Monday, December 31, 2012


($40.00......6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Loneliness is unknown to those who enjoy creation." Just taking a walk can cause all kinds of good things to happen. There is nothing quite like enjoying God's creation. It has a way of washing away the debris of life.

Since this is the last day of the year, it seems fitting to focus on new strategies for the new year. I like the word "strategy" because it seems to go a bit deeper in its meaning than words like "plan" or "goal". The word was originally used in reference to warfare and military maneuvers where lives were at stake. That's why it is more comprehensive in its meaning. Some of its synonyms are "calculated"..."deliberate"... "well thought out"..."prudent"...."judicious"..."wise". John Maxwell calls it a plan on steroids. (How Successful People Think by John Maxwell)

Having said all of that, a strategy encompasses a whole lot of elements. One of the most important elements is the determination to implement the strategy and to make sure it is doable on a consistent basis. Strategies have many positive outcomes. They save a lot of time by cutting through all of the procrastination and nonsense that most of us have in our lives. A good strategy will also blast you right our of your comfort zone if you're "gutsy" enough and determined enough to see it through.

That gets us to the point of how artwork gets done. I can tell you from my own experiences that there will be enough distractions in your life to keep you from it forever, but if you can "plough through" all of the excuses and nonsense, you will receive the reward of accomplishment that comes from staying committed.

When it comes to creating good artwork, most people who have never given it a thought, simply assume that it is fun and that talent falls out of heaven on certain people's heads. Nothing could be further from the truth! What it does take is passion, a good strategy, a ton of determination, and a lot of prayer.

Although I have been very consistent with blogging and creating a piece everyday, it is still not easy. And now I need to add another strategy or two to get where I want to be. But I can say without equivocation that the satisfaction and reward of seeing my skill level rise and creating work that becomes more meaningful to me and others is reward enough for the sacrifices I've made.

We are not at the beginning of a new year with a great opportunity to rise up with strategies that follow our passions and will propel us with great speed on this journey called art. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Heroic Faith"


"A life of heroic sacrifice will foster and leave a legacy for heroic faith." The quote today is by the senior pastor at Hill Country Bible Church NW...Tim Hawks. This piece is a commission to be given to a young man who epitomizes the quote. God's blessings on him and his family as he struggles for his physical life.

I generally do return to mixed media when the need arises to communicate a truth verbally and visually. So today, I would like to recap a few points about my own mixed media process. First of all, I love using old book pages in the background and then covering most of the text up, but leaving those bits behind that say something that goes with the theme of the piece. In this case, you can clearly read the Lord's Prayer in the bottom part of the old cathedral section. And therein lies the beauty of printing images on silk tissue paper and creating overlays in the work. The contrast between transparency and opacity is very compelling and creates a lot of depth in this type of work. 

There is also some inclusions of plain rice paper overlaying some of the text, as well as some mono printed rice papers (blue areas) that add color. It also creates an ethereal look to have a line engraved image overlaying the colored and revealed text areas.

Also included are areas of "deconstruction" where bits of colored rice papers and text pages were adhered to the surface and then removed to reveal the bits that stayed behind. One very effective example of this is in the upper right hand corner where text appears backwards over the blue to create an "echo" of the other background text and also break up the surface tension.

The last detail was the inclusion of a gold, embossed cross. The inclusion of a cross was the request of the client and so I included two, but the gold one will always catch the eye since it is gold and shiny against the blue background. And there you have it...a few more things to think about.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Focus on Beauty"

($40.00.....6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Focus on beauty to achieve the best." There are only two things that pierce the and affliction. So far, I have never met a person who wants to focus on affliction. However, it is a fact of life that affliction happens and the more affliction we experience, the more beauty we need.

It is very clear to see in this painting that have a staggered tree line and trees that are in varying distances from the viewer creating a far more interesting scene than if everything were placed on the same horizon line. So this is something you might want to consider when choosing a good photo op or simply going outside and painting. 

Yesterday, I had the urge to swipe my palette knife across the entire painting. Today, I had the urge to write in the negative spaces. So after deciding that was my plan, I painted a darker, less intense purple over the entire piece. After painting a much lighter purple for the sky, I wrote the title of this piece with a Mitchell #6 nib. (for those who do not letter, this is a very small broad edged pen.) It will remove more of the paint than a pointed pen, so it is a good choice for inscribing into paint. Of course, the background trees covered part of the lettering, but there are still traces that give a sense of mystery to the viewer. It's like hiding a surprise within the painting. 

You have the option of making the inscription really stand out by increasing the contrast between the first and second layer of paint or by making it subtle by decreasing the value between the two layers. It's a fun possibility to explore and it is definitely the direction I want to pursue. There is also lettering in the foreground snow, but it was a bit too prominent so a swiped over part of it with my palette knife. Again, it creates a sense of mystery and a bit of texture.

