Monday, February 25, 2013

Painting with my nieces

Over Christmas, I had the privilege to help three of my nieces as they worked on original oil paintings.
Audrey from Texas arrived first and we started immediately. After choosing her subject from my reference photos, she decided on size and gessoed her own board.
My nieces from Colorado, Katie and Amanda, arrived a few days later and dove right in anxious to catch up with their cousin.
While I was in the studio acting as guide and consultant, I also had a chance to work on a piece of my own. Part of the joy for me was spending time with all three girls. We sang, we chatted, we painted together.
My thanks to Katie, Audrey, and Amanda for making my Christmas special.

Working into the evening, in true artist fashion!

Only a quick glance up and back to painting

Amanda painting her
burnt sienna/raw sienna turpentine wash
over her drawing


Katie establishing her drawing grid

Katie with a good start on the
background for her owl

Audrey working on her drawing
of an African yellow weaver

Audrey's turpentine wash
over her drawing

Audrey's piece. The best part,
the bird, saved for last

Audrey nearing completion

Katie's painting in progress

Amanda's jaguar

Audrey's Yellow Weaver

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cold Seas

High Seas
12.25" X 24"
Original Oil

I've finished the painting and I think it is more exciting than the "nice" water piece I had carefully planned earlier (see post on February 12th.)
As for the birds, they are Cape Petrels. These birds were some of my favorites crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica. Their distinctive black and white feathers really stand out from the albatross (which can be tricky to identify in rolling high seas!)

If the painting looks quite different in color from the previous posts, it is because it has been scanned. For the other posts, I used my camera and adjusted for the light. Perfectly fine for posting to a blog but not sufficient for a good record of the painting.

On smaller and medium-sized pieces which can be stitched in Paint Shop Pro and on pieces from which I don't plan on making prints, I use my home scanner. The Microtek ScanMaker 9800XL has a 12" X 16" scan bed which will cover all my small pieces and many of my medium paintings. For larger pieces when I may wish to make prints, I take the original painting to Digital Color in Coeur d'Alene for a scan.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


There are times when water reads best when it is calm and reflects a simple object like a boat or a bird. Here, I am working to show the sheer power of the ocean. Much of that will be achieved by creating a sense of volume.

Now that I have the lower section painted, anchored, I will move to all the noodling which remains. I knew this would be a challenging piece but it has a lot more detail than I was expecting. Nuances of color, light, and shadow make all the difference between a two or three dimensional feeling to the painting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Safari Club International Foundation

I am thrilled that I have been named the Safari Club International Foundation 2014 Conservation Artist of the Year. It is an honor to have such a prestigious platform from which to continue my conservation efforts. The good work of the SCI Foundation has been felt worldwide with their ambitious conservation efforts. To see more about the announcement and program, go to for today's post.

The article continues at:

Monday, February 18, 2013

More Wave

I know in my last post I said I was headed to tackle the bottom of the painting, but I felt I needed a little more under the crest.

If you are starting to feel chilly, that is a good sign. I saw this water at about 60 degrees South Latitude. A hint on the birds - they are not tropical birds of paradise. (I know, not much of a hint.)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Keeping my place

I would consider this complicated water. There are myriad lights and darks, and for a stormy sea quite a bit of color. I am finding it a bit difficult to keep my place in the painting and think it is time to skip to the bottom for a while. Normally I would continue to work from top to bottom but I think I want an anchor.

Anyone need some Dramamine?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Painting Water

From Tuesday's post, you know I wanted to paint water. More importantly, you know I didn't want to paint "nice" water. As you can see above, this is hardly beaching weather. Besides, I don't think you would want to go swimming in these temperatures!

Once I move further into the piece, I'll identify the birds for you...that is, unless you want to hazard a guess at this point.

One of the things I especially like about working with oil paints is that when you use buttery paints (like Rembrandt), using a wet-on-wet technique is easy.  I find sliding the colors around and mixing directly from the tube without any medium is the best way for me to render water. The colors stay rich and I can keep adding more paint and moving it until the wave seems wet.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Painting Ideas

With an upcoming show, I wanted one more medium-sized painting. Knowing I wanted to paint water, I had what I thought was the perfect idea.
For hours I reviewed my reference and then with a number of images in hand worked on my composition. Next, I prepared my gessoed board and I was ready to start on my drawing the next morning.

After rehearsing with the Spokane Symphony Chorale that evening, I decided to take a peak at my idea before hitting the pillow. The painting idea was solid, would have fun water to paint, and had broad appeal with a good chance for a quick sale. All laudible.

There was only one problem. The painting was nice. I didn't want to paint "nice." I wanted to paint exciting. I tried playing with my concept, changing the dimensions, using different cropping, and even thought about using some interesting painting techniques. No matter what way I looked at it, it was going to be a nice painting.

I set that idea aside.
When I finally found my pillow, it was 3:24 am and I had a concept for a piece I really wanted to paint.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 8, 2013

On Point

On Point
18" X 29.5"
Original Oil

There are times when it is the "happy accidents" which make the painting. In the lower center, I had planned to throw in the same darks I had throughout. My brush had some yellow ochre on it and when it ran through the still wet "white" of the snow, it became even lighter.

Since I work wet-on-wet I figured I could just cover that area again in a little while. After working around the rest of the painting, it was that lower center warmer area which drew my attention because it was reading well. It felt like the sun was touching it and seemed to help establish the depth the painting needed.

Some more touch-up around the painting, adding warms and cools and the painting was finished.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


One of the things I like about my underwash is how nicely it translates when it is not fully covered. In adding the vegetation, I am deciding with each stroke how much of the raw sienna/burnt sienna wash I want to cover.
For the top of the painting in the background, I want to keep a cooler tone. As I continue to the bottom and foreground, I plan to warm-up my vegetation.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Adding the pheasant

Usually I begin with the background. Since I wanted to work on this piece at my last show, I thought working in the center would be better with my easel set-up. That way I would have a dry area on which to rest my hand.
Now home, I painted the pheasant and worked on the rest of the dog.

I have a confession. I hate painting snow. Well, hate may be a bit strong, but I find snow particularly challenging. However, I love painting water and find it easy. For this snow piece, I am going to "pretend" that it is just cold water. Below is the beginnings of my "cold water."
The white "water" is titanium white with a touch of cadmium yellow deep and the shadow "water" is cobalt blue and cadmium red deep with titanium white.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wingshooting USA

Beginning the Fall of 2013, I will be the Featured Artist on Wingshooting USA. This award-winning series is on seven networks, including NBC Sports and reaches 281 million households.

So, time to work on another dog piece. Since I didn't have any German Shorthair paintings for the upcoming TV spot, this breed seemed an easy choice.

Below you can see my underwash and the beginnings of the dog.