Long ago I worked in the multi-image industry, as part of a small, seven-person company that won many of the top awards in world-wide international competition. The image above was one of the animation stills that we crafted for a 1984 presentation we created for Newport News Shipbuilding (now a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries), one of the last remaining US Navy shipbuilders in the nation. The presentation was intended to illustrate to visitors of all levels just what the shipyard did and what it was capable of creating; it ran for the better part of a decade there at the shipyard. This particular still is an example of hand-drawn 3-point perspective – and as I recall – had some 35 different overlays that translated into 70 positive and negative pieces of film, which were then shot on 35mm film and combined entirely in camera to produce the finished image. This was all done before computer graphics burst on the scene a few years later.
Photo info: Still from a presentation created for Newport News Shipbuilding Slidemaker Productions Richmond, Virginia 1984 Kodak Ektachrome 100 film Nikon 50/2.0 lens FOROX rostrum camera and animation stand
A few days ago I posted what was in my plein air watercolor painting field kit, which you can read all about here. Within the article, I included an ancient throwback photo of myself actually using my existing field kit at the time – but I didn’t show you what the finished end result was. That completed watercolor painting is the one above, a painting that I’ve always loved and that we have hanging on our living room wall as I type this. It’s important to me for two reasons… a) I painted it near one of my favorite places, Yellowstone National Park, and… b) I painted it during our honeymoon.
Cindy and I were married in the summer of 1990, and our honeymoon consisted of our first epic road trip – driving from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, through the Mid-West, and staying for a week of hiking and mountain biking in Winter Park, Colorado. Then driving up through Wyoming, exploring Yellowstone in the process, and wandering through western Montana and eastern Idaho, before finishing up tent camping in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, in central Idaho.
While we were meandering around in the Rocky Mountains, we would occasionally stop and I would break out my painting field kit for some plein air time. We have two paintings from that trip that I cherish, and this is one of them. This one is also the only one with accompanying photos of me painting, and the subject that I’m rendering on paper, which you can see below.
One other memory from this plein air session… I received a painful sunburn from sitting in the high altitude sun for so long. But it was worth it… oh so worth it!
Painting info: Yellowstone Peaks West Yellowstone, Montana July 1990 Daniel Smith Extra Fine watercolors Schmincke Horadam Aquarell watercolors Lanaquarelle 300 lb cold press paper 5”x7”
Photo info: Mountain peaks Me while plein air painting West Yellowstone, Montana July 1990 Kodak Ektachrome 100 film Olympus Stylus Epic point-and-shoot 35mm film camera
A little over three years ago, Cindy and I were going through some high levels of stress while dealing with her elderly mother and the house in Annapolis, Maryland, that she had lived in since 1960 or so. At age 94 – some 8 months prior to the images on this page – her mother had finally gotten senior dementia bad enough that she could no longer safely remain in her home on her own, and she needed to be transferred to an adult assisted-living facility. Everything was a challenge during that time. After we finally got her mom successfully out of the house, we were faced with the onerous task of cleaning it out prior to putting it on the market for sale.
Why was the task so difficult? Because the house was literally crammed with the results of nearly 60-years of hoarding, with some items dating back all the way to the early 1930s. So Cindy and I began emptying the house one room at a time, filling up more than 12 huge dumpsters with junk over the course of 9 months – and that still didn’t finish emptying the property. We finally admitted defeat and called in the experts to complete the job, which took many more dumpsters yet after our initial efforts.
At one point in June 2019, after many hours of exhausting work filling up one of the seemingly endless dumpsters, I finally called for a rest break and decided that I needed to de-stress. And for me, that entailed getting some iced tea, breaking out my plein air watercoloring kit, grabbing a chair, and sitting in the shade of some trees in the backyard. The image above was where I found myself, and I decided to just go ahead and paint that. First I used my dip pen and ink to create a rough sketch, which you can see below.
Then I pre-dampened the watercolor paints and began to mix some colors, and applied them in approximate places on the paper, which you can see below.
Everything goes quickly on a painting like this. For one, even though I was seated in the shade, it was quite hot outside, and the paints dried almost as fast as they were applied to the paper. Two, even though I was taking a break, we still had a virtual mountain of junk remaining to be transferred to the dumpster for pickup early the next morning – so it wasn’t as if I could take all afternoon to complete this artwork.
Nearing the end of the time I had available, the painting looked pretty good to my eyes. Was it perfect? No, but then nothing ever is. Was it successful as a piece of art? Well, I was certainly pleased with it. And I had achieved my goal, which was to do something that I enjoyed immensely to lower my stress levels from the task at hand. The final result is as you see it below.
I later mounted this little painting to a blank greeting card, and sent it to my best friend for his birthday.
Painting info: Bucolic backyard scene Annapolis, Maryland June 2019 Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors Schmincke Horadam Aquarell watercolors Fluid 100 100% cotton 140 lb cold press paper 4”x6”