Saturday, December 26, 2015

Joshua Tree!


Joshua Tree! is the latest in my "Art-on-a-Budget" series -- small paintings that I will offer for $200 USD or less.

As you can see, it's clump of Joshua trees with one of those highly-climbable rock formations that Joshua Tree National Park is known for.

Joshua tree,monzogranite,rock,formation,National Park,yellow flowers,goldenbush,desert,Mojave,climb
Joshua Tree!      14" x 11" / 36cm x 28cm

In a sense, this is a "historical" painting. The tallest tree in the middle has long since toppled over and died, leaving only the surrounding suckers. This area is now a parking lot with the suckers and some of the small vegetation preserved in an opening in the pavement. The famous Intersection Rock is over to the left, out of the view of the scene which is the entry to the Hidden Valley campground.

The yellow-flowering shrubs are goldenbush (Ericameria linearifolia). Maybe it's my imagination, but they don't seem to be as numerous in the Park as they used to be.

I've painted this spot many times, although no two are the same. It seems to be one of my favorite views in the National Park, and I expect there will be more variations on this theme in the future!
 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ocotillo Paradise


Ocotillo Paradise is the first of a series of affordable, "Art-on-a-Budget" paintings that I plan to place on my website (which, by the way, is www.SouthwestSpaces.com or www.MarkJunge.com).

California,CA,desert,Sonoran,ocotillo,Deep Canyon,Palm Desert,Palm Springs,wildflowers,brittlebush,Encelia,wash,washes,hawk,rugged,mountains,spring
Ocotillo Paradise
This new piece shows one of my favorite views of all time: south of Palm Desert, CA, overlooking Deep Canyon, ocotillos and brittlebush in bloom, and a hawk on the wing looking for goodies. Lots of open space, rugged mountains -- all of the things I love about the desert.

The "Art-on-a-Budget" series will be smaller paintings -- this one is 11" x 14" / 28cm x 36cm -- and will not sport the transparent, "stained glass" glazes that I normally prefer. This will save me lots of time, although the images themselves will be of the same high standards I set for myself in my artwork.

I hope I can make more paintings this way and offer them for less (I expect Ocotillo Paradise will be available on my website for around $200 USD, but I'm not sure yet). As usual, the art will be unframed. OR: I could frame them, but then I would need to add the framing and increased shipping costs to the total. At this time, the paintings will be available ONLY on my website, and possibly on other Internet sites.

And, of course, I'll continue to work on the time-consuming glazed paintings, too.

May all this lead to a prosperous 2016!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

More Insights from the Art Show


I have to say -- there are some things that happen at art shows that can make doing them worthwhile even when nothing sells, as with the show at the San Bernardino County Museum, 20-22 November 2015. I wrote about this in the previous entry, but three things struck me when talking with potential buyers that will affect what I do for the "Art-on-a-Budget" series of artworks I'll be making:

  1. People like ocotillos in bloom;
  2. People like skies with clouds, especially the small puffy "popcorn" clouds;
  3. People like having the sun appear in the scene.

OK -- so -- I'll be painting lots of ocotillos, preferably with lots of colorful wildflowers around them. Always have clouds, and have more sunrises and sunsets --whether or not the image is a desert scene. Keeping these points in mind should be helpful in remembering subjects I like to paint anyway but also -- hopefully -- narrow it all down to subjects people will purchase.

(I've got these points written down so I'll remember them every time I sit at the confuser...uh, computer!)

Time will tell if these insights will be helpful or not. Meanwhile, I've got some painting to do and a website that needs optimizing so everyone can find it. It's gonna be busy!

By the way -- you can find my paintings at SouthwestSpaces.com or MarkJunge.com.

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Things I've Learned at the Art Show


The art show last weekend came and went ... and NO SALES AT ALL!!! Grr-r-r-r...

I wasn't the only one. Other artists had no sales, or they sold only small, inexpensive sculptures or prints of paintings.

In spite my initial frustration and anger about how it all turned out, I think I picked up on a few things that may help me move ahead.



