Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014


"Sanctuary" 6x6 oil on cradled panel
This little painting was completed on Christmas day. It was a quiet day in the studio with Otis the Wonder Dog and I got a lot done. Working on these mini landscape studies makes me happy, so it was a very good day!
This is also my first attempt at painting a stream setting (something I'm very comfortable with using acrylics) with oils. It took a little while to figure out how I was going to make the water read as "water" and still use this somewhat impressionistic style.

Otis says "Merry Christmas!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


"Majesty" 6x6 oil
Painting these tiny western landscapes has been pure joy! It's amazing how much can be learned by painting small quick studies. This one is part of a series designated for the 2015 SEWE show in Charleston, SC. It will be interesting to see the public reaction to my new oil paintings. This will be my first show displaying mostly oils.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


"Splendor" 6x6 oil on cradled panel
It's funny how paintings progress... even small studies like this one. I had pretty much given up on the painting about halfway through and almost wiped it off. I'm happy I stuck with it!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


"Nomad" 12x9 oil
I've been wanting my painting style to move this way for quite some time. I'm very pleased with my progress. The oils are really coming together for me.

"Nomad" detail

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Burning - a Short YouTube Video


In an attempt to move forward with my work, I created this video... in part to rid myself of past work cluttering my workspace, but mostly to prove beyond any doubt my work is progressing. Better ideas plus better execution leads to better art! Enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2014


This one is headed to Bozeman, Montana for the Holiday Small Works show at Legacy Gallery.

"Cutthroat" 12x16 oil

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Drawing Show - November 21 and 22

Victorian City Art and Frame in Franklin, PA is hosting an exhibit of my recent drawings. For a unique gift choice this holiday season, select a drawing and have it framed at Victorian City. The event starts Friday evening at 5:00 with a Wine Walk and ends with Light-up Night on Saturday. Come in and check it out!

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Touch of Autumn"

This is the largest painting I've attempted in quite some time!

"Touch of Autumn" 20x40 oil

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Just finished and ready for a frame, "Ruckus" will be featured at the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, MD November 13-16, 2014.

"Ruckus" 12x24 oil

Friday, October 24, 2014


It's been a long time since my last post! There have been 4 paintings on the easel in various stages of completion over the past couple of weeks. This is the first of those pieces I'm ready to call "done!"
Inspired by my recent travels through the Rocky Mountain West... "Bugle".

"Bugle" 8x10 oil

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Perfect Evening"

Keeping with the theme of working with oil paint, this sunset landscape really pushed my color choices. As with the smaller studies, I learned a lot during the course of this project.
"Perfect Evening" 10x20 oil

Friday, August 8, 2014

Becoming a Better Painter... well... at least trying!

It's kind of a weird thing... this insatiable desire to be a better painter. On one hand, it forces me to regularly step outside my normal artistic self and try new things. On the other, it can be almost self-distrucive by taking time away from production and I can spend weeks without ever producing anything suitable for sale. For me, the fear of failure is nearly paralysing! So working on things I'm not very good at is like pushing a big rock uphill. It's hard. I suppose there is a balance in there somewhere, though I have yet to find it.
So this week I'm up to my elbows in oil paint... something I'm not quite comfortable with, but slowly getting there. These small lanscape studies are mostly an attempt to learn about the paint and how it blends, mixes, and dries. Some are more successful than others, but all are part of the learning process (there's that word again... "process").
As I sit at the easel smearing paint from one end of my shirt to the other (occasionally getting some on the canvas), I often think about how I would define "better painter". Of course I'm the only one who can nail this down as it applies to my own work and I'm sure everyone has an opinion that differs to some degree from mine (maybe getting less paint on me and more on the canvas would be a good start). I used to think it meant learning to paint in a very realistic almost photographic style. I worked for years pushing my art that direction, but as I get older, my tastes are constantly changing. Now the goal is to say more with less. There is still a desire to capture some subjects in a hyper-realistic manner and I'm grateful to have learned these techniques (like accurate drawing!). There will be times when I need to lean on those skills. Still, I find my brushes are gradually getting bigger, my color choices a bit bolder, and I seem to be acquiring an ability to walk away from a painting before it's completely over-rendered. I'm not there yet, but that destination had been programmed into my artist's GPS and I'm on my way... even if I seem to be taking the long way.

Ten years ago, I could not have imagined painting in this style. It wasn't even on my radar. Ten years from now, who knows what I'll be doing... sculpting in bronze? I have no idea. It's a process (see?). It's always said that "it's more about the journey than the destination" and in the case of being an artist, it couldn't be more true. We always have a destination in mind, but things change... so enjoy the journey. It's almost never easy, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Always Learning

Since most of my work is done in acrylic, the adventure of diving into an oil painting is usually a bit nerve wracking. Still, it's a chance to learn... and on this project, I learned a lot!
"Lazy Rise" 24x20 oil

I think my oils will get a more frequent workout in the future.