And of course, the entire quote is inscribed vertically along the right side. The other interesting thing about this piece is selecting the values for the trees. We all know they are green, but obviously, they are a very low intensity green. I used a lot of the "grayed purple" to knock down the green intensity and have a happy marriage between the trees, sky, and snow. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Rhythm and Spacing"

($40.00......6" x 6".......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Rhythm and spacing are keys to success." Everyone has their own particular rhythm and must figure out how to space their lives in such a way as to maximize that personal rhythm. Today, mine feels a bit syncopated...and I'm okay with that.

In order to progress and experience success in creating artwork, it is often necessary to shake up the rhythm and spacing in your work. For instance, I had an overwhelming urge this morning to take the palette knife and make one large gestural stroke across my carefully painted piece. I did resist that urge, but did swipe a few places because I don't like for anything to look too predictable and contrived. That experience helped me to realize that I need some time and space to follow those impulsive moments...preferably when I don't have a deadline of posting, even though it is a self imposed deadline.
I simply did not have time this morning to start over if everything "went to hell in a hand basket".

However, this is a very important point for every artist to consider. There must be enough time and space to create a different rhythm and follow those impulses. I also realized that it will serve me well to work on some larger pieces so I have a bit more room to be inventive and "crazy". So I guess my whole point is this, keep working on the basics, but also allow for spontaneity in order to break out of comfort zones and watching your work become more contrived by the day. It's a matter of rhythm and spacing! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Internal Combustion"


"The internal combustion of the heart creates heat." This quote can be interpreted several different ways so I will let you decide.

The motivation to paint another snow scene from Flagstaff was inspired by our own weather here in Austin. It is not hard to imagine that we could see snow falling in the midst of temperatures in the 20's.  I will go with the odds. It probably will not snow so I will paint it and pretend. Of course, those who live in it all winter would probably like to trade places with those of us who live in the South.

In this piece, it looks like the snow was falling after a previous snowfall since the foreground has little or no snow. Once again, I am vitally interested in the foreground since it creates depth and interest in landscape painting. The shapes in this particular piece are very fascinating and contrast beautifully with each other. So it is worth repeating that all paintings are made up of shapes. And the more varied and interesting they are...the chances of creating a better painting will increase. 

Finding these kind of photos requires taking a lot of pictures...much more than you will ever need. You will also learn what types of compositions appeal to you personally. That's why it is important to paint from your own photo references or better yet...paint on location. A strategy that I have been using is to have a pocket camera in my purse. That way, you will always be ready to "snap" that special shot. My friend, Sue, actually inspired me to do this. I was always impressed to see her "whip" out her camera at the optimum time.

Beyond all of that, it is simply important to paint or sculpt, or create a mosaic, or mixed media piece, or anything else that you feel compelled to do and do it regularly. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Familiar Places"

($40.00......6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Familiar places are the most endearing." This painting was inspired by a scene that I see on a daily basis. Sometimes the real visual treasures are right in front of us.

The images all around us provide the most logical places to hang our hat (at least most of the time) because we see them in real time on a daily basis. When I came back from North Carolina, I looked at the Texas landscape and thought it was utterly boring...until I started painting it. The neutrals we have here in Central Texas are fascinating and provide a very warm feeling for the viewer. We don't have high mountains, but the hill country really is beautiful with streams of water and large bluffs. So after painting of few things around here, I have been pleasantly surprised to view these paintings as my personal favorites.

And this reminds me of an important analogy. Just because something is familiar doesn't mean we know that particular thing as well as we could. This is the perfect the close of another think about going back to the basics. That's what I have done in the last several months. I've known how to mix paint for a long time, but I have learned so much more by setting up my palette the same way every single day and mixing the same double palette with a warm and cool of each primary. 

Every day can become a "grind" unless you decide to learn something everyday by focusing more intently on how you mix colors and how close you can get with the right hue, value, and intensity. There is nothing quite so efficient in clarifying a process like doing it every single day. It may not seem like missing days affects the flow of the work, but it does.

My own personal goal for this next year is to paint larger and more abstractly with the inclusion of more gestural marks and lettering. So now that I have defined my goal in very specific terms, the only thing left to do is to develop the strategy that will get me where I want to go. By sharing my thought process with those of you who like to read them, I hope it will inspire you to also write down your goals very specifically and then develop your strategy. It is absolutely necessary to choose the time(s) of the day that works best for you with as few interruptions as possible.

Even if you work full time outside of the home,  you can have a specific place (otherwise known as a studio) where you spend at least (30) minutes a day on a specific technique or way of working. If you want to work in a specific way and don't know where to start, then go find the person who does know how and see if they will teach you. It's the only way to move yourself forward. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


($40.00......6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Let the snow fall in your heart with peace." Snow falling makes no sound. A peaceful heart allows the silence to come and listens to the still, quiet voice of God.  Merry Christmas!

In the scene from yesterday, the near blizzard conditions were at their peak. In the piece today, the snow was still falling, but the trees were more visible and the sky had a bit of a glow. Both photos came from Flagstaff, Az.

