Thursday, June 7, 2012

Two New Paintings

  Dawn Patrol
oil/linen 12x16

South at Sunset
16x20 oil/linen

For more info on these paintings, and a cool youtube song about coyotes, please just click on over to my
other blog    
I posted these there, with some explanation.  This blog will eventually disappear, and I'm moving everythign over to the new blog.. at some point. Not right away!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Show in Keene, NH

I'm pleased to announce an upcoming show at the Monadnock Fine Art Gallery.  I tried to download the invitation, but the file seems to be corrupted, so here's the scoop.

Sweet Spring, Beauty  All Around
May 25-June 22
Monadnock Fine Art Gallery
Keene, NH.
Artists' Reception,
Friday, May 25, 6-8pm

This is a joint show with Mary Iselin, a fine artist and even finer person.  I'm really happy to be paired up with mary for this show. She will have beautiful paintings of spring lambs and draft horses, and gardens.

Below are a few of the paintings that I'll be shipping to Keene this week.  If you're in the area, please drop by and pay a visit!  Wish I could be there in person myself!

 Looking for Shells  

 Tea and Beatrix Potter

 Wren and Cherry Blossoms 

Dandelion Wishes

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cinco Caballos ("Five Horses")

12x24 oil/canvas

I've had a heck of a time working out the background on this one. And now that I've photographed it, I can see some changes need to be made. So, expect this one in a revised form soon.  This photo isn't that great, anyway.

Well, back to cooking supper !!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tea and Beatrix Potter

12x24 oil on canvas

 I haven't done still life for several months.  I found this one in the closet a couple of days ago - had completely forgotten about it.  It was still unfinished, and I had gotten disgruntled because I just wasn't happy with it - so, into the closet it went!
Well, repainting an old canvas sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't.   You can lose the transparency (which did happen here to some extent) and certainly the freshness... But I think, overall, the re-painting (actually, just replacing one object with another) helped this one and it is at least salvageable.  Where the little Beatrix Potter books are now, used to be the saucer from the teacup.  The round, white shape was too repetitive with the cup, and drew too much attention away from the copper pot, which is really the star.  The books are there, but they whisper instead of shout.  And besides, who doesn't like Beatrix Potter?   The one on top is "the Tale of Benjamin Bunny" - one of my favorites.  Her watercolor illustrations are so delightful.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Masterworks, New Mexico

the Pack Trip 8x10 oil/panel

Rounding Up Strays 3x5 oil/canvas

 I'm pleased to announce that these two paintings both received honors in the upcoming Masterworks of New Mexico exhibit, which opens next Friday, April 6, at the Expo New Mexico Hispanic  Arts Center.
There are two concurrent shows, a "regular" size show, and a miniature exhibit.   The top painting here is one of two that were juried into the big show.   The Pack Trip was awarded the Jack Richeson Award of Excellence.  It also sold before the show was even hung!   
Our of about 500 miniature entered, only 150 were accepted into the miniature show. With those odds, I'm very happy that all five of my entries were accepted, and Rounding Up Strays received an Honorable Mention. Since painting miniatures is really not my thing, I'm just happy that it got noticed at all...For the miniature show, they really like tight detail and finely tuned work... I like working a little looser, but it was still fun to try a different approach and pull my hair out while trying to work so small....
The opening reception is this Friday, and it should be fun to go and see all the works. I got to see a great number of them when we delivered the paintings, and it is a very strong show. If any of you are local to Albuquerque, I invite you to come and see it.  There are many very fine paintings.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Welcome Home

Welcome Home
16x20 oil/linen panel

I started this one a couple of weeks ago, and then had  to stop and finish up some other deadlines. It is never good for me to leave a painting sitting around for too long... for some reason, I just can't get back into the groove with it... 
Though I sort of lost my enthusiasm, I did try to at least bring it to a conclusion... This ol' rancher has been out, maybe on a hunting trip, and he's finally home, at the end of the day.... As he stops to open the gate and walk the horses through, the ranch dog has seen him and come running to greet him...My dogs would be jumping all over me.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

Working (real) small

  Staying Close, 4"x5" oil/canvas
 Searching for Strays, 4" x 5" oil/canvas
 Paint Filly, 1.5"x 3" oil/panel
Rounding Up  Strays' 
3"x 5"

Sadie's Calf
3"x5" oil/canvas

These are a few of the miniatures that I will submit to a miniature show down in Albuquerque next month.  Working this small requires a change of technique and painting style that I'm not real sure I like much, but the challenge of doing them was still fun, and I hope they'll get accepted to the show.   You can't appreciate how small these are unless you see them in "person", but here's a still-in-progress shot of the smallest one to give you an idea. yeah, that's a quarter there..
It would probably help if I had small brushes... but then, where's the challenge in that?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Masterworks of New Mexico

I'm pleased to say that I have two paintings accepted into this show.  Dates are as listed above on the card.
If you're in the area, stop in... there's all kinds of free events, demos, paint-ins, etc. too, during the month of April...

