Monday, July 16, 2018


There are different directions I could go with the coral. Bright and colorful, muted, a combination, or leave it off all together. I liked the idea of having something there, but really wanted to minimize its impact. A painting with intricate and colorful coral would be beautiful but not for this piece.
Using a limited palette creates a more peaceful scene and the reflections will aid in the story.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


With all the colors and reflections, I find this type of underwater scene fascinating to paint. I get to mix some vibrant teals. For the bluer water below, there are three mixed blues. Once they are on the board, my very soft blending brush is used to soften all the edges. This can take numerous passes in different directions.


Someone recently asked me if I do underwater scenes. I do, but it has been awhile. Ideas started to roll around in my head of the colors and creatures I've seen on my last several snorkeling trips.

Monday, July 9, 2018


Introduction to Fine Art
15" X 13.75"
Original Oil 

Thanks for following along. This was quite the challenge for me and I believe I learned a lot. 

You may notice a color shift and a difference in contrast from my in-progress posts and this one. The previous photos were quick shots with my phone while the above is a scan of the painting before varnishing. The colors will be richer after varnishing but I generally scan first to avoid glare from the varnish.

Next up - wildlife. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Red hair

My niece Olivia is the model in this painting. We actually saw this painting together in Barcelona. While I love the look of her red hair, right now I am wishing it was jet black with no highlights! This is the most difficult human hair I have ever painted.
The soft oranges and the golden highlights which weave in an out are only the start. There are low lights with richer tones and coming up is a flip at the bottom. This beautiful (and completely natural) hair is something I want to get right.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The girl

One would think after completing the Renaissance painting, the rest would be a piece of cake. But until this point, I hadn't decided on the color of her shirt. Do I make it pretty blue or green, or would a soft pink make the overall painting more effective. She still stands out from the wall, but does not compete with the busyness of the master painting. However, her skirt gives a nod to the flowers of the Spanish painting's rug.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

16th century art

One commentator I read said that the Spanish painters of this era took the ideas of the Italian Renaissance and then threw the kitchen sink at them. With all the iconic references (lamb and banner, robe on the infant Saint John, various elements of Mary's life, angels in the heavens, holy book) and the local references (men on horseback, landscape, clothing), why is there a monkey in the painting?

Most of my paintings are of wildlife (did get to paint the monkey, bird, and lamb in this piece but hardly the same as a wildlife painting.) The delicate flesh tones of humans are not something with which I am very familiar. How do I even tackle this?
The first step was to grab my tube of flesh tone paint. (Not sure I have even used it before.) Hmm. The color is a bit pinkish and flat. Yellow ochre, naples yellow, cadmium red, burnt umber, and raw umber were some of the additional colors used. I do appreciate how Juan de Burgunya delicately portrayed the face of Mary. At each step (cheeks, chin, eyes, forehead) I referred back to his genius.

I have to admit that when I started, this type of painting was not my favorite. It seemed too contrived. But as I have explored (you might say every inch of this piece), my appreciation has grown tremendously. The composition, the placement of detail, the reds moving throughout the piece, the action of Jesus with a bird on his fingertip, the ribbon of water, and so much more contribute to a painting I now enjoy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Gown

The remainder of the landscape did not get any easier. Working on the columns on the left side took a very small brush so it is refreshing to have the larger expanses of color for the gown.
 I mixed three dark blues: the darkest dark, the slightly more gray/green dark blue, and the lighter dark blue for the wrinkles. The powder blue (cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and titanium white) was mixed and carefully moved to a safer section on my palette to prevent contamination from the other colors.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The landscape

The intricate landscape is a challenge. Not only does the water change color, but there are buildings and people scattered throughout. My painting is 15" X 13.75" which is adding to the difficulty. In addition, I am constantly evaluating how much detail to include. Everything from the original Virgin and Child with Infant Saint John must be included but needs to feel painterly - Juan de Burgunya painterly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The carpet

In painting the painting, there are many parts I expect to be quite difficult and which will take all my skills. The carpet was not one of them. Not only did it bend around the platform but I am adding the shadow from the girl. May I just say, "Aaaaagggghhhhk." And whose bright idea was this?

On the other hand, I thought the book would be quite challenging. For the dark of the spine area I used burnt umber as the base and moved out to the edges with yellow ochre and naples yellow to create the gold look. Once the white of the open pages was painted, it was rather easy to paint the Latin script with just enough detail to look like writing.

Monday, June 11, 2018

New (and Old) painting

Mixing old and new - I have been crazy enough to paint two of these before. The first one is a group of paintings hanging in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the second one is from the Smithsonian's Museum National Gallery of Art.
Art Appreciation by Linda Besse

The Art Student by Linda Besse
I've been wanting to paint a more intimate piece. Below is the start. This painting hangs in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. It is by Juan de Burgunya (also referred to as Juan de Borgona, Joan de Burgunya and a host of other close spellings.) Painted between 1515 and 1525, the oil painting on wood is titled Virgin and Child with Infant Saint John (Mare de Déu amb el Nen i sant Joanet.)
I am not sure I could choose a more difficult piece - and I am painting it at an angle! Here goes.

