Farewell Winter… Hello Spring

Ski days aren't like other holidays or sports. Once you've tried it, its hard to stop. Who would've thought that strapping planks of laminated wood, metal & fiberglass to your feet & diving downhill, could become an addiction? Ha! I love skiing. The Rocky Mountains are among the most awe-inspiring places you'll probably ever visit. When you are on the mountain skiing, you don't just stand & gawk at them, (or the amazing view), you engage with them; learning their many moods, testing your strength, & you develop a respect for the sheer power the mountains have…

A wonderful snow-filled winter has just ended. And an equally snowy spring has begun. Since January, 148" inches have fallen on Red Lodge Mountain. 38" of those inches fell since March 20th - the first day of spring. 15" of the 38" fell this past Sunday!

Bright & early, 5:58am Monday morning, my alarm started screaming at me. Most people dislike the startling "bbeeep! bbeeep!" noise the alarm clock makes. But I was glad to hear it. There was one thought on my mind: skiing! I was wide awake,  rolled out of bed, eager to start the day & excited to be skiing (& not working)! I got dressed, searched the pantry & raided fridge for food, grabbed my gear, hit the road, & got to the mountain around 8:45am… Skied all day long.

15" inches fresh pow followed by a bluebirdish day & 19 degrees is perfect.  

First tracks. 
Above the Palisades & clouds. 
Good 'ole E-4, back in Headwaters. 
This is me, from a different ski day. Photo taken by my friend Hannah. Thanks girl!

Dropping down into some pow.

By the end of the day, half my face & neck was sunburnt, my lips were chapped, my legs were generally tired, my bad knee was a little sore. Ha! 15" of powder is hard on the knees. I had skied hard all day Friday & Saturday. By Monday I was worn out. But it was totally worth it. ;)

All photos taken w/ 5th gen iPod. Edited on Snapseed


Teaching Art - Composition

So my students have been learning about composition. It was really fun teaching this to my 3rd - 6th graders. Here are some examples I did for the classes. I used a pencil to sketch, a sharpie to outline, crayons for coloring.

Finding the visual sweet spots — 

First I drew 3 examples on the white board. (I had them mostly drawn before the students got there. FYI.) I talked about good composition, vs. poor composition. (See photos below.) I also brought in a bunch of my landscape paintings & sketches for more examples. I had these scattered around the class room for students to look at.

Then after going over the dos & don'ts of composing compositions -  I had students divide their paper into thirds, using a ruler. Drawing two horizontal lines & two vertical lines across the paper, creating a nice grid. The 4 crossing points in the grid, become the "sweet spots". These "sweet spots" are generally good places to put a focal point, a change in compositional direction, a point of dark contrast or highlight, or other point of interest. I majorly stressed as students were drawing their lines that they "keep their lines LIGHT" because of course, when your drawing is finished, you erase all extra lines. 
Version 1. Middle? No. When designing the composition of a drawing or
painting you need to make it interesting to the viewer. Try not the place your
focal point dead center.  It's boring. Artist's no.1 no-no rule
Version 2. A little better… Here change happens in the composition
when the focal point hits a "sweet spot" in the composition.
But it's not quote there - the horizon line is too close to the center of the paper. 
Version 3. The keeper! This composition offers a pleasing balance
while being more dramatic & interesting then version 2. The horizon line 2/3rds high.

Here's a couple things I said as students were drawing: 
DO overlap objects to add depth to your drawing. 
DON'T place objects that almost touch or are "tickling" each others edges. 
DO group objects creatively - have fun!
DON'T balance equally - this is boring.
THINK about where your horizon line is - should it be in the center of your paper? 

Below is a colored drawing I did. When I normally draw, I totally avoid creating outlines. In real life there aren't any outlines around anything, right? So why should there be outlines in realistic drawings? It instantly turns any drawing, no matter the style into a "cartoon". << that's something good to talk about with students too. 

I did several fast sketches, all styled like the one below, with different compositions & subjects in them. I had my student chose which drawing they wanted to do - then they copied my drawings, found the "sweet spots" & designed their composition. Then they all colored their drawings. (I dearly wish I got some photos of their work - but I always get so excited & busy, that I forget to get out my phone to take photos…) Something I need to work on I guess!

Below is a really simple sketch I did of different types of composition — I printed these out & gave them to students. All my little compositions were inspired by Edgar Payne. I asked students to look at the various landscape paintings I had around the room, & see if they could spot any of these compositions within my paintings.

Types of composition: 

If you found this helpful or inspiring, please leave me a comment! I would love any feedback! Thanks! :) 


Fresh off my easel —

Here's an impressionistic painting I just finished! 40x48 oil on homemade canvas. Lots of texture instantly creates an antiquated feel. "The Woman Ironing", originally by Degas. 

This shows the colors better & awesome texture that is throughout the painting. 


Observations made during ski season:

● Your hair never looks good on the weekends.
● The highway snow-plowers don't plow the road I live on.
● No friends on a powder day.
● Ski socks are a fashion statement.
● It's only cold if you are standing still - ski hard all day long.
● I don't always make a fool of myself, but when I do, it's under the chair lift.
● Always look one gate ahead of where you are, keep your upper body pointed downhill.
● All the good songs play while you are on the lift.
● Duct Tape can "fix" just about anything, but won't look very good.
● All my friends think I'm crazy because I spend all my free time outside in the cold.
● Hand warmers are like the most awesome thing ever.
● Getting sunburn while skiing is worse then burning in the summer.
● Double black diamonds are a girl's best friend.
● Snowboarders aren't cool when they're sitting on their bums in the middle of the run.
● My knees will be like those of a 80 year olds by the time I'm 30.
● Stairs & ski boots don't go together.
● The Thermos is an amazing invention. Keep it hot. Keep it cold.
● A simple hello can lead to a thousand things.

Ages 10 &  9 - my little brother & his friends were my skiing buddies for the day.


Free Song -

Attention you music junkies! Here's a Kygo Remix of Ed Sheeran's I See Fire - I'm loving it!
 — Download free on Soundcloud: