Category Archives: Landscapes

Verde Paint-out Today

The Verde Artist Guild held a paint-out today on the grounds of Stanford University. More than 30 artists attended! It started out a bit foggy, but thankfully cleared up quickly. The area includes beautiful fresh-spring grasses, grand eucalyptus and oak trees. Given the slight fog in the atmosphere, it was a great day to practice arial perspective. We struggled somewhat with the sun going in and out of the clouds, but in the end, everyone created some great work.

Congratulations to Cynthia DeBenedetti! She’s been accepted into this years annual National Oil Painters of America show.

Painting the Sierras

Just back from a long weekend in the Sierras.  Alas, the weather was not exactly cooperative.  Had a good day Friday, but Saturday it was both raining and foggy.  The snow scape painting I did was a smaller, 6×8 plein air sketch.  I painted on linen on board, definitely my favorite combination right now.  The linen was toned with a pure Yellow Ocre color, something I picked up from Ted Georschner.  I left bits of yellow show through between the strokes, which gave the painting a nice warm glow. I had fun with the shadow patterns, and think the composition works really well.  This may make a nice studio painting…we’ll see.
Although it rained and stayed foggy all day Saturday, we ended up having a great time at Sam and Phil’s family home on Alta Lake.  Ate, played cards (Shanghai Gin-Rummy), and had lots of laughs.
Of course, Gracie and Jackson have fun, wherever they go.  This is their play time at the cabin (which is at about 3200 feet, no snow)

The Sierras in Winter

This weekend I’m headed up to Alta to paint the Sierras. I’m staying with Sam and Phil, close friends that have us up at their home on Alta lake a couple of times a year. I hope there’s snow at the lake, as there are compositions ready to be painted everywhere! I also may head up to Blackwood Canyon, just outside Tahoe City. I completed a series of autumn Aspen paintings there this past Fall. Can’t way to see it in Winter. Maybe I’ll paint the same location/composition to compare. Might be interesting, much like Kevin MacPherson’s great project.

If I can figure out how to blog and post new images from my cell phone using Flickr, I’ll try and update my blog remotely.

Learning composition and design

I’m re-reading Edgar Payne’s Composition of Outdoor Painting. What a classic! I think it was Kevin Macpherson who said he re-read the classic art books often, because he learned something new each time. Sometimes your own experience painting informs your ability to really understand what the book is trying to teach. Design is, I think, the most important thing to learn. A well designed painting can easily overcome other short-comings.

Edgar Payne Landscape

Seirra Morning, by Edgar Alvin Payne


Painting, the Flu, & Skunks!

What’s the connection between painting, the flue, and skunks? Well, generally none, although last week I experienced all three.

I’ve been working on a sunrise commission for a good collector of mine (hi, Noel), and frankly have had a hard time with it. Getting up EARLY is not my strong suit. I’m a late-night cat. Anyway, I did get some decent studies in Carmel a few months ago, but none that really knocked me out, so I thought I’d try last week.

I noticed that we had some pretty spectacular sunrises (from my bedroom window, just getting up), so figured it was worth gettnig up and trying to get some good plein air studies painted. I got up at around 5:30am to get set up for painting by about 6:30 at Baylands Preserve, a great spot for capturing both sunrises and sunsets, due to the fact there are locations with depth of field (hills, so on) and water combinations to get those great reflections. So I arrive, and it’s FREEZING and there are skunks everywhere. A couple kind of “charged me”. I don’t know much about skunks, but they seemed to approach me on their hind legs. Weird, I know. Well, I avoided the skunks, but got the flu. It was so dam cold, I was quite sick the next day, and out the whole week. I know, it’s a virus, but I’m sure that painting experience weakened me. Or, you know, I just like to show how much PAIN is involved in creating art.

In the end, I did get this little study done, as well as a couple others I ended up wiping off. I’ll let you know what I end up with for Noel.

Bay Sunrise

BTW, paintings of sunsets are available to see on my main web site, on the Miscellany page.

Buelton Farm House

While study with Ted Georschner last year, I stayed at a Motel 6 in Buelton (outside Solvang). I captured the “golden light” view from my room. I was too tired to paint, but did this little painting (8×10) when I got home. I project images from my digital camera on a TV in my studio. It really helps to illuminate the image. Painting from photos is really a drag. The darks all become black, and the highlights all average out. Much better to paint from a project image.

