Monday, December 19, 2011

Making A Painting Slightly Better

This is one of those paintings that flew off the brush, others struggle their way to the trash can. Although the subject had no fall colors on the left side , I added some small amounts to spread a similar temperature throughout the painting and a similar warm color. It may hurt the painting to overdo on the left the side.
May you all have wonderful holidays and enjoy them. My tendency is to work too hard, don't grind if you can avoid it, I can turn anything into work like most of us, just get a little better each day and take a day off to be part of normal life. You need to be much more than  an artist.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Enhancing A Field Study 2 Simplification

  I don't know about you but I am always making things too complicated, especially when outside looking at all the detail or just looking too much at the subject matter and not organizing and simplifying,isn't it funny. Previously in a post I altered this one to create more depth, etc., but I lost some atmosphere in the middle mountain.
  In these revisions I hopefully simplified the mountain and the rock shapes and got a lil better tree shapes, and hopefully better related the mid mountain. I am sure I would change some things again, when I paint it larger. Will do some more of these because I loved it when other artists critique their own work, it helps me to learn .

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On Giving to Charities

HOSTED BY RED AND BOB BUISSON,                   jurying in association with 

 As an artist, of most of us it is difficult to earn money, and most charities are great causes, so it seems to be best not to cheapen the process and ourselves. Perhaps we should be honest with ourselves and try develop a pure intent first.
 It is easy to be resentful when donating originals as we are asked often and they are difficult to produce for most of us, I noticed my feelings of resentment in myself recently. What if we overcome our torn feelings by picking the charity or charities we fully believe in and donate a good original to it with a pure intent to help and for no other reason or benefit, not expecting anything in return. You can't donate to all charity requests and the process is cheapened by donating less than your good work. If you donated giclees or prints to the other charities, or some other smaller donation than an original or respectfully declined we may maintain our true intent.
 In listening to several nuns wisdom, they make it clear you can't do everything requested of you, and as an artist your number one mission in life is to create for the world. It isn't easy and requires dedication at a very high level. The arts are a necessity and what you do is probably enriching the world. In the days of the depression , they kept some of the playhouses open in New York for free or minimal prices to provide for the spirits of people in such trying times. Another great wisdom perhaps.
 Maybe you have other ways of dealing with these feelings.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Enhancing A Field Study

Sometimes we maybe should see if I can improve the field study in the studio, it would be logical that you should be able to, but sometimes we lose certain things in the original ,but we must take this risk to learn to grow. Above is the revised and below is the original. I see certain things I like better in each. I played with the depth, a greater color temperature shift and some of the shapes. Make frustration your friend, and laugh a little as you try to improve a painting.  It never ceases to amaze me how hard painting can be , especially when trying to grow, but it can be quite satisfying if you can learn something new, hope you enjoyed this little comparison, I will be doing a couple of others in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


  One of the great things about workshops is we all are creating , new acquaintances, new methods, recreating methods, hearing what we need to hear and having our paintings and methods recreated. You don't hear or get it until you are ready to receive that knowledge: how true.

  I just finished teaching a plein air and than a studio workshop. It is totally recreating and exhausting for all. As a side note recreation is necessary to recreate, they are of the same word. We all work too hard.
  As an illustration, I did a real quick 15 minute rock and houses in a cliff vignette demo just making it up; having painted these scenes a lot. That one quick idea sprang into a small works painting. Try making a painting up of a scene you have painted a lot , it creates a new concept for a painting. Funny, I really like the looseness in the vignette. Painting that small is hard for me ,follow your own temperament.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Attending Shows and Inner Confidence

     I just returned from THE AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISTS SOCIETY SHOW in Carmel , It always remind me of how grateful I can be to meet so many nice people , artists are a great group and willing to share. It is also an honor to hang with so many great artists and to learn so much from observing the art.
     Visiting the museums of the deceased artists is also huge learning experience. We are fortunate to live in such a time.
     I have been wisely told to paint for myself and the way I want it to look. THIS IS A MUST, than no one can take that away from you, and thus you do not ride an emotional roller coaster of compliments or lack thereof. If you feel good about your piece (which is not always the case, especially if you rushed it out of the studio,) than alls well with your interior satisfaction.  Art is so subjective and it is best your inner confidence should not be based on outside affirmations.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


 It cant be said enough, recently while plein air painting I was trying to capture atmosphere, in values and colors, with a beautiful sky,once I thought it was working I turned my attention to beautiful water and rocks up front, I than proceeded to add all this to the bottom two inches of the painting. Later a friend looked at the painting and said what if you eliminate the rocks and frontal water? (Remember this was my second thought to add all this) What a difference in the quality of the painting when I cut the two inches from the bottom. I now had one concept I had originally tried to capture. I am including this little painting with the little buildings and big sky. Imagine how complicated it was with a lot of rocks and churning water up front.

   Look at all your paintings and see if you can crop parts out. I am including another painting with a big sky. These paintings are about the skies. I am also including a plein air marsh painting in which I think I got the ground plain simplified. Ask the question can any part be eliminated first not what can be added?
   In the next few blogs we will look at a plein air workshop in Dahlonega, and my demo for the American Society of Marine Artists at their annual meeting in Savannah. Simplify.

