Sunday, December 13, 2009

Paintings Find Their Rightful Homes

Painting is about the mileage. Hundreds of my paintings have been painted over or trashed as scappers. When I complete a successful painting, I often hang it in my home for a time. It helps me know if there are changes that need to be made. Because painting is so personal, I grow emotionally attached to many art pieces. I want them to find a good home. In 2009, 10 paintings were sold at my galleries that had been painted in 2006 or 2007. This made me realize that a lonely orphaned painting can find a loving home.

I remember the weekend in October 2006 I painted this 10 x 12 of Morro Bay State Park. It was my first time at the park and I camped all weekend. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Zealand Studies

Here are four of the studies painted from my recent New Zealand paint trip.

Avon River, Christchurch -  In my previous post, you saw a video clip of this scene with a punting boat going by just as I began to paint. This is the finished 5 x 7 study. I will paint a much larger version in my studio that will include punting boats.

View of Lake Hayes - I painted this study on a beautiful afternoon. New Zealand is about as long as California and with the many lakes, rivers, islands and oceans in and around this beautiful country, water will be featured in many of my New Zealand collection paintings.

TSS Earnslaw - This is a coal-fired steamship in Queenstown which has been operating since 1912. Seeing it instantly takes you back a century.

Kennedy Point Winery - This was the first of many wineries I visited during my trip. You didn't think I only painted, did you? It overlooks Waiheke Island's Kennedy Bay and is built around several pohutukawa trees which are sacred to the Maori.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Zealand Video Clip

I will post some of the quick sketches I did during my New Zealand paint trip in subsequent posts. For now, I thought I would share a clip of me starting a painting in Queenstown, NZ. The Avon River flows through the city and the punting boat operator tipped his hat for the video.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Zealand

Well, I'm leaving for New Zealand in a few days. If anyone has been to NZ and has a recommendation of a place I must paint, please let me know. If you follow my work, you know I enjoy painting vineyards and harbor scenes. Fortunately NZ has plenty of both.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday in St. Helena

One of the benefits of living so close to the wine country is having more frequent visits from dear friends. Saturday began at breakfast with Lisa and Victor. We ate at the Silverado in Napa. When Victor left for golf, Lisa and her friend Claudia watched while I painted this autumn vineyard scene. The weather was perfect and they had some inquisitive questions during those two hours together. Then, we enjoyed shopping in St. Helena which has several boutique and specialty stores. Having worked up an appetite, we ate an amazing meal at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen. I'm already planning a return trip for their Oysters Bingo with cheese, garlic and spinach.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Workshop (Northern California)

This is a photo of one of the demonstrations I painted for attendees of my three-day workshop which concluded yesterday. It is an 11 x 14 called The Friday, Madeira, and Getaway. We painted at the Vallejo marina near Mare Island on the first day. Friday, we painted at two locations in Napa. On Saturday, the weather continued to be beautiful for our day at China Camp. I absolutely loved teaching this workshop and remember why when I was younger, my aspiration was to become a school teacher.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Greenhouse Gallery Exhibit

I continue to be honored having representation from Greenhouse Gallery. My three-person exhibit was just posted online featuring 25 of my recent paintings. I will be traveling to San Antonio for the Nov. 6 reception and will be doing a two-hour demonstration on Nov. 7.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gamble Garden

I painted "Sunday in the Garden" at Gamble Garden in Palo Alto. This is a non-profit horticultural foundation which is celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2010. What a beautiful place to paint.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Mission Fountain is a recently completed 16 x 20 painting. Often, you don't first notice shadows in a painting. They are best when subtle. However, well placed shadows can be some of the most intriguing elements to a painting.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

You Pick Flowers

I started canning for the first time in my life. I found this wonderful vegetable stand near my home where you can pick your own tomatoes. I spent $4 and now have 16 quarts of tomatoes as well as 2 quarts of salsa. While there, I saw this wonderful sign, "You Pick Flowers" next to the stand.

I had to paint it. Here are a couple of items worth pointing out. The pots were actually white buckets. What is so wonderful is how an artist can interpret the scene and often make it better. I hope you agree that making the pots terracotta is much more intriguing. Also, if you notice the white downward markings toward the middle of the center pot, that technique is dry brush.
One final note on how I handled the white wall moving into the darker room, which is a difficult transition to make. Adding the tan color tone toward the dark edge along with dry brush helps soften the corner and provides an element of interest.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

October 22-24 Workshop

I will be conducting a three-day workshop on October 22-24, 2009.

