Friday, December 10, 2010

No Sunday Painter- written for the Montgomery Arts Guild Winter Newsletter

No Sunday Painter - Iain Stewart Oct 2010
An excerpt from the diary of an architectural illustrator prior to the crash.
It’s 6:30 am and I’ve been up for 3 hours. The newest illustration is nearing completion, but I can’t see it. My eyes have given up long ago and the brush in my hand is moving on it's own. Over the James Lee Burke book on tape I hear the dogs starting to move around and that means that the only one who can tell me if I’m going to crash and burn or pull off another one is getting ready for her day. As she makes her way through the house I ambush my wife in the kitchen by the coffee maker which is still warming the dregs of the last pot I made at five. 
I must look absolutely crazy. I’ve been in the same pajama pants for three days now and my hair is sticking out at odd angles. The last of a 3 image job sits awaiting her verdict and as Noelle calmly navigates past the dogs awaiting their breakfast, and the husband awaiting her counsel, to the studio, I trail behind her shot through with nervous energy. 
“Oh yeah babe that looks great!”
Something in me relaxes and I start to feel the combined stress of working around the clock, microwave meals, and 300 cigarettes begin to fade. I look at the offending painting and realize that it does look good. My tired eyes can take it in and overall it’s working for me. I sit down with my wife on the back porch and begin to talk about how I’ve got to make a change and how I feel like I need a break or something, but there are more jobs lined up. I’ve got today to get my rest in and I’m back at it tomorrow with a multi-use project for an architect out of Charlottesville. Five images due in just under two weeks. 
Rinse repeat.
Then the bottom fell out of the economy and I found myself with all the time in the world.
Be careful what you wish for or at the very least be prepared. 
To be honest my work load is definitely cyclical. I have been an architectural illustrator in watercolor for the last 14 years. I am used to not having a lot of work on in January, but as February rolled around and the phone still sat silent I began to worry. I had managed to keep myself busy by beginning to work on some images for a father and son show slotted for the end of the year at David Braly’s gallery in Montgomery. I was enjoying myself and beginning to build up a few images that would work for the show, but I certainly wasn’t generating any income. The solution I came up with was fairly simple and probably ill advised unless you are very good at living without a safety net. I would let the work come if it did, but while I had the downtime I had been so desperate for when I was overworked, I would use it to better my painting. 
Architectural illustration is a precise and formulaic form of creativity and architects are extremely specific about how an image should represent their vision. It doesn’t allow for exploration during the painting process nor does it allow for mistakes. As an illustrator you must supply an image that accurately portrays the design while placing it in a setting that is both inviting and representational of an actual site. While it can be undeniably fulfilling as a means of artistic expression; it is always coupled with the restrictions that creating for a client involves. Many decisions are not mine to make and as I work through the layout of a rendering it is more of a choreography of different ideas than a single artistic vision. 
As I began to paint for myself in earnest that January in 2009 I found that one of the most difficult things I had to overcome was the complete freedom involved. This may sound ridiculous, but remember I am trained to work as a team member suddenly I found myself playing one on one. My early paintings in 2009 are mostly architectural pieces and are highly technical and detailed, but as I began to understand that I was free to paint anything I started to open up. The realization that I was allowed to make mistakes and actually ruin paintings was incredibly freeing. Not that I set out to do either, but the knowledge that no image should become too precious or self important while it is being worked on allows me to express myself in a more honest way. If I set out to paint a masterpiece I will almost invariably fail in that attempt. However, if I approach a painting with no preconceived notions about its merit I usually end up with something that speaks to me. 
As for the last year and a half or so it’s been the best, most creative and disciplined time of my life. I’ve painted almost every day and when I haven’t it’s been on my mind. I believe that’s the key. My work is constantly in my thoughts. That, of course, is an incredibly selfish way to live, but in my case at least, the one person who should be angry about that is the most supportive and that’s how wonderful life can be at times.  
The joy I’ve found in simple observation is perhaps the most surprising aspect of this entire experience. My subjects tend to be mundane and ordinary settings. The sort of thing that a local would walk past every day and not notice. That play between the hidden in plain sight, the natural and man made, in the rural and urban landscape are what intrigue me. I enjoy finding those hidden places that many overlook. 
I’ve had some successes and a bit of recognition for my work lately, both locally and nationally. These little victories help along the way as I can very easily let negative thoughts bring my goals into question and those goals are fairly simple; continue to paint and push myself in a positive direction, never take anything for granted, and above all don’t let up. 
As the design industry begins a long climb out of an unbelievably deep hole my phone has begun to ring with more frequency and I have started the juggling game that will be necessary not to find myself burnt out and ready for a recuperative stay in some sort of home. I don’t think it will come to that. The freedom I’ve experienced over the last couple of years is translating into my architectural work as well. The renderings are fresher, more lively, and I get to push them in directions I wasn’t able to before this all started. I will have late nights or early mornings as the case may be, but just as often as not the client will be me. 
I am the son of Muir Stewart and Fiona Macleod and between them I have been raised the child of a painter, teacher, actress, architect, illustrator, social worker, late in life career changers, and self confessed dreamers. My brother Matt and I were brought from Scotland to Ghana to North Carolina and finally Alabama. I have watched my father paint my entire life and if there’s anything I know about him is that when he is painting at his best all of our lives are better.