Buelton Farm House

Wheeler Canyon

Wheeler Canyon is in Santa Paula (Ventura County). It’s a really beautiful area, much of it unspoiled farms and ranches. In the 30’s and 40’s it was often visited and painted by some of the great early California impressionsists, including Cornelis & Jesse Arms Botke (who lived there).

I was inspired by the fact so many artists visited the canyon and found so much to capture. I’ve listed below some links to other artists’ works.

My partner, Mike, grew up in Santa Paula, and was always aware of the art history of the town. If fact, the town banker, Douglas Shively, wanted to be an artist but was forbidden by his father to do so as he was told he needed to run the family business. Nevertheless, Douglas Shively continued to paint, and has done some wonderful work. We have a large painting of his of Morro Bay. Some day, maybe I’ll do a post on him. He led an interesting life.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my painting of this historic location.


“Hillside Light” at the Autumn Colors Show

My show at Viewpoints Gallery is winding down. I’ve received lots of great feedback from attending artists, thank you! Most who attended commented that the paintings where at new level, and I really appreciate that. I worked hard on this show, and am proud of what went into it. Although I’ll be moving from the front wall on Jan 29, I’ll leave the paintings on another wall (near the desk) until at least the first week of February.

The next big event will be Open Studios (May 20/21), although I’ll continue to show at Viewpoints Gallery continuously.

Santa Inez Valley

Santa Inez Valley, Oil / Linen, 8×10″

I finished another couple of paintings this week for my January show at Viewpoints Gallery, focused on Autumn colors. I took some great reference photos of the Santa Inez Valley when I was there for my Ted Georschner workshop a few months back.

The other painting I’m working on is much more abstract and colorist. I’m enjoying going back and forth between the two genres, although I am concerned that the show may suffer from consistency. Perhaps this is a good thing.

The dam printer is taking it’s time with my postcards! They probably won’t go out until just before Christmas.

Progress on the Aspen Series

“Distant Aspen”, Oil/Linen, 11×14

Related LinksNo new links related to this post, so I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite artists:

I continue to make progress as I prepare for my January show. I haven’t come up with a great name…So for now, it will be the “Autumn Colors Show”. Yuck…I know. Let me know if you think of something better.I typically start with small plein air studies, and then work up. These two are 11x14s, and I’m working no two more 20x24s. There are a LOT of images of Aspens, perhaps too many. I also have some great sand dunes with red ivy from the Asilomar series. Since those were done in Fall and represent those colors, they’ll fit in this next show to counter-balance the Aspens.

I am having trouble finding time to paint, now that I’m temporarily working full time. I hope to finish the large works on weekends and the dead work week between Christmas and New Years.

The nice thing is I’ve already had collectors ask if they can buy some of these works before the show. I can spare a couple, but I do need to keep a quality group for the gallery.

Well, as always, if you’d like to share your impressions of these series, shoot me an email.

An Aspen Moment

When I’m out painting, I’m often asked “How long does it take you to paint that?” I know most people are well-meaning and just plain curious, but the reality is an entire lifetime of experience and years of training go into each work of art. You can’t translate two hours of work into an hourly rate. If you did, all artist’s would be rich! But guess what, the vast majority are poor. Why?

The simple answer is consistency. The greats can create great paintings, one after the other, while the rest (like me) will maybe decide to show 1 in 4 paintings in a gallery, and then go on to sell 1 in 4 of those. So, do the math 🙂 I had to paint approximately 1,400 paintings to paint this little masterpiece.

What does all this have to do with this painting? Well, it’s one of those real winners. One in which everything I’ve every learned came together at once. It practically “painted itself”. I often hear that phrase from artist’s when a painting is going well. Everything you’ve learned becomes automatic, and you’re able to respond in an emotional way to the subject. Not in a complex, overt way, but one of elegant simplicity. This is a simple painting–look how few colors there are–but to me, it just glows.

So, more to come! I’m still working on my Aspen Series, and hope to have them done for my show in January, 2006. I know this study is a winner, and will end up being a 20×24, or perhaps even bigger. I still have a 3’x5′ canvas crowding my studio, white as winter, ready for the glow of Fall.

Related Links

The Aspens of Blackwood Canyon

Have just spent a couple of days painting the Fall colors of the Sierras.  Incredible Aspens, and even the ground cover and bushes have incredible reds, yellows and oranges.  I plan on doing a series on this subject, which should be ready for my December show at Viewpoints Gallery.  Enjoy!