Monday, September 1, 2014

Challenge Day 1: A Certain Blue

"Blue River Bird" 8x10 oil on Ampersand Gesso (on hold for a show)
A certain blue enters your soul. Matisse

Day 1: Limited Palette with Dominant Primary Color

Happy September everyone! And so it begins. After some debate, I’ve chosen “COLOR” (you saw that coming didn’t you?) as my 30 in 30 theme. Obviously COLOR is an enormous, almost overwhelming, subject so I’ve decided to narrow my focus each day to a specific color plan, strategy or approach. 

Today my goal was: Color harmony as well as dominance (in this case a rich sapphire blue).  This confident little sparrow caught my eye on an early AM stroll in Breckenridge, Colorado. He was hanging out on the sunny boulders near the beautiful Blue River.

This 8x10 oil study is just three pigments and white: Ultramarine blue (warm blue), alizarin crimson (cool red), and hansa yellow light (cool-ish yellow).  My white is mostly Permalba (titanium+zinc).  That’s it. Three primaries and white. I almost always find this to be a successful color approach to little paintings.

If you’re participating in the “30 in 30” thanks for stopping by and have a fantastic month of painting. My thanks to Leslie Saeta for creating this exciting community (are there really over 700?) of daily painters. I know this will be busy but motivating and inspirational month for all us!

Day 2: Another limited three color palette. Different pigments and warmer… Stay tuned.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Ready for the Big Three-Oh!

16 of my daily oil paintings from this year.
Unfortunately I don't mean a landmark upcoming birthday. No I'm taking about the upcoming 30 in 30 daily painting challenge which starts on September 1. Challenge hostess Leslie Saeta suggests choosing a theme for the month.

I think this is smart because I feel some limits and boundaries actually encourage more artistic and creative freedom. Plus an art challenge like this (or one you assign yourself) keeps you motivated as well as strengthen your personal style.

So what's my 30 in 30 theme? You'll have to check back to on Sept. 1 (You won’t be too surprised given my blog name.) In the meantime here are 30 painting ideas or art themes that I considered. Even if you don't want to paint for 30 days you could just give yourself a weekly or "every Friday" challenge or whatever works best for you! Cheers from Colorado and happy painting!

1.    Pets (ask friends, relatives, local shelter to send you pics.)
2.    Your hometown (or things associated with it)
3.    Weather or climate (stormy, rainy, sunny, tropical, etc.)
4.    Your favorite foods/beverages (hot cocoa for me)
5.    Alphabet (from A to Z) or all one letter (apple, antiques, aloe, etc.)
6.    Still life in natural (outdoor) light
7.    Your hobbies other than art (cooking, gardening, music, sailing, hiking,etc.)
8.    Things associated with your state/state symbols
9.    Ode to a season or month (October things)
10.    Same time of day: All morning, all night, etc.
11.    Things found on a farm or in a garden
12.    Toys, games, etc.
13.    Phobias (that would be insects for me!)
14.    Things from the farmer’s market or grocery store
15.    Shiny or reflective objects
16.    Lucky (or unlucky) items/symbols
17.    Beachy (lighthouse, shells, waves, seagulls, flip flops, etc.)
18.    Trees (there over 700 types in North America)
19.    White and black objects (which of course are rarely all white or black)
20.    Things you use in the studio/workshop
21.    Something you’ve never painted before (or were afraid to—i.e. a selfie)
22.    Textures—fur, metal, wood, rust, etc.
23.    All plein air in your backyard or neighborhood (to save time)
24.    Things with wheels (trucks, tractors, bicycles, etc.)
25.    Specific painting technique: All pointillism, expressionism, etc.
26.    Stuff from your closet or junk drawer(especially the not so neat one)
27.    Things with letters or writing in them (signage, mugs, etc.)
28.    Something in motion or moving (the still life opposite)
29.    Different painting tool each day so palette knife, big round brush, small flat brush, etc.
30.    Rock your boat. It's a challenge after all! Paint upside down, with your left hand, glasses off, etc.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Welcome to the Bloom Town

A rainbow of summer blossoms in Breckenridge, Colorado
Happy August everyone!  As a nature painter it’s important to me each summer that I get out of the city and paint and/or take as many nature photos as I can before cooler weather comes around.  As a visual artist I also think it's helpful to change up your environment once in a while. And that doesn’t mean you have to jump on a plane to Tuscany—though that sounds pretty nice. I’m a little more practical though…

So last Saturday I took a quick trip up to charming Breckenridge, CO (which is less than 2 hours from my Denver based studio if the highway traffic isn’t too bad ).  With an apology to all my ski and snow loving friends I think the Colorado mountains are even more lovely in the summer.