Fundamentals create a strong foundation for any painting. A design and value discussion will include: composition - rules of line and mass; drawing skills; looking for overall patterns; strengthening the design edges - soft and hard; and problem solving.

Painters will spend time with color concepts: aerial perspective, transitions in value and color; and color harmony.

Finding your way as an artist is a life-long pursuit. How do you develop your own technique and style to establish your brand? How does the painter's mood and personality transmit to the canvas? Most plein air painters paint studio pieces as well. How do paintings from studies and photographs take on a plein air feel and look? These questions will be discussed during this workshop.

Attendees can expect daily demonstrations as well as time to create your own paintings in Napa and Mare Island. Individual attention and personalized feedback will be provided.

For more information, download a pdf brochure.

Block out

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tetons Beyond the Aspens Video Clip

Tetons Beyond the Aspens is a 24 x 30 painting I completed over three days. Be sure to have your volume up while viewing the video clip as I discuss various aspects of the painting and zoom into areas to help illustrate my narration.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer with Family

For months, I have been promising to visit my siblings and their families in Utah and Wyoming. I drove through the breathtaking Sierras on my way. But for me, nothing compared to Wyoming, where I grew up and had not been back to in eight years. For several days, I was in the Pinedale, Wyoming area in a lakefront cabin. Besides boating, relaxing and catching up with family, I painted. This scene is from the cabin porch and a view of Fremont Lake in the Wind River Mountain Range. During the trip, we went to Jackson Hole and the Teton Wilderness. We were looking for an old miner's cabin in the Kelly Wyoming area. Our exploration took us to places where plein air painters normally would not go. I have been wanting to paint more landscapes and this trip provided the opportunity and the scenery. The Tetons were even more beautiful than when I visited as a child. I have had several instances when I return someplace now that I paint full-time. Experiencing the landscape from that vantage point takes on an entirely new perspective.

I ended the trip in Porterville, Utah at a family BBQ. Relatives I haven't seen in years stopped by to catch up on our respective lives. It was an amazing trip filled with memories I will never forget. The mixture of seeing family and painting some of America's most beautiful scenery was a perfect balance for a painter.

Yes, I have a lot of siblings (4 sisters and 2 brothers).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Camera Ready

A few weeks ago, three of my family members swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf. I went on the boat to cheer them on. It was a Saturday morning and I was cold. Under the circumstances, I kept my thoughts about the temperature to myself. Anyway, while walking down to the boat dock, I turned around and saw this amazing view of the Ghirardelli sign. I didn't have my paints with me, but I did have my camera. Something I've learned over the years is to always carry my camera with me. You never know when you are going to come across a great composition.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SouthwestArt Magazine September 2009 Issue

Well, the September 2009 issue of SouthwestArt magazine is out and I'm proud of my seven page feature article. In case you haven't received your copy in the mail or don't live close to a major bookseller, I have a pdf of the article on my website. I've also updated almost every page of my website and added several collections. Hope you find it a little easier to navigate.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Painting with Friends

I've been friends with Amanda Fish and Larry Bates for years. They are both wonderful Orange County artists. They came up for a weekend visit. Today we enjoyed painting on Mare Island, a few minutes walk from my home.
Tomorrow, we will paint in Napa which is only a 30 minute drive from the house. Life doesn't get much better.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Colors on my Palette

Carole posed a question from my last blog post on art supplies about what colors I use in my palette. Early Morning Oyster Boats, pictured above, is an example of a limited palette painting. I used only three colors: yellow ochre, ultramarine blue and white. Using a limited palette unified this painting by forcing me to mix colors and think about their relationship. For many paintings these days, I use the following colors: cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, alizaron crimson, ultramarine blue, dioxazine purple, and viridian. These seven colors are my personal choice which may change over time, but are a comfortable start for most paintings.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Art Supplies

