Has it been that long????????

Has it really been that long? I pulled up the blog and it’s been a year since my last post………or at least my last post to this site as I have been posting almost exclusively to Facebook over the last twelve months. I had fought using Facebook until a friend convinced me to give it a try. At long last, I did, and found I received a lot more interest, sales inquiries and general feedback. So, I’ve been debating closing the blog. I’d be interested in any feedback you might have. I’m also thinking about alternatives to my web site, joeblanford.com, as well. I’ve been waiting for my webmaster to make some changes to no avail and wondering if the current arrangement is worth the effort. I’d much rather paint than deal with all this side bar stuff.

To bring you up to date, I’m currently affiliated with Art on 12, a gallery in Wimberley Texas. Check it out…..www.arton12.com . Here are a couple of just completed watercolors featuring Onion Creek, about three minutes from the house. I’m currently working on a scene from last year’s trip to Brittany, La Triente Sur Mer. If you get the urge, check me out on Facebook!

Bald Cypress- Onion Creek




Onion Creek

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Little Free Library

Now here’s a departure….. I had an acquaintance ask if I would accept a commission to paint her Little Free Library Box in a wildflower motif. For a number of reasons, I said yes. I have an upcoming project involving acrylic and have done little in acrylic over the last few years (a good chance to revisit the medium before the project which will also be on primed wood). Second, I like painting wildflowers but florals seem to be a tough sell at shows and the like, so I do not do them as often as I would like. And last but not least, it’s a paying gig! Now that the project is done, I have to say, I seriously underestimated the time needed to complete the project. That said, I am happy with the result and, yes, it was fun.

LS 2RS 2

First task was to prime the raw wood and I opted for gesso I tinted with some raw Back Finalpigment I picked up in Provence a few years back. Then I laid in the trim with Raw Siena out of the tube. The rest of the palette was really simple….. Cobalt RS FinalBlue, Cad Red and Cad Yellow with a Final FinalBack Finallittle Alizarin, Yellow Ochre, Pthalo Green and Titanium White. The photos give a sense of the progression from start to finish. I sketched things in with thinned yellow ochre. What I ended up with is three wildflower portraits and the flag graphic on the roof.

So, there you have it….project completed Library Collageand ready to be mounted on the client’s property. Time to get back to other projects from the France trip!

LS Final

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Nous sommes de retour de la France!

It’s been awhile since the last post and I’ve got a lot to report! The jet-lag fog is beginning to clear now that we’ve been back from France for over a week and I’ve begun processing the material gathered and have actually started two projects. To recap the high points….. two weeks were spent in France. The first week was spent in Arradon, Brittany with side trips to the Loire Valley and Normandy. Four days were spent in Paris with considerable time spent in the Louvre, Musee’ d’ Orsay and the Rodin Museums. There will be much more to say as projects evolve but, initially, I have to thank our hosts Claude and Catherine Martin in Arradon for making us feel very welcome in Brittany. Martins GardenCatherine has a fantastic garden which is one of the first projects I am undertaking. Hopefully, I can do her garden justice. Here is the completed sketch I am working from. At this point I have stretched and mounted the paper and plan to start the first wash later today, after completing some value studies. I will probably use the yellow color family and develop a warm temperature for this project as I attempt to recreate the mood at the time. The approach will be high key and we’ll see how the planning holds up.

The next project features the small coastal town of Auray, in particular, the lower part of the old town, the 17th century port of Saint-Goustan, which is the highest tidal reach of the River Auray to the Gulf of Morbihan. I plan a project showing the actual port area but the sketch you see here is of a section of the old town center that I found interesting. Auray_edited-1 This painting will probably use the blue color family and have a cool temperature. I am currently working on value studies to get a sense of how I want to attack the painting.  The day was dreary and a bit foggy lending a blue tint to everything, hence the blue color family decision. I’m thinking low-key but with high contrast, lots of tonal shifts in the blues/greys with a splash of color here and there to move the eye around.

Catherine was kind enough to drive us around one day to places with names like Quiberon, Carnac and Auray, giving me an opportunity to gather material and get to know Brittany a little better. Pont-Aven, Brittany was a home base to Paul Gauguin before he headed to Tahiti in 1891 to escape European civilization. Brittany still has a rural feel to it that I found very relaxing. I suspect you will be seeing a bit more of Brittany in my work over the coming months, as well as other areas in France.

