Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Oil Painter's Confession

"Bella Buckskin" 24 x 24 acrylic on deep gallery wrap canvas (in progress)
After a super sunny warm fall it's suddenly freezing in the Mile High City today! As with all poor weather, this is the ideal excuse to skip my "non art" errands get some work done in the studio.

More specifically, I’m prepping for my painting demo tomorrow evening at the lovely Cherry Creek Country Club. My thanks again to the Club for the invite! Picking a demo painting subject is never easy (at least it's not for me) but I’m pretty sure I’m going to work on one of my favorite types of paintings—a contemporary colorful equine painting which is my post today.

As a daily painter I will always adore buttery alla prima oil painting. So I'm sometimes asked why I still use acrylic paint. The fact is that acrylic has many advantages which many of my painting students enjoy every day in the studio.

So I thought I'd share 10 reasons why an oil painter like me still uses acrylics depending on the project and why you too might appreciate this flexible and versatile medium:
  1. Do you tend to change your mind as you paint? Acrylics dry so quickly I can easily paint over a section or “correct” with some gesso.  .
  2. I’m braver and more experimental with acrylics—You can fix just about anything even if you paint thickly. (No “fat or lean” rule like oil.)
  3. Depending on the canvas size, I could (and have) change the entire background color in less than 10 minutes.
  4. I can quickly glaze a thin transparent layer of paint over a section to adjust or enhance a color. (Just about impossible in wet in wet oil painting.)
  5. If oil is "black tie" I think of acrylic as "casual Fridays." Plus it's more affordable. No fancy linen or sable brushes. And while I prefer pro grade paint like Liquitex Heavy Body I've done perfectly well with Hobby Lobby brand (love the turquoise!) and even 50 cent "mistake" hardware paint leftovers.  
  6. Large fresh acrylic paintings are easy and clean to transport. If you have thalo blue oil paint on your steering wheel or leather seats you'll appreciate this. 
  7. The harder edges of the acrylic work well for a bolder, more graphic style. 
  8. I could easily add a “mixed media” component like pastel, collage or a texture gel/paste for interest and variety.
  9. Blending acrylics and soft edges can be tricky but it becomes easier with alacrity, more paint, and practice. (You could also add a slow drying medium or blending medium.)
  10. Usually, I can complete a larger painting in acrylic faster than I can in oil paint—this is very helpful for art deadlines like shows, festivals, etc.
Thanks and best wishes for all the time you need to be as creative as you can be!

Friday, October 31, 2014

October Treats & Tricks

Painted Pumpkins on Pearl Street
TGIF and Happy Halloween Everyone! Thanks again to everyone who supported me through last month’s “30 in 30” painting challenge.  While I wasn’t able to keep posting the entire month (kudos to you if you did!), the challenge was a fantastic launch to super successful fall art season. It's been a warm and sunny October in Colorado but I've managed to keep busy in the studio too. Here are some highlights.

All Colorado Art Show
The little bird painting I featured on day one of the challenge was not only accepted in the All Colorado Art Show it sold on opening night to a delightful new collector. Plus my student won a ribbon for her beautiful abstract—congrats Nancy!
Framed Image Gallery Fall Show
Sold my horse painting (thank you another new collector!) and completed a another horse theme commission. I’m so glad buyers share my lifelong love of horses! I’ll be likely painting at least one other equine painting for the gallery’s upcoming January “Ranch and Range” show. For more equine art, please see my Pinterest Board "Horsing Around."
Favorite New Studio Product
As an oil painter I usually wear barrier cream and sometimes gloves but I still manage to get little bits of dried paint on my hands.  The solution? Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub. It’s tough on paint but leaves your hands super soft and moisturized—and it smells like a French garden. A super affordable treat!
Like a mini-spa for tired artist hands! Mmm...
Amazon’s Best Selling Painting Book
I’ve had Tues. November 4 on my studio calendar for ages in eager anticipation of Carol Marine’s new book “Daily Painting” which debuts that day. (You can pre-order now and save some money.) It’s already the best selling painting book on Amazon! Congrats and thanks Carol for sharing your painting insights!
Caroil Marine's New Painting Book Debuts Nov. 4 on Amazon

