Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Three Aspens"

I never seem to paint enough watercolors. They're popular with collectors and always look amazing at shows. I'm just a lot more comfortable working in acrylics... for that matter, oils too.

Aspens make great subjects for paintings. I always find the markings and contrast irresistible. I completed this small piece this morning and it was really a lot of fun. "Three Aspens" is 8 3/8 x 5 1/8.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It took me a little longer than expected to finish this one off, but I’m pleased with the overall results. The background is still a little busy for my liking, but I’m not going to paint it out and rework it at this stage. Softening the edges helped. A very thin wash of flesh pink also added to the elusion of depth.

Sharing the progress was a lot of fun… and a little stressful. I’ll have to give it another shot again soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WIP Loon - Day 5

Finally, all of the shapes are in place. Now it’s time to assess what I’ve done and create a plan of attack for problem areas (anticipated or not). First, and most importantly, the extreme busy feel to the painting has to be changed. I hope to accomplish this by softening the edges in both the background and foreground. This will help lead the viewer’s eye to the middle ground plain and ultimately to the loon. This also is the stage where I begin to smooth out the areas that have a “brushy” look to them and do away with any remnants of my “focus frames.”

Second, some detail in the face of the loon needs to me added… especially to the eye. This can get tricky. Overdo it and the painting will take on a cartoon-like feel. Not enough and the head reads as simply a black blob. While I’m at it, I’m not happy with the shape of the loon’s head… specifically the forehead or crest area. That should be an easy fix.

Lastly, to this point I’ve used no black from the tube in this painting. All of the “black” areas are simply a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt umber with a touch of dioxazine purple. I may add some bits of ivory black to really make some areas pop.

I’ve uploaded this image in a larger format than usual to make these problem areas easier to see.

Monday, August 24, 2009

WIP Loon - Day 4

Yesterday was a good day at the easel. I've pushed the water to the point I think I'll be able to finish the rough shapes today (provided of course, nothing unplanned jumps up and bites me later!). Once that's done, then I can move on to the fun stuff... softening edges, strategic details, and maybe a few special affects. I'm really enjoying this one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

WIP Loon - Day 3

There was a lot of progress yesterday. I find when I’m working on a piece like this, I need to hold back on some of the more interesting areas and bite them off a little at a time. The meticulous work of painting in the sky reflections on the water is enough to drive me batty! But if I work on that for most of the day and reward myself by painting some of the markings on the loon, everything balances.
Speaking of “balance,” at this stage, the painting is starting to have a very “busy” feel to it. I will need to draw the viewer’s attention away from the movement of the water and focus it on the loon. I had anticipated this distracting predicament and have a specific plan (part of my engineering background) to mitigate the problem. Stay tuned…

Friday, August 21, 2009

Process Revealed

As you can see, the image has become considerably “lighter” with the addition of reflected sky in the water. You can also see how I work… in small squares I like to call “focus frames.” These frames let me work on small areas, getting the drawing and values correct, without worrying about the painting as a whole… which comes later. I don’t always use this method, but it’s quite helpful to me when working on complex subjects. Good reference material is crucial as there is not a lot of room to fudge.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WIP Loon - Day 1

Let's try this again! The last (and first) time I posted the daily progress of one of my paintings, it was such a raging disaster, I finally gave up on it. Oh yes... I am a glutton for punishment. HA! I started this small loon piece yesterday morning and made good progress on my half-day of work. My intention is to pull the highlights from the water out of the darker base color. The finished product should be considerably lighter with a bit of sparkle............ we'll see.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Cold Night Ahead"

The weather has been so hot and sticky for the past week or so, I thought it would be refreshing to work on something with a "cool" feel. One evening this past February, I watched several mourning doves flying up to roost in a large leafless red oak. As they fluffed and ruffled their feathers for better insulation, I couldn't help but think how cold the following night was going to be.
I made a calculated decision to use a limited palette of cool colors and selected one lonely dove to paint. I dragged a bit of the background colors over some of the limbs to push them back into the scene.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Storm Chaser"

I've been spending a great deal of time working with my oils lately. My progress has been a bit slow, but there is progress none-the-less. I finished this piece this morning and thought I'd share. Storm Chaser is 15x30 oil on canvas panel and features a Northern harrier hawk.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I found out yesterday I'll be at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC in February. This will be my first time at this show should be a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to it. The paint will be flying between now and then! I'm hoping to take at least 30 pieces with me. We'll see...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hummingbirds and Lucifer

I spent a little time yesterday evening testing some camera gear. I got several great shots of this little ruby-throated hummingbird. Of course I was hoping to get some photos of males, but the aggressive females wouldn't let them anywhere near the big red blossoms. Go figure!

These will make great reference material for future paintings!