Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Trees, Snow, and more snow

I'm up to using five brushes now. Each is designated for a range of colors. One of the advantages of oil paint is that it works so well for blending the edges which makes the painting feel natural and not static nor cut-out.

Thanks for following along. As you can see, this piece is slow going.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Sometimes telling a simple story takes a very complicated setting. One of the things I love about living in the country is the way a freshly fallen heavy snowfall looks on our trees. When the sun comes out, it is magical.

Unfortunately, painting a scene like that is very time consuming. Each section takes careful thought. Rather then complete all the dark tones first, I work on the dark, light, and medium colors at the same time.

Two small angle bright brushes are used for the brightest whites and the darkest darks. A larger medium angle bright brush is used for the middle tones. (I keep the middle tone brush between the light and dark one so I don't accidentally contaminate my light brush with dark colors.)
I mix two bright white colors, 4 medium tones, and have 3 colors adjacent to each other for the dark tones (burnt umber, ultramarine blue, sap green.)

Here is the start.

For the furthest background trees, I mixed three dark blues.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Original Oil
33" X 24"

Thursday, November 16, 2017


An article needed a photo of me painting so why not the piece I am working on.

You can see the first lioness is done and before I move on to the second lioness, I wanted to touch up a few areas on the upper boulder.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

First Lion

I wanted to paint the male lion first to key in the warm tones for the cats.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Adding Warmth

Up to this point, the painting had an overall coolness to it. Cool greens for the fig tree and lots of gray in the rocks. Even the upper boulder's reds are cool. I used Indian Red and a little Burnt Sienna for the reddest sections.
The rocks may be the foundation of the painting but the warm tones will tell the story.

The darkest areas in the lower grasses are designed to lead one to the base of the rock and direct one's eyes to the focal point.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Building Rocks

With a Master of Science Degree in Geology, it is not hard to imagine that I like rocks. Big ones, small ones, gray or colored, rocks are neat. Even though I have seen a lot of them, I was not prepared for the dramatic kopjes of the Serengeti in Kenya. The huge islands of Precambrian granite create havens for fig trees, thirsty plants, and shade-loving animals on the flat African plain. Often boulders, weathered and cracked by sun and wind, are perched on the highest and most exposed part of the rock group.

With the full painting in view, you can get a better idea of the composition.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Starting a new piece

When I was first envisioning this painting, it was a simple silhouette. My handful of references were going to serve me well. The further I delved into the concept, the more I wanted to add.
Now came the questions. Was I being a good editor? Did the additional elements move the story along or detract from it?
While it would have been much easier to stay with my original idea, I had to admit the more complicated story made for a better painting.

This piece is using so many of my reference photos that I needed to create a new folder to organize them. The images span multiple other folders and trips. The painting is 33" X 24" so all you are seeing below is the very top part of this vertical work.

For trees, and especially this fig tree, I like to "build" the framework of branches before I start on the leaves. I believe there is inherent beauty in the natural world and kopjes with fig trees are a great example. The free-flowing structure of these trees is a perfect contrast to these striking rock formations.