The flowers in Breck (as we call casually call it) were out in full force as you can see in every color of the rainbow. I had a really relaxing time snapping photos, strolling along the Blue River, enjoying a fresh Palisades peach crepe (the most amazing crepe I’ve ever had), and checking out the many little boutiques and galleries.
Walking along the Blue River in Breckenridge, CO
 At 9,200 feet the air is so dazzling fresh and clear—perfect for taking photos and just the right amount of cool on a warm August Saturday.

And last Wednesday I also took a one day plein air workshop in Belmar Park (about 30 minutes away) with painter Jeanne McKenzie. I’ll share more about my plein air day in my next post. Aside from a rather painful bee sting to start the day it was a wonderful summer day of painting with lots of helpful outdoor painting lessons to take note of. (For example, bug spray is a must on your packing list but bug bite ointment or pain relievers are even better.)

Before I go quick thanks to my latest Twitter and Pinterest followers! I appreciate your quotidian support and creative camaraderie!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's Owl Good in the Summer

"It's Owl Good" screech owl oil painting study 8x10 on linen
SOLD--Thank you!!

Summer is flying by (no pun intended)! I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and having a great time working on art projects with my summer students. I’ve also had some challenges and frustrations working on my of key art goals for this year: Improve plein air painting skills.

Ahh...Unfortunately as much as I love nature I’m just not “outdoorsy.” It’s one of those skills that I know will come in time with patience and practice.  As I think about where to practice again in a nice shady quiet spot I decided to put in some air conditioned studio time. But in 2 weeks am off to another one day plein air workshop.(Am just hoping not to get lost in the wilderness this time...)

On a much happier note I always enjoy participating in the Daily Paintworks challenges—especially when the theme relates to birds or flowers.  There’s something really motivating about painting something that you have a strong connection with.

So you can imagine my delight when I saw this week’s challenge was—hoot, hoot—owls! If you visit my studio you’ll find a cherished international owl collection thanks to my friends, family, and students. Yep, I’m a proud “bubophile.” (That’s a fancy word for owl lover.)

So I set aside a few other art projects to quickly paint this this adorable (and sleepy) little screech owl I fell in love with at a raptor education event.  Isn’t it cool how their mottled feathers mimic tree bark?

I often paint really large colorful owls but I really enjoyed painting this little guy. Thanks again to artist Linda McCoy for posting my dream challenge this week! Finally if you're an owl fan like I am, you'll find 100 owls to inspire you on my Pinterest board. P.S. Did you know a group of owls is called a Parliament? 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Painting Knife of the Party

"Jazzy Crow" 8x01 oil on linen (for sale at Framed Image Gallery)
Happy Summer everyone! It's going to be exciting painting week. Today I'm getting ready for a three day plein air workshop in beautiful Evergreen, Colorado later this week with with landscape artist Dave Santillanes. It's going to be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it!

In the meantime I wanted to post this new painting and offer my thoughts on painting with a knife-- one of my favorite oil painting techniques. FYI, I consider a palette knife to be a mixing knife. But really, one could mix/paint with either and I often do. And artists seem to use the terms interchangeably.

The knife has been of my favorite painting tools for years. It works wonderfully (most of the time) for adding texture or thicker impasto paint layers in the final stages. And sometimes, as with my crow painting today, I paint the entire painting from start to finish with the knife. 

Even if you prefer using a  brush (which I mostly use as well) I think having some knife skills are very useful for oil painting. Painting knives, for example, can be used to quickly rework or scrape a section. This scraping often results in exciting sections of interesting broken color effects. Note that scraping over wet paint and scraping over dry paint render different results so be sure to try to both.


