Wednesday, September 5, 2012


LATE IN THE AFTERNOON   14x11   oil on linen panel
This one is from a plein air study I did last October.  It started off fairly well, but then it got sick on the easel.  It contracted serious but undiagnosed symptoms that may even lead to death.  I'm used to this happening, and have learned to accept that I'm not going to hit homeruns every time I set up.  It's about the process and time spent working on things.

When I come back from painting outdoors, the studies go onto my drying rack.  After awhile I go through what has accumulated and do a bit of painting triage. culling out the ones that are hopelessly sick beyond recovery.  The Junkers. They go into my scrape down and paint-over stack to re-use the panel.  Then, I choose the ones that stand up as paintings that I'd like to see finished and framed. The Keepers.  There are getting to be more of these, and that's nice.  What's left goes into my hospital,  the reference and re-work stack. The Patients.  What's nice about these is that they have a very low intimidation factor for me since I feel like they can only be made better with a little attention.  They're great for having something to operate on when I'm feeling blocked or in need of a subject.

It isn't hard to find plenty to choose from!  :)    Anyway, I'll grab something that I can see had some redeeming quality or potential, put it on the easel, sit down with my sketchbook and start to analyze the piece as if it were done by someone else: "Hey, nice start there.  What seems to be the trouble?  Looking at it objectively, here's my diagnosis for how to treat this." I do a rough sketch, trying to improve the compositional plan, make notes about the shapes, edges, values, colors, and design principles that I think should enhance the piece.  This is usually enough to get my enthusiasm up enough to put out the paint and get underway.  Besides the healthy thinking and painting workout through diagnosis and surgery, there's a nice feeling of accomplishment when I'm actually able to turn one of these into a Keeper.


  1. Received the following from my friend and fellow painter, Matt Evans.

    Hello, Jimmy,
    I tried to post this as a comment on your blog but was rejected due to computer incompetence.
    Great work and good advice! I've been painting with a three color palette of late but I will book mark your post and try your palette out when I feel up to it. Thanks!
    Also, how do you get such good photos of your paintings? I would like to start a blog just to have all my work and progress in one place, but my photos are to poor to bother at this point.

  2. Thanks, Matt. You're referring to my previous post concerning my plein air palette, from Friday, August 31, 2012 "BEAUTIFUL HARMONIES, CONVENIENCE, AND AFFORDABILITY". I think you'll enjoy the experiment, and you'll be glad to have these pigments in your selection.

    About shooting photos of my work, here's the simple run down:
    LIGHT SOURCE: My easel has four fluorescent, daylight color-balanced floods hanging directly above my head where I would stand to paint.
    CAMERA: I use a 14.1 megapixel, camera, (happens to be a Canon SureShot SX30 IS, but it's the high megapixel rating that provides the needed detail.You want something better than your cell phone!) With the camera set to use the highest resolution available, I set it on "auto", so it meters the optimal aperture and exposure time. To avoid distortion, I set up my tripod 6 or 7 feet back from the painting with the camera at eye-level to the center of the painting. I shoot 3 frames, so that I have a selection of focus and renderings.
    FINAL TOUCHES: Most cameras now come with their own image rendering software that allows you to manipulate color balance, contrast, etc.. I use Photoshop to do this just because I'm used to the process.

    I save and archive copy at full resolution for my permanent files, and a "posting" copy at 72 dpi and the longest side set to 1920 pixels. This one loads quickly online and provides plenty of detail resolution.

    Hope this helps.