Friday, January 18, 2013


LITTLE OAK    12x16    oil on canvas panel
One of the best things I did for myself last year was making a commitment to do 100 paintings at Pedernales Falls State Park.  Not that I made my goal, but 73 isn't bad.  You do that many paintings in one place and your going to learn some things.

I went from happy anticipation during the first dozen to "Just go out there and paint.", after about three dozen. Then it was, "What am I doing? I've painted everything out here that I'm interested in!".  I had to dig deeper, and the edge had long gone where I was intimidated by painting duds.  I thought I already knew this, but the lesson was really coming home that you've gotta paint a lot of duds to get better.  So, I began inventing, using the scene in front of me as the reference material for what I want to say.  After a bit of this, it started getting to be more fun, and it began to look like there's all kinds of great stuff out there to make paintings from.  By the time I got into the sixties, I was starting to get the hang of it.  I still paint the duds now and then, but hey, that's part of the deal with going out to do studies.  The thing is, now I come back home with stuff I want to paint from in the studio.  I'll probably finish up my 100 studies this year, and then I'll see what's next.  


  1. Looking good!
    100 paintings at the same place is a great idea and looks like it is paying off.
    12 x 16 is pretty big - have you started doing anything bigger? I read on Stape's blog that he prefers 16 x 20 and up and was wondering about your experience with bigger panels vs. canvas.

  2. Thanks, Matt. I appreciate hearing from you. 12x16 is the largest I will do for a one go, plein air painting. In the studio, depending on the subject and my purposes for the painting, I like to work anywhere from 11x14 to 24x30. For instance if I'm trying to work out color and value relationships in a subject, I'll continue on small panels. They're ideal for studies, which are usually not destined for the gallery. If I'm doing something from a small, plein air sketch that I'm fairly pleased with(6x8 to 9x12), and my intention is to improve the composition and develop the basic idea for the painting, I'll choose a 12x16 to 18x24.

    The larger you paint outdoors, the more skill you need to bring to the process. It's not a question of whether you can cover all the canvas in the time allowed, but can you do it with quality decisions about composition, drawing, values, color, edges. Very mature outdoor painters, such as Stapleton Kearns, have spent a lifetime cultivating those skills, and the larger size is appropriate for his stage of development.

    I may have missed the intent of your question, since I see you asked about my experience with bigger panels vs. canvas. I enjoy working on panels because they're durable, portable and affordable. All important considerations for working outside. Outdoors, sunlight can illuminate a stretched canvas from behind making it very difficult to make accurate choices. Also, wind can become a problem with stretched canvas. Then, toting more than one of them is a task, especially when wet.. Even indoors, I like working on panels, but once I get up to larger than 16x20, I'm just as happy on stretched canvas. I hope some of this answers your question.

  3. Thanks! That answers my questions and then some. I was wondering about choosing both small vs. large sizes of panels vs. canvas, and I appreciate you outlining how you decide what to use and when. Cheers!