Lake McArthur

Lake McArthur

9×12

Oil on Canvas Board

When your in the Elizabeth Parker Hut there is no such thing as privacy or lounging around. You pretty much get up when the group gets up. The group I refer to is the other twenty five some odd soles who start the day off from the two trays of souls that make up the two “beds”.

This was the day we decided to head up to Lake MacArthur which I didn’t do last year and thought it was the best idea considering I had no better ideas in which to indulge in this delicious smorgasbord of nature. I was relying on my more experienced travellers and from what I saw from Odaray the day before I could hardly wait.

It was a 7.5 kilometre round trip with 310 meters of elevation gain through some beautiful scenery. This is really not saying much as it’s all beautiful scenery.

As far as the weather goes? Let’s just say it’s your typical day in the mountains. A bit of everything. Some sun, some rain, and a bit chilly. I set up under a tree to keep as dry as possible. The moss was a nice cushion. I also had a visitor who was trying to find something for lunch.

I probably got in about a half an hour before Patti came by saying she was packing it in and I decided that I would join her. We took a different route out which made it more of a circuit and added something new to look at and take pictures of for possible paintings.

Once back at the hut, the weather was more on the plus side and I thought to myself that I should try to finish the painting under the eaves of Wiwaxy. I used my memory as well as a photo that I took on the phone for reference.

A Painting Mount For My iPad Pro…

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Recently I broke down and picked up an iPad Pro 10.5″ with that nifty pencil. compared to the older versions we have in the house, this one performs unbelievably well. It’s snappy and there’s no putting it down and making a cup of tea while it loads a web page. I finally bought it because it runs a mobile version of Lightroom and also runs an amazing Photoshop style app called Affinity Photo. This means I can take it on location instead of my laptop (which died hence the iPad) and ingest the days shoot, make selections and perform some basic edits. Enough about the photography…

PAINTING

I also used my trusty laptop to display reference images while I was at the easel. It sat on an old tray clamped to a C-Stand. It wasn’t the most elegant solution but it worked for a time. So when I bought the iPad, I was trying to figure out a way to use it for the same purpose. It wouldn’t sit on the tray and I didn’t want to sit it on my painting table for obvious reasons.

I went looking for a mount that would secure the iPad to the easel solidly and in a position that would I could  see both the work and the tablet easily. I thought about music stores because I know musicians use tablets to display sheet music. Nothing was really suitable. I know photographers use mounts but again I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Then I remembered the iPhone mount for my motorcycle made by RAM. It was there that I found all sorts of ways to securely mount my iPad to my easel. The best part about it, was there are two places here in Calgary that carry them: GPS City, and GPS Central.

So far around $100 (I know, it’s a bit expensive) I have a very well built mount that I can easily attach the iPad for my painting sessions and remove it when I’m done to write this blog post.

Thoughts on Conventions

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So #Pace16 is now a memory. A really good one at that. I travelled to another planet really in that the Arizona landscape is up there with the strangest topography and accompanying  flora and fauna that one can imagine.

Pam Springs-285 copyThe only other place that I felt this same way was in Joshua Tree State Park where it looked like the Play-Doh playground of giants.

I was treated to an amazingly well planned convention experience that included an full line-up of some of the worlds best Plein Air Painters. As attendees, we got to watch them on the main stage demonstrating an incredible depth of artistic talent. From the calligraphic flourishes of Jove Wang to the straight forward and wonderfully humorous demo by Matt Smith. There were several others (I think the faculty was in the 70’s) and these were all a treat to watch and try to absorb through pen and paper instead of brush and paint. The paint outs were great in that I tried (along with 899 others) to translate the rushed scribblings in a notebook onto the canvas in some of the most beautiful and inspiring landscapes I had ever seen. Only one of the four painting I did, was anything close to successful. I met some great people and have to say the sheer volume of like minded people was energizing.

Would I do it again? – Most likely not.

