En Plein Air

June 19, 2013

To paint en plein air—the French expression for “in the open air”

I recently returned from a plein air painting workshop in the flint hills of Kansas.  Beautiful place!  Kim Casebeer was the instructor.  A fantastic teacher, very knowledgeable, open, and sharing and not to mention a fabulous artist, check her work out online www.kimcasebeer.com !

Upon returning, I’ve been trying to make it a point to get out and continue to practice.  So, I’ve been caught painting a sunrise before work, painting on my lunch break, and trying to sneak out and paint a bit of an evening.  Yep, I’ve been painting En Plein Air……I like to use that term instead of saying I’m painting outdoors or on location because it makes me feel all sophisticated and stuff!

I have to admit there’s something about getting outside, breathing the fresh air, listening to the birds sing, setting up my easel and just sinking into painting.  I say, sinking into it because I really do not pay attention to much else as I’m painting.  Case in point, I was set up and painting the fields on parents’ farm and was pretty pleased with the way things were going and decided to step back to be sure.  I hear movement behind me and hear breathing of something rather large.  Do I turn around?  Sure, why not, I mean, I’m armed with paintbrushes and paper towels!  I turn around to see a big, round, furry…..horse head staring down my process.  My horse, Murdock….aka Doc, decided to stop by and inspect my work.  Shortly thereafter, he was joined by my daughter’s horse Dixie, and my mom’s mighty steed, Ace.  They milled around for a bit, watched, bummed a scratch under the chin and on the rump and then went about their merry way.  Ya can’t get that in a studio!!

Seriously, it’s been challenging to get out and paint but the rewards are great.  I can tell, I’m loosening up in my work, focusing more on drawing, paying more attention to values, trying harder to mix correct color, and working faster.  Look forward to sharing more Plein Air adventures!!

Doc inspecting my workThe finished piece

Great Art—in fun size!

April 16, 2013

2.5 inch square painting on canvas

Spring Strut
2.5 inch square painting

Great things can come in small packages!

This is something my children remind me of often…..seeing as how I’m the shortest one in the family and they never let an opportunity pass to crack a “short” joke at my expense…..that’s OK, mom usually gets the last laugh!  Don’t underestimate us “shorties”!

I’ve just started painting regularly again.  Prior to the last couple of weeks, I hadn’t had a huge amount of time to spend painting but I have still felt the need for some creativity…..does that need ever truly go away?  I don’t think so, it just may weaken at times or have to be put on the back burner because of life’s requirements, but, for creative types, the need is always there.  I think that “need” is partially why I’m always attracted to new art supplies, new crafting gadgets, etc.  Because of this attraction, I can spend a ton of time in places like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Dick Blick, etc.  I love to just wander around and look at the demo projects, the colors, patterns, the supplies…..it is like a mini-vaca for my brain!  It was on one of these trips to a supply store, which I happened to force my daughter to tag along to, that I came across some little

mini canvases.  There were a few different sizes but I settled for a package of 3 inch square canvases.  I thought, “How fun will it be to play with these!!”  For some reason my daughter wasn’t as excited about them as I was–but, that’s usually the case…..until she sees the finished product.  Although, I think I do recall her cracking some joke about them being “mini” like me just before she asked if we could go now.  Ah, kids–gotta love ‘em.  I will take this moment to say that my family is very supportive of my art but they do have to get their “digs” in on mom as well.  Anyway, I went home from my little art vaca and did a painting of my daughter’s horse, Dixie on two of the canvases….each with basically the same pose but with a different background and color scheme.  What a fun and quickie way to experiment with color and temperature!

Fast forward a few months to a trip to our local Wal-Mart.  I decided to see if they still carried any art supplies and if so, what they had.  To my excitement, I found a package of two mini canvases with little wooden display easels.  OOOO—joy!  They are so cute and have so many possibilities!!  I bought a package and again, one Saturday, decided to play.  These canvases were smaller than those I’d bought before—they were just 2.5 inches square.  But hey, you can fit a lot of art into a small space—I’m living proof of that!  Ha ha….  Enjoy!

