Chicago - Michigan Avenue Painting

For some reason this watercolor took a painfully long time to paint. Late last night I finished it and was just relieved to be done. I'll probably do some touch ups as I look at it on my easel the next few days. I was inspired by the loose watercolor work of one of my favorite artists, Childe Hassam - he did many cityscapes with flag paintings and there so loose and watery. I could only find this one example on line - it's an oil, but it gives you an idea. I love his painting of flowers and he too had an eye for that red geranium. Another favorite. That could have been me sitting at the window you know.

Kankakee, Illinois

It was good to be back in a city - I love St. Louis, but being in Chicago, exploring the neighborhoods, moving between people on the sidewalks and waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant just doesn't happen much anymore now that I live in The Lou. I visited a great shop I just love called P.O.S.H off of North State Street. It's a wonderful French decor shop. I wanted everything. But all I could do this trip was look. Yep, lots of looking, which means lots of time to sit and sketch. But, I have to say the most interesting part of the trip was my afternoon/evening in Kankakee - a small town an hour outside of Chicago. This small town surrounded by farms that grow corn and soybeans is your typical mid-west town. I went to a graduation party with a friend. Not knowing anyone, I just sat and listened. And as the party went into the evening and the more beer that was consumed, I learned a great deal about Kankakee - more than I wanted to know that's for sure. People are the best entertainment and though I had a great time, I left with a taste of sadness. So many of the people talked about how much they disliked this town where they lived. They were stuck and certainly believed they could never leave. I remembered feeling that way when I lived in Ohio, like the whole world was far better than where I lived. I'm thankful for the chance to have traveled and lived in many different parts of the U.S.A. Now more than ever I appreciate the mid-west. But, I don't think I would have if I didn't leave. Before the sun went down, I took a walk away from the party to see just a little bit of Kankakee. I found it lovely and sat in a field and did this picture in my sketchbook before I went back to the party. You really have to leave for awhile to appreciate your home.You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. - Pooh's Little Instruction Book

Winslow Homer in Chicago

I just got back from the Winslow Homer exhibit showing at The Art Institute of Chicago. What an amazing exhibit, well worth the $20. What an extensive watercolor show! He didn't start working in watercolors until he was 37 years old and after nearly 20 years of working as a professional artist - and, the best part of all, he was a self taught artist! His extensive work in watercolor had a great deal in making the watercolors an art form in and of itself and not just a precursor to an oil painting. His use of watercolor is confident and certain. But beyond that I'm blown away by his subject matter and how he uses color and light to create an emotional impact. This is one of my favorite watercolors...
After the exhibit and seeing such masterpieces, I wonder, do I dare dip my brush in paint again? How does one get to be that good? That confident? I want to be there now and not 20 years from now. Patience. Painting. Seeing. They're all important and maybe equally so.