As I sat at the dinner table with my friends Pamm and Paul on the night before I had to leave, we began discussing all the wonderful things that had happened and how exhausting it all was at the same time. I began to realize some of the things that I didn’t really like about the experience. As much as I was talking the talk about how fun it was, there was a part of me that kept raising it’s small finger going “um, um” and “what about?”

So, here are the thoughts on what the Party Pooper had to say.

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I had just spent the better part of $2200 to attend this event. The Main Stage demo’s were interesting but nothing I couldn’t get from a well produced video that most of major artists put out. The only thing I would miss was watching it in a large room with hundreds of other people.

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The next big benefit was going on the paint outs where a couple of dozen instructors went out as well and had red hats and green flags and a sign so you could identify them. The sad part was that, unless you stayed in the parking lot or less than a 3-5 minute walk from parking lot, you never saw one so they could never help. I didn’t realize just how many people were tailgate and trunk painters.

The Expo was great fun to walk around and have a look at the latest and greatest gear but I have some pretty wonderful art stores here in Calgary. I did pick up a Shade Buddy Umbrella which turned out to be invaluable in the sweltering heat.

Don’t get me wrong, the convention was a blast and an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life thanks to my wonderfully supportive wife Stephanie. But I found it to be much more about the bonds and friendships that were made and less about REALLY learning anything that was worth $2200. It was vacation and gathering for the converted. A place to chat and reflect on the days events and works which was wonderful.

But…

If I have say $2500 to spend on professional development, I would rather do this:

Purchase videos by my favourite artists and watch them at my leisure  $50-$100

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Min Ma

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Mike Svob

Sign up for workshops by some of my favourite artists which I could target to my style $500 – $1000. Depending on where I take them. The true beauty of the workshops is that I can direct my funds (laser like accuracy) to the exact learning style and most importantly, learning environment that benefits me most. One instructor, 3-5 days and a small class comparatively. This I believe is where those bonds are formed and valuable lessons learned.

Did I have fun at the convention? I sure did, but I have to be smart with our money.

And I think the smart money is in targeted learning.

 

 

#PACE16 – Day 2…

Me Painting SmallSo today was the big day – the start of The Plein Air Convention and Expo! Starting at 1 pm with an art business symposium followed by  the Opening Ceremony. Th morning was free time and I decided to head out to Saguaro National Park. After driving 40min through the city which included several construction sites I finally arrived and found out that the Park charges $10 and from what I could tell was a landscape just filled with Saguaro Cactus. Nice but with the amount of time I had I wasn’t willing to part with the $10 for an hour Saguaro after Saguaro. Back to the trailer and lunch then off to the Symposium.

When I got to the resort I was pleased to see the Expo was open with all the vendors and their wares – an artists dream! There is some very cool stuff! I was disappointed that the venue for the Symposium was too small. I did;t get a seat and stood in the door to watch but only for a bit. I decided to go and pick up some of the supplies I needed which I couldn’t take on the plane – Gamsol and Galkyd from Gamblin. And, I picked up an umbrella called Shade Buddy for 1/2 price! Greta deal at $69US.

The opening ceremonies at 4 were amazing. They opened with a small western skit put on by Eric Rhoads and some of the artist speakers which included a duel – 10 paces and… draw! And they drew each other on large easels. Great fun! The Salon Award winners were announced and there were two lifetime achievement awards. One was to Ken Auster  awarded posthumously and the other was to Dean Mitchell.- Both incredible artists. 

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Ken Auster

Dean Mitchell

Dean Mitchell

The evening concluded with a wonderful cocktail reception where I met Lori Putman, Bryan Mark Taylor, Matt Smith and Bill Anton. More to come over the next few days from these folks!

Back to the trailer for a good night sleep. Up early tomorrow for Eric Rhoads Business Bootcamp!

