Wednesday, December 30, 2015

And More Spots

You might ask why I like painting the spots first. I find they help establish the underlying musculature for me.
While the background cat's spots went more quickly than I expected, this cat is slow-going. She has more and smaller spots. Each one helps define her body and there are no shortcuts.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


As I have mentioned before, stripes and spots take me the longest to paint.
The spots are not the same color and will vary in warmth and intensity depending on the light. Some will have blue highlights to give a sunlit gleam effect. Other spots in the sunlight will have more burnt umber while the shadowed spots are a cooler "black."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Next big piece

I want to finish one more large piece for my upcoming Safari Club International show in Las Vegas, February 3rd - 6th, 2016. That may seem like a long time away but after a painting is completed, drying time and framing need to be figured in.
After this one I'll work on some smaller pieces for the show.
With a four-booth island, I have 135 linear feet of wall space to fill.

The composition for this painting is the result of numerous considerations; aspect ratio, tail positions, head on background cat and neck on close cat, and many more details to convey a sense of movement.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Working on the title  -- any ideas?
30" X 45"
Original Oil

In this case, bigger is better.
The painting would not have the same impact if I had kept to the original 24" X 36" size. 
Now I get to pick out the frame to complete the in-your-face impact.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I find grass one of the most challenging elements to paint. This time I have already built some grass texture into the lower section of the painting. By varying the colors in the original block-in, I have a framework from which to build. Leaving some of the red gesso showing where the brightest blades will go, the lightest grass will have a halo of vibrant color.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Finishing the body

The sunlit side was a challenge. There are a lot of highlights and adjacent dark areas to give a believable textured 3-D look. Painting a section at a time then moving on to the next was a good method for the beginning. After that it was going back through and seeing what areas needed to be lightened to give that sun reflected feeling.

Adding the blades of grass on his head made me smile (though he isn't.)

Monday, December 7, 2015


As with the second eye (see previous post) and the second ear, I've added subtle detail to the shadowed side of the Cape Buffalo. Some of the lighter areas of the shadow have a blue hue (ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, paynes gray, titanium white, raw umber.) A solid color would appear static and lack depth.
Since the last post I have also added some darks on the sunlit side of this bull.

Friday, December 4, 2015

More head work

With the shadow, I could paint the cape buffalo's shadowed side with no detail. This would be the case in a photo but I wanted to explore the shadow area and add his second eye. Both eyes will stare me down and keep me on target.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An in-your-face Cape Buffalo

Originally I had planned this piece to be 24" X 36." A fine size. But the more I thought about it, I knew the impact would be substantially greater if I made the painting 30" X 45." That appears like a small change, (it is only 6 inches taller), but the surface area is actually more than 50% larger!

If you look below at the detail photo, you can see I strategically kept the underlying color alive by leaving it resonating next to the areas of heavily covered oil paint.

As most wildlife painters can attest, making the eyes feel alive is a critical element in a successful painting. I've opted to have the sunlit eye looking directly at the viewer so it will appear to follow one around the room.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Germanton Gallery Miniature Show

The 23rd Annual Invitational Miniature Show at the Germanton Gallery opens this coming weekend December 5th and runs through Jan 10th, 2016.

I have two new paintings in the show. When thinking on what to paint for a piece which is 108 square inches or less, I thought to have a North American subject and one African.

The first one was inspired by last February's trip to Massachusetts in the middle of their "big winter." Outside my parents' door were more than a dozen robins huddled, flying, and landing in the bushes and vines. The light was beautiful.

 Just Above Freezing
9" X 12"
Original Oil

The second piece is more from my imagination. I wanted to try and capture one of those silent places in Africa where maybe no human has ever set foot.

Valley of Shadows
7.5" X 14"
Original Oil

See these and other small paintings from artists around the country for sale at:
Germanton Gallery
3530 Hwy 8 & 65
Germanton, N.C. 27019
(336) 969-6121

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Light becomes second nature to us in this world of electricity. Not until power is taken away do we realize how much we rely upon it.

On Tuesday, eastern Washington State experienced what they have dubbed an "historic" windstorm. We lost power about 5:30 pm. When we learned the extent of the damage in town, we knew we would be without power for quite a while. That also means no water. With a well powered by electricity, one's living conditions certainly change.

I found myself walking into a darkened room and hitting the light switch. Wanting to see better, I didn't think, I just did. I expected the light to be there. It wasn't.

If I might stretch an analogy, I wonder how many times I work on a painting and expect the light to be there. I don't make a conscious effort to create the light in the piece. Maybe I think my subconscious will just make it happen. Sometimes that is true. And other times I need to spend some time to make sure the light I see in the scene in my head is translated into paint.