Walking the Bridge
7" x 5"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Limited Palette

I've been a bad blogger. I get caught up in work and forget to post. Anyhoo- I've been working with a limited palette lately. Using an old travel palette, I have been experimenting with using only 8 colors. Cobalt blue, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, cadmium red, neutral tint, french ultramarine, yellow ochre, and hookers green. The results have been interesting. I wanted to see what could be done without some of my "go to" colors and the lessons I've learned are well worth it. The main point was to focus more on value than color and see if I could paint with as much depth as I could with my every day palette. Either way you decide. Here are a couple of new ones. I've been painting quite a lot lately so there's a large waiting list of images I need to post. I'll try and break it up into a few different posts to keep things interesting.


5th Avenue in Rain

The Commuter

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lack of Sleep

I usually try and figure out the current painting I'm working on while I'm going to sleep. At times this practice can be a bit of a problem as that relaxing, end of the day meditative state I'm trying to achieve can, at times, turn into a get right up and start painting state. This was the case last night. I do love the studio when all are asleep and I have my dog Casey snoring contentedly in the middle of the floor while I paint. Here's the result.

8th and A
Opelika, Alabama
15" x 18"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some new ones

Morning Delivery 12" x 9"

Wow- well, I missed September completely. That is not to say I wasn't there, but true to form, I got busy and have only raised my head up to check, on occasion, that the house wasn't on fire. In my fleetingly scarce moments of down time I did manage to stay in the studio and do some painting for myself (or galleries) which ever way you look at it. I'm not complaining by any means. I'm extremely privileged that my day job involves watercolors, but it can get hard to stick at it after business hours if you've been working on architectural pieces all day. The trick, I think, is convincing yourself that the real freedom lies in the exploration you can do when working for yourself without a client in mind and that will refresh you. Sometimes it works. There has been lots of news lately and I'll spread that out over a few posts in the next couple of days to keep things interesting. Here are a couple of new ones to chew on in the meantime. I'm gearing up for some serious play in the next few weeks so the images should start to look a bit different for a while. That "play" is so important to me. If I don't push myself in new or uncomfortable ways then I find I start to feel stale and who wants that? 

The Brooklyn Bridge from under the FDR
18" x 10"

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It keeps on chugging along

A sad morning here on Avenue D. I just waved goodbye to two of my favorite people as they headed off to Lubbock, Texas. Brett and Audra continue another leg of their journey in parts unknown. This street has seen its share of great folk, but in the stillness of this morning, I know it wont be the same without them. It's such a wonderfully strange thing how people come into your life and make it better. Neighbors are a mixed bag all in all, but for some reason, we've been extremely fortunate to have had neighbors who became close friends. My home is richer because of them.

