Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An EASTERN Landscape?!?-

An eastern landscape?!? I thought Mark Junge was a painter of western and desert landscapes!!

Well, I love autumn colors, and although the West has its share, the East coast has all of the ochers, rusts, oranges and reds that make fall so much of what it is.

upstate New York,Hudson River Valley,Catskill Mountains,fall,autumn,storm,clouds,barn,silo,trees,farm,ranch,fall colors,blue sky
In the Catskills               11" x 14 '/ 28cm x 36cm              acrylic/panel
This is a scene we happened upon on a trip we made to upstate New York. The view, while less colorful than many other sites we visited, had the neat little barn or storage shed, a few other small buildings and a small silo. I don't know if this area was used to grow hay or if it was pasture land (there was a barbed-wire fence around the lot, which I didn't paint in). Also, the fence was mostly hidden by a "hedge" of small shrubs; again, I painted only a few in the foreground.

When it's actually fall, that's when I feel the most like painting autumn scenes. Seems like once we pass Christmas, all thoughts of painting fall or Christmas/winter artworks melts with the snow. (Actually, BEFORE the snow melts).

So for now, I'm indulging myself with autumn paintings. Maybe I can finish another one or two before the holidays are over.



Sunday, October 2, 2016

It's Autumn Again!

Autumn is a time when I tend to start getting excited. I don't think it's a migratory instinct.☺ It's the beginning of the colorful holiday season -- fall itself, then Halloween, Thanksgiving and finally Christmas. I love the festive look and the colors of these times.

I think it all started in the late 1970s when I discovered images of some well-made paintings of migratory waterfowl, especially mallard ducks (which I happen to love!) I bought several of these limited-edition prints, and I have them to this day. I typically keep them put away until fall, then I switch around other prints to hang these. They do a lot to establish a fall ambiance.

Owen Gromme,David Maass,mallard ducks,wood ducks,autumn,fall,waterfowl,colorful,Wild Wings

These are the first three prints I ordered from an outfit called Wild Wings. The top piece is by the late Owen J. Gromme, and the lower two are by living artist David A. Maass.

As one might suspect, duck hunters enjoy images like these because this is how their pastime looks -- early morning, ducks taking off and settling down, looking for breakfast. Well, I'm not a hunter of any kind, but I love ducks and I love fall colors. And, for me as a desert painter, David's paintings often show the "wide open spaces" that wetlands can be. In fact, Mr. Maass' works are typically nice landscapes that would "work" even without the critters. But with the ducks (or upland birds, as well), the landscapes become even more amazing!

Although I have rarely painted ducks, I still feel my own artwork has been influenced by painters such as Owen and David. Besides the prints I have, I feel I owe them a debt of thanks for inspiring me!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Mystical Redwoods

The Mystical Redwoods is the title of my latest painting. The scene is a bit of a composite, but I wanted a view that shows one of my favorite moods of this amazing place.

Sequoia sempervirens,coast,coastal,California,redwood,redwoods,forest,old growth,fog,sunbeams,rays,ferns,rhododendrons,irises,girl,woman,walking.strolling,path
The Mystical Redwoods     18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm

I wanted a light and luminescent fog as I saw in Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park in June, 1982. It felt like I was in heaven -- I've never seen anything quite like it before except in pictures.

At the same time, I wanted a sense of being in Mother Nature's womb -- light, yet surrounded by a comforting and protective cloak.

For scale, I included a woman walking along a path. She's a bit hard to make out because she is quite small, but she's there! But one can see the enormity of these beautiful giants. And, this time around, I didn't include any other critters -- no bunnies, no birdies, no deer...nuthin else! Just a human.

My only concern is that I didn't paint enough trees for what represents an old-growth forest. But I decided to leave it. More paintings of the California redwoods are in queue, anyway.

The Mystical Redwoods isn't on my website yet, but I will feature it on a page that is not entitled "Desert Paintings."

(My website URLs are: www.SouthwestSpaces.com and www.Mark Junge.com).

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Irrevocable Deadlines and Such

Here it is, Labor Day weekend, and I've had the phrase, "irrevocable deadline " on my mind a lot lately. It was a term I learned years ago in a class I took at Cal Poly University, Pomona on starting a small business. In that context, it was a reasonable date the entrepreneur would set for him/herself when the person expected to be fully self-employed.

I've done that -- several times, in fact -- but now I gave it a new meaning:

31 December 2016, midnight -- if I don't get overwhelming sales of paintings by then, at one femtosecond into 2017, I'm done with the art business. DONE!!!

I've been doing art as a business for 15 years now, full time. I'd say the quality of my artwork has improved tremendously during that time. But I'm absolutely no closer to my career goals than I was 15 years ago. I have a very small following, two or three repeat customers (who are pretty much full up on art), and an occasional sale or commission just doesn't pay the bills. I've been losing money every year until 2014, when I stopped keeping up the books because it was a waste of time.

I've done the things artists are supposed to do -- juried outdoor shows, galleries, participated in art exhibitions in California and Colorado. And spent a LOT of money and time doing that.

I offer prints on FineArtAmerica.com, but over the years, I've sold two small prints. That's it.

