Thursday, June 30, 2011

Seascape Wave Study

Gulfscape #1, 6x6" oil  Sold
THE GULF IS MY MUSE.  The Gulf of Mexico's only minutes from my house.  Have spent endless hours wave watching and painting at the beach.  Witnessed the Gulf's frantic energy raised by hurricanes and tropical storms.  Painted...  squinting from blowing sand as storms moved offshore.  Waded along the edge in the morning when the water's smooth, and in the evening when it's sunset pink.  Watched waves peppered with sunburned tourists.  But capturing the movement and energy with thick brushstrokes and saturated color isn't easy.  Trouble is, the darn stuff never holds still.  And photos flatten the image and don't get the colors right.  Often, the image I hold in my mind is elusive, escapes off the brush, becoming something new again with each stroke.  I'm determined to chase this vision until my six by six inch paintings become six by six feet!
This is my 500th post on my blog!  And it has received a record number of likes and comments on my Facebook page.  Think I touched a nerve with this image and intend to do more!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Old Mill Challenge

Leave the Light On, 6x6" oil
Painted for the Weekly Challege:  An uninspiring photo was the subject, an old mill on a stream... not something I would have chosen.   Rather than just redesigning the original photo, I let my imagination and memories play a part and let this painting evolve into an illustration. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday Plein Air

American Lotus, 8x10" oil
Painted with a couple of artists Sunday morning at the Jacaranda Library near the pond.  Not a speck of water was showing, the pond was thick with tall, American Lotus flowers blooming in all their glory.  Walking along the edge I noticed an area where the alligators flattened the plants while traveling in and out of the pond.  We couldn't see them but bet they were watching us!  While I was painting, a young raccoon stood on it's hindquarters right in front of me sniffing the paint before roaming off again in search of breakfast frogs.  Fiddled with this painting at home and not really thrilled with it.  But like remembering the image of the raccoon standing next to that large lotus flower in the foreground.  Some paintings are simply visual journal entries.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Portrait Studio Oil

Venice Native, 10x8" oil
      Painted at the Venice Art Center's Portrait Studio.  Model is one of those rare Floridian natives and actually born in Venice.  Lucky guy!  Although he's on the staff of the art center, he should change his career and become a full time professional model.  He has the talent to sit still (the artists had to beg for a break) and also fall back into a pose in the precise position.
       I altered my technique by brushing on thick paint and letting it stay without much blending, letting the strokes create visual energy and movement.  And for finishing, slashed the palette knife on the shirt and hat.  A lot easier than the portrait of Mary which had to be reworked from a photo, this painting was finished completely from life and not altered at all.  Pure alla prima, wet into wet in one sitting!  Love it when this happens. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Plein Air Bay Preserve

Bay Preserve, 6x6" oil
      Perfect painting spot for a hot summer morning... cool breezes off the bay and lots of shade.  Enjoyed painting with the Plein Air Sun Coast group at the Bay Preserve in Osprey.  Strong, hardy teens rowed their long, sleek racing sculls, all morning in the sun.  Then hauled them out, carried them overhead and washed them back at the boatyard.  Took lots of reference photos for future paintings. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Weekly Challenge #20

Watermelon, 6x6" oil
      The challenge this week at: was to paint from a photograph supplied by Carol Marine... and to paint it upside-down!  Great exercise for tricking the brain into seeing what really is instead of what it thinks it knows.  I used the same technique with a portrait this week and it helped me line up the features.  
      Carol's reference photo had a turquoise background which I toned down by using ultramarine blue instead.  Not that I have anything against turquoise, but recently had a bad experience using it for a background in another painting.  It's a strong color and tends to take over.  Love just a touch of turquoise as an accent though. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oil Portrait for Father's Day

Step-Pop, 6x4" oil
      Painted this from a blurry snapshot which helped loosen up my style.   Sometimes, using a reference photo is the only way to paint something. In this case, Frank was in Texas, a bit far away from Florida to pose.  The snapshot I took when he visited last summer captured his personality perfectly.  
      Photos are also useful for painting children who can't sit still long enough, or birds and animals, or how the light strikes a flower at a certain moment.  For portraits like this one, I like to snap away when the model is unaware, less self-conscious.  People tend to freeze up when you aim a camera at them. 
      I think it's important that artists work from photos they take themselves.  Photographic vision working in tandem with the brush.  The photo should work as a starting point, letting the painting take on a life of its own. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Upside-down Portrait Technique

Mary, 10x8" oil
Painted Mary when she posed at the Venice Art Center last week.  Took a photo at each stage but wiped the painting out when I got home (images below).  It just wasn't Mary yet.  Fortunately, a snapshot of her posing was all I needed to set things right.  That and painting with both the snapshot and painting upside-down for hours.  Then right-side up again.  It's close, but still not as gorgeous as she really is.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Palm Tree Practice, Oil Plein Air

Lone Palm, 6x6" oil
      This palm stands alone in a nearby park and is in perfect viewing distance from a cool, shade pavilion.  Great place to practice palm painting technique.  Focused on how light hit the leaves, cool on top reflecting the sky and yellow green where the sun filtered through.  Good excuse to use orange and burnt sienna in the dead leaves for contrast which always works well with greens.  Left a lot of the magenta underpainting show through.  Pumped up the bright yellow green on the grass.  Left the background simple and faded to help the palm tree stand out.  
      Painting "what we see" would render the scene as a photo would.  Painting what we see along with "what we know" is what makes a painting a painting.  "What we know" includes painting experience, knowledge of medium and tools, brush and palette knife control, color, form, values, edges, perspective, and influences and inspiration from other artist's work, both contemporary and historic.  Conditions change rapidly while painting outside, and the best that can be achieved is an impression, a fleeting image and feeling of a moment in time.  That's what makes plein air painting so exciting and such a challenge.  Gathering everything you know and see,  and fitting that information onto a small panel in a small amount of time.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Balancing Act, 6x6" oil
      My entry into the Weekly Painting Challenge at: .  This is the 19th week in a row I've entered a painting into this exciting and educational group.  If you are an artist, whatever level, it's an opportunity to learn, grow, and be inspired by a great community of working artists.  
      And now,  I'm proud to announce... I'm a member there also.  Some of my work will be for sale or auctioned at this site.
      Please visit often:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plein Air Landscape

