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West Contrabando Dark Sky Site

We recently spent a long weekend in Big Bend soaking in the massive night skies and glowing morning sunrises out of our tent.

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Lunch time view between rides, Pen and Ink, BBRSP

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Love this candid of Michelle looking up from the mine shaft

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Big Bend Ranch SP has an abandoned mercury mine out in the park to explore

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Sun baked textures in the desert

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View from Big Bend National Park Hot Springs, Pen and Ink

Everything is exposed and sun baked. Topographic features visibly exist on the mountainsides undisturbed by trees. Trails here are dynamic and range from fast flowing, to rocky scree, to jeep roads. The light is dynamic and fun to photograph and the distances enjoyable to sketch from rare spots of shade.
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Michelle and her CHUMBA URSA on Crystal mtn trail, yes, those are all quartz crystals!

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The mine area has some cool artifacts like this ole’Chevy

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Kept my map handy in my Wanderlust Gear Rattlesnake bag, sweet patch from Everything Will Be Noble thanks to Brent Knepper!

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Recent fire damage in the Big Bend Nat. Park, native plants will likely come back strong and happy with new seeds being activated by the fires to grow.

I am excited to finally have my studio together at our new home. I’ve spent the last year+ focused on sketching off of my bike during trips throughout the US and abroad in Ecuador. I’ll be continuing to seek inspiration through new biking trips coming up to Colorado, Big Bend, TX and Arizona. Some of the sketches will find their way into bigger drawings and paintings in my studio. I’ll be updating the blog with the drawings that the views inspired and a few of my favorite photographs from the trips. Thanks to CHUMBA USA and Wanderlust Gear for all the support!

Working from field studies back in the studio

Working from field studies back in the studio.

Sketching during a brief break in Big Bend, never even got off my riding glove.

Sketching during a brief break in Big Bend, never even got off my riding glove.

View back to Papallacta from climbing up Cayambe Coca, Ecuador

View back to Papallacta from climbing up Cayambe Coca, Ecuador

 

Kody and I are in Breckenridge, Colorado working for CHUMBA USA, an American made mountain bike manufacturer, at the Breck Epic. After spending the week supporting our riders and racing ourselves we got a few days off to get into the backcountry. What says recovery after 3 days of racing like 3 days of bikepacking?! We loaded up our bikes with food: avocados, quinoa, dried beans, fruit, some candy bars and oatmeal, camping gear, our cameras & sketch books and set off literally into the sunset.

Pushing up the Ten Mile range at sunset after hiking with my bike up to 12000'.

DAY 1: Pushing up to the tree line of the Ten Mile range at sunset, hiking with our bikes up to 12000′.

Finally near the top it is "flat" enough to ride again.

Finally near the top it is “flat” enough to ride again.

The sun is going down but we haven't traversed the peak yet.

The sun is going down, but we haven’t traversed the peak yet.

At the peak at 9:00 PM, the Milky Way is arching right above us.

At the peak at 9:00 PM, the Milky Way is arching right above us, terrain is all bowling ball sized rocks.

After a long night of hiking our bikes down from the peak in the dark, Kody and I slept in until 10 AM and then enjoyed a nice fire, coffee and breakfast.

DAY 2: After a long night of hiking our bikes down from the peak in the dark, Kody and I slept in until 10 AM and then enjoyed a nice fire, coffee and breakfast.

Setting out on the trail again, now enjoying our first hard earned descent.

Recharged we set out on the trail again, now enjoying our first hard earned descent.

Coming up hill I saw this incredible light hitting the grasses and had to stop.

Coming up hill I saw this incredible light hitting the grasses and had to stop.

Inspiration

Inspiration, I love the contrast in textures.

We came up on so many great views but it was easy to choose when to sketch. You just know.

We came up on so many great views, but it was easy to choose when to sketch. You just know. All of the sudden I just had to stop. This happened a number of times, it was very exciting. Luckily, I chose a good riding partner who was equally enthralled with photographing. Kody was happy to enjoy the opportunity to shoot.

