Category Archives: landscape artist

Thirty minutes to paint


Quick draw events are fun, frightening, sometimes furiously fast and often rewarding!  Many are an hour or two in length which is not a lot of time to execute a painting but easier compared to the 30 minute events.  In a 30 minute event there is no time to ponder.  You need to have pondered and made choices in the preparation stage!  You need a limited palette and a distinct plan of action when the horn blows to begin your work.

So goes the story of the popular quick draw at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale sponsored by the WaterWorks Art Museum held every May as part of the world famous Bucking Horse Sale that brings thousands of spectators to the town of Miles City.  Only a few (25 or less) artists participate in the Riverside Park QD at the culmination of the annual parade.  The QD is sandwiched in between the parade and the Grand Entry of the sale and horse races and once the 30 minute draw is complete, the artists have 10 minutes to get their piece framed and the live auction of art begins.  It’s fast and furious and the crowd is filled with art collectors and spectators.  The QD is strategically timed to be certain those spectators can get to all the BHS activities and maximize the crowd attendance for the auction that is a benefit to the WaterWorks Museum and Art Center.

This year I lived on the dangerous side…I decided to paint a larger than normal piece, 26×12 vertical pastel.  (Most works are less than 16 inches square.)  I prepped my paper by gluing it to a foam core board for stability, then selected a very limited palette of pastel sticks.  I planned a painting of buffalo from a photo I shot on my way to MT via Yellowstone Park.  The day before the event, the preparatory chores were done. (I could have saved a little stress by doing this 3-4 days earlier!).  I did numerous pencil sketches arranging my composition, as the photo was a horizontal format and I was painting it as a vertical.  In my sketchbook I made lines of quadrants and adjusted the subject to best fit the format of the proposed painting.  I “roughed-in” focal points and large shapes to make what I believed to be a good composition.   I put all my supplies – selected pastels, 91% alcohol, sponge brush, Workable fixative, wet wipes, paper towels, gloves and framing equipment in my backpack.  I had a plan and felt I could make it happen, but knew I would have no time to spare.  Before the event started I found a place to paint…in the park’s gazebo  where there was some protection from some gusty winds (not helpful when painting is a tall piece!) and a place to sit if one wanted to before and during the event.  And I was able to tone my painting  with one color – a mix of dry pigment and alcohol before the QD began.  Doing an underpainting like this assists one in pastel application by speeding up the process.

The QD begins with the sound of an air horn…now it’s time for autopilot.  Your colors are laid out and you instinctively apply them, not second guessing your choice.  Large masses are painted carefully noting that  the values are where you want them.  When someone says “you have 15 minutes left, you want to be at least half way thru your painting.)  I am, but there is no option to make changes.  I stick to my plan.  Once the landscape is satisfactory to my eye, I draw in and paint the buffalo.   As I put the final touches in the most distant animal, the horn blows signifying the end of the QD.  Hands go up (no more pastel to the paper), I am satisfied, pleased to have finished what I had planned and the framing begins.  I had hoped to get my piece in the auction so it would be auctioned somewhere in the middle, but I needed all the time allotted to get the framing accomplished, so the painting was in the last spot on the auction docket.  Not my favorite spot to be, but as it turned out the auction was  a surprise.  One know there is not always a predictable outcome to auctions and this one was not an exception.  Early pieces were sold  from $200-500. Then one sold for about $800 and another for $1700.  I saw a couple of pieces of work of popular artists sell for less than I have seen before.  Now I begin to have some anxiety.  It’s now the time for my piece to go.  I hold the painting up and the auction starts.  Bids start immediately and I hand the work to one of the guys on the platform to show.  Bids continue to be raised and my anxiety lessens.  The auctioneer worked his way to $1500 +.  I am relieved and happy to have completed a sought after piece of art and for sharing the sale with the museum.

So, when the opportunity arises to compete in a quick draw, do it.  The key is preparation and planning.  Then execute the painting in a confident manner, not second guessing palette and composition.  If you are an art collector and someone who appreciates the arts and the process…know what happens for these works to come to be!

