Friday, 23 June 2017

Road less traveled...another moment on the Mother Road

Shamrock, Texas+Route 66+Road Trip+Amercia+American Landscape+Acrylic painting+Nicola McLean
'Road less traveled' - acrylic on canvas 30cm x 40cm

So, I'm back working on my 'moments on the Mother Road' series. I'm still not doing them in any discernible order - certainly if I was to do the road trip in the same order as I'm doing these paintings then I'd be all over the place! So far, I've gone from California right back to Chicago and now I've jumped to Texas. 

Close up you can see the headlights of cars on the interstate

I don't suppose it matters what order I paint them in, I'm really just going by what scene appeals to me at the time and I had another canvas which I'd already put acrylic modelling paste on which just happened to lend itself perfectly to the rough, cracked road surface of this scene which S captured on camera at sunset just outside of Shamrock, Texas.

Credit - S McLean
the original photo of Route 66 just outside Shamrock, Texas

This was an early section of Route 66 and was made of segmented concrete. The guide book which I read as we drove the route described how your tyres make a wonderful 'thump ka-thump, ka-thump' noise as you drive over the joins in the concrete and we were delighted to discover they really do.

I mentioned before that during our trip we listened to local radio stations along the way, made a list of all the songs we heard a lot on the road and then created a playlist when we got back home - music is so evocative of a time and place and every time we hear those songs now they take us right back to Route 66.

Shamrock Texas+acrylic painting+landscape art+Route 66+Interstate+American Road trip+Nicola McLean

Why am I telling you this? Well, I wanted to give each painting a title inspired by the songs we listened to, either the title of the song or a lyric from it. I have already used this title for a painting I did a few years ago but because it was the name of a song from our trip (by Lauren Alaina) and because it seemed really appropriate given that this highway has been superseded by the interstate (which you can see off to the right in the horizon in my painting)I decided to use it again (and I've used the American spelling just to keep it country!)

Next up I'm crossing the border into New Mexico to try my hand at one of my favourite photos from the trip, the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari.

Credit: S McLean

I'm using a larger canvas for this one - 30 x 20 inches which fits perfectly on the new A2 desk easel I treated myself to last week!

My shiny new desk easel!

I've have just started by using acrylic spray paints to loosely colour the background.  I'm going back to Ireland for a week on Monday so I won't get any more done on it until I get back but I'm really looking forward to this one and the challenge of painting that iconic neon sign!

Thanks for popping by, I know I'm a bit sporadic with my blogging these days.  I've noticed that a lot of people who used to blog regularly no longer do - do you think that perhaps Instagram and other social media sites are replacing art blogging? I know it's certainly easier to just post a quick photo on Instagram than write and edit a blog post every week although every time I think I'll stop blogging I feel compelled to keep it going a while longer - it's been nearly 7 years since I started my blog so it seems a shame to stop even if it is a little less well tended to than it used to be!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Hell's bells...a contemporary still life and landscape painting

Hell's bells+river rocks+scotch whisky+Bell's whisky+contemporary art+Nicola McLean artist
'Hell's bells' - acrylic on canvas 30 x 40cm

When is a still life not a still life? When it's also got a little bit of a landscape in it. I'm not really sure what category this one falls into as it's the first time I've stretched out the scene to include the land around the close up of the river rocks that I normally just paint. I really enjoyed the challenge of this one though and trying to create a softer, slightly blurred effect for the background while making sure the focus was on the foreground.

Hell's bells+river rocks+scotch whisky+Bell's whisky+contemporary art+Nicola McLean artist

Hell's bells is a phrase used to express anger or surprise as in 'Hell's bells, why can't people take their rubbish off the beach with them!!' a slightly gentler version of something I might have uttered once or twice recently as the tourist season ramps up and our beaches once again become dumping grounds for those that apparently love the great outdoors while simultaneously having zero respect for nature by dropping all their rubbish at their arses. 

Hell's bells+river rocks+scotch whisky+Bell's whisky+contemporary art+Nicola McLean artist

Anyway, as you can no doubt tell, litter on our beaches normally makes me spitting mad but on this occasion it also inspired a painting.  I saw the lid of the Bell's whisky bottle at the edge of the river going down to Sandside beach and decided to strategically place it for a reference photo opportunity.

Hell's bells+river rocks+scotch whisky+Bell's whisky+contemporary art+Nicola McLean artist

This is the resulting painting which as I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to finish in time to add it to the other paintings I've submitted to the Mission Hall Gallery which is opening its doors to the public on 1 June. We're having a small private viewing on Saturday 3 June and then an official opening in a few weeks time once the new gallery owners get all their bits and bobs in order. 

They are hoping to attract the very people I mostly whinge about - the tourists who drive past our cottage like bats out of hell (there's a bit of a hellish theme here this week) and who leave their rubbish around the beaches or chuck it out of their car windows instead of just keeping it in the fricking car until they get to a public bin - WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT!!!  

Anyway, I am sure that like everything else, it's only a small minority of tourists who have that little respect for the places they are visiting and that mostly they are here to enjoy the beautiful scenery and tranquil laid back way of life and perhaps even stop at an art gallery along the way and take home a colourful reminder of their time up here!😉

Here are the five paintings waiting for bubble wrap before I took them to the gallery. The one with the marbles sold a couple of weeks ago and has already gone to its forever home so I decided to include the beachscape as it's of the beach in the village where the gallery is located.

river rock paintings+contemporary still life+vibrant art+Mission Hall Gallery Melvich+Nicola McLean

Anyway, it was quite good having a deadline to work to as it certainly put paid to my usual procrastination apart from when my art shed was literally too hot to work in last Friday and so I'd no choice but to sit in the garden instead, listening to the soothing sounds of bird song and motorbike engines as they raced by one after the other!


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