Sunday, January 22, 2012


22x26 oil/linen panel

Last post for a bit, as I have an out of town trip, and then some shoulder surgery, so I won't be painting for several weeks. (gasp, I can't imagine going that long!)

This depicts an actual cliff dwelling ruin in the Gila Mountains of SW New Mexico.. this particular one is Cave #4 I believe... I drew together several historical photos of the ruins from the 30's or 40's, and used some other references to hopefully accurately depict these frontiersmen's dress and gear... In 1878, Henry B. Ailman and his party went searching for gold in the Gila Mountains.  While traveling through the canyons, they "discovered" the Gila cliff dwellings. Here I've depicted them riding up to take a look at this mighty curious sight.  Some historical accounts say they were trying to avoid jury duty in Albuquerque and so left town on this gold mining expedition... They struck gold alright, though not the kind they had imagined
These ruins are now part of a national park -

Here's an old photo of the ruins, as these two guys might have seen them from across the canyon... the ruin on  the far left of this photo is the one I have painted.  And  yes, horses were able to get up there, as I have some old photos showing the Rangers on horseback working to restore some of the ruins and build some paths....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tips and Tricks

  Conte sketch of two young cowboys

I had to add some image, (can't have a post without SOME kind of picture!) so just threw in one of my quick sketches.  

Today's post is just a random selection of stuff that I've found useful in one way or another.  Some are ideas and some are practical tips.

 Tip #1 (from artist Larry Seiler).  Use an old phone book to wipe your brushes as you paint. We all have those used phone books, right? And in many places, they can't be recycled. I just tore off the cover, and put the phone book down on my working surface.   As I paint, I wipe the brushes and palette knife  (I use paper towels too, but this works well for a first 'wipe down").  when the page is dirty, I just rip if off and use the next one....

 Tip #2.  To  help brush tips to re-gain a sharp edge, try this. Once the brush is clean, take a piece of pressboard, like  a cereal box, pasta box, or the like. Mine is an old small calendar I got from my optometrist. Cut out a square of the pressboard on a fold - in other words, you want a small square piece of it that is already folded in the middle so it has a nice sharp crease to work with. Take the offending brush, and place it so that the tip is right inside that fold.  Fold the card over the brush and use a clothespin to pinch the end.. adjusting it so the tight part of the clothespin is crimping the end of your brush between the pieces of cardboard.  Leave it overnight.  If you do this right, the brush will come out with a nice, clean, crisp edge again.

Tip #3.  Have the same light on your palette as you do on what you're painting.  If you use, say, an Ott Lite on your palette, but your still life is lit by an incandescent bulb, then you are in for a world of hurt.  Just sayin'.

Tip #4.  Before you throw away a painting, take a look and see if any part of it, even just a small part, is successful.   Consider cropping it down and making a smaller painting o ut of it.  If its on a canvas, use a razor knife to cut out your selection, then glue the piece of canvas to a backing of masonite or foam core.
If it's a panel, use whatever means y ou have to in order to cut it down to size.  I use "table saw editing" all the time.

 Tip#5.  Keep  3 jars with lids for your solvent. A "working jar", a "sludge jar", and an "overflow" jar. The working jar contains clean solvent that you're using to paint with right now.   When that gets dirty, or you're done painting for the day, pour that thinner into the sludge jar..   Clean out your working jar after pouring out its contents by wiping it out with a  paper towel.  The next morning,the sediment will have settled to the bottom, leaving clear solvent again.   Carefully pour out the  now clear solution from the sludge jar back into your working jar, leaving the sludge in the bottom..-.  Eventually, this jar will get full of sludge and you will have to appropriately discard it.
The third jar is useful if, like me, you paint pretty much all the time.  My working jar gets dirty, and don't have time to wait overnight for the sediment to settle in the sludge jar. So I keep a second "clean" jar.  I can take my regular working jar, pour it into the sludge container, and then have a jar of clean solvent to start working with.    Peanut butter jars work well for this, as they have wide openings that make them  easy to  clean.

