Category Archives: Video

John Ebersberger Workshop

I’m attending John Ebersberger‘s workshop this week, so been a bit busy.  This is my first attempt embedding a video using my new blog software, so hopefully this will work!  If you don’t see an embedded QuickTime video below, here for the video posted on YouTube.

This is a plein air figure painting start by John, referred to as a “mud head” study by the Henry Hensche school of contemporary impressionism.  I’ll post my own in a few days, along with additional commentary and information.

John Ebersberger Painting Demonstration (YouTube)

More “high-key” painting studies

I continue to experiment with painting in a higher key.  While I’m getting there, I’m not as light as I’d like to be (see Bato Dugarzhapov, a Russian artist I greatly admire).  Here are  a couple more studies, and a YouTube video of the first painting in progress:

Sonoma Road – Oil on Canvas – 10×8


This painting was done from a reference photo I took when Mike and I visited The Mediterranean last year.  It’s Corfu, Greece, a really beautiful island.

Walking in Corfu (Greece) – Oil on Canvas – 10×8


Snowscape Video

I painted this snowscape in the studio last weekend, and captured the progression of the painting from start to finish, which I later used to create a movie (see below). I’m still really enjoying this subject matter. I think I need to work on the reddish brush a bit more, to make it more atmospheric.


Truckee River Snowbank, Oil on Linen, 10×12


Here’s a video of the painting from start to finish:


Click to play demo on YouTube

Kevin Weckbach Workshop

Kevin WechbackI spent last week in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona inside a classroom with 4 other enthusiastic students studying with Kevin Weckbach.  Kevin is a generous teacher who both paints well and can explain his thought process thoroughly.  As you may know, this is a rare combination!

I believe I first saw Kevin’s work in the annual OPA catalog.  Among the hundred or so predicatable paintings, there are always a few that sneak past the jury and scream originality and true honesty.  That’s why I wanted to study with him. I wasn’t expecting a lot, because my assumption was that someone this original probably can’t explain how it he does it, but he does so well.

I’m not alone in my assessment of his teaching ability.  Kevin teaches at the Art Students League, Denver, where he took over Quang Ho‘s class (and where he maintains a two year waiting list).  This post includes my class notes, his demos, and some of my own painting studies from the class.

Levels of an Artist

As artists, it’s difficult to measure where we are in our growth, in contrast to other professions that offer levels of certification, by testing practictioners for an agreed upon set of skills.  Kevin described the three levels of an artist:

  1. This artist sees subject matter in terms of facts, much like a computer scanner at the market may recognize a can of Coke.  There is no interpretation.  It is what it is. Many early art students see this way.  When they see a landscape, for example, they see a tree, another tree, a rock, another rock, and so on.  They don’t see and represent a unified picture based on an overall impression, but rather break the objects down into things they can name.  That’s way many teachers will tell students to “squint down” when they look at a landscape, so they’ll see the big shapes and values, and not assign names to objects.  Assigning names is dangerous!  When you do so, your trees will always be green, even when they’re not.
  2. This artist sees subject matter not as objects, but as components, with color, value, texture, and most importantly, knows visual approaches to represent it. This artist intellectualizes the subject. They can use a visual approach to design a painting for a subject.  They make think through many alternative approaches before they decide which is best.  This level sees the can of Coke as a value shapes, texture, and other painting abstractions.
  3. This level sees subject matter with an intuition.  Quang Ho describes intuitive as “gentle awareness”.  At this level, you don’t have to think about how to represent the can of Coke, but can lay down paint within the right visual approach best for the subject.  Color, value, drawing, texture, all the things that I know I think about when painting are second nature to the intuitive level.  When you’re driving home from work, do you think about which turn is next and what street is next?   The intuitive artist has such a foundation of skills and memory, that he can represent more than the basics, without thinking about it.  For me, the surest sign of an artist at this level is the honesty they convey in their work.  In Scottsdale, we went for a gallery walk, and saw lots of dishonest art: paintings forumulated to sell. Great technitians, but you can just feel the lack of heart.  VanGough is a great example of what I think of as an honest painter, which is why (unfortunately) true art and commerce rarely work.

If we all had one system of painting, reaching the intuitive level would be great, but what makes things interesting is the fact that we can represent subjects in a wide variety of visual approaches.  We’re not cameras, we’re artists, so when we paint, we seek to convey how we feel about a subject. If there were only one way to represent a subject, every painting of the Grand Canyon would look the same.  Originality comes about when we combine our feeling for a subject with a visual approach to represent it.

Visual Approaches

So what’s a visual approach?  As you can imagine, there are many ways to approach painting a subject.  Kevin taught 4 of 10 visual approaches to painting.  The 10 include: Dark by Pattern; Local Tone; Light & Shadow; Line; Texture/Pattern; Color; Shape; Form; Siloette; and Front Lit.  Each approach has its own set of “rules”, but the main point is that they provide alternative ways of seeing subject matter and representing it in paint.