Monday, September 12, 2011


   On a recent trip to western mountains, it once again is obvious how important these trips are, it refreshes you, teaches you and most importantly INSPIRES AND MOTIVATES. In my workshops the number one statement from participants is  "I have not been painting enough."  The greatest motivator is to set yourself up for motivation. Think about what really inspires you, get out there, get in a workshop and/or be around others, we help each other.

   In my last post it was mentioned that I use these studies for values and colors (the camera is picking up much less than you may realize.  You can capture beautiful subtleties in the lighting conditions when painting on location), and really work on simplifying.  Allen Rodgers comment pointed out on how important it is to exclude material. He is so right; the simplification process requires you only put in what is essential to convey the sense of place in a landscape, which makes a better painting. Compose your painting of several large shapes, of interesting variety.

  You must think in the beginning, but if you over think you may kill your inspiration, get what inspires you and quit. Paint for yourself. Here are three paintings from this trip; I can already see where a little more simplification may help. Always ask yourself if you can eliminate something first, not add, too much jewelry overstates the beautiful essence and spirit of a place. I would love for you to interact by looking at these paintings for places that could use more simplification and then your own paintings. You can use detail if you like but hold you large value shapes, that is what holds the painting together. It is all about balance but most of us err on the side of too much, I do it all the time.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Simplify Plein Air Paintings

Well it cant be said enough to simplify, for me my plein air paintings are to get reads of the color harmonies and values that the camera wont catch. It is all about comparing everything and learning to squint on values. I like expressive strokes, but you still need to simplify your values. I am including 3 plein air paintings 2 recently and the other years ago. It really is not that good and shows I did not know where I was headed in some areas. You will be able to see for yourself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reflections on paint out competitions


         It is hard to reconcile competition with art, in my mind. I choose these based on the area I like and because I could teach a workshop near the area, and not what it will do for my career. In this case a buddy was on the trip which made it enjoyable and it split the costs. It also helps you gauge how you paint based on the quality of the artists. This was a real competition , we could not bring any work , all panels were stamped and had to be painted within the 2 day period. I am not sure this is the best set up, but it does put the pressure on , because we really only had 1 and 3/4 days, what if it rains for 2 days? It was very windy and my easel blew over 3 times.
          As usual , like most plein air trips my best one was not the one I thought it was going to be, and one just was not good. However, it worked out well in the end.
          Enjoy your painting, paint for yourself, and balance competitiveness, only work enjoyably to make yourself better and not to beat someone else. Enjoy growing and learning.

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Preparation for Jackson Hole

In the Colorado mountains preparing to teach a workshop in beautiful Jackson Hole, and provide paintings to the  gallery.We will be posting plein air paintings from the workshop and some of the students.

Two of my favorite paintings sold in the gallery this week, and the painting "In the Light " was accepted in the American Impressionist Society Show.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

On Accelerated Growth in a Workshop

HOW DO ARTISTS ACCELERATE THEIR GROWTH?  This is always a question that should consume us so as to enable each of us to grow easier and faster, especially in a workshop setting under limited time constraints. It is always a great joy for artists in a workshop to grow quickly with a sense of joy and accomplishment.
It is incumbent on a teacher to assess each artist and provide just enough growth to challenge and stretch so as to prevent boredom, yet not push too fast to create frustration and anxiety and to keep the process joyful so we grow faster? Modern psychology is proving that one performs better if one gets a deep sense of joy and satisfaction in the task. There appears to be a balancing point for each artist. Awareness by both the artist and teacher as to each student’s level of ability AT THAT POINT IN THEIR CAREER  (since we are all at different stages at each point in time) is immensely helpful. Motivation to paint seems greater when one enjoys the process and motivation keeps us painting more and more often. I always observe that artists in workshops do not take enough breaks and often I will have to force a break to happen. After a break artists see their paintings more accurately and thus paint better. Breaks are important for the painting and for our attitude.
Finding both meaning and pleasure in the process is important as that is believed to be a primary purpose of life for which we are hardwired, that is to find both pleasure and meaning in what we do.
In our constant demands to finish tasks and succeed it is easy to lose a significant purpose of art, to connect with an emotion and find a way to allow others a passage through art for them to participate in the emotion and mystery that so moved the artist. The more skills learned the higher our ability to create this passage, and the emotion is than shared which makes us more human, connected and less isolated.

Many thanks to all the artists that endured the elements at this workshop. A special thanks to Anita Elder at the Art Loft for the organization and facility, Katherine and Bill for the gracious dinner and Donna and her husband for the incredibly, beautiful landscape and hospitality at their home.

 The First Day of the workshop consisted of Demos and Studio work at
 the Art Loft Studio in Dahlonega, GA

Demonstration of a value study and shape plan

The  initial time in the studio was used to prepare  to capture the scenes in the North GA Mountains, which was followed each day by a full Critique back in the comfort of the Studio. Artists paintings were analyzed and painted on to show ideas on how to make the paintings better in front of the whole class. A painting each student brought was also analyzed to show how to help the painting achieve greater success.

A fall workshop is in the planning to include the beautiful vineyards around this area.

Next post will be a Reflection on paint outs and fast paintings on site. Here  is a 7 by 5 quickie for the Maritime Gallery in Mystic Seaport
see click on workshop tab
register immediately they often fill quickly