Sunday, April 28, 2013


AFTER THE BLOOMS    12x16   oil on canvas panel

Some of you may remember when I posted the previous stage of this painting, as I was working out the composition.  I finally got around to finishing it.

It's fun to paint cactus because of the automatic harmony of shapes and their rugged quality, but this painting is more about the colors than anything else.

Of course, that means it's about right values.  If the value relationships aren't right, then there's no chance the color will be right.  Right values is what reveals beauty in color.

These exact colors aren't what you'd find just walking up to the scene in nature.  I enjoy taking the natural harmonies suggested in nature and then "pushing" them to more vivid relationships that get to my feeling about the scene.  puBasically this is a complementary color plan.  The cool green cactus is opposed by the purplish red of the fruit. Then I've added sparks of the two discords for the complements orange and blue purple.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


ISLAND STYLE    9x12   oil on canvas panel
I was cruising neighborhoods in Port Aransas looking for something to paint when I saw this from a back street across a vacant lot. It offered  a wonderful vehicle to paint my feelings for the island.

I've gone there since grade school, and it has changed mightily through the years, but there are vestiges here and there of the Port A that once was.

This was a delight to design and paint to get at that special feeling.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


These are two of the paintings I did during a recent plein air workshop with Joshua Been.  Josh is a fearless and energetic outdoor painter.  The workshop was one of the best I've ever attended, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to grow your painting skills.

Josh demonstrated twice a day, and is very good at explaining what he's doing and why, as well as fielding questions while painting. Unlike any workshop I've attended, He gifted us each with one of his excellent, 44-page, full color booklets covering his painting approach and detailed technical knowledge on values, shapes, edges, and texture.  To top it off, he bought us all lunch, everyday!

Josh also did a 24x30 demo in two sessions. Take a look, below.  An hour and a half block-in, first afternoon, and an hour and a half to finish, the next!  Ever seen that done?!  VERY instructive!!

Thank you, Josh, for a truly valuable painting experience.
FLOOD TANGLE    9x12  

Joshua Been with his demo painting

Josh's 24x30 demo

Monday, April 8, 2013


MORNING ON THE FRIO    16X20   oil on canvas
Hey, I'm back!  I won't bore you with circumstances, but it's good to be posting, again.

I had planned to get outside to paint today, but the weather isn't very promising.  So, I pulled out some of my reference from my trip to the Frio, this past fall.

I'm attaching a couple of steps I used in approaching this subject, so you can see how it develops.  Before I go to color, I have usually produced a thumbnail arrangement in black and white, so I know that I have a strong foundation to build upon.  You can see for yourself what that would have looked like if you'll just squint your eyes way down until you can see the painting resolve into only two value shapes.  The light and the shade.  I don't really care much what the actual scene looked like as far as specific details.  I am always after a poetic unity based upon the feeling and arrangement of the subject.  In this case, there were small broken shapes of light here and there in the background, in the overhanging trees, and scattered in the foreground.  To include them would have only lessened the impact of the overall design.  I want simplicity to create with.

The lay-in
Once I have a simple arrangement that I like, I'm ready to go fearlessly into the color.  Here, I'm just scrubbing color into the canvas without any white.  It's fairly transparent / translucent in most places. The beauty of color comes out as the hues are mixed to correspond to the value shape they belong in.  Right color demands right values! So, although there are various "val-hues" within each family (light and shade), no hue can be lighter or darker than the value family it belongs to. This maintains the integrity of the design.  Get those values correct, and you can pretty much put in whatever colors turn you on.  Once you commit to the color shapes, everything must continue to relate, values, hues, warm and cools.

First pass
 In my first pass, painting on top of the lay-in, I'm not concerned about detail.  I also try to keep the edges relatively soft while I further develop the shapes and color relationships, still taking care to remain within the simple division of light and shade values.  All of this becomes the underpainting that I will lay opaque color onto in the next stage.

In the final stage, I begin to articulate the detail I want and the edge qualities (hard, broken, soft, lost) that allow me to tell the story I want about what prompted me to paint the particular scene.  Hard edges draw the attention of the eye, so use
'em where you need 'em!  I try to stop before I start getting into too much definition of things.  For me, that doesn't add to what I'm after. That's it for today.  Hope you like it.  Keep it simple!