Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm Back, and on a MAC!

Happy happy joy joy! I own a Mac!
The reason I haven't posted is the fact my other computer, a Dell, gave up the ghost. I hope it is in pieces wherever bad computers go when they die. I tried to have it fixed yet again but my wonderful wife once again thought more clearly than me and decided to invest the money in a new computer. On Christmas day it was a complete surprise. Now I am trying to get software and other things I had on my computer transferred to Macville. It may take a little while, bear with me.
You Mac folks have been holding out on me. When I would ask "how ya' like your Mac?" I would get a "good" or "it's very nice". No one ever told me it is the single greatest invention in our species existence on this planet. The wheel, internal combustion engine, penicillin, nothing comes close. This thing is awesome. The color and quality of images on this are marvelous. I may now be able to paint from an image on my computer now and then. What a way to start 2010.
Speaking of 2010, have you made your resolutions yet? I know we all say "to get better as artists" but have you really thought about what that entails? I have noticed that there have been periods in my development where it feels like I have reached a plateau and am not quite sure what to do next to keep the momentum going, to keep getting better. When I look back at the beginning of 2009 I see improvement but if you asked me how it happened all I know how to say is,"I painted a lot." Didn't have a plan. No method. Just painted. Hard.
So over the next few weeks I would really like to think about what I want to accomplish this year and maybe at the end of 2010 I will have a more interesting answer than,"I painted."
2010. Here we go.

Monday, December 14, 2009

^%$#%#@ Computer!!!

I am down again! My computer has vapor locked once more. It seems I work on it as much as I actually use it anymore. Granted it's old, terribly old, but my truck has 330,oo0 all original one owner miles and I can walk out in the driveway right now start it and drive it anywhere in the country I want to without this much trouble. I will say though that over the last few years my truck has sprung enough oil leaks that my kids started calling it the "Valdez". But it runs. Anyway, tech guy will be here Wednesday to get it going again. That, and the Brentwood Academy Art Show are the reason's I have been away from the blog. I also haven't been painting much. Took a little time after the show and had a few illustration projects come in so the last week I worked on those. Plan on getting back in the groove this week though.
I'm posting an illustration I did this past week. It is Screwtape from a C.S. Lewis story. It was one I was not familiar with so I had to do a bit of research.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Details of the Class

I sat down with Kay Keyes Farrar today and hammered out the details of the landscape class I will be teaching at Leiper's Creek Gallery the first of next year. I am going to try and teach two classes if we have enough interest. The first will be taught on Tuesday evening from 6-9 and will be a beginner class with the very basic basics taught to get people started and the second class will be Thursday evenings from 6-9 for intermediate painters for those who have had a bit of painting experience. They will start the week of January 16 and will last six weeks and will be $300.00 per student for that six weeks. It will be landscape, landscape, landscape. Drawing, values, three color palette, paint application, edges, composition, and anything that pops up in class that we decide to learn or work at.
So, if you or anybody you know would be interested, please contact Kay Keyes Farrar at and she will set you up.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Teaching Class

Alright. After hours and hours of deliberation I have finally decided to give teaching a whirl. I have been approached by a few people wanting to know when I would start and after talking with Lisa Fox, owner of Leiper's Creek Gallery this morning, I am making plans to teach from the gallery starting at some point in January after the holidays have worn off a bit. It is still very sketchy at this point but I am planning on teaching from the gallery on Tuesday and Thursday nights from , say, 6-9 in the evenings for 6 weeks. I had thought about a workshop outside but the weather this time of year is very unpredictable so we will save the workshop for better weather. And it will be an entirely landscape based class, how I paint landscapes and everything I know about it.
So, tell everyone you know and if you are interested or if anyone you know is interested, get in touch with me or Lisa Fox at Leiper's Creek Gallery and we will sign you up.
The images above are a few from last week. I am not sure how much posting I will get done this next week with the Brentwood Academy Show on Friday. Can't believe it's here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


In the previous post I mentioned some 11x14 paintings I did over the past week. Here's one. I will post the other when I get a better photo. I painted this one at Cheatham Wildlife Management area with Jim Frazier and when I finished he said,"you used that same brush for that whole painting, didn't you?" I did. A number one round hog bristle. I take a lot of heat for the size of my brushes. But right now, that's where I'm at. If it ever stops working or I don't enjoy it anymore I am sure I will move on to something else.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brentwood Academy Show

