Saturday, May 18, 2024

Water Reflection


This reflection is a bit different. Reflections are dictated not only from the color of the water, the agitation of the water (how rough or smooth), and the object reflected, but also by the depth of the water. This particular reflection signals that the boat is resting on a sandy bottom. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

More Water


I enjoy painting the many moods of water. To create this scene I used two main looks: distant semi-rough ocean water and calm water inside a shoal and at the sand/shore line. 

 For the calm water I created texture with color differences and varying brush stroke thickness so it doesn't appear flat and lifeless. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Adding sky


The first change I think the "boring photo" needed was a horizon line. 
Oils are perfectly designed for sky and water. I started with a group of white clouds to the left and a block of white clouds in the middle extending across the board. It was much too busy. So, I kept blending blues in to the wet paint until I was happy with what you see above. The extended drying time of oils gives me time to play around with ideas, especially with this painting in which all the decisions are not made before I start.

Monday, May 13, 2024

A Boring Photo

 I've taken a lot of reference photos. In my studio drawers are over 25,000 4" X 6" photos (all cross-referenced by subject) and I have well over 170,000 digital photos. Some of these photos are gems from around the world and some might only have a tiny bit of information which could be useful in a future painting.

Then, there are boring ones like the one below.


I took a number of angles of this boat when I saw it a couple of years ago. What is the appeal? The water is a nondescript color, the background buoys are not terribly attractive, the brown pole doesn't do anything, and the brown/rust above the water line on the boat is unattractive. 

But, there was something about the lines of the boat, it's closeness to shore, the light on it which drew my interest. Guess that is why I took seven photos of it. 

Over the last couple of years I have visited the digital photos of this boat only to leave perplexed. How do I turn this in to a painting? 

I have an idea. Watch me - I think I can make it work.

Thursday, May 9, 2024



Grass Is Always Greener
Original Oil
21" X 32"


 This painting certainly used a variety of greens! As for the color of the horse, to me this was the obvious choice. The pops of reds, rust, and orange stand out to create the story hinted by the title.

The next painting will not be "all"  greens. I'm working on my summer collection for the Martha' Vineyard gallery and the next piece will feature water and reflections.

Thanks for following.

Monday, May 6, 2024

More Green


Finally. The upper right leaves from a foreground tree are a nice warm green. I was able to break out the sap green and mix it with Gamblin's radiant yellow. Some sections have a touch of Rembrandt's cadmium yellow deep but I found the radiant yellow got me a more intense color.


 The farm has this craggy tree right next to the rock wall. I could have made it "pretty" but I found parts of it were quite interesting. I didn't paint every branch but went for the elements which in my mind defined the tree.

 The foreground grass and vegetation are rather loose. With all that is going on in the painting I didn't want one's eyes to stop on really detailed foreground plants/weeds. I did however want to make sure the brightest and warmest greens were on this side of the rock wall.




Friday, May 3, 2024




The rock wall in the background has few colors but to make the foreground rock wall read well I put strokes of raw sienna and blues in the shadows and played around with the warm sunlit colors. This is all to the right of the tree. To the left of the foreground tree I went with cooler colors to help that portion of the wall recede in to the middle ground.




Monday, April 29, 2024

Rock Walls & Gates


The background rock wall is "bluer" than the foreground will be. As you can see from the image below, I start with the dark areas first.



From this vantage point of the farm you can see two gates. A common design on Martha's Vineyard is three to four horizontal boards, a middle vertical board for support if it is a wide gate, and an angled board attached to the top of the granite vertical post on the right and at the lowest part of the gate on the left. 



Friday, April 26, 2024

More Greenery



At this stage I really want to leap in to mixing warm greens to balance the cool greens. However, I know  there is plenty of the painting to go which will need the contrast. 

Before I finish for the day I painted the more warm green line in the middle of the painting. Just a touch of warmth to suggest where the greens will go next. 



Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Painting Greens

Near when I first started painting, I hated working with greens. They would be too vivid, too blue, too muddy. They just didn't read real to me. So, I decided to do a piece which was basically shades of green. From a yellow-green to a deep blue-green, I got to experiment. Below is the result.
Shades of Green
Original oil, 2001
16" X 24" 
After this painting greens were no longer a nemesis. Difficult, but I didn't hate them.
I bring this up because this next painting on my easel has a lot of different greens. They are the driving force to the depth of the piece. 
The interior of Martha's Vineyard, an island off the east coast,  has rolling hills and pastoral farms. Rock walls from centuries past cross the landscape. This particular farm has been a favorite of mine. 

 The pond in the distance adds an extra layer of depth and almost a longing to walk in to the scene to go swimming on a warm summer afternoon.
The greens on the right start to add a flavor of warm bright color to the scene. However, the deepest and richest greens are saved for the foreground.