 

 

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Gallery Representation – thank you!


I am honored to be able to show my work in some of the best galleries in the west.  These originals can be seen in Yachats, OR at Earthworks Gallery, The American Art Company in Tacoma, Wa, Dodson’s in Spokane, WA, Pendleton Art and Frame in Pendleton, OR, Valley Bronze in Joseph, OR, Caswell Bronze in Troutdale, OR, Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA, Eagle Art Gallery in Eagle, ID, The Depot in Red Lodge, Mt and Moccasin Mountain Art in Lewistown, MT.

I am very pleased to work with these galleries who in my opinion, represent their artist well.  That is so important to an artist to have a gallery or galleries that  promote your work and really try to sell the art pieces.  And ones that pay promptly, according to your agreement, when works sell.

When you are in these towns and cities, please visit these fine businesses and be prepared to be treated well as a customer too!

 

 


Pastel Dust…Quick Draw/Quick Finish | Bonnie Zahn Griffith – Blog


Pastel Dust…Quick Draw/Quick Finish | Bonnie Zahn Griffith – Blog.

You get anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 or more hours to complete a piece of art.  It is adrenalin producing, energy charged time for the artist and a smorgasbord of art options for the collector.  Lots of art centers and other art venues host these as part of their fund raising activities.  I love them.  I like the challenge and I like the interaction with the collectors!  The quick draw usually indicates that the piece of art with be completed in total during the given time frame.  The Quick finish is just that…a piece of art is started before the event and then just finished at the event.  Sometimes artists will complete the entire work during the quick finish, however.

 

A favorite, challenging quick Draw is the event held in Miles City, MT. where the artist has the challenge of completing a piece of art on 30 minutes that is then auctioned in a live auction in a downtown city park.  Another is a more leisure 1 1/2 hour QD at the Festival of Arts at the Joseph, OR that is held in their community center amidst all the art from the festival and with live music and a silent auction of the newly created work.  Added to these two great events is a new fave…the Art in the Beartooths to support the Carbon County Art Guild.  I was invited to participate in this event this July 11 and it proved to be a grand time.   We painted  anywhere on the property of the center from 9-2.  Your choice of a start from the scratch approach or applying the finishing touches To an already started painting .   I decided to paint from beginning to end and with abundant time, it was pretty stress free.  This venue, being in the destination spot of Red Lodge, MT is a gem.  The setting, in the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains, is inspirational in of itself.  The staff was delightful to work with and were most attentive to artists’ needs.  The QF culminated with a benefit dinner and live auction under a big tent in the park beside the art center.

 

My creation was done in pastel…I think the only pastel at the event.  I decided on painting some favorite things…Creekside willows in the early spring when they are this incredible orange color, still snow on the ground in places and streams running free of ice.  I worked about 3 hours on a 24×12 vertical painting that gave me the feeling I wanted to project.  I had plenty of time to visit wth old friends, students of mine and new acquaintances.  As a result, we are looking at a workshop three next fall (2016) to coincide with the opening of my solo show there opening September 2.

And “March Willow” sold well.

 

Next plein air painting in the Columbia Gorge Plein Air event AUGUST 3-7 in Hood River, OR

 

 

 


Pastel Dust


Do you wonder what drives an artist?  What’s the motivation to keep painting?  For me it is about the color and the diversity of the landscape and wanting to share those images you see with others.  And why paint en plein air?  I think it is painting “true.”  Nothing is in your way of what you see.  There is no excuse to what you put on that board or paper.  It is right in front of you…it’s your interpretation!