Dixie in Blue 3 inch square oil on canvas

Dixie in Blue
3 inch square
oil on canvas

3" x 3" oil on canvas

Dixie in Green
3″ x 3″ oil on canvas

Social Saturday–Let’s get together and paint!

February 25, 2013
8"x8" study of the painting we will base our class painting from

8″x8″ study of the painting we will base our class painting from

Social Saturday

I posted this a few weeks ago on my Facebook page but some where having trouble finding it so, here’s the scoop……

While the weather is tricky and there’s a bit of a slow-down in some of our schedules, I’d like to plan a “social Saturday” or two at the old church school building.  I will be teaching another oil painting class.  I can teach and provide paint, brushes, and easels for 10, so, I will need an RSVP ASAP to make sure I have everything needed.  I plan to teach a small landscape painting that will be painted on a 12”x12” canvas.  No previous experience needed!  The supplies will be provided, the only expense will be the canvas and paint which will run $10.00.

For those of you who do not want to paint, bring your “fancy works” items up to work on.  You’re welcome to also watch the painting demonstration and check out everyone’s results.  It’s meant to be a fun and creative time!

I will ask everyone to bring a snack or something to share during breaks.  We will take care of the drinks (tea or lemonade and water) and I will have soup and sandwiches or salad for lunch.

The date is set for March 2.  If you’ll be painting, we plan to start by 9AM.  If interested or if you have any questions, please email me at Veronica@veronicabrownart.com or call me at 573-627-4444.

16th Annual Mid-MO Horse, Mule & Ox Farming & Historical Crafts Days

September 26, 2012

Halflingers

16th  Annual mid-missouri

Horse, mule, & ox farming &

Historical crafts days

Saturday, October 6, 10am to 5PM

Sunday, October 7 10am to 3pm

Gerald, Missouri

16 years of celebrating our heritage!!

Admission:  Ages 5 to adult — $6.00

Under 5 free

Bringing a team?  Call for info.

Old skills like sorghum pressing & molasses cooking, corn grinding, handtool working, spinning, ropemaking, natural dyeing, natural fiber baskets, honey & bee keeping, dry-laid stone, vintage clothing, soap making, gourd crafting, cider pressing & more!  (Note: Exhibitors may change).

Area artists & photographer on site capturing scenes of rural life!

Field work demonstrations & log loading (weather permitting) by skilled teamsters and their working animals.

Author & teamster walter schlemper signing his books “harvest for life”, “tales of the woods”, & “patience & repetition”

The  rural Missouri spinners showing the fine art of handspinning!

Kids—have  fun with children’s primitive games & toys!

Wildflower walks & native plant display!  Rare livestock, poultry, & rabbits!

Come visit carl heth & his hitches of oxen and sheep!

Straight from the grill—pulled pork and jerky!

Genuine chuckwagon dutch oven cooking!!  Kettle corn!!

Live music with bluegrass musicians!

NO ALCOHOL—this is a family event! NO PETS, even on a leash!  NO MOTORS—this includes ATVs.  Power wheelchairs are OK.

Directions:  From St Louis take I-44 West to Hwy 50, exit right, go about 25 miles to Gerald.  From Jefferson City, take Hwy 50 East to Gerald.  From Rolla, take I-44 East to Hwy 19 North to Owensville, then Hwy 28 East to Hwy 50 East to Gerald.  Once in Gerald, turn onto Hwy Y and follow signs!

Need more Info?  Call Gail at 573-764-2629  Ask questions early because no replies will be made during the event.

Sponsored by Missouri Draft Horse & Mule Association, Inc.

Sometimes the little things inspire bigger things.

May 30, 2012

Grazing“Grazing”

20”x20”

Oil on Canvas

Sometimes the little things inspire bigger things.