 I have to admit I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out where to start on the masterpiece once the frame was painted. Finally settling on the straight line of the "platform," I began with the shadowed water.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


12" X 20"
Original Oil

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The wooden rowboat

I find this rowboat fascinating. Working on the gleaming wooden edge has been a challenge. To achieve "the look," I am using more vivid colors than first mixed. Once the rest of the boat is painted, I'll revisit this natural wood edge.

Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint what inspires me to paint a scene. Is it the water, the reflection, the different modes of transportation or a combination?
Often it is my first impression. What caught my eye immediately was the teal green of the boat and its reflection in the water. I've saved it for almost the end. Not only does painting it now make sense, but I often "save the best for last." While having ice cream at the beginning of the meal may alleviate my sugar craving, it is far more satisfying to dip my spoon in the frozen dessert at the conclusion of the meal.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

More Water

Last of the blue water before blending.

Blended. And now I can work on this beautiful wooden rowboat.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


If I could paint all my wildlife in water, I would. However, not all animals like to swim.

But, when it comes to pieces reflecting living on an island, incorporating water is easy. This will be another painting going to the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard.
The scene is from Vineyard Haven harbor. Three forms of transportation were in the setting: the wooden rowboat, sailboats, and the ferry which takes passengers and cars from Wood's Hole to Vineyard Haven. Some artistic license and I had a painting.

My niece texted me asking how I paint water so well. I joked, "water is wet, paint is wet. Easy."

Actually, I do have a few "tricks" which help me achieve the type of water I plan to paint.
1.) Analyze the different colors in the water
2.) Mix the various colors represented, a minimum of three in the same color group (3 blues, or 3 greens, etc.) Sometimes for a blue water painting I might have 5 or 6. If there are reflections, that number can be much higher. Having the colors pre-mixed gives me a chance to look them over ahead of time and see if they are good representations of the water I am trying to create.
3.) Keep in mind that all reflections are duller in the same color group as the water. For example, if the water is blue, the reflected color will be not as vibrant as the non-reflected color and it will be more blue like the water it is reflected into.

4.) Set aside enough time. I do not like to feel rushed when working on water. Having plenty of time for the critical blending stage will help the painting.
5.) Paint the blocks of color

6.) Blend the edges of the different colors, moving the blending brush in the general direction of the water lines, ripples, or waves. When it is mostly blended, a few gentle blending strokes at a 90-degree angle will add a natural feel to the water.
7.) Keep painting and blending until the water looks wet. Sometimes this means realizing a section needs to be much darker, bluer, greener, vibrant, etc. I might mix more colors to blend in. This is why I give myself plenty of time. Fortunately, oil paint does not dry right away.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Martha Vineyard paintings

With the Louisa Gould gallery opening four weeks away, I've been at the easel for long stretches.
My latest painting is of an old boat in the fishing village of Menemsha.

Old Salt
8.5" X 12"
Original Oil

The cages were an interesting challenge. To make them "see-through" not all the metal lines are painted.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Old Glory
15" X 16"
Original Oil

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Ugly Stage

It seems there are some parts of a painting which have to go through an ugly stage. Here it is the background tree. Blobs of dark green are doing nothing for me and I'd like to race to the finish line. But, I warm up my green tea, walk around the studio, and then it is time to mix up a number of greens from emerald to lime-yellow to slowly piece together a tree.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Flag

Note that the stars are far from white. With the lighting and to create a stitched-on look, I painted them a cool gray.

Below is the first pass for the red stripes. Once this layer starts to dry, I'll be adding more detail and a cooler red to the stripe flap.

Friday, April 13, 2018


This section I was really looking forward to - the reflections in the windows. All of a sudden, the piece feels more "alive" to me.

Close-up of the finished deck

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Starting the sky

Now that the last roof is completed, I am starting on the sky. Usually I start with the sky and work my way down, but on this piece I took a more round-about approach. I'd love to tell you there was a brilliant reason why, but beyond the "it felt right," there isn't.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Piece by piece

One of the things I like about painting scenes like this is that I get to play with colors less frequently used in my pieces of the natural world. I probably used more cadmium lemon in the underpainting of the flag than I have used in 8 months!

Piece by piece, step by step. For me, a painting like this can't be rushed. It is the detail which helps inform the story. Though it might seem tedious from the outside, the chance to work with some different colors to come up with just the right hue keeps me interested, even fascinated, with the process.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

New Painting

Since I spent almost every July as a child on Martha's Vineyard, (biking, swimming, hiking), it holds special memories for me. Mom and Dad retired there so I have been on the Vineyard every month of the year.
The Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven is my gallery home on the island. Owned by a dynamic and artistic Vineyarder, Louisa has been able to gather some of the island's best talent to showcase. Because of my long history with Martha's Vineyard, I am included in her slate of artists.

