Friday, November 13, 2009

Passing America: Windy Plow_John Deere Tractor, plains, farm,

 "Passing America: Windy Plow"__6 x 8 Drive-by painting for Passing America:the Great Plains
Interstate 40 brought us through Amarillo, and east of there we took state Hwy 207. I want to do these "drive-by" paintings on scenic roads if I can and avoid the Interstate if possible...I like interstates because they are smoother for painting in the car, and because the views are familiar to most folks, but I like the idea of taking a road I may never take again. This one, 207, has a green dotted line on the Rand McNally map, which means it's a scenic route. We pulled off the road near Claude to move Nancy from the right to left side in the back so she could watch me paint...It was fiercely windy and a little bit cold. I turned around to look over the land, and saw this cloud of dirt in the distance. When we finally drove off, I made sure we drove by slowly so that I could sketch John Deere coming at us. I am sure that the farmer was thankful for an enclosed cab! Our tractors had heat and A/C , and I can imagine what the new ones must have!! I confess I made Barbara drive REAL SLOWLY past this scene and I made lots of quick strokes which I completed from memory as we drove by.  I wanted it to look windy. So far, this is the ONLY painting I really like for "Passing America..."  149 to go!
Below are photos of this scenic stretch inthe Great Plains of Texas!

This grain elevator in Claude did not seem to be shut down, though it was very desolate! At harvest time I bet this place is BUSY! I  can imagine farmers whose parents and grandparents built this place inan earlier time when LIFE revolved around agriculture...

The reason for the green dots on the map...Caprock Canyons State Park appeared out of nowhere! It's so obvious that the plains were eroded by great waters passing over the land and carving these red rock canyons. Our road was "eye level" with the tops of the mesas, but then the land sloped away toward the river. This Canyon is at the end of Palo Duro Canyon, and looked the same to me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Drawing the Gate""Drawing the Gate"__drive-by sketch, New Mexico, cowboy

"Drawing the Gate"___from my travel sketchbook...driving by the Birdwell Ranch in New Mexico


Yeah, I guess I might say that from time to time as I travel as a passenger across the plains...God bless my friend Barbara who was driving this leg, and who was so agreeable to "obey" hahaha.

This was a precious scene we came upon, as the mounted cowboy turned his horse, grabbed the gate and drew it shut. Then he loaded his horse in a trailer and drove off. Behind them was a small group of hereford cattle that we guessed were either dropped off or rounded up. I actually had Barbara stop and wait while I photographed all that...took about 3 minutes. When we drove off, I sketched from memory (above), and later when I looked at the photos, I could read the gate, that this is Bridwell Ranch. It's on I-40 east of Santa Rosa New Mexico. (see gate photo below)

This scene reminded me of the frequent "wranglings" at our farm, where some of our family members were cowboys and rodeo riders and did the practical cowboying of moving cattle from pasture to pasture....Except this New Mexico vacquero had a strange looking cowboy hat...see photo below...I miss those days!

Have you seen the 365 paintings I did? for every day of our Last Year on the Farm. I am hoping that this "Passing America..." collection will be just as intriguing!

...the HAT

...Bridwell Ranch Gate

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Passing the Edge"___

"Passing the Edge"___8x10 oil___a drive-by painting, Passing America: the Great Plains
Driving east from the southern Rockies there is a definite "LINE " where one can actually SEE the Great Plains . Just south of Las Vegas, New Mexico on US 84 this view stood out before us at sunrise. Click to zoom in, and you can see the line of the plain, which I emphasized by a bead of paint made by pressing down on a loaded brush...hard to explain, but I can "show it" at a workshop...if you can come! schedule is on my web site. This painting begins a new project ... "Passing America: The Great Plains". The photos below were taken as and before I painted  this "drive-by" canvas.

we left Las Vegas before sunrise, and as soon as we came down into the plain, the sun came up, giving us a morning rainbow in the west!

We left the rain behind, somewhere between Tecolotito and Dilla, NM. This shot shows the shadow of our "wheels".

There were still heavy clouds, but the sun was breaking them and somewhere in that distant blue is the line of the plain, which I painted above.

The Great Plains

Map.The Great Plains of the United states of America_just one of MANY versins of the boundaries
The first thing I did when deciding to paint a project centered in the Great Plains, was to find out where the boundaries of the Plains are! What a surprise to find MANY, MANY maps, each with slightly different boundaries. As an artist, I LOVE THAT! There is a certain sort of "freedom" in undetermined boundaries. It almost feels like I have a "say" in just WHERE the Great Plains are. The vaugueness of a boundary actually complements my project title.,
Passing America: The Great Plains
For the next two years, I will be "passing" through different parts of the plains. I will be a passenger in a car or train, and I will be PAINTING ON THE MOVE, while driving by...yes, call it "DRIVE-BY PAINTING". Creating original oil paintings this way will be an exercise in observation...QUICK observation, because the view out my window will be ever fluid and changing. ALL OF THIS is meant to magnify the theme PASSING. Not only will I end up with about  150 works of art, but I hope to symbolize the "passing" of an important aspect of America.
 When I painted Last Year on the Farm I first got a sense of the change as our family's way of life came to an end. As I traveled with the exhibit and met hundreds of people who were experiencing the same thing, I wanted to continue the next chapter of the story. A story not told for the sake whining about loss, but to encourage strength to those hanging on to a noble way of life, and a hopefulness about what might be ahead....please become a follower of this blog, and my Small Works Blog (a painting a day, there). I love comments (especially good ones!). ...or you can email me