The sgraffito technique was very much in play in both of these pieces. In fact, I think about it everyday since my quote is inscribed into the paint. This same technique can easily be applied to mixed media. When painting with acrylic paint or laying down Speedball Printing Ink, a pen or anything else with a rigid point can be used to scratch into the surface. If I am scratching into an acrylic painted surface (almost dry), I dip my pen in alcohol to reveal the previous layer. If I am writing or scratching into Printing Ink, I use water or alcohol.

You could actually create an entire line drawing with this technique and a pointed or broad edged pen. The thinner the paint or printing ink, the easier it will be. These techniques will be reappearing in my mixed media work very soon. My desire is to continue with oil painting, but also keep the mixed media pieces going as well. I have now painted (68) small palette knife paintings, so it won't be too long before I hit the (100) mark.

So my encouragement is to do something with your art everyday in the coming year. Do it intentionally and it will soon become intuitive. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Silent and Peaceful"


"There is nothing quite as silent and peaceful as snow falling." It is Christmas Eve and we rarely have snow in Austin so I decided to bring it visually. Hopefully, all of us can experience silence and peace as we reflect on the birth of Christ.

The reference photo for this piece was taken in Flagstaff, Az. The pictures I took that day are the only really good ones I have of snow falling and large trees gracing the landscape. It was quite a surprise the day we went through Flagstaff because we traveled from Sedona where it was sunny, cold, and clear to a virtual blizzard. These cities are only about 30 miles apart, but the elevation makes quite a difference.  

It is always a bit of a challenge to paint snow scenes and keep them interesting because there is so much "gray". I opted to lean my grays towards the purple side so I used Alizarin Crimson, Ult. Blue, and Cad. Yellow Light to create most of the grays in this landscape. The "grayed down" purple plus a lot of white created a soft lavender which gives a bit of life to the background. 

To create the falling snow, I used the old trick of diluting the paint (with medium and water) and splattered the piece with this mixture and a toothbrush. This technique accomplished the goal and brought back the only memory I have of Flagstaff and "near blizzard" conditions.

If you've never painted snow, it helps to know that it is much more than painting white out of the tube. That's generally considered a "no-no" and only whites with the tint of another color are used. Of course you can see that it looks like white, but the reality is that there are at least three or four different tints + white that created the snow. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Movement and Color"

($40.00.....6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Movement and color describe God's creation." It doesn't take very many observations of the landscape to notice the hugh variety of movement and color. Visually, movement doesn't not necessarily mean actual movement, but the erratic placement of line and color of the images found in nature.

There's no better environment in which to learn these two important design elements. This piece is actually a depiction of weeds and brush along the side of the road in New Mexico...near Santa Fe. The intense colors were surrounded by numerous variations of green and especially the "sage" green which dominates the landscape in that area.

It was an easy image to abstract which I did by simply applying energetic strokes where the color notes appeared amd giving no thought to detail. So if you have a hugh stock of photos from trips, you might want to take another look at them and simply mix the colors you see and apply them to your canvas or panel in a very energetic fashion with a palette knife.  It will be made much more interesting by slightly changing the color with each swipe of the palette knife.

In order to step into the world of abstraction, it is absolutely necessary to ignore detail and simply placement the colors and their shapes in the right places. Squint if you need to, in order to keep yourself from getting too tight. And the other approach in arriving at just the right mix of realism and abstraction, is to time yourself and allow very short segments of time (one hour or under for a small painting) and then take longer than you need for the next one. I am finding great satisfaction in doing this and it does help so much to go back and forth with your time and the amount of detail you choose to include. 

The palette knife will help you stay loose because it is not possible to put in as much detail as you could if painting with a brush. So you're in for an adventure if you choose to include the palette knife to create some "jazz paintings" this coming year. Give it a might find yourself obsessing and being a part of the "year of the knives"! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Jubilant Praise"

($40.00.....6" x 6"......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Jubilant praise from the Texas landscape." We have our share of colorful surprises in the Central Texas landscape. I have even seen Christmas wreaths made from prickly pear cactus. What a great way to have a Texas Christmas!

There was a deliberate attempt on my part to create this "jazz painting" by imposing a time limit of one hour. It was a bit difficult for me to stop fussing, but I did manage to finally stop within my time frame. 

And this is an excellent way to keep yourself from over thinking the process. You will surely see things you might want to change, but by changing the speed of the painting by sometimes speeding up and sometimes slowing down, the happy accidents will surely come. 

This is also a concept that is used to practice difficult pieces of music. By practicing slower than is really necessary, the fingers master muscle memory. And then there are times to set the metronome a bit faster to see where you need to go back, slow down, and try again.

Another thing that really helps with all of this is to make sure you keep your supplies and your palette arranged in the same place. It will be the surest way of getting to your easel every day. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Green and Red"

($40.00....6" x 6".....Water soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Green and red are joyful expressions of Christmas." Red berries always remind me of Christmas. There is a reason they are so compelling. They are the most powerful of all of the direct complements...especially when the green is dominant.