Local Tone

This visual approach is characterized by:

  • A limited set of values (generally, 3: light, medium and dark) represented by large, whole/complete shapes.
  • Value groups are relatively close together, resulting in a flatness.
  • Edges are created by adjoining value shapes.
  • Each value group maintains their integrity, eg a “medium” value group will generally have some slight value variations, but not to the point where it “jumps” to another value group, eg, the light or the dark.

This approach may be good for representing:

  • A grey, overcast day in the landscape.
  • A figure with no single, strong, direct light source.

The Mary Cassett painting above was offered as an example of this approach.  It has three clear values, with only slight shifts within them: the light (bed linens, clothes, china), the mediums (table, skin tones) and the darks (hair, back wall, etc).  You can see how each value creats a path for they eye, and is virtually connected.  Kevin’s demo below shows how he approaches painting in Local Tone.  Click the YouTube video below to watch.


This visual approach is characterized by:

  • Lines that divide space and create shapes.
  • Lines that are unique, have character, vary across the painting in size, character, etc.
  • Lines are used to lead the eye throughout the composition.

The Willem De Kooning painting “Excavation” was offered as an example.  Kevin spent the least amount of class time on this approach, so I don’t have demos or more examples to show.  I’m also not entirely sure when one would select this approach over another.

Dark by Pattern

This approach is characterized by:

  • Two value systems (although I would argue the example used on the right (“Wolf Moon” by Andrew Wyeth) is a 3-value system.
  • A well organized network of light or dark shapes lead the eye.
  • There is shape harmony, ie, the shapes vary, but they belong together (eg, see the white snow shapes in “Wolf Moon”)
  • The value/shape that is most connected holds the design.  This can be either the light or the dark.
  • The leading value (dark or light) is the one detailed or broken down.
  • Very little/no modeling.
  • Patterns are each unique, yet create a pattern with variation and a rythym that leads the eye.
  • Best used to represent bold, stark statements.  In addition to the Wyeth painting on the right, other examples included Motherwell‘s bold black & white brush paintings)

I painted a Dark by Pattern painting below.

Light & Shadow

This visual approach is characterized by:

  • Painting design based on a clear division of light and shadow shapes.E
  • Either the light or shadow “tells the story” of the painting and is detailed out (color, value, texture), while the other remains relatively flat.
  • Local value and local color applied to shapes.
  • Begin by blocking in light and shadow shapes in a medium, average tone.
  • Highlights should be consistent across the painting. Accents (darkest shadows) used to help define the figure in the early stages of painting.
  • Shadows unified color and value-wise, to hold the painting together.

I painted two Light & Shadow figure paintings below.

General Notes

  • Drawing.  Good drawing isn’t precision, it’s about spatial relationships; uniqueness in shape, line and edge quality.  The first thing to go wrong with a painting is the drawing.
  • Paint. Kevin started with thin paint, but without much/any thinner.  After a solid block-in, he removes excess paint with a painting knife or towel (to avoid the underpainting mixing with the top and creating mud. He created nice big piles of paint for the large shapes, that you can then bend in various color directions (warm, cool, gray, etc..see the video).   Don’t overmix color, keep some variations to make the paint more interesting.  To get a highlight on a shape, mix the base shape color, then touch one side of the brush on the highlight paint and lay a flat stroke that mixes both colors on the canvas.
  • Focal Point. He’s often start with the focal point of the painting, get the detail and key relationships working, then work outward.  Focal point can be created by gradation of shape, eg, more detail in the focal point, less as you move out from the focal point.
  • Figure. One reason to keep the initial drawing of a figure broad and flat shapes, is the model will typically set into a more comfortable pose after their first break.  Painting a comfortable model shows in the painting.

My Workshop Studies

Dark by Pattern Study

Paint Tubes & Liquin Bottle (Dark by Pattern study)

Light & Shadow



Reference Links

Video Demo: Garrapata State Park

I put together a video of my painting “Near Garrapata State Park” from start to finish, by stitching together photos of the work in progress.  I used YouTube’s new annotations feature to add notes on my process.  It’s short (exactly 1 minute), but I think it demonstrates my approach well.  Click here for a list of video demos on my blog.  Enjoy!


Click to watch the video on YouTube

Bird Rock from Rodeo Beach

I’ve painted the same spoten plein air” several times, so I’ve now begun to tackle some larger paintings in the studio. This isn’t essential, but I think it helps.

Bird Rock from Rodeo Beach, Oil on Linen, 12×16


I took snap shots of the painting in progress to show you my start-to-finish process. I’ve noticed now that YouTube has an “Annotations” feature. As the video plays, faint shapes will appear on the video. You can click those shapes to read my notes. Interesting. Try it and let me know what you think of it.

“Backlit Tree (Stowe Lake)” Video Demo

I took snap shots of this painting in progress, and stitched them together to make a YouTube video (using iPhoto and iMovie).  These are  useful to others interested in my process, but they’re also good reference for me. I often times over-work a painting. I think perhaps it may have made sense to stop this one about 3/4 of the way through. What do you think?


