and there's a small pull-off on that side just past the house. He drove over to the side where I walked. I had forgotten the view from the side I walked during the summer months because of all the growth hiding it. Now it was open. We headed over to the pull-off and unloaded. Tim walked around looking for a good spot to set up. I spotted a vine wrapped around a small tree like a boa or python. I wanted it. "Tim do you have a knife?" He handed me a small pocket knife. I looked at the vine and knew it  take would a while to cut through both ends. Tim had just finished setting up and was already starting. The cold was settling in and a light breeze making it even more uncomfortable. I started whittling. This was going to be hard. I continued to cut and tried to hurry it up. The knife kept closing on my fingers. This would have to wait. I moved my paints and easel down towards a tree as a wind break. Finally, I was painting. I could not get into the zone. I knew I was thinking to hard about what I was doing. I couldn't get into the painting. I had to stop thinking about making a 'painting.' The cold was sufficient, so I took off my gloves. The cold took my attention. I painted and finished while Tim sprayed his pastel. I went back to the vine and started whittling again.
Twisting and cutting the vine finally broke free. Tim got back to the car. "I can't feel my fingers." I couldn't either but I sure enjoyed  "painting outdoors". Tim turned on the heat after getting into the car. "You know I sure enjoyed that; I needed it."

Monday, November 22, 2010


LIVE and IN 3D!

64 degrees and Nov.22,...Tims birthday.HAPPY BIRTHDAY TIM. We are headed to Wabash today since I'm driving. We are driving around Wabash looking for  inspiration. Several 'false stops' looking for the right landscape layout later we pull into a road train crossing and a siding for repair vehicles. The sky is clouded up and windy but not too cool, actually. Tim and I are both sitting in front of my car. The wind is picking up. The only really bad thing about painting where we are, are the trains. Moments after starting, a whistle sounds from far away. Tim turns to me and says," It's coming this way. "No." "Yes." Five minutes later 1000 plus tons of locomotives and rail cars, tankers, etc. are grinding past us at 25-30 m.p.h. They are so close the wind is pulling my paper from the drawing board. My hat flies off  while Tim is fighting to keep his pastel and paper from blowing away.
As we continue to work, I am thinking what if this train derails. Will I feel anything? I play the scenario though in my mind. Yes, for a second or two I feel an unbelievable experience of being in several places at the same time with something akin to a 3rd degree sunburn rushing into my mind all at once from all over... then nothing. I turn my attention to my painting and the feeling disappears. Amazing the art in front of me steels my mind to continue my painting. That's the power of creativity. Tim looks over and says that the train is pulling a lot of wind like a truck does on the highway as you pass it. We are standing still so the wind is much greater. The train finally ends and I re-tape my paper half-finished. Another whistle sounds from behind us.
Tim looks over. It's coming from the opposite direction this time. How? The other one is on the track heading towards it. No, it is on a siding while the second one passes by. That's how it works the tracks double duty. Just then the whistle is loud enough to cause me to tense up knowing 1000 plus tons of locomotive and cars is rushing towards us at about the same speed as the previous one. My gosh it's like a 3-D stereo movie only we are in the movie. Again the tunnel of air whips us like flags with the paint jars blowing away from my chair as well as the towels I use to dry my brushes. We are plein-air painter and pastel artist. This is part of the process that makes our work spontaneous and unique. 3-D with stereo is what makes our art 'real.' Tim smiles. Yes and I'm still burping grease from my burger and onion rings at C_______s. It's totally 3-D with a real 'grease' taste.

Monday, November 15, 2010


(Phil to left by Gary)  It's Nov. 15th the temperature these mornings are below 50 degrees and getting colder each day as we finish out the year. Today Gary is coming with us. Actually, he is driving so we have to stop and get me which he has already done then Tim. Gary is a "decent!" photographer. That means he is serious about his work as Tim and I are about painting. 
   (Tim to the left by Gary)  Gary gives workshops out in West Virginia with Jim Clark, a nature photo- grapher.Gary has website. It's above on the list of websites on our blog. Check it out. We are headed for the auto junkyard in New Waverly if we can find a place to park and walk in. The last time, we parked where we thought Bob Canfield said we could, who owns the junkyard. But we parked in a place when this old grouch comes out and tells us this is his land "like we were going to steal it." So we drive around and after knocking on some doors then we give up and head for France Park on the west side of Logansport.

       Gary knows the back lake area because he has been here several times with another friend of his also a 

(Gary's images)

photographer.We stop at the pay station at the ranger cabin but he knows Gary and waves us on back.Gary follows this winding road just as wide as his truck and no bigger when we finally come onto a 100+ acre lake. Reeds, cattails, Canadian geese and wood ducks are sporting around on the lake. Nice!, we all agree. 

      Tim and I walk over to a creek fed by the overflow from the lake which has cut through a limestone sea-floor rock ridge creating a pass onto another further back area which winds back into the deeper woods. I like this immediately but take a few trial pictures with my Iphone. Gary's setting up his tripod and connecting telephoto lenses. When he is done it looks like a small cannon with a large bore on one end. Can you see the moon with that thing? That would be cool. Gary wanders off and Tim and I head for the little creek and set-up and sit down. I arrange my easel on the flat crooked slab of stone facing down the creek but one leg is too short. After piddling with it and grunting and groaning getting up and down, Tim says he hasn't heard me make so much noise setting up.
     Well I finally plant my ass on my carrying bucket with paints laid out and my palette open. I start squeezing out color which goes all over the rock in front of me which I try to wipe off and it smears larger and larger like ballpoint ink . Damn it! I'm still trying to get color arranged in my lidded palette. I have enough squeezed out from last time to brush on a random under-painting which will help put the distances in their correct place. I also brought my black oil sticks which make for a great easy and quick lay in drawing . 

