Tag: Geri

Better Together – the story behind the painting

How do I get the names for my paintings… and the story behind it.

So yesterday I posted a snippet from a song I really can connect with. If you missed it, it was titled “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. Here is the song, if you’d like to listen to it.

Better Together FinalI had just recently finished this painting and was waiting for a title to come to me. When I heard the song, I knew it was the perfect name for the piece. I can only imagine the difficulties and struggles living as a child on the big open prairies could offer.

Having explored the big open prairies along some of the old forts still in existence, the prairie is vast, and not much to see. One of the fort guides explained that the only thing you could see as you made your way West was the garrison flag. You could see it for 2 days out.

If you stop and think about that little tidbit … the only thing you could see out on the prairie was the garrison US Flag for 2 days… along with the wind-swept prairies, and any animals that might have dotted the horizon.

In today’s world, we see tons of buildings and planes and cars and endless other sites. To only see a flag for 2 days as you traveled West. The possibilities and promises of a better life would be endless.


The Story Behind the Painting

I find the story behind each painting is usually what jump starts my painting.  picturvfve1For instance, my newest painting – untitled and still  a work-in-progress on the easel – started from performing some historical research on mountain men.

In this painting, the map in the background is from an 1820 map of Louisiana, with markings of Native American dwellings, mountains and rivers, along with known trails and forts. The rivers have been marked in red where this particular mountain man has laid his traps and found success.

I am fascinated with history and how that impacted us today…

The Mountain Man

A mountain man required him to be very mobile, and have his necessary tools with him at all times. His tools included his rifle, his tomahawk, and his possibles bag. A possibles bag carried the mountain man’s necessities, such as knife and flint. He was free to travel long distances with the help of the horse. The pack horse carried supplies and beaver pelts. Wild meat was often their only source of food.

Mostly, living the life of a mountain man was a lonely existence. Some Native American tribes, such as the Blackfeet, saw the mountain men as a threat to their way of life. Mountain men did make friends with many other American Indian tribes. Mountain men also were able to connect with others during summer rendezvous, where they were able to trade and sell their pelts. 

After 1840, the beaver population drastically declined and the demand for beaver pelts decreased. This resulted in a change of lifestyle for many mountain men, who became guides or scouts for the traveling wagon trains heading to the West. The mountain man was the perfect candidate to lead the wagon trains to the best route to Oregon and California, because they had already explored its unknown territory and learned to survive in its hostile environment.

In my opinion, without the mountain man and his earlier explorations, settling the West would have been vastly different and much more challenging.


My Top 5 Best Paintings from 2018

I got this idea from a fellow blogger who is a photographer, and thought it was really a wonderful idea.

A great exercise to do at the end of each year for any artist is to select your 5 best pieces of artwork. By doing this annually, you can (hopefully!) see improvement and growth. It is also a fun way to reflect on the year and look ahead to the new one.

One major challenge in selecting the “best” pieces of art is the artist own personal feelings that came with the creation of that piece of artwork. The common thread, as I selected each piece is the history that came with each piece. I really feel the history of the artifact tells such a huge part of the painting. The research itself is just as much fun for me as the actual process of painting.

2018 was a year of challenges, and I think this played a huge part in my growth as an artist. I did very few graphite drawings, as my time was pulled in many different directions. I plan on altering that this year.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 best paintings in 2018, in chronological order.

5. Vintage Saddle Pack

vintage saddle pack final

I saw this vintage saddle pack while delivering artwork for an upcoming art show at Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Texas.

The detail from the saddle blanket looks itchy, and the colors are authentic from the era that this saddle pack would have been used, probably during the early 1900’s.

I was taken by this saddle pack. Just imagine the stories this piece could tell, the places its been and the miles logged.

4. Sun Kissed – Color Study sun kissed final

This is probably the only painting I did last year that was completely different for me. In early August, I took this reference photo. I loved the way the light bounced off of the flowers in the background. It really seems like the sun kissed these lovely little flowers, and the challenge for me was to see if I could recreate the effect.

I absolutely loved the way it turned out.


3. Hawk Bells

hawk bells finalWhat I discovered with this piece is the fascination the Native Americans had with simple items brought to America by the Europeans.

That is exactly the case with the hawk bells incorporated in this headdress. The Europeans utilized hawk bells to attach to their hawks and falcons. Native Americans incorporated them into a form of decoration. Hawk Bells became a “must have” and in high demand.

2. Sunday’s Finest

sunday's finest finalThis painting depicts a wonderful set of antique Garcia Spurs, spread across the mantle with a saddle blanket.

The story of Garcia spurs is straight from a page of Old West history. Learning his craft near my hometown in Santa Margarita, California, G.S. Garcia became a legend for the finest spurs available.

At the time these spurs were made  near the turn of the century, these probably were Sunday’s Finest.


1. Warrior’s Knife

warrior's knife final

What I love about this painting is… well… all of it.

I love the vibrant colors of the Indian blanket, the texture of the tiny beads on the hide of the knife sheath, the brass tacks that line the sheath and the texture of the antler and the blanket.

Painting red is an intimidating color, and it requires getting the bold color right, on each and every layer (there are probably 12 layers on this particular painting).  I was really happy with the vibrant colors, the textures and the mood of this painting.

And with that sums up my 2018. I learned so much, and am excited to see what paintings I create this year.

Locked In

locked in

Now that 2019 is here, it’s time to share new artwork that I’ve completed during the holidays. My first piece of artwork this year is titled “Locked In”, an 11 x 14 Oil Painting depicting the lethal stealthiness of a mountain lion.

I love the dramatic lighting and the neutral tones of this amazing animal. Having seen two mountain lions in a very close perimeter, these animals are highly dangerous and amazing in their beauty.

Hummingbirds in the Garden

Black-Chinned HummerSometimes there are wonderful stories behind a drawing, and this was one of those drawings.

Early this spring, 2014, we had the most amazing hummingbird grace our backyard. Our backyard is blessed (and cursed) with amazingly beautiful trumpet flowers. They range in color from yellow to red and all of the colors in between.

The cardinals seem to love the flowers when they turn red. The bees seem to love the flowers as soon as they sprout. And the hummingbirds seem to love them throughout the spring and into the beginning of summer.

While I’m accustomed to see the hummingbirds with the green backs, this one hummingbird kept appearing and was quite different in appearance. Only after discussing this with an avid hummingbird aficionado did I realize that we were looking at a Native Texan.

Below is the difference…

Black Chinned Hummer
Black Chinned Hummer
Green Hummer
Green Hummer

Who Dat?

Angus cows…

Who Dat FinalAs a graphite pencil artist, there is nothing exciting about black Angus cattle. So to make it look like something more than just a black blob is quite difficult.

I think I succeeded in bringing character and life to this little guy.