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Happy Easter Post

It’s been a busy Lenten season and tomorrow is Easter………time for serious reflection and contemplation. With tomorrow’s sunrise service this artist’s schedule begins morphing back to something resembling “normal” (whatever that is). The Lenten presentation and the associated art work appears to have been a success. The Wimberley Valley Art Fest at the Blue Hole and my small part as Plein Aire Chairman came off without a hitch and we had nine artists participating (up from two last year).  I even made the front page of the Wimberley View! But a little confession must be made. Plein Aire PaintoutThe caption says the piece I was working on was auctioned off at the Art Fest. Well, a picture was auctioned off but not the one on the easel. The pic was taken Friday and when I arrived early the next morning to finish, I found that all the “stuff” on the store front had been taken down in prep for a BBQ Cookoff. Just as well…… I didn’t like the composition, the value relationships or the color set-up. Pretty much covers the full range of possible issues! Long story short, I switched gears and completed another painting of yucca, agave and other flora next to the storefront. Didn’t win the People’s Choice Award again this year but a successful outing nonetheless. I’ll be posting another attempt at the store front in oil once I get back into the swing of studio work.

You will recall that the storefront was one of the subjects for the Wimberley Valley Art League demo I did  a few weeks back. I have done a couple additional pours on this one as well as the Onion Creek demo. Here they are for your viewing pleasure. Onion Creek DemoMore on this as I Wall Sreet Western Demobring them along next week.

Finally, you may recall I did some ceramic crosses around Christmas last year. I have had numerous inquiries from people about where they might get one (and have orders for two) so I decided to do a fund-raiser for the Rector’s Discretionary Fund and have gotten over thirty ready for firing. As soon as these are “bone dry”, I’ll bisque fire them at Cone 06 and  then glaze them for firing at Cone 04. At this point they are a little rough but after a light sanding they should be good to go. Have a Happy and Blessed Easter!

Crosses manyCrosses close

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Watercolor Demo Follow-up

Well, the watercolor demo at the Wimberley Valley Art League seemed to go well last night, though the weather depressed the number of attendees below normal. This post will be a shortie in follow-up to the demo. When asked the name of the Cheap Joe’s product I use to remove masking fluid I came up wanting, as I struggled to recall some catchy marketing name. As it turns out, it’s called…………wait for it……Cheap Joe’s Masking Fluid Pick-Up! (Duh!)  Here’s a link to the Cheap Joe’s catalogue for those interested. Each “pick-up” is $1.99.  I’m off to the studio!


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Shows and Demos

It’s been a busy week. Thought I’d take a moment to share some of the recent and upcoming activities I’ve been involved with.Old Bakerry 3 Old Bakery 1First up is the opening of the show with the Hill Country Collective currently displayed at the Old Bakery and Emporium at 1006 Congress Avenue in Austin. This show will be going on into April and has been discussed in previous blogs. I have seven original watercolors hung and have a number or prints available for sale in the bin. Here are some pictures of the venue before the crowds descended!

Old Bakery 2








Next up is another show, The Four Faces of Jesus.  discussed extensively on the blog, particularly as it applies to the sculpture, Gethsemane. We finished hanging the show yesterday and it’s now open for viewing at McArthur Hall, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church , 6000 A FM 3237, Wimberley, Texas. All art on display was created by artists attending St. Stephens. Check out the art that can  be viewed through April 9.Four Faces Table Display Trial
Mark and Luke




















Last up is the watercolor demo I will be conducting at the monthly meeting of the Wimberley Valley Art League tomorrow at the Wimberley Community Center, Wimberley, Texas located at the intersection of River Road and FM 12. While there you can take in the currently hung show where Arezzo Lancer is currently hanging. Here are two prepped paintings I will use to demonstrate various watercolor techniques frequently seen in my work.The first is a view of Onion Creek near my studio. The second is a scene on the Wimberley Square. Time to get back to the studio and put final touches on the presentation!

Onion Creek 2Wimberley Shops

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Upcoming Demo

Just a quick note to let everyone know I have been asked to do a watercolor demo at the Wimberley Valley Art League’s monthly meeting this coming Monday, March 10. The meetings are held at the Wimberley Community Center at 6:30 pm. at the intersection of FM 12 and River Rd. By the way, Arezzo Lancer was juried into the WVAL show, so I guess it’s finished……….at least until I get it back into the studio.

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Arezzo Lancer Finished???

