Monday, January 4, 2016

Top Things of 2015

This is always one of my favorite blog posts to write for the new year. What I was inspired by, enjoyed or just delighted in during 2015. Some of these things made life easier in just a practical sense while others have stayed with me because of the power and love they share.

8. Hiking in National Parks

Ok. Duh. Getting out in nature helps you to be a better painter. Yes, of course. But please. Go see some beautiful places. Drink them into your soul and let them work on your spirit. You will not only be a better painter but a better person for it. There are just things that don't have words.

Sol Duc Falls 
Olympic National Park

Hiking with my beautiful family 
Big Bend National Park

7. Old Holland Transparent Oxide Red

I'm in love with this color. It is rich and glows. It makes a nice underpainting color for landscapes as well as warms up rocks and trees in a glowing light. Old Holland is probably one of the most expensive oil paints but I still have the first tube of Transparent Oxide Red I bought in 2015 and I've used it in almost every painting. They make their paints rich in color so a little goes a long way.

6. PanelPak

Just a nice piece of ridged wood with two large rubber bands

I've been to two national parks and one national recreation area in 2015. I used the panelpak on every trip and it really helped bring home my paintings in one piece. It also cut down the cumbersome extra carrier that I usually have to lug around as this slipped into my plein air easel bag very nicely. I got two 9x12's and two 6x8's. I'll probably be getting more in 2016.

5. Stretch and Frame

Located at:  
8230 Elmbrook Drive, suite 600
Dallas, TX 75247

This beautiful couple does an outstanding job on their canvas. If you are in Dallas. PLEASE give them business. They stretch on solid wood and their canvas has no blemish. They will stretch any size and their prices are so reasonable. Please go HERE to see their website.

4. Rosemary and Co. Eclipse Line of Brushes

Beautiful feel and flexibility

I've used Rosemary and Co. now for about three years (can't believe it's been that long) and I love their handmade brushes. There is really not a line they make that I dislike. After some trial and error with several of their types I have found that the Eclipse line has the balance of flexibility along with a nice nimble hair that likes to go back in place. This is after several washes (daily use in Gamsol and artist soap). These aren't the brushes I use to initially put the color down (I use a bristle brush for that) but these are the brushes that end up doing the detail and mixing. I love filberts for their ability to blend and smooth and will use this line again in 2016. Just know you need to save your money up for these brushes but they will last if you take the time to clean them well.

3. John Muir

John Muir 1838-1914

John Muir was born April 21, 1838, in Dunbar, Scotland. As early as 1876, he urged the federal government to adopt a forest conservation policy through articles published in popular periodicals. In 1892 he founded the Sierra Club. He served as its first president, a position he held until his death in 1914. He was largely responsible for the establishment of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.
He did so much with his life to love the wild spaces of America. Not only was he "heard" by President Teddy Roosevelt but he was such an incredible hiker that not many could keep up with him. If any of you would like to learn more about him I would recommend The National Parks by Ken Burns. It beautifully illustrates his life and writings and makes you see the lasting legacy of his life.

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life." - John Muir

2. Makoto Fujimura's Culture Care
 Mako's beautiful book

No other book in 2015 hit me like this one. I have been so blessed by this Artist. He writes about the need to care for our culture and not be at war with it. Instead, we as artists, should see how to heal our rivers and cities through the humble means of love.

One critic wrote: 
"Mako powerfully and explicitly states, “I am not a Christian artist. I am a Christian, yes, and an artist. I dare not treat the powerful presence of Christ in my life as an adjective” (65). We create because it’s who we are, and we glorify God in all we do. In a commercially driven society that creates a *thing* and then the soon-to-follow “Christian” version of the *thing*, we’re all too sucked into marketing in a sacred vs. secular divide. A painting does not need to contain a cross to be “Christian,” nor a song mention any part of the *gospel* to be called the same; in fact, we don’t even need this adjectival language! If it glorifies God, it is beautiful and that for which we strive in caring of and for culture through creativity and artistic expression. When left in the hands of commercialization, art becomes something else, a mere commodity that is cheapened on so many levels. When “gifted” to the world for the sake of others—for the sake of glorifying God—then artists (of all kinds) will do more than fill an order, get a check to pay a bill, or simply please a customer: they rightfully care for their culture."
1. National Parks Arts Foundation
 This 501c3 gives incredible opportunities to artists for residencies in National Parks

What a beautiful group of people to work with! I am completely smitten with them. If I can do anything to promote their fine work for the artists and for the National Parks I will do it. In a nutshell they allowed me the incredible opportunity to spend one month in Big Bend National Park through grants from Big Bend National History Association and the National Endowment of the Arts. Their President, Tanya Ortega, along with her fine staff, have been such a delight and so kind. There is not another experience in 2015 that deepened me more as an artist. For more information and to apply to their residencies please go to:

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