Free "Painting Preview" Software: FotoSketcher
Deciding what photo to paint from next can be a challenge but here's a program that can help. Typically, I'm very cautious when downloading anything from the Web but so far I've enjoyed this easy and free program that applies different paint effects (my favorite is "expressive brushstrokes") to your photos. (Note: Higher res photos may take a few minutes.)
Country Club Demo
I’m very honored to be a featured artist at the lovely Cherry Creek Country Club in November.  This is a private “members only” event but if you happen to be a member of the Club please stop by and say hi on the evening of November 14. I promise I’ll be painting not golfing!
October Pearl
Just in time for Halloween I’m posting a sunny pumpkin painting on DPW today.  FYI my 8x10 oil paintings now sell for about $400 at the gallery so these are a super value (like most DPW paintings) starting at $75.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Challenge Day 18: The Color of Peace & Joy

"Peaceful Petals" 8x10 oil on linen--in progress
Happy Thursday everyone! I’ve missed posting for a few days but have greatly enjoyed teaching this week, enjoying the gorgeous weather, and getting ready for the many fall art shows on the horizon in Denver.

(Speaking of shows, I’m very happy to report that my Day 1 challenge painting (my Blue River sparrow) was juried in the All Colorado Art Show.)

But today I’m back at the easel and my goal was high key ethereal colors. I’ve always loved this type of painting. (If you like really gentle light colors too you may enjoy my “High Key Heaven” art board on Pinterest.)

On a pigment note, I've been hearing a lot about Gamblin's warm white (which is a mixed white with a little hint of an yellow/orange) and thought it would be interesting to try in this. For those of you who feel your whites get too cool you may enjoy it.

I thought a sunlit peace rose would be a perfect high key subject. Originally cultivated in the 1930’s in France, the trade name "Peace" was publicly announced in the U.S. in April 1945. Later that year peace roses were given to each of the delegations at the UN inaugural meeting with this note: "We hope the 'Peace' rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace".

Interestingly in Italy rose is known as “gioia” or joy—also an apt descriptor for such a blissful and colorful flower.  Wishing you all a peaceful and colorful week as fall approaches!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Challenge Day 14: Reaching for the Sky

Rainy Sky Study--9x12 on linen (study for larger painting)
The sky is the soul of all scenery. It makes the earth lovely at sunrise and splendid at sunset. In the one it breathes over the earth a crystal-like ether, in the other a liquid gold.  American landscape painter Thomas Cole

Almost at the half way point in what feels like a painting marathon but in a good way...

Tomorrow AM I have to have a chipped tooth fixed. I'm lucky that I like my dentist but I’m already hoping I won’t be too uncomfortable to paint afterward.  I’ve already put the appointment off for a few weeks but felt it was time to just get it over with. Also, I didn’t think my dentist would quite understand about the 30 in 30 painting challenge.
Alaskan Sunset Study
In the meantime, I wanted to post a few sky color studies today. Why skies? If you enjoy painting landscapes I think the sky is one of the most interesting places to both study and inject color. On any given day, as Hudson River painter Thomas Cole points out, the sky can display a prism of painting challenges. Skies can be every color on the color wheel especially during unusual weather. So if you're working on a landscape that you feel needs some extra color interest look to the sky.
One of my fav sky photos this summer--double rainbow over Red Rocks
P.S. For all you sky, sunset, and cloud fans you may enjoy more colorful sky paintings on my Pinterest board: The Sky’s the Limit.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Challenge Day 13: The Beauty of Black


"Wise Guy" 30x40 Acrylic on Canvas Private Collection

"Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” Coco Chanel

Happy September Saturday everyone! If there’s one really controversial pigment color for artists it might be black. It seems to be the one pigment artists either love or never use. Which brings me to the question I hear a lot: Is black even a color? 



It’s a good question..If you add white to your black pigment you’ll likely get some kind of gray that leans toward a hue such as blue. So in that case I use black a really dark neutral blue. Here’s an interesting post by the late RobertGenn about using black in art

In most cases, I mix a “chromatic” black meaning I create a really dark pigment that looks blackish. In oil for example, I might use ultramarine and transparent red oxide. This is a very nice dark neutral mix for landscapes or animals. 

