Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Painting in New Mexico

"Morning Near Black Mesa", Oil on Panel, 8x10 inches
Jerry Lebo, 2008

Just a quick note to let you know how painting is going in New Mexico. We are having a great time, painting everyday, and traveling around this beautiful State.

The above small painting was based on a some photos I took the other day on the way to Bandelier National Monument. To get there you travel by highway through the San Ildefonso and near the San Juan Pueblos. You can see it from miles around as you travel in the area. There is also another Black Mesa in the most Northern part of NM--this one is only about a half our north of Santa Fe.

It was early in the day when we passed by, and we stopped on the side of the highway and took some photos--and I made some color notations and a quick sketch. The Mesa actually looks very dark most of the day--but in the early morning it takes on a pinkish/purple quality that was very compelling.

I was reminded what a special place New Mexico is the other day by two of my readers. Cindy, who is one of my collectors, sent a comment on my last post--which reminded me of the uniqueness of the New Mexico landscape--and how the skies here are somehow different. In fact, last year when we were here I wrote a post titled "Top Ten Reasons for an Artist to Live in Santa Fe". I re-read this post and say that the "number one reason" I cited for living in Santa Fe was "clouds". And, I still think the clouds here are the most amazing you will see anywhere. In the morning, the sky here is usually very clear and blue, but when the clouds arrive later in the day, the show is often amazing--and worth the trip alone.

I also got a nice note from Jacqueline Butler, welcoming me to New Mexico. Jacqueline is the artistic director for the organization "Daily Painters of New Mexico". She lives near Galisteo and is thinking about starting a blog and is hosting a workshop for members. So, if you live in the area, drop her a note. Especially if you want to become a daily painter here in NM. I have talked about my own personal views on "daily painting" in previous posts--and I fully support the concept. I just don't think it is for me, personally. My own view is that finding time for "daily painting", is more important than trying to make a painting a day.
So there you go. I highly recommend a trip to New Mexico to paint--or just to look around. I have been coming here for thirteen years now--usually once a year. And I am still inspired every time I visit. Who knows, I may even move here one day. I have met many people who come here for business or some other reason--and fall in love and stay. But, even if you can't get here, you can do the next best thing. Go to your studio and find an excuse to put a fantastic sky in one of your landscape paintings!

All the best, sixtyminuteartist.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Canvas or Panel for travel?

"Juniper View (Study)", Jerry Lebo, 2008
Oil on Panel, 6x6 inches

You have probably noticed it has been a while since my last post. Several of my regular readers have sent me personal emails asking if something is wrong. I appreciate everyone’s concern, but I am okay—nothing terminal yet.

As for the reasons behind my silence, the truth is that I have been dealing with some personal issues--and also have been busy at the day job—including two overseas trips. Fortunately, this has not kept me out of the studio for the most part--and I have been continuing to try to move forward with my work. The important thing is that I am still painting—and keeping my “hour a day” minimum discipline.

The main reason I have not been blogging is that I have not really had much to say. I usually need some sort of inspiration or something to share with my readers in order to get me started writing a post. I don't want to bore people with my random thoughts.

To be honest, I have also been struggling with which direction to take my art. The last few large "color space" painting I finished are sitting around my studio and pushing me to make another one. But, to tell the truth, I have been feeling like doing some small paintings. I am also torn a bit about how to balance my normally "painterly" style against the more graphic approach of my most recent paintings. I realize now that my “style” is something that took me many years to develop--and I am not sure I should simply throw it out. On the other hand, I still very interested in the ideas I have been pursuing in my recent work.

So, why am I posting today? Well, I have a perfect excuse to do some small paintings—and share some ideas with you. We are on vacation in Santa Fe, NM for the next three weeks, and am working with my "portable studio", which is made by Open BoxM. I have written about the traveling setup I use for painting in past posts, and it is ideal for small paintings and studies. So I though I would post a few of these small paintings as they come off the easel over the next few weeks, as well as share some of my tips for painting when traveling.

So here is my first travel tip. When traveling, I recommend you try painting on panels—instead of canvas. First, because panels are easy to pack, and you can buy them at most art stores these days. Most airlines are adding baggage charges for weight and second bags these days—and I managed to fit all my clothes and painting supplies for three weeks into one suitcase. You can also make your own panels when you get to your destination from supplies available most places (I did a post that shows you how). In fact, unless you are planning to paint big paintings—panels are the way to go in my mind.

On the other hand, if you are set on canvas, I have found the best approach is to pack a variety of stretcher bars (taped together) and ship a roll of canvas to where you are painting. That way, you only have to bring the bars, staple gun, and pliers on your flight. If you are bringing large stretcher bars, you are probably not going to be able to fit these in a suitcase, so that means some extra costs. When you stretch your canvas upon arrival (I did a post on that too), leave enough edge overlap so as to be able to un-stretch your work. That way you can simply roll it up and take it home in a mailing tube when you leave.

Okay, so there is a few tips for painting when traveling. For my current trip I decided to use Ampersand Gessobord. These panels are a bit more expensive than the ones I make at home, but not as expensive as some of the others out there. I started using these in my studio about 8 months back—and I am totally addicted. The surface is so nice and has just the right tooth for taking paint—and the quality and consistency is high. I am not paid to promote their products, but I can recommend them without hesitation. The panels come in various sizes (and you can cut them to size). These are widely available these days, so you have probably seen them at your local art store.

So there you go, hope you get a chance to paint outdoors during the summer. And, maybe even get a vacation somewhere so you can paint something new. If so, I will be offering a few tips over the next few weeks—so stay tuned.

All the best, sixtyminuteartist.