-- There is no "economic recovery." It's a lie the politicians -- especially the US president -- keep telling us. People liked my work, but I have to offer it more inexpensively.

-- All of the artwork at the show was realism -- no abstract, impressionism or other styles that seem to be more popular in southern California. (However, I was the only "pure" landscape painter -- everybody else had wildlife prominently featured in their works). So there may be hope in continuing to work in my favored style. 
Art shows just don't seem to work for me anymore. They haven't for a long time. And another artist told me many of the galleries in Scottsdale, AZ are closed up -- couldn't make it. This tells me to skip the art shows and to be REALLY careful with galleries -- they will not be my savior. I'll have to decide if I want to approach them at all at this time.

-- All of the paintings I showed received a positive response. I'll continue with desert paintings, but I'll definitely add more other kinds of western landscapes, especially Colorado mountain scenes, with or without ruins of 19th century mines. These two pieces seemed to be the crowds' favorites:

Anza-Borrego,Carrizo Badlands,Canyon sin Nombre,ocotillo,desert flowers,wildflowers,springs


Badlands, 18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm






spring,ocotillo,desert flowers,wildflowers,brittlebush,Encelia,desert dandelion,lupine


Springtime Ocotillo, 8" x 10" / 20cm x 25cm










So I'll be painting more ocotillos, desert mountains and flowers! And for the local market, I'll be painting Joshua trees with those fantastic monzogranite rock formations, too.


To make these paintings more affordable, I'll have to pass on doing the time-consuming, transparent glazing that I love. It gives the works a stained-glass luminence, but it does take more time to do. So the glazed paintings will be for galleries, a few rare selected shows or for me to keep! I'll offer the "art-on-a-budget" paintings on my website (SouthwestSpaces.com or MarkJunge.com) and to local merchants/galleries who may get tourists.customers who want memories of our beautiful Joshua Tree National Park.

Does this sound like a sound plan? I hope so!! At this point and in this economy, art is all I have. Maybe with the things I learned at the art show, I can still make it!

 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Coming Soon! VERY Soon!!


It's coming soon ... VERY soon!!

Waddaya talkin' about, Dude?

Why, the art show that I've been getting ready for! Below I've posted a map showing where this event is taking place -- in Redlands, southern California, east of San Bernardino. Next weekend -- 21-22 November 2015. This will be your opportunity to see some of my paintings in person and even add to your collection -- or to start one.



San Bernardino County Museum,map,directions,location


Below is more information about the museum and the show:

art,show,landscape paintings,Mark Junge,wildlife,duck stamp

It's an indoor show (thankfully!) and it appears will be pleasant -- that should encourage people to go out and see the museum and some art!

So if you're reading this, I hope you'll make some plans to head to Redlands -- west of Yucaipa and east of the I-215 interchange with the I-10. You'll see the entries for the Federal Duck Stamp competition, lots of nature-related artwork and chances to visit some artists -- including ME!

See ya soon! VERY soon!!

 

 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Busy Busy!!


Phew!! Lots going on, it seems... and not enough energy to do it all! ARGH!!

Let's see... I've got an art show to continue to get ready for -- in about a month. More on this soon.

We've had computer issues to deal with -- all better, for now anyway.

I DID manage to finish two new paintings that will go into my book; you know -- the one about autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and maybe Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. This time of year has always been quite visual for me, and I'm making and assembling a series of paintings about the season. I always look for books like that in bookstores, and I never find any. FINE!! I'll create my OWN &*%$# book!

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to paint landscapes that I hope to get hanging (and selling) in one or more galleries somewhere.

AND -- it appears I have a commission in the works! A gal in 1930s-era clothing with her two horses. It's be interesting and fun.

Finally, I have an Easter-themed painting I've been thinking about doing for our church (well, really The Wiffee's church, but that's another story). It would be nice to get it done and out of my head -- hopefully before Easter 2016.

Can I do all this before next Easter? Don't know -- don't have the energy or drive to work as hard as I used to. No doubt about it -- I'm incredibly OLD!! OLD!!!

Well, maybe I can still get a few miles out of this fossilized carcass before it's all over. Time to "go to my studio and make stuff."

