Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fallen Cottonwood

Well, I managed to get one more study together for 07. I was drawn to this image because of the opportunity to play with the reflected light in the shadows. I believe my new years resolution will be to get serious about edges. I have had quite a bit of fun as of late playing with these small studio studies.

For a larger image, please click on photo. 9 x 12 oil on primed board.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A couple of studies and a studio piece

First piece is a studio painting where I tried to concentrate of th subtle tonal qualities of the foliage in shadow. It ended up that my favorite part of the painting was the background blue of the sky sillouetting the sycamore.

"Oak Creek Afternoon"

16 x 20 oil on primed canvas. For a larger image please click on photo.

"Oak Creek Vignette"

This is a little 9 x 12 study from a photo taken the same day as the first studio piece. I liked the unusal composition of this piece and have been wanting to do a study to see if it would work for a larger painting.

"Transcendental Mesquite"

This last one is another 9 x 12 study. These always get mixed reactions. Some people think they are spooky, blah blah blah. I guess these are paintings that I do for me. I have always enjoyed the experience of gazing up at a tree and seeing the dancing figures and forms.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Melissa's Christmas Gift

Well this year has definately been a wierd year. I have continued to immerse myself into my creative side more and more. It has worked out that the economy has impacted my day job and made alot more time available. As a result, money has not been as available as years past. It also happened this year that I have my first major show opening on January 12th, which means that I have a small fortune invested in frames. I asked my wife Melissa if it would be okay if I made her Christmas present this year, she heartily agreed. Getting her blessing to make a gift was definately the easy part.

A common theme that has showed up in my painting has been trees. I often get asked, "Why trees." That question quite simply does not have a short answer. There is not as aspect of my life that has not been influenced by trees, in fact our whole culture has been shaped by trees. My grandfather was a German craftsman and I grew up in his shadow until I reached adulthood. I have been fascinated by building projects and carpentry since I was a a kid. I don't have an explanation for why, I simply know that to be the case. That interest has inspired a number of projects including log home construction.

The four woods that I chose for this project are ash, zebrawood, purple heart and ziricote. I chose ash not only for its beauty, but because it is indigenous to where I grew up. The other extotic hardwood are all tropical and chosen for their color and grain.

I wound up with a good sized challenge with the locking mechanism on the chest. I got some of the steps of fitting out of order and had to improvice mortising the the lock. I almost blew it on that step of the process. I was questioning whether or not to put a lock in at all because of the degree of difficulty. In the end, I am glad I did, since it is not a very good treasure chest without a lock.

I tried to capture the beauty of the purple heart lining in a few accents on the box without having in appear over the top. Who knew how important the balance that a painter learns in painting would apply to woodworking?

I used the same bookmatched zebrawood that I put in the lid in the bottom of the removable drawer. It made for a nice accent and helped to bring out the beauty of the purple heart. I found the hinge hardware at a local supplier and was extremely pleased with the outcome of that piece of hardware. Simple, elegant and functual, doesn't get any better that that.

Thanks for looking. for a larger image on any of the photos, simply click on the picture.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Celebration of Fine Art

The clock is ticking away and time is rapidly evaporating until the show. For anyone interested in checking out the venue, the website is . I just got off the phone with the frame manufacturer and they are shipping the order on Monday. What a pile of work this is. Anyone that has an opinion on how easy artist have it, has not tried to make a living at it.

I just finished an installation piece to accompany the painting they used to promote my booth on the website.


The painting is of a tree that was found on my dad's ranch in South Dakota.

I thought it only appropriate to make a hall table to display cards and brochures that was made from the same kind of wood as in the painting. I chose the inspiration for the table from Gustav Stickley, the godfather of the arts and crafts movement. He disigned and built furniture that celebrated the beauty of the wood in a simple but functional design. He typically used quarter sawn oak for his pieces, but I figured the same idea would apply for what I was hoping for.

The following pictures I have included in this post are of the table in the various stages of construction including the final dry fit.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blooming Aspens

For a larger view, please click on image.

18 x 24 oil on stretched canvas.

