Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thanks For Listening 2013

As the year closes, let me take a moment to express my gratitude and appreciation to all of you that have made this such a great year.

For those of you that took the time to comment and share your thoughts on art, I cannot express how important your input has been. If I did not reply directly to your comment I assure you that my lack of response was either circumstances or procrastination. Whichever case, I value each and every comment.  Again my sincerest gratitude.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year,  Jim

For my loving wife, no words can express my appreciation for you, the source of my greatest happiness. How lucky a man I am. I am extremely lucky, and extremely thankful… for you.

All my love, Happy Anniversary

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

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This work by Jim Serrett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.pochadeboxpaintings.blogspot.com.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Twisted Sisters

I like to go back to the same scenes and locations when sketching. Sometime it's to add another layer of refinement to a piece in progress or to gather more information on a new canvas. The purpose of a field sketch is to capture the essentials of a scene, and add to my inventory of knowledge. I want to paint from my experiences onsite, plus working from life is learning to see nature, which will only enhance my studio work. 

The Loblolly Pines caught my interest because of the twists and turns of the branches. I wanted to capture the simple rhythm and forms within the complex tangle of limbs and describe some of the changing aspects of light. On my second visit at this location we had a nice snow fall, which really changed my center of interest and I painted this simple sketch of the pines in snow.

The two sketches will be nice reference material in the studio. My studio paintings are derived from my Pochade box paintings, a collections of sketches, color notes and memory.  Many of the Pochade’s never make it to the “Big Stage” - that being a larger studio version, but all of them add to my understanding of painting the landscape.

Twisted Sisters 5 x 7 inches Oil on panel © Jim Serrett 
Loblolly Pines in Snow 5 x 7inches Oil on panel © Jim Serrett

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Friday, November 29, 2013

Studying One's Craft

A cold November day, just pushing paint. I know there's not much to see on the panel, it's just a start, and I am not sure how it will turn out. But just the act of being outside gets the creative juices flowing and mind working. Pushing some pigment around, judging color notes, looking for dark and light abstract forms, getting your hands dirty...painting is an action word.

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"...in Wildness is the preservation of the world." - Henry David Thoreau

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Sketch of Mt. Denali from Eielson visitor center  

This month friends of ours in Alaska invited Linda and I up for a grand Alaska adventure. This was a truly unprecedented opportunity to see the real Alaska with good friends from a unique perspective, they had won the Denali Road Lottery. Each September the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska hosts a four-day event called the "Road Lottery." During these four days, winners of the lottery drawing are given a rare day-long permit, allowing winners to drive personal vehicles the length of the 92-mile Denali Park Road. Routine travel in the park with private autos is prohibited and with exception of the Road Lottery visitors must use buses operated by a concessionaire to travel the park.

We started our grand Alaska adventure by visiting and hiking the Matanuska Glacier and jumping on the Denali Highway for a 135 mile journey along some of the most pristine and wild country anyone could image. Denali Highway is lightly traveled, mostly gravel road with a posted speed limit of 30 mph and is just a spectacular drive. Traveling this you get a real feel for the wildness and immensity of Alaska, and ending at Denali National Park you're treated to “the Great One” Mount Denali.

A place to remind you of the vastness and grandeur in nature and take you on a transcendent journey into the sublime.

Mount Denali photographed at Reflection Pond in the Wonder Lake
area within Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska (9/15/13). 

 "...in Wildness is the preservation of the world."
                                                                                                  --- Henry David Thoreau

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Floating Clouds

A study of clouds floating over Cedar lake at dusk. I will never tire of watching clouds and their boundless display of color, shape, and size. One can gain a great deal of personal perspective from a little cloud therapy.  A few hours quietly contemplating them can open an entire new viewpoint, they just make me appreciate our beautiful and wonderful world.

                                   Floating Clouds at Dusk on Cedar Lake 5x7in oil on panel ©Jim Serrett

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Portrait of a Maple Tree

Maple Tree in Shade  Oil on panel  5x7in  © Jim Serrrett

"A tree against the sky possesses the same interest, the same character, the same expression as the figure of a human."  - Georges Rouault

This amazing Maple tree is just out the studio widow, I have observed it in every type of weather and it always impresses me. I was interested in the relationships between the shadow and sun lite areas of the canopy.  The balance of light and dark foliage is described by small color note changes in a fairly complex pattern which looked like a good painter’s problem to solve. To paint the maple I set up my pochade box easel outside in the shadow of the eaves of the house along the drive way and painted this sketch in multiple sittings, by returning at the same time and under the same weather condition.