Sometimes I am asked about the art supplies I use in my paintings. My goal has always been to create museum quality oil paintings. With that philosophy, I look for the best quality components that will stand the test of time. I have certainly experimented with different materials over the years. Currently, here is what works for me.
  • Canvas - SourceTek linen on birch wood boards. Well worth the price. They are almost impossible to damage and the texture of the linen on the board is the perfect hard surface for painting.
  • Paints - I use Alkyds which is a Winsor and Newton product. They dry quickly which is a must for plein air painters. Plus, they travel well and have a buttery consistency that works nicely with the way I like to move paint around my canvas.
  • Brushes - Daler-Rowney flat brushes in sizes from 2 to 8 provide the quality and variety I need.
  • Pochade Box - I have three outdoor pochade boxes from Open Box M along with various sizes of carrier boxes. Depending on the box, I can paint to as large as 20 x 24 on location. They're easy to set up and take down and extremely well made.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Artistic License

I recently discovered Soul Food Farm in Vacaville. They raise pastured chickens for both eggs and meat. The taste of fresh layed eggs by chickens that roam free and eat bugs for part of their natural nourishment is amazing. They also grow lavender.

Last week, when I went to pick up my eggs and chickens, I found this lavender field scene to paint. I'm showing the photo above as well as the finished painting below to illustrate artistic license. You'll notice I turned the tractor in the upper right portion of the photo into a red barn. In addition, I changed the color of the trees in the upper left portion of the painting. I believe both of these changes add greater interest. Your eye travels from the cart to the man picking lavender to the barn and then back again. This triangular effect is meant to move your eye around the painting. Lastly, I eliminated the white pipes in the foreground. It is important for artists to know what to add and what to leave unpainted in a composition.
Lavender Field 20 x 24

Friday, July 3, 2009

SouthwestArt Magazine

I received an unexpected telephone call this week from SouthwestArt magazine. In their August 2006 issue, I was highlighted as one of their Artists To Watch. For their September 2009 issue, they want to include a feature article on me. I will be sending them 15 photos of my recent work and be interviewed by one of their reporters in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Demonstration: French Quarter Hot Dog Cart

I hope you enjoy watching my latest oil painting demonstration. Remember to have your computer volume up as I narrate through each transition photo.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Marin Art Festival

I will be exhibiting at the Marin Art Festival (booth 61E) next weekend, June 20-21. The festival is from 10a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The grounds are beautiful so if you are in the area, please stop by. Please contact me if you want complimentary entrance passes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Demo of "The Dory"

This is my first attempt at creating a demonstration of one of my paintings. Hope you enjoy watching it. Have the audio up as I narrate each slide.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Orleans

The first time I traveled to New Orleans was in 1991. I just returned from my second trip. I saw the city differently during this week-long visit. Post-Katrina has changed it. Although it was actually nice to see lines for many restaurants and construction throughout the city. This time, I saw the city with a full-time artist's eyes. The weather was perfect which plays well in a composition when shadows fall just right. You can't escape the energy, music, and color that abounds throughout the French Quarter. I love the architecture with hanging flower baskets over rod iron balconies. I'm not too interested in being around a lot of people, but it was easy to get caught up in the way people walk freely up and down Bourbon Street without a care in the world. This painting depicts some of the liveliness from one of the hot dog carts that are common fixtures.

Nova Scotia

It has been awhile since I posted as I took two painting trips. One to Nova Scotia and another to New Orleans. This post will focus on my Nova Scotia experience. For several years, I have taken annual paint trips to Maine. I feel an affinity toward the fishing villages and historic architecture found throughout the New England coast. Years ago, I heard that Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia was a painter's paradise. So this year, I decided to venture to Canada and explore the Meritimes. I found it to be even more rustic than Maine. Weather can be an artist's friend or foe and unfortunately, it rained too often during my visit. I still found many opportunities between downpours to paint. In addition to Peggy's Cove, I painted at Blue Rocks, Chester, and Lunenburg. Paint trips are great, not only for what you accomplish during the trip, but the studio pieces that are created long after returning home.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I learned about Honfleur from my art studies in college. This fishing port in France's Normandy region was a favorite spot for the Impressionists to spend their summers. Eugene Boudin grew up in Honfleur and has a remarkable museum in Honfleur with many of his masterpieces. Although Claude Monet is popularly thought of as the father of Impressionism, Boudin was painting plein air (outdoors) well before Monet. In fact, Boudin was outside painting when Monet saw him and became a mentor to Monet.

