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Plein Air in Old Washington 8 May 2021

I’ve been trying to paint without sharing, so I can have a collection to show you all at once. But I can’t resist showing off, and it’s a rainy Mother’s day here in Kentucky, so I thought I’d share some good weather plein air sunshine with you!

I’m working on a series of iris paintings, and thought these pretty purple irises would make a good painting. Here’s my sketch…stay tuned to see how it works out!
Here’s the messy underpainting. I have the darks and lights worked out…and composition. Now time for the colors!!!
I’m not sure this one is going to work out…Everything has been in shadow, and these colors are a mess…thinking about calling it a loss, and wiping the board clean.
Never easy, but sometimes an artist has to ‘kill their darlings’ I went ahead and wiped all the paint from the board. I’m going to try to use the rest of the day to paint the church (in light) contrast with the flowers (in shadow)
ok, let’s try again…here’s my sketch, lets paint!
Here’s the second try underpainting for today’s painting.
I am already in LOVE with this painting. It has good light/dark contrast and should work! Can’t wait to start adding COLOR!!!
I have the base colors down. The sun hitting the church and green grass are so warm, I almost need sunglasses. Now it’s time to build up the details and colors…stay tuned!
I think i’m done!!! it’s funny how sometimes the best paintings come right after a failure. I’ve joked before how: yo have to push through the breakdown if you want to have the breakthrough!!! This was one of those days!!! I’m thrilled with it, AND this painting already has a home!! Thank you so much for experiencing this with me!
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Plein air old washinton- the barn on old main street 6 may 2021

The wildflowers in front of this barn would make an interesting painting.

Here’s my preliminary sketch…time to paint!!!
I think this wants to be horizontal instead of vertical.
The underpainting
Laying in some colors…I’m getting nervous because they are cutting grass all around the building. I don’t want to delay work, but hopefully they hold off until I paint the wildflowers
Im at the stage of painting where I am calling it a “hot mess”. The sun played some tricks on me(went behind clouds) , and i really don’t know where I’m going with it…I’ve learned to just push through…sometimes these messes transform into masterpieces. Other times they become lessons.
i was able to pull it all together…whew!!! The wildflowers were what attracted me to the scene, and they make the painting!
Thanks everyone for joining me on this afternoon of painting!
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red tulips – plein air painting – 22 April 2021

it’s a grey day…might even get some rain. For today’s painting, i decided to try to capture these red tulips. They are bright and cheerful, and aren’t going to last much longer. From an artist perspective, I like the way the stems are starting to droop.
here’s my sketch…to work out the composition–now time to set up and paint!!!
I’m blocking in the shapes with a muddy mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. also working out the dark and light relationships in the composition..
See the white specks in front of the black car and red truck? I’m painting flowers in SNOW FLURRIES. I’m not cutting my ear off, but I do want some acknowledgment for my dedication to my craft 🙂
#kentuckyWeather
I never know what will pop up in my flower garden!!! Chuck and Mary Lou Keller 🙂
slowly but surely building up colors to capture the moment…
It’s still cold out there…had to come inside to warm my hands up. A good opportunity for an update! We are close to the finish line.
tulips take a bow – oil on panel 8×10″

Art and beauty are everywhere you look. Even on cold, cloudy snow flurry days. Get out there and enjoy!

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Plein Air Painting – Lewis County 16 April 2021

Today, i had the intention to go to Lewis county to paint the Cabin Creek Covered bridge.
I’ve painted the bridge before, it’s a picture perfect scene, but I was in the mood for something a little bit different.

Around the corner from the bridge, was an interesting curve in the road. I decided to paint it instead

My thumbnail sketch
blocking out basic shapes with a muddy mess of colors leftover from yesterday’s painting
working out the dark and light values- still using the muddy paint
starting to add color. I’m trying something different…usually I am a color lover, but I wonder what would happen if i keep my colors toned down?
blocking in the colors – trying to keep it toned down, but the red bush wants to shine bright pink–im going to let it!

building up colors and details
i think its finished!!!

the original is available for sale. I will update with a better studio photo once it is dry (in about a week)

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Grow Through What You Go Through Woodcut

I read this quote and it resonated with me at this moment in history. I decided to use it to make a woodcut. Scroll down to see the different parts of the process.

doodle of saying: go through what you go through
sketch for woodcut idea

photo of design on tracing paper for a woodcut print
design with more detail drawn on tracing paper
tracing design from paper to block of wood for woodcut printmaking
tracing paper used to flip and transfer design onto wood block
painting a sealer over woodcut before carving
wood block tinted orange (to make it easier to see cuts) then coated with a sealer
first quarter section of woodcut carved - work in progress
one quarter finished with the carving process
woodcut block carved and ready to print
The finished block-I decided to print on green paper
mixing green ink for woodcut print
mixing a dark green ink
rolling ink on the woodcut print
rolling ink onto the block
test proof for woodcut print
the test proof
touch up carving woodcut printmaking
fixing some of parts of the block for the final proof
finished prints hanging to dry
the finished print and proofs, hanging to dry

The finished Woodcut! You can add one to your print collection (and support my work!) by clicking below

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Exploring the 25 mile radius from my house

exterior of the poston school house museum in fleming county kentucky

I’ve lived in this area longer than anywhere else in my life, and I’m still surprised at how much I DON’T know about the world directly around me. I love maps and travel, and recently calculated the 25 mile (driving) radius from my house.

google map of 25 mile radius from my house

I know a lot of the people and places in this circle, but there is still a LOT I don’t know. I have decided to start fixing that!