 


 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Arches and Feathers


Arches and Feathers is a reworking of a painting I "finished" in 2007. As is sometimes the case, it seemed like the painting needed a little tweaking...and finally, I stripped the removable varnish on it and set about to do some tweaking. (And repair a little damage that stripping the varnish caused).

And I think I finally have what I want!

Arches National Park,Double Arch,redtail,red tail,hawk,red rock,dramatic,lighting,cloud shadow,sunset,sundown,nature
Arches and Feathers                                 24" x 36"
The original 2007 work was the second in a series of three paintings I made of this formation in Arches National Park, UT. Balanced Rock appears in the distance on the left. This view was inspired by a painting by living artist D. Michael McCarthy, although this is not a copy of his artwork. (I wish I could have purchased his painting when I saw it in a gallery in Scottsdale, AZ!) I'd say we were both inspired by the magnificent work of the 19th century artist, Thomas Moran.

Arches National Park,redtail,red tail,hawkI included a redtail hawk turning and banking to its left. It's in shadow and appears dark (almost black). Placing it against the brightly-lit rocks created a focal point that draws the eye into the composition.

This little guy wasn't in the first version of the painting -- I think s/he adds a little life and even more mystery to the scene.

Besides, I read of another landscape artist who said he was told by an Indian friend that seeing hawks brings good luck and, if one appears in a painting, it brings good luck in sales! I hope that's true!

I still need to apply the finishing coats of varnish. I hope this will be a good attention-getter at a show I'll be doing in November (more on this later) and that the hawk will bring some luck, too!

SouthwestSpaces.com
MarkJunge.com


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Badlands


Badlands is my newest painting!

Carrizo Badlands,Anza-Borrego,California,CA,Desert State Park,ocotillo,cloud shadows,sundown,sunset,late afternoon,barren,desert
Badlands              18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm
This piece show the Carrizo Badlands overlook of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA. This is one of my favorite sites in the park, with the rugged hills, lots of ocotillo (those stick-like things with the red flowers at the tips) and lots of space to mediate on.

I don't do paintings of badlands formations very often. Frankly, badlands have a LOT of stuff to paint, and sometimes I'm just not patient enough, although I know I have to be to get the look I want.


I think I like the way this one turned out!


Your educational info:
  • "Anza" refers to Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, 1774;
  • "Borrego" is Spanish for "sheep," especially a youngun;
  • "Carrizo" is apparently the Spanish vernacular name of plants found in a carrizal, an area of reeds;
  • "Ocotillo" (oh-koh-TEE-yo) = “little torch” in Spanish.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

An Early Influence


Way, way back a long time ago (early '70s, when I was majoring in art at Cal State LA), I used to visit a weekly outdoor art show that took place on the grounds of Griswold's Old School House (in Claremont, CA), a complex that included a restaurant/smorgasbord, hotel, theater and shops. One of the regular artists there was a German immigrant who painted Southwest desert landscapes.

In my opinion, he was the best artist there in terms of achieving that classical, traditional look to scenes that the Old Masters never actually got to see. The artist typically had a mountain more-or-less centered, with either saguaro cactus or Joshua trees and lots of wildflowers. The works had such an old-world, skilled feel to them, and the landscapes appeared warm and inviting.

I wish I could have bought one of his paintings, but I wasn't working and didn't have the money for them, even though they didn't strike me as expensive. He often invited me to visit him at his studio and gallery in Pomona, but I never did.

And I never got his name or even a business card! At that time, I didn't realize that he would be an early influence on my present-day painting; in fact, he was really my first influence.

So I've been searching and searching for him, realizing he's probably deceased by now. What used to be called Griswold's has no records of that time.

Then, finally last night, I must have stumbled upon the correct search terms on Google, and I think I found him!

Karl Von Weidhofer

The Internet has only a handful of images of his artwork, but they resemble the ones I remember seeing at the art shows.

Desert,landscape,painting,art,Karl Von Weidhofer,influence
Desert Landscape          Karl Von Weidhofer

Sorry -- this was a small image, so the resolution isn't very high. And the composition isn't what I remember about the paintings I saw -- this view opens up in the middle instead of being blocked by a mountain.