I participated in the Painting a Day project my art club was hosting back in February.   To read more about that, check out this post:  http://veronicabrownart.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/2012-painting-a-day-project/

One of the benefits of doing that project is that it encourages regularly painting which is great practice.  Another benefit of painting small canvases on a daily basis is that they can become little studies for bigger paintings at a later date.  They are a quick way to determine what might work on a larger scale or and easy and quick way to work out details so that the larger painting is more apt to be successful in conveying what was in the artist’s mind.  It is much easier to see and correct composition, value, and color on a smaller canvas than it is on a larger one.

This painting was inspired by just that….one of my daily paintings from February.  I loved the little 6”x6” painting so much and had such a fun time playing with the color, lighting, and loose brushwork that I decided I just HAD to paint this painting bigger.  So, a couple of months later, I got my hands on some gallery wrapped 20”x20” canvases and began sketching.  The very next morning, at 4:30AM (thanks to my son not shutting his alarm off in a timely manner), I found myself slinging some paint for a couple of hours before having to proceed with the daily grind.  Oh, how fun to sling paint early in the morning!  Why do I not voluntarily get myself out of bed at this time more often??!!  After all, sleep is overrated, right?  That morning, the creative juices were flowing.  Probably because I was still sorta dreaming instead of fully awake and alert and after all you can do anything in your dreams, right?  Before I knew it, it was time to stop and get ready for the day job.  That’s all I could think about that day….getting back to that painting.  When I finally had a chance to get back to the paint, brushes, and canvas…..the painting practically finished itself.  I normally paint with tighter brush strokes and not quite as bold colors so this was definitely a break from the norm for me.  A break I think I should explore more often.  What do you think?

Rain is a good thang

May 29, 2012

Rain is a good thang

I had been meaning to post this painting quite some time ago but then got side tracked with other things….and before you know it, it’s months down the road.

Well, I’m happy to say, I have a new reason to post about this painting.  I recently entered it in a local landscape art competition and am happy to say, it received second place honors in the oil/acrylic category.

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not exactly a landscape painter.  I prefer to paint critters…..more specifically, horses.  However, with that said, I do have a deep love for the outdoors and beautiful scenery!  I love to go on outdoor adventures and see beauty in not only the extraordinary but the ordinary day to day scenes.  Sometimes we overlook the landscapes outside our backdoor because they become ordinary to us.  It is good to pause once in a while and take a second look, study the view….you’ve probably missed something.  God has presented us with some beautiful country out there and everyone should slow down once in a while and get out there and see it.

This painting is based on one of those “ordinary” views.  A view that I’d seen several times before and did appreciated as a “pretty” scene, however, I never really stopped and stared for a while and truly appreciate the simple beauty of it.  As an artist, I hadn’t stopped to appreciate the subtle changes in values of green….and the fact that there was green everywhere…..and how water truly saturates color and makes everything look clean, new, and vibrant again.  As a woman who had been raised in the country but had lately been too caught up in the stress of day to day life, I stopped and appreciated the smell of the fresh rain, the smell of corn growing, and felt the damp, cool breeze that you feel immediately after an early rain.

I knew I had to paint this scene as a reminder to stop and appreciate the simple things, a reminder of farm life and values and how blessed I was to grow up in the country.

….in the lyrics of Luke Bryan, “Rain is a good thang”.

Nature Photography by Veronica

May 21, 2012

Photography– Yep…..another passion of mine.  I enjoy outdoor photography and my favorite subject matter tends to fall in one of the following categories; wildlife, western, equine, rural life, rustic, nature, and landscape ….it all gets my creative juices flowing!  There’s just something about getting outside and finding that perfect subject matter and then trying to get the perfect light and perspective—I love it!  One of my favorite quotes; “The secret of great photography is to create great moments from common things.” ~Marty Stouffer.  This quote pretty much sums up my photographic goals.  I want to get people to stop and look at the subject in a different way or to find beauty in the ordinary, to look at something that they may not have the opportunity to get out and see for themselves, study it, and appreciate it’s beauty.  Nature is truly God’s artwork!