 

 

 

#PACE16

The Worlds Largest Gathering of Plein Air Painters

Me Painting SmallSo… what is PACE? It’s the largest gathering of Plein Air painters in the world and it’s happening in Tucson this year from April 15-19. I am lucky enough to be going because I’m also lucky enough to be married to an amazingly supportive woman who gave this experience to me as a gift for my birthday last year. She got on the monthly payment plan which makes it easier.

So I’m going to attempt to be a Social Media Powerhouse and Tweet, Instagram and Facebook my way through this amazing event. Have a look below at some of the details.

Where I’m Staying…

All I can say is amazing – from the photo’s anyway! Slate patio with a Chiminea (I always thought it was Chimerea) and a great elevated patio to have a cold beer at the end of the day. More to come after I get acquainted.

Unique Retreat

Airstream

It’s Happening Here…

Looks like great place to hang out by the pool. If your’re staying there – I think my place is WAY better!

El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort

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And It’s Near The Santa Catalina Natural Area…

The painting possibilities are endless!

Santa Catalina Natural Area

Santa Catalina

 

 

West of Cochrane…

A Quiet Stream

I was on a job for a local pipeline company where they were exposing a section of pipe for testing. They had used a “Smart Pig” (a hard rubber ball filled with sensors) and pushed it under high pressure down the line to map out anything that needed attention. They apparently had discovered a possible thinning in a joint and decided to have a closer look.

I went around and shot the crews as they were doing their thing and couln’t help but notice during a break, this wonderful little creek just down the hill from where we were all working. I walked down and took a few shots as reference for later and stopped, silenced myself and took it all in. It was wonderful – the sound of the water as it moved past me, was very calming. A gentle breeze tickled the tops of the grass and the leaves in the trees shimmered with delight. I sighed and turned around to head back up to finish the day.

You may think I sighed because I had to go back and shoot an open excavation not 300 feet away. But I have to say I was struck by the beauty of this little valley and more amazingly how this crew and company were taking care to make sure nothing happened to it. I thought what people must think about companies like this, forming opinions based on some crap they hear in the news. I have to say the number of times I’ve seen them at work and especially when I work with the evironmental branch, just how much they care about minimizing the impact they have on the environment. I’ve seen them tape off huge areas of land close to a right-of-way because of a Lichen that they were protecting or stop work completely when Cariboo were walking across that same right-of-way. When I first witnessed this, I was actually in awe, and it challenged my notions of what I had believed. After all, it’s in the news – pipeline companies are bad. They don’t care about anything least of all the environment. I was very wrong.

This piplene has been around for some time and it will be here for decades to come. It made me happy to be shooting for a company that gives a damn and makes a huge effort to ensure that this and other little ecosystem remain intact for all the inhabitants that call it home.

I just came to here document the process and paint the outcome.

Painting in Coutts

Yesterday afternoon I headed down to the lovely Coutts Centre for an afternoon of painting. I was fighting the urge to stay home as we had thrown a big party for some family that are moving to Panama. Needless to say, the night was filled with tears, laughter, dance and song, as well as some libations which we all indulged in a little too much.

So after a mental wrestling match, a couple of Tylenol and a BIG bottle of water I headed south for the afternoon. The rain which was forecast managed to hold off and I took a walk around the grounds looking for a place to paint. Several promising sites didn’t cut it because they weren’t in the shade and after about 30 minutes passed, I settled into a nice spot by the marsh looking towards the Poppy Garden and Chicken House (which has been converted into a summer residence). I quickly got set up and roughed in the general tones and values and wiped back where the building was to sit. I started with the centre right area and got my drawing in quickly, then I started to lay in changes to the value structure of the scene. It progressed nicely and I knew I had to start shutting it down as I could hear a little thunder moving my way and I had a ways to get back to the car.

This is where I ended up. I’m going to continue to work on it a little to refine some of the areas but I know not too much with this one. I like how loose it is overall with the sharpest edges and brightest colors where I want you to look.

The Chicken House