I had wanted to visit this idyllic city since first studying about it. In May 2006, I rented a car for two weeks and painted my way through Normandy. Unfortunately, I first drove through Honfleur on May 1, a French holiday. Because of the masses of people, I kept driving knowing I would return when I could experience it without the crowds. When I returned a few days later, I spent two days paintings various harbor scenes. The painting at the top of my blog is one of the paintings from that trip. Two other Honfleur scenes from that trip are in this post. It was surreal thinking that one of the original Impressionist might have set his easel up at the same location where I painted.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oil Paintings in a Chicken Coop

I received a B.A. in Art from the University of Utah in 1987. In a future post, I'll talk about how my art education has been a great foundation for my current art work. For now, I want to share how about 12 of my oil paintings from college were saved from a chicken coop.

I had been living in California for many years and thought I would never see those paintings as I had been divorced for many years and they had been in storage in a small chicken coop at one of my ex-wife's relatives for decades. During a trip my life-partner, Steve, was making to Utah. without me knowing, he arranged through my sister, Cindy, to pick up my college paintings. He loaded them in a van and returned to California arriving home in the middle of the night. He placed the paintings throughout the living room where I would see them when I woke up the next morning. It was a complete shock for me when I was reunited with so many of my paintings. I truly thought I would never see them again, so it was one of the best surprises of my life.

These paintings are dear to me not only because they are over 20 years old, but also because some were painted the year my daughter, Alexis, was born. Others I painted in classes I took from my favorite art instructors.

Race Track is a 30 x 40

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Edward Seago

People often ask me who are some of my favorite artists. So, I thought from time to time, I would write about some of them. Edward Seago, (1910 - 1974) an Englishman was a prolific painter in both oils and watercolors. As a boy, he had a heart condition that kept him in bed where he would sketch and do watercolors. He excelled in his career, but was resentful over not receiving national attention or important recognition during his life.

I enjoy his use of light and shade in all his work. People and objects are rendered with great ease and simplicity. His work has a sense of depth by using cool flat color in the distance and then increasing the warmth and contrast in the foreground. When you look at a Seago painting, there is something sincere in its beauty. No exaggeration or over intellectualising, but always technically exciting. That is what I strive for in my work. Below is an example of his work called,
The Doorway, Venice.

There are several books about his life. I study, Edward Seago, the vintage years by Ron Ranson which includes a selection of his work from the private collections of members of the Royal Family.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

China Camp

I discovered a new painting location this past week called China Camp. It is near San Rafael at the San Pablo Bay. It was a Chinese shrimp-fishing village that thrived in the 1880s with nearly 500 people from Canton, China who lived in the village.

On Wednesday when I painted Sea Breeze (the shrimp boat's name), I was the only person around. Sometimes not having human interruption while plein air painting is a luxury in itself. I was comforted by the solitude I found so close to the water.

I enjoyed my time at China Camp so much that I returned yesterday and painted China Camp Sparkle. I loved how the sunlight danced off the water and thought about what the people's lives may have been like when they lived in the cabin so many years ago.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wild Flowers

When the greys of winter turn quickly to the bright colors of spring, my portable outside easel and I are ready to go. There is something about springtime painting that lifts my spirits. The stark contract from greys and browns to brighter colors is undeniable. In Northern California, springtime brings the anticipated wild mustard flowers, lupins, and poppies. Like other artists and photographers, I look forward to this annual event.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Visit from My Daughter

I just returned from the airport dropping off Alexis who has been visiting for awhile. She has decided to move in permanently this June. I'm delighted as we have always been close. She has a creative side as well and enjoys plein air painting with me. Several years ago, I painted this painting of her and our Beagle, Bosco. It was called Eight Years Together, Bosco's age at the time. He is now 13 and loves living on Mare Island as much as we do.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mare Island

I moved to Mare Island recently. It is located in the North Bay area of San Francisco. It is an ideal location for a plein air painter because its situated less than 30 minutes from Napa and I love to paint vineyard scenes. Within 45 minutes, I can be painting in Bodega Bay or the Russian River. When I don't want to drive, I can walk from the house and paint a local scene on the island. We have a marina, original military officer housing with unique architecture, one of the oldest churches on the west coast with Tiffany stain glass windows, our own golf course, sweeping views of the San Pablo Bay and beautiful 150 year old Euculyptus trees. When I lived in Southern California, I used to take paint trips to Northern California a few times a year. Each time, I dreamed of one day living in the area. Dreams do come true.
This old cottage and shed is just down the street.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

College Gallery Experience

In 1987, I was finishing by B.A. in Art at the University of Utah. I painted Windriver Trout, the 30 x 40 painting pictured above. I loved how I captured the movement of the fish caught on the red lure and thrashing in the water. Not knowing the proper protocols in approaching galleries, I dropped in to a Salt Lake City gallery and asked if they were interested in this piece. They agreed saying, "Don't be dissappointed as paintings of unknown artists usually take a long time to sell." When I went back to the gallery the next week, I was so happy to discover the painting had already sold.