In my contemporary owl acrylic painting today I just cut to the chase and used really opaque mars black (which also leans a little warmer). In a painting with more subtle natural colors the black helps add needed contrast especially to the focal area of the eyes. Thanks stopping by--have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Challenge Day 12: Not So Mellow Yellow

"Sour Lemons" 8x8 oil on canvas (unfinished)
What a horrible thing yellow is. (Edgar Degas)

Happy Friday everyone! A few posts ago I honored my favorite color (green). So I thought it only fair to confess my least favorite color. My color “nemesis” if you will.

As a painter it's my "job" work with all the colors everyday. But if I'm being honest I’m with Monsieur Degas-- I just can’t seem to embrace yellow with same joie de vivre. 

My apologies to all you gold, honey, canary, marigold, butter, saffron, ochre, and lemon lovers out there. But I realized the other day I don’t own one piece of yellow clothing. (I think I'm still recovering my dreary mustard high school graduation robe--Not a flattering color on anyone.)
"Sweet Summer Honey" oil on canvas SOLD

Here I tried a an all yellow dominant painting in this little knife painting study of lemons in a plastic bag (unfinished) to help me understand my yellows a little better. When you spend a long time with someone you hopefully understand them a lot better. Still I would have preferred a lime study...

That being said my favorite flowers are sunflowers so of course they are typically yellow. And I enjoyed this study of honey jars in the sun. Some artists really know how to make yellow shine as you can see on my “You Had Me at Yellow” Pinterest board. Do you have a color that challenges you? 

Thanks for all your positive challenge comments--they are greatly appreciated and remembered as I head in to the studio everyday. Have a fantastic fall weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Challenge Day 11: It's a Gray Area...

"Open Mind" 24 x 24 mixed media on canvas--Collection Artist
“The color of truth is gray.” Andre Gide

In a month of challenge painting devoted to color I felt I had to include my love of grays--particularly cool grays. This may seem a little strange coming from a self proclaimed "colorist" painter. But I'm sure you've heard if you really want your high chroma colors to "stay clean" it helps to balance them with some neutrals.

And for those of you who love neutrals (my Mom for example loves ivory) you already know that "gray" painting can be quite stunning and powerful as well--Just look at this iconic example from Whistler.
"Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1" J. Whistler image from Wikipedia

 And of course we've all seen how beautiful art can look on rich charcoal gray gallery or museum walls. I don't have many grays in my house as a I look around but I do love to wear gray--especially in the fall. There's also some rumor that the Pantone color for 2015 (it was orchid this year) will be some kind of gray (I think it will be olive) but that would be an interesting choice.


Once in awhile I like to take break from traditional representational painting and just play. It's kind of like a yoga retreat for my art brain. It's both relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time.

In this mixed media abstract painting which I've been playing with for a while I knew I wanted to work with some variety of grays along with some high key (pastel) colors. So I used both graphite (a gray I particularly like), gray oil pastel and some metallic steel gray Golden acrylic paint. Thanks again for joining me on my art adventure. Have a wonderful rest of your week!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Challenge Day 10: Keepin' it Cool

"Castlewood Shadows" 9x12 oil on linen
Woohoo! We've made it 10 days challenge artists! I've heard there are now more than 1,000 painters who've signed up! So far it's been very motivating and a great excuse to stay in the studio. Is it me or  does the day fly by when you're painting everyday? I feel like I need a few more hours at the end of everyday.

Today in Denver is my absolute favorite weather--It started out little rainy this morning but now it's the perfect late summer day. Sunny and cool. Always reminds me of that first week back on campus that was so exciting and the start of fall colors. So I'm going to make this post speedy so I can take a park break and take some more reference pics.

Yesterday, I posted a mostly warm painting so today I moving over to the cooler part of the wheel--the greens, teals, blues, violets. All my personal favorites. I love the mood that cool colors bring to a landscape. Just like yesterday I've added a few pops of warmer colors for balance and interest.

One of the parks I like to go birding is Castlewood Canyon and it has many enormous boulders and rocks like this. Like many Western painters I also love painting aspen trees since the silvery bark usually reflects the surrounding colors. Plus its fun to paint the unique dark patterns. 