      Tim and I get to laughing over the grunting and groaning we both are making from the cold and just getting setup to work. I took off my heavy winter coat and now have on a T-shirt. Without spoiling the sponateity a sweatshirt and cottongloves gives.
After settling down we get quiet with an occasional sniggle now and then. Both of our fingers sound like dry twigs mine trying to hold brushes Tim's trying to grab soft pastels. "Plugging on...." is what we do till one of us says the magic words..."I can't go any further I'm ruining it." Then you gotta stop or throw it away,Tim agrees. About that time Gary comes around the edge of the lake and looks in on us. I don't know how you guys get done so fast. "Well, what have you been doing, Gary?" When we pack up he walks us over to the area he has been shooting with and 800mm power zoom lens. I could see  a good clear cratered moon on a half or quarter moon night. Pretty impressive but you have to have a tripod to steady the viewer. We load up and climb in his club cab and enjoy the soft bench seat after sitting on 5 gallon buckets and Tim a camp chair that folds up to a small  3x5 X- slung canvas.
Gary said he'd send me one of his photos via email so I'll check to see if he has...maybe later. He did. Yeah okay, Laaaaaater y'all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Tim's turn to drive my turn to buy. It's really a gorgeous day in early Nov. "Indian Summer"  is what we called it. A respite from the cold which is fast approaching.A day of revelry for the great time of summer is returned for a few days. Today it will be 70 degrees. We headed out for the days painting. An old farm deserted would be todays subject. A few windows were broken out in the house which seemed forlorn and abandoned too early in its life. An old style steel clad barn was still in good shape as for an outbuilding which showed more promise artistically for my subject Tim liked the barn. We unpacked our supplies and tried to find a spot in the sun. The day was just too perfect with the sky a brilliant blue like in Santa Fe, NM most of the year. I have a 22"x30" sheet of print paper which I had prepainted with an under-painting of thalocyanine-blue and dioxane violet for another purpose. I figured I'd use it since I had forgotten what I had originally planned to do with it. Tim had been working for a few minutes already and I was still getting ready to squeeze out the acrylic paint for my color palette. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Today is  one of the closing days of fall as the leaves drop away and leave the trees bare as upturned . Tim and I are headed out to paint up near Macy in 'Amish country.' Carolyn has decided to tag along. "Bring your fiddle. we ask." We stop at SUBWAY and have lunch. It's modest with very little greasy aftertaste. It's cold these mornings so we decided to start in the afternoon. I am driving today. I promise to find a place today since Carolyn is coming along. We head up where Tim said that a herd of cattle had been grazing and laid down in the afternoon to chew their cud. Sounded like a challenge. After about a half hour later I spot a herd of Angus mozying around a field in groups of two or three. There!, that's where we'll paint today. It's been thirty minutes and that's the rule. We stop and unload. Carolyn is cold and she can't play the fiddle with her fingers chilled . Sit in the car with the sun on you I suggest. Tim plants himself west of the car in direct sunlight,while I am to the rear of the hatchback of my Scion. Carolyn is tuning up.

The cows feel like a good subject today but in the shade my paint and fingers both don't want to cooperate. I figure I'll concentrate on a colored drawing made with paint strokes like soft pastels  that Tim works with. Carolyn is playing a mournful tune that fits today with the passing of summer. It really helps put me and Tim in the mood to paint. Funny how powerful music can be. 
We work feverishly, me in the cold while Tim in the sun getting hot,to get something down on the paper. Carolyn continues to soldier o playing a reel,a jig,and a few other sailing tunes. I am tuned in to the work in front of me and the drawing starts to take shape. Tim judging by his results was reacting in a similar fashion. Carolyn says the temperature has caused the strings to lay nearer the neck which gives the music a gravely sound but I like it. It is 'homey' and familiar. As we near the second hour Tim announces he is almost done and  have a few more minutes to tie the drawing together the cows with the land. A few added color strokes of acrylic rose madder finishes up the painting. I'm done I announce. Tim has sprayed his pastel as the scent of the fixative is overpowering. Carolyn has been walking around for the last half hour just looking at the cattle grazing almost half-heartedly as they too know the snow is coming. We pack up and I turn up the car heat to warm myself and Carolyn up. Tim says he had been sweating out in the direct sunlight.I should have moved but the shade of the hatch had cooled my color palette so that in direct sunlight it would be even more intense. We bid the cows goodbye with a few loud 'moos' and drove back to Tim and Carolyn's little piece of heaven in the country. He was ready for a nap and I back to my school work getting ready for classes on Thursday and Friday later this week. Carolyn gathered up her fiddle and case and headed for the house. Tim walked me to the gate and with a "Laaaaaater" I replied, "Laaaaaaater" as I drove out of sight. A good day with friends with the fiddle music still playing in my head.