Monday, December 17, 2012


On the Rio Grande, Big Bend
This is from my recent trip to Big Bend National Park.  Thanks to my friend, and fellow painter, Jim Bragg, for the photo.  It was a fun and worthwhile painting trip with a group of avid plein air painters from the Outdoor Painters Society.  We spent a week painting together throughout the park.

I love to get out like this.  It primes the pump of enthusiasm, offers the circumstances for intense focus on painting, supplies reference sketches and photos for more studio work, and the opportunity to be with a great group of like minded people.  If you're trying to improve your painting, and expanding your inspirational resources, I strongly recommend joining a group of painters who are committed to similar goals.  

Friday, December 7, 2012


FROM DESERT MOUNTAIN LOOKOUT   11x14  oil on linen panel
If you're painting outdoors regularly, things are going to evolve.  Sometimes it's by purposeful experiment and sometimes it's just an accumulation of confidence and things learned along the way.  This painting has both.

First, I'm experimenting with painting larger in my plein air studies.  That, in and of itself, has caused a shift in the way I handle the paint.  It feels natural to put more on and move it around more freely.  Learning to state shapes and values more directly.  It makes me want to try to keep the same approach when I try small studies. again.  Looking for what's essential, and putting it down with broader, more expressive strokes.

Then, surprisingly, I've noticed that I feel more control over edges and color variation as I paint wet-into-wet.  The process reminds me of learning to surf.  You're never quite sure what nuances the wave will present, but you're gaining the techniques to handle what comes up.  That's fun!  Granted, you have to be out on the edge, and you're going to "wipe-out" frequently, but it's way more exhilarating.  COWABONGA!  ... for those who remember.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


DESERT DESSERT  9x12   oil on canvas panel

I usually have trouble finding exciting subject matter around noontime, because of the flat overhead light.  But, when I've made arrangements to go to a special location to stay and paint for a number of days, I'm just uncomfortable losing the entire middle of the day.  One of the things I've learned is that as with most things, you generally find what you've set your mind to receive.  So, I reminded myself to to keep an open mind, and expect to turn up some treasure.

After completing my morning painting at Contrabando, below Lajitas,Texas, I sat down to have lunch in the shade of one of the adobe huts. When I was done, I peaked out the back door to see what I might find to paint from the shade.  This little scene was right there at eye level waiting to be devoured.  It was like ice cream on cake, painting this brightly lit arrangement of values, shapes and colors.  A good reinforcement for remembering that as artists we need to be nourishing a sense of discovery!

Monday, December 3, 2012


SANTA ELENA CANYON MIDDAY  14x11  oil on panel
Hey, I'm back!  It was nice to find emails from folks who noticed I was gone.  I just returned from a week of painting at Big Bend National Park.  Perfect weather, and a group of other Outdoor Painters Society, plein air painters made for a wonderful time.  Lots of painting and good times.

This week, I'll be posting some of my studies from the trip.  I have a lot to do to catch up around the studio, so I may not be writing too much about them until I'm back in the flow of things around here.

This one is from a scene I watched develop as I was eating my lunch by the river, after my morning painting.  The light and dark pattern just knocked me out.