Saturday, December 19, 2009

I think it's been awhile since I've posted a painting of Colorado, and I just finished this one today. For those who know Colorado these gigantic rocks are the Flatirons just outside the city of Boulder. They are a delight for a painter due to the way the unique shapes catch the light.

This oil painting is 20 x 16 inches.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today I completed another in my long-running series of urban landscapes. This one, like yesterday's, is an oil painting. In this case it is a scene in Washington, DC...Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, to be exact. With this scene I am not working with quite the visual density of yesterday's New York painting. One of the things that interested me in this scene was the fact that we are looking at a street which just starts to turn down a slight hill. Another is the set of distinguishing marks for the older east coast architecture, such as the dark red brick and the lone dormer window at the upper left.

This oil painting is 20 x 16 inches.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This is an oil painting of a scene in New York City. One of the things that's challenging, and also a lot of fun, in painting places like New York, is that scenes tend to be so full visually. One needs to edit out a lot of information, but still convey the sense of a busy, crowded city with many different things happening.

This oil painting is 18 x 14 inches.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Well, it's good to be back at the blog after a long absence due to travels...I am hoping to post new paintings at the usual intervals, as I am very busy at the easel.

I did the above oil painting, like many paintings, as a challenge to see if I could paint what I had never painted this case a nearly-transparent sheet of red fabric. I think it would be called gauze? Anyway, the fun of this painting was to try to convey the effect of the fabric on the colors that were visible through it, next to the same colors NOT seen through the fabric...including the effect of the fabric on itself, as it was folded in several places.

This subject seems to be a good one for glazing, i.e. paint a very diluted layer of red paint over the otherwise-dry painting. However, as with most paintings, I did this one in one go, not waiting for anything to dry. The painting is 12 x 9 inches.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And now once again for something different. I haven't done many interior scenes, but I enjoyed painting this view of a fresh juice bar at the central market in Barcelona, Spain. Perhaps it is all those nice warm colors.
This is an oil painting and is 14 x 18 inches.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

OK, time for something different...I've posted a number of street scenes from Mediterranean Europe (things I love to paint) so now I am posting one of my plein air Colorado landscapes (which I also love to paint). This one is in the town of Como, which is between Kenosha Pass and Fairplay, for those who are familiar with Colorado. Como is an old railroad town which served the Denver, South Park and Pacific RR. This railroad went over Boreas Pass and closed in 1937. The town is mostly old houses and buildings and not very big...a wonderful place to paint! The aspens are just turning yellow so we are at the beginning of the autumn color season.

This painting is an example of a composition I am strongly drawn to these days...a subject (in this case the buildings) shown in the context of its environment (the mountains). The house and its neighboring building are interesting in their own right, but in my opinion they are more interesting for their context. The same idea applies to posts I have recently done of city scenes where the subjects (people) are shown in the context of the type of town they are in.

The painting above is an oil painting and is 14 x 11 inches. I painted it this week.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I suppose almost all artists struggle with one thing or another, or many things. One of the things I sometimes struggle with is avoiding too-sharp edges around all the various shapes in the painting. I think that too-sharp edges tend to confuse the eye...if all edges are sharp it can suggest the same level of empasis for every part of the painting, which can be boring.

Sure enough, when I thought I was almost done with this painting I took a lunch break and then returned to it only to find I disliked it. My immediate thought was that this would be one for the trash bin, but then thought of why I didn't like it...its crisp-edged shapes. With the idea that I had nothing to lose, I grabbed a large bristle brush and dragged it across edges and from one shape to the next, bringing color with me from place to place. The paint was still completely wet and it was a playful and lighthearted experience. I kept going until I liked the painting and then I stopped, leaving the result you see above. I did not soften all edges in the painting, leaving some sharp to increase the emphasis on the related elements.

This is an oil painting of a scene in a town in the south of France. It is 24 x 30 inches.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sometime early in the course of most paintings I usually think of the painting as an abstract arrangement of light and dark shapes...this painting is an excellent example of this. I was attracted by the shape of the sky as seen between the old buildings in this south-of-France town. It is a very old hill-town and the streets are quite narrow. This was a warm day in early summer, with strong I showed the light as very warm in this painting.
This is an oil painting and is 20 x 16 inches.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Every now and then it happens that I fuss over a painting in a frustrated way, trying to get all of the shapes accurate and working and reworking the painting for hours. Eventually the painting turns out OK, but then to relieve the tension I do a painting very quickly using only the loosest gestural strokes. Of course it is this second painting that turns out better, as is the case with the one above (I did not post the first painting). I wonder if it's necessary sometimes to paint the first one in order to get in the right frame of mind to paint the second. Thankfully, not always!

