18 New Paintings for the Snake River Basin Project

The following are 18 new paintings for my Snake River Basin Project. They are mostly from Southwest Idaho, Eastern Oregon, and Central Eastern Idaho. All are 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper.

srb-mores creek -lr copy

Mores Creek, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-owyhee river

Owyhee River, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-malheur-south fork

Malheur River-South Fork, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-powder river valley

Powder River Valley, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-malhuer river

Malheur River, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-billingsley creek -lr

Billingsley Creek, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-malard river gorge-or

Malad River Gorge, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-1000 springs

1000 Springs, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-snake river at 3 island crossing

Snake River at Three Island Crossing, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-shoshone falls on the snake river crossing

Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-snake river valley

Snake River Canyon, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-spring near shoshone falls

Spring Near Shoshone Falls, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-salmon river

Salmon River, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-bruneau river canyon

Bruneau River Canyon, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-salmon river-north fork

Salmon River-North Fork, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-salmon river-north fork 1

Pahsimeroi River, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-salmon river-east fork

Salmon River-East Fork, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

srb-lehmi river

Lehmi River, 11″ X 14″, acrylic on 300# paper, 2013, Mark W. McGinnis

Designs of Faith: Essays and Paintings on World Religions – A New Book by Mark W. McGinnis

baws cover 1

(this was my primary project of the 1990’s)

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

This series of essays and paintings is an attempt to explore some of the  religions of the world from the perspective of an artist. When I look at religious structures, I view them as attempts to form order out of the parts of our existence and create a sense of purpose and direction in our lives.
      My motivation in creating this series is primarily self-education and the need I feel to find more meaning and direction in my own life.  In the post-industrial world the true guidance of religion has been largely supplanted by economic designs that may or may not pay lip service to religion. Most of our lives are guided down a path of consumption and careers that form the purpose of our lives. It is my intent in these essays and paintings to study alternative ways of designing our relationships from many cultural sources.
The content of the essays focus on the foundation history of the religions and the basic moral and ethical teachings of the faith.  It is not my intent to investigate the many variations, factions, and directions that these basic religions have spawned over the centuries.
The series includes Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, the Dreaming Religion of Aboriginal Australia, Inuit Spiritualism,  Hopi Religion, and Ifa Divination of the Yoruba of West Africa. The Designs of Faith Project was begun in 1992 and completed in 1998.
     My research approach to each religion begins with reading the basic religious writings of the faith if they are available. I then read a sampling of both the scholarly and spiritual writings on the religion as well.  After taking extensive notes, the framework of the essay evolves in my mind and the writing begins. Early drafts of the essay were reviewed by two individuals who have been my valued friends and critics for many years, Tom Hansen and Legia Spicer.  
    The completed essay and research experience form the beginning of the visual inspiration for the canvas.  Additional research is done on the artistic tradition of the faith, stimulating many possible solutions on how to express my ideas in the language of design. I then execute an initial 19 ½” X 16 ½” watercolor study, working on five separate pieces of paper to prepare myself for the five section quintych canvas.  A second study of the same size is sometimes produced, working out the various inadequacies and problems of the first. I then move on to the production of the 92” X 79” five sectioned canvases, done with textural acrylic. I have also produced a statement of symbolism and sources for each painting to give interested viewers information on the evolution of the imagery of the quintych.
I would like to be clear in that I, in no way, see this study as being definitive. Each of the religions covered in the essays and paintings is tremendously complex with an abundance of variations that have grown from the foundation. People approach these religions from many different perspectives and for many different reasons. Their experiences are certainly no less valid than mine.
     Designs of Faith has been the most thought-provoking and enjoyable of any of the research-based projects I have undertaken in the past eighteen years. I hope I can share some of this enjoyment and appreciation with others.

Mark W. McGinnis 1998

Addendum: In this current published edition of the project, some fifteen years after its completion, the paintings published are of the preliminary watercolor studies for the quintychs. My reason for this choice is the better graphic qualities of the studies. The large scale canvases with their textural and reflective surfaces do not reproduce as well. The essays in this publication have also had the good fortune of a fresh editing by Professor Elton Hall.

