Thursday, June 28, 2012

Setting the Tone

This is in the basement of our house. I toned each canvas with a warm mix of yellow ochre and burnt sienna. The soft warm color gives a nice base for each subsequent layer of paint that is placed on top of it.

We then assembled all 4 canvases together. They just fit in my studio, which has an 11 foot high ceiling. In this photo my wife, Denise, gives the appearance that she completed the task by herself. Actually, it took 4 of us to manhandle  these into one single unit.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Canvas Maker

My dad has made and stretched many of my canvases in the 30+ years that I've been painting. Every once in a while a big project like this comes along and he needs to go into "super-sized" mode.

Here he is in the basement of the shop. This was back when the snow was still flying. He fired up the old pot-bellied stove you can see in the background, and went to work laminating poplar boards to create the sturdy stretcher frames for the canvases.

Here are a couple of photos of dad standing next to one of the larger lower canvases, showing the back side of the stretched canvas. The Prairie Winds artwork has four separate canvases–the top two canvases  in the piece are 48"x48" and the bottom two are each  48"x78". He also built into each canvas, a set of cleats which allowed for custom mounting these directly  and snug to the wall.

Dad has always been very creative and talented, especially when it comes to finding solutions to challenging projects that need to be built or fixed.

He was my first supporter and encourager to pursue my passion for art, encouraging me to draw and paint from my earliest memories of childhood.

Dad will be turning 77 on Thursday! If you'd like to post your greetings here, or send me an e-mail. I'll see that he gets them.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Prairie Winds proposal sketch

Here is the initial concept sketch I included in the presentation I gave when this artwork was in the proposal phase.

I wanted the art to be about the prairie, and the simple beauty of this part of the country. Some people think to you need a mountain or perhaps a waterfall to create a beautiful landscape.  Not true. Even over just the last few days here, I have marveled at the fantastic sunsets over lush fields filled with row upon row of young corn.

I am not sure exactly sure how the idea of including a real windmill came to me. The idea is pretty much out of the box for the art I typically create. That did excite me–and push me.

While the basic landscape has remained a constant here in Iowa, the windmill on the other hand represents change. The windmill serves as a metaphor for progress. Farm windmills like this have harnessed the prairie winds for generations. It also represents the hard-working, devoted and faithful people who have made this region their home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prairie Winds commission

Proposal sketches for Prairie Winds Event Center
I'm hoping some of you may have missed seeing any kind of blog post these last few months. If you thought I gave up painting you'd be wrong. Actually I have been pretty  busy painting–I just haven't been blogging about it.

I'm having some regrets about that, because the process of my latest piece has been a pretty fascinating experience for me personally. Ultimately I decided not to blog about the process as I was doing it, because I wanted the finished piece to be a surprise. In hindsight I probably should have taken you along for the ride. Sorry. I'm hoping to document it on the blog in the coming weeks.

I am partially upset because as I look back now, my memories of timelines and dates have already faded somewhat. Hopefully you can forgive me for any details I may not get exactly right.

It all started late last fall when I was asked to be one of three artists to submit a proposal for a commissioned work of art to be placed on a large wall in the new Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange City, Iowa. We were given the architect's drawings of the space where the art was to be installed. We also saw renderings of the interior of the building which has a warm prairie lodge, almost craftsman feel to it. It is in contrast to the Dutch details of the exterior of the building.

Architect's rendering of the Prairie Winds Event Center
All three artists presented their proposals to an art selection committee. That committee then made their recommendation to the full Event Center board, and I was fortunate to be selected for the commission! I was honored to be asked.

I took quite a few photos as this progressed, so I'll be sharing those too. I hope you're all doing well. It is really starting to feel like summer.