Tip#6.  When painting  plein air,  secure your canvas or panel to the easel( in case of wind - there's always wind isn't there?) by using the 'wet canvas straps" sold at many online art supply stores. These are stretchy bands hooked together in an "X" shape, with little loops on the end. They are intended to carry wet paintings by wrapping the loops around the corners of the canvas and then holding the middle of the "X" to carry it by.
I didn't find them very useful for THAT, but they come in mighty handy when painting.  I set the panel or canvas on my easel, and then, from the back, attach the loops on the corners...I can adjust for smaller canvases by tying a knot in the strap till it's the right size.  this holds the canvas or panel to the easel like a nifty bungie cord.  

This is what the straps look like.  I believe they come in a pkg. of 3 different sizes.

Here's how I attach them to my canvas or panel.(shown from the back, as it would be sitting on my plein air easel).  I can tie a knot in the middle to adjust the size.

Tip #7.  Baby wipes work great for cleaning hands while painting.   when I'm outside working en plein air, these are especially handy.   

That's it for today.. just a few simple things that work for me.. and maybe y ou'll find them useful too. If you have some favorite tricks, I'd love to hear about them.... I'll add them here!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Little Celebration of Color

16x20 oil/linen

Here's the latest off the easel... 
For a change, I wanted to do a very light background (in this case, all white) and have lots of vibrant color.
Usually, I go for dark backgrounds, and rather muted tones.. this one looks like Carmen Miranda exploded - but it was really a treat to just enjoy all the rich colors of the fruit and flowers. I love the color orange -just love it!!  One of these days, I will do a painting all about orange. It was also fun to get the different textures of the fruit, from the smooth s hiny apples, to the pebbly orange and lemons, and the fuzzy peaches.
I have to admit, the peaches were not quite so pretty in real life.. it is not peach season, and our local grocer only had a few, and they were rather "sad".   I had to use artistic license -and made them a bit more presentable....
Did not want to get into painting folds and creases  of the white cloth, so I settled for some very subtle
indications of wrinkles..  
Doing a very light background requires a different approach.. you can't throw things into shadow as you can with a dark background. There is none of the mystery, and edges become super important as they are presented against the high key backdrop.... A learning experience for sure, and hopefully a successful one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Edit Your Painting Without Picking Up a Brush....

I started working on a piece last night - got a few hours into it, and then this afternoon, set it out to stare at it awhile. Ya'll do that too, right? Sometimes I think I spend as much time staring as painting. That's not always a bad thing.
I'll also photograph it and put it in black and white to check values, and reverse the image too.. that helps to sort out any errors as well.

Anyway, after all this staring (accompanied by a cup of tea and a cracker - valuable aids) I knew that I needed to make some changes, and had a good idea what I thought should happen, so I popped it into photoshop to do a "test drive" of my idea. This is a real handy tool.. I just used the drawing tool in a big brush size (it's sort of like painting with gummy worms) and blobbed in some color where I thought the changes needed to be. 
If you ever think you need to make some changes to a painting, this is a great way to test it without having to actually paint anything. I've heard of people taking clear mylar or plastic, and painting on THAT on top of the painting - maybe for small changes that might work.. This is easier.

Okay, enough said... here's the painting. It's still very priliminary,so I'm not worried about anything but the big shapes at this point, and the values. So, don't get your britches in a bunch because the chickens don't look like chickens yet!

And now the changes I felt needed to happen:
I knew I needed to focus the light more in the one area around the children. I also needed to balance the strong diagonal line from the shadow on the barn.
Additionally, the light just needs to go up in value for the feeling of morning sunlight. There are alot of strong architectural lines here, and I felt the need to balance that with some softer shapes.... 

I lightened the value of the ground.
I lightened the shadow value also - more light bouncing around, more of it will refract back into the shadows, so they need to be warmer and lighter.
I threw almost all the foreground into tree shadows - this focuses the light just around the center of interest - those little kiddos and the chickens- and also balances both the strong lines and the diagonals of the barn shadow. 
Plus threw a little tree shadow on the barn to break up that line a bit.

Anyway, thought ya'll might be entertained at how you can use photoshop, or gimp (and I'm no expert - this was only using the drawing tool - no layers, nothing fancy) just to do a test drive on your painting without having to risk anything!

Now I know what I gotta do, and it's very easy for me to visualize it and - hey - that's half the battle right?

PS. that's a water pump there in the foreground... don't worry, it'll eventually look like one......