In the piece below, I was thinking about how I could convey that gorgeous light on snow. I started with a tan colored gesso to give an underlying warmth. The snow has a lot of warm blues and I pushed the color around to give a softness to the background. The "white" is titanium white with a little cadmium orange and cadmium yellow deep. Even though a whitetail deer's coat turns gray in the winter, with just the right light on her, she can glow a stunning orange-y brown. The shadow on the young deer in the foreground keeps his coat gray.

First Winter
6" X 6"
Original Oil

This painting is in the 
Holiday Miniature Show
Pacific Flyway Gallery, Spokane Valley WA
(509) 747-0812

Surprisingly, our power, and hence our lights, returned this afternoon. We were prepared for longer but are grateful to return to the light. For a time, I will think about losing power every time I flip a switch  - until having light will once again become second nature.
I hope I never take the light in my paintings for granted and I will strive on each and every piece to keep the lights on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Small Paintings

The devil's in the details.
This saying aptly applies to this next painting. After working on a large piece, I wanted to do something small, really small. Stripes and spots are the most difficult to do at a miniature scale so rather than work on one zebra, how about FIVE.
The large caribou painting (see previous blog) was drying on my easel so I used my small table easel and a wonderful 5 diopter LED magnifying lamp from Global Industrial. Without it, the painting would have been even more difficult.
There were times I wondered what possessed me  to have 5 zebras in a painting less than 1/2 a square foot. Trying to figure out if I was working on a white or black stripe and the subtleties of shading at this size made the piece especially challenging.

7" X 10"
Original Oil

This painting is at Pacific Flyway Gallery & Framing for their Holiday Miniature Show.

Pacific Flyway Gallery & Framing
409 S. Dishman-Mica Rd.
Spokane Valley, WA
(509) 747-0812 

Saturday, November 7, 2015


A number of changes have been made to the painting since my last post.
Starting at the top -
1.) the mountains have a dip on the right hand side. It makes the scene feel more intimate to me and clearly defines the ridge as mountains, not some darker sky.
2.) brighter highlights on the antlers and some new highlights on the lower prongs
3.) shadow underneath both bulls
4.) "red" glazed on for the ground cover (my favorite bit) I used barium red and burnt sienna along with some cadmium red, cadmium orange, and titanium white. Liquin was the medium.
5.) foreground grasses. I continued some of the warm colors of the antlers into this section. Still, I wanted to keep it loose so not to draw your attention away from the action.

The Battlefield
27.5" X 48"
Original Oil

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Since the last post I have made the mane on the right bull fuller. Also, the wedge of furthest background underneath the right bull was looking a bit too warm. Using a little liquin and a purple mix, I glazed over that section to cool it.
The foreground looks like a crazy gobbley mess and what's with all the white blobs? The reds of the tundra in autumn are so brilliant that an alla prima rendering would not capture them. So my idea is to paint those sections white and, when they are dry, I will glaze over them with my reds.
With titanium white underneath the glazing, the reds will glow with maximum brightness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Finishing the second bull

At this size, the mane of the 2nd bull (one on the right) is looking a bit dull and flat. I often find it helpful on large pieces to look at my quick photos. Seeing it at a smaller scale can illuminate problem areas difficult to see when you are looking at something big.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Beginning the 2nd bull

This second bull's head is more challenging than I thought it would be. I knew it would be darker than the first bull, but if it is too dark the head looks like a dark brown blob. It is almost there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The first bull

It may be hard to see in this photo, but I have quite a bit of light purple on this first bull, especially on his legs. This gives the impression of a sheen.

Monday, October 19, 2015


One of the things I spent a lot of time on before I even picked up a pencil to draw my base lines was the position of the antlers. I really wanted the antlers of the bull on the right on (even in) the neck of the bull on the left. Having the center of the two bull's antlers form an oval on its side really worked for the composition I envisioned.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Another big painting

This is something I have wanted to paint for a long time. In 2008 I was with a small group of artists in remote northern Labrador. One day one of the artists and I went for a long hike (which ended up being 11 hours.) Before it was over we had witnessed many large bull caribou, two fighting, and had a herd of caribou pass by within 20 feet. Quite the day.