My favorite painting knives have two key features: An "soft grip" rubber handle (I do use wood handle knives but not as much) and a pointed “diamond shape” tip for control. I most often use the RGM knives Regarding size—just like brushes the bigger the canvas the bigger the knife size.

There are several oil painting books that feature knife painting as a key approach if you want to explore this technique: Susan Sarback's Capturing Radiant Color in Oil, Lois Griffel's Painting the Impressionist Landscape, and How to See Color and Paint It by Arthur Stern--which has fantastic painting exercises. 

Thanks for stopping by! Finally, I’m happy to share that this painting (along with 3 others) will be featured in an upcoming show in Denver at Framed Image Gallery. For more info, please visit my Events Page on my website.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

O is for Owl

"O is for Owl" Mixed Media on Gallery Wrap Canvas 30x40
First, thanks to everyone who helped me over the weekend or stopped by to say hi at the Summer Art Market in Denver. Painting is often a solitary and isolated activity but these weekend events take a village! Thank you students, friends, neighbors, and fellow artists!

I’m very appreciative the Denver community is so enthused and supportive of creative events like this. Saturday was very busy! And despite some cooler and rainy weather on Sunday (you just don’t expect to be under a snuggie in June!) I sold many paintings which is always fantastic.

I’m often asked what sold after a market like this. Of course each venue is unique but over the weekend I found birds continued to be a popular. This is good news for all us bird painters. (In fact a blue jay bird theme was picked for the official Cherry Creek Art Festival poster this year).

I was also happy to see that my horse paintings were selling well—another favorite subject. And as always landscapes were popular at this event. (Denver is home to many amazing landscape painters.) But I did notice paintings that include water seemed more in demand which was interesting.

All year I’ve heard that buyers are looking for larger paintings and from what I could tell watching shoppers walk by and in my own booth (I sold 3 out of 4 of my largest works) that seems to be true.
In the next few weeks I’ll post some of my smaller pieces (there were some very nice “leftovers”) through my Daily Paintworks gallery

June’s going to be a great art month. I’m headed to Dave Santillanes plein air landscape painting workshop in Evergreen. In fact with some of my market profits I just ordered the new Strada mini easel which I can’t wait to try (I have the Coulter system now and I like it but wanted a lighter option.)

I thought a plein air workshop like this would be the perfect way to kick off summer painting. Speaking of painting now that I’ve rested a few days it’s time to get back to the easel! Thanks everyone and have a colorful summer week!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Market Sneak Peak

"Pepper Prism" 16x16 oil on gallery wrap canvas
Nothing spurs creativity more than a deadline. (Mary E. Whitehill)

Welcome to June!  The Denver Summer Art Market is only days away--I can see the finish line! My goal was to have about 75 paintings ready (this includes small studies). Have you ever painted four paintings in a day? I know some of you have—maybe in a a workshop or class. I did it yesterday--Amazing but exhausting!

As you can guess creating and preparing 75 paintings requires a great deal of attention, concentration and energy. (Does anyone enjoy matting?) But it’s also a luxury to have an excuse to paint so much. That being said you can’t do everything during these intense work spurts. Certain things have gone by the wayside…

My car hasn't been washed since last fall. I think my driver’s license expired a few days ago. My laundry is pile is gaining elevation. I owe a close friend a birthday card...Sometimes I think you have to give yourself a pass when you have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).  Thanks again to everyone--my friends, students, collectors and followers for your support and patience this time of the year. I couldn't do a weekend event like this without you.

"Crow Confab" 18x24 oil on canvas panel

Next week I know I'll return to a more balanced existence (included a regular teaching schedule) but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy a week of indulgent creativity. Today's post features just a few of the paintings I've been working on. I had a great time working on these colorful Pearl Street farmer's market peppers as well as these "murder" of crows from Wash Park.

Finally, since I've been so busy I didn't have as many posts in May as I'd like so I'm extending my blog contest for a free print or phone cover into June. Just comment on any May or June post to be entered. Cheers everyone and hope to see you this weekend!