If you have noticed lately I have not posted as often as usual due to the fact I am participating in the Brentwood Academy Show on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of December and I have been in a painting frenzy with little time for anything else. I also have two small shows at two other galleries which will require another 10 paintings. It has however, forced me to paint 11x14's in the field which is a bit large for me. When I loaded one into my Open Box M it looked like I was hanging drywall. It was huge. But once I started and got lost in it I didn't notice the size difference. And it took about the same amount of time as smaller sizes. Explain that. I honestly thought it would take hours and hours. I think both took around two and a half hours. I will post both when I get the time.
Meanwhile, back to the painting frenzy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Demo (kinda')

I meant to take more photos but when you are painting it's hard to remember to do it. I started well but as my concentration level goes up, the number of photos goes down.
I painted at Cheatham Wildlife Management Area in the Dyson Ditch area which is managed for duck hunting. During the fall the gates are left open for the duck hunters to come in and work on their blinds but are then closed before the season begins. Today was the day they locked the gates. I noticed some of the areas across the river had already been closed so I guess I was lucky getting this one more painting done. It's some absolutely gorgeous country that will now have to wait until late winter for me.
I painted this painting in a slow on and off drizzle. If it is slow enough I enjoy painting like that. The colors are a bit more saturated and the light a little bit slower.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Don't Quit Your Day Job"

Someone asked me over the weekend what kind of work I did before my fine art career and I tried to explain that I was and still am an illustrator and they asked what kind and I said it would be better for me to show you than to try to explain a style that when I do explain it, most people have a very confused look trying to somehow tie it to what I do now. You can't. It is a totally different frame of mind. It has very little in common with what I have been doing with my fine art but I will say I developed an ability to draw that I think transfers well. When I started I may have been a bit ahead because of all the drawing I had done over the years but like I said,"everyone starts at zero in plein air painting."
Anyway, here are a few sketches I have done for a couple of my clients over the past week. If I remember to scan them I'll post finishes when I am done. I still try to squeeze a few in here and there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eye Candy

If you would like to take your eyeballs out for a little treat for all they have done for you, Anne Blair Brown has a show hanging in the gallery space at Harpeth Hall school in Nashville. The school is surrounded by Hobbs Rd, Estes Rd.and Esteswood. The gallery is located off the Esteswood Drive entrance. It's always nice to find a show like this in the Nashville area and within driving distance.
Anne's work is beautiful, full of color, nice and loose and has this wonderful buttery quality to the paint application. It's an impressive show in a very nice gallery space.
Go take a look. Your rods and cones will love you for it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Red Turp

If you ever walk by me and see that I have red turp or any shade there of in my turp container, know that I am in over my head. I am a landscape painter so typically the turpentine in my container will be this wonderful earthy green or brown. When it is red or pink or peach I have crossed into uncharted territory for me. Such was the case this Wednesday.
I am part of a group of painters called the "Yonder Painters" and we meet once a month to paint figures in the landscape. I haven't painted figures since art school 30 yrs ago and this is my second attempt in that 30 yrs.
My turp was red.
I found everything about it difficult. There was so much there to paint I just can't get everything in the 3 hrs. we paint. They had tables, flowers, umbrellas, draperies, chairs, and, oh yeah, the model. I wanted to get into painting the figure again so that is what I concentrated on. And you can tell it is very unfinished. To have done it all at the speed I paint something I have little experience with would have required a week. And the worst part is as soon as you get that groove going or you get "in the zone" the alarm goes off to let the model know it's "break!" Mother nature doesn't need a break. She models as long as I need her. But she will throw ticks or lightning at you from time to time. Everything's a trade off.
When I peruse some of my art mags I tend to glimpse at some of the figure work and move on to the landscapes. I have said it before but if you want to develop an appreciation for something, try it. The figure work in these magazines now gets my undivided attention.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Process Alterations