Avenue D has lost two of the best and feels a little smaller today. Here's a painting I did of Audra last March in the snow. It is on its way to Texas with them.

Safe journey guys.....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


This week on Brush Paper Water

I am extremely pleased to announce that Chris Beck has done a piece on my work at her blog Brush Paper Water. It's a great source for seeing new work from many of the finest watercolorists working today. Thank you Chris! Take some time to look over some of the past artists and definitely check out Chris' work too.

Early Evening, Opelika, Alabama, 9" x 13"

"The act of painting, for me, is chicken soup on a cold day. It's my comfort food and my peace. When I am relaxed and the washes are flowing, ideas are clicking, I forget the clock and I am me." 

Growing up the son of a watercolorist formed the way Iain Stewart sees the world by breaking it down into washes, values, shapes, contrasts, lines and brushstrokes, and his father has had a great influence on his growth as an artist -- perhaps more by example than direct instruction. Iain's background in architecture added a love of built forms and his education at the Rural Studio under the late Samuel Mockbee helped him understand the simple beauty of the rural south. Living in Opelika, Alabama, a railroad town where the remnants of the past are easily visible, he seeks out the places in his daily life that have not completely lost their history, exploring the beauty in the mundane. He is intrigued by the play between rigid and loose and strives to find a balance between the two in his painting -- anchoring his landscapes with something solid or man-made, or varying his brushstrokes to break up the rigidity of architectural forms.

Coaling Tower, Opelika, Alabama, 13" x 9"

South Railroad Ave. in Snow, Opelika, Alabama
13" x 9"

Iain is a native of Scotland who received his degree in Architecture from Auburn University and did thesis work at the Rural Studio in Hale County, Alabama. He's been painting in watercolor for over 20 years and, after working as a residential architect, established his architectural illustration business in 1996 as a way to combine his love of watercolor and design. His architectural illustrations have been reproduced in many publications, including Better Homes and Gardens, The Robb Report, Coastal Living, Inspired House, and Southern Living.

Frustrated with the constraints of commercial work, Iain renewed his interest in fine art in recent years and has started showing his work in national shows. He won the the Southern Watercolor Society Award at the Watercolor Society of Alabama's 69th National Exhibition this year and was recently named one of Watercolor Artist magazine's "Ones to Watch" for 2010, to be published in the December issue of the magazine (available in October).
Miss Voncille, Coden, Alabama, 13" x 9"

Heading Out, Resurrection Bay, Alaska, 13" x 9"

Please jump to Iain's blog for more news about his work and a link to his website.

Read more:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Art vs. Oil Spill

I've been meaning to post this for a while. My friend Paul Jackson has started a facebook page with the sole purpose of raising funds for the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Preservation Society which is helping rescue animals endangered by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Please take a moment to look through the Zazzle website where many artists have donated pieces for this important cause. I recently finished an image which I will donate for an auction in Pensacola later in the year. I've included a link to the Zazzle store where you can purchase merchandise with my image on it. All proceeds go to a worthy cause and I will not take one penny in profit from this.

Here's the link:
Zazzle Store

Great Blue Heron- 14" x 15"

Utrecht Art's Featured Artist of the Month.

Very pleased to learn that I have been chosen as Utrecht Art's Featured Artist of the Month. A real treat! 

Here's the link

Friday, June 4, 2010

Watercolor Artist Magazine's 2010 One's to Watch Issue

Got a call from the editors of Watercolor Artist Magazine today. I've been selected for the 2010 "One's to Watch" issue. A great honor and I we'll be seeing some of my work in the Dec 2010 issue due out in October.

I've been painting a lot of small ones lately for an upcoming show. I'm looking for ways to make purchasing my work a little more affordable in these nasty economic times. Here are a few new ones. I've been concentrating on doing some images that reflect my love of the Gulf Coast. I'm so unbelievably angry at what's going on down there. More on that later though.