Mark W. McGinnis 2013

available  at Amazon.com

Watercolor Sketching: An Experiential Approach – A New Book by Mark W. McGinnis

baws cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist’s Statement

While I have been working with watercolor for over thirty-five years, watercolor sketching is a relatively recent addition to my artistic pursuits. At the turn of the millennium I took a research trip to India to prepare for a series of paintings on my Buddhist Animal Wisdom Stories project and also to travel part of the Buddhist pilgrimage path for personal spiritual growth. For reasons I cannot recall, I decided I wanted to do watercolor sketches while I traveled. It was a rather unexpected desire as I had done very little pleine aire (open air) painting. Most of my work has been studio painting where I research and develop long series of carefully planned images. So, to sit out in the open and begin painting with no preconceived direction was quite out of my character and experience.

To begin with I was a bit uncomfortable. I wanted more control. I tried to do pencil gesture drawings first to block out my compositions but I found the drawing getting in the way of the watercolor so I started painting directly with the watercolor. I immediately found this to be more satisfying and successful. As my trip progressed I began planning my days around my sketching and unexpectedly it became a primary focus.
Upon reflection I understand why this unplanned importance of sketching developed. First, it was the way the painting provided an opening to the people of India. I was amazed at how crowds of people would form around me while I was sketching. I would often have to ask people to move as they would be blocking the view of my subject. I had many wonderful conversations with people that I would have never talked with at all had I not been painting. Second, I found that doing the sketches created a very unique memory bond with the subject I was painting. The memory bond was a complete sensory experience. When I now look at the sketches I can recall the weather, the smells, the people around me, the entire experience of making the painting. This is strange for me as I often can not remember where I parked my car. Sketching is an experience of the moment that seems to imbed itself deeply into my memory, and as it is nearly always a very pleasurable experience, it is the kind of memory I enjoy holding. A third reason I believe sketching became so important on that trip was the results. I found myself very pleased with most of the sketches I produced (I always do a few “losers” as well as good ones – more on that later). I found the directness of the sketches, the minimal detail, the bold color, and the quickness of the work all very refreshing. Sketching was a wonderful break from the more structured approach of my studio painting.
When I returned home from India I wondered if my enjoyment of the sketching was possibly tied to the spiritual dimension of the trip and would not have the same impact back in my familiar environment. I soon dispelled that notion and found myself bringing my paints wherever I traveled and having the same rewarding experience. One distinct difference with the India experience was the lack of people watching and talking to me as I paint – Americans seem considerably less willing to talk, or less interested, or simply do not wish to intrude.
 I then started experimenting with my classes (my perpetual guinea pigs). I found the students quite receptive in the classroom experience, but, as to be expected, a bit inhibited with the freedom of the medium. I later tried a special one-week class after the end of the semester where we made day to trips to various locations in our region. To my surprise and delight I found the students experiencing the same enthusiasm and excitement I was enjoying. I found this to be true independent of their experience level. The freshmen with nearly no watercolor background seemed to be benefiting just as much as my upperclassmen with years of watercolor experience. This has led me to believe that a great deal of the value of watercolor sketching is in the experience. While the products are often very nice indeed, they are secondary to process and the involvement of creating the work.
I believe that watercolor sketching could be a beneficial experience for people on all levels, from professionals that have been painting for many years, to those with little or no art backgrounds who simply want the experience of deeply connecting with their world. I am sure there are thousands of pleine aire painters who discovered these joys long before I did. It is my hope that with this book I can share some of what I have learned and the joy I experience with watercolor sketching.

Mark W. McGinnis
2003

Addendum: This new edition of  Watercolor Sketching is ten years after the first. In those years much has occurred. I retired from university teaching in 2006. I taught my final watercolor sketching class in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 2012. I have made few changes in the text of the book, but changed many of the paintings used and added a section of student sketches. It is my hope that this little book can continue to help some people in their watercolor adventure even though my active teaching has ended.

Mark W. McGinnis
2013

available  at Amazon.com