Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014: A Year In Review

2014 was quite a year. Looking back and reflecting on what was accomplished is always fun and challenging all at once. It's great to reminisce, but then again, it's challenging to think about how I'll improve or surpass all that was accomplished in the past year. Perhaps it isn't about painting more, earning more, achieving more ... but more about enjoying the journey and looking back and forward to all that the good Lord has in store. For now, I'm in reflection mode, and here's a brief synopsis of 2014:

While my home in Duluth was being blasted by north winds and sub zero weather that just wouldn't quit, I was hibernating in my studio and producing several works that would define and shape my work in the coming year. Massive paintings such as this one, titled Ladies Night Out (72"wx36"h) were painted every month, and to date many have sold, which is amazing in of itself to me. I've always been known for my tiny affordable paintings, but now that's changing as people have been interested in my large works, and I find painting large scale works to be a great challenge to undertake.

New work was produced for all galleries in February, and I enjoyed a subject matter which featured the golden moon and golden birches .. with as much blue as I could gorge onto the canvas to complement the golds. Working in this color scheme produced several meaningful works, such as this one titled We've Been Old Friends All Through The Years (60"wx48"h)

In March I scheduled an art show that was really last minute to fill a slot at Bixby's Cafe in Duluth. The show was titled Lights, and featured a selection of originals and framed prints. I was a bit nervous with the prints as they represented a significant investment for the frames, but I was happy when many sold, along with several originals. I had planned to include this piece, titled Why Can't This Night Go On Forever? (60"wx48"h), but I was contacted by Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN and notified that they wanted some new work, so I sent this painting up there and it sold almost right away. Wow, once again I was spurred on to work large and thankful for so many who have supported me and collected my work.

Something should be said about the weather once again, for I was working with cold fingers and toes for much of early 2014 as Minnesota set a record for the coldest winter ever. There were painfully long stretches that the temp never broke zero during the day and dropped over 20 degrees below zero at night. I was inspired to paint flowers and snow as the weather finally started to break and spring approached. This piece, titled Pushing Through The Snow, summarizes my struggle with the cold and elation at the new spring season that was occurring at that time. Also of note is that I had another show, this one titled Songbirds, at The Vanilla Bean in Two Harbors, MN, where I sold several sweet songbird paintings and prints.

May was a quiet month of producing work, daily working towards filling the walls at Your Art's Desire Gallery in Minnetonka, where I was scheduled to have my largest art show ever. I painted two dozen paintings in May, many large pieces such as this one titled Suncatchers (36"wx24"h) for the show which was titled Northland Kaleidoscope.
June saw the arrival of a new bird for me, the chickadee. I've painted many chickadee themed works this past year, and was also asked to paint four commissions featuring this friendly little feathered fella. I've enjoyed watching the chickadees eating at my feeders this winter, with the thistle and suet feeders being visited by thankful chickadees during this winter. This piece is titled Feathered Friends 10"wx10") and sold at Lizzards Gallery in Duluth, MN.
With the snow finally gone and summer in full bloom, I couldn't resist painting a scene that spoke to the joy I had when summer finally arrived and melted away the ice and snow. This piece was a favorite, titled Ahhhh Summer (36"wx24"h) and sold at Siiviis Gallery in Duluth. I painted several pieces in this theme on a smaller scale which were well received and collected by locals and those traveling through the area and wanting to take a souvenir home.

I completed my largest major work ever attempted in August titled Placid Lake Triptych (120"wx40"h). This piece is still for sale as I'm typing this year in review, and this one is available at Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN. This painting was a lesson in perserveance for me, and took many long hours to complete, not to mention the logistical issue of dealing with such large panels. I took several swimming breaks with the kiddos which may have cut into my painting time just a bit, but was a much needed distraction. :)

In September several noteworthy things happened. My Landscapes show opened at Lizzards Gallery in Duluth and it was a special event and I was so thrilled to see so many landscapes I had labored countless hours over displayed on the gallery walls. This piece, titled Golden Autumn Sunbeams (36'wx36"h) is a personal favorite of mine from the show. Another accomplishment in September was a painting titled The Tavern On The Lake (36"wx24"h) which was a donation to the Duluth Art Institute's annual fundraiser auction. What a fun painting this was, with the night scene, warm colors and reflections of the light on the rainy pavement. This is a painting that gave me the feeling of wanting to stay there in the warm glow of the restaurant and listen to the music of the acoustic guitars, fiddles, mandolins and banjos echoing across lake Superior.

We took the most ambitious vacation ever in October, flying to Washington DC, staying with friends and touring the DC area before driving all the way up to New Hampshire. We stopped at several historic sites in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and other cities and states as we made our way up the east coast. What a whirlwind of a week with many fond memories of adventures along the way. I painted a couple gifts for the folks we stayed with, one of northern Minnesota, and another of a state I hadn't ever seen before, New Hampshire. I looked at some photos prior to leaving on the vacation and was happy to see similar trees and topography as found here in Northern Minnesota, as I was painting this piece, titled Autumn In New Hampshire (8"wx24"h)  I also painted many canvases in October in fall themes which is hands down my favorite season to paint. 
The holiday season was on my mind as I finished more canvases in November as I had ever accomplished. The flurry of activity in my studio filled gallery walls with color for the shoppers and left me with a huge burn out feeling at the end of the month. I've gone through this before, and the only way through it is to step away from the easel for a season and get back to the roots of what drives me to create. Hiking through forests and observing nature in all it's wonder gives me the drive to create, and after some restful time I was able to get back to the canvas and brushes once more. One painting of note is here, titled Evergreen Cardinal Playland (36"wx36"h) at Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais. I really loved the tiny cardinals in this piece which features complementary color with the evergreen ridges and sky and bright red birds. One other event was I opened a show at Amity Coffee in Duluth, just a few blocks down from my home. The coffee shop was just opening, and had asked me to display my work, and I honestly didn't have much to choose from, so I ended up hanging all my personal favorites that I've held onto over the years and having a retrospective show. Intermingled with the paintings are framed prints and some new originals, and the show has stayed there even through January. I've been stopping in weekly, filling spots where framed prints have found new homes. It's a show that I wish could go on forever ... and it's almost like a studio away from home, filled with warmth, light, color, great coffee, and also very relaxing. 
In December I completed several commissioned paintings that were for gifts, so I had to be efficient. But I also painted some more meaningful pieces, this one here was a blast to paint, and is titled Get Your Kicks on Scenic 61 (16"wx40"h). My dad has many stories to tell of his adventures traveling up 61 in his younger days to stay with family in the Ely and Grand Marais areas, and to go skiing at Lutsen. He also worked for the MN Dept. of Transportation in the sign dept. for many years, so I couldn't help but think of his adventures as I was reminiscing of my own excursion up this amazing road. The painting features the new sign, with the cardinal perched on the top of the sign, and warm color below with cool blues above. If you've never been on Scenic 61, it winds from Duluth to Grand Marais .. over 100 miles all the way ... get your kicks on Scenic 61.

Well that's it! I could go on and on about all that has happened this past year. I can't possibly imagine having a more successful year, it was a year to remember, and wow, what a ride. What does 2015 have in store? I'm not sure at this point, but I do have several canvases in mind, a couple commissions to paint, and some new products in the works as well. I'm working on having some giclee prints made on canvas of my favorites from the past several years, and hope to have them ready soon. Please check my website and this blog in the future for more information on new works and affordable paper and canvas prints.
I'm off to the easel ....


  1. This man is a painting machine it is just awesome the work he does. I wish I was have as good as Aaron...

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.