Posts Tagged ‘artwork’

Painting in a cave

June 24, 2015

Painting in a cave!!??!!

You just never know where a plein air painter may turn up; one of the local parks, a sidewalk on Main Street, parked along a back road, or even In a cow pasture …….but in a cave???  Yep, they’ve even been known to turn up in a cave too!

I, along with some of my fellow plein air painters, recently had an awesome opportunity to set up and paint in a cave, Onondaga Cave to be exact.  This location was listed on our schedule to paint during the recent Steelville Plein Air Event.  When I noticed the location on the list, I just assumed it meant that we would be painting around the Onondaga Cave State Park grounds.  That was, until I received an email from the event organizers asking for confirmation of how many painters wanted to paint inside the cave.  “Wait, what??  We’re going to be allowed to paint inside the cave???  Count me in!  How many times will you be allowed to paint in a cave??!!? “   I like to think of myself as more of an adventurous plein air painter.  I like to get off the beaten path, so, this was definitely a must!

There was a brief list of rules, one of the most important being necessary steps to protect the cave by not touching any of the formations, putting a drop cloth under our equipment and not spilling any fluids or paint while in there.  Pack out everything you packed in (standard trail ethics).  Dress in layers because the “cave weather” would be cold and damp.  Try to leave room or step out of the way when tours or other visitors came through.  And finally, make sure we were escorted in and accounted for throughout the day.

This cave is a state run/commercial cave so, there were certain amenities such as; stairs and walkways to set up on, limited lighting, and guides to help out if needed.  With that said, it was still a plein air adventure!  The limited lighting was primarily on some of the cave features themselves and along parts of the walkway so, it was up to the painters to figure out how to see their palette and surface well enough to actually paint something.  In some parts of the cave, painters were occasionally dripped on or even experienced “full-on” rain throughout the day as ground water seeped in.  Everything ended up with varying degrees of dampness and depending on your medium… potentially wreaked havoc on your finished painting.  There were also the temperatures to deal with.  Since I am a painter that prefers the cold temps over the heat any day, I thought the cave temperatures were fantastic painting temps., especially since it was very hot and humid above ground.  However, I will admit, towards the end of my last painting, I did notice that I could see my own breathe and it was only after I started the hike out of the cave that I realized my nose was rather cold.  Lastly, the backpacking…..everything had to be packed in and depending on the location you chose, it was an uphill hike.

No worries, by the time I reached the spot in the cave that “spoke” to me, I paused and caught my breath, unpacked and set up…..I thought to myself again, “How lucky I am to get this opportunity.  The time, out-of breath, the dampness, it is all worth it!”  I immediately got to work and painted all day, only stopping once for a quick break.  I painted three paintings; one 11”x14”, one 8”x10”, and one 6”x8” because I had decided I was going to make the most of this opportunity and paint as long as they allowed us to be there.

My paintings aren’t necessarily masterpieces but, how often do you get a painting that was painted entirely on location, underground, in a cave?!?  It was such a peaceful experience, almost meditative that each time I look at one of my paintings; I’m taken back to that peace.  Just the soft light of the cave’s  limited cave lighting, my book lights illuminating my easel, the focus of applying paint onto canvas, and the soft drips of new cave formations in the making….just enough to break the silence……total painting zen.

Another fellow painter/friend wrote a fantastic article; “Plein Air Goes Underground”, on the experience of painting in the cave and interviewed several of the other artists.  I suggest you give it a read…..she is a bit of a better writer than yours truly…’ll be glad you checked it out!  Here’s the link:


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”.

“Comfort Food”

March 15, 2012
oil painting

Comfort Food

“Comfort Food”

16”x20” oil on canvas

Comfort food by definition is food prepared in a traditional style usually having a nostalgic or sentimental appeal, or can be simply an easy-to-eat, easy-to-digest meal rich in calories, nutrients.

Food is synonymous with so many things in our lives besides just sustenance; it can mean a celebration, worship, sympathy, compassion, and comfort.  Here in the states it seems we have a cake to celebrate about everything…..weddings, birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, retirement, holidays, you name it, we have cake for it.  Would you feel like something was missing if you celebrated any one of those things without the cake?  How different would a wedding reception be if you didn’t have the cake or the traditional cake in the face wedding pictures??  What about not having food present at all, would the celebration still be the same?  I mean, think about Thanksgiving without the feast!!??!!  How would that work??  The true meaning of the holiday is to give thanks for all of our blessings but we prepare a meal as our way of giving thanks and celebrating it.

It is custom here to also present food to a family when they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one or if they’re faced with a hardship such as an illness.  I think it is meant to console as well as to be a convenience.  I think it is to make sure they not only have food but do not have to worry about getting it and preparing it or making sure they have enough to feed extra family members and friends that are there.  Sometimes it’s also a way of remembering the person lost.  It might be in memory of the person, maybe that person’s favorite food or a dish that that person was “famous” for.  I remember my uncle Ervin every time I have a dessert that has been dubbed “blueberry or cherry delight”.  It is somewhat like cheesecake (only better) and is something we’ve had in his memory several times.  It was something he always made and brought to family get-togethers and was known for.

After I married and my extended family grew, I acquired new “food memories”.  I remember my father in law and his fondness of rhubarb pie.  I remember the meals my husband’s grandma fixed—always amazing!  They owned a dairy farm so things were always fresh!  I remember his grandpa making peanut brittle during the holidays.  That was probably one of the few times grandma Millie actually allowed him to take over her kitchen!

I have fond memories of several members of our family who are still here but that have a special dish or something they prepared at special occasions.  My grandma Eva always baked us homemade angel food cakes with icing glaze for our birthdays.  One year, she gave me the cake on a platter that belonged to my great grandma.  What a memory—I plan to pass that down to my children one day.  I also remember the meals my grandma made for all of us after long days of putting up hay in the summer.  I remember them pulling up a hay wagon and spreading the food out on it.  My mom is also sort of known for her cooking abilities in our family.  I’m not sure there’s anything that she can’t cook.  It has become somewhat of a tradition now that we’re grown, for her to fix a family dinner with one of our favorite dishes for each of our birthdays.  Something that is better than any store bought gift or card!  I must admit, her cooking abilities are not something that all of her children have completely mastered.  We have our moments that we pull off a pot of chicken and dumplings, or a batch of dinner rolls that rival hers, however, more than once one of the grandkids have made the comment about some other dish; “that’s not how grandma makes it or it’s not as good as grandma’s”.  Only to be met with a glare and/or the words, “maybe you should go to grandma’s house then”….ha ha…..  My dad’s side of the family are of German decent and when we get together, food is always present and is a way of socializing.  You eat and visit.  You do not leave grandma’s house without eating something and you will never leave her home hungry.  I learned that at a very early age.

Food can also be a comfort.  Probably why I should be exercising more….some issues in life just require more comfort than others!  Some foods just make you feel better.  Whether they really have healing powers or just a hidden mind trick, who knows, but, they are a comfort.  There are times when you just NEED that piece of chocolate and get bent out of shape when you find someone has eaten it all.  How many times have you gotten hurt as a child or were upset over the latest “world crushing” event in your life, or had a cold or a sore throat and mom gave you some sort of treat to make it all better?  Popsicles cure sore throats, ice cream heals hurt feelings, chocolate heals broken hearts, and soup cures a cold…..right??