This is another of my urban landscapes of Mediterranean Europe, this time in the south of France. It is an oil painting and is 11 x 14 inches.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back in Barcelona today...a new oil painting of the side streets in the city. This painting is 14 x 11 inches.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This is an oil painting of a scene in a town in southern France. When you paint scenes in towns you inevitably have cars to deal with, often in the foreground as is the case here. Car shapes are not as simple as they first seem, and their reflective surfaces often produce sharp reflections from the sky. I find I must simplify the cars' shapes and tone down the reflections...otherwise the cars become the focal point of the painting. Sometimes they ARE the focal point, but here it is the figures, so the cars must be subdued. Fortunately the figures are in shadow with a sunlit building behind them, and this contrast also gives them the emphasis they need.
This oil painting is 14 x 18 inches.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lately I have had about 2 weeks in a row when I can paint every day (well, OK, I take Sundays off). Anyway, I always find that this has a good effect on my painting. The action becomes more intuitive and I feel that I make good progress as a painter. Plus of course, I like to paint so the more days spent on it, the better! In this painting I especially enjoyed the multitude of colors present in the white fabric and hat. It is easy to think of white as just white, but there are many colors involved!
This oil painting is 12 x 9 inches.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Here is another in my long-running series of oil paintings of Mediterranean Europe. In this scene I return to Barcelona. This painting is composed almost entirely of neutral colors, but I like them because none are browns and grays from the tube...all are mixed from blues, reds, oranges and yellows. In fact it has been several years since I included browns and grays on my palette. I find the ones mixed from primary colors to be much more interesting.
This painting is 9 x 12 inches and is one of 3 paintings I completed today.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This is another in my long-running series of oil paintings of Mediterranean Europe. It is a path through a garden in the town of Bruniquel in the south of France. I find such paths to be very inviting, both as a painter and as a walker. Of course I am always interested in light and shadow, and in this case in the effects of slightly dappled sunlight.

This oil painting is 14 x 11 inches.

Friday, August 14, 2009

This is a scene in Barcelona, where I visited a few months ago with my wife and other family members. I am now working on a series of paintings from that visit...trying to capture more the idea of that nice warm Mediterranean light and the everyday pulse of a lively city and not so much a postcard view of a particular place. I don't expect anyone to recognize the street in Barcelona but I hope the painting will bring to mind the feeling of southern Europe.

This painting is 14 x 11 inches.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This is an 8 x 10 painting I did yesterday at Boreas Pass, Colorado (elevation 11,481 feet). The scene is of the last few trees at timberline...I liked the way they were illuminated on one side by the morning sun. Boreas Pass is named for the ancient Greek god of the North Wind, and yesterday the pass seemed well-named. There was a stiff breeze and the air was chilly, especially for July 28. I weighted my easel with large rocks and put on 2 sweatshirts. Still the painting was a challenge because the wind wanted to blow my brush off-course as it approached the canvas. I had to brace my painting arm against the easel or my other arm. But it was a great day and after painting I hiked up to Black Powder Pass (which is just above Boreas) and admired the wildflowers.

I hope to paint at some of the other high passes before winter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Here is another painting from a return visit to Silver Plume, painted on location. No mystery why I wanted to paint this...the old red caboose in the middle of town! This painting is 10 x 8 inches. The photo of it has washed out the light shapes a little, but it's pretty close.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I have always liked trees, and now I like to paint them. This painting is 14 x 11 inches and is based on a photo I took of some trees near the northeastern coast of Spain. The Pyrenees are in the background.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yesterday I spent the morning in the town of Silver Plume, Colorado painting with a group of plein-air painters. Here is a scene of the main street of town, which is a gravel street. Silver Plume is an old mining town about an hour west of Denver. I liked the morning sun on the fronts of the old buildings. This sketch is 8 x 10 inches.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's summer in Colorado and that means it's time for outdoor painting! Here are a couple of 8x10 sketches I made at the Flying J Ranch park in Conifer, Colorado. We've had an extraordinary amount of rain lately and the meadows in our area are greener than usual. I am planning to paint on-site outdoors at least once a week through the summer and hopefully the autumn as well.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Last week I was at a painting workshop in Taos, New Mexico with about 15 other painters, all from the Denver area and led by Kim English. All of our work was done outdoors from nature. Sometimes we also had models pose for us so our work involved the figure in the landscape. We painted in Nicolai Fechin's garden in Taos, in the Taos Plaza, along the banks of the Rio Grande and in the small town of Arroyo Seco. So often in my painting life I am working alone, and it is one of life's great pleasures to paint with an enthusiastic group of artists.
But enough talk...above are 3 of the oil sketches I did while in New Mexico.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here are 3 more paintings I've done since returning from France. I have many more ideas and reference photos so expect to see a few more French-landscape paintings in the coming weeks. I was in the south of France in late May so the summer greens were very apparent in the landscape. This presents interesting challenges for painters (like me) who like their paintings not to be "too green". Fortunately green can be pushed in several directions...yellow, orange, purple, blue. I did all of these in the above paintings and was satisfied with the level of green-ness, feeling that the green was softened without losing the early-summer feeling of the place. Another challenge is the bluish-green of some crops especially if they are in the foreground (since blue generally wants to recede into the background). This was the case in the middle painting. I thought twice about using so much blue in the foreground, but ultimately liked the color.