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Finished & coming up with a title


Title - see below
Original oil painting by Linda Besse
14" X 18"
Image above is a scan of the original painting
Sometimes I have a title of a painting before I start. There are paintings in which a title develops while I paint. Then, there are paintings in which the title eludes me, briefly.
I wanted a title which reflected a sense of place and maybe the presence of the Adele penguins. 
So many titles were rejected. Way Down South felt confusing as that is also used for the southern part of the U.S.  I considered Way Cool but it didn't resonate the way I hoped. Shortening Way Cool to Cool! wasn't right either. It wasn't cool, it was cold!
Ah, cold. The title?
Cold Never Bothered Me 
For any who have seen the Disney animated movie Frozen, the last line of the block-buster song Let It Go is the cold never bothered me anyway. While the movie Frozen takes place in the north, the "frozen continent" is Antarctica. I like this title because it is packed with meaning and though it does not specifically name the penguin species, it says everything about them.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Thursday, April 11, 2024


 It is easy to think of Antarctica as lots of white and then throw in the blue water. Yup, two tubes of paint.
But the colors of the ice on a sunny day are so magnificent they can take your breath away.
One of the dangers in painting them is relying solely on one's reference photos. A photo sees the surface but our eyes see through the surface. I like to memorize the colors I see. It even helps to write them down and/or make color marks shortly afterwards. I find this also particularly helpful for northern lights for which I don't have adequate nighttime camera equipment.

On the main block I still have to paint the "white" on the upper side and blend it with the shadowed colors.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024




I was fortunate to have a beautiful scene to work with. While my photos of it might have been picture perfect they were not painting-perfect.

The mid mini-berg in the middle of the right edge extended to the large blocks on the left. This visually cut off the back landscape from the foreground. So, I made a gap.

I cropped the right side of the scene which eliminated one of the background mountains. I didn't feel the painting needed it.

The main block was heftier and was more rounded which gave it a ball-like appearance. This did not seem to fit the angled stratified appearance of the ice so I modified the shape. 

There is a bit of the main ice block sticking out from behind the right penguin. In my reference this piece was very tiny which made it confusing. I enlarged and extended it.

This does not mean I am done making changes. At this point I already see another change to make in what I have already painted.


Friday, April 5, 2024

South, way South

 One of the best trips I have taken was to Antarctica. After a rolling crossing of the Drake Passage with seas up to 48 feet and wind gusts up to 108 knots, our arrival at the continent was greeted by clear skies and crystal water. The light was the purest I have ever seen with a clarity that is hard to describe.

I want this painting to imbue a sense of place and the beauty of this continent.

For this piece I am doing something different in the preparation. In my paintings I use a light turpentine wash with a touch of yellow ochre over my drawing. To try and capture the unique light in Antarctica I thought I might be fighting the underlying warm wash the whole time. So, here my turpentine wash was a mixture of cerulean blue, ultramarine blue deep, and paynes gray.

Our small 100 passenger ship was able to give us two continental landings from zodiacs. The vastness of this place was evident. We climbed a gentle slope of a glacier and the full sun was so warm we could take our coats off and lie in the snow.

Saturday, March 30, 2024



Forever Wild
 24" X 36"
Original oil by Linda Besse
The image above is from a professional scan of the painting.
Thanks for following along on the creation of this piece. 
Up next is a completely different wild part of the world.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Black & Tan

 Lest you think I am talking about a beer drink with pale ale and stout, in this case it is about the horse coloring.
However, the colors are not that simple. Not only will there be black and tan, but also gray, rust red, orangey red, lavender, purple, deep browns, and bright yellows.

Monday, March 18, 2024

The Big Test

 After all the hours painting the background, will the horse work? Can I pull off enough interest in him that he is not overshadowed by the landscape?
If these seem like questions which should be answered before beginning, sometimes on a challenging piece when you are taking a risk, painting something new or outside your comfort zone, you just don't know if the painting will say what you are trying to communicate until you paint it.

My current palette is a-jumble with colors, hardly a spot to spare. I put it aside and grab a fresh palette pack for mixing the colors of the horse. I use disposable palette sheets and in a situation like this will keep the first sheet handy so I can easily go back to its colors.

Like usual I start with the animal's eyes. 

Now that the "face" is painted, I am feeling more confident that this horse was a good choice for the painting. I think his star quality will carry the painting.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Blocking in the foreground



The lowest section of the painting is blocked in waiting for the completion of the horse. I knew I wanted a rich blue for the very bottom. It gives a feeling of a near shadow and is a darker version of the blue shadow under the rightmost cliffs. 

