A few months ago a client came into the studio and asked me to paint a picture he had been thinking about for some time and was looking for an artist to do it. While he was in my studio I took a 24x36 canvas and made a quick charcoal sketch to show what I was thinking. I’ll tell the story in another post. Here is the first sketch:
A big river crossing
I think most artists are grateful for the gifts that they are given. Usually from a young age a bit of talent is recognized along with a drive and a desire and confidence to express oneself. A lot of times when I go out to paint I look hard for a subject that moves me enough to put that scene on canvas, and sometimes I bring it back into the studio and it begins to work. Once in a while I am given a gift, a scene in front of me that almost paints itself. This is what happened when I was commissioned to paint a picture of the Draper Temple:
“I had photographed the Draper Temple a year before and felt that I had enough info for the painting. Pam and I were staying in Provo getting ready to travel back to Wyoming. It was very early in the morning and I wastrying to get back to sleep and Pam said, "Maybe you should get up now and go photograph the Draper temple ."
I said , "I don't want to."
Five minutes passed and sleep wasn't coming so I said,"OK, let's get up and go!"
The sun was just rising on our way and there was quite a bit of cloud activity so I wasn't sure what we would get when we got there.
As I was shooting the temple from different angles the sun came over the hill and peeked through the clouds and there it was, about 1/4 of a rainbow , very soft and subtle but very visible. The bottom rested on a corner of the temple and the top disappeared just before it reached Moroni.
Wow! We looked at each other. There are no coincidences.
I'm calling it "Draper Temple, Heaven's Covenant". I'm reminded of the Lord's promised sign to Noah.” -Glen S. Hopkinson
I am introducing a new limited edition canvas reproduction called "One Last Look at Fair Nauvoo" representing Joseph and Hyrum Smith's final and fateful ride toward Carthage, Illinois where short days later they were assassinated, leaving the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) living in Nauvoo, Illinois, bereft and mourning their prophet/leader and his faithful brother. Nauvoo had grown from a tiny settlement called "Commerce" in 1839 to the second largest city in Illinois in 1844 with between 18,000 and 20,000 people. Within two years, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles with Brigham Young being the presiding member of the "Twelve", the Mormons left Nauvoo, travelled across Iowa and finally making it to the mountains in Utah in 1847.
an 18 x 32 limited edition signed and numbered reproduction on canvas (giclee)
Back in 2007 Pam and I accompanied by our daughter Heather and her husband Brian Nielsen and with some friends took a two week tour of China. One of the highlights was visiting the Great Wall of China. While there I took out a small traveling paint box and painted a couple of small oil sketches. The Chinese folks were very friendly and don't particularly believe in the concept of "personal space" (probably because there are a billion of them there), and they gathered around to watch the magic. It is not a great painting which is what a great wall deserves, but then it is only a wall, after all...(well, maybe a little more than that).
A while ago, I was driving up Wapiti Valley, a beautiful stretch of meadows and dramatic rocks in the middle of the Absaroka Mountain range, in between Yellowstone Park and Cody, Wyoming. Clouds were hovering over Jim Mountain and the lighting was dramatic. I pulled over, set up my easel, paints, canvas and started doing the kind of image capture that I like best: Plein air, or painting on location. I noted the surroundings seemed untouched by modern life, and started imagining myself as an Indian scout, perhaps a Ute, watching as some Crow braves and their families crossed through territory that was claimed and fought over by Crows, Utes, the Cheyenne and other Shoshone tribes (the paint work is quick in plein air painting, but the mind still wanders!). As I painted, I noticed a crowd of tourists had gathered near me, watching me paint, and out of their hushed voices I picked up on a few speaking Korean. I just couldn’t resist, and I turned and began speaking Korean to the young men. They started yelling in excitement, and couldn’t believe that, in the wild, wild west, they found a cowboy that painted AND spoke Korean! We had a fun photo shoot then, entertaining each other and the remaining tourists with our posing antics. Back in the studio, as I went through my archives to research before painting in the Indian travois and figures, I smiled at the unexpected friendship and entertainment that added to the fun of that painting session. I still think of it every time I see this piece! It is currently on display at the Hopkinson Gallery in downtown Provo, Utah. Masters of the Absarokas, Oil on canvas, Original, 22x28, price $5000.
In 1852 in Jylland, Denmark, two Mormon Missionaries were visiting door to door and not finding anyone willing to listen to their message. One Elder was willing to quit and call it a day and the other reminded him of the dream he had had the night before that when they came to a house with a hen and a brood of white chicks in the front yard that the family would accept the gospel and that they needed to continue their efforts.