I started at the bottom east corner, just a little east from wallingford at the top of park lake mountain. There I discovered a treasure you won’t see on google maps.

photo of the Poston School Museum in Flemming County Kentucky

The Poston School House Museum!
It’s a historic schoolhouse from the 1800s, lovingly restored into a little museum.

interior of the poston schoolhouse museum in fleming county kentucky

I am a lifetime learner, and am forever grateful to the public schools and teachers who shaped my mind.

sketches of the poston school museum in fleming county kentucky
Some of my quick pen and ink sketches of the schoolhouse

Moving forward, I’m going to try to stay in my little 25 mile radius; to travel, explore and get to better know the place where I live–through ART!

outhouse with moon painted on door at the poston schoolhouse museum in fleming county kentucky

Please share if you know any places (on or off the beaten path) that would make a good subject for an artist!

Stay tuned for more!

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Plein air painting near the elliott/carter county lines

I’m close to the elliott/carter county lines, and am going to try to get a painting from this view

Here is my sketch

The cell phone reception is not super, but I’ll try to post updates as I work, check back later ..

Setup and ready to start painting!!!

I more or less have the values and composition worked out…I’m painting on a board slightly wider than a traditional landscape proportion, so my center of attention keeps falling into the center…supposedly a no no in art, but I think I can make it work…time for color!!!

This scene is backlit (I’m facing the sun) so I’m having a lot of fun, experimenting with some new color combinations in the shadows

It’s backlit ( we are facing the sun), so I didn’t get the best photo of the painting with the landscape. When I get back to the studio, i’ll take a better photo to share with you all.

What an enjoyable experience: painting from life out in the country! I don’t consider myself a representational painter, but I REALLY enjoy the exercise of working from life, learning about light and color. I did some things with color that I never would have tried on my own.

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Road trip Update

Some of my friends and family make fun of me. They think I’m becoming agoraphobic during the pandemic. It might be true. I was camping and doing my best to avoid people and indoors while on my recent road trip, but there is a problem of using public bathrooms. I don’t want to use them while Kentucky and Indiana are having record breaking highs in COVID infections.

selfie style photo of ken the artist with a car loaded with paper

I skipped over some of my original plan, to arrive at my destination (The French Paper Company), where I stocked up with more paper than I could ever use in a lifetime! Now I’m going home, where I plan to make a lot of woodcuts and never leave the house again!

UPDATE: 10/8/2020
I might have a paper problem…not sure where to put all of this. I came up with this idea of a shelf to stack the paper over a set of drawers. I used the 3d Modelling software, Blender (normally for animation and 3d graphics), to plan the design

it WORKED!!! The lumber was a little bit longer than I thought it would be, so I’ve extended the height…there’s room for one more shelf

home made shelf for oversized paper
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Plein Air Road Trip

I’ve pretty much stayed put since march during the pandemic, so today is a big deal.  I’m going to leave my house and the 5 miles radius in which I live..maybe for a few days. I’m off to madison, indiana to do some painting…then. Brown county indiana (see the awesome guidebook my friend Diane sent me?). After that:  michigan! 

Artist with car packed with art supplies, holding a book of brown county artists

I take the pandemic serious, so I’m bringing lots of sanitizer and masks…doing to sleep in a tent. No indoor spaces, or close proximity to other people for me.  Wish me well, and check this website from time to time. I’m going to share trip updates here. 

4:30 pm UPDATE

I have been nervous thinking about painting in a public place. Normally I welcome people to look over my shoulder, but not during a pandemic.

Photo of a farm house near Carrollton, kentucky
Farmhouse near Carrollton, ky

I decided to stop and paint a country scene before getting to madison. There was a classic looking farmhouse on a hill by the highway.

Sketch of the farmhouse scene

A nice thing about the country, there aren’t a lot of people around, which gives me the opportunity to focus on the painting

Easel setup ready to paint

There was no cellphone signal at this spot, which disconnected me from any distractions. It’s been a long time since I’ve painted plein air with no company…in person or virtual.

Just getting started with the painting

I tried some experimental things with color that I never would have tried if people were watching. Halfway through the painting, I was really frustrated, and thought I was going to lose the painting

Plein air painting. Farmhouse near Carrollton, ky

As luck would have it, I didn’t give up, and the painting came together. I’m happy with how it came out. It’s possibly one of my favorite plein air paintings.

Plein air painting in the light

The first photo was with the painting in the shade…here’s another in the light!

Now I’m in madison, indiana. Instead of put myself in a situation where someone can stop and breathe all over me, (setting an easel and paint up) I’m going to walk around with my sketchbook, and do some pen sketches of the river and old houses. Stay tuned!

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Herding the Horses – new Linocut

While on a painting trip out in the country, i watched a sheep dog, herding a group of horses into the barn. The farmer, cussed at the dog, and told it to quit, but I think the little pup, couldn’t resist it’s instinct. When the horses ventured outside of the barn, it would herd them back inside.

unfinsihed woodcut depicting a sheep dog herding a group of horses

I knew that I wanted to make a print about the spectacle. When I returned to my studio, i started carving the image into a block of wood. I quickly realized that the wood wasn’t the right material for the image I had in mind…i have learned with art, that it’s ok to fail and start over…that’s how we learn and get better.

photo of linocut work in progress depicting a sheep dog in a kentucky scene herding horses

I started over, this time cutting into linoleum

linocut work in progress almost finished

I was a lot happier with my second carving of the scene. Linoleum was a better material to carve the thin blades of grass and fur of the dog and horses

animated gif of a linocut being printed with a traditional press
At the Log Cabin Print Shop, revealing the first print
Herding the Horses – 6×8″ linocut on 8×10″ paper