I had the opportunity to be part of a plein air event in Walla Walla a week ago.  It was a 5 day paint out organized by a tiny 90-year-old watercolorist, Margaret Walters.  About 20 artists came together for the event, painting it partly or in total.  I think this was the third year of the event and there were several painters who had been on all tours.  The event ended with an art sale that benefited the Carnegie Picture Lab.  It was certainly a stress-free, enjoyable schedule and people to paint with.  Each day a new venue…one favorite was going to this beautiful farm/vineyard at the base of Cottonwood Canyon.  It is a favorite of mine and to be able to drive up through the farm to a high point and paint it from a different vantage point was great.  Another day of endless opportunity was painting at the Robison Ranch north of town.  I found a secluded spot where I painted two pieces.  The only thing that drove me out of the field was the heat creeping up to 104!  These two venues, for me was what painting plein air is all about….you could stand in one spot and paint in any direction…the dilemma is…what do you paint!

A note about the Picture Lab…it is an art education program for area students.  It is a nonprofit that depends on funds from outside sources.  Commissions on sales of the plein air paintings benefited the Picture Lab.  Happily 4 of my 6 paintings sold for this great cause.

What’s on the schedule…

July 11th I will be painting in the Art of the Beartooths, the fund raiser and painting event and sale to support the Carbon county Art Guild in Red Lodge, MT.  We will be painting a quick finish during the day that will be auctioned that evening.

Pendleton Art and Frame, Pendleton, OR is showing the bronzes of Rip Caswell and my plein air landscapes July 9- September 1.  The opening reception is Thursday the 9th, 5-7:30

Off to the beautiful area around Hood river, OR for the Columbia Gorge Invitational Plein Air event.  About 30 artists have been invited to paint August 3-7 in the area with a reception Friday the 7th, 6-8 pm.

I feel very blessed to be able to “work” at my art and take part in these events.  So with that said, go out there and take a shot of drawing or painting “en plein air!!”

               


Pastel Dust in Winter


It can be a gloomy time in the Northwest during early months of the year with fog often shrouding the landscape. So when there is a day of sunshine, I am out there soaking it in. But…don’t ignore the opportunity to paint weather….here’s my story…last Wednesday when I left my house it was overcast, not too cold and I thought about the fact that there was still no snow. The park’s grass was still green and created an interesting contrast of the grays around it. By the time I had driven the block from my house to the. Ross street, it had started to snow huge flakes. The air was filled with snow and I stopped to take a couple of photos. In a matter of a couple of minutes, the snow had nearly covered the green blanket of grass. This was a snow storm! I made my way downtown and stopped to take a few photos in some of the neighborhoods along the way. It continued to snow heavily and the transformation of the gray gloom to white was beautiful One stop was at First and Main where I snapped a photo with my phone of the Beehive Building, Starbucks and other buildings along the south side of Main….I noticed the car tracks in the snow created some great contrasty patterns and the snow flakes and light fogginess created some great atmosphere…I knew at some point I would paint this…Later…

Using bold strokes with the side of the pastels I created a cityscape of the First and Main intersection and the buildings lining the street complete with snow flakes. I used my image on my cell phone as a reference and created a nice impression of Snow Day! So my message is…always be looking for an opportunity to paint…always have your camera, phone w/camera with you to record a reference shot…don’t wait for a sunny day to paint…and take a risk sometimes at what you paint! Snow Day – First and Main sold the same day it was painted.


Pastel dust in January…Resolutions


Happy New  Year!

A group of artists in SE WA proposed daily painting for the first month of the new year.  I’m in, I declared.  I will paint each day…maybe not a painting a day, but just painting or doing some form of art each day for the month.  So far I am on track.

A friend of mine made a New Year resolution to do 54 new things this  year…one something new each week.  that’s a good one, I think…a goal to keep one thinking and being challenged.  I’m in.   I don’t have a list of new things to do already made  up, but will work on that. Week one…maybe testing a new dining spot.  I do have some things I want to do and one is print making without the printing press…more on that later.   Maybe I will post my list…part of it perhaps…

I have a couple of pastel paintings in the works as well as a couple of oils.  I love the way oils work – and I used to paint always in oil – but it is a challenge after  being immersed in pastel dust for so long.  A challenge, yes.  I have made the commitment to show work at the Western Masters Art Show in March in Great Falls, MT and I want to have both oil and pastel work available.  It will happen.  Persevere!  This will be an interesting event.  It is March 14-17 with a live auction and two Quick Finish Draws as well as each artist had a room in which to show your art and work…hotel rooms, stripped of the usual furnishings.  It all happens at the Heritage Inn in Great Falls.  So if you are in the area…we are in Room 151.  “Forgotten” was the chosen piece for the live auction.