The Charlie Bychurch- Coden, Alabama
9" x 6"

Twilight- Coden, Alabama
9" x 6"

Friday, May 28, 2010

Teaching again

So- back to school for the summer. I guess I have that backwards, but for me summer means school this year. Two drawing courses and a watercolor  class all on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm pretty shot after talking for what amounts to 7 hours. It's a pretty big change from the life of the architectural illustrator, but extremely rewarding and a great challenge. The watercolor group looks to be a good one. Here's the first demo I did yesterday.  I'll post more of these as we do them.

In other news:
South Railroad Avenue in Snow received the Southern Watercolor Society Award at the WSA National Exhibit this month.

Union Square Park, NYC

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Laundry Day

I've been doing a lot of paintings close to home and felt the need to take a day or two to revisit my trip to New York. I've got loads of images planned, but am trying to balance images from near and far. This one is a little laundry in the West Village that drew my attention in March. The street was absolutely deserted as I was up very early. I like how the building is seen in elevation, but we get the street at right and the shadow across the building for some depth. Also, that little sunlit interior was a challenge, but I was quite happy with the outcome. I'm really enjoying playing with direct sunlight and shadow right now.

Harry Chong Laundry
West Village, NYC
13" x 9"

Watercolor Society of Alabama National Exhibition

Well, a little bit late on this one, but my painting South Railroad Avenue in snow was juried into the Watercolor Society of Alabama's 69th National Exhibition. I mention this as I have just finished framing the little fella and will be driving down to Troy to hand deliver it for the show. Nice not to have to ship to CA for this one. I think I could have shipped myself to the NWS show cheaper than the painting that got in. Here's the one that made it to the Alabama show. It's a great honor and just a little more sweet as I'm on home turf for this one.

South Railroad Ave in Snow
Opelika, Alabama
13" x 9"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Train, the Train

Ok, so here's the first of the images from the train shots I took a few weeks back. I caught another one downtown on 8th Street so there should be some more coming with views of Opelika as well. I've got to start carrying a decent camera with me. These shots are taken with my phone and I lose a lot of the mid tones. Another must carry gadget. I'll need a purse soon. Wait, I already have one, it's referred to as a man bag I believe and functions quite nicely.  

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Up Close and Personal

Yesterday, while running errands, I noticed the train was stopped at the 6th street bridge downtown. It's not often you get to walk right up on a running train and snap pictures. Having a good day in the studio today as a result. Hope you're having a great one too.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday morning thoughts

Sitting in the backyard yesterday after pulling weeds and deciding what we needed to do to get our garden in shape for spring Noelle asked me what was wrong. I guess I was looking down or something. I dunno. She asked me what I had done that day. I told her. It was a great day productivity wise but something was nagging on me. I had taken a rendering to it's final stages and it looked good, weeded the front yard and done some work in the back, and checked a ton of stuff off of my to do list.
"well what else did you do"
"I wrote in my blog"
"oh good, what about?"
"how happy I was"
We both laughed our asses off. It just struck me as funny. Yesterday I gushed about my utter joy et all and then proceeded to have one of those blech days. Maybe I put my day's allotted happiness into the writing and that left me dried out. I don't know. Either way, it was a great laugh.

Here's a little duck for Thursday.He seems happy enough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The long way around

84 Christopher St. West Village, NYC.

I was talking to Paul Jackson  recently about trying to meet up again. I attended his workshop in Pensacola last January. I became aware of his work, specifically his piece Floating Palace via another friend Tom's comments on Facebook, and thought "what the hell, I'm going to go meet this guy." I just couldn't believe how Paul captured the sheen and transparency of the reflection so naturally in that painting and I wanted to talk to him about how he works. Until that point I had always been somewhat of a reclusive painter and wanted to give myself a kick in the ass about getting out there and doing something that would push me to start painting with some new energy. I emailed Paul's wife Marla, plonked down my deposit, and began to plan a trip south. I never expected that the 4 hour drive to Pensacola would be the first leg on a much longer journey that continues to this day with no end in sight.

