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P.O. Box 2301
Estes Park, Co 80517

The 2016 Windows to the West Art Show and Sale convenes more than 50 of the country's top contemporary Western heritage artists in one of the most beautiful mountain settings in America at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The three-day sale and exhibition in Estes Park, Colorado, June 3-5, showcases more than 200 new pieces of art, with rich opportunities to meet the artists and discuss their unique depictions of Western landscapes, wildlife and traditional Western American life.  Windows to the West is a charitable benefit event sponsored by the Estes Park Western Heritage Foundation.

Works in Progress

Old Style

Don Weller

Keep in mind I am very old fashioned, out of touch, not very computer savvy, and have never blogged before.  My Work-In-Progress blogs will probably be a little different than you are expecting.

My stuff is almost all watercolor and so the size is limited by the size of the watercolor paper. 22 x 30 inches. And many of my paintings are on a half sheet. Therefore the biggest paintings are in the neighborhood of 20 x 28 plus frame and mat, which add about 10 inches on each dimension, and half sheets are about 15 x 20 (24 x 28 including frame). 

And I am of the old style watercolorist in some ways, in that I like the result to look fresh, the white paper serving up the white and the painterly strokes to be apparent. Looking over-worked and polished is not my style. Therefore, my blogs won’t be about huge oil masterpieces that take months to produce. My paintings are more like 2 or 3 days for small ones and usually a week or two for big ones or more if other life problems interfere. 

Three Watercolor Samples -- Click to View

And regarding watercolor, people say it is a hard medium to master. And they usually mean compared to oils. I think it depends more upon the personality of the artist. In oil painting, there is planning and sketching then painting and refining and remodeling and on and on. When things get muddy you work on another one for a few days till the mud dries a bit. I think it requires patience and persistence.

 The Studio

The Studio

In watercolor if it gets muddy I throw it away.  In watercolor my method is to plan it carefully. Usually I have spent much of the spring and summer having adventures with a camera near. These photos are often used as reference when I start to paint.

I may do little value sketches beforehand and when I draw, I try to exaggerate the gesture slightly. Then I do a tight light pencil drawing that pins down important placement of things on the watercolor paper. Things like where a horse’s hocks are in relation to everything else. Eyes, knees, important parts of horse and rider that must be correct or it won’t look right.

In oil painting I wouldn’t be so fussy because I can fix it as I go. But in my watercolors there is not often opportunity to fix later. I do have some helpful tricks to fix minor mistakes, but with watercolor it is best to have a solid plan and stick to it.

I recently saw a quote I love and repeat to anyone who will listen. The gist of it:  

Composition and value do the heavy lifting, color and subject get the glory.

Pitchin' a Fit -- Early Stage (click images to view)

Pitchin' a Fit -- Rider Set

This is a big painting, almost a full sheet. The idea that attracted me was the contrast between the action and the grid like strength and solid structure of the round fence.

Another idea was the dramatic light coming low and from the left.

When I was through I thought about it a few days and decided to add the hat on the ground.  It was not needed from a design perspective but sort of added to the story telling aspect.

The painting is hanging in our house now and may go to Estes Park for the Windows to the West show.


Pitchin' a Fit -- Finished

Someone once said a good painting should ask more questions than it answers.

What do you think?