Another studio piece from a photo taken this fall. I liked the effect of the overcast lighting and how it softens the acidity of the yellow in the turned leaves. Not a real obvious compostion. I wanted to use variety to create the interest in this painting. I am still contemplating how successful it is.

Comments and crits always welcomed and appreciated.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dry Creek Juniper

18 X 24 oil on stretched canvas.
I needed to do something a little smaller and less ambitious after the last piece I finished. I was fascinated by all of the reflected light in this piece. There is still a bit of doubt on whether or not this needs a bit more massaging.
Comments and Crit always welcomed and appreciated.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Autumn Meadow

For a larger image please click on photo.

I had an itch to scratch with painting a larger piece. I have an upcoming show in January and was a bit lacking in larger paintings. This is not a huge piece, but large for my standards. This is a 30" X 40" canvas.

For no paricular reason, I haven't painted anything larger than 24" X 36". I have to admit I have been a little intimidated by a larger format because it has a way of magnifying what I don't know about painting yet. Issues in a smaller painting become glaringly obviuous in a large painting. Christensen said usgly is one thing, but big and ugly is a whole different deal. I was a little nervous coming off of a recent failure of a painting, but decided to push forward anyway.

I have gone back to this meadow for several years in a row to see the fall colors. I had a particular motief in mind on the visit this year. I wanted to use the aspens as a screen or a frame for the distant mountain. I have had this image in that back of my mind and wanted to get some good reference for the scene I had in mind. The lighting wasn't real cooperative but managed to piece together something I believe I am happy with. As always I learned some more by doing a larger piece that should enhance my plein air and smaller studio work. It is always amazing to me how these three approches strengthen the painting process.

Comments and Crits always welcome and appreciated.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Autumn Road

For a larger image please click on photo. 18 X 24 oil on stretched canvas.

Not sure if this one is completely done or not. If it looked as bad on the canvas as the photo does, it would be a repaint for sure.

I have been itching to get this one off of the easel to get started on a larger autumn piece. At least it seems big for me. A 30 X 40. I have the tumbnails complete and the canvas is prepped with an oil primer. I also picked up some new oils today and am anxious to give them a shot. I played with them a bit on the finish of this piece and really like the pigment load and the creaminess of the paint. The brand is Fragonard and from first appearance it acts alot like Vasari, but a whole lot less in cost.

I tried to keep this from getting too acidic. I worked on balancing the yellows with violet grey mixes. If nothing else, a good warm up for the next piece.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Riparian Respite

For a larger view, please click on image. 18 X 24 oil on canvas.

Here is another piece for the consideration of the Sonoran Desert Museum. I have been involved in an ongoing project for conservation of endangered plants and places. This is a fall scene from the San Pedro Riparian area. Places like this have been disappearing because of the increasing demand for water in urban and agricultural areas. In my exploration of this area it was easy to see the impact of drought. The cottonwood trees were about half dead and the river could hardly be called a trickle. The Museum wanted to document these places so at least there would be a memory left since there are no easy answers.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Melissa and I got out of town over the weekend and spent the night in Sedona. We had supper reservations at Elote' which is a restraunt that a friend of hers is the chef. Great food and a nice way to end the day after an invigorating hike to Devil's bridge in the red rocks. The shot below is the view up throught the natural bridge.

This little get away, along with the belated celebration of anniversary was to gather some more painting reference material. We shot a little over 400 hundred photos. Now the tedious process of organizing and making thumbnail sketches to see if anything is worth a painting. We got some great shot and the air was crisp with fall in full bloom. There were still some area that had not hit their peak and some that had past. That is a beautiful thing about painting, when it comes time to paint them, I can make it look like it was peak time or not.

One of the cool thing that has helped me in my photography is to think of what I am putting in my view finder in the sens of it becoming a painting. There are thing that I know are nice to look at but just don't translate well.

If I find an area that has something that I know I want to paint, there are things that I have learned by plein air painting that helps me to compile usable reference material. I will take at least three shots, correct exposure, underexposed and overexposed. With the three exposure I can put together a painting with all of the info I need. I can see what is going on in the shadows and the highlighted areas. I knew that I needed to pack in some research since the Celebration of Fine Art fast approaches and I won't have the time in January, February and March.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tahoe Blue

Tommorrow is my wedding anniversary and it will be two years. I only mention that because this is a picture that I took on our honeymoon.

