Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Dog's Life in a Painter's World

Jade is on alert – standing on the tailtage of the Element she is watching for any movement at all and keeping us safe from any and all unwelcome wildlife! Her head jerks from side to side as the brush rustles in the breeze. It’s drizzling and a balmy 62 degrees here at the lakeside of Pineview Reservoir. Jade’s little body is shivering but she refuses to go inside the truck and lie down on her blanket. She is dying to jump off the tailgate and dive into those bushes to see what lies beneath.

Doug is painting this morning in the Ogden Valley Plein Air competition in Huntsville, Utah and I’m along for the ride. We haven’t had a drop of rain for a month and now it decides it’s ready to unload on the 50+ painters out doing their thing this morning! Such is the life of plein air painting! After getting the rest of the I’s dotted and T’s crossed (coffee, breakfast, crucial ipod and a jacket for me) we’re ready to settle down.

I’m taking pictures with “Photobooth” on my mac because I forgot my camera (I’ve been fired twice already this morning! We were late for registration as well ☺) Pi-shaw! You can’t fire me, I’m free labor! We’re here overlooking Pineview and the rain has finally stopped! Doug plugs in the ipod which is set to "shuffle" and gives him a variety of 5000+ songs to listen to--everything from classical guitar music to Pink Floyd to the soundtrack from Chicago. I, however, am snuggled in the Element with a jacket and blanket! Doug’s a true plein air painter, can handle any of the elements, but I’m more of a . . . what you might call, a "fair-weather-painting-reporter!”

Going out painting has always been something our “painter dogs” have enjoyed. Buddy was our first.
Buddy was a beagle that was supposed to weigh between 18 and 20 pounds. However, over the years, he grew to be over 60 pounds! He was so big, Doug would put him on a dolly or in the wheel barrow to take to the studio to work!

We had Buddy for over 11 years and, when he peaked out at 60+ pounds and could hardly walk, Doug put him on weight training, which included running on the treadmill and taking a thyroid pill every day! He shed 25 pounds and got his life back! We were so thrilled to have our Buddy back!

Doug has many fun stories of he and Buddy out painting.
He enjoyed finding a warm spot on the rocks to rest while Doug painted near the river. My favorite story, however, goes back to the late 90’s while Doug and Buddy were out “on location.”

To preface this story, let me give you a little more background on Buddy – he had SERIOUS separation anxiety. He HATED being left alone. Going to Home Depot was
always a crap shoot – do we take Buddy or leave him home? Leaving him home meant whining, moping, digging up the back yard, and then pouting upon our return. But taking him meant leaving him in the truck with the windows rolled down, but not enough that he could jump out, because he would, and then having him howl non-stop till the intercom at Home Depot would announce there was a dog near death in a black truck in the parking lot! (true story!)

With that being said, I’ll continue with the story. Doug and Buddy had been painting on a cold, rainy morning from the cab of his Toyota Tacoma with Buddy nestled comfortably in the back seat. As the rain subsided, Doug decided that maybe he could move to painting outside, so he got out and went to the back of the truck to drop the tailgail and set up his easel. When he returned to the cab, Buddy had, in a moment of panic, JUMPED to the front seat (seriously, he must have had a serious adrenelin rush to jump the seat – he’s 60+ pounds remember) and jumped right into the pallet of paint. In a matter of 15 seconds, he managed to get Thalo Green paint from one end of the cab to the other, running from door to door, window to window, rubbing his nose . . . covered in paint . . . with his paws . . . covered in paint . . . to get this green stuff off.

When Doug walked back to the door, well, you can only imagine the expletives that described his . . . surprise . . . (words that I'm certain he hasn't used since) . . . The entire cab covered in paint, seriously, this included every single window, dashboard, steering wheel, not to mention the dog, completely covered in paint, licking his GREEN wounds! Well . . . needless to say, the painting didn’t get finished, I’m not sure how Doug got it all together and got he and Buddy down the mountain . . . ALIVE . . .
he says it’s all a blur . . . ☺ but in the end, Doug and I enjoyed a long, but somewhat EXPENSIVE, lunch while we dropped off Buddy at the pet salon for a detoxifying “wash and color treatment” (green was just not a good color on him!) and the truck off for a deluxe wash and upholstery cleaning!

I've seen this companionship between Doug and his dogs over the last 23 years--
I guess being a painter is somewhat of a lonely profession! Talking and answering yourself is one thing, but when you start to argue with yourself, well, there's where we need to get some help! So having a "buddy" to take to work with you has pretty much saved his sanity! It's a great life for both Doug AND dog!