They continued walking and after some time they came to the home of the Christensen family and there was the hen and her chicks in the yard.
The Elder said, "This is the place, this is proof that if we will go to our Heavenly Father in earnestness He will help us overcome our trials and troubles."
Annie Catherine Christensen Olsen was 11 at the time and wrote, "My father was the first to embrace the Gospel and it wasn't long after until the rest of the family were baptized. My father never touched liquor or tabacco [he had been a heavy drinker] after he joined the Church.
This painting is a representation of that experience. Our friend Janice Hecht is the great-great grand daughter of Annie.Read More
Finishing the Painting "Pusch Ridge-Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson.
Coming to a river wide and deep from the melting snow and only days away from their destination the settlers have to cross. Plowing and planting have to be done and in this beautiful 30 x 40 painting I've depicted one of those myriad crossings that took place. The industry and never give up attitude that our grandparents and great grandparents exhibited fills me with awe. The Absaroka Range near my home is the star of this painting.
I came across a photo of a painting I did 41 years ago and it delighted me. A friend in Salt Lake City, David Bennion, owns this painting. The tires in those days were always needing repairs, it was just part of the trip. I like the painting and the idea and maybe it's a subject matter I should revisit. An old Model T and a bunch of rocks with sunlight and shadow. Who wouldn't want to paint that!
Side note: Is the wife thinking, "I hope this lunkhead gets this thing fixed because I don't want to walk back to town"? Or the girlfriend: "A flat tire? Last time he ran out of gas! I've heard that line before!"
Each year there is a exciting kind of fun preparing for Christmas. Years ago when my children were all in the home we went to the mountains and with bundled little ones and a sleigh trudged through deep snow to find the right tree. Now, we still go through a lot of effort to make our home look magical for our children's children and as of this summer our great grandchildren.
A few years ago Bjorn Bauerfeind from Leipzig, Germany asked me to do this painting of Mormon Missionaries painting the "Plan of Salvation" on the Berlin Wall. Bjorn grew up in East Germany and when the wall came down his folks drove him into West Berlin where he came to serve a mission for the LDS Church in Oregon. He presently serves as a counselor in the Stake Presidency in Leipzig, is a business man and he and Asnath, his wife have five children. They are an interesting family and have a great story.
Painting on location, Red Mountain, Mesa Arizona
...So then I went back a couple of more times to paint this subject once again. Spring brought out the Swallows who were getting lunch while I was painting.
I came across this card of a painting I did a long time ago. I painted the rocks on location south of Byron, Wyoming. I met my model when we were both young men. I was scouting good painting ideas at a Mountain Man Rendezvous in the Big Horn Mountains. There were quite a few tipis but one was one in particular looked very authentic. There was a paint pony with and Indian saddle. That is where I met 19 year old Mike Terry from South Carolina. He said his parents both had Indian blood in them and that made him have a desire to articulate his heritage in a real way.
Just finished this cool little 6x8 painting of Coon Creek which flows into the Shoshone River just over the bluff from my home in Byron. I think most of us kids played in Coon Creek as we were growing up. With this kind of snow we learned how to track rabbits and deer and if we saw big dog tracks we knew it had to be a wolf.
I've made friends with a few people that live over at Crow Agency.Many of them have been helpful as I've painted the 19th century Native American life style by posing as models, by charging around on horseback while I shoot photos of them in action. It has been a pleasure to watch them have fun especially when they are re-enacting the Custer Battle. Their ancestors were allies of George Custer and the U.S. Army back in 1876. They enjoy riding against Custer now. I even joined in on a two day ride where I was a Cheyenne Warrior on horseback and we attacked the calvary on horseback. Maybe I'll share that experience sometime.
Did I ever mention how much I like to paint rock formations, cliffs and mountains? Well, I do. A while ago I went out north of Byron, Wyoming near the cemetery on what we used to call Union Hill (When we were kids, Steve, Marv and I would take our bikes to the top of the hill and coast, getting close to 60 mph and would see if we could take the last curve without using our breaks). Anyway, some time ago I set up my portable easel and painted the rock formations you see here. This painting sat around my studio for quite a while and then...I started to envision these young braves on horseback. The coming storm almost obscures Eagle Rock. There is a lot to paint around here (Byron) and almost everywhere I go memories and thoughts will take me back to what was before I was.
Pamela and I both have great-grandparents who pulled handcarts. Her great grandfather was John Cozzens from Wales and mine was Henry Florence from England. I went there a few years ago and pulled a handcart into Martin's Cove and spent a few hours painting some sketches.