I've mixed my Venetian Red gesso with Naples Yellow gesso so the gesso would be more orangey. This will give it a warmer undertone than the Venetian Red gesso alone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


12" X 21"
Original Oil

After "living" with this painting, exploring it with my paint brushes, I am not sure whether the cowboy and horse are fading or whether they are coming alive.
 Not knowing made coming up with a title impossible until I was lying in bed and realized time was the theme.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Adding color

After opting to have the cowboy's shoulders in sepia tones, it is time to add some color. The first is red on the blanket.
The horse is black which in almost every other case would not be considered a color. But in turning my colors into shades of brown, everything which is not sepia will read as a color. At least that is the plan.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thinking in sepia tones

Now that the background is established, I thought working on the sepia tones first would be best. The tricky part is figuring out what is "in the past" and what becomes full color. The cowboy's hat and head along with the horse's tail were easy calls.

One thing which makes this a very different piece for me is that there is basically no hue. I am trying to think of a warm-looking black and white TV.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Artist of the Day

In the next day or so, I will be the Featured Artist of the day on the Artists for Conservation web site.
This organization not only supports artists but numerous conservation groups around the world.

Their mission statement reads:
The Artists for Conservation Foundation (AFC) is a non-profit, international organization dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the natural world. Based in Vancouver, Canada, the Foundation represents the world's leading collective of artists focused on nature and wildlife, with a membership spanning five continents and twenty-seven countries. The organization's mission is to support wildlife and habitat conservation, biodiversity, sustainability and environmental education through art that celebrates our natural heritage.

You can visit their web site at

Monday, October 5, 2015


While I am thinking of western themes (see previous post), I thought I would try something really out there.
There are thousands upon thousands of paintings with a cowboy on a horse. A great subject matter but I want to say something new. How do you go about creating a new story for a subject which has been painted so much? Night scene? - been done. Into the sunset? - overdone. Bright light, low light, silhouette, intimate, broad landscape - all been done.
There is nothing wrong with telling a story with a traditional bent. It just doesn't interest me right now.
Then it came to me, what if the story was about time, as in the passage of. That could be really different.
My idea is to have part of the painting in a sepia tone (like an old newspaper clipping) and blend into full color. I'm not sure whether the image will be fading into the background or the background color is coming to life. Maybe that is for the viewer to decide.

Here is the start.

I blended the edges to give a sense of warped time, a distorted camera lens looking back into the past.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Contemporary Western Art Show & Sale

My painting, Gold Collection - Bighorn, has been accepted into the Contemporary Western Art Show & Sale at the Mountain Oyster Club in Tucson, Arizona.
I understand the juried competition was particularly intense this year so I am honored to have my painting accepted.

For more details about this art show opening in November and for an invitation,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Painting Day

A Painting Day could refer to any day I am at the easel wielding my brushes. In this case I am referring to a day in the field, especially observing the fauna present. A Painting Day means something has sparked my imagination and I know a painting will result.

For the past several weeks I have been in remote northern Manitoba, with one of the fly-in camps more than 100 miles from other humans. It is the 7th or 8th time I have been in this region and it never grows old. Watching the tundra turn its brilliant fall colors is a treat. Being in the company of polar bears, wolves, peregrine falcons, arctic fox, snow geese, sandhill cranes, black bears, and more, is thrilling. Almost every day was a painting day and many days finished with my head spinning with ideas.

In one 24-hour period I saw eight different polar bears (male, mom with twin cubs of this year, mom with twin cubs of last year, and another male.) Less than 2 days later I had a close encounter with a pack of wolves. The list goes on and on.

Below is one of the many, many photos I took of the mom with twin cubs of this year. That was a good Painting Day.

My thanks to Churchill Wild and Webbers Lodges for once again making this trip possible.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Fontana del Pantheon
Original Oil
 16" X 16"

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Main Attraction

I have been anxious to paint this dolphin/serpent creature; exploring the flowing textures and applying the brights. (The lightest color can also be seen in the very outside edge of the shield and the top right visible corner of the fountain.)

My mythical creature did not disappoint me. He seems a happy watery "beastie," and the darks and bright lights really wake up the painting.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A full reference suite

Fortunately, when I was here I took lots of reference shots around the fountain. One of the main ones I am using for inspiration was cut off at the shield on the left. Since I had multiple photos, I could look at them and work out the details which were missing.
If I find a scene at all interesting (and few are not), I'll take as many reference shots as time allows. Then, I'll set the camera aside and soak it in with my eyes, ears, nose, and hands  - memorizing the essence of the place. And maybe that is the most important reference of them all.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


For most of this painting I am using a small angled brush. Only when I have tiny details like the Roman letters do I break out a small detail brush.
Angled brushes are my preference. The flat surfaces hold their shape and when used at an angle, it is easy to paint lines. The lines also have an inherent softness which is hard to achieve with a detail brush unless you also use a blending brush.
Interestingly, some of my strongest paintings are done with very few brushes (2-4.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Paying attention

