Monday, September 22, 2008

Just Another Day at the Office

"Morning Aspens"
Oil on Panel

Saturday was the Oil Painters of America Great Paintout for Colorado, and the location this year was Estes Park. I've been stuck in the studio lately finishing up paintings for a bunch of upcoming fall shows, so I decided to get outside for once and meet up with the group for some painting in the park.

The drive to Estes from here is a beautiful one, but it can be long depending on tourist traffic. I left home at 6 am and drove over Trail Ridge Road as the sun rose. It was gorgeous so I had to stop a few times to take pictures of the sun hitting the mountains. Of course, every time I pulled over I had 5-10 cars pull over behind me thinking I saw a moose or something. I felt like I should have a sign on my car that said, "Sorry folks - no wildlife here, just scenery!!"

I got to Estes and met up with the group. A few friends were there, and a some new faces as well. It was a gorgeous morning, and I managed this 9x12" study of some aspens before the nasty afternoon weather started to roll in. I had planned to paint in the park all day, but the weather looked iffy and I wasn't looking forward to driving back over the pass in a snowstorm, so I left after lunch.

On the way home, I took Old Fall River Road to the top of the pass, which is an old one-way dirt road that winds its way up above treeline. I've never driven it, and I'm glad I did. The aspens were changing up high and it was raining, and it was just a beautiful, slow drive through the mountains. In the end I didn't get as much painting done as I had hoped, but it was a great day anyways.

Have I mentioned that I love my job?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Eye Candy for Artists

Want to drool over some really beautifully executed landscape paintings? Then go check out the preview of T. Allen Lawson's upcoming show at Simpson Gallagher Gallery.

I could stare at some of these all day. If my sister wasn't getting married that weekend, I would totally be driving up to Cody to see this show in person!! (See Shannon, the things I sacrifice for you?)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What is it with August?

"Still Waters"
Oil on Panel

Man, I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel of paintings to post here. This is one of the smaller paintings I did for the RMPAP plein air show last month and this photo is terrible - I don't think I've photographed any new paintings since then, which means I'm way behind and need to have a serious photography session this week!

Anyhow, I don't know what it is, but I always seem to be a little bit "off" with my art every August. Seems like every year, I have a few weeks in August when I'm really struggling with my paintings and having a hard time finding motivation. This year was no different, and I'm happy to say that after a few bad weeks in the studio, I'm starting to get my painting mojo back (good thing too, because I'm preparing for a few different shows and I need all the motivation I can get).Considering my creative drought last month, hopefully you'll bear with me if the following has nothing at all to do with art, and everything to do with life outside of art!

This week has been a roller coaster for Nate and I as we tried to decide what to do with building our house. We'd been originally planning to try and have it move-in ready by Thanksgiving at the latest, and extend our lease on the condo we're in until then. This week it dawned on us that we might as well just move into one of Nate's spec homes and take our time building our own house. The spec has been taking a while to sell due to the housing market problems, and it just seems silly to leave this beautiful house sitting empty while we live in a rental and rush to finish the other house, so it looks like we'll be moving at the end of this month. I'm still looking forward to eventually moving into the house we've designed on the lot we picked out, but in the meantime it'll be nice to be in a house again no matter what.

At this point, the foundation is in for "our" house on "our" lot, and all the plans are done and ready to go at the factory (Nate builds modular homes, so the bulk of the house is built offsite). Here's the view of how it looked a week ago - what you can't see very well here is the beautiful view we'll have of the pond and wetlands behind us:

But, it'll probably be next year before we have a house there. In the meantime, this is the house we're moving into (which was professionally photographed, btw - I'm not this skilled at photgraphing anything!):

Can you tell it's modular? I'm proud of Nate for building this house. It's really cute and has that mountain feel, and while it's a bit small (I'll be using the guest room for my studio), it's got a great floorplan and location. I really think he's found his calling in building houses. Here's a view of the divide from the front yard (I've painted a winter version of this view multiple times already):

So, that's where we'll be a month from now. A big change from where we were at a week ago, but I think a good one for now. In the meantime, we decided to get out this weekend and just enjoy living in the mountains. Some friends came up from Denver to visit, and we took the kiddos horseback riding at Nate's parents' house. Aspen is an old pro at riding Bandit now - check it out:

We also took a hike around Monarch Lake and threw rocks in the water. It's one of my favorite spots to paint, and also just hang out:

When we get all bogged down in the day to day details of running two businesses and working working working, it's always nice to take some time out and remember WHY we're living up here and doing all this!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

August Goals Update

"Moraine Park Summer"
Oil on Panel

Is it really September already? It's been cold up here the past few mornings, and I feel like summer disappeared as Labor Day weekend came to a close. I've been so busy that it seems to have passed me by!! Anyhow, I guess it's time to status my goals and see where I'm at now that we're 2/3 of the way through 2008. It's been a crazy week around here, so bear with me if I ramble.

1. Get my work into three more galleries.

I'm sort of feeling like I'm done with this goal for now. I don't particularily need another gallery at this point, so I don't want to waste a lot of effort on it. I'd rather focus my energy on making sure my existing galleries are stocked with good paintings!! I do have a three-person show in October at a gallery I don't currently show with. If that goes well, I would consider showing my work there, and then I could check this off of my goals list. But right now, I'm happy with where I'm at.

2. Complete 100 paintings.

Painted seven this month - well, I guess I painted eight, but one wasn't very successful and is still in studio waiting to be fixed. Most of these were fairly small, so it wasn't a very productive month for me. I had a bit of post-show burnout after the RMPAP show, and then that stomach thing knocked me out for a week. Anyhow, that makes 66 down, 34 to go.

3. Sell enough work to pay our mortgage.

The original point of this goal was to make me take my art seriously and feel like a contributing part of the household finances, and it's been really effective. It's been a good year for me up to this point, and that's been a really big blessing given the state of the economy. Nate's business is homebuilding, and he's taken a bit of a hit this summer, so anything I can contribute is more than welcome right now. I've already met this goal for the year, and at this point I'm just looking to go beyond that to help out where I can.

4. Update painting database and financial records monthly.

Done. Still very useful. I was going to blow this off this week, then I realized I'd be kicking myself when I eventually had to catch up. It's nice to keep the business side of things up to date by doing it on a regular basis.

5. Race in a minimum of three 5k's.

This is so not a priority right now! I'm registered for a tri this month, but I've got so much going on that it's totally been pushed to the back burner and I think I'll probably skip it. I am going to make sure I go for a run or hike every morning before I paint, mostly for my mental health, but that's where it ends.

So, there they are for the month. Considering how much we have going on these days, I'm happy to see that I'm on track with my goals for the year. In the next few months we'll be moving and it'll be interesting to see how that affects things. At this point we have our foundation done, but we're putting our house on hold and thinking of moving into the spec home we have on the market. I'm sort of bummed about that because it means I won't have my dream studio right away, but the house we'll move into is actually really cute and nice, and has a great view from the front yard that I've painted a couple of times already! And I can wait until next year for the dream studio, I suppose... Anything's gotta be better than the garage I'm painting in right now (which is starting to get cold as the weather turns)!