Friday, June 19, 2009

In my last posting I added a painting done on my recent trip to France. Now I'm back in my studio (which I am increasingly moving outdoors in nice weather) and continuing to do paintings of the French countryside. I like the warm colors, the old stone farm buildings and the way the fields are divided into interesting sizes and shapes. As usual, when I return from a trip like this, I have a very strong urge to paint the things I have just seen.
This painting is 9 x 12 inches.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I just got back from a trip to France and Spain, and had an opportunity to do some painting on location in southern France. This is one of the results. It is a view from the town of Castelnau-de-Montmiral over the rolling countryside. I find this kind of country excellent for is a little hilly and the fields are divided into fairly small pieces and often divided by trees or shrubbery. This creates interesting shapes for the painter, and southern France is full of scenes like this one. I completed 10 paintings while in France, and brought back about many photos for reference in creating more paintings in the studio. This painting is about 9" x 12".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

OK, I am back from my art shows in Texas now, although I will hit the road again soon enough. Meanwhile the art shows were very good and as usual I enjoyed my travels in Texas. One of the things I did upon returning home was to look at a series of urban landscapes I had done a few months ago of the streets of Chicago. I liked the overall composition and feel, but wasn't happy with the amount of light in the paintings. So, without changing the composition, I put another layer of paint on top of everything and upped the contrast between light and shadow, empasizing the shapes of the figures. I did this with 7 are a couple of them. Both are 11" x 14".
By the way, early next month I will be in Chicago for an art festival on 57th Street. Many years ago I lived on 55th and then 54th, so this will be familiar ground!

Monday, April 13, 2009

I just got back from a great trip to Texas (Houston and also the Gulf Coast around Rockport), and am leaving for another Texas trip tomorrow morning (Dallas - Fort Worth and the hill country), so in between why not do another in my Deep-in-the-Heart-of-Texas series. This scene is a little northwest of Fort Worth along US Hwy 287, which is my normal route to most places in Texas. I'm not sure what the red flowers are but I liked them, and they gave me a nice opportunity to use the complementary colors red and green for almost the whole painting. This painting is 18" x 14".

The trip that begins tomorrow will be a 3-weeker, so once again I will have to let this posting age for a few weeks before posting another painting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This painting was done as a study of fabric folds, for a workshop I took on that subject. But I also thought that the model had struck a wonderfully expressive pose and I really enjoyed working on the painting. I found the study of fabric to be can be so tempting to just work on the expression of the model and not give adequate effort to the fabric which helps tell the story. This painting is 12" x 9".

By the way, I will be at art festivals in Texas the next couple of weekends so it will probably be at least 2 weeks before my next post.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This week's painting was done from a live model doing a quick was either 5 or 10 minutes to do this painting. She is standing on the sill of a large window at the Art Students League of Denver, where this was painted. Twice a week this time of year I paint in a class where we spend the afternoon (3 and a half hours) painting quick studies like this one. It is exhausting but a lot of fun, and great practice. In an afternoon we do dozens of paintings...each time going through the process of deciding on the composition and massing in the large simple shapes of the painting. There is not much time for finishing touches, so the paintings all look pretty sketchy like this one. I try to say as much as possible with each brushstroke. It has had an enormous impact on how I paint, even when I have more than 10 minutes!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Both the barn and the tree in this scene are old timers. I liked the curve in the tree trunk and the low branch, and the gentle curve in the front of the barn roof. Scenes like this one can be found in many places, but here we are deep in the heart of Texas, somewhere between Austin and Houston. I'll be heading there again later this month for several art festivals...maybe I'll find some more ideas for paintings!