In a painting like this, my drawing is the departure point. Much thought goes into each section. I want cracks, some lines which are not straight, some "chips" missing from the stone. Each element contributes to the age of the fountain.
I feel like racing toward the main subject but know I have to take my time and give each part of the painting my attention. "Happy accidents" happen as I move paint around the gessoed board. Oh, that looks like a crack, that a stain on the marble. Letting a little of the underlying gesso peek through in places creates an interesting effect. Here is when painting alla prima works particularly well.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


In painting wildlife in their natural habitats, I don't often get the chance to paint finished stone. I'm finding the color and sweeping brush stroke texture of the underlying gesso is aiding in the 3D illusion of the stonework.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


There was some scaffolding covering up one of the buildings in the back. I moved it out of view.
 Amazing how strong a single paint brush can be!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


What do I do when I have a competition deadline pending? You would think I'd choose a simple painting subject using my normal methods.
How about trying something new with a complex subject. In addition, why not make it a difficult shape (a square) and make it a medium-sized painting (16" X 16".)
I can't really explain my reasoning except to say it is a good way to push myself.

You'll be able to see the subject is anything but simple as it "emerges" out of the painting.
 My "new" is the gesso. I've been using Venetian Red gesso for about a year. I like it and think it has enabled me to see colors in a new light. What if I mixed the Venetian Red with a yellow ochre gesso? I had an empty pint can around and put a bit of each in it, then shook. The color was a soft orangey red and I used it for three small paintings.

Now what if I gessoed the top layer with broad strokes of yellow ochre gesso and then dipped my brush in the red/yellow ochre mixture and applied that? The result is below.

Pretty wild. I think it will add a nice glow to the painting.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

International Guild of Realism

 In the Pink
Original Oil
7.5" X 13.5"
My painting In the Pink has been accepted into the 
10th Annual International Guild of Realism Show. 
This year the show will be held at 
Principle Gallery
208 King St.
Alexandria, VA
 August 18th - September 18th.

If you'd like to see a show which has pieces 
created by some of the best representational artists working today, 
this is the place.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Completed painting

Mountain Glory
28" X 38"
Original Oil

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Warm vs. Cool

The whole painting was rather cool (cold if you are talking about the snow) until I painted the antlers. While you need the whole body of the caribou to complete the painting, it is the warmth of the antler colors against the cool mountain background which is the more important part of the piece. And why I wanted to paint this.
I have some warm tones in the foreground which give the impression of tundra in the fall.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mountains balanced

With the background shadows lightened and more blue (cerulean blue and manganese blue), I am ready to start on the foreground.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A bright blue

The close shadowed mountain is painted mostly with ultramarine blue. I really enjoyed playing with such a bright color.
However, now the background mountain shadows are too purple-y (warm) and too dark. Time to repaint those sections.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Having an M.S. Degree in Geology makes me rather particular about mountains. They are not some amorphous blob or a series of triangles but rather they have an underlying geology which dictates their form. Understanding that, just like knowing the muscles and bone structure of an animal, is essential.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Finished elk painting

Call of the Wild
30" X 50"
Original Oil

 Hmmmm, I thought it was finished. An artist friend of mine made a great observation. Even though I moved the calf away from the bull elk, he isn't far enough away. Sigh. My friend was right. Why did I not see it before? This means repainting the calf, painting out the other one, and changing the reflection. Maybe if I just painted out the calf.

Before I did anything, I went to my computer. Using my photo program (Paint Shop Pro) I could try out both options: moving the calf and taking it out all together. Both looked better than my current arrangement. The big difference is I feel the calf tells part of the story and is the only animal reacting directly to the bull's call. Decision: calf stays in and moves.

Below is the completed painting.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

The big boy

The purples and blues on his shadow side will make his warm sunlit areas stand out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Fun part

Usually I save the animals for last. Not only can I use some of the background colors to unify them with the landscape, but I so enjoy painting the animals. Saving the best for last.
I'm really bumping up the warmth of the cow elk. The ears on the main cow were laid back, indicating anger and were distracting. I'll need to play around with those before she is finished.

Monday, July 20, 2015


When I work on water, I like to have a large block of time. It is with blending wet into wet that I can achieve the soft look of water.
This water was a unique challenge. The reflections are in bands. Starting with the right side, I begin painting in the stripes. To see more detail, click on an image.
1-establishing the darks
2-adding some warm colors and blending
3-the left bands before blending
4. Blended.
Some adjustments were made from three to four. For instance, the bright yellow bush has a more yellow reflection.