Got lots to write about. First, it looks like Arezzo Lancer is about done.Arezzo Lancer 3 I say about    Arezzo Lancer 4








because, although I signed the canvas, as I post I see a few areas of minor adjustment. That’s common for me. I’ve been known to pull framed paintings down to adjust. Oils take about a year to dry fully before you should apply any varnish so, p until then, they’re fair game for adjustments! I’ve put in about ten hours over the last two days on this one and I’ve posted both a picture after yesterday’s work and after today. I hope you can tell the difference, though at this point some of the adjustments can be minor tonal shifts. At any rate, here you go. Adjustments aside, I’m very happy with the result.

I’ve also posted where I stand with  Along the Tuscan Coast after most areas have been blocked in. You can get a sense where I’m going with this high key painting, also in oil.Tuscan Coast Blocked

That brings us to upcoming shows. I have three to tell you about. First up is a show with The Hill Country Collective at the Old Bakery Emporium. The Hill Country Collective is a group of eight area artists working in oil, watercolor, pastel, photography and sculpture. Check out http://nichollsphoto.com/hcc/ for details on this show. It will be held at 1006 Congress Ave., Austin, Texas from March 6 through April 2. The Opening Reception is March 7 at 5 pm. The Old Bakery Emporium is an old historical Austin site just south of the Capitol. They have installed a very nice gallery area upstairs where we will have approximately twenty-four pieces of original art. I will be hanging four to five of my watercolors.

The next venue represents a bit of a departure for me  as my last showing of a piece of sculpture was about eight years ago in Abilene. Gethsemane, which I’ve posted on extensively over the last few month will be in an exhibition, The Four Faces of Jesus, from March 5 through June 8 at McArthur Hall, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 6000 FM 3237, Wimberley, Texas. This exhibition will feature the work of six area artists in oils, pastel, sculpture and textile art. Each piece will tie in to a narrative on one aspect of the Passion of Christ.

Hope to see you at one of these venues! I should be posting on a couple other upcoming events in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.

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Waxing Philosophic

I’m sitting here at Hopp’in House for a grandson’s Birthday party. Funny how things just hit you in a moment of revelation. I have been reading Richard Rohr’s “The Naked Now”, saw a piece on CBS Sunday with Matthew McConaughey where he talks about moving from worrying about results to focusing on process, thinking about my next sculpture project in the shower and generally reflecting on life. Phew! What cacophony of seemingly unrelated “stuff” ?!?

Well………not really. Reflecting on my earlier corporate life, my mantra was, ” Do right things right and good things tend to happen”. In my current, artistic life, I have two sayings hanging in my studio, “Ars Gratia Artis” (humor me as my Latin is terrible and I’m not in my studio looking at the quote but, translated, it should read, “Art For Art’s Sake”) and,the second is, “Life is not measured in the number of breaths you take but in the number of moments your breath is taken away”. The bottom line is you’ve got to follow your heart, have faith and enjoy the journey. Minimize dualistic thinking and engage in a more contemplative approach to life. Have I bored you with my musings?

Concerning my next sculpture subject……As I was working on Gethsemane, I mentioned to the other artists involved with the upcoming exhibition how it would have been fun to depict that wild man, John the Baptist. Why not ? Who knows, after The Baptist I might start a whole series based upon the mystics/comtemplatives in the Bible. I’ve got a number of ideas that incubated in the shower this morning along with the life musings. I’ll share them after some time with the sketch pad.

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Arezzo Lancer

Well, one of the dogs woke me up at 4:30 am to go out and , you guessed it, I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I was in the studio around 5:00 and got back to work on Arezzo Lancer. After about five hours I can report progress was made. Still an awful lot to do but it’s coming along. Most of my time was spent on the face and I still have quite a few value issues that need attention. Arezzo Lancer 2The good news is I know what I need to do, particularly with the eyes and lips. I cannot remember if I have mentioned this before but the support for this painting is a departure for me. I am working on stretched linen versus stretched canvas or gessoed masonite panel. So far so good. I really like the fine texture of the linen versus canvas duck. It gives like canvas but the surface is slicker….somewhere between the masonite and stretched canvas. I also pulled the frame I had picked up at the Palmer Events Center Flea Market a year or two ago and checked it with the painting to date. Looks good.

As I was wrapping up I used some of the paint I’d laid out on the glass palette to slap some pigment on Santa Chiara, Tuscan Coast and Blue Hole Cistern.

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