In this piece, I was continuing to experiment with "jazz painting". It is a very loose blocking in of colors and many overlaps and gestural strokes with the palette knife. I did use a reference photo and placed the darks, midtones, and lights in the same places. After that, it was a "free for all". Over thinking the process can cause the whole process to look contrived.

One of the big surprises in this one was the exciting greens created with pthalo blue, cad. medium light, and alizarin crimson plus white. This combination was used in all of its tints, tones, and shades in several layers. The leaves were suggested rather than realistically interpreted which gives the piece its energy. In this way, all of those diagonals were created and overlapped.

What I typically do when I think the piece is almost finished is set it on an easel next to my computer so that I can see the photo and the painting side by side. After stepping back, I check to make sure the darks are dark enough and the lights are light enough. In most cases, I need to add more dark values which brings the whole image together.

So if you find yourself wondering why your piece (whether it's mixed media or a painting) is not reading well from a distance, it will almost always be the values. Squint your eyes, and you will see exactly where to make the values darker. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Here and There"

($40.00......6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"A little here and there gets the job done." A "give and take" in the rhythm of doing anything will get the job done.

Yesterday, I went totally abstract with no visible sign of a realistic image. Today, I tried to ride the fence and leave enough traces of my image to be recognizable. It is successful, but also more difficult to accomplish. A good word to describe this process is "jazz painting". That term has been used a lot in lettering and the whole process feels the same way to me. 

I made no effort to "gray down" the sky color except for a bit of white added. It is pthalo blue and very intense. That one color choice gives the piece a lot of energy. The red / orange was "grayed" slightly with ult. blue so it also creates a hot combination with the blue. Add the gray of the the trees and the variations of green and the palette creates balance between the neutrals and the intense color.

Another strong contrast is the over blending in many areas to create extremely soft edges right next to a variety of hard edges. Soft and blurred edges will also cause the color to recede which adds a lot of depth.

One thing I am learning about painting this way is that it is extremely easy to overwork the piece. It is also good to work all over the piece rather than one small area. That keeps things from getting too tight. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Unfettered Joy"

($40.00.....6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Christmas is unfettered joy." For many reasons, good things seem to create an effervescent bubbling up of joy. The main reason, for me, is the birth of Christ which has changed my life forever. It was and is the most pivotal moment in history.

The piece today was a complete surprise to me. Here I was, minding my own business, and painting a cactus scene from Arizona. It happened to be one of those "raspberry" colored cactus that look so different from the typical green ones. Everything was going along just fine. I had painted the sandy looking foreground and the brush and bits of green that were in the background. It all went south went I began to paint the cactus. I couldn't tell whether they were roses, cactus, or some other strange looking flower. In the "blink of an eye", without even thinking about it, I picked up a palette knife and swiped over the entire painting! I followed that action by doing it several more times, but stopping before I went too far. 

The lettering then became quite important to me, so I picked up a Mitchell #6 nib in a holder and practiced my gestural writing...wiping off the paint after every stroke of the pen. And so goes my excursion into total abstraction.  And just a side note for those who work a lot with acrylics and wonder if they should get into oils.  This type of action could not have happened with acrylics...even with a lot of retarder.  The paint needs to be quite "squishy" and able to move easily.  Only oils will give you that ability.

The important point to note from all of this is that by showing up in my studio every morning, this very unexpected thing happened and now I have a plan to create more abstract work. Now I am thinking that by starting with an actual realistic image, I can break away from that and abstract it a little bit or a lot. This gets me one step closer to the "marriage" between abstraction, realism, and gestural writing. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Comfort Zones"

($125.00......6" x 6"......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord....floated on a linen mat in a custom frame)

"Comfort zones are difficult to disrupt." We all need a few comfort zones to keep us on an even keel. The problem arises when they become the warm blanket we grab when we get cold. The real progress happens when we toss the blanket aside and reach for the stars.

This quote came to mind in connection with the barn because I think we all like to see old barns. They symbolize an era that is quickly disappearing while food and cattle are produced by corporations on a large scale.

I have also been thinking a lot about comfort zones because they become habits and rituals in a stressful world. Disrupting these zones takes a lot of intentionality. A recent book I read has helped me enormously. It's called the One Minute List. Unfortunately, I could not remember where I placed the book this morning so I don't have the author's name, but I do know I found it in the business section of Barnes & Noble.

The list recommended by the author has three key parts. The first part is called "Critical Now". This part of the list should not exceed (5) items and includes things with today's date attached that must be done today. I have taken it a step further and included a few more things that I consider non negotiables that need to be done everyday. One of those for me is blogging.

The second part of the list is called "Opportunity Now", which involves those things that you would like to get done if there is time left over after the "Critical Now" portion. This part should include things that need to be done within (10) days. 

The third part of the list is called "Over the Horizon" which includes goals and desires to be completed in the future. The idea is to prioritize your list into these three categories. A plan like this is very intentional and keeps all of your goals moving along. I also like the idea that there is extreme flexibility.