Wildlife is my main focus throughout the year, but each Spring I enjoy stretching my brushes and completing some of the scenes of Martha's Vineyard which bring a smile to my heart. I may come up with some bird pieces (one of the best places in the world to see endangered shore birds), but first up is a piece inspired by Cottage City in Oak Bluffs.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Shhh - It's a secret

Sometimes I can't reveal what I am working on because it is a surprise. That is the case with my latest piece. The oil painting is a surprise gift for a client's wife's birthday. I certainly wouldn't want to spoil the event.
As each step of the painting proceeded, I e-mailed my client photos so he could see the progress. When I received the "WOW, it's perfect!" I knew the piece was a success.

Once the painting was finished, I took it to my framer and snapped a number of photos with frame options. Fortunately, the client thought one of the choices was a "slam dunk" and I ordered the frame.
(Note: the owner Holly Swanson of Spokane Gallery & Framing has over 5000 frame choices. It can be overwhelming but I take the subject matter and coloring of the painting into careful consideration before I make 5 or 6 preliminary selections. Usually the first group of framing choices contains the winner.)

I may not show this piece in progress once my client's wife sees her birthday gift, but know my brushes have not been idle.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

How small can you go?

I am not a miniature painter. There are those who excel in this very demanding discipline. But, there are times when I can not resist the challenge.
As I was working out my composition, I was intrigued by how it might work in a small format. How crazy did I want to be?

Out Fox
5" X 7"
Original Oil

Pretty crazy.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Cross Country
9" X 12" 
Original Oil


Friday, February 23, 2018

Adding the White

Like usual, my white is Titanium White with a touch of Cadmium Yellow Deep. I am keeping my cool shadow colors handy as I rework them in conjunction with the sunlit white areas.
Almost done.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Reds, Oranges, and Browns

My palette looks like I have gone crazy with oranges, reds, and yellows. Mixtures of Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow Deep. Quinacridone Coral, Cadmium Red, Burnt Sienna, and Raw Umber are "dancing" around my palette. Close up, some of the colors look neon bright on the painting. When I step back from the piece, it all seems to come together with soft warm browns.

Maybe daring myself to push into uncharted color territory is the way to add extra life to my work and still keep it looking natural.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


After seeing the reception of my pronghorn painting Track Team at my last show (it sold), I thought about how much I really enjoyed painting these stunning animals. In this piece, I am saturating the color more than I usually would to create the vibrancy I feel when seeing them in the the field.

Usually, I would paint each animal in its entirety before moving on to the next. This time I am taking a different approach by painting each color group on the herd before mixing the next. I'd like to give you a logical explanation why I have varied the approach but all I can say is that it felt right.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Next Painting

I knew exactly what I wanted to paint next. After thinking about it on our drive home from the  Las Vegas show, I could clearly see it in my mind. Thinking of the gaps to fill from the last show's sales, it was an obvious choice to get this one ready for my upcoming show in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
After spending hours reviewing my reference and working out various compositions, it just wasn't working. Well, I had a second idea which I liked just as well. Nope, that didn't pan out either. Neither did the 3rd or 4th.
Time to take a break. This is when I ask myself the most important question, "If I could paint any subject in the world, what would it be?" The answer did not take long. (Of course I could have saved myself quite a bit of time if I had not been so stubborn hanging on to my first idea.)

Below is the start of the "next" painting.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Safari Club International Convention

Right before a show, things like blog posting are put aside while I finish paintings, pack, and complete the associated paperwork (flyers, description cards for paintings, etc.)

Below are two paintings which I did not get around to sharing on my blog. Both of them were among the numerous which found homes with past and new collectors of my work.

Now that I am back home, the first order of business is writing thank you notes to my patrons, ordering boxes, mailing paintings (most choose to have me mail the pieces because they flew in), entering new collectors in my quarterly newsletter database, entering interested parties in the database, and following up those interested in a commission.
And yes, this all comes before I unpack and wash clothes!

It is also right back to the easel. My next show is NatureWorks in Tulsa, Oklahoma Feb 24 + 25. Some paintings I can bring with me when I fly, but the bulk needs to be shipped Feb 14. There are several special pieces I want to complete in time.

8" X 3.5"
Original Oil

9" X 12"
Original Oil

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Finished Painting

Where There Is A Will
12" X 28"
Original Oil


Sunday, January 28, 2018

On the Move

One of the tricky aspects for the composition was the vertical position of the cub. To accomplish a sense of movement, the cub in the first panel had to be highest and the cub in the last panel needed to be lowest. The first and last panels were fairly easy, but the middle one took lots of adjustment. I'd try about1/2" lower, then 1/4" higher until the position just felt right to me. No mathematical equations, no measuring. I'd keep asking myself if I felt the cub coming down the tree. When I did, that was it.

The blue separating lines are painted. This is one gessoed panel. Actually, while I carefully created that blue to complement the sky, I now think it is distracting from the piece. It may be time to revisit that color decision.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Lion Cub

Now to my favorite part, the lion. I was in the Selous in Tanzania and arrived after the cub was already in the tree. It wasn't too long before he decided he wanted to get down. It was obvious he did not know how and he wandered around in the crook of the tree.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Tree

What is making this painting particularly challenging is the tree bark. It has to match!