Sunday, April 25, 2010


Adjustable Panel Holder

Available at Plein Air Panels,

My good friend, Chase Almond, has
an adjustable panel holder
for those over sized
panels some us like
to paint on. I'm talking the
8" x 16" or
10" x 20" or even a 16" x 20" panel

that just won't fit into the standard panel
holders. I've used one of the holders for
a couple of years now and won't go painting
without it especially if I'm headed to Big Bend
or New Mexico where I'm more apt to paint
a flat landscape.

The holder will accomodate 8 1/8" thick panels
or 4 3/4" panels from 8" to 20" in width.

Chase with his panel holder.


"Rio Grand Color" 8" x 10" oli/c

Driving through northern New Mexico
on your way to southern Colorado,
the landscape begins a transformation
from the desolate to the sublime.
All along the highway there are
pull off points where cactus gives
way to aspens. I find it to be the
most interesting drive and look
forward to passing through this
area on my way from Texas to Colorado.

The problem is I'm always in such a
hurry to get to Colorado I zoom past
this area stopping occasionally to take
pictures. Then when I'm done painting
in Colorado I'm so tired I zoom past
this area in my hurry to get home.

On this occasion I stopped at a roadside
rest stop to eat some lunch. The light
was hitting the aspens down by the
creek bed at the bottom of a canyon.
So I asked myself, "Self, I asked, would
any plein air painter worth his salt pass
up the opportunity to capture this scene?"
You see the answer. Made my 15 hour
drive into a 17 hour drive, but it was
worth it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


"Sunrise Colors" 8" x 10" oil/c

One of the challenges plein air painters
face is the quickly changing light. Many,
like Richard Schmid, prefer to paint on
overcast days where the light remains
more consistent for a longer period
of time. This gives the painter more time
to capture a scene.

Others, like myself, prefer the early morning
or late afternoon lighting with its enriched
colors and long shadows. Throw in some
white goats and the painting practically
paints itself. The problem is the light changes
so fast that there is no time to piddle
around. The "Four G's of Painting" comes into
play. That's four G's as in "Get in there",
"Get it on", "Get it over with" and "Get out!"

This painting is one of those. I'm standing at
the bottom of a creek. There's snow on
the ground. All the colors in the bottom
half of the painting are cool. The sun is
coming up and is lighting up the cliff wall
at the back of my scene. The play of warm
against cool colors almost always works
in favor of the painter. Start to finish
this is a thirty minute study.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"Antelope House Overlook" 24" x 36" oil/c

Step 1: The drawing.

Because this is a large studio painting with
overlapping cliffs I spend more time on the
drawing than usual.

The challenge is going to be having the cliffs
recede into the distance as I remember.
The trick is going to be capturing the reflected
light coming up from the canyon floor.

With a deep breath and a loaded brush off we go.


"Antelope House Overlook" 24" x 36" oil/c

Step 2: The block-in.

The cliffs at Canyon De Chelly have
these large dark drips that run down
the sides. Knowing this I block in the main
cliff to give it time to dry before
coming back to paint over it. Once this
is done I move on to the ground plane
then to the front cliff. Satisfied that
the relationship of the main center cliff
and the foreground cliff is what I want I
proceed to block in the distant cliffs.


"Antelope House Overlook" 24" x 36" oi/c

Step 3: Block-in continues.

Starting to push the aerial perspective a bit.
Putting more blue and purple into distant
cliffs just to see if it makes them
recede into space. The horizon hills
dropped in as a single strip of color.
I step back about ten feet and give it a look.
All is good. Time to move on.


"Antelope House Overlook" 24" x 36" oil/c

Step 4: Block-in completed, time for details

I started with the main cliff then moved
to the ground plane. From there I
painted the front cliff, then on to
the distant cliffs and finally the horizon.

The center cliff becomes an
interesting problem. It is in shadow
but is being lit up by reflected light
from the sand at its base. Every painting
has a trouble spot and this becomes
mine. I struggle a bit, think about giving
up. Maybe I'm just tired. I work through
it by painting some of the distant
cliffs to see how everything works. It
gets to a point I find pleasing and
move on to finish.


"Antelope House Overlook" 24" x 36' oil/c

Step 5: The completed painting.

