Along the Art Path---Cont'd

My interest in trying to learn to draw and paint continues since March of 2008.

Continuing here are samples and discussions of my 2016 experiences from my make-shift studio.

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2016 Art

For the past ten months I was hung up on trying to finish a triplet of portraits of my longtime music teacher, Lori, in action. I blamed this for not getting much painting done last year but now that it has been done for some time, my painting output has not increased in any noticeable amount.

July 7, 2016. A Teacher Study Triptych

Left: Teacher Study--No.3, 8.5x11 Acrylic on Bristol Paper;
Center: Teacher Study--No.1, 14x18 Ink on Watercolor Paper;
Right: Teacher Study--No.2, 9x11.5 Acrylic on Watercolor Paper.

After the completion of the third study portrait, at the end of June, it took less than a week to get them all framed and mounted on the art wall as shown here. These are actually centered above my little cabinet that I use for my own trumpet practice time. Somehow it seemed appropriate to put them here where she could watch over my practice efforts. Also, as she used to do in my lessons, the pictures can remind me of proper techniques to use when practicing.

A first reaction that I got was that the arrangement made an impressive array and that I was pleased with this final result to display the long effort. Maybe that means it all felt worthwhile in the end after reaching completion.

About a month ago, when Lori delivered a radio for me to work on, I brought her down to see my art wall and to show her my portrait result. She knew I had this in mind, obviously, for she posed for me to take the model photos to use for a portrait. She was not surprised to see them but she wondered if I had discarded the idea due to it being so long since I had taken the photos. My last lesson was in May of 2013 and that is when I took the photos.

As she studied the individual portraits, she made comments about how well I had portrayed the embouchure and the use of her fingers on the keys. Those are important issues for her and she was pleased to see them in the paintings. Other than that, she did not have much else to say about them, as a whole, and so I speculate that possibly it was disappointing for her to see that she was rather pink in the two paintings.

I am happy that these are now complete and hope that it will free me to move on to other ideas and results.

August 17, 2016. Journey To Friend-ship Book Covers
Left: Back Cover, 7x10 Photo on Cardstock;
Right: Front Cover, 7x10 Photo on Cardstock.

Soon after finishing and mounting those portraits, I got busy putting on finishing touches for a book I have been working on for a couple years. It is titled: Journey To Friend-ship: With Thoughts and Events Along The Way. In some sense this is art as I used the Roads Lead Home painting [see Art_14 for a discussion about the making of that watercolor painting] for the front cover; and a photo that I took of the Wilson Center for the back cover. The Wilson Center is where the Orono Friends Meeting currently meets on Sunday mornings. The design was created through the use of an old Visio drawing program that I have had since my working days. That would be almost 17 years ago.

The book is comprised of memoirs and essays from my daily pages writing, for the five years between 2008 and 2013, as I considered the possibility of becoming a Quaker. The entries are preserved in chronological order as I participate in different spiritual activities, with different groups and classes, while also beginning to attend the Orono Friends Meeting. Eventually I get involved, as Treasurer for Meeting, to where the path assumes a completely different perspective. This leads me to become concerned about the survival of the fragile Meeting as well as issues related to the personality of the Meeting. In the end, hope, in the form of young families, comes to Meeting so this telling arrives at a happy ending.

The book does not have a price tag as it was self-published and is available to any friend, or relative, that thinks they might like to read it. Just let me know where to send it by emailing to: fsmax11(at)gmail(dot)com and I will be pleased to forward a copy. Just know it is slow reading, as Quaker thinking is wont to be, and that there may be essays with which you disagree---and that's OK.

April through September. Pencil Sketches to finish 'Rodney' Story

The Adventures of Rodney is a story about a displaced squirrel that I have been writing since I started doing daily pages in 2008. So far it has spanned the first 21 volumes in what has been a sporadic effort at best. After finishing the above Journey book, from the same pages, I have initiated an effort to finish the Rodney saga to make available as a completed book in 2017. Following are figure sketches that I have done this year. A purpose to put them here is the fact that, in some sense, they are a form of art that I have been doing this year.

April 29, 2016 Treed
Rodney has just escaped a perilous journey down the Penobscot River, being trapped in a strong eddy at the confluence of the Stillwater and the Penobscot, getting tangled in weeds, having the tip of his tail severed by a hungry Pickerel, dive bombed by an attacking Osprey, and just making it to the safety of Ayers Island where he crawled into the safety of some bushes to rest and recuperate. He was soon roused from his sanctuary by an upset, threatening, Rottweiler which ran him to the safety of this tree. Rodney is trapped in the tree.
June 1, 2016 Collar Shock
Rodney escaped the Rottweiler and in the process he learns that the dog is trapped on the island by means of some 'mystical' fence that shocks the dog whenever it tries to go too close to the edge of the island.

