Thursday, December 29, 2011


I wanted to mention a group of people and a resource we have here in Nashville that I think most creatives in town are not aware of. It is the Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts. I belong to a small group of artists who recently decided to incorporate as a group. I called around and through a friend in the arts was given the name of someone at the VLPA. Her name is Casey Summar and with her co-workers there at VLPA they held my hand and walked me through the paperwork and legalities of incorporating. The Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts falls under the umbrella of The Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville. They provide pro-bono legal work for creatives here in town, everything from visual artists to songwriters. Free. If they can't figure out the problem or answer the question, they have a host of lawyers in town who have kindly donated their services. Like I said, when I showed up, they walked me through our options, explained the legal and tax implications of each, and helped me decide which was best for my group. They then prepared the paperwork for filing with the government. The only thing they asked for in return is for our group to sign up for a membership with them. $50.00. I'm in. Thanks to everybody there for helping and being involved so heavily in the arts here in Nashville.
Also, News Year's resolutions are coming up and other than painting every single day and becoming a master artist on par with Clyde Aspevig, my goal is to do a better job posting and blogging. Facebook has gotten most of my attention as far as electronic marketing and I have let blogging slide. I never really meant  for this to be marketing. Just....blogging. Sounded like a fun way to meet other artists. And I did. So let me say this now. If for any reason, this blog doesn't provide you with artistic insight, or cultural relevance, or any other mind blowing, life changing bit of poetic literary mastery you need or are looking for...move on. If it is not what you want to read, stop and.....move on. There are a lot of unbelievably deep and insightful artistic blogs out there. Hell, I'll give you my list. But this ain't one of them. This blog will be the things I do, the places I go, my friends, relatives, and all the unique characters I come across in this profession. The things I get excited about and shape what I do as an artist. Oh yeah, and some art. For whatever reason, if this is not what you're looking for......just move on.
As the New Year progresses hopefully I can spend some more time on this. I enjoy it. But as I sit here and write this I wonder what in the world is coming after Facebook and how time consuming will that be to keep up with. Cause you know it's coming.
And here's the art I mentioned I'd try to post from time to time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No Artistic Value Whatsoever

This post has no artistic redeeming value at all. If you read this blog for its artwork and creative insight, skip this one. It is about white lies and tall tales. It is
I write this because I had a fluke extraordinary experience. I had slept in and skipped the opening day of deer season but wanted to see my hunting compadres and share the stories so I drove to the "camp" arriving at lunch. No deer. "Haybale Farm Doyle" that I mention in some of my earlier posts, strolls in and asked if anyone wanted to catfish instead of hunt that afternoon. Didn't have to ask me twice. I'm in.
Stinky Bait
I actually wanted to see the river more than anything and if we caught a few fish, win win. I had not been on the river in a few years. I sold my boats and committed to this addiction of plein air painting so haven't made the effort to ride the river like I used to. I had not seen it since the flood of last year so I was very curious as to the extent of the damage. And let me just say that in areas it was profound, shocking. And then in others you never would have known it even rained. The volume of water and the power and force of it is still incomprehensible. Anyway, my trusty guide had the boat full of poles and "stinky bait". For those of you who have never used stinky bait, I am not quite sure how to describe it. I do believe this though: that it was developed by the military at some point to spread on a battle field and run everybody off of it. It is the most permeating, rancid, gummy, vile material I have experienced. If you get it on you, you will smell it days later no matter how hard you try to remove it. And catfish love it. And we eat catfish. Yeah, I know. After baiting, which consisted of sticking a spongey tube with a treble hook at the end in the bucket of stinky bait, withdrawing it and casting away, we got in to them. 23 fish later, all Chanel Catfish, sun was setting and we motored home. But in the time between the 23 fish, I saw some of the most gorgeous sights I have seen. Everything from Bald Eagles to Gar apparently spawning, not sure, but they would breach the surface of the water in acrobatic flips and spins. And some were at least two and a half to three feet long. I had never seen them do that. Pretty impressive creature. But by far and away the most attractive and impressive sight was the river landscape. If I thought I could logistically and financially do it, the river would be my one subject to paint. I ask artists I meet that have travelled and painted the world if they had one place left they had to paint the rest of their lives where would it be? Me, the Duck River. It's moody, earthy, colorful, ancient. And changing all the time. I saw millions of paintings in a 3 hour trip. Imagine how many over a lifetime.

Saturday was one of those rare days, like finding money on the street. Didn't plan on it, couldn't re-create it if you had to, but grateful it happened.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Colors On The Trace

For the past three days I have driven the Natchez Trace painting some of the color before it goes and I almost missed it. It looks like it may have peaked here in Tennessee. There are pockets of color and it seemed the pockets were on ridges. Not sure why but the area between Leiper's Fork and Nashville had the most color and it got even more pronounced on the higher ridges. Monday and Tuesday I painted alone and yesterday with Diane May, Roger Brown and Beverly Evans.
As I sit here and write this though, the wind is blowing and the rain is falling so I believe I got what I got in the nick of time. Looking forward to the colors of winter.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Great Painting Giveaway

I painted Saturday morning with members of the Chestnut Group in downtown Nashville. The reason is the fact Nashville is having "Artober Nashville" which is a celebration of the arts here in Nashville with tons of events planned over the month of October. The one I was participating in was devised by Cathleen Windham of the Chestnut Group. The plan was to meet at Big River Grill for lunch and then fan out in that area and paint. The catch, or catches, was the fact you had only ONE HOUR to paint and you had to give it to somebody on the street. A stranger.
Lunch was great but then I felt myself vibrating a bit due to the ONE HOUR time limit. I set up along Riverfront Park and as I was setting up a young couple from Indiana asked me to take their picture and as I did explained to them what we were doing and told them in ONE HOUR if they came back they could have the painting if it came off well due to the ONE HOUR time limit.
After the dust settled and the time expired I had one I could give away. Wasn't bad. With all the whining I have done about the ONE HOUR time limit I think it is a great exercise for anybody who paints. Being able to get a very accurate start down in that time is an asset we should all try to have. Once I was done, popped it in a little frame and away it went to Indiana. I neglected to tell them though, the drying qualities of oil paint. Hopefully one of them realized it before it was demonstrated on their clothing or interior of a suitcase.
                                                    The 'Nuts

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blue Moon Show

Once again it is time for the Chestnut Group's "Blue Moon Show" next Saturday night. It is the show held at the Glen Leven Mansion in conjunction with the annual Land Trust for Tennessee fundraiser. The Chestnuts, with Bitsy King acting as Chairman and guide, has worked diligently and has put together, over the past year, phenomenal properties to paint on. We have some exceptional properties that have been protected in perpetuity for future generations here in Tennessee thanks to The Land Trust and the owners who participate. If you have property and are considering it, contact the folks at the Land Trust and I am sure they will be more than glad to explain the details and help you" give the gift that keeps giving".
Also, I will be leaving Wednesday morning for a road trip over to Brazier Fine Art in Richmond Virginia for a three day workshop and a show. The reception for the show will be Thursday night the 20th and the workshop the next three days. If you're anywhere near Richmond drop by and say "hi".

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back In The Bend

Had another extraordinary day in Totty's Bend. Got up early enough to see morning light and rising fog. This time of year the temperature changes make the landscape very dramatic and moody. From the color of the foliage to the fog and mist due to the collision of a temp difference.
This was painted on a high spot on my "haybale friend's" farm overlooking the Duck River as it curves around to form the lower end of Totty's Bend. The fog was following it right along the treeline and