Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Sky - Paint Matters

In my last post I mentioned I use canvas boards for practice. It's an inexpensive way to experiment. I also mentioned that, in my opinion, expensive brushes are not necessarily better.

As far as paint is concerned I have been using student quality aka Liquitex Basics and Michael's Artist's Loft Level 1. I consider my skill  Level -5 with no intention of persuing painting for anything other than a most enjoyable hobby. Economizing has been a focus.

I even went so far as using Exterior Latex paint I bot at Home Depot. That's really economical. I bot the primary colors red, blue, yellow plus white and mixed my own colors from there. House paint has UV protection built in. Funny thing is I painted my all time favorite this winter using house paint. I liked it so much I framed it!

My Montana

The main drawback to house paint is that the colors are muted but they were perfect for the feeling I was going for with "My Montana", rustic and warm. I was also quite proud of myself for being able to mix the colors from the primaries.

Had to use the flash to take this and got the flashback off the glass. If you're interested you can see what the colors really look like by clicking here.

This past week Michael's had a 60% off coupon. I have a pretty good inventory of canvases and I wasn't about to buy another expensive brush so I decided to treat myself to some Winsor & Newton Series 1 which Michael's calls a Level 2.

I bot the Cerulean Blue Hue and took it out for a test drive on a canvas board. OMG! What an amazing color and it goes on so smooth! I was so enraptured by the color I just kept painting away until I had covered the entire 11 x 14 board. Now I can't bare the thought of sullying it by painting anything else on the field so I'm just calling it "The Sky". It is now an abstract celestial painting. 😎

The Sky

At this point I have to recommend one buy the best quality paint they can afford. It makes a world of difference.

©Walker Barnard

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Canvas Boards for Practice

I like to use canvas boards to practice with brushes and brush strokes. In particular I have been looking for ways to paint trees, especially evergreens. I live in a evergreen forest so they are a subject that comes up frequently. 

I learned a technique from a video Frank Clarke's How to Paint a Landscape I liked the video but had hard time finding the brush he recommended, a 1.5" flat. I got a 60% Michael's discount coupon and decided try one of the upscale, professional brushes. Didn't like it at all. I was looking for a stiff brush. I finally found a brush that worked pretty darned good. It was in a $7.00 brush set I found at Wal-Mart. Proving once again spending more isn't always the answer. At least not in my experience.

Practice Board

It seems I also got a couple of leaning apple trees which look a lot like the 100 year old apple trees in my meadow. Also, some nice lavender grass.

I actually like this. It's funny, I have several practice boards lying around and people, not knowing they are practice boards, often are drawn to them as paintings they really like. It always makes me smile but I never tell. :😃

©Walker Barnard

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


With this painting I really went off the reservation, if you'll pardon the pun. It all started with me admiring some stones that I have that look like they have tiny landscapes painted on them. Mea culpa, I can't remember what they are called but they a very pretty.

I like to try different color combinations and these stones are an ideal mixture of browns with tiny black natural sketches on them. I chose my paints and away I went. After setting the tonal color, sandy beige, I put in the larger mountain, then the red mountain. Then for no reason I know of I was compelled to put in the white things in the sky. Next came the squiggle that reached up to the white dashes and leads down to the teepee. Last came the buffalo herd.

What does it all mean?  It is clearly a Montana landscape but other than that I have no earthly clue. And maybe that is the clue, not earthly. I don't know but I can say I just love this painting! I'd buy it if I didn't already own it!

At the risk of repeating myself, if you have never given painting a try you really should. It's turning out to be one of the coolest adventures of my life and I've had a lot of adventures.

Following My Art (Heart)

©Walker Barnard

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sweet Bitterroots - Montana

Continuing my love affair with the Bitterroot Mountains I painted this flight of fancy. I just love color and this painting lights my color candle. The color and shape of the mountains is pure imagination as is the color of the Bitterroot River. This is the beauty of painting. There is no limitation as to how you can apply your imagination.

I recommend everyone take up painting. It's absolutely liberating and I am after all the original Liberated Photographer and now I am the Liberated Painter. If it feels good do it! And this feels mighty fine to me!

Sweet Bitterroots

©Walker Barnard

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tin Cup Trail - Bitterrot Valley Montana

This past fall Molly and I headed down to Hamilton at the south end of the Bitterroot Valley. The prior spring I had fallen in love with the place but the valley is too long to be conveniently located to all the fabulous trails from one end to the other. So, I had to go back.

Unfortunately, some of the trails were closed due to the summer fires. Fires are a real problem in this valley and they leave the trails too dangerous to walk for fear of getting beaned by  falling trees.

Of the trails I was able to hike, the Tin Cup Trail was by far my favorite. The varied fall colors of the ground cover plus the larch trees really lit my candle. I have been fascinated by larch bark ever since I came to Montana, 15 years ago. The red and black designs knock my socks off. I tried to photograph it but nothing came close to capturing what I was seeing. I was determined to try and paint that bark and so I did!

Tin Cup Trail
Photography no longer holds my interest. Painting is so much more creative. Your subject matter is only limited by your imagination. It's so liberating!

©Walker Barnard

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Impassioned Sky

It's been awhile since I posted. Not because I haven't been painting but because I went off on a tangent writing a blog about rocks and crystals. Actually, I have been painting quite a bit and loving every minute of it.

As it turned out there was to be one more in my "Sky Series" and here it is.

Impassioned Sky
It's been a brutal winter here in NW Montana but I have barely noticed. The time has just flown by what with painting, rock collecting and guitar lessons. But, starting to get twitchy for spring now. Once spring gets started everything but the rock collecting will be taking a back seat to hiking. I'm hoping to go rock hounding at Garnet this spring. If we make it Molly will tell about it on her blog...... Maybe.