I use to sell swimming pools and they had a color of pebble tec called Tahoe Blue. The theory behind it was that it would make your pool water a certain color. When I got a glimpse of Lake Tahoe, I understood why someone would use the color of this lake as a reference point for a desirable color of water. The swimming pools were a far cry from the color of water that I saw but I knew why it would be used to promote the product. I was absolutely awestruck with the beauty of this lake.

I have had this photo in a folder of pictures I would eventually like to paint. I avoided it because it far exceeded my ability. I finally got the guts to attempt it and those rocks underneath the surface of the water close to shore were as difficult as I imagined they would be.
For a larger image, please click on photo.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Plein Air Season

The long awaited nice temperatures for Phoenix have finally arrived. I have wanted to get out and paint at least one study a day since attending Christensen's workshop in June. Too blasted hot. Well it is finally possible. Here are a weeks efforts.

This was a favorite little fishing hole here in the urban lakes. I did a littl multitasking and fished whild I painted. I caught 4 catfish, 2 bluegill and a white amur. They put copper oxide in the water to control the growth of algae, so the water is actually this goofy color.
This a little spot about a block away from the house. A mother and her daughter were quite entertained by my painting effort and she asked if she could photgraph the progress. I felt a bit like a performance artist.
After getting the kids off to school, I grabbed my kit and headed down to Saratoga lake to watch the morning light wake up on a pontoon. I was pleased with the water on this one.

This one I wanted to try a real high key painting. I have been looking at Bato's artwork and have been fascinated and blown away with how he handles the suttle transitions.

Not real happy with this one. It got later into the afternoon and it was pretty warm out. I think the temp blew my mood.

I went to the park up at Scottsdale and couldn't resist this tribute to Robert Indiana. A lot of lookers and interest in what I was doing.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saratoga Lakeside

It has been about 3 and half months since I have had the plein air kit out. It has just been too blasted hot this summer. We finally got a break and the temps is about 5 clicks below 100. Squeezed out some grease and ran down to one of the local urban lakes to find a scene and see how rusty I have gotten.

Now that the weather seems to have opened up, time to try for one a day until it gets too hot again. Plein air season is here.

9 x 12 oil on board. for a larger image, click on photo.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

First Light at Red Rocks

24 X 30 oil on stretched canvas. Fora larger image, click on photo.

The objective on this piece was to capture feeling of cool damp air with mornings first light. I have been working on creating a bit more of a tonal feel to the paintings and asking myself, "Where do I want the viewer to go."

This area outside of Sedona is one of my favorite places to go scouting for ideas. The red rocks and Junipers make for some interesting subject matter.

Comments and crits always welcome.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

When the Wagons Stopped Rolling

Wanted to do a painting that was about not fussing with it. I have been doing some fairly tight work as of late and wanted to plow through one in a single session "Alla Prima."

The objective on this one was to capture the heat of a July day without burning up the canvas. More warms than cools.

I found this old wagon on my way back from Jackson this summer in an area that I am familiar with the history of it. It was 107 degrees that day and I couldn't help but think of the courage of the homesteaders that come west for the promise of a better life.

Drawing is a little wonky, but I thought that might add a little flavor.

For a larger image, click on picture.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Targhee Meadow

For a larger image, click on photo.

On my vacation this last summer, My wife and I drove up to the Targhee Ski Resort. The sky at that elevation, The stark white of the aspens and the groomed meadows seemed to scream paint me.