Still, it should give you an idea of what it was that inspired me, even though I didn't know these paintings would come back to haunt me years later. The seed had been planted, and -- typical of my life in general -- it was a late-bloomer. And it blooms to this day.

This is a short bio of Karl as I found it in several places online:

Karl Weidhofer was born in East Prussia, Germany on June 8, 1920.  Weidhofer was in the German army when captured by the Russians during WWII.  While imprisoned for four years, he was taught to paint by a fellow prisoner. After the war he was reunited with his family in Bavaria.  He married and in 1954 moved to southern California.  For many years he worked as a lab technician for Pomona Tile Company while painting in his leisure.  In 1968 he became a full-time artist and began exhibiting his paintings in art shows held in malls and parks in southern California and the Southwest.  Weidhofer died at his home in Pine Grove, CA on Nov. 3, 2001.  Best known for his desert landscapes...

So -- is Karl the artist I remember? Maybe. The times and places mentioned in the bio would match where and when he would have been re: Griswold's in the early '70s.

He is indeed deceased -- lived to be almost 81 years old. I'll never get to tell him how he impacted my art forever.

But I'll continue to paint knowing Karl DID have that impact -- along with other artists who have shown me additional gems such as dramatic skies and lighting -- something Karl didn't get into.

Maybe you're painting right now in heaven, Karl. RIP.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Santa Fe Look


If you've been around for a while -- say, the 1980s -- you may remember a decorating trend called "The Santa Fe look." The dominant colors were mauve and teal -- not colors you actually see in the city of Santa Fe, NM with its emphasis of Pueblo Revival architecture. Supposedly, these colors represented the Southwestern desert, perhaps before sunset. (I never thought that, but others did).

The furniture used a lot of smoothed-and-varnished natural wood tree limbs; fabrics used mauve and teal. Artwork was sometimes abstract; otherwise, it was quite desert-themed, with cactus, agaves and other prickly plants and/or pueblo Indian pottery, structures, ladders -- stuff like that.
 
mauve,teal,Santa Fe look,1980s art,pueblo,Indian,cactus,desert
By "Teresa"
Unfortunately, I only have Teresa as the artist's name...I believe i saw this on eBay. I hope she won't mind if I showcase her work here.


This piece is very typical of the wall decor that was common during those years. (Note -- I'm NOT putting this painting down). Although it is desert-themed, I never got into the Santa Fe look. Too trendy for me -- I was more interested in developing as a more classical-realism painter -- I goal I continue to chase.

In fact, I got so tired of what I was seeing, and how readily people bought these things, that I made a sort of surreal version of the Santa Fe look in protest.

mauve,teal,peach,Santa Fe look,cactus,surreal,surrealism,desert
Parasonoran Life Zone
 As you can see, the landscape features broken stand-up cactus in Santa Fe-look colors. Peach was a color that was just being added to the mix, so the only color that is isn't "right" is the blue of the sky. Some viewers actually laughed when they saw this -- I glad they "got it" and saw the humor and sarcasm in it.

So if this look was profitable, why didn't I pursue it? Because it was a trend -- nothing to build a lifetime career out of. After all -- where is all that Santa Fe artwork today? Certainly not on collectors' walls or in art museums!

Eventually, mauve and teal faded into beiges and earthtones. Desert and pueblo subjects seemed to disappear. (One artist tried to discourage me from painting desert landscapes because that subject came and went -- I don't think he realized I wasn't making mauve and teal desert landscapes!)

And I hope that the paintings I'm making today will be around longer than the Santa Fe look of the '80s.

 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Visions of the Night


As you may know, a "nocturne" is a work of art or music that is all about the night -- typically, night with a full moon.

It's amazing how magical nocturnes are! Provided a landscape feels like a safe place to be in, the darkness + moonlight casts a spell as nothing else can.