Warming up after another long day on the bike.

Warming up after another long day on the bike.

Kody plays with long exposures again, this time with our fire lighting up the trees. I was ready for bed, worn out after riding, starting a stubborn fire and eating the last of our dinner food.

Kody plays with long exposures again, this time with our fire lighting up the trees. I was ready for bed, worn out after riding, starting a stubborn fire and eating the last of our dinner food. Though I agree, you have to shoot that Milky Way!

We went a bit overboard on lunch yesterday and only had a pack of oatmeal and some dates/apricots to split today. We still had enough energy to enjoy the views and I couldn't help but pull off and sketch again.

DAY 3: We went a bit overboard on lunch yesterday and only had a pack of oatmeal and some dates/apricots to split today. We still had enough energy to enjoy the views and I couldn’t help but pull off and sketch again.

We made it to Georgia Pass.

We made it to Georgia Pass. Not sure how far our ride was, but it felt far, so I’ll say it was. From Copper Mtn at RT 91 to Georgia Pass to downtown Breckenridge nearly all on the singletrack of the Colorado Trail. Tough trails and fun trails, I have added respect for Continental Divide riders.

Kody doing a victory lap before our final descent down to town and finally to breakfast. Once we hit town around 2PM we were so hungry we went out and bought two breakfasts each at the Blue Moose Diner in Breck.

Kody doing a victory lap before our final descent down to town and finally to breakfast. Once we hit town, around 2PM, we were so hungry we went out and bought two breakfasts and a pitcher of warm coffee each at the Blue Moose Diner.

One last sketch, I will post some images from my sketch book when I return in a few weeks from Colorado and New Mexico.

One last sketch, I will post some images from my sketch book when I return in a few weeks from Colorado and New Mexico.

Thanks to Kody for always having the camera ready, CHUMBA USA for the reliable bikes, Wanderlust Gear for the well designed bikepacking bags, and to Orange Seal for keeping us flat free all ride!

Photos courtesy of Kody Gibson and CHUMBA USA. 2014 Copyright.

I recently sent off a piece to Grizzly Grizzly in Philadelphia as a part of their founding members show. A group of art friends and I started Grizzly Grizzly a number of years ago to showcase compelling artists from around the world. We decided to keep ourselves removed from showing our own work so that we could focus on the curatorial process and remove our egos from the common vanity gallery collective.

We wanted to do something unconventional and unlike other art venues in the Philadelphia area. It was a real push for me to celebrate artists so different from my own work. I think that was the most rewarding experience. We gathered a diverse group of members to push ourselves in unique directions that a typical gallery would not. It was a way for us to view the art we wanted to see and champion.

I left the collective back in 2010 when I moved to Austin, TX. I miss putting on shows with Grizzly Grizzly, we had a great time and it was a fulfilling experience. Its makes me so happy to see the space thriving. Thanks to the current members for inviting us to show and for all of their hard work continuing to grow what we began!

Read the show’s review by Knight Arts, and of my piece. “Galbraith”: http://www.knightarts.org/community/philadelphia/to-all-the-girls-ive-loved-before-grizzly-grizzly

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Sketch From Alaska

 

 

Galbraith, 2013, Encaustic and Oil on Found Wood, 16" x 26", Vincent Colvin

Detail from “Galbraith”, Encaustic and Oil on Found Wood, 16″ x 26″, Vincent Colvin, 2013

I’ve noticed that there are concerns and misconceptions out there about encaustic art and how to care for it in your home. I wanted to shed some light on this and provide a guide for understanding more about the medium for artists, galleries and buyers/collectors. I’ll do this in 2 posts.

Fayum Funeral Portrait, 98-117 A.D., Encaustic on wood. (That's old! Older than any oil paintings on wood in existence I know of...)