Thanks again and have a wonderful colorful week! Only 20 more to go...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Challenge Day 9: Me and My Shadows

"Vines on Vine St." 8x10 oil on linen
 
Shadows play an integral role in letting sunlight permeate the scene. They provide a 'setting' that compliments the sun-kissed lights. Often, shadows will have a golden tint, or even a rosy red color that conveys a unique atmospheric glow. (Watercolorist Jeanne Dobie)

That was a close one. Thankfully (and just in time) a giant box of linen canvas panels just landed on my porch from Jerry's--so no running out of panels before the end of the daily challenge! (Yes I do have several art stores close by but unfortunately none of them carry small linen panels like these.)

Now back to painting. There are a couple of color strategies going on in this little pumpkin oil study. One is overall color unity.  There are many ways to achieve color unity (limited palette, mother color, etc.) but one “short cut” method is toned support.

I simply give the canvas (or paper) a quick color “wash” before blocking in my drawing/shapes. In fact, I’ve used this approach for so long it’s almost strange for me to paint on a pure white canvas.

Today, I took my overall color cue from a sunny autumn late afternoon in my neighborhood and used a warm yellow-orange wash. The second goal was have a warmer color dominance (including the shadow patterns) with only a few cool notes. Thanks again for joining me during daily challenge month—I appreciate all your visits and kind comments! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Challenge Day 8: Like a Good Neighbor

"Summer Star" 8x10 oil on canvas

Happy Monday everyone! In full disclosure I’m not in the studio today so I’m posting an available daily painting from my summer gallery show that incorporates today’s color theme: Analogous!

Analogous are simply groups of colors adjacent on the color wheel or as I like to call them color neighbors that get along. If complementary colors are passionate strangers, analogous colors are affable old pals.
Courtesy of Ultra Modern Style
Nature is full of examples of these pleasing color neighbors—think of a resplendent autumn maple with leaves that span from green to gold.  You'll also see this color grouping in flowers. Iris often span the color range from blue-green all the way to a reddish violet as you can see in my oil study. So the next time you need a successful color plan just look to nature. 

Thank you again for all my challenge visits and to everyone for your support during the challenge month.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Challenge Day 7: All Her Lovely Hues

"Fall Fillies" 8x10 oil on linen at Framed Image in Denver--SOLD
It was the rainbow gave thee birth, and left thee all her lovely hues.  (W. H. Davies)

I had so much fun last week painting my little horse painting (and it sold quickly) so I wanted to paint another one. This one my goal was to play with what I like to call prismatic color especially in the shadows.

I've always been attracted to paintings that use a lot of intense color but in a planned and thoughtful way. In this case, I'm trying to move the viewer's eye by color "steps" rather than value gradation.

This painting approach for me is all about color celebration and exploration. Here I've used at least seven or eight pigments plus white. This is a good time to get out that new or rarely used pigment and see how it plays with your regulars. Lately I've been seeing some "color buzz" about manganese violet and alizarin yellow--I don't have those (yet) but they would have been interesting to try in a painting like this.

This framed painting will be featured at the Framed Image Gallery's fall show in Denver through October 31. Update: Sold--thank you collector and fellow horse lover!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Challenge Day 6: Ready for Red

"Wine Garden" 8x10 oil on linen (private collection)
If one says 'red' - the name of color - and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different. (Josef Albers)

A few days ago I posted a blue/orange complementary painting. Today I’m working with red/green. This can be an awkward combo because it tends to have that holiday flare. I went with an obvious and easy choice here with a floral.

I also used a palette knife for most of this for some extra texture as well as to help keep the colors cleaners in an alla prima painting with lots of red.

These cheerful late summer flowers (some kind of petunia??) are from a neighbor who has one of the nicest private gardens I’ve ever seen. I tend to like more unusual colored flowers such as blue, green, blacks--so this rather unusual wine color caught my eye. I’m not a gardener so I really admire anyone who has a way with flowers and plants.

They say if you want to attract attention wear red. And I think this is true of red paintings as well. They tend to be really eye catchers at shows and festivals. There’s just something about red…Thanks and happy weekend painting to all my fellow challenge painters!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Challenge Day 5: Leave it to Nature

"Blue Maple, Red Oak" mixed media on gallery wrap 18x24
By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer's best of weather and autumn's best of cheer.  Helen Hunt Jackson

I’m always sad to see summer wind down. But as a nature painter, fall brings so many interesting and exciting painting subjects such as leaves, vines, gourds, apples, etc.  My color goal today in this contemporary large leaf painting was to incorporate all the "color wheel" primaries—blues, reds, and yellows.

