Saturday, June 28, 2008

Olathe Golf Course

I went out tonight intending to paint some clouds, but they dissipated too quickly so I settled on this lovely view of the Olathe Golf Course, near Olathe Lake (it looks like the golf course is closed). I got started a little late and was not able to finish before the sun went down. I think this view deserves another attempt.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Field Setup

Using the bicycle as a base for plein aire painting has its advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Bicycles can go where cars cannot.
  2. Gas prices are irrelevant!
  3. There is never a problem finding a place to "park".
  4. I feel more in tune with my surroundings and better able to recognize creative possibilities.
  1. I'm at the mercy of the weather (that's what raincoats are for).
  2. Limited to what can be transported (keeps things lean).
  3. Requires some physical effort (so does painting).
  4. Range is somewhat limited (less likely to waste time wondering what's around the next curve).
I'm sure my list is not exhaustive and it may be just a little bias, but hey, that's what blogs are for!

I use a pannier (saddle bag), to haul supplies and mount the pastel box on the back rack with small bungee chords (I bored small holes in the sides of the metal pastel box to accept the bungee chords). Although I bought a two-prong kickstand, I've found placing a chord around the handlebars and staking the two ends in the ground, is the most secure way to hold the bike in place. A velcro strap is placed round the front wheel and frame to stabilize the wheel (see photo). The corners of the small drawing board were rounded off so it would fit better into the pannier and not interfere with pedaling. I am sure there will be additions as time goes on. but for now, this setup seems to work.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mabee Library, MNU

Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 8"x11"

A quiet Saturday morning on the MidAmerica Nazarene University campus.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BAK 2008 Sketches

For the last 7 days I've been pedaling my way across Kansas with some 800 other bicycling enthusiasts on the "BAK" (Biking Across Kansas). We completed our journey today in Atchison, KS. We were spared from the tumultuous weather that whirled around us and for that I am thankful, but my prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones or have been left homeless. Thanks too, for those who prayed for our safety.

"South of US36"
Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 8"x11"

This was my first attempt of the trip. I set up on the crest of a hill where I could see the bikers filing past on US 36. I would join them again, soon enough.

Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 5.5"x11"

Just southeast of Atwood I spotted this scene and set up on a dirt road. When I left I notice numerous burrs sticking to my front wheel. Pulling them out, I heard the ominous "pssssss" sound. Fortunately the tire held until I got back to the school where I spent the next hour patching holes (four that night and one the next day). I learned my lesson about off-roading in western Kansas!

"Solomon River at Beloit"
Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 8"x11"

The Solomon River was running high and the barn swallows were busy collecting supper as I sketched this scene (I think that's what they were). Near the end of the drawing session a white-tail doe slipped into the woods in the bottom left corner of the picture.

"South of Smith Center"
Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 5.5"x11"

After an exhilarating (exhosting) climb on US 281, south of Smith Center, we were greeted with this stunning panorama.

"Granary in Norton"
Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 8"x11"

We'll I'm pretty certain this was in Norton. Maybe someone can confirm this for me. I should have kept better records. The strong shadow crossing the street was from the cylindrical grain silos off to the right.

"Stubble Field"
Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 8"x11"

I found this beautiful scene just outside Smith Center. It was a clear day and the early morning sun racked across the field revealing glorious colors. As I packed to leave a stray cow emerged from the woods at right and moseyed across the field.

"Looking East"
Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 5.5"x11"

The morning was somewhat misty as we headed North out of Beloit on highway 14, but by the time I started drawing, the sun had broken creating strong contrasts and colors.

"Four miles from Horton"
Pastel on Mi Tient paper, 8"x11"

Most of my sketching was well off the BAK route, but this view was only a few yards from Prairie Road, near US 73. To the two young ladies who stopped at the intersection to apply more sunscreen, a few more minutes and I could have added you to the picture. :)

BAK is an amazing undertaking of planning, organization and cooperation. It provides people like myself, the opportunity to experience Kansas in a unique way and share in the experiences of others along the way. I have been inspired and enriched by the people I've met.

Among my goals for BAK was a personal challenge to produce at least one sketch per day. The Kansas landscape provided plenty of inspiration. If you were a BAK participant you may recognize some of the scenes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Break Time

I'm behind on a project (imagine that!) and must let the sketching slide for the next few days. Please check back after June 14 for sketches from the BAK (Biking Across Kansas) ride.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Color of Mud

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (8.5"x5.5")

If your adult son asks you "what is it?", you probably shouldn't show it to anyone else. Oh well, I'll live dangerously. I was struck with the rich color in this muddy field! I didn't say I CAPTURED it. I do think this would have worked better in a standard horizontal composition.

Wrong Way!

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (5.5"x13.5")

It was mid-day before the sun came out on Sunday. This view caught my eye while taking a break on a bike trip to Adrian, MO. Thanks, Mitch and Joyce, for the great shish cabobs!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mill Creek

Oil on canvas (6"x8")

This oil sketch is from last Fall, along the Mill Creek Streamway Park trail, a short walk from our house.

I have not been out the last few days due to weather and a nasty toothache. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blue Star Awards

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (5.5"x13.5")

Each year Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City sponsors the "Blue Star" awards. This is a special event held at Kansas City Starlight Theater in honor of area high school musical theater students. This year our son, Ethan, participated in a musical number from "Once On This Island" on stage! He stole the show, of course.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Pastel on Mi Teint paper (8.5"x11")

I could say it looks like her, but I'd be lying. Mother is 92 and lives in a nursing home. She is a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. I love you Mother.

Brush Creek

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (8.5"x11")

This view of Brush Creek is found along Indian Lane, in Mission, KS.
I don't consider the sketch very successful. It needs better definition between the middle and background plains, among other things. I DID enjoy watching the antics of a mallard duck family as I worked (sorry, I didn't even try to draw them!).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Northgate & Harold (7:00pm)

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (8.5"x11")

Another intersection. There is a waste treatment plant just to the left of this picture. The "aroma" was constant during the drawing session. Afterward I met a fellow biker who gave me a tract of the Gospel of John. Thanks Christopher!

Downtown Overland Park

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (8.5"x11")

This started as a sunset, but quickly turned into a night scene of downtown Overland Park, KS. I still don't know how artists paint in the dark! The moon rise was great tonight as well. Should have had my camera!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cottonball Clouds (6:00 PM)

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (8.5"x11")

Today was a perfect day in Kansas City! The cotton candy clouds were great inspiration. Using the bike, it is possible to stop just about anywhere to sketch. I chose the intersection of Quivira and Santa Fe Trail Dr., in Lenexa, KS. for this scene.

Of course, I've left out the cars again (gotta get brave and give try them).

I 435 & 105th St (7:00 AM)

Pastel on Mi Teint paper (8.5"x11")

After trying outdoor watercolor sketching, I've decided pastels are more my speed. Here's my first attempt using the spiral sketchbook I made with Canson Mi Teinte paper and glassine separator sheets.

This is a scene I pass daily on my bike ride to work (I 435 & 105th St). It's amazing the colors that start appearing when one sets down to start drawing! The scene was full of traffic, but I didn't have the confidence to include it. Maybe next time.

I hope to do many more sketches in the next few months, including some from Northern Kansas during the Biking Across Kansas (BAK) ride. The challenge is to decide what equipment is critical, since every ounce counts on a bike!