I've painted less than a handful of nocturnes only because they can be too dark for people to hang on their walls, especially if rooms are not brightly lit during the evening hours. But I suspect I may do more of them -- possibly scenes that are not desert. I absolutely love the look the full moon gives to the land, as it has been the last few nights during the "supermoon." (Full moon was last night, but it's still lookin' pretty darned wonderful out there!)

night,nighttime,full,moon,moonlight,moonlit,desert,Joshua Tree,National Park,cholla,monzogranite,rock,clouds
Mojave Nocturne
In these two images, you can see I sometimes make the night sky quite blue; other times, I tone it down quite a bit. We don't see much, if any, color when the light levels drop too low. We may think everything looks blue, but it's mostly shades of gray. (The sky MAY have a little blue in it).

What's amazing to me are the color photos (35mm slides) I've taken by moonlight. Given enough exposure, the pictures look just like daylight pix! The relative values, darks and lights in a moonlight scene are the same as they are in daylight -- things are simply darker.

AND -- just a couple of other differences:

1. The brightest stars show up in the nighttime photos;
2. Shadows have blurry edges. The moon moves enough during the time exposures to blur things.

Maybe someday soon!! More nocturnes!
 
night,nighttime,full,moon,moonlight,moonlit,desert,Joshua Tree,National Park,cholla,monzogranite,rock,clouds
Moonlit Desert    

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What to Paint, What to Paint


I don't know if other artists struggle with deciding what subjects to paint next, but sometimes I sure do! That's why I have to think in terms of future images even while I'm working to finish whatever I'm working on now!

I recently bought a canvas made of polyester -- it's supposed to last much longer than cotton or even Belgium linen. The size is 30" x 40" / 76cm x 102cm -- I prefer canvas for larger sizes just because they weigh so much less.

So what's the problem? Well -- do I paint Monument Valley or a redwood forest?

Monument Valley,North Window,Navajo Tribal Park,AZ,UT,painting,art,red rock

redwood,forest,waterfall,trees,blue,fog,mist,sun beams,sunbeams

Admittedly, I've painted Monument Valley many more times than I've painted the redwoods. Yet, I feel like I've never caught the redwoods quite the way I've wanted to. The first time we saw them in Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park, CA, the morning sun was shining through the trees, and I was disappointed because I knew the forest would not photograph well -- bright spots of light next to deep shadows. (I was a photographer back then, not really a painter).

But then we rounded a corner, and a light fog had filled the forest. The air was lit up by shafts of sunlight breaking between the branches. We felt like we had stepped into heaven -- the blue sky that appeared beyond the hills showed through the fog, the ferns gave a lush carpeting of dark green and bright yellow-green from the sun. And, of course, we had those awe-inspiring giant trees rising to the skies in cathedral-like reverence.

Of course, it still didn't photograph quite the way we saw it, but the pictures + my memories help me remember how the redwoods looked that day. But I never got it right when I wanted to transfer my memories to the canvas.

Well, maybe NOW I'm ready to give it another shot. It won't have a waterfall like the image above (we never saw any waterfalls there), but I keep thinking there's a picture of heaven in my head, and it wants to be out in the open for all to see.

Maybe I've made up my mind about what to paint next!

SouthwestSpaces.com ... MarkJunge.com

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wildlife Moments


My newest painting, Looking for Dinner -- Redtail Hawk, depicts what could become one of those nature documentary-types of moments... or it could be nothing at all!
 

Joshua Tree National Park,Joshua trees,redtail,red tail,hawk,desert cottontail rabbit,Mojave,clouds,yellow flowers,goldenbush,rugged mountains
Looking for Dinner -- Redtail Hawk               11" x 14"

In the air, we see a redtail hawk sailing effortlessly over the Mojave desert, making one last pass for tasty goodies before the sun sets -- coming close to what could his/her dinner. That cute little desert cottontail bunny-rabbit probably doesn't know about the hawk yet, but it's OK as long as it stays put. But if it hippity-hops into the open, it just may become a meal!

I won't reveal where the bunny is -- I hope you can see it. But I wanted to do a piece that tells a story -- as brief as it is. Prey-predator relationships. Life and (maybe) death in the surrealistic desert.