As for the the lighter lower section, my first go was too pink/peach. After I added some raw sienna and golden earth ochre the section was too dark. I lightened it with broad strokes giving a textured look to this base layer.

 Once the horse is done, I'll add some detailed flowers and other vegetation in both the lighter tan and the dark blue section to finish the painting. 

Thursday, March 14, 2024

More Greenery


I've blocked in the warmer greens. Right now they are just shapes suggesting the bushes. I'll refine them some before moving to the ground underneath the horse, but this is also an area I will want to revisit even after the horse is painted.
There is a lot of complexity to the landscape so the horse needs to holds his own so he is not overshadowed by his surroundings. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Seeing the Whole Picture



   When I paint I use a horizontal board attached by spring clamps to vertical boards. The vertical boards are screwed to my easel frame. The horizontal board has an ergonomic slant and I rest my hand on it to paint. This is particularly useful when I am working in the middle of an oil painting and there is wet paint around that section.

   A disadvantage of this technique comes in to play on large paintings. The vertical boards are about 2.5" wide and on a painting which is 36" wide obscure part of the painting on either end.  
   To work on this part of the background I removed the horizontal board and the vertical boards so I can see the entire piece at one time. Until most of the background is complete and I am ready to start on the horse I won't reattach the boards. 

    There are so many non-horizontal lines in the background hills and rock cliffs that I wanted to have a steadying horizontal on the right side in the valley's dried grasses.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Keeping it Cool

 At this stage I'm still keeping the background cool. As I paint more in to the foreground, the colors will be mixed warmer. It is tempting to move warmer too soon, but if I want to maximize the depth of the landscape I am erring on the cooler side. Paint can be added later if I think certain sections need a tad more warmth.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Background or no background?

    A landscape painter focuses on the setting of his painting, working to grab the viewer's attention to the scene he has created.

  For the most part I am a wildlife painter. My main focus is to represent the animals I have seen in the wild. But, how best to do that? I have noticed a trend in recent years in which artists will use an abstract background for a wildlife painting.  Many pieces are quite creative and have a modern feel. 

   I have used a simple mix of colors background in a few wildlife paintings, however I gravitate to keeping the animal in the natural world.  I believe the habitat is part of the animal's story. Then, how does one create the dynamic between the landscape and the subject? Which is the star and which the supporting character? 

   In this next painting I wanted to paint the dramatic landscape of the Pryor Mountains where the wild Pryor Mountain horses roam. I still want the main focus on the horse. So, I needed a horse which could "hold his own" in the scene, an A-list actor with enough charisma you can't take your eyes off him. Fortunately, I had several contenders from the wild herd I saw. I hope you will think I cast the correct star.

Below is the start of the landscape. 
The painting is 24" X 36"

Friday, February 23, 2024


Sea Lyin'
Original Oil by Linda Besse
14" X 11" 




Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Starting the Stellar sea lions

 The sea lions on all sides of the buoy enhance the three dimensional feeling of the painting.

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Buoy


The greens on this buoy seemed particularly bright on this gray day. Some areas were more turquoise, some emerald green, and some a warm green. And, when rust came in to play, there were a lot of colors involved.



 In addition to completing the buoy, I have also added some blue to the foreground water.




Friday, February 16, 2024

Stellar sea lions

 While on whale watching trips out of Juneau and Icy Strait Point we spotted Stellar sea lions. I was fascinated by the interaction of the sea lions permitted to take their respite on a buoy and those who had to wait their turn. 

The trip out of Juneau on a small guided boat in rough water with just six passengers was the more exciting of the trips for the camera. I wedged myself in to one corner of the open air stern so I could hold on to my camera with both hands. Often it was too rough to photograph so I lowered the camera and watched the sea lions, memorizing the colors and feel of the scene.

I started the painting with the sky and mountains then worked my way down through the water. The foreground water is just roughed in at this point.

Thursday, January 11, 2024



Glace' Seal-ing
18" X 24"
Original Oil 

Fur-ing out the polar bear took some time. While I had the direction of the fur established, there was so much more to creating the depth. 
A polar bear's skin is black and his fur is hollow.
I have spent time on the ground with polar bears in remote camps north of Churchill, Manitoba. It is amazing that though there is no pigment to their fur, when they are in sunlight their fur has a beautiful and striking golden glow. 

The above image is from my phone. It will be a while before the painting is dry enough to scan. Scanning always yields a more accurate representation of the original. In a couple of weeks, you can check out my web site to see the scanned painting.  (See originals, large paintings - mammals)

Friday, January 5, 2024

Polar Bear


Above I've finished the basic fur direction for the polar bear. I use this as a template for my brush strokes.

Below you can see I am starting to fill in both the light and shadowed fur.