No matter what your plan is, the important point is to employ some way of avoiding the sabotage of your dreams by "floating" through life. Think intentionally and you will soon see yours dreams moving into reality. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Emotional Stimulator"

($40.00...6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"The emotional stimulator in art is color." Chances are that the very first thing that catches your attention in a piece of artwork or any visual image is color. It is the emotional heart of design.

In this piece, I deliberately put myself on a time constraint in order not to "over think" every decision. This is becoming a trend in stepping up your progress. Of course, it is also beneficial to go slow and be very intentional, but if you mix up your practice time with both approaches, they will eventually even out into a smooth flowing revelation of your artistic voice. 

Just think about the number of reality shows that also employ this "timed effect" to challenge the participants. Programs like "Chopped" or "Design Star" both have the "timed" element in the mix. And what this does is force you to bypass your comfort zone and get out of the habit of over thinking the process. 

Even if you do not like the end result of a "timed" challenge, it will help you to spot your weak points immediately. You can then go back and work slowly to overcome your weakness and then try it again. Eventually it will get you where you want to go and you will have some very nice spontaneous elements in your work that would not have otherwise been there. So I encourage you to give it a try. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Bushes and Weeds"

($40.00......6" x 6"......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Bushes and weeds add texture in the landscape." There are some areas where weeds are not welcome, but in the untamed landscape, they provide a lot of interesting texture. Analogies can also be made in life. No one wants to be in the "weeds", but sometimes that is where we learn the most.

This is an extremely simple composition , but the simplicity offers an opportunity to play around a bit with the palette knife and create some interesting in the foreground. I also used the freedom of creating a simple piece to play around more with the palette knife by varying the length and direction of each stroke.

Also notice that diagonals were created with the shadows in front of the background trees. So even if the piece does not have obvious diagonals, they can be created by the way the paint is laid down.

One of the reasons the fall landscape is so appealing is the variation in color.   The orange in the foreground weeds is a direct complement of the sky color and a split complement of green. It's not as strong a "power punch" as red and green, but it is actually a bit more soothing.

Corners are still very much on my mind, so I made sure the image was cropped so that the tree line was different in each upper outside corner. It makes for a more interesting shape than having the same height all the way across. If Christmas doesn't have you all in a "knot", you might want to get your paints out today! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Evergreen Friends"

($40.00.......6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Evergreen friends are faithful and true." The comparison of evergreens to friends seems like a wonderful comparison since these trees appear in the landscape in all of their "greenery" no matter the season. I am blessed to have friends like that who are always there no matter the circumstances.

In this piece, I pushed the envelope a bit by laying down a bright, intense blue over the surface first. The sky color was then painted over that color followed by expressive writing and marks which revealed the more intense blue. It is like stepping my "toe" into the water of extreme abstraction without really taking the plunge. 

Eventually, I will take the plunge, but I also want it to be convincing and therein lies the problem. Other artists who are doing this successfully, seem to be studying the works of very abstract "colorists" where color becomes the focal point.

Many of them are developing their concept based on an emotional response to the landscape which is experienced by painting "en plein aire", rather than simply laying in the color notes. The energy created by the expressive writing and marks is my own way of going in that direction and also maintaining a "nod" towards realism. 

It is an exciting approach and if you are so inclined, I would encourage you to do your own search of abstract colorists and other landscape painters who are doing a great job of this. The recent issue of Plein Air Magazine has several artists who are working in this way. Check it out to get fresh inspiration for your future works. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


($125.00......6" x 6"......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord.....floated on a linen mat in a custom frame)

"Simplicity is pure poetry." It isn't always the "flashy" or complicated things that create the most impact. In a world of too much detail, it is often the simple things that create a calming effect.

The piece today is a simple hill country scene not too far away from where we live. The colors are not intense and there isn't anything truly spectacular about the scene, but it does have a calming effect because of the harmonious and "grayed down" color palette.

There is also simple and interesting divisions of space including the diagonal created by the hillside. The orange of a few trees plus the blue sky also creates a bit of a punch, but not too much. So these are things to remember when you are creating a restful or quieter piece.

Just place a lot of dabs of paint in the right places and you'll have it made. It's quite like saying, just hit the right number of keys at the right time on the piano and you will have played a beautiful piece of music.

Even things that look simple are always difficult before they are easy. What I am finding out after (55) of these small oil paintings is that the touch used in applying the paint is extremely important. All "wet into wet" techniques can be "tricky", but if you use the right palette knife, have the right color mixed, and you make ONE swipe of the knife on the piece before wiping it will eventually have a hillside or a tree, depending on what you're painting.