My photo reference was from a large park where there are a variety of leaf species. I started with a strong black contour drawing of the leaves. I just used a large Sharpie but I think India ink and a brush would have been interesting as well. I also quickly washed in the initial colors with acrylic before applying my oils. This is great time saver if you need an oil painting to dry quickly. 

Am I done? I Maybe… I might add some more paint layers at some point. But for now I’m content to hang it up and move on to my next challenge painting. Thanks for stopping by and have a colorful week!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Challenge Day 4: The Color of the My World

"Lovely Landmark" 8x10 oil on linen (private collection)
Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” — Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Yes, painting greens can be perplexing at times but fortunately green is my favorite color. I've read that liking green means you enjoy nature (which makes sense), and that you tend to be sensible, practical, balanced, and love your freedom. So go GREEN! (If you love green too you may enjoy my Glorious Green Art Pinterest Board.)

My goal for Day 4 was to include a wide range of greens into this little study of one of our neighborhood landmarks--Denver's Washington Park Boathouse.

Recently, the 100 year old pavilion underwent a refurbishing. Unfortunately, they "updated" the bright white exterior to a kind of creamy beige. Now the water reflections and reflected light are not quite as clean and attractive (in my opinion).  So I took artistic license and kept the building the “original” white that I've always loved.

Green color mixing tip: For more natural greens I prefer to mix them "from scratch" with blue and yellow and then add a touch of red or orange. Also try black and yellow for an interesting earthy green.

Finally, quick welcome to all my new fall painting students. This is the perfect "back to school" time to take up a creative pursuit. I look forward to painting with you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Challenge Day 3: The Charm of the Season


"Orange Pearl" 8x10 oil on linen 

 Available at Framed Image Gallery

The charm of the season – and the day in particular – is to be found in the union of the two complementaries:  blue and orange. (Charles Burchfield)

Welcome back fellow challenge painters and followers!  My color goal today was to make the most of a complementary pair such as red/green, blue/orange, orange-yellow/blue-violet, etc.   
Color Wheel Courtesy Cornell University
Using the contrast of two opposite colors helps create a vibrant energy in a painting. Including complementary colors is also an effective way to call attention to a focal area.  

While I think all complementary color pairs work well, I find the blue/orange combo is a personal favorite (maybe some of my Denver Broncos pride is showing!). What's your favorite pair?

An obvious subject choice for a seasonal blue/orange combo (other than Peyton Manning) was pumpkins. I’m happy to announce that this little pumpkin (which was at my local South Pearl St. farmer's market) will be featured at the fall show at Framed Image Gallery in Denver which is now through October 31. 

P.S. Speaking of blue and orange, have you seen a blue lobster? They are apparently extremely rare but I’d love to paint one!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Challenge Day 2: The Language of Dreams

"Summer Swish" 8x10 equine oil painting SOLD
Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams. Paul Gauguin

Day 2 Goal: Capture a hot August day with a bright but limited palette

Hope everyone enjoyed a lovely sunny last August weekend like we had here.  Many thanks to all everyone who visited yesterday for painting challenge day 1! Did you see all the amazing Day 1 paintings? 

Since these will be almost daily postings I’m going to try to keep these postings short and sweet.  Plus, I need to spend as much time in the studio as possible. So today my “color” theme continues with different three pigment palette (plus white):
  • Cobalt blue
  • Permanent Rose
  • Indian Yellow
At first I wasn’t so sure about this combo, but I grew to love it. I don’t use cobalt that often (I tend to avoid the more toxic and pricey pigments). But it's a delicate transparent blue that makes luscious violets so I can see why it's on so many oil painters' palettes

I was actually birding in a park a few weeks ago when I saw these pair of horses grazing on a hillside. I'm a lifelong horse lover so I’m happy to report that this piece has already been sold to a neighbor who rides. The best part of a daily challenge? You get a fresh canvas in the morning! Happy late summer painting everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Challenge Day 1: A Certain Blue

"Blue River Bird" 8x10 oil@ The All Colorado Show from 9/27 to 10/31--SOLD
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 SOLD
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 SOLD

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!