The setting is Joshua Tree National Park, with some of its namesake plants scattered about. The dominant tree is leaning toward the south -- unfortunately, Joshua trees have a bad habit of growing toward the sun. When they get bigger, they're off-balance, and in time will topple over. Not ALL JTs work out their self-destruction in this way, of course, but it isn't unusual to find places where all or most of the JTs have that characteristic lean.

The small mountain in the background has become one of my favorite geological features in the Park to paint. Most of the hills and formations in Joshua Tree National Park are unnamed officially -- often, the climbers come up with names that they share with each other, but the National Park Service never went around naming everything. So I just call this mountain "the peaks." I like all of the pointy projections for some reason. This paintings shows "the peaks" reasonably accurately (the peak on the far left is shorter than I've made it here).

The hawk is the sharpest item detail-wise and contrasts strongly with the lighted area of the peak behind it. It's also located at one of "golden mean" points of the composition. All this tends to make you look at it, although the JT in the foreground does some of that, too. The bunny, of course, blends into its background -- natural camouflage.

Wildlife moments. Kinda fun sometimes!

www.SouthwestSpaces.com
www.MarkJunge.com

 
 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Walk in the (Cretaceous) Woods


Sometimes, ya jes' gotta paint DINOSAURS!!

Deinonychus,raptor,Cretaceous,dinosaur,tree fern,cycad,macaw palm,Wollemia nobilis,wollemi pine,forest,mist,fog,yellow
A Walk in the Mist -- Deinonychus   10" x 8" / 25cm x 20cm

Here we have a group of Deinonychus ("die-NO-nee-kus"), a raptor species that was about 6'-7'/2m tall (and was what the "velociraptors" really were in the Jurassic Park movies). It's likely that, like modern-day lions, they finished gorging themselves on a kill and are now looking for a safe place to sleep it off -- safe from critters that might eat them!

Deinonychus lived in the late Cretaceous -- a hot, muggy, carbon dioxide-heavy time. Thus, I wanted the air to appear very foggy but still lit up by the blazing afternoon sun.

Although these dinos are long extinct, most of the plants I've depicted are still around -- "living relics" or "living fossils." The tall trees are Wollemia nobilis or Wollemi pine -- I believe they're limited today in the wild to SE Australia but can be found in landscaping for homes or businesses -- they're attractive trees! To the left is a cycad or sago palm, and further back are some taller Macaw palms, Acrocomia aculeata. And, of course, tree ferns and other species of low-growing ferns and mosses.

(Ya know -- finding resources to visualize dinosaurs isn't hard, but information about how extinct plants looked takes more effort!)

I'm not a dinosaur expert -- my area was microbiology -- but I do have a childlike fascination with these animals. They give me an opportunity to paint something a little different while applying what I've learned about Old Masters techniques and composition in art. I wanted to get away from the edge-to-edge sharpness that I see so often in paleoart and illustration; thus, the only spots in this painting that are detailed are the dinos and the treefern to their upper right. (Treeferns, by the way, are my favorite plants, especially the species that grow on Kauai'i (Cibotium chamissoi), even more than organ pipe cactus and Joshua trees.

I'm curious to see what kind of reaction I get from potential collectors. I have no idea what the market is for artwork like this -- I suspect it's limited -- but if works like these sell, I may have to work bigger in the future!

Rawr!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Wilds of California


Believe it or not, southern California still has some wild areas. Even in somewhat urban places!

California State Polytechnic University,Cal Poly,Pomona,sunset,sundown,green trees,green grass,orange sky, coastal sage scrub,trail,path,small painting
California Wilds                    11" x 14"
One of my alma maters is California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA, where I received my science degrees (Cal State L.A. is where I earned my BA in Art). Cal Poly is big on agricultural programs and has a lot of miniature farm- and ranch-like areas. But parts of the campus are natural, undeveloped land -- coastal sage scrub plant community typical of much of SoCal.

Many field biology classes (I was in some of those) take hikes out in this region to collect specimens, take measurements (i.e., what percentage of the ground is covered with plant materials), go on bird walks -- stuff like that.