Friday, July 11, 2014

More Small Stuff

These two tiny 4x6 studies ended up being huge successes. Not only did they end up being relatively pleasing to look at, I really learned a lot pushing the paint around on them.
The play between warm light and cool shadow has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It's great when I can make it work, but I'm not always as successful as I'd like. In the heron study, I'm particularly happy with the way the warm and cool hues work together making the harsh lighting seem almost "squint your eyes" bright.
Blending acrylic paint is not exactly the easiest thing I've ever done, but with the help of an "open" medium, it gives me a bit more time to manipulate the edges before the paint sets. It might not seem like much, but it's a big deal when trying to soften objects in the background or lose edges here and there.
Let's hope I can translate all this fun stuff into some larger works!

Monday, July 7, 2014

"A Whiff of Danger"

In keeping with my theme of working toward a more impressionistic style of painting, I began work on a landscape inspired by a trip some years ago to the Tetons in Wyoming. The underpainting was put together quickly with a 1/2" flat brush and relatively thin paint. Once this stage of the painting was complete, I had reservations about going any further. I really liked the freshness of the painting at this point (and it was VERY impressionistic!). That being said, I also know when I feel this way about the underpainting, the finished piece usually turns out to be something special... so I pushed forward.

Block-in underpainting

As I began to work through the next stage of the piece adjusting edges and refining shapes with thicker chunks of paint, I kept feeling like the piece needed a wildlife element. At first I thought something small. Perhaps a magpie or two? But the more I thought about it, the painting was asking for elk... and not just one.
Such a large compositional adjustment at this stage of the painting poses more than a few challenges. My wildlife pieces are mostly designed around the animals themselves, not the other way around. So adding the elk this late in the game was a big risk. Most often, major elements added as an afterthought end up looking like just that... an afterthought.
Finally settling on three elk, I didn't want them to be static. There needed to be some movement and tension. Once I worked out the positioning, another problem became apparent. To keep the spacing and scale of the elk in step with the setting, the lead cow's nose was uncomfortably close the edge of the painting. After pondering this for the better part of the weekend, I resolved the issue by letting the values of her face blend closely with the background foliage.
Finally, the cow stopping to look back before bolting for the next county brings the mood of the piece together as I intended.
"A Whiff of Danger" 9x12 acrylic

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Emerald Reflection"

"Emerald Reflection" 8x6 acrylic
As I climb the trail of my career as an artist, I find it interesting to occasionally step back and assess my progress toward becoming a better painter. Of course the trail is not well marked and there are often wrong turns and dead ends, but every once in a while I stumble upon something that works.
My work is leaning a bit toward an impressionistic style while trying to maintain a certain level of believable realism. I certainly don't paint as "photographic" as I used to (check some of my blog posts from a few years ago) and I'm enjoying the additional freedom that comes along with smearing around larger blobs of paint. I'm not saying I'll be splashing paint on a 40x60 canvas with a 2" brush anytime soon, but I feel like this is real progress.
I've also noticed the paint on my finished work is much thicker than it used to be (this is quite evident when sanding down the high spots on a clunker that needs to be painted over!). This thicker paint is allowing my colors to be more juicy and vibrant. It also keeps me from using those tiny brushes I'm so used to!
I love painting small landscape studies like the one above. They allow me to try new things without having all the time and material of a large painting invested.
It's slow progress... but progress nonetheless.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


"Chipper" 7x5 acrylic
With a larger project in mind, I wanted to paint this small 7x5 study of a chipping sparrow on a rhododendron. It took a while for me to figure out the mixtures for the pinks in the sun-drenched blossoms, but I'm very happy with the results.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Pasture Reclaimed"

"Pasture Reclaimed" 9x12 acrylic
Last painting for the History Meets the Arts show in Gettysburg finally finished. Now on to framing, packing, and other less entertaining chores.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

History Meets the Arts 2014

I will have about 20 framed originals at this show... many making their first public appearance. It would be great to see you there!

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Cruiser - Brown Trout"

"Cruiser - Brown Trout" 10x20 acrylic
I recently shot some very interesting underwater reference photos. My trout paintings will benefit from such cool images. Guess it's time to go fishing again :)

Friday, May 23, 2014


"Trilliance" 8x6 acrylic
It's always nice to finally work something out successfully. I wanted to explore how intense sunlight would play on this white flower. The hints of radiance around the flower's petals make the flower seem brighter and warmer in the light. Fun stuff!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Three Rings"

"Three Rings" 5 x 9.5 acrylic
I wasn't really expecting to like this little study as much as I do! I'm very pleased with the results. I may have to work this into a larger painting sometime in the future.