I've been painting and drawing with relish since I was a kid. I've been a successful and comfortable architectural illustrator for the last 14 years. In all that time I had continued to do side paintings with some idea of having a show and starting a career as a gallery artist. Things got in the way;  I had a son, Noah, (a wonder and a gem), I got married (one of the great joys of my life), we took on a renovation of a 1905 Alabama home (nice now, but see how you like washing dishes in a bath tub), all this took money and dedication so I churned out the illustrations and worked like hell on the weekends. At some points I was producing 2 or 3 images a week every week for months on end. This continued right up until New Years Eve of 2008. I finished a rendering, scanned it, sent it off to the client, and then the roof fell in. The architectural industry came apart in the recession but unknowingly I had already switched careers.

Back to Paul, Marla, and a bunch of oysters. I drove down to Pensacola ready and fired up to paint. This was early January 2009. The workshop was in a small framing gallery and there were about 11 of us. I met everyone, put my stuff together and looked on expectantly. For anyone that has taken a workshop (I've taught a few myself) you'll know what I mean when I say we had a mixed group. The skill levels were all over the place. Unknowingly I had signed up for the beginners course, which wasn't a big deal at all. I just wanted to see the guy paint and see how someone else does it. Paul teaches with a refreshingly laid back style. No ego, no pressure, no worries. I did two paintings of the same subject; a reproduction of one of Paul's pieces that I wanted to explore. I chomped some of the sweetest oysters. I drank Budweiser. I met Paul and Marla, Steve, Jan, Evin, and Jonathan. I talked about painting with someone who's work I admired and I came away with something hard to define. I was back in love with painting and my old mistress was alive and beautiful. After years of painting for a small and specific group of clients within a very strict set of rules I was free to explore wherever I wanted.

I have worked like a mad scientist ever since. I've screwed up countless paintings. I had some successes. I started teaching drawing, painting, and composition at the University level. I had two shows last year. I have more planned this year. I've sold a few and I've had a lot of commissions. My studio is brimming with new work and my head with new ideas. I am happy, I mean really damn smiling to yourself making strangers feel weird happy, with what I do. The architectural work is back and that's great. Just don't expect me to paint em like I used to.

As always. A couple of new ones and thanks to all of you.


Beneath the Brooklyn Bridge NYC

Last Light Lower East Side- NYC

Friday, March 19, 2010

National Watercolor Society All Members Show

Got the mail yesterday and found a letter addressed to myself from me and knew I had gotten notice of the status of my submission to the National Watercolor Society All Members Exhibit. Just before heading out to New York for a week or so of painting and exploring (more on that later) I hurriedly put together a submission for the juried show.

Well, my painting Tracks #2 Opelika, Alabama was selected by juror Mary Addison Hackett to be included in the show. Very pleased here.

I'll post some pics and a bit of info on the New York trip in the next few days. I've been sifting through pictures, sketches, and a few on site watercolors, as well as doing some studio pieces of the trip.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow in the South

Ah, I had been waiting for this. Last year a Facebook challenge The Watercolor Snow Scene Festival cranked up and I wanted to paint snow I had actually seen and felt. I was in Alaska last year, but somehow southern snow what I wanted for this project. So, I waited. We got through January and nothing, (it is the south), and late in February finally some snow. For those of you who don't live in the south, our snow, if we're going to get it, comes in late winter. It's most common in March for some reason. Usually we just get a dusting if anything, but the last two years we've had decent accumulation. 5 inches this year. Nice for us and it's gone in a day or two. Everyone stocks up like we're planning for a nuclear winter then we play a sort of bumper car rally when people are driving around looking at the snow. Hint- just because you have an SUV doesn't mean the laws of physics don't apply. An object once set in motion wants to stay in motion, etc. SUV- more mass, you get the idea. We walked. Noelle made it to the end of the street, ran in to visit a neighbor and warm up, then made it another half block before deciding she lived in the south for a reason, that reason being she didn't have to walk around in any damned snow, and turned for home and a warming glass of wine. I joined our neighbors and we walked down town took pictures, tossed a few snowballs, had a beer in a deserted Opelika. We packed a couple of hideaways in case the coffee shop was closed. Here are a couple of my warm studio paintings of the day. Still working on a few more. The gal in the red jacket would have been Noelle, but my neighbor Audra braved the cold so she got the glory. It was a great day all in all.

