Monday, May 9, 2016

Missouri Wine Country Inspiration

We left San Antonio in April to stay in St. Louis for the Augusta Plein Air Festival. This event is right in the heart of Missouri wine country, making for a very inspiring place to paint and photograph, and spring is our favorite time to be in the Midwest. Storms can be intense, but the weather otherwise is perfect for spending time outside. It rained quite a bit the week before we arrived in St. Louis, so the Augusta area was especially lush and green - picturesque farms and vineyards everywhere, and the very charming town of Augusta on a hill overlooking a wide flat valley and part of the Katy Trail. Augusta has a lot of beautiful old barns, so it ended up being a barn kind of festival for both Patrick and I - he did three different barn paintings for the festival, as well as a study of a tangle of tree roots at a lake edge at Augusta Shores. We also spent time in Femme Osage and Defiance - the whole area is definitely worth a visit if you are passing through. Kate's Coffee House has great coffee, breakfast, and lunch, and the Augusta Brewery and the Silly Goose are great stops for lunch and dinner. The brewery has a tasty selection of its own beers that are worth trying - what's better than a good cold craft beer after a long bike ride on a beautiful day? Or after a "hard" day of painting and photography?

Patrick Saunders started the festival with this painting for a quick paint, and "Missouri Foundations" (oil on panel, 12"x16") won First Place that night

I started the festival being enamored with this vintage sign in Defiance.

Patrick Saunders also taught a painting workshop at Augusta to a full house - they had to cut the class off at 20 people. Mary Ann Virant was kind enough to allow the workshop to be held on her beautiful vineyard property. Her dog Moxie stole the whole show that day, trying to get everyone to stop wasting their time painting and throw his favorite stick (log) or frisbee for him instead.

Moxie waiting for Patrick to stop talking and play fetch with him

Seriously, this qualifies more as a log than a stick, and if you weren't strong enough to throw it far enough to suit Moxie, he'd move on to someone who could

Group shot of the class at the end of a fruitful and beautiful day

Patrick and I then spent a morning at a barn on Church street in Augusta that we won't soon forget. We got up early so we could be there to see the sun come up. Patrick decided to paint the barn backlit by the sunrise, and I photographed the warm orange play of light across the front of the barn as the sun rose. It was a peaceful morning spent lost in doing what we love. These are the moments we live for now. Having more time to get and stay lost in the act of creation is one of the best parts of our current lifestyle.

Patrick painting the back of the barn

My photograph of sunrise on the front of the barn - you can just see the white top of Patrick's painting board in the left hand corner behind the barn

Anyone need a gently used hay baler?

It's hard to discern in the photo, but an old fabric rag hanging off of what might have been a table of sorts had such strong and beautiful light on it in this moment that I had to try to capture it

"Good Morning, Church Road" (oil on panel, 14"x18") by Patrick Saunders

 We then spent a sunset in Femme Osage, where Patrick did a quick study of a creek bed that he decided he didn't love, while I wandered around the church and cemetery grounds.

Festival officials asked Patrick to stop by local morning television show Great Day St. Louis on KMOV to talk about the event, and you can watch his interview with Laura Hettiger here.

Patrick with some of his paintings before the interview
 A public demonstration painting Patrick did during the festival

We got up before dawn on one of the last days of the festival for a quick paint at the Frisella Nurseryand just before Defiance we saw this sight and decided to stop and photograph it. The sun was just coming up and there was a thick fog resting on the field. The lone distant tree shrouded by fog struck us both, so I tried to capture it, but my photo didn't really do the moment justice.

A Red Rouge Hibiscus Flower at Frisella Nursery

How cute are these owl sculptures at Frisella Nursery?

We really enjoyed our time in the Augusta area - so much to see and do and try to capture.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

Florida In March

The pacific coast of Florida is a great place to be in March. Patrick Saunders and I traveled there this month so he could participate in the Lighthouse ArtCenter Plein Air Festival in Tequesta, FL. It's pretty hot even in March, but the ocean breeze keeps you cool, and the humidity is relatively low during the winter and early spring. I photographed Patrick painting for the festival, but as always wandered off and shot on my own, just for fun, and for stock photography. Here are a few of my favorite images from this trip.