Friday, May 16, 2014


One of my favorite pastimes in May is to look for morel mushrooms. After getting more than 3" of rain in the last 3 days, I thought maybe they'd be starting to pop up... and I was right! I almost stepped on these when I got out of the truck! I searched for about 2 hours and managed to find about 20. Not bad.
I also stumbled upon a cardinal's nest, so I quickly snapped a pic and moved on. I never would have notice if I hadn't seen the female flit away from this tangle of brush along the trail.
Spring things are a bit late this year, but are now moving along nicely. If the creeks weren't so flooded, I'd be thinking about trying to catch a couple of fresh trout to go along with my bounty of mushrooms. Still, I've got chicken marinading, the charcoal grill is ready to go, and there's some fine Canadian beer on ice. It's going to be a good evening.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Birds In Art 2014!

It is a proud day indeed! "After the Storm" has been selected for the 2014 Birds In Art exhibit at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI. I've been very fortunate to have a painting in this prestigious show each of the last 8 years.

"After the Storm" 20x30 acrylic
 Is it too early to start thinking about painting for next year's Birds In Art exhibit?!

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Clear Creek Brown"

"Clear Creek Brown" 10x10 acrylic
It's been a few weeks since I've finished a painting, so it was time to get my butt in gear! I'm happy to add this one to the "done" list.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Small Oil Studies

Always hoping for improvement and versatility, I keep working on areas of my art where I feel I'm less than proficient. Two of my biggest weaknesses are painting with oils and painting interesting, yet believable, skies. Yesterday I spent my time in the studio sorting through reference photos and doing small studies. As with all studies, some were more successful than others. I kept them under 2 hours, so I moved thought these rather quickly (at least "quick" for me). It was a good learning experience. Maybe I'll do another study or two today!

Time spent experimenting and learning is time well spent indeed! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"After the Storm"

It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I began work on this large (20x30) painting. My last attempt at a big one was a 6 week disaster that left me angry and frustrated. Still... I needed to push forward.
After drawing the composition (with white charcoal) on a neutral gray primed board, I started blocking in some of the darks with a thin mixture of warm browns and grays. Working quickly while the paint was still a little wet, I smacked in some of the lighter areas allowing the colors to overlap and blend. This isn't easy with acrylic, but it keeps me working very fast.
Going back over the blocked in areas after the paint was dry, I started to refine things and push the shapes closer to what they would be in the finished painting. This took a considerable amount of time and effort. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to handle the reflections of the trees on the water in the foreground and reworked this part of the painting several times.
After almost a month of steady work, the painting was nearing completion... but there were still a few things bothering me.
The reflection of the large group of trees wasn't doing anything for the painting and I needed to reconsider that entire area again. In fact, nearly all of the stream was going to need repainted. It was close, but not quite right.
That awful clump of snow in the lower right corner was going to need some attention as well. The shape was odd and I needed to think about making it flow into the painting a little better.
So... I put the painting away for almost 2 weeks and worked on another project. Once I got it back on the easel, the solutions became relatively clear and I was able to finish the piece in less than 2 days.
"After the Storm" 20x30 acrylic
Detail from "After the Storm"

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Day Off

I decided to take the day off yesterday and do a little fishing. The forecast called for a high in the upper 40s after a night in the teens. While the temperature may have reached the 45° mark in some places, it sure as hell never got that warm in the creek gorge!
Of course, that seems to be the theme so far this year... delusional weather prognosticators missing forecasts by 10° or more, the first of April is baring down on us, and the nights are still so cold the river eddies freeze over with more than just a little ice. Still, I can't help myself and sometimes I just have to get outside... and fishing seems to be the most agreeable excuse. After all, there are only so many nights I can spend tying flies by the fire without getting some of them wet.
I hiked more than a mile downstream from the road planning to fish my way back to the truck. Wood ducks and hooded mergansers flushed ahead of me as I picked my way through the giant icebergs that still line the banks of the stream. A great blue heron squawked in disgust having his hopes for a trout lunch thwarted by my approach. I was taking my time and being pretty careful. The last thing I needed was to twist or break an ankle!
My starting point was a spot lined with giant river carved rocks and old hemlocks on the far bank. The water was clear (and COLD!). It didn't take long for my feet to feel the affects of the icy water as I drifted my flies through the deepest sections of the run. I fished for what seemed like an hour or so without so much as a bump from a trout. I occasionally changed flies hoping one of the combinations of fur and feather would appeal to the trout. I realistically thought to myself that the extreme cold temperatures of the night before had probably pushed the fish into a state of near dormancy, not moving an inch to eat anything... no matter how enticing. But then it happened... my line hesitated during the drift and I lifted my rod. To my surprise, it was a nice brown trout!
I was happy. The fish fought hard and I marveled at its markings and color before letting it go. Five casts later, I had another.
And so it went for the rest of the afternoon. I caught the occasional fish... enough to keep me focused and happy. My feet got progressively more numb until I found myself stumbling along the trail unable to feel the ground beneath me. I even took time to get a few underwater shots of a nice healthy rainbow in an unusually clear stretch of stream.
 One thing about photographing fish in conditions like this... you work fast! It doesn't take long for all the heat to be sucked from your hands and turn them into useless clubs. For the next 15 minutes after taking the photo above, I might as well have been wearing boxing gloves. My fingers were not working at all!