Thursday, October 20, 2011

Magic of the Pen

With French easels...there are these "wing nuts" and after setting up and taking down 3 or 4 times a day, those little nuts become 4 letter words!! Betty jean Bullips


After ten days of battling the elements in the Florida heat, a veteran studio painter was asked 'so how do you like painting outdoors?' The response was, 'I realize now that I prefer painting in Plein-Air Conditioning!' Mary Erickson


One of the techniques taught in art classes is "en plein-air," --painting out of doors. I have read books, magazines and listened to professors on the subject and the consensus is that plein air is the very best way to paint landscapes, the studio being a poor second.  Working from photographs is frowned on. Plein-air painters are considered the elite of landscape artists.  I read an ariticle about an artist who specialized in snow scenes; she painted en plein-air.  She sat cross-legged in the back of her station wagon painting while looking out the car window.  If it was too cold, she'd take photos to use as a reference to paint in the studio. Huh? Why not do that to start with? 

Plein-air was a tool developed by the French Impressionists in the 1870s and 80s to create fresh bright paintings, different then anything seen before.  However the French Academy of Art, with their rigid standards in painting, rejected the Impressionists' work because it didn't fit into the traditional norm of art of that time. The outlaw painters broke all the rules and only much later were they were applauded for standing up to the establishment and creating a new form of art. However the modern establishment teaches the Impressionists techniques as rules in creating art and rules were what the original en plein-air painters stood against.

While some people enjoy painting outside--I wish them great joy in it, I have problems with it.  One-- I am too slow.  I can't rush the painting and the light changes and my leg cramps...it is not fun.  Two-- The landscape out doors has too much information for me to process.  If I look at a tree, I have a hard time deciding what shapes to include or which to leave out to suggest the tree. Three-- After being led to feel guilty for working from photos, there is nothing wrong with using reference photographs.  Certainly I don't want to COPY the picture.  A good artist can take elements from several photos and put them together in a composition.  


Essence of a Tree
An art teacher once told me that the key to being an artist is to train yourself to see.  So I look.  I study a tree or a barn or clouds--I never stop looking, whether riding in a car or waiting somewhere--and somehow this magical gift from God comes out when I need it.  When I start moving the pen around on the paper out came this tree--not any particular tree but the essence of what I have seen, and I did it inside while listening to people speak at a meeting. Who needs plein-air?  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck...5. The Food we et.

You might be a redneck if..
..you have filled your deer-tag on the golf course.
..the main course at potluck dinners is road kill.
..you think that potted meat on a saltine is an hors d'ouerve.


Once someone gave us a bunch of canned chicken and the kids wouldn't touch it until my husband told them it was buffalo meat; then they scarfed it right down--eating it right out of the can.  You see my kids were used to eating weird things.


Like I said in earlier posts, I was a city girl--raised in the North and everything I had eaten came from the grocery store or garden or Grandpa's farm.  The first odd thing I notice about my Hubby was that he put peanuts in his Coke.  That didn't make sense to me.  If ya want peanuts why fix it soes ya have to chase 'em around with yur tongue?  And he called 'em goobers.  I don't know about you, when I thought of goobers, peanuts didn't come to mind. It went down hill from there.  I don't just mean things like head cheese and grits and okra and squirrels and coons and sech... it's worse 'n that.


The first odd food I encountered was frog legs.  Southern men love them and go off in the night with lanterns and frog gigs hunting big croakers, and all that can be used is the back legs. I had a policy-- I didn't eat anything that I couldn't stand to look at when it was alive.. and that purdy much leaves out reptiles.  The first thing I noticed 'bout frog legs is that they jumped around in the skillet when my mother-in-law was trying to cook them and that sealed the deal for me-- not only would I not eat them things but there was no way I could be talked into cooking them.  One Sunday Hubby and the boys went out and shot a big mess of legs and for the first time I was sweet-talked into cooking them.  Hubby told me that he cut the tendons so that they wouldn't jump in the hot fat.  I knew he was lyin' to me but I agreed anyway.  I had a big ole mound of them on a plate covered with flour and remembered I hadn't salted them.  So I liberally sprinkled salt on the mound.  One thing I've learned bout frog legs--the nervous system dies 5 days after the frog does. Once the salt hit the meat the legs started quivering-- the whole plate of them was moving.  I woke up my napping husband and told him they were going over the back fence in about 60 seconds and if he wanted them, he'd better rescue them.  He did and he cooked them his own self.


Then there was the Rocky Mountain oysters.  Not really oysters.  In West Texas they called them "calf fries."  When I worked at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo I had to explain to customers what they were-- well... when you turn a bull into steer, you have to, uh, remove something.  And the oysters, which aren't really oysters, is a bi-product. The women would turn pale and the men would order them.  When Hubby explained calf fries to me I was outraged!  I wouldn't touch them things!!  I was taunted with them by Hubby and the in-laws.  What kind of family did I marry into anyway?  Then one day I visited my mother-in-law when she was frying some up and there the calf fries lay all hot and golden brown on a paper towel.  I don't know what came over me... I ate one.  Oh my, them things are good! I became an immediate fan.  Anybody know where I can get any in Northeastern Washington? It is the only weird food I'll eat. Nope won't eat the tongue, or heart, or brains but..


Then there was the road kill.  Armadillo.  When we lived in East Texas, Hubby wanted one but they are a protected species in Texas.  We'd be camping and hear rustling in the bushes and he'd take off hoping to catch him an armadillo but those suckers are fast and he always came back out of breath and empty-handed.  Late one night him and his buddy were out drinking and on the way home they hit an armadillo with the car.  He was so excited--he finally got him one.  The two of them spent the rest of the night in the shed drinking and singing while they cleaned it.  By daylight he was frying some up for breakfast (by then he knew that his wife wasn't gonna cook anything suspicious.) "Get up kids," he shouted, "we're havin' us some armadiller for breakfast!"  The kids got up, like I said they were used to eating weird things.


(I know that I used improper grammar and spelling, but this is a redneck story and my writing teacher said you can do that as long as it is on purpose. ;o)