South Railroad Avenue 13" x 9"

Red Jacket 6" x 4"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thoughts on Commissions

Oregon Coast #1 9" x 13"

I've recently finished a commissioned work for an old friend who found me on Facebook, maybe I found him, I can't remember. Still, the fact remains we got in touch. He saw my recent paintings and, most kindly, contacted me about doing a piece using his photography as inspiration. Over the years I've done quite a lot of commissioned work, but until now, I hadn't thought about how they are different than my architectural illustrations and gallery work. They are, in essence, paintings done of a subject you are given and not found yourself. Secondly, someone has asked you to create something with expectations already in mind about the outcome. Both of which are extremely similar to an architect calling you and asking you to complete a rendering for marketing or client needs.

So, how do you keep that vital fresh feeling alive in a commissioned work? Man, I don't know to tell the truth. I have found something useful that tends to bridge the gap though. I'm honest up front that I am not going to do an exact representation of what I see in a photograph. It's got to go through my filter and come out the other end. (insert joke here) Colors, time of day, built elements; well all of it really, is subject to manipulation and changes. I usually ask for many different photos of one subject or multiple photographs showing different subjects and ask that I be allowed to choose what photo or combination is used. This way I get to have the click of the light bulb and if I know anything it’s that little click that means all the difference. I had a great time working on these although I must admit I fussed over the first one and ruined it. You won’t see that here. It’s back in the paper bin awaiting another chance at life as a study.

A good patron hires you. A great one also says go for it. Thanks J.

Marina 13" x 9"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday moring coffee roundup

I had the weekend to myself as Noelle was in Atlanta with two of our three dogs. She was attending a dog / Terence party and Ginger our beagle is sort of a canine Weezer of Steel Magnolias fame. Her social skills are limited at best and to top it off they were having a dog cake which is as I understand it is just a load of dog food and treats piled up and stuck together which, when introduced to a largish pack of hounds, creates a festive feeding frenzy which would make the most seasoned piranha whet his pencil and take notes. When the 15 or so fights are broken up and the pups returned to the bosom of their owners, all that is left is the stripped carcass or cookie sheet and a few dazed onlookers. Quite fun I hear and I asked that Noelle shoot a video so maybe I'll post that here too. If you have had the pleasure of watching our beagle eat you will understand me when I say there is no way in hell I would allow her to attend this sort of event. Things would quickly spiral out of control and in addition to a party there would be possible vet visits and legal issues to be sorted out. It seems that this little experiment is touching on my dogs as much as my work, but hey, that's my life. Equal parts animals, wife, work, and play.

So, I had the weekend to myself as I said. I decided to try quick watercolor sketches and did around 6 all told. I've included a couple here. My work is pretty exploratory right now. By that I mean I've taken it upon myself to see as much work from other artists as I can and that always makes me want to try new things. I have in the past tried to stick to a certain style, but right now I'm just seeing where this is going. The guy that seems to be moving me the most right now is Joseph Zbukvic. If you haven't seen his work I highly recommend it.

Here are a couple of my favorites. I love a sketch. I'm trying to keep that spontaneous feeling going during the painting process. Sometimes it works and more often that not I end up having to take the lessons learned from a failed painting and try and correct it on the next go. I'm more than happy to do so. If you're not screwing something up you're not learning in my book. If you feel you don't have anything else to learn then you are a dead man.

