Recently I made some illustrations for the Notable Missourian book on the painter George Caleb Bingham. He was an interesting man in both art and politics.
So in my studio has sat a painting that had confounded me for a few years now. I wasn't sure if it was done or if it was unfinished. To be clear, I would tell myself it was done, but there was always a little voice in the back of my brain saying "no its not".
Well the other day I decided I needed to paint. I was going through old paintings trying to decide if I wanted to paint over an old so-so one or use a new canvas. While digging around I came across the aforementioned painting and for the first time it struck me that I should finish it...whatever that meant. So I did!
Maybe its the influence of growing up in Kansas, but I like to put storm clouds in the background of otherwise pastoral paintings. I remember so many gorgeous days where by late afternoon these massive mountains of moisture and turbulence would hug the horizon, rising higher and higher until they would flatten out on top and begin to turn pink with the sunset. It was always quite a show and pleasant to see in the background. Now it was a different story if they were rising to the southwest. That meant soon they would blot out the sun and make the streetlights come on early. Concerned heads would poke out of front doors to look skyward as kids would run home lest their moms freak out (well, mine anyways). I think thats what I like about storms in the background of paintings. Its a great reminder that whatever the situation is, its fleeting. Maybe right now its beautiful here and stormy there. Will it stay in the background? Is the storm on its way here? What's it like under that big thunderhead with all the lightning? Will I be able to watch with fascination as this potentially destructive force moves and grows at a distance? Or will I be picking up the pieces under a cloud looking pretty in the distance of somebody else's sky? Its humbling.
This painting is for the 2016 Katy Days, a railroad heritage festival held annually in Parsons Kansas. I'll have a booth there where I will be whipping up fun little paintings for the kids and selling originals and prints. Its always a good time and frankly its a great excuse to go back to Parsons and catch up with my old friends.