It is also important to vary the direction and the size of the stroke to create more interest and keep the piece from looking contrived. It is also instructive to see how other artists use the knife because everybody's mark making and gestural strokes are different. One artist by the name of Louisa McElwain, will give you a whole different approach on palette knife painting. Her paintings are quite lively, large, and she uses a lot of paint. Another one is Sandra Pratt who paints very simple scenes with the emphasis on what the palette knife creates in the way of texture.  Always keep looking at what others are doing, what you are doing, and keep practicing to achieve your own special "voice". And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Light Source"

($40.00....6" x 6"......Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Shadows are cast based on the light source." Painters love to capture the light by taking advantage of the cast shadows early or late in the day. It adds so much dimension to the artwork. Think about the light source in spiritual terms and you will capture a deeper meaning in this analogy.

This piece was painted with two friends who are also captivated by the palette knife. We all painted from the same reference photo and all of our paintings were radically different. It was an illustration, once again, that every artist has their own "fingerprint" on the work. I pray that more artists can begin to let that truth sink way down deep. Without your "fingerprint" in the art world, something will forever be missing.

Notice in this piece how strong diagonals created a convincing image of trees on a hillside with cast shadows on the more isolated trees. This was a case where the palette knife really helped to create the illusion. Strong directional swipes with the knife with several different tones of the same hue can go a long way in making that illusion convincing. 

So once again, diagonals played a major role in the energy of the piece. I also used some values in the tallest trees closest to the sky that are very diluted with their complementary plus gray to create that "airy" look of more light showing through the limbs. And that is what is coming more into sharp focus for me by painting one piece right after another. Those slight variations in value are a key factor in making the piece more convincing. And even if you decide to paint more abstractly, noticing those "minute" differences will serve you well.

There's a lot to learn by painting the landscape with all of the atmospheric changes continually taking place. As it turns out, the Master Colorist created an environment that serves as a perfect classroom for that instruction. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012



"Reverie is a place to think or pray." The dictionary states that a "reverie" is a dreamy or musing state of mind. So I've used it in a different way here by referring to a place where "reverie" might take place. In either case, the word has significant meaning for me.  My childhood was marked by getting  in trouble a with my mother  for always being in a state of reverie.

If you look real close, your will see what appears to be a park or a clearing where one tree is more prominent ....almost in the middle of the piece. This was a difficult piece to create because of the enormous amount of detail. Of course, I could do what a lot of others do and simply make my shapes more simple and call it a day. I'm not there yet, but I am trying to get there.

In the meantime, I am gaining some very important practice in mixing up all of those colors. Practice is like looking through binoculars. At first, every thing is "blurry" and then as you begin to adjust the focus, things become crystal clear. Of course, in learning, it doesn't happen quite that fast, but I am noticing more things every time I paint. And that is precisely why it is so important to practice your techniques every single day.

I must sound like a broken record, but I spent too many years flying by the seat of my pants on mastering skills that would have progressed a hundred times faster if I had had the good sense enough to take it as seriously as a student taking a class for a grade. That's why I'm "sounding off" on process so much so that perhaps I could convince a few of you to quit "horsing around" and just do what you need to do to get where you want to go. 

There is not a teacher on the planet that can make that happen for anybody. It is a matter of will. But the reason most of us put things off is out of fear of failure. And the only way that fear will be conquered is to follow your passion and just get it done. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Spot of Color"

($40.00...6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"One spot of color makes a difference." A spot of color is like an encouraging word. It changes everything in a painting and in people.

If you are just beginning to experiment with painting...especially with a palette knife, you might not think things are going well as your painting the color notes you see in your photo or plein air experience. The incredible thing is that if you simply keep going and mix the right values and put them in the right spot, the painting magically appears. It does take practice, but it is very important to persevere to the bitter end before judging the outcome.

I am now eager to get out there and take some more pictures and if the weather permits to also paint outside. After creating quite a few of these pieces, I now know what I want to be looking for the next time I photograph. 

One of the first things is a lot of contrast like the stone against the trees in this piece. The very next thing for me would be looking for good diagonals. This piece has plenty of them with the angle of the bluff, the angle of some of the boulders, and the tree limbs. The next thing I will be looking for is a wide color range...especially complementary colors. Pieces that have all green, even if there is a high value contrast is not as appealing to me as having direct or split complementary colors present. And the other important thing would be division of space and good foreground interest. You can clearly see how the barren tree and other green foliage helps create distance.

And even if you're an abstract painter, a good photograph is a wonderful place to begin. It at least gives you an idea of composition, values, and colors, even if you have no intention of painting them realistically. So get your camera and take a drive in the hill country. There's plenty to see in Central Texas! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Blue Skies"

($40.00....6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Blue skies are always welcome." The actual weather forecast is applicable in life as well. My prayer is that the forecast in your life is sunny with fluffy clouds.

I am back in Texas today after painting many paintings inspired by the fall scenes of North Carolina. We are very blessed to have many sunny and bright days in Texas and this is a typical back road hill country scene. It inspired me because of the slight rolling hill and the trees breaking up the meadow in a pleasing way. The diagonals present in some of the "scraggly" trees also helped.