I got into photography more as a necessity than a passion at first.  I started oil painting a few years back and found that I was in love!  The more I painted, the more I found the need to capture my own reference material.   I had a good friend who lent me her SLR film camera…..and from that moment I was in love!  I saved for and eventually purchased my first film SLR prior to our first trip to the mountains.  I shot 35 rolls of film and had to develop them over the course of a month or so because I couldn’t afford the processing!  I was amazed at some of the shots as I picked up the packets of photos from the local developer however, I soon realized that I was shooting duplicate shots in the hopes of getting just one I could use….overkill…..all because I lacked knowledge and experience.  Some of the shots weren’t great at all but in spite of that, they still got the creativity flowing and had me dreaming of new paintings that needed to be created.  The passion had been ignited.  The more I painted and used various shots as reference, the more I was striving to get more detail in my shots or to try to capture the lighting correctly so that when I was able to start painting, I had notes…..things to refresh my memory and help my eyes to re-see those moments.

As I developed my photographic skills and moved up in equipment chain, I found that I enjoyed the whole process almost as much as I enjoyed painting.  Learning what it takes to produce a great photo, the hunt for the subject matter, getting the settings correct, getting the sharpness….it was all a thrill to me with a way to see quicker results vs. painting.  It is a way for me to refuel creatively.  Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE to paint, photography is just another medium from which to express and share.  So, in the effort of sharing, I’ve created a new site for some of my photographs.  I hope you’ll take the time to take a look and if you feel like it, possibly let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

http://veronicabrownart.zenfolio.com/

There’s something living in the car!!

May 3, 2012

There’s something living in the car!

As mentioned in my previous post, we decided to take a road trip to Montana.  We rented a vehicle because we knew we’d be driving a lot of miles and we wanted something that would get better gas mileage than our truck and have more room.  Our ultimate destination was a guard station cabin in Montana, and that required that we pack extra things such as bedding, towels, food, solar shower, lights, chairs, etc.  Needless to say, the Ford Explorer that we ended up getting was packed to the hilt!  When we picked the “family truckster” up (if you’ve ever seen National Lampoon’s Vacation—you’ll know why we called it that.), it only had a few hundred miles on it.  We returned it with an additional 5300+ miles on it…..thank goodness we had unlimited mileage with our rental!  The comment made at Avvis by the attendant when we returned it, was; “Wow—you drove….A LOT….it’s due for an oil change already!”

Because we had driven so much, my mechanically inclined hub kept a close eye on the regular maintenance of the vehicle.  He checked the tires, fluids, and general mechanics of the family truckster each morning before we took out.  He’s quite handy like that!  One particular morning, he was in for a surprise when he popped the hood.  He saw something quickly scamper out of sight and, upon further inspection, he started noticing grass around the motor….as if something was trying to nest in the engine.  Surprised and somewhat baffled at what could be trying to make a nest in the vehicle, he looked under the vehicle and all over the engine, trying to catch another glimpse of said critter so he could possibly figure out what it was.  Finally, the critter popped his head up just long enough to see that it had small ears, was brown, and had a long tail.  He thought it looked similar to the Pica we had seen in the Rockies, only bigger and with a long tail.  He came in and got me, told me to bring the camera and said there was something I had to come see this.  I really didn’t know what he was planning to show me but, he seemed pretty excited about it so, I followed.