Recently I did a painting with what is referred to as the "Zorn palette". By doing it I added black to my cache of paint colors. This morning before painting I squeezed a little on my palette and used it to make some of my greens. Maannn it makes beautiful greens. I loved it. It was a bit overcast so the greens out there were real warm and rich, full of color. With the black I could get those rich, warm greens. I had to be careful though with the blue greens. They would seem to get too blue at times and I would have to warm them a bit.
I have found painting to be one of the most fluid, organic things I have attempted. As soon as I get settled on something, I find something I like better. I think I referred to myself as fickle in one of the previous posts. I have changed brushes, panels, paint colors. And now I have black in my arsenal. I am also trying some different paint brands. I tried the Sennelier brand paints recently and I haven't come to a definitive opinion on them yet but you will be the first to know when I do.
I don't know if I will ever find just one way to do this. There are some I enjoy more than others but there are just so many ways to get from point A to point B in this that it's always experimentation and changing. It also dosen't help that my head is like Play-Doh.
The paintings posted are from the past two days. The beanfield is from Cheatham Wildlife Managemant Area at Hudgin's Slough and the other is a private farm in Totty's Bend. It's the one I added the black to.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I apologize for the quality of the photos but our good camera was STOLEN! In a robbery. They kicked our back door open then up the stairs in the garage to kick the door there that leads into the kitchen. They really didn't take that much, a big screen TV, the camera, and a bit of jewelry. The most unfortunate was a piece of jewelry that my wife's mother had given her before she died that was not worth too much monetarily but meant a great deal to her personally. Insurance can't replace that. I think the worst part for me was the intrusion into the house that I raise my kids, wrestle with my dog, spend evenings with my wife. That intrusion into MY space is disturbing. And to know these guys would put their life on the line for a big screen. Sooner or later their luck will run out and they will break in on a home owner who happens to be home. Then what? Just glad it wasn't me.
Anyhoo, got a couple of poorly photoed pieces that I got done over the last couple of weeks. The little still life was done at one of Jason Saunders studio painting nights and before I left he popped it in a 22 kt gold leafed frame from AU Frames Inc. MMAAAnnn it made that painting look good. It was like putting a diamond necklace on a goat. It really dresses up the goat. I would suggest to everyone out there to buy just one to keep around and right before you put the piece in the frame you will have to sell it in pop it in the gold one and take a look. It's soooo much fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

OPA Eastern Regional Show

The piece above was accepted into the Oil Painters of America's 2009 Eastern Regional Show at Corse Gallery in Jacksonville, Florida from November 20, through December 23 and I couldn't be happier. It is really fun to see your name on a list with other artists you have admired for years. I also noticed a few other Tennessee artists made the cut. Congrats.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Along the Cumberland

I have been painting along the Cumberland River at Cheatham lake and wildlife management area. The paintings above were done in an area near the dam that is a huge river bottom surrounded by bluffs on all sides. It's gorgeous the way the land lays in between the ridges. As I was painting the fourth generation owner of part of it pulled up to chat and see what I had going and told me that during the Civil War, yankee gunboats would come up the river headed to Nashville and his ancestors lived right on the river in a nice home they had built there. When the boats started coming and going they moved back up in the back of the farm in between the ridges to hide because they thought being on the river with the Union army up and down was too dangerous. When you're standing there painting with all the modern trappings of the lives we lead around you, you forget what has actually transpired on the land you're occupying for that moment and how much it has changed in those few generations. Maybe a hundred and fifty years from now they will tell stories of this "great plein air painter who stood on these acient river banks and cranked off 8x10 masterpieces...."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Painting Panel Polka

Well, I have switched painting panels again. Sorta.
I used to use the Pintura Panels. From there I went to the Source-Tek Claussen Linen panels and then discovered the Ampersand Gessoboard which I liked quite a bit. For some reason I really enjoyed working with the smooth surface of the Gessoboard. I could lay down a thin coat which would dry rapidly as an undercoat and I could work on that which gave me a real nice look. I started to sell off my Source-Tek stuff and then got caught short this past week and used one. I loved it. I'm so fickle.
I have found that life is all give and take. There are some things about the Gessoboard I can't get with the Source-tek and visa versa. I guess there are no rules to this and in the future will be using a combination of both. That experimentation and variety is what keeps this so interesting anyway. I just hope I don't find another panel I like or I will loose my mind.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another Week

These are some of the paintings I got done over the course of the week starting with a Chestnut Group/Plein Air Nashville paint out at the Butka farm in Bells Bend on Sunday. The rest were done from Leiper's Fork to Williamsport. I also had the opporutunity to paint with Jim Frazier, Roger D. Brown and Beverly Evans on Tuesday. Since the Door County trip she is officially one of the guys.
Also, the Cumberland Society is starting a blog. We will be posting the things we are involved in and what work we are working on from time to time. We hope it will be a format for a little artistic give and take and to stay in touch with the art community. I know I am looking forward to seeing what the other members post.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Zorn Palette