Pond Bird, 6x6" oil
      Painted with the Lemon Bay Painters this morning at the Englewood Sports Complex.  Lots of great pond views, reflections and shady spots to paint.  Sounds of children in the playground and people playing tennis.  People out walking.  Great painting in a place that's not too isolated and lonely.  And birds were everywhere... a pair of tall Sandhill Cranes, red heads glowing in the sun, stood by the side of the road as I drove out.  Promised myself to paint there more often!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Southern Atelier

Arron, 12x9"oil
Had the absolute pleasure today to paint at the Southern Atelier in Sarasota: .  Check it out!  Arron is an amazing model who sat still for six hours while his little dog napped on a couch.  Saw some wonderful paintings created by a serious and professional group of artists.  What an honor.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Plein Air Morning

Morning Sail, 8x10" oil
Venice Beach was quiet this morning without the winter snowbirds, even the water was calm and smooth.  Summer clouds in Florida are magnificent.  People complain that it's flat down here but the clouds and open skies more than make up for it.  This one seemed to stay in place for hours as it moved west into the Gulf.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oil Portrait

Singer, 6x6" oil
      This model posed at the Venice Portrait Studio, VAC this afternoon.  All the artists were inspired by her beauty and their paintings proved it. 
      My painting was sketched with Winsor red and linseed oil.  Wanted to try a different approach, change the way I usually work, which would be drawing with a brown or ultramarine blue.  Left the window behind her and the wall flat for a graphic look.  The four circles on the corners are impressions left by my wet panel carrier.  Could have blended the circles out but liked the way they looked, reminded me of a Japanese print, and they seem to enhance the design.  The vivid, flat colors on her collar resembles silk kimono fabric, echoing the Asian influence.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Plein Air Painting

Beach Bridge, 6x6" oil
Painted with the Lemon Bay Plein Air Painters this morning in Bay Heights Park.  Changed rapidly from sun to clouds, back and forth making painting difficult because of changing values.  I was attracted by the viridian green bridge, the yellow-green channel marker, and the pinkish palm branch hanging over it.  But the bridge was too far away to make the impression I wanted.  Have to try this one again using binoculars or taking the kayak out for a spin with my tiny, thumb pochade box.  Every painting is practice for the next one.   At least I got my brush pushing workout for the day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Water Study

Surfscape, 8x10" oil
This started as a plein air painting I didn't like.  Wiped it off and a thin layer of color remained that compelled me to try again.  Finished it today from photo reference and imagination.  Wanted to show the water's energy, movement, and color patterns with loose brushwork.  Sometimes, I can visualize what I want in my mind but have a difficult time getting the paint to express that image.  This is heading in the right direction but not there yet.  It will do as a study, time to move onto the next.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Portrait Sketch

My Painting Buddy, 6x6" oil
Nothing's better than having a good friend to paint with!  Not only is a friend an incentive to GET OUT THERE, but having a friend as obsessed about painting as you are... is a gift. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Simple Still Life

Great Grapes, 4x6" oil
    Had the urge to paint and not much time, so painted these grapes before they all disappeared... great grapes.  

Friday, June 3, 2011


Sailing Clouds, 6x6" oil
      Second painting from yesterday... dashed off as fast as the clouds raced by.  Wanted to try painting the sky as the main focus and this was a perfect chance.  And because it was almost time leave, I didn't overwork it.  It captured that brief moment of time just before noon in a loose (difficult for me) sketchy style.  Spent several hours on yesterday's post, the Blue Boat, and am much happier with this simple half-hour painting.  Hate to use the overused term, "it's fresh," but that's part of it's charm and what I love about plein air studies.  Could be a field study for a larger painting, or stand on it's own as it is. 
      Was amazed how the color of the water turned to turquoise with purple cloud shadows when the slant of light changed, earlier it seemed much darker and greener.  And loved how the mangrove island reflected the sun and cloud shadows.  
      Next time I paint out, hope to keep the speed and energy of this one.  Perhaps, the old kitchen timer would help.  Or having a painting buddy packing to leave and saying, "I'm not rushing you."  Thanks, Ginny, you helped make this one work.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Morning Plein Air

Blue Boat, 6x6" oil
Back to Chadwick Park with the Lemon Bay Plein Air Painters this morning and it was breezy and delightful!  Painted view across the channel to circa '50's or '60's fishing boat.  Captain of a nearby crab boat walked by and waved.  Painted him in for scale... his turquoise shirt was perfect.  Scene is drastically simplified, just painted gray where the clutter was but left the orange and yellow buckets and wheelbarrow in for color accents.  This painting was first sketched with magenta, like how a little shows through and ties the piece together.
Finished and moved to the end of the Park to paint another with Ginny.  She tackled the water and sun glare with grace and sparkle.  I managed to slap down a few clouds and boats and we left while the lunch crowd arrived but before the meter ran out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Same Window

Birdhouse, 6x6" oil
View from same window as yesterday's post.  Getting hot here, nice to do a "plein air" from the inside under the air conditioning.