So I had some opportunities to see some of this natural beauty -- things that many other students really don't even know about! And, of course, I've made a few paintings of it, with more to come.

In California Wilds, I made only a few slight changes to make the painting "work" better for me. The cluster of California sycamore trees on the left was actually another species of tree (black walnut). But I happen to like the sycamores (which do grow there), so in they went!

Also, the hiking trail is really a double track from vehicles that occasionally drive through here.

In all, I think I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish -- a dramatic, yet peaceful and contemplative, scene; a nice break from the concrete and brick of the buildings at Cal Poly.


See me at SouthwestSpaces.com!



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Not-So-Boring (for Me) Statistics


I had to take a minute to look over the statistics that we bloggers get. Just to satisfy my curiosity. I'm a curious sort -- what can I say?

Not including this post: I've written 391 posts since I started this, with 11,784 views. Not bad -- I guess!

Many, many posts have only one or NO views, especially in the beginning years. It has picked up in the last couple of years, and six posts caught the attention of more than 100 readers each. They are, in descending order:
  • 648 views   Desert Painting in the Dutch Tradition   11-29-2009
  • 450    "         Jean-Léon Gérôme   8-28-2010
  • 285    "         Desert Hills   1-23-2009
  • 156    "         Kelly Clarkson and Fat-Ness   5-31-2009
  • 149    "         Additional Website URL   1-22-2009
  • 105    "         Desert Shack   11-05-2008
Don't know what it all means. I assume my piece on Gérôme got some hits because people were looking either for his artwork or for information about the man. Kelly Clarkson -- well, I wrote about how much I love a little plumpness in women -- many guys do, in fact, and don't care for the skinny, "concentration camp" look the entertainment industry constantly sells us.

I AM surprised that a post about a second URL (www.MarkJunge.com) I created, which will redirect the viewer to my "main" URL (www.SouthwestSpaces.com), got as much attention as it did!

My blog is useful to me in other ways, too -- it helps me look up events that happened and I can't remember the dates for. I.e., I never remember when I was officially diagnosed with Type II diabetes. But I wrote about it here in May 31, 2011. So it's been over four years ago.

Lately, my posts have been getting anywhere from a dozen to three dozen viewers. Nice to know friends out there have "discovered" me!

Thanks, everybody! We'll meet here again soon!


Postscript: how about an image of Kelly Clarkson in February, 2015 to finish this off?


Kelly Clarkson,plus-sized,plump,chubby,cuddly,fat,overweight
Kelly Clarkson -- plus-size beauty!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gathering Storm: Sonoran Pronghorn


Sonoran pronghorn are a desert-dwelling subspecies of the grasslands pronghorn we're more familiar with. At this time, they are found only in the southern-most regions of Arizona and south into Mexico. They are highly endangered, although their numbers are increasing thanks to cooperation between US and Mexican wildlife biologists and the captive breeding program in Arizona's Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Sonoran pronghorn,endangered,desert wildlife,cactus,clouds,Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument,animal
Gathering Storm: Sonoran Pronghorn    11" x 14"    acrylic/panel
These critters are smaller, lighter-colored and skinnier than the ones you find on the prairie. They're quite shy and can see people approaching from over a mile away -- and the pronghorn disappear long before you would ever know they were there.

A storm is coming, and hopefully these guys are looking for some shelter -- not easy in the desert. The scene is in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument; in the distance loom the Sonoyta Mountains of Mexico.

I hope Sonoran pronghorn will return from the brink of extinction.

The painting is presently on my website. At this writing, all it needs is a coat of varnish, and it'll be ready to hang in someone's home or office!

www.southwestspaces.com/western_landscape_art.html

 


Sunday, June 21, 2015

How to Pursue This Art Business


I'm still struggling with how to make a living, at least a part-time living, at art. I need to. Social Security isn't enough, and my IRA will be drained sometime early next year. The Wiffee is working toward launching a business, but again -- who knows how long, or if, it will take off.