Well,the painting is getting it's final touches and I’m sitting here taking pictures of Jade trying to lick my face off. Part of my job as "head reporter" is to REPORT what is going on outside this warm car . . . so in an effort to not get fired a third time,
I did take "progression" pictures of the painting which I will post at a later time as I have Doug walk me through the steps of a painting from start to finish. Don't thank me now, thank me when you see me with something wonderful! :)

I know, most of you are saying, "well it's about time we got to the painting part of this blog!" Well, I aim to please, so here is the "dessert" you've all been patiently waiting for . . some recent plein air paintings Doug has done in the last couple of months, out paintin' just he and his dog, and of course, their trusty reporter, just tagging along giving you a little insight "from my perspective . . ."

Spring Shelter
8 x 10

Summer Trees
8 x 10

Shelter Study
8 x 10

Torrey Fields
8 x 10

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"What?! You're Painting a Used Car Lot?"

As many of you have figured out by now, Doug doesn’t paint just the same ol' “traditional” stuff! He paints what his world is made of, much the same way Charles Russell painted cowboys and indians. I remember the first time Doug decided to paint a car lot in Ogden, I thought to myself, and unfortunately out loud, "A big gorilla hanging over a couple of used cars? Are you kidding me? Who in the world would want a painting like that hanging in their living room!” Well, I ate my words. Not only ate those words for lunch but for years to come! mmmmm, how I've learned to love crow! And as they say in Boulder, Utah, they were pretty darn good! Since that time, car lots with the big blow-up "enticements" have made their way into Doug's painting archives. (some of which are on his website) The Rookie and Quality Assurance are two of my favorites.

The Rookie
8 x 10

From the car lots, he began looking for interesting compositions from just driving down a street, again, the streets that we drive every day. "Saccos Fruit Stand," that we drive by on almost a daily basis, was painted in 2004 in Roy, Utah was one of the pioneers that was recognized by locals with just the big “banana” sign! here I am, eating more crow! Who'da thunk? A banana sign? Seriously? Other iconic signs were easily recognized, such as China Nite's Buddah (Call of the Moorlocks) in Ogden, Classic’s bowling pin (6:19 Downtown) in Salt Lake City or Carls Jr. burger stand (Hunters Gatherers) in St. George are among the hundreds of cityscapes that are in Doug’s archives.

Quality Assurance
8 x 10

A little about us . . . Doug and I have been married for almost 23 years and live in the home that Doug grew up in. He has always been the "stay at home dad" and I have always worked outside the home, thus never getting the opportunity to "tag along" on painting trips . . . until this summer. Can I just say that . . . well . . . this has been THE GREATEST SUMMER EEEEVER! I've been on all these "working" trips. Yeah right . . . whatever. They were full-fledged vacations for me with all the crucial elements of the perfect vacation . . . hotel, pool, golf, reading, more golf, good food and, of course, a constant supply of ice and fresca! I tried to look busy . . . ya know, checking emails, sending in entry forms, balancing the checkbook! But seriously, it's been fantastic!

Recently we spent four days in Midway where we did a plein air competition. Notice how I say WE? :) This quaint little town with red barns and fields was so terrific! Doug would go out and paint in the morning while I "worked" vigilantly by the pool and then when Doug was done painting, we would head to Wasatch Golf Course to exercise play 9 holes of golf . . . this turned out to be a lot of work on my part--hitting the ball so many times in one afternoon is draining! WE were so tired after such a rough day at work!)

Barn Study
5 x 7

To make myself more useful and feel more a part of this "we" painting venture, I tagged along for the quick-draw competition. "Wow hon, are you sure you can work that into your schedule today?" Doug asked with a wink and a smile. Well, tagging along meant that I was going to sit in the Element and read Twilight! Oh, and of course, I'll go get water . . . we were only a half a block from 7-11! Nice choice of locations!! We had many visitors who walked by, and one in particular said "hey, that's the view from our house!" which incidentally ended up being the title of the painting!

It was great watching the painting come together. A little purple paint was used to "draw" the composition, using all kinds of things besides just his brushes, like his fingers and q-tips! I would check the progress every half hour or so (it's part of my job, ya know!) but I have to say, the last 15 or 20 minutes were the BEST!

Watching him put the final touches on this little painting was great. Mix a little paint, match the color, then balancing the “painting hand” on the other arm, make a strategic “stroke” or “dot” on a sign, post, for-sale sign, or a rose bush. One stroke. Done. Cleans off the brush. My heckling comments vary . . . “That’s it? One dot? You're done? You gonna waste all that paint? Well shoot, I could do that!” No response. I'm thinking, he's so patient with me! Then I realize, he's got his ipod in and can't hear a word I'm saying!

A View From Our House
5 x 7

He's certainly got a knack for capturing his surroundings and our lives as we know them now. . . . each painting a little time stamp of a place where Doug and his paintbrush spent a little time . . . it may be your street, it may be your farm, it may be you at a local water park (Clearfield Water Park)! Nonetheless, it's been a great way to capture the last 23 years of our lives! And that, my friends, is a little more from my perspective . . .