As we reached the vehicle with the hood up, the hub explained to me that something was trying to nest in the vehicle and it appeared to still be there.  Uh, yeah, OK…..I think you’re seeing things.  We had just checked the vehicle over the day before and there was no sign of anything.  The night was a bit chilly, and I’m sure the motor was warm the night before when we’d returned to the cabin but, we really hadn’t seen any smaller critters around and we typically spent most of the evening outdoors around the cabin/vehicle.  This thing would have to work fast.  When I asked what it was, he told me it looked like a cross between a rabbit, rat, mouse, pica thing…….uh, OK…..in other words he had no idea, he’d never seen one before.  Imagine, the hub, both of our kids, and me with my camera up, gathered around the family truckster, anticipating the “it” to pop up at any minute.  Well, as soon as it did—there was chaos….screaming, jumping, everyone scrambling and then laughter because we were all startled.  This went on for a bit, while we were all trying to get a glimpse of “it” and better yet, a picture so we could figure out what it was.  Finally, I think it was as scared of us as we were of it, so, it jumped to the ground and then the chase was on!  We all took out after it, chasing it out away from the vehicle.  The hub’s biggest fear was that it would chew through some wires, plug something up, or get stuck in there and cause major damage.  We the “it” on over the hill, and the excitement apparently over, the hub went to work cleaning out the grasses and leaves from the motor, checking things over thoroughly before we loaded up and headed out for the day.

What a crazy start to the day!  Once I had access to WiFi, I did some research and it seems that the consensus was that “it” was a bushy tailed wood rat……yep, it was some sort of a rat….ewwwww…… Always an adventure with the Brown fam on vaca!

Cattle turning into bears!! What???

April 20, 2012

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Cattle turning into bears….Oh My!

Back in 2008, I enrolled in an art workshop in Montana.  We decided to turn it into a family vacation as well.  Road trip!!  We decided to allow a few days to drive to Montana so we could see the sites along.  We rented a vehicle since we knew we were going to be traveling a fair amount of miles (over 5300 in two weeks to be exact!)  We packed up the kids (who were both teenagers at the time), packed up the car and away we went.  We felt like the Griswolds on family vacation!  This little trip proved to be a string of adventures for the Brown family!

Our ultimate destination was to be a guard station cabin in the Tally Lakes/Star Meadows area of Montana.  We found the cabin located off of a rural road, miles from town.  It was such a peaceful scene, surrounded by some level, bottom, ground sprinkled with pine trees and scrub brush with a creek/river running through it.  There were mountains on the backside of the creek and mountains to the front of the cabin……mountains everywhere—perfect!   A rail fence enclosed the “yard” with pine trees towering above the parking area and hiding view of the road from the cab

in.  Upon exploring a bit more, we learned that the field was the temporary home to a herd of cattle.

There was electricity to the cabin but no running water or indoor plumbing.  There was however, a new water hand-pump located outside for potable water and a new vaulted toilet with a concrete floor and a “stall” where a solar shower could be hung.  I’m not sure my children realized what a vaulted toilet was until we got there and they realized they were going to have to go outside and walk about 30 yards to use the facilities.  We kept a flashlight in the stall as well as one in the cabin for just such occasions, however, my daughter resolved that she would not be going out there unless it was daylight!  She proceeded to tell us that knew there was a possibility of seeing bears—she saw the sign and brochure about bear safety in the cabin.  Even during daylight, when she had to walk out there by herself, she hustled!  I tried to reassure her that the cattle in the backyard would more than likely alert her if anything was around.  She still didn’t find that too comforting.  Maybe it was partially because they all kept joking that “bear safety” meant that they just had to outrun the slowest person in the family and then they all laughed and looked at me.  And thanks to all of the teasing I received, I told her I would not be escorting her to the “facilities”.  Chels did luck out however, we were far enough north that the days seemed to be pretty long and there was an abundance of daylight.

It seemed like it was never completely dark until about 11PM and then daylight seemed to hit around 6AM.  Between the light and the very loud serenade sung by the coyote choir every night, and the chill in the cabin, it took a few nights to actually get some quality sleep.  Not that I was complaining—it was beautiful there….just that with the combination of me giving up caffeine before we left and the lack of sleep, I had regular headaches for days.  We did eventually figure out that one of the windows had been left open in the cabin…..causing the chill and our blankets to never be enough!  That seemed to cut down on the volume of the nightly coyote choir as well.  The lack of sleep did finally catch up with me and with the new found warmth and quiet, I slept in one morning.  The hub didn’t—he awoke early to see some cowboys driving the cattle out of our “backyard” and down the road to their next home.  I was a little upset that he didn’t wake me to watch but understood why he didn’t.

