Thursday, August 6, 2020

Alla prima

I really like my alla prima painting technique for rendering water. There is something about working wet-on-wet which translates well into making something look wet.
I like to mix several colors on my palette in preparation. This enables me to easily grab the color when needed. Using my flat angled brushes, I'll lay in lines of color gently blending the edges.
Once a section looks wet, I'll move to the next section.

In painting water, I like to have a large block of time. Working with the paint while it is fresh and juicy helps with seamless blending.

For the bird's reflection, I painted some muted, some bright colors and gently blended them in to the surrounding water colors. Note: I paid particular attention to how the water was interacting with the reflection so I have a variety of soft edges.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


My favorite element to incorporate in my wildlife paintings is water. There are so many different moods one can paint and the colors run the gamut of the rainbow.
This piece is set on the eastern barrier beaches of Martha's Vineyard though it could be anywhere that Ruddy Turnstones frequent during the summer months.

I am trying something new (for me) with the treatment of the background wave. In creating a soft out-of-focus look, I hope to further draw attention to the bird.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Summer Reading

Summer Reading
20" X 16"
Original Oil

As I said at the beginning of this painting, I wanted to create a new story. This painting focuses more on what you do with beach umbrellas than just their colors and placement in sand.
I've always found reading during the summer engrossing. It is a time of year when we can grab a book and take it outside, and if one can read it on a beach with the soft sound of waves lapping the shore, perfect. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

More with umbrellas

Now that all the umbrellas' colors are in place, I feel good about my choices. The bright lime green in the foremost umbrella gives a nod to the background green umbrella. And like I was hoping, the yellow/orange umbrella brightens up the painting.

Below is the start of working with what is underneath the umbrellas.

Friday, July 24, 2020


One of the things I really like about painting beach umbrellas are their bright colors.

In this piece, which will have dominant blues and greens, I knew a fun yellow would be important. Seeing a different orangey/rose to deep red umbrella in one of my reference photos, I thought switching it to yellow and oranges would work. I placed this umbrella in the mid-distance to play off the two foreground ones and bring attention to the distant rainbow umbrella to its right.

The green umbrella to the yellow umbrella's left will tie in nicely to the foreground umbrellas. I spent some time mixing the greens because I wanted them bright but not so bright to distract from the two dominant umbrellas.

The blue/teal/stripe umbrella is definitely the most complicated beach umbrella I have painted so far.

My usual palette is a 12" X 16" disposable one. Once I had the sky, water, sand, and sand dune painted, the palette was mostly covered with mid-tone natural colors. I decided to grab one of my smaller disposable palettes, a 9" X 12 so I could build the bright umbrella colors. Surely this size would be plenty large enough for a few umbrellas. Well, take a look!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Same subject, new story

In these times with art shows going virtual, a gallery sale for many artists is to be treasured. Well, any sale can make an artist's day.
I've painted two beach umbrella pieces for a gallery on the east coast. Last year's piece sold on opening night of my group show. This year's piece just sold 2 weeks before the opening.
Obviously, the gallery would like another beach umbrella piece ... now. For a "new" painting, I could just change a couple of scenery elements and change the color of a few umbrellas and call it "good." But, I wouldn't be telling a new story.

I'd rather run the risk of not selling than "selling out." I want all my collectors to have a unique piece and I don't want to cheat myself. How will I grow as an artist if I essentially paint the same painting?

However, there is no reason why I can't paint the same subject with a new story. I don't know if the new story will resonate with any collector, but isn't that the chance we take with any painting?

Summer Bouquet, 2019

 Stripes and Solids, 2020

I've decided to make this new piece vertical.

Fortunately, I am really enjoying using these bright colors. My palette has been greatly expanded with Michael Harding's handmade oil paints. I have been able to achieve new, more vivid colors.
Some of them may continue to translate into interesting color explorations in my wildlife pieces.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Song

The Song
16" X 12"
Original Oil 

The colors look a bit different from my works in progress. Today the painting is dry enough to place on my flatbed scanner which gives more accurate colors than quick photos on my cell phone.
I couldn't think of a title until the very end. Yellow-headed blackbird...... cattails..... singing bird......
The Song.