The two images are both approximately 10" x 6".

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tiger by the Tail

Well, no new posts so far this week. I seem to have shot my bolt for the next few days. I decided I needed to take on a large and complex city scene to use as a marketing piece for my illustrations and boy oh boy did I. I should have it done next week and will find a place to scan a large fella and get it posted. Chicago is the only hint.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Continuing down the tracks

Friday evening Noelle and I took all three dogs for a walk downtown just as the sun was going down. Opelika is very much your small southern town. We ran into 3 groups of friends all out walking various beasts or heading for a well deserved cocktail. I slipped off and took a few photos. Noelle, poor gal, was left holding the dogs. They, at my best calculation, are 172 pounds of seething, sniffing, multi-directionally intent hounds. The nicest group of pups one could ask for but the gang outweighs her by a goodish 75 and when they all decide to investigate different things she looks a bit like she's being stretched on the rack. I went past the coaling tower, which was the subject of my last painting, and looked at where the two lines came together. The old line must have run underneath the coaling tower, but has since been diverted back to the original. Still, an orange southern evening, and the rail lines really stand out. Maybe this little odyssey should be me just walking further and further down the tracks to see what I find. Here's the latest.


Tracks with water tower
9" x 13"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A fine Saturday

As I said a fine one today. Yesterday not as great. Another drop out in what seems an endless string of illustrations that lose funding. Projects start, stop, start again, go on hold, wait a week, we'll let you know when we're going to crank back up, we'll get past this little bump don't worry. Well, I'm not. Started a new Opelika scene today. It's a bit of a departure for me. You'll see.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Painting closer to home

Here's a new approach. Instead of looking to Scotland or even typically picturesque US locations for my inspiration I'm going to explore much closer to home, well, just down the street really. I'm typically hard pressed to come up with reasons for what I do. I'm not on a search for meaning or beauty, to me, this is not about explaining my emotions or making sense of the world around me. Quite simply, I enjoy how a subject is transformed when I paint it. Back to the point. I live in Opelika, Alabama. It's a small railroad town and the sister city to Auburn of Bo Jackson and football fame. It was once quite the little manufacturing city even gaining national recognition in the film Norma Rae and is one of the places Johnny Cash has been when he says "I've been everywhere man." Listen to the song it's in there. I believe I can find inspiration for an entire series of paintings within 5 miles of the city limits. My friend Tom words it quite well- "to find so much beauty, depth, and energy in the "ordinary" - those simple things we see around us every day." Thanks Tom. This is not a bet or a Julie and Julia moment, but more of a question that I'd like to answer for myself.

Here's the first one. It's the old coaling tower just off of South Railroad Ave in downtown Opelika. We'll see where this leads.

Coaling Tower-Opelika, Alabama
13" x 9"

First real post, 4th actually

So this is the first post. I've actually posted a few times as you can see, but this is the first one where I've tried writing something about what I'm doing. I've been told I need to have a "blog" site for my artwork and thus here we are. Or, just me for the moment. I quite enjoy writing to myself so I have no problem with no readers. Please excuse my lack of knowledge in blog jargon and, as at the moment I am writing to myself, I most certainly do. For now this remains my secret spot on the web. It may evolve to involve more people. We'll just have to see. Until then, Iain, enjoy your work and I'm sure I'll read your next post.


Cold Sea
10" x 6"

Ms. Voncille finds her way home

Ms. Voncille finds her way home. I got an email this morning from a woman in Texas who informed me the boat was named after her mother, Voncille. Here's an excerpt.

"The Miss Voncille is from a small fishing village off the Texas Gulf Coast
called Port Isabel. So sweet to see her sitting there in Bayou la Batre."

Voncille is a watercolorist as well.

So, last August, I'm in Bayou la Batre looking for boats as subjects for my work and the 2nd one I actually do a painting of is named after another watercolor painter and her daughter finds this painting on my artbreak page.

Small world, big web. Great morning.