As I have been saying for days now...a body of work will tell you everything you need to know about the direction you take in your work....the images you gravitate to and the habitual marks you make that are uniquely yours.   For instance, I discovered after creating (50) of these small works that I like a lot of foreground interest in my landscapes. To me, it creates depth and a lot more interest. You might be drawn to skies with very little of the horizon showing, or you might like close ups of one particular thing in the landscape. 

But whatever it is, the chances of you learning that are non existent unless you create work on a regular basis. And even after you discover what stirs up your passion to go paint or whatever else you desire to do, you will need to "plow through" the learning curve of really understanding all of the nuances of your particular style and medium. But even though it is a lot of work, take heart that it is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating experiences you can have.

The hardest part is establishing a routine of working on it everyday. And the most important part of that routine is making sure you select a time in your schedule that you have the least chance of being interrupted.  For me, that is early morning.  If you're a night owl, it might be late at night for you. The important thing is to make it a non negotiable in your life so that nothing (except for extreme emergencies) keeps you from getting your work done. It's the only way to progress quickly. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Branching Out"

($125.00.......6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord.....floated on a linen mat in a custom frame)

"Branching out conquers fear." It is so true that many persons do not branch out and try new things because of fear. However, the secret is...that branching out will conquer fear.

It is very tempting when painting these oils to simply swipe across one larger area and lay down enough color for an entire branch of leaves. However, that eliminates the complexity that keeps the viewer engaged and also creates depth. So I go through the often painstaking process of slightly varying each stroke with a tint of my main color or graying it down with a premixed gray. One of my first colors to mix now is a light gray. It seems to not only lighten a color, but knock out some of the "chalkiness" that often results from just adding white. And it is these kind of subtle nuances that emerge when repeating this act of mixing with all of the slight variations over and over again. 

I was pleased with the yellow leaves in this piece because there is a wide range of slightly different tints, tones, and shades. I literally used every color on the palette to paint those leaves represented by small dabs of paint.

It also takes the life out of me because I have focused so intensely for at least (2) hours that I heave a big sigh, go photograph the piece, and then post it as I am doing now. It's exhausting and exhilarating....all in the same breath. But after all is said and done, I am always ready to do it again and again. And I hope you will try it as well because it is very gratifying and you learn everything you need to know about color if you make color corrections on the way. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Standing Tall"

($40.00.....6" x 6".....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Standing tall with discipline." These evergreens are standing tall in a sea of aspens. This reference photo is from Durango, Colorado. The hillside had a lot of trees that had already lost their leaves, but there was still a sea of brilliant yellow. People with discipline are like these evergreens that stand out and grow very tall. They move forward in life.

Discipline is never easy after the first three days. With all of the comforts we have and the continual buffet of technological equipment, it can be very difficult to push past all of that and actually get things done. 

I know an artist that paints so much that I am quite sure she can also do it in her sleep. She is able to mix whatever color she sees in the landscape without hesitation. That is a worthy goal and one which I aspire to, but alas, I have not completed my 1,000 paintings yet. I haven't even completed my first 100. And that is the point.

Rather than wasting time wishing you could paint as well as someone else, it is best to just get started. With just one painting per day, you can at least reach 100 in a few months. There is nothing an artist can do that is quite as practical as learning how to mix colors from a limited palette. The books on color and looking at the color wheel leaves you with head knowledge, but it is useless in teaching how to mix color.

You learn how to do that with disciplined practice....every single day. On the other hand, it cannot feel like drudgery. So it is imperative to create paintings you have a passion to do. That one word....passion.... is what will get you to your studio every day. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"A Bigger Picture"

($40.00...6" x 6"...Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Brokenness is part of a bigger picture." Visually, this quote is referring to the broken bits of color in the painting. In life, it is referring to the painful times that must come in order to have a richer, deeper life.

It takes quite a range of different color notes to create a successful painting. If all of the color notes are bright and joyful, there is no depth. The deep, less intense colors with a somber tone are also needed to create rich texture. 

This is a Split Complementary Color Scheme with the inclusion of a range of greens complemented by a range of oranges. There is also a range of purples that are not quite as noticeable, but they give the painting a lot of life. The trees, limbs, and rocks all have a dominant tint of "grayed" down purple. In fact, this tint was applied to the entire painting first so that I could use a sgraffito effect to carve out the trees, limbs, and quote. 

The one thing that gave me the passion to paint this piece was the division created by the trees, the position of the trees, and the diagonals created by the hillside, tree limbs, and also the paint strokes. It is so important to really connect with something in the plein air setting or the reference photo in order to put your total focus and heart into the creation.  In fact, it is wise to actually identify and name the particular thing that moves you emotionally in the image.  I never do my best work on an image or scene that I have a "ho hum" attitude towards. You probably won't either. So the big "take away" for today is to paint or create things you have a passion for. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


($40.00.....6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Multiplicity is the essence of extravagance." Just think about it. When you really want to do something special for someone, you do it by saying, doing, or giving more than once. It's not the principle of "one".... but "multiples".