While dealing with the inherent challenges in painting this subject, as I slowed down and observed, I really began to connect and appreciate this beautiful tree, finding a lot of personality and spirit in this maple. The piece became more than a landscape study and became a portrait of a tree.

To View Work - Click on image to enlarge. Scroll through all images with light box.

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Favorite Place to Paint : Jim Serrett - with Demo

Red Kayak 5x7in oil on panel © Jim Serrett

Cedar Lake, it is just such a tranquil place to kayak and do some sketching. The southern portion of Cedar Lake is located in the Shawnee National Forest and about half of it's 30-mile shoreline is owned by the U.S. Forest Service. With 1,750-acres to explore you can find beautiful secluded coves surrounded by towering sandstone bluffs bordered by hardwood forests and cedar trees. The powerboat limit is 10 horse (7.5 kW) or less and with no development along it's shore it can be a very tranquil paddling spot.

On our last trip we took a friend out for a her first kayak adventure and had the amazing experience of an American Bald Eagle swooping down between her and my Linda’s kayak, snatching up a fish from the water within feet of both boaters. Fantastic!

The Point North 5x7in oil on panel © Jim Serrett

Paddling this lake can get you into a great mental state of mind, there is so much enjoyment in just being out there observing and seeing wonderful natural places. Finding a nice quiet spot along the bluffs and painting en plein air with my little cigar box makes for a perfect day. Add a little picnic and getting a toe or two wet and you have incredible day.

I find that the imagery on the lake changes constantly making it challenging subject matter. The sky and clouds reflecting onto the water always have some interesting value or color relationship.  Always drawn to that link, earth, sky and water, I like looking for those subtle value transitions. As well as the atmospheric effect and play of hard and soft edges.

Aristotle wrote, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Very few statements about art carry as much truth or are as illuminating.  The great landscape painters I admire understood this, that to really paint the land you have to have a internal dialogue with nature. You must paint from the experience.

Demo Info:
Step 1: General shapes of the main elements are sketched in with thinned burnt sienna.
Step 2: Mix up base colors of the sky and water. Block in large masses.
Step 3: Building a value range. Lightest light and darkest dark.
Step 4: Smaller masses and midtones.
Step 5: Adjustments- “a series of corrections”
Step 6: Final study: “Earth, Sky, Water” oil on panel 5x7in

Click demo image to enlarge and view in Light-box.

Earth Sky Water 5x7in oil on panel © Jim Serrett

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,
but their inward significance.”         -Aristotle

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Cedar Lake Links
Great resource on Southern Illinois / Shawnee National Forest / Trails
Featuring Photography of Gary Marks - Images and Video 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Over the Garden Fence

Over the Garden Fence, 8 x 10 in, Oil on panel © Jim Serrett

The garden has been the inspiration for several paintings and sketches, this day I thought I would be painting some natural arrangement of flowers with lots of pops of colors. But what caught my attention were the simple tree forms over the garden fence. There was such a nice atmosphere within the trees and interesting transitions of hard and soft edges. This view is one of those things you know you have looked at dozens of times but never quite saw.  Subject matter and inspiration are everywhere, sometimes it just takes putting the brakes on a little. Slowdown, take nature in and you just might be surprised by what you’ve overlooked.

When I sit down to make a sketch from nature, the first thing I try to do is to forget that I have ever seen a picture.    --John Constable

For those of you that have been following this blog with Google Reader.  On Monday, Google Reader will no longer be available. You can continue receiving updates and posts by subscribing using the RSS email box in the side bar or following me on Google+.

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Friday, May 31, 2013

Nature is a dictionary.

"Along the Muddy River" 5 in x 7 in  oil on panel © Jim Serrett

"River Road" 5 in x 7 in Oil on Panel  © Jim Serrett 

The landscape has change so much since the beginning of the month. The top study was done around the first of May and the second this week. Vast transformations and changes in the scenery, nature is always showing us how amazing and inspiring it is.

“Nature is a dictionary; one draws words from it.” 

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Monday, April 29, 2013

You can't see the forest for the trees.

Practical Application

Meaning you are focusing on details too much and can't see the "big picture."
With the rush of new growth, this time of year I believe is the hardest time to paint on location in the Midwest. Just so many small fractured and chopped up areas of foliage and sky holes.

It is a struggle to keep masses large and the details subordinated to them. The only answer is to squint at your subject. Squinting-down will simplify detail and value changes, making the big shapes more easily understood.

The only true way to learn this is to stand in nature and put paint on canvas.

“This making of paintings has little to do with instruction and a whole lot to do with sitting in front of a canvas and finding ones own way with paint and brush.”                                    
         Roger Bansemer

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brush Wallet – Simple methods to transport brushes in the field.

