Tuesday, June 19, 2012


It's so much about values

My first consideration in painting a picture is the pattern of values. 
This is a painting I'm working on for an upcoming exhibit at Lake Tahoe.
Notice how distinct each plane reads as a separate value.
the trees, from the ground, from the water,
 from the distant mountain side, and from the sky.
There are shifts in value within each mass but they maintain a certain inherent value.
Also notice how the trees gradate into the value of the water
and how the water gradates from the value of the mountain side
to a lighter value.
Often the values will connect in someway but are still independent.
Makes for a good relationship!!

"The Overlook" almost finished
I'll post it completed soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

     Plein Air Painting offers an array of challenges.  If the shifting sun isn't enough,  cars parking in front of you, onlookers asking questions and showing you their portfolios on iphones, and hungry insects always challenge your focus on painting.
     I was on a recent painting  trip to Charleston, SC.  Spent several days painting the streets around the Gallery.  The days were hot but the breeze kept the humidity from being overwhelming.  I painted this little scene on State Street.  I finished and loaded my easel and bag in the car.  I set the painting on the roof while doing this and was graced with a flyby critique from a bird.  He made his mark on the sidewalk in the painting.  I'm not sure if it was a compliment or not, but it mixed into the paints producing a nice dissolving effect.  I decided to leave it as I thought it added the overall surface quality of the painting.  It's opened my eyes  to a whole new technique.
     When painting out doors things happen you have no control over.  Often, something appears that adds that extra something that helps make the painting.  When taking pictures with a camera for references, you only capture a moment.  A split second in time.  When painting outside you do need to hold onto the original concept of your design and not chase the sun across the sky,  but always be open to the things that come and go.  We have the blessing of time.  Painters need to react to the experience of the subject. To expect and invite the unexpected.
"The Pink House/Look out below"
en plein air study
20x16 $950

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Spice of Life

     I was challenged a few years ago reading Sergei Bongart's book.  He said "There is no such thing as bad subject matter, only inadequate artist."
     I used to spend hours driving around looking for a good scene to paint.  Often much more time driving than painting.  Sometimes even returning home to paint in the studio after long uninspired drives.  Challenged by Sergie's quote,  I wanted to be anything but inadequate.  I began carrying my paints with me everywhere I went, forcing myself to search out subject matter wherever I was.  My own backyard and those of friends and relatives became fodder for my creative pursuit.  My eyes were opened to the possibilities that abound around us painters no matter where we are. Painting from life is essential for artistic growth.  And being inspired by everything around adds so much joy, awe, and appreciation for God's creation.
     Here's a little study I did of a pepper shaker found in my kitchen.  I love pepper and over do it in all of my cooking.  While making spaghetti one night, I was shaking my pepper into the sauce and caught a glimmer of light on the shaker out of the corner of my eye.  That was all it took.
"A Little Spice" 5x7 $200 

Two day workshop: July 8-9  In the Studio at www.tafaa.org
Two week plein air workshop Aug 4-18 in the Burgundy Region of France: www.labonneetoile.com

Going to be in Charleston SC painting with PAPSE this week May 30 - June 1.  Come by and see us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Majestic Dunes

 I've decide to do an, at least, weekly blog due to the many requests I've had to start one.  My Idea is to post ideas, insights , and musings from my life as an artist.  I teach regularly at my school in Atlanta, The Atlanta Fine Arts Academy, and host workshops around the country and in Europe.  I feel led to teach and enjoy it as much as painting.  It is my hope that this blog will be of use to many of you in your artistic pursuits.

I will also post a plein air painting every week that I will offer for sale here. I typically hold onto them for future reference and they rarely make it into galleries.  They are my little babies.                           
"Majestic Dunes" 11x14 $600 

I parked my car and loaded up.  I began hiking towards the sound of the ocean.  It was a cool still morning with no one around.  Great day for painting.  As I rounded a turn on the trail, I came face to face with the most beautiful sand dunes I've ever seen.  Untouched by man, these dunes reached up three or more stories to the heavens.  I had to paint them.   Demo below.

This is a painting I did last week in Florida.  St Joseph State Park.  Incredible sand dunes 30 plus feet high.

I started with a warm wash, then laid in the design.
This was a ready made composition.  Usually I have to move things around a bit for better line and movement.  Such a blessing when this happens.  The paintings seem to paint themselves.      

Next I blocked in the sky.  I wanted to catch the
small cloud pattern before it blew away.  I also thought the sky would break open and wanted to catch the grayness before it did.  One thing I do en Plein Air, is to try and predict the things that will change the quickest and get them down.                                          

Here I put in clean color notes of the sand, looking for varieties in temperature.  I also started to block in more accurate shadow colors and the ocean background.

Now I start pulling things together.  I look for value shifts within masses to create form.  Big shapes and little shapes.  I begin to slow down a bit and consider what's necessary and what is not.  Refining the whole and trying not to fall in love with any one spot.

Here is the finished painting. The edges are merged, some soft, some sharp, many in between.  I do little bits of dry-brushing and calligraphy to give it more life.  Then I take a five minute break.  I come back with fresh eyes and make any refinements necessary  before packing up.