The only thing I haven't done is to travel wherever in the country I would need to go where my type of art sells. But I can't afford to do that, my pickup trucks have too many miles on them, and I ain't a kid anymore -- traveling is hard on me physically.

So -- I'm just DONE. I'll probably keep my website up, mostly as an online portfolio or personal art online art museum, but I may have some "BUY NOW" buttons there in case someone wants to buy a painting.

I'll keep painting -- albeit more slowly -- and I may take the time to look into other online artwork sites. I already posted images on Pinterest.com; Instagram requires images to be uploaded directly from a smart phone which I don't have; plus, I wouldn't be able to crop backgrounds out or tweak images to make them look like the real deal.

At least I'm receiving Social Security, which brings in more $$$ than I EVER made from art sales!

In the end, there's both good and bad news in this. Year's end hasn't hit yet, but frankly, I'm no longer looking for any miracles. I've had this dream of making a living in the arts -- first photography, then painting -- for 40+ years, and it appears I have to let that dream die.

In just a few short months. My irrevocable date.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Redwoods, Redwoods...LOTS of Redwoods

I've been working on a painting of coastal redwoods, found along the coast of northern California. Well, I'm sort of working on it...lots of distractions and chores to do lately.

The scene I'm working on is a composite -- typical of the redwoods, but there's no one place (that I'm aware of) that will look just like it. I wanted something less literal...more mystical, something worthy of a place I think of as God's own cathedral.

 So far, I have several sources of inspiration, including some photos I took of Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park in 1982. One of the neat things about LBJ Grove is: it must be at the top of a hill, close to where the hill drops off. Instead of the typical dark wall of dense redwood forest, the sky is light even in pea-soup fog. I like both kinds of looks, but the bluish sky is awesome, in my opinion. (The following are scanned from 35mm slides).

Redwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns

Redwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,iris,irisesRedwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,stump

Redwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,sun beams,shafts of lightRedwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,sun beams,shafts of light

LBJ Grove is such an amazing place, especially when a light fog drifts in. Then the air itself luminesces, making the visitor feel like s/he turned a corner and stepped into heaven. Photos don't capture it.

Actually, the painting I'm doing now won't quite capture it, either. I'm after a different, moody, womb-like effect. I hope I can find the time and energy to finish it soon!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

"All Is Vanity"

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?"

This comment appears in the Bible (King James Version in this case), Ecclesiastes 1. The writer spoke of the utter hopelessness of his life -- all based on things and actions of which God would not approve.

I don't think I have much of a problem in that area, but the verses (and the ones that follow -- look 'em up in your Bible if you're so inclined) seem to be ringing especially true for me lately.

I'm getting old...OK, I AM old, and have been for a while. When loved ones around you die and the things/careers/educational goals we work so hard at just don't do what they're supposed to do, then we look at what we've really accomplished, it's possible to get to a point where everything feels worthless. Like -- what's the point? We get old, do stuff in the meantime, then die, and the world goes on without us.

What's it all for? What's the point?

Some people want to leave a legacy behind to be remembered by -- the closest to immortality we'll ever achieve here in this lifetime. But maybe we're fooling ourselves. I've often thought if I were incredibly rich and I could fund a new addition to a hospital, I would resist calling it The Mark Junge Center for Really Important Medical Stuff. No one would know how to pronounce my last name, and anyway, who cares whose name appears on the building. The Really Important Medical Stuff is all people want and need

In my head, I know whats really important and what isn't. But there's something depressing about reaching a stage where "all is vanity" is what it was all about.

Supposedly, painting was going to be my legacy of sorts...or, at least, a way to earn a living. In fact, the gift of knowing how to make money by any method seems to be a skill I never picked up along the way. I certainly worked hard at a number of skills -- science and art were the two at the top.

But it never really worked out financially, and now I'm just tired. The motivation to work at something seems to be gone. I could have a number of reasons for feeling that way, but I can't discount the sheer frustration of working hard for a long LONG period of time and being no better off now than I was many years ago.

So, that's it. At least now that I've been collecting Social Security, I can paint what I want to paint without even wondering if it would sell or not.

At least THAT thought is freeing! 


Oh, and don't forget -- you can still find me at:


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Heart of the Andes

Frederic Church,The Heart of the Andes,painting

Frederic Church,The Heart of the Andes,painting
"The Heart of the Andes," Frederic E. Church, 1859, 66-1/8" x 119-1/4" / 168cm x 302.9cm). Entire painting and a detail.

One of my favorite and inspirational paintings in the universe. This sucker is almost 10 feet long; yet, look at all the detail Church painted into the scene. I can't say for sure what the dimensions are of the "detail," but as you can see, he painted every leaf and stem. No blobs of paint that we're supposed to use our imaginations on. Church painted as much detail per unit of measurement as I do, but he did it on big BIG canvases! In fact, paintings like this are what inspired me to work that way.

The plant and animal life are accurate, too. I know some PhD. botanists who love Church's work because they can speciate the plants. This scene is a composite of views from Columbia and Ecuador and shows a number of habitats all at once -- from lowland tropics to the alpine mountain peaks.

So if you ever get to New York, get thee to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where this gem is hanging. Unless they've moved things, "Heart of the Andes" is directly opposite Albert Bierstadt's "Rocky Mountains."