The completed painting seven hours later.
I will now turn it around backwards and let
it dry. Once dry it will go into the closet
for a month. A month later I will take it
from the closet, cover it in Liquin and
look at it with new eyes. It is not unusual
for me to rework an entire painting.
I can thank Scott Christensen for
demonstrating this technique at one of his workshops.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


"Texas Farmhouse" 11" x 14" oil/c

This time of year scenes like this
dot the Texas landscape, especially
in and around the Hill Country near Austin.
Bluebonnets are a "B" to paint. They
have been done so well by so many I
never feel mine version measures up.

Next week I'm headed to the Hill Country
to teach a workshop. I'm sure there
will still be plenty of bluebonnets in
bloom to paint. I think I should put
in some good studio time this week

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


"Copper Apples" 8' x 10" oil/linen

Sometimes the mood strikes to do a
nice still life. I don't do them often
and I guess I should. This one happened
by accident. While cleaning up the studio I
was putting away still life props when
a couple of apples ended up next to this
nice copper teapot I have in the studio.
Went downstairs and cut up a couple of
oranges and threw them into the mix.
Next thing you know, I have a still life
worth painting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"Pile Cast" 12" x 16" oil/c

Must be Springtime, I'm getting
the fishing itch. The painting
pictured above, "Pile Cast" sold
recently at Collectors Covey.

The pile cast is one of a several
different casts that can be used to
put a series of small loops in the line
so the current doesn't act on the
line. This allows the fly to float
freely without any drag from the
line. Learn something new every

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


"Azalea" Augusta National #13, Par 5

A golfer's dream golf hole. It has
everything...natural beauty that
disguises exceptional golf course design
that tricks the weak-minded into playing
shots they shouldn't even attempt.
A birdie on this hole makes an otherwise
bad round enjoyable. On the tee you think
of making eagle, dream of a birdie and
a par is as good as a bogey.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


" Golden Bell" Augusta National #12, Par 3

Many consider it the toughest par 3
of all the majors. Swirling winds
that players can't feel on the tee plus
the narrow 30 foot green make club
selection tough. Gary Player refers
to this hole as the "Hole of Vultures"
because of the grandstands behind the
tee where spectators wait and watch
as player after player struggle to
negotiate the second of three holes
of Amen Corner.

Monday, April 5, 2010


"White Dogwood" Augusta National, Par 4

Thursday this week begins the best golf
of the year. Tiger Woods
to the tour adds more than
just a little excitement
to the event.

This is my painting of "White Dogwood"
and represents the
beginning of what is
known as "Amen Corner" so
named in a
1958 Sports Illustrated article by
Wind. Wind used the phrase to describe

Arnold Palmer's play through holes #11,
#12 and
#13. Palmer won the tournament
for his first
tour victory.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Just a quick reminder that I am teaching
a five-day plein air workshop in
Wimberley, TX April 26th-30th.
To register and for more information

35 on 35

"Estess Ranch" 10" x 20" oil/c

A few months ago I was traveling back
home from Austin, TX at about dusk.
The sun was hitting the sides of buildings,
lighting up fields of hay, specular lights
bounced off the backs of goats and the
landscape became a wonder world of colors.

As is my habit, I was traveling at roughly
70 miles per hour with my head twisting
from side to side trying to take it all in
while making mental notes about the
colors I would need to mix to pull
off a painting of the various scenes that
whizzed by.

Other drivers zoomed passed me at 80 mph
or faster in their rush to get to whatever
was so freaking important ignoring
Mother Nature's gift of light. Some honked
as they went by flashing their middle finger
at me because I was driving so slow.

That's when it hit me. Texans are generally
the nicest people on the planet. But not
when driving. Pick up trucks rule the road
and you best just either get in line risking life
and limb while driving stock car racing style
drafting the truck in front of you at 90 mph
or get out of the way.

I'm thinking, "What fools? If they would just
slow down and take in the beauty of the
landscape light show, what a better world
and a more peaceful drive it would be."

That's when it hit me. Someone should
show them what their missing. In November
I will be having a one man show entitled
"35 on 35". Thirty five paintings along
highway 35 from Dallas to San Antonio.
Every painting will be of a scene you can
see from the highway...if you would just
slow down and take a look. Every painting
will have a GPS marking on the back
and directions to the scene so any collector
can go to the exact spot I painted it from.
Most of the paintings will be plein air but a
few will be larger studio pieces.

The painting above is the first of the 35.
This is Estess Ranch in Waxahachie, TX just
south of Dallas. I hope to produce a video
of my experience creating the paintings.
I've never taken on a project of this scope
so I'm excited about the challenge. I hope
you will follow along on my little adventure.
I will be posting video clips and paintings
as I do them on YouTube, Facebook
and this blog.