“Backlit Tree (Stowe Lake)”, Oil on Linen, 10×12″


And here’s the YouTube demo:

Colorado Sunset – Video Demo

I’m finally back!  I’ve been visiting family in Southern California, and unfortunately, no WiFi was available to post.  Time to catch up.

This video demo shows a how I interpreted a Colorado sunset in paint.  I took snapshots throughout the painting process and string them together in this video.  There were many shots taken, so you’ll get a better idea of how I go back and forth to adjust a painting before it’s done. I’m still struggling with dark values. I wanted the sky clouds/colors to be rich and warm (ie, as little white as possible, because white dulls color and cools it), so I get the ground and hills relatively dark.  You’ll notice in the video that 3/4 of the way through I lighten up the hills (particularly those in the distance).  Perhaps the warm clouds should have been lighter?  I need to learn Photoshop, so I can play with these “what if” questions on my PC. I recall that Kevin Macpherson wraps his paintings in plastic and paints over them, to check alternative color/value, and also as he works on larger works and wants to check his color mixing.
The video looks darker than the original, so keep that in mind.


Colorado Sunset – Oil on Linen – 12×16



click to see this painting demo on YouTube

Painting China Cove

I think my shadows have been overly dark lately, so I’ve been seeking opportunities to “lighten up”.  An old reference photo of “China Cove” in Point Lobos did the trick. The photograph was over exposed, so everything was lighter than it would have been otherwise.

As I was painting this, the colors in the photo where washed out, so I also thought about pushing them further.  I had a good time with this painting, and very happy with it. It has the sense of light I was looking for.  I also reminds me of somewhat of Camille Przewodek’s colors. I tend to drift between schools of color, from Camille’s light key paintings to the more dramatic value changes of the Russian impressionists school.  I think I’ll stay in this key for a while, and see how things go.

Also, I took photos of the painting in progress, so created a little video (see below).


China Cove – Oil on Linen – 12×9

Here’s a short video of the painting in process.


Click to visit YouTube.  Be sure to click “Watch in High Quality” link, lower right.

Lands End, Golden Hour #2

Here’s another study of “Lands End” (Golden Hour) I started in my previous post.  I created a video of the process, by stringing together still photographs of various stages of the painting.  I like this composition.  The large tree reflects the strength and gracefulness of the Monterey Cypress, but I’m not sure about my darks…they may be too dark.  I may try another study today where I play with that a bit.  Painting dark darks provides nice contrast with light (which I clearly needed here), but it can also make the painting too “heavy”.


Lands End (Golden Hour) #2 – Oil on Linen – 12×10


Click this screen shot to get the demo (be sure and click “watch in high quality” in the lower right corner of the video, a new YouTube feature.

Venice Laundry, with YouTube Demo

Another study, based on my photos of Venice. I enjoyed painting this one a lot. I enjoy mixing the subtle earthy tones of old buildings or nature with man-made shocking colors, like the clothes hanging to dry here.

The photos aren’t great (taken with my camera phone), so when this finishes drying (in the Wedgewood Stove, as always), I’ll take a digital scan. I strung together four photos of the work in progress, imported into iMovie, and made a short video now on my YouTube channel.

Venice Laundry – Oil on Linen – 10×8


One area I really focused on, to make the light “read” well, was the difference between light and shade across subtle color shifts. To see what I mean, look at the shadow cast by the open green window shutter. See the difference in the building’s color and texture, from a yellow at the bottom, then a white crack patch (not yet painted), then an older ochre color to the top. It was critical that I got the shade/light relationships working across that plane. I think I did it, but let me know what you think. I’m less sure about that darn green shutter in full light. It’s just not sitting right. Perhaps it’s too cool? What do you think?

Click on this image to get to the YouTube video. Enjoy!

click to view

Through the Palms, #3

Palm trees have beautiful strength, character and movement. They can make a great subject. While in 1,000 Palms a few weeks ago, I painted two field studies (one, two) of a view between groups of palms to the steep hills below. The two studies where done in different light conditions, the first with the hill in shadow, and the second, a smaller opening than the first, which showed the hill later in the day as it was touched by the late afternoon sun.

This one, my third, shows the light conditions with the light behind the palms, but looking in the same general direction. I used the reference photo in my studio, together with some of the color notes from the first two studies. Since I was in the studio, I remembered to take snap shots at various stages of development, and so have a little video made of snap shots tied together with iMovie. This has been posted on my YouTube channel (and added to a playlist I created of other painting demos).


click to view the video on YouTube

I can see this series holding interest, and think I’m ready to use these studies and paint much larger studio works. Stay tuned for those, I have this Friday off, so maybe I’ll dedicate the day to this task.

Here’s the final painting:

Through the Palms #3, Oil on Linen, 14×11

Here are the first two paintings using this basic design (click any to enlarge). What do you think? Any favorites or feedback?

Through the Palms #2
Oil on Linen, 12×9