I am excited to take part in the Western Masters Show…(that’s a new thing for March 🙂 by the way!)  So, I am incorporating some more western theme into my landscapes…cows, deer, antelope, etc.   I just finished a couple of pastels and two oils with cows in art.  I think it works.                                            

I hope you artists take the challenge and try new things; maybe not 54…but try something new and explore new options with products and techniques.  It keeps us fresh!  Happy painting…


Pastel Dust on the Road 3…


Moab…this is such a beautiful place.  From the moment I drove down into the Colorado River valley that holds this town I was in awe of the overwhelming beauty.  Extreme describes it….cliffs in reds and yellows, intense skies something different to look at all around you .                                                                                                                     .            I went to Moab to participate in the Plein Air Moab painting event Oct 7-15. The event includes 3 quick draw sessions, a main competition, a paint out, receptions and more.  The Moab Art and Rec Center (MARC) is hosting their 2nd plein air.  The team that organized this were incredible.  Everything; every event ran like clock work.  One day the quick draw was at the Castle Valley Winery where we painted on their property and submitted it to the show and sale.    for 3 hours, we painted  ,then framed.  Two more quick draws on other days happened downtown Moab with same rules and events.  The final event was the main competition – a painting of the artist’s choice that they had completed during the time in Moab.  Other paintings could be displayed for sale at the MARC as well…but only one entered into the competition.  Friday night we entered the MARC to one room filled with the artists’ best work.  Many had signs on them “Award Winning Painting”.  I looked for mine and it was included in that catagory!   That’s the icing on the cake!

During the paint out, several pieces of art sold which wonderful – since that is the ultimate goal!  But it is also equally important to develop new friendships and learn new things from fellow artists, judges, etc.

And there is taking some risks in our work, try new techniques and see as much of the area and photograph as much as  you can for future reference.  I had shied away from driving the LaSal Loop which is a road that takes you south of Moab, then westerly over some mountain passes, down into the Castle Valley and back to Moab via Hwy 128.    The first while I was in Moab, the weather was cold and stormy with snow on the mountains, so that detered my thoughts of doing this drive in the mighty Prius.  However with warm weather for several days, the snow had all but disappeared so I decided that I would drive at least part way up the pass to get  some views of colorful fall leaves and different terrain.  I soon found that it the road was really steep and narrow and I wasn’t comfortable trying to turn around on the narrow roads and minimal turn-outs…so I kept driving over the passes, a little timidly on the ascents and descents with switchbacks at a max of 10 mph.  It was beautiful and when one was atop each of the passes, the view below was incredible.  I admit that when I saw the familiar terrain of the Castle Valley, I breathed a sigh of relief!  Once I got down into the valley, I decided I would paint one more work so elected to paint a scene near Onion Creek…a stream that barely runs water when the weather is dry…but is one that carries water that is poisonous leeched with selenium, arsnic and saline.  The creek bed has no vegetation and it is strangely quiet with no birds in the immediate area.

Saturday came with the realization that the stay in Moab was coming to an end.  Work was to be picked up at the MARC at 6 that evening.  In the morning I stopped in to listen to the judged talk about the work selected for awards and decided that I would go somewhere and paint one more session.  Sandi who organized the event came up to me and asked what I was doing for the day.  I told her and she asked if she could go with.  Happily I invited her and we drove up Kane Creek beyond where one leaves the Colorado and heads up another canyon.  We painted and visited for about 2 hours.  It was the perfect way to end a great 10 day visit to this spot.

Sunday morning I was ready to head out for points south into New Mexico.  I stopped at the little cafe that sells great Moab coffee, grabbed a 16 oz cup, bid farefwell to the MARC and headed down 191 to southerly  points….

happy painting….


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