©Walker Barnard

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sky Rockets in Flight

I seem to be on a celestial bent. I have absolutely no idea why. It's just one of those things where I choose colors and let the paint brush go where it will. LOL! I think I have just developed my very first series, quite accidentally. "Sky Rockets in Flight" is the fifth in an accidental series of abstract paintings. The others are "Kootenai Sunset", "Cosmic Sunrise", "Spirit Sky" and "The Source".

Sky Rockets in Flight
The name Sky Rockets in Flight just popped into my head along with the tune to Sky Rockets in Flight Afternoon Delight. My fellow seniors may recall the 1976 Starland Vocal Band song by that title.

Here are the five pieces in the series. Oh yippee I have a series!

Celestial Series

I have no idea if there will be others in this series. It will just depend on how the celestial winds blow.

If you've never tired your hand at painting you really should. You most likely will surprise yourself like I did.  It's just a colossal joy to watching your creation being born. And, an even more colossal joy to look at it on the wall whilst thinking, "I made that".  And, painting is so much easier than photography.

©Walker Barnard

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Source

In my painting Cosmic Sunrise it seems I was focused on looking outward. With The Source it looks to me like things are flowing inward. I can't say I had any conscious direction in mind.

Often I paint with no plan. I just choose colors that for some reason I am drawn to in that moment and away I go. While painting without a plan is liberating and it's fun to watch what emerges it does have it's drawbacks.

The Source

I can now see things I wish I had done differently and probably would have had I put any forethought into what I was doing. I had no idea I was going to paint something that felt like I should call it The Source. Had I known I probably would have painted the water with vertical lines, as opposed to horizontal, so that the water had a more powerful feeling of flowing toward the observer.

But, here's the thing, my painting is 100% self-indulgent. I do it for no other reason than to please myself. I love slapping on paint with reckless abandon even if it does mean I miss things. I just love the feeling. I love the freedom. It's a way to leave the planet without a rocket ship. And, lucky for me, the colors never disappoint. I am a self-proclaimed color junkie. No matter what else, I am always pleased with my colors.

I've yet to go back and try painting a painting again. I seem to be always wanting to express something new. But, in this case I very well may come back to it and change a few things. Meanwhile, I can still feel that wonderful water flowing right into my chest.

©Walker Barnard

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Spirit Sky

This is unusual. Lately I seem to have some kind of "thing" for the sky. My last three paintings, including this one, have had to do with the sky.  "Kootenai Sunset" and "Cosmic Sunrise" being the other two. I have no clue as to why.

What I enjoy most about these paintings is that all three were totally spontaneous. When I started painting I had no destination in mind. I just picked a color. Slapped it on the canvas and built the painting from there.

In the case of "Spirit Sky" my lofty aspiration was to use up remnant paint I keep in tiny paint pots. I hate to waste anything so I scrap up every bit of unused paint and put it in little pots. Both my parents were young adults during the Great Depression. It made quite an impression upon them. I was raised on axioms like "A penny saved is a penny earned" and "A fool and his money are soon parted". I am not complaining. I learned a lot about wealth building which today allows me to paint from the heart. That is a tremendous freedom and joy. Experiencing joy is one of my main drivers. I admit, however, my joy is further enhanced when someone tells me they like what I have created. I am not without ego. :)

When I put paint in the pots I put it in arbitrarily thereby randomly mixing colors. I would have no idea how to recreate some of these colors. But, then again, who cares? I surely don't. It's all part of the play. Painting really taps into my inner child.

Spirit Sky

So, there it is another totally unbridled and reckless painting and I love it. I am addicted to two things in this life endorphins and color. I get my endorphins rushes from walking and my color highs from painting. Gads, I'm a junkie!

©Walker Barnard

Monday, January 16, 2017

Cosmic Sunrise

In no way shape or form did I have this painting in mind when I started. For better or worse it just put itself down on the canvas. I didn't have all that much to do with it other than provide the avenue.

What I ended up with I would judge to be a colorful, abstract painting of a sunrise on some distant planet, a cosmic sunrise.
Cosmic Sunrise
As I sit here looking at it on the wall I just want to climb into it and take that road over the horizon. What's over there? What new day dawning would I find? My boots are made for walking and I want to explore this infinite place.

©Walker Barnard

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kootenai Sunset

This painting is of the view out my front window. The mountains in the distance are in the Kootenai National Forest. I guess I was missing the warmer weather. It's been a brutal winter. So cold that when we hit the twenties it feels like a tropical heat wave.

Kootenai Sunset

©Walker Barnard

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rocky Mountain High

Well, I thought I should start the New Year of with a completed painting.

Once again I just started out with not much in mind but snow-capped mountains and my vision of Montana. I trip myself by not having a plan in mind when I start but what can I say ... I do it my way and sometimes have to pay a price. But, lots of times it just seems to come together.

From my window I can see the Big Mountain ski runs in Whitefish and I think that may have been what got this painting rolling.

Big Mountain - Whitefish

But then, of course, my imagination started wandering and the next thing I knew there was a river running through it. So, my basic concept kind of turned out to be blocked out like this.

Painting in Progress
And, from there I just messed around until I came up with another primitive impression of a Montana landscape. And, as usual, I really like it. It just captures my childlike, and joyful  love for Montana.

Rocky Mountain High
I'm sure no art critic would find merit in what I paint. But, frankly I could care less. A painting like this gives me nothing but joy and an appreciation for the place I am blessed to live. It quite simply makes me happy.

My New Year's wish for everyone is that you find that which gives you joy and do it no matter what anyone else thinks!

©Walker Barnard