In the small world in which we live, I received an e-mail a couple of years ago from the collector who had purchased Windriver Trout two decades ago. He is an avid fly fisherman and mentioned that the painting still brings him joy, especially on hectic days. He said it hangs behind his desk at his stock broker.

To me, every painting has significant meaning. I not only remember the surroundings of where I was when it was painted, looking at it also can refresh in my mind the sounds and other senses I experienced at that moment. Just like a child leaving home, it's heartwarming to hear about paintings that are in collector homes and offices.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Unfinished 20 Minutes Sketches

I've been attending weekly drawing classes. I learned in college that to become a better artist, you need to draw every day. I always carry a sketch pad in my car and pick it up often to sketch a scene. Robert Johnson said at his recent workshop that, "If you can draw the human figure, you can draw anything." Below are photos of recent 20 minute gestural sketches from recent classes. Most sketches are done for the exercise, not with the intent of being finished work.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Upside Down Painting

Many painters focus too much attention on painting an object in a painting as itself rather than as a shape. To help remind me of the importance of painting shapes, I sometimes turn both the photograph and canvas upside down. This practice forces your mind to see only shapes. For example, rather than seeing a tree while painting, you only see the shape of the tree because it is upside down.
Yesterday, I painted Picking A Bouquet in my studio. Throughout the entire time, my photo and canvas were upside down on my easel. It helped me focus on the large shapes, and light vs. dark (values) instead of thinking about painting a person, building or flowers. For you artists who read this post, I'd love to hear your experience with upside down painting.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Robert Johnson Workshop Thoughts - Portraits

Robert Johnson began Day 3 of his workshop with a demonstration using a live model. He is an amazing teacher as he is able to talk and paint at the same time. Something many teachers are less able to do. During the afternoon, I did my first portrait from the same model. My difficulty was being so far away from the model. He said it is best to be four feet away from the model, but with the size of the class, that was impossible.

I have been going to figure drawing classes on Thursdays for the last while which helped. I've always been afraid of faces, but know that it's all in the mileage you put on the canvas.

On Day 4, our model was an old Hollywood cowboy who had been featured in many western films. He was quite colorful and with my Wyoming upbringing, I really felt an affinity to the composition. The highlight of the workshop was a comment Robert made to me that I have a thick painterly style with clean fresh paint and decisive brush strokes.

Robert Johnson Workshop Thoughts - Still Life

I just returned from Robert Johnson's 5-day workshop at the Scottsdale Artists School. Our time was spent learning the importance of a strong, accurate drawing. Great emphasis was put on getting it right the first time. After watching a still life demo, we spent the afternoon on our own piece (pictured at right). My soft edges are dynamite, but I lost the accuracy of the flowers. I've always preferred a more painterly thick paint technique versus a realistic approach.

Before the start of Day 2, I went to the store and bought daisies. They were cute, but hard for me to paint without painting each pedal. I needed more variety and values in this painting. I used the same pot in the first two paintings. You can certainly notice an evolution of how I executed the pot on Day 2.

On Days 3 & 4, we worked on figures which will be a separate post. On Day 5 I bought more flowers before the workshop and was eager to tackle another still life. I was looking for a variety of colors and shapes in this composition and tried to be more creative with my arrangement than I was on Day 2. A common mistake artists make is putting too much thought in placing items in specific locations as it can look contrived. My goal was to create almost a haphazard approach in my final still life pictured below.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Blog Purpose

I have always enjoyed talking to collectors at shows, galleries and my studio. Discussing art with fellow artists is another highlight from art clubs and paint outs. Well, I thought I would start blogging in hopes of sharing my thoughts, past experiences and hopefully educate from time to time. I'll leave the selling of my work to my galleries and website and focus my efforts here on the art process, personal insights and hopefully evoking interaction from your post comments. Let's see what comes of it.