Jan 28, 2012

Not too shabby art studio

Brenda Behr slept here, 7 x 91/2" watercolor
I hope I never stop receiving overnight invitations. Not only is staying with friends on the road cost efficient, it provides me an opportunity to so better know my host friend(s). It’s also always a surprise to know just where I’ll be resting my weary head. So much more interesting than a generic hotel room.

Night before last when I was shown the studio where I’d be sleeping, I felt I’d died and gone to Art Heaven. Wow! This place was combination studio guesthouse / ivory tower treehouse. Check out the funky bed and the shabby chic chandelier. Up in the window are containers filled with various paint brushes and below, an I-want-one-of-those contemporary flat files used for storage. I was so excited to see my accommodations Thursday night that in spite of the hour (11:00 p.m.) I stayed up and did these two paintings.

Take note of the bathroom, my third painting to include a john. No t.p. in this painting, however.
Watercolor Water Closet, 9 1/2"  7" watercolor

Jan 21, 2012

Grrrrrrrrr . . .

Can you find the tobacco barn in this picture?, 14x11" oil on panel
Yesterday afternoon
This morning’s light
The last thing I wanted to do this morning (well maybe not the last) was leave the house just after 9:00 a.m. and go back to the plein air location where I had painted the day before. Friday I was unable to finish my painting because of rain. Then today, I had to get out early to avoid the rain. How dreadful it is that we had rain today. The temperatures in Eastern North Carolina were expected to reach 70º. My hunch is most plein air painters watch the weather forecasts as much as most farmers.

My colors may look surprisingly bright compared to the colors in the photos. I haven’t decided yet if I want my paintings to be more expressionist in color or more realistic. Behr with me.

F.Y.I. That little speck that appears down the road in this morning’s photo is my vehicle after a man delivering turkey feed suggested I park further down the road. Ooops!

Jan 12, 2012

Toy story

Barn with boy toys, 11x14" oil on panel
Loved the linkage of the whites and the stark contrast of light and shadow in this scene. The diligent man who owns the boat renovated what had been his [tobacco] packing barn and made it into a shed for storage of his farm and lawn tools. He also owns the dilapidated old barn that I featured on yesterday’s blog.

He who dies with the most toys wins was the message on the t-shirt of a Minneapolis friend and former business partner. With plans within a year to buy a sailboat in Florida and take off sailing with his fiancé, my buddy collapsed with a fatal brain aneurism just before his 49th birthday. The lesson learned from this story is not to wait until tomorrow to do what you love and not to criticize your neighbor for having toys you think (s)he can’t afford.

Jan 11, 2012

Another bloody barn

Old packing barn in afternoon sun, 9x12" oil on panel
Dang! I thought I’d shared Van Gogh’s tobacco barn (below) on one of my blogs before this. Guess it was featured in my BehrPath newsletter. I’m really enjoying and discovering much about color with this Impressionist palette knife painting. I find it’s most effective on textured subject matter like landscapes and old barns than it is on contemporary urban structures. Here’s a packing barn to go with the tobacco barn painting. Different rural setting than the first one, but surely Van Gogh wouldn’t have cared. To my knowledge he never set foot on U.S. soil. As evident in Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe, we assume he was familiar with tobacco.

Van Gogh’s tobacco barn, 8x10" oil on panel

Jan 6, 2012

The drama continues

Most Fall Down, 11x14" oil on panel
“That was just a warning!”
And suddenly to my misfortune, he did a U-turn and screamed, “And this is for real!” Almost as quickly as my brain could digest his words, another bullet hit me in the chest. This time it killed me. The End.

Sorry folks. I didn’t think you’d believe yesterday’s “story”. From your reactions, I knew pretty quickly, I needed to finish it. Guess I felt an interesting story might liven up the painting. I have only written fiction here one other time, but had made it more obviously more fictitious. So sorry to have thrown you.

And by the way, I did purchase an item at Wild Indian Gun Co. When I’m out plein air painting alone, I carry a small spray dispenser of pepper spray on my key ring. So just so you know, don’t mess with a plein air painter! No sirree. To be sure, it gives me a false sense of security. It would be no protection from a drive-by shooting, but knowing I have a cell phone and some mace on me helps dissipate the fear of being out there alone.

Hope you can appreciate last weekend’s tobacco barn painting. This is my fourth oil of this barn near Shine Crossroads on Highway 13. Two paintings of it are, in fact, included in the Highway 13 Revisited collection (last blog). I’ve developed a relationship with this soon-to-be-torched tobacco barn. When I was there on Sunday, the property owner told me that the local fire department has plans to use the barn for practice. This saddens me.

I sure as heck hope the South has protected a few of these tobacco barns that once dotted our landscape. I’m glad tobacco has lost its former stature as “King”, but always feel sad when a structure once deemed so purposeful is facing its demise.

Jan 5, 2012

Happy Trails to You

Here’s the painting I’d just completed before the accident. Many of you are unaware that in early November I was the victim of a drive-by shooting. The bullet grazed my left shoulder. Before screeching off, the driver of the vehicle at the intersection yelled . . .

The above paragraph is not so much a way to grab your attention, as it is to explain a large gap in my plein air painting between mid-November and late December. Sure there was a cool nip in the air, but Nov./Dec. is prime commission time for me, so I was busy. And busy with the holidays like so many in the Western hemisphere. I’m including below three of the commissioned paintings that kept me busy during this time.

It’s hard to say what made me want to paint the Wild Indian Gun Co. Subject matter, no doubt. I especially liked the sign to the right of the door, SHOW ME SOME OF THAT COUNTRY MONEY, NO SMOKING OR SHOOTING INSIDE. (That’s right, leave the shooting for innocent plein air artists at their easels!) Aw shoot, although the subject matter is interesting, the composition is weak. A big old pick-up truck in the foreground might have helped. I think it’s the lack of an interesting composition that kept this scene out of the collection of Highway 13 paintings I did several years back. Here’s a link that will take you to that collection, all 24x30” oils, most of them painted en plein air. Just click Highway 13 Revisited.

Two of the highway 13 paintings are currently on view at beautiful Brook Valley Country Club in Greenville, North Carolina. The country club each month features the work of a different artist who is a member of the Eastern North Carolina art group known as Greenville Brushstrokes. See side bar for more info on the collection of paintings at Brook Valley.

Golden Memories, 14x18" oil on canvas
Wayne County Veterans Memorial, 8x12" watercolor

Heather’s Dad, 12x8" watercolor