I just got in from trying something I have been wanting to do for a while but never made the effort.
The Zorn Palette.
For those of you who may not know, the painter Anders Zorn apparently used a palette that consisted of Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black, and Red, I chose a Cad Red. I am sure for some of his paintings he had many colors involved but I assume a lot of his landscape work was with this palette. If there is anyone out there who knows how to tell a painting with only these colors, let me know. I have looked and I am not able to discern by looking. That statement alone is an indication of how good he was.
When you see a painter's work who is truly a master painter there is an appreciation for their abilities as a painter. But when you actually try to do some of these things, your admiration is magnified a thousand times over. By struggling with the palette of his, my admiration was magnified. A lot. It seems the more I paint, the more I appreciate what these master painters did and are doing. When I say master painters I am not sure how you acquire the designation. I am not talking about the artist who attaches it to their name to pad a resume or make a long impressive bio and can't paint their way out of a wet paper sack. I am talking about the guys who were and are truly masters. You know em' when you see em'.
Before I painted I was a big fan of Sargent. Then I started plein air painting and it took on a whole new level of genius. I can remember standing at the Frist Center here in Nashville in front of a Sargent that had been painted of a figure in the landscape that had been painted outdoors. The technical precision of every value and color and brushstroke may have been lost on me before I became a plein air painter. On this day, it wasn't. The mental capacity necessary to do what I had just seen, to me, made the moon landing look like a trip to the grocery store.
As far as the Zorn Palette, if there is anyone out there who has tips, secrets, or a little history on it, share. It has a very moody, fall-ish/winter look to it that I am sure I will use again. I just don't know how to produce anything that resembles the greens that I am used to here in Middle Tennessee.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Home Again, Home Again.....

I know I have said it before but it bears repeating.......nothing beats a road trip.
Got back from Door County Sunday evening. For the past three days I have felt jet lagged. I know, I drove, but still, there is an exhaustion there that I can't shake. It may be the fact that I am not used to painting that hard for that many days. I averaged four a day for a week and some of the others did better than that.
We found out that Door County is a big onion that you have to peel the layers off. When we came in we had just passed through Sheboygan. Sheboygan was awesome. Big, giant dairy farms everywhere with these huge gorgeous barns about every 100 acres. It is a painters dream so we knew Door County had to really step it up. At first it didn't.
With help from Dawn Whitelaw, who had been before, we started finding these little tucked away places and these century old barns and farms. If you peel the onion and get back in the cracks and crevices of Door County it is beautiful. As you can tell we spent a large portion of time in the interior painting the barns and farms. Met some fantastic people who gave us a bit of history on it all. Had one lady come out to talk to us and she had been born and lived in the same house for 72 years. She is what you would picture Mother Nature looking like at 72. She insisted we take some beets and onions with us so we relented and said yes. Apparently she walked around the house, pulled them out of the dirt and just handed them to us. There was still dirt falling off them when she threw them in the truck. Later that evening we met two couples in Peninsula Park and were able to barter those beets for Mike's Hard Lemonade. Not a bad swap.
The folks in Door County have done a very good job of restricting unchecked development and have kept the area "quaint". It's small little fishing villages and parks along the coast and rural in the interior. For a painting trip there is plenty to keep someone very busy. Also the area around Algoma and Keewaunee is beautiful. We spent a little time down there and we could have spent the whole week and not run out of things to paint from barns and farms to bays and docks and fishing boats and little towns. If you ever get to the area I would suggest going down there at least a day or two. It would be worth it.The art school they have in the top floor of Barnsite gallery would be worth the trip. If you're anywhere near it ask Dick Bell to give you the guided tour. It's impressive.
I guess now, for the next few days, I have to get out of "post trip funk". After a trip like that it's hard to get motivated around here. I usually remind myself I have a mortgage to pay and that generally snaps me right out of it.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Leaving in the morning for Door County, Wisconsin. Traveling with the rest of the Cumberland Society and a few guests to paint for a week on the little peninsula that is Door County. I have been told by other artists that have been there that it is fabulous with a wide diversity of things to paint.
I will post when I get back in a week.

Frantic Plein Air

I left last night around 5:00 to go painting and rode for two hours looking without getting "motivated" by anything. It was hot and the light seemed flat and blown out so I kept riding. I finally got frustrated and at 7:00 just hit the brakes and jumped out where I happened to be and forced myself to paint.
Not half bad!
I am pleased with this because of the fact I made a painting where I didn't really see one and I did it in about 30 minutes which for me is unbelievable. It's always frantic painting for me at that time of the day due to the speed of the changing light. You can tell by looking at the edges and some of the passages are a bit rough. I started around 7:10 and was cleaned up and back in the truck by 10 till eight so I am guessing around 30-40 minutes paint time and by the time I got back in the truck it was almost dark. It's also a 9x12. Typically because of the speed of the sun at that time of the day I usually paint 8x10 or less because I know I can get it done quicker.
Now I just have to pick out the knats and find a good frame.