Galleries are out of the question. It's all consignment, they take 40% - 50% (sometimes more), and it can be a hassle getting them to pay you when the work does sell. I even know of one gallery owner who decided to pull up stakes and take off -- with the remaining inventory of artwork that he never paid for. Thankfully, I wasn't in his gallery.

Outdoor art shows, and the travel associated with them, got too expensive and too iffy if nothing sold. Many of the western art shows keep inviting the same artists to show -- as long as they are selling and if they want to be in the shows, there's rarely any room for unknowns like me. And when you come right down to it, I don't really like traveling anymore. I'm a totally cocooned artist!

Showing at banks, restaurants, whatever -- I just haven't heard enough success stories (in fact, I've heard none!) to chase that idea.

That leaves the Internet. I'm hoping I can depend on website sales and maybe from other sites, if I can find some good ones. (EBay and etsy.com seem to have gone downhill for art sales).

That's why I'm painting smaller these days -- the art will be more affordable, and it'll be easier to ship, especially if I continue with my policy of selling the works unframed.

And I'm hoping I can reach parts of the country where people still appreciate traditional/classical painting styles. Most collectors in southern California sure don't!

So -- I guess I'll need to pour my marketing efforts into Internet sales -- period. Frankly, I don't know what else to do. (By the way, my website URL is SouthwestSpaces.com or MarkJunge.com).

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Continuing the Continuation (Some More)


I'm in the habit of scouring Google Images looking for artwork .. sometimes paintings made in the past, and occasionally art being made today.

In fact, I stumble across works from the 19th century onward that are stunning in their beauty. I wish I could reproduce some of the modern-day masterpieces, but I don't want to violate anyone's copyright and get myself in a legal bind. Check out the piece entitled "Buttermere," the first painting that appears on this page. I LOVE this painting!! And it's quite inspiring to me and shows a direction I want to work toward.

Suffice to say, I've seen landscape paintings with breathtaking lighting and shadow effects that seem to give the land a spiritual sense and make it come alive. That's what I want in my own landscapes. Little by little, I'm getting there.

Funny -- sometimes I mean to create works with those qualities, and somehow it doesn't always happen. I keep returning to what I've done before ... the tried and true ... the comfortable and familiar. But I have slowly been breaking out of that mold, and I think I'm finally ready to portray the sheer drama of nature and what she has to show us ... and dish out to us, sometimes!

"Pretty" landscapes are still fun and, well, they're pretty. But drama can be pretty, too, and sometimes dramatic scenes can move us in ways mere prettiness can't.

Continuing the continuation. Here I come!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Caretakers of Our Souls


church,California,Mission,San Antonio de Padua,green grass,flowers,late day,afternoon,sundown,sunset,man walking,contemplative,meditative,spiritual
The Caretakers of Our Souls      11" x 14"      acrylic on panel

I always like to think of churches as being the caretakers of our souls while we are here in this life. (I don't always agree with some of the other stuff that goes on, but in my ideal world, that's what churches do).

This is my latest classically-inspired painting. It's a scene of one of the old California missions: Mission San Antonio de Padua, north of Paso Robles in the little town/area of Jolon. Thankfully, it today sits in a rustic setting but is still an active parish. A man is strolling down the path, looking around, contemplating the world that is unseen and bigger than this one.

In my mind, this guy is me -- always looking for answers, lost in thought, trying to get past the clichés and simple-minded, feel-good platitudes that have overcome modern Christianity. He -- I -- are into the deeper things of existence, trying to reach into the infinite much as I did when I used to do transcendental mediation years ago. God is so, SO much more than the grandfatherly figure we laugh and talk with over coffee.

I made only a few changes to the actual scene -- the dirt footpath is really a paved road, covered in faded asphalt. I brought the trees on the right a bit forward from where they are in life.

The title came from an old Robert Stack movie, The Caretakers. He was the director of a mental hospital, and in talking with his staff, Robert described all of them as "the caretakers of their souls," the ones who were there for the patients, helping them as best they could to play the cards the patients have been dealt. That's an awesome role, all considered.

The churches, then, are/should be the caretakers of OUR souls. another awesome role to fill.


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