Here Rodney sees the dog in real pain as he is too close to the field that shocks him and brings him to the ground in severe pain.
June 2, 2016 Cuts Collar
Rodney figures out that the collar must be the cause of the dog's pain. In the process of getting free, Rodney mentioned that he had been pulled into the river by 'the Falls' and that he did not really want to be on the Rottweiler's island. He had promised to get off as soon as he could but he did not trust getting into the river again. It was too dangerous. The dog agrees to go with him, to protect Rodney on his journey back to the island by the falls, because he had never heard of any falls and wanted to see what they were. In exchange, Rodney agreed to remove the dog's collar and to free him from the shocking pains.
July 3, 2016 Back Swim
After removing the collar from the dog, the dog begins to trust Rodney and they set off to cross the channel to the mainland to walk up the river to find the falls. In the process, Rodney learns that the dog's name is really just Roger so that they become friends on a mission. After crossing the river, they meet a retired police dog who warns Roger that, without a collar and registration, he is a fugitive and subject to capture, by the game warden, on sight. Rodney and Roger decide to keep a low profile and to not be any more conspicuous than possible. Rodney travels from tree to tree while Roger keeps along the edge of the river.
September 24, 2016 The Structure
The two unlikely friends continue on and experience a 'learning' night for Roger as he finds it problematic to find food and begins to appreciate the life he had as a 'prisoner' on the island. After spending a night in an abandoned shed they learn that Roger's owner has arranged for a dog, named Jack, to sniff out Roger's presence. They leave in a hurry to avoid getting caught.

As they were trying to decide which way to go, the Raven appeared to deliver a message to Rodney from Ronda. Basically she wanted to know if he was alive and to return as soon as he could as she was stranded alone on 'their' island. The Raven then told them that they could reach the Falls by following the rails until they reached the 'structure' where they would be able to see the Falls in all its glory.

With this information, Roger and Rodney agree to 'split' and Roger goes ahead, on a run, so he can see the falls before returning to his home. He has seen enough of being free to know that it wasn't so bad where he was before meeting Rodney.

It was not long until Roger came to where he could see this bridge structure, in the distance, and he knew he was going to get to see the falls soon even though he could hear Jack baying in the distance as he led the men back and forth on different streets to give Roger time.
September 24, 2016 View of the Falls
This is the view that Roger got from the bridge. As he had never seen anything like this, the site and sound of enormous power was overwhelming. He could only be amazed that Rodney had survived having been pulled into and over the falls into the rocks below. He was certain that the force of the cascading waters would force anyone into the rocks making it quite difficult to get out and free from the water.

At that moment, Roger felt regret that he had given Rodney such a hard time for coming to rest on Ayers Island, his patrol site. He thought that he would try to be more careful in the future.

With Jack and his owner bearing down upon him, Roger turned, reluctantly, from his view and began the trip back to his home where he hoped to never have to wear that collar again.
December 12, 2016 Together Again
After Roger got to view the Falls, he managed to evade his master, and Jack, once again and headed off to his home as he had told Jack he would do. Along the way, he met up with Rodney and told of his plan to return and enjoy the life which waited there for him. He thanked Rodney for removing the collar, for him to enjoy freedom, and apologized for threatening Rodney after he had managed to survive the perilous Falls and the journey down the river. He wished Rodney well, in future time to come, and then took his departure to return home to his job on Ayers Island.

Rodney returned Roger's greeting and also wished him well in the doing of his deeds in the future. He then continued on his way to return to the island and Ronda his mate. In not too much time, he made it to and across the bridge and all the way around the park to where he and Ronda had swum to the island together. As he reached the island, he was greeted happily by Ronda as she beseeched him to never leave her again.

Dec 31, 2016. Sunrise---A Morning Question

9x12 inch, Acrylic Paint,
140 lb. Cold Press, Watercolor Paper

This picture sat prepped, on the easel, for several months but I made a pre-New Year's resolution and finished it on New Year's Eve! It seemed like a good way to end the year.

The model for this painting was from a photo that I took an unknown long time, maybe two winters, ago. That morning as, I prepared my breakfast, I noted this scene through the kitchen window. The undulating question mark fascinated me and I thought it to be a good candidate for making a painting as well as a contemplative scene.

The abnormal colors are due to 'Photoshopping' the photo to bring contrast to the white smoke, the morning mists above the river valley beyond, and the snow on the tree branches. The 'Curves' function, in Photoshop, filters color and so I set it up to bring out the green in the rising smoke. The result was a muting of the morning colors to make a picture composed of multi-complementary colors; Blue and Yellow to make Green as well as Yellow and Red to make Orange. The picture contains the rainbow as it presents all the colors of the spectrum.

The sky was obtained by using acrylic based paint to make washes much like is done with watercolor painting. This also explains the use of the watercolor paper. The use of acrylic gives me more confidence that subsequent addition of color will not cause running and mixing which intimidates me in the use of watercolor paints. I like the washes but I do not enjoy the threat of messing up prior work, or foundation paint.

This was a satisfying painting with which to end the year as I like it and plan to frame it and add it to my wall here in the basement where I work. One hope I have is that the joy I experienced, as I finsihed this painting, will stimulate me to do more paintings in 2017.

This site last updated on: Jan 7, 2017