See if this sounds familiar, you just traverse the trail from hell, scrambled over rock and brush with paint box in hand, easel under arm looking for that perfect location. And after hiking to set up at your picturesque destination you find your favorite brush with its hairs mangled and twisted like some 70’s punk rock band or worse it is snapped in two.




The infamous call of the ape man.  When Tarzan found trouble or was distressed, he would let out a blood curdling cry.  Listen Here.
Ok so how do we to stop the transition to a punk rock ape man.

Cut stir sticks to length and cut
notches to guide rubber bands

Here is a quick and simple method I picked up from a faux finisher for protecting a brush in transit, avoiding bristle damage and the dreaded handle “snap”. Grab a handful of stir sticks at your local paint store; the ones with a slight curve in them work best. (As side note that curve is intentional as it is use to help dip into and transfer paint.)

Simple Brush Carrier from rubber bands
 and paint stir sticks.

Anyway, I cut the sticks a few inches longer than the brushes I want to transport and still fit into my color box. Use a small rat tail file and notch the sides to keep the rubber bands in place and sandwich the brushes by doubling up the sticks. That's all there is to it, simple and quick.  

Custom Canvas Brush Wallet

The next method is an all around work horse for keeping brushes safe on trail or in the studio. The only requirement, you need a supportive, loving spouse with a sewing machine. Thank you Linda.
The canvas brush wallet is simple and quick to make, the nice thing about this one (compare to those you purchase) is you can make it any size you want. If you stretch your own canvases you can use left over cotton duck canvas. This one was made from probably 7 oz un-primed material, and was easy to work with.

I just figure out the width by how many slots I think I would like and modify them for larger handles so that I can carry a variety of brush sizes. Also make it long enough to have a flap to cover the brush ends and include one slot on the end that will receive a wood brace (yard stick) that acts like a shield on one end and adds a bit of support.

Wallet rolled with the brush tips safe and handles protected.  

Both methods are great answers for transporting, storing, and protecting your brushes in a backpack, tote bag or paint box. They both do well at keeping the brush tips safe and handles protected. This means you arrive on location with your favorite brushes safe and in good condition, and all you have to deal with is creating your masterpiece.

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Link - 7 of the craziest, most dangerous, most dizzying hikes in the world (VIDEOS)
Tarzan and Edgar Rice Burroughs

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gallery Update

If this looks to you like a shameless self promotion, well it is. Sometimes the best way to promote yourself is to remind patrons that work is available for purchase.

Jim Serrett Gallery offers access to my portfolio of available original artworks.
You will find larger studio works in oil offered through this site directly, as well as small scale paintings and studies obtainable through my Etsy Store. Easy access to the gallery is through the above page tab or the “Gallery of Available Works” image in the side bar on the right.

Please visit the gallery and thank you for your support of the arts.

”An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.”
                                                                                           ---  James MacNeill Whistler 

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter Landscapes

Snow and ice may not be your favorite image right now, but here in the Southern Midwest the snow brings an entire new drama to what can be a rather mundane landscape, showcasing aspects of the land often overlooked in other seasons.

Painting snow presents a unique challenge compared to other subjects. Sketching a snowscape not only tests your comfort zone but low temperatures can have an adverse effect on your materials. The real challenge however, is that snow is never pure white, it is affected by the sky color and reflections of whatever local color is surrounding it.

There is a whole color spectrum in snow, shadow colors that range from blue to gray-violet and highlights that have subtle color shifts of yellow and even pink.

Combined with contrast of blues, reds and greens of foliage it truly is an entire subject of its own. A person just has to get out and spend time looking closely to see all the true subtleties. Both studies 5x7 in oil on panel.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”
                                                                                                                    ­              --- JohnRuskin 

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sycamore on Frozen Lake

With cabin fever setting in, and a small break in the weather, we needed a hike at Murphysboro Lake State Park. Even though most of the snow was gone many of the park roads were still closed, I am guessing until things thaw out from our big freeze.

“A lot of people like snow. 
I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
                                                                           - Carl Reiner

There are several large sycamores on the lake that are very unique in their appearance. With the variations of white, brown and gray on the bark and the enormous reach of the branches they are majestic trees towering along the shoreline. Against the cold winter sky and frozen lake this tree really was the perfect subject.
Hopefully I captured some of her majesty between shivers.

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
                                                                                  -  Henry David Thoreau 

Detail - Sycamore on Frozen lake - Oil on panel
Original full painting  9"x 12"

Explore - Question - Learn - - Enjoy, Jim