This painting is 14 x 18 inches. I haven't come up with the right name for it yet.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

This week I did a series of paintings of Elk Meadow, in Evergreen, Colorado...not far from my home. The painting depicts a clear but slightly misty day, in which the distant trees become more blue and less clear. This painting is 14 x 18 inches. Elk Meadow is a park with good trails through the meadow and up into the mountain (Bergen Peak) behind the meadow.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This is a scene in the old warehouse district in Milwaukee, now renovated (but not overly so) to include lofts, restaurants and shops. We were there on a beautiful summer evening in 2008. Figures, streets and cast shadows in the late afternoon sunlight appear many times in my's one of the subjects I enjoy very much and return to again and again. This one is 14" tall and 18" wide.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This is an early morning view in August of Lake Michigan from one of the elevated trains in Chicago (on the Red Line. I don't remember exactly where but somewhere north of Lawrence Avenue). Chicago is one of my favorite cities and I really like the views from the EL. I plan to visit the city again this coming August. One of the challenges with an urban scene like this is to avoid getting too fussy with details but still have a convincing painting. This painting is 18" x 24".

Monday, February 9, 2009

This is a scene in southern France in early spring when the grass in the pastures has turned green but the trees are still winter-bare. I liked the collection of hilltop farm buildings. In painting this I was thinking of a composition of mostly neutral colors, with some areas of green and a few accents of complementary red. Showing the distant trees on the horizon as bare trees, without painting every branch, was an interesting challenge.

The painting is 20" tall and 16" wide. I painted it on Saturday while listening to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Lucia di Lammermoor. It was a breathtakingly good performance and I am naming the painting "Lucia's Farm" in its honor.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

This is a typical early morning scene along the Gulf of Mexico, with shell collectors, birds and a large ship, perhaps a tanker. I decided to use a very limited palette of colors in painting this. All of the colors you see were mixed from Cobalt Blue, White and various shades of cadmium (yellow, orange, red). Although it does not work with all subjects, I think it's fun to see what can be done with a small group of colors...and color harmony seems to be almost automatic when painting this way. The painting is 20" tall and 16" wide; I call it "The Treasure Hunters".

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I call this painting "Just Between the Two of Us". It is 9" tall and 12" wide.

I have been out of town for a week spending some quality time with family, and just got home in time to do some painting on Saturday. I often start my painting day with some quick figure studies. If I haven't painted for a week then I am more likely to make some mistakes...but sometimes the paintings have a fresh quality that makes up for this. In fact I am quite reluctant to fix mistakes late in the painting. It is possible to spend a lot of time making corrections...and knock the life right out of the painting in the process!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This is a painting of the town of St. Antonin in southern France. I was there on a market day last February with my sister and her husband. Although chilly, it was a beautiful sunny day which made for great patterns of light and shadow. Towns like this sometimes feel almost too quiet, so I enjoy being there on market days. The painting is 24 x 18 inches.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is a scene in Cordoba, Spain just at dusk. The sky had a warm glow and the streets and buildings were cool and shadowy, but not yet fully dark. Cordoba is between Seville and Granada in the Andalusia region of Spain, and well worth seeing in my opinion. The painting is 24 x 18 inches.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This week I did several paintings using only sepia and white, and did not attempt to include any paint-texture, image detail or soft blending of edges. Painting this way isolates the study of major light and dark shapes, so important for any painting of any subject. I used 9 separate gradations of tone from pure sepia to pure white, though all 9 probably were not used in this painting.

When I paint this way I consider it training and I am not trying to achieve finished work for exhibition...but sometimes a painting will have a charm of its own.

I may start posting more than one painting per week now...I am painting a lot and enjoy putting them here for people to see.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts which I'll call "Painting of the Week". This one was completed yesterday, Jan 3, and is 24" high and 30" wide. It is a scene of a country road in southern France...these roads are very often lined with trees known in the US as Sycamores, in England as Plane Trees and in France as Platanes. I actually started this painting over a year ago and had not worked on it since. I was not satisfied with the color and the edges between shapes but liked the composition, so I added a new layer of paint over everything without changing the design.

I will plan to post a new painting each week when I'm not out on the road somewhere. So, keep checking for new work and let me know what you think.