I am working on being conscious of having an objective when I paint. The objectives that I was working on in this piece were to keep the influence of the blue of the sky dominant over the local color. Unequal distribution of shapes, sizes and color. Orchestrate variety with a temperature shift instead of a value shift. In the forefront of my mind, where do I want the viewer to go in the painting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Swamp Trestle

For a lager image, Please click on photo.
I have had three paintings going at once and was able to put what I belive to be the finishing touches on this one this am. This is a scene that I painted about a year and a half ago in acrylics and always felt like I didn't capture the moodiness of the piece or the softness of the humidity in the distant trees. I tightened up the crop and painted it larger.
Thanks for looking. Comments always welcome.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Last Light Targhee Glacial Runoff

Finally finished this one or at least I believe it is done. Anyway it is at that point where I set it aside digest it and look for gremlins. This was almost an impossible piece to photgraph. The original has so much more that is able to be seen in the way of shadows. The original has shadows that seem to breathe, and in the the photo they look almost black. One of the mistake that is easy to make when working from a photo.

This scene was littered with fallen trees over the stream. I wanted to capture the feeling of that without painting in every limb.

Two quotes that I had in my mind while painting this one are as follows. They are both from Carlson.

"Reserve is strength; Overstatement is weakness. No one cares to hear the singer's topmost notes when the voice is nigh unto breaking. The art of conservation is strength, and makes a masterpiece a masterpiece. Otherwise, the man who simply bought all the different colors obtainable, and squeezed them out upon the canvas to give it full force, would be the greatest master, instead of being merely extravagant."

"We must not train our eyes to copy tone for tone, but think of the bearing of such colors and harmonies up the main idea of our picture. BEARING- to support or to hold or to remain firm under such a load."

For a larger view, click on picture. Comments and Crits welcomed and appreciated.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arroyo Ironwood

18 x 24 oil on stretched canvas. For a larger image, click on photo.

Another one out of the ironwood series. I have been completely fascinated with the diversity of these trees depending on location. In washes it is obvious how different these trees respond to the availability of submoisture. The light has some amazing personality to it in these areas. I am trying to continue to increase the viariety in the midtones and shadows.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Crawdad Creek

For a larger image please click on photo.

This is a little backlit scene from just outside of Payson Arizona. Crawdad Creek is not the name of the creek, but I could not for the life of me remember the name of it. There were kids catching crawdad by the bucket full out of this little creek. The backlighting and blues of the hillside in the distance thought this would translate on canvas.18 x 24 oil on stretched canvas

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Intimate Creek

This is the first piece since the workshop with Scott Christensen that I have had an opportunity to play with some of the techniques that I have wanter to try since then.

One of the thing that I was fascinated with was that Scott uses alot of glazes on his studio work. I guess that I assumed since his work is so embedded in Plein Air that he would be fairly set in stone with an Alla Prima approach.

For anyone that may be interested this is some of the methods and approaches I have been playing with. This piece is painted on oil primed canvas (three coats that have been lightly sanded between coats.) A light drizzling of liquin on a limited pallet of premixed colors. I am trying to work away from an intuitive approach to color. This piece three sessions to get it to a state of completion. About three hours the first session two the next and the final session where I glued together the color harmony and ajusted the temperatures of certain areas with glazes about a half an hour. Each session I wetted the entire painting with a sponge brush and liquin. I have found that I do not fight the medium when I pay attention to the method.

Some of the other things that I have been working on is having a strong reserve of color. Trying not to get carried away with color in the beginning stages of the painting but to get the painting to a stage of completion as quick as possible so that I can get a read on the lighting.

This piece was fairly complex as far as getting the lighting right. This little scene was in a canyon in the White Mountains of Arizona. There wasn't any direct light to speak of. Everything was reflected and ambient light. I found that it was pretty easy to lose my way and forget the what type of light I was painting.

24 X 30 oil on canvas, for a larger image, click on picture.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Teton Christensen Workshop

Well here are some of the attempts from the Christensen workshop. I am not going to post the really bad frisbees. I had a day so bad that I took the canvas off the easel and sailed it across the canyon.

Scott is an excellent teacher and this was definately painting bootcamp. He encouraged us to just get infomation and not try for finished paintings. He also wanted us to keep our studies to 20 minutes to keep from noodling them too much. I was out of my element with the amount of green that there was in front of me. He said that Sargeant said that if you can paint green, you can paint any thing. He also reminded us that red is the most underused modifier of green.

I have a couple that I was happy with, most of them were not what I would call a success. I plan on posting my notes and some of his demos, but this will have to do for now.