Careful Where You Swim - Juno Beach Pier, Palm Beach County, Florida

Barnacles -  DuBois Park Lagoon, Jupiter, Florida

Bike To Your Boat - Port Salerno, Florida

Bar Buddy - Port Salerno, Florida

All By Myself - DuBois Park Lagoon, Jupiter, Florida

Come Party With Us - Port Salerno, Florida

Artist Fran Ellisor painting during the Lighthouse Art Center Plein Air Festival Quick Draw - DuBois Park, Jupiter, Florida

Artist Katherine Hitt surveys the scene before painting at Juno Beach Pier, Palm Beach County, Florida

Capturing A Sunrise - Juno Beach Pier, Palm Beach County, Florida

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Patrick Saunders Painting Workshop At Harold's Art & Framing

Serving San Antonio and saving animals for more than 55 years
Patrick Saunders recently met Kevin Sekula, the manager of Harold's Art & Framing, who offered to host a painting workshop, and he arranged for Patrick to meet a local artist, John Martinez, who in turn put the word out and helped Patrick quickly fill a ten person class held this weekend.

Harold's is a family run business that has been operating for more than 55 years. Harold and his family have also spent much of that time rescuing hundreds of strays on the south side of San Antonio, where the business is located, which makes them all my kind of peeps. The first thing to greet you when you walk through the door at Harold's these days are two of their current rescue pups, Mable and Baby. Harold is quite the character, and I hope to be able to take a portrait of him the next time we are there. Patrick's class proved so popular that by the end of it another one had been organized. The next class in March will be a portrait painting class.

Harold has had a long and interesting life, and helped more animals than he can count. He was talkative this past Saturday and I really enjoyed listening to his stories. His son Kevin runs the shop, and Pedro Flores, an employee there, is also an artist. Everyone at Harold's is a serious dog whisperer. It's no small task to take in strays who are afraid of everyone and everything and turn them into loving, trusting, content little souls. Kevin has taught Mable to sit and lie down for treats, and Pedro can hold her in his arms, even on her back, and she relaxes and cuddles with him like she's never had a fearful day in her life. Amazing. Baby is so new that they haven't had the chance to teach her anything yet, or even name her, so they are calling her Baby for now. A tiny little Chihuahua, she and Mable, a small terrier mix of some kind, had me at bark. I brought treats with me in order to buy their love, and snuck out of my workshop photography responsibilities throughout the day to go hang with the pooches at the front of the store. I'm a sucker for cute, what can I say? I could so easily take both of these adorable girls home.

Mable cuddling with Pedro

When you can get a scared stray to trust like this, you are a dog whisperer

Baby the new stray asleep on a pillow

If you drive past Harold's you might see Mable and Baby watching the world from this window

Oh, and the workshop - the reason we were actually there - it went really well. Patrick had a great group of people, and they all gained ground and had fun doing it. Most of them will be returning for the next workshop in March, and I look forward to seeing them again. I was there for most of the day, and it was the first time I have had the opportunity to really see Patrick in action, and I was so proud for him. He is an excellent teacher - such an effective communicator and speaker. His opening lecture held my interest and I don't even care about painting. And the thing that moved me the most - he is able to create a welcoming, relaxed environment for learning where no one feels intimidated or overwhelmed. I came to the lovely realization watching him that all of Patrick's varied professional experience and hard work over the years has helped lead him to a place where he can make a living doing something that makes the world a better place. Who doesn't want that? He brings good to the world with his own art, and also with his teaching, by helping others grow as artists. It's genuinely inspiring to see people experience the joy that comes with accomplishment, with a breakthrough. When we grow, we literally glow. And it fills the whole room. Everyone feels it, and everyone is lifted by it. What a great space to be in, where you can feel free to explore, try new things, and take risks without fear. Love it. And I love him for creating it, for making other people feel like that when they take his class. I know it sounds corny, but it's real, and it's a beautiful thing. I've taken plenty of creative seminars and classes over the years where I didn't feel anything close to what I experienced yesterday in Patrick's class. Some people are talented, but can't teach, or are egomaniacal and cruel, and even if you learn something from them you walk away feeling drained or diminished. But not with Patrick. He creates an environment that people just seem to bloom in, and I can't express how much admiration, respect, and love I have for him for that. We all need that in our lives. Safe, constructive places to bloom and grow.

Thanks to John Martinez, Patrick's demo painting demonstrations were viewable on a large TV screen

Patrick demonstration how he measures shapes in his paintings

Carolyn Minshew starts a painting

Jimmy Martinez selecting colors

John Martinez painting
Karen McCauley starts a portrait

Patrick and Andrew Perez selecting colors
Patrick discussing subject selection with Jeanne Allen

Margarita Benavides choosing a subject

Sylvia St. Gene and Patrick Saunders discuss her composition
Kevin Sekula and Pedro Flores - our thanks to Kevin and Harold's Art & Framing for hosting Patrick's workshops