Since the cattle were now gone, we decided that evening that we would explore more of the backyard.  We found the remains of a couple of whitetail fawns that had apparently been dinner for some of the “choir” a few nights ago.  We also discovered that what we called a “creek” was rather deep and very cold and that it was a little further from the cabin that we’d thought.  We walked a bit further and found a whitetail doe, dead, in the creek.  We’re not exactly sure what her cause of death was but it was definitely evident that there was predator activity around.  Given that fact, the whole time we explored, I tried to keep an eye out for said predators—I love to explore the wilderness but I’m a bit paranoid about something that could potentially make a meal outta me, catching me by surprise and gnawing a limb off before I knew what hit me.  I know, call me crazy, but my imagination runs wild sometimes and I knew we were in bear and mountain lion country….something we really do not have to worry about back home.  My hub seemed to find my paranoia entertaining and took every chance he got to slip out of my sight and make noises, break sticks and watch me jump.  Not funny, not funny at all!

The next morning, Chels woke up and had to use the facilities but it wasn’t light enough yet, so, she danced around the cabin until there was enough light.  As soon as she felt it was light enough to make a clean break for the toilet, she darted out of the cabin, running fast enough to reach the toilet before anything could possible get her.  As she was coming out she noticed something black, furry, and rather large moving through some of the brush off to the backside of the toilet.  She watched for a bit and then decided to make a run for it.  She came barreling in the cabin, eyes wide, breathing hard, and obviously scared.  We started questioning her and she proceeded to tell us she’d just seen a bear.  With that news, the hub and I walked outside armed with the binoculars to check it out.  After a bit of investigation, we did find Chels’ bear……..it happened to be a black angus cow and calf that had apparently missed the earlier roundup and were left behind.  There were coming up to the cabin in an effort to find the rest of the herd.  The owners did come back later and gather the stragglers….turned out there were a few more than just that pair.  In Chels’ defense, it was fogging in the bottom that morning, foggy enough to turn cattle into bears!

 

“Did you hear that??”

April 13, 2012
mule deer

The culprits....

I’ve decided to start a “trip journal” of sorts.  I’ve not been painting lately since I’ve been working with my horses of an evening.  With work, horses, and housework….not much time for painting.  I have been doing a bit of sketching lately….maybe I’ll share some of those eventually but, for now, I decided to share some of our “adventures”.  I’ve been working on a scrapbook (between doing everything above….and no, I don’t sleep much…LOL.) from our last vacation and I’ve been jotting down stories for that.  I thought maybe everyone else would get a chuckle or at the least a smile out of some of them.  Being creative is sometimes about the journey not necessarily the finished piece that results.  Enjoy :)

Did you hear that???

“Seriously, I think I hear something outside….and it’s chewing!”

That’s what I woke up to one early morning while it was still dark outside.  The moon was up so I could see shadows of something on the walls of the tent and I could hear something moving outside the tent and heard chewing noises.  Chewing noises!!??!!  I looked over at the hub and he was still asleep.  I laid there, just waiting for something to hit the tent, rip it open, pull us out of our sleeping bag, maul us…..my imagination went wild!  I just knew there was a bear in camp!  I waited and listened with my “super” hearing for quite some time and nothing happened.  I couldn’t stand it anymore and finally pulled my head inside of my sleeping bag and tried to doze off again.  I mean, if you can’t see it, it can’t see you, right??  I awoke just as it was getting light enough to see outside and then peaked out the tent window but didn’t see anything.  RJ finally woke up and I started asking him about it.  He said he heard it too but he was tired and figured if it was going to get us…..it would’ve done it already so, he just rolled over and went back to sleep!  Thanks for making me feel safe, dear hub!!  We both decided to get up, get our boots on and investigate……we saw tracks through camp but didn’t see any critters………until we looked over the little hill that separated us from another campsite…..and there they were……….four mule deer bucks!  Ok, I can rest a little bit easier now……until the herd of elk moves through camp the next night……….


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