What I've noticed about the things I choose to paint is that I like to stand back and look at a scene and then "zoom in". Today I "zoomed in" to capture a couple of pine tree branches. It gave me the opportunity to experiment with several techniques.

I created most of the pine branches with the "sgraffito" technique of scratching through the top layer of pine to retrieve the yellow / green of the first layer. The tree branches where created by painting the negative space around them rather than the positive space. 

The diagonals were a hugh deal to me and this piece has tons of them...hence the title of the piece. All of the pine needles create beautiful overlapping diagonals and that is probably why they are so visually appealing. Imagine icing a cake with about three different colors and covering up the previous color. That's what my palette knife paintings are like. I absolutely love the texture created by so much paint, but I will probably end up contrasting thinner layers with these thicker applications.

And that goes back to the point I have been making about the importance of creating a lot of work. It helps you to discover where your heart or your passion is taking you. For instance, one of my favorite pieces I've done to date, is the posting from December 3rd...."Look and Compare". I now know from all of the work I've done to date, that I like a lot of broken color. But I might not have figured that out if I had not created an oil painting every day for almost two months now. 

So you can see how daily creations can speed up your progress tremendously and give you such fabulous "feedback" on where and what you need to do next. It's really quite exciting! And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


($40.00......6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"Hugs are always welcome." This scene caught my eye because of these two trees that are so close together they appear to be hugging. It's a great visual metaphor for what we experience in real life. (The photo was taken in Flagstaff, Az.)

Now this is a study in neutrals, but in the original painting, you can see some very deep red in those trees. It enlivens the dark green of the trees since it would be too flat without varying those greens. 

Yesterday, I also painted a piece with the same grays in all of their tints and shades as well as a variety of greens. It is interesting to compare the two, since it is basically the same color scheme. But the percentage of space that the sky and snow occupy is much more than the grays from yesterday. I actually prefer yesterday's painting because it has a lot more variation and broken color. And that's the advantage of painting day after day after day. You then have a range of subject matter and color arrangements from which to make a good analysis of where you want to go with your painting. 

This is the way an artist determines their voice. Seeing your habitual marks, the amount of paint you use, and seeing how you are slowly turning and changing over time. The "take away" is that this it how styles and personal artistic "voices" evolve and mature. There is no way to accomplish this without giving the process your attention every day.  I am much older than most of you, so please know that I have stuttered and stammered along on many occasions, but now I absolutely know that there is no way to progress without the hard work of getting to your work everyday.

Some people are born with a lot of natural talent, but even those persons cannot mature unless they spend time with their art. I have had many "come to Jesus" talks with myself and tried to circumvent this and it never works. And that is why I am dedicated to blogging every single day. Find what works for you and you will never regret it. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Look and Compare"


"Look and compare to move forward in life." Contrasting one thing with another is the way art gets created and the way wise living is achieved. Just by watching the disasters or successes of people's lives should show us which direction to go.

I decided to return to Texas today and paint a scene from Cow Creek Trail. It was created by painting a series of horizontal bands with variations and a few verticals. The diagonals are subtle, but they give life to the painting. And I am well aware that I've talked about diagonals day after day.

In observing what other artists create, the pieces that really "grab" me are the ones with a good number of diagonals. I think it's important enough to keep repeating until it sinks into all of our heads. Of course, if it is not done convincingly and sticks out like a sore thumb, that would completely defeat the purpose. So my encouragement is to look for those diagonals everywhere you go and in every thing you decide to paint.

The Texas landscape is a hugh learning curve mixing grays because we have a very neutral landscape most of the time. If you want warm grays...mix Ultramarine Blue + Cad. Yellow Light + Cad. Red Med. + White. If you want cooler grays...substitute Alizarin Crimson for Cad. Red. Med. I like to use both just to have a contrast between warm and cool. You will also see a lot of "grayed down" purple in those rocks.

And just in case you missed it...(because most water is blue), that is green water with reflections. I have so abstracted the scene that you might not be able to see it as clearly unless you look at it from a distance. But it looks remarkably convincing from across the room. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


($40.00....6" x 6"....Water Soluble Oils on Gessobord)

"The landscape is a study in gesture." Our creator is the ultimate in making gestural marks. You can see it every time you look outside. This is especially true in an untouched landscape where things are growing wild. Amazing!

In this piece, I did make some progress with my greens. They can be very difficult, but Pthalo Blue (Red Shade) is the secret to getting not only the dark rich greens, but the brighter ones as well. This piece took me two and a half hours to paint because there are a multitude of colors to mix and lay down.

However, I am now feeling as though too many dabs of paint without being smudged can become monotonous, so I took my palette knife and slightly blended in many areas (but not all) to create a more varied texture. It also gives the eye a break from too much broken color. 

I also tried to make sure there were different shapes and sizes of color blocks and enough diagonals to keep the viewer's interest. It is a challenge, but ever so much fun. 

The quote is inscribed into the paint vertically on the right hand side which adds another element of texture and interest. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about. 

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.