Fayum Funeral Portrait, 98-117 A.D., Encaustic on wood. (That’s old! Older than any oil paintings on wood in existence I know of…)

The take away from all this: Encaustic is one of the oldest and most archival of all paint mediums. The care of it is not very different than that of any oil painting.

Care for Your Encaustic Painting:

What is it?: Encaustic is a painting medium made of natural beeswax and dammar resin.

Sunlight: While it is not recommended to display your encaustic piece (or really any work of art) in direct sunlight, do not fear the heat of the sun. See below.

Temperature/Mositure: In your home as long as temperatures do not drop below freezing or get over 160 degrees your encaustic piece will remain unchanged. Normal home temperatures fluctuate between 60 and 90 degrees. I have had many pieces in very cold temperatures with no issues, think Philadelphia-snow-magedon no heat… I have displayed works that get sunlight in the morning or afternoon with no damage to the work over years of time. I have even displayed encaustic work in the bathroom, a place with quick temperature changes due to steamy showers and seen no issues or change in works. Wood substrates should be sealed on the back to discourage moisture absorption.

Surface: In the first year your work will go through some slight changes. The piece will become more clear over time increasing the beauty of the surface and transparency between layers. Occasionally, gently wipe dust off of your piece with a clean and lint free rag. I prefer lint free cotton rags, or even better eye glass/computer cleaning cloths. Optional: With a new clean rag, for encaustic that has a smooth final surface you can gently buff, in a circular motion, the surface of the wax. This will add a beautiful sheen to the work and discourage dust buildup on the surface. In the first year if you want the sheen all the time in the work you may need to do this once a month or so. After a year when the wax cures you will rarely to do this to keep the sheen, maybe once a year. Note: Works with high surface texture or oil paint on the surface should not be buffed in these areas. Dust these with a soft brush.

Shipping or Moving Homes: Transporting encaustic is best left to an art handler as is any high quality work of art. If you choose to do this yourself there is a right way, a wrong way, and an easy way.

  • Living in the "Danger Zone", How I brought my work to my recent show.  Rented a cargo van and got the A/C steady to beat the TX summer heat.

    Living in the “Danger Zone”, How I brought my work to my recent show. Rented a cargo van and got the A/C steady to beat the TX summer heat. Worked great for this short distance.

    The right way is to build a box unique to the piece that allows the encaustic surface to never make contact with anything other than a silicone release paper. Contact the artist or an art dealer to make this.

  • The wrong way is bubble wrap or newspaper or transporting in anything hot, ie: back of the moving truck during summer or your car without the A/C on, your hot trunk etc.
  • The easy way is to go to the local arts and craft store and buy a few large clear plastic bags that are designed for buying sheets of high quality paper like Arches or Rives. Even better, also buy silicone release paper and cover the surface first. You can wrap the piece in the release paper, plastic and then foam or bubble wrap, put it in a box etc. Still  be sure to consider temperature. This way is suitable to get the work to a destination, but not a good way to store the work long term.
  • Do not lean an encaustic work against a wall, or any art work, on its front edge, you may damage it.

Wrapping Up: Okay so this sounds like a lot of special consideration right? Well honestly, not really…. lets consider an oil painting on canvas. It needs to be dusted and cleaned yearly or more, to be displayed out of constant direct sunlight, to be properly packaged when moving or it can warp or the canvas can be torn, be protected from extreme temperatures or the paint can crack or flake off. There really is very little difference.

Generally when I am transporting works, I wrap them as I mentioned in plastic and take them directly to the destination. When I stop on the way I keep the A/C on and the car running ( I live in Texas now after all) When I ship them I send large works with a art shipper and small works overnight (not in the summer). In most cases encaustic can be repaired if an accident occurs. Contact the artist to see if they can provide the service. I do, if anyone needs advice or help just let me know.

My next post will be about the archival characteristics of the encaustic medium! Stay tuned. – Vincent