Total Art Soul - for artists

" Art is the proper task of life "
Friedrich Nietzsche
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Beginnings:  the initial wash...

When I was in eastern Montana last fall I took a 100 mile + drive south and west of Miles City, following the Tongue River about 50 miles and then heading north on dirt roads about 40 miles to Rosebud where I got back on I-94 to Miles City. I took a bunch of photos along the way of the river, the fields and whatever looked interesting. Once I got on the dirt road with the warning signs posting "this road is impassable when wet", I was following near Rosebud Creek. There were these beautiful sandstone cliffs with a lot of pine and juniper. I have long been impressed with Albert Handel and Richard McKinley's paintings of such cliffs and rocks, so I shot a bunch of photos of the area and thought that one day I would do some paintings of the rocks and brush.

A side note..."road not passable when wet" is a reminder to me of living in eastern Montana and when it rains, the earth turns to gumbo...not the culinary delight - but a mud that is sort of clay like and as you walk in it; it collects on your feet until you can hardly lift your mud encased appendages. It is really like can actually form 3D items of art with it. My mother used to sculpt with it for fun. You couldn't go out and hike around until it dried; so one might as well spend some artist time and make things out of the mud!

Fortunately in October there is little chance of rain and had there been a cloud in the sky, I would have turned around and retraced my tracks back to Miles City on the gravel and asphalt roads.

So today I painted a second painting of the rock cliffs and shot some images as I progressed through the painting...I chose a piece of Art Spectrum paper and toned it with some reds washed with alcohol. Once this was alcohol wash takes minimal time to dry...I roughed in the sky and tree line.

Then I added more detail to the trees and basically finished them before tackling the rocks. I used Unison, lonelier and Mungyo pastels for the trees, starting with a dark lavender for my base, then adding some dark blue and the dark green.. Once I had the darks in, I sprayed the trees with some workable fix lightly to allow some of the tooth of the paper to come back so I could add some highlights to the tree branches.

So once the trees are in I can start to work on the rocks. Before I leave the trees, I make sure to have highlights of the branches visible and some light peeking through the branches as well. Now I start with the rocks; putting in some general masses, some hints of color and definition. A light spray of the fixative will help to create texture in the rocks, then more color and definition. Next the rocks get to share space with a "cow trail" that meanders down the hillside and more definition of the rocks take place and a bit of vegetation - weeds- sage, etc sprout up near rocks and trail.



I like to sometimes leave some of the initial wash showing through for interesting texture and color. The goal is to invite the viewer to think the scene is interesting enough to want to get on that trail and hike to the top of the rims and see what's on the other side of this ridge...and wonder where that trail goes...they almost always lead to water, to shelter or...

Hope you enjoyed the "demo"....happy painting!


Few have heard of this very small island in the high altitude of the Andes in Lake Titicaca.  But in November of 2005 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Kochiro Matsuura  proclaimed Taquile island of Peru and its textile art as one of the 43 new Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritages of Humanity along with Japan's Kabuki theater and the Zambian Makishi Masquarade. Why did the Taquile people receive this honor? Taquileos are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing which are regarded as some of  the finest quality handy crafts in Peru. Their textile art is produced as an everyday activity by both men, women and children and worn by all members of the community .

The art of weaving  on Taquile island goes back to the ancient Inca civilizations which means elements from pre-Hispanic Andean cultures are still being kept alive. The weaving is done on pre-Hispanic fixed and pedal looms. The most characteristic garment is the calendar waistband, depicting the annual cycles connected to ritual and agricultural activities. The calendar waistband has attracted the interest of many researchers as it depicts elements of the oral tradition of the community and its history. Although new designs and contemporary symbols and images have been introduced, the traditional style and techniques are still maintained.

My husband and I had the opportunity to visit this Island last year and were amazed at how small it was and how the people differed from other Andean groups.  The women and girls wore black mantas or long head scarves which we had not scene in other parts of Peru. The typical llama was not present on the island but instead lot's of woolly sheep.  What seemed like an easy climb up the hill to the village was actually quite challenging because of the high altitude. We enjoyed our afternoon there and ate a meal of delicious local trout. We look forward to going back one day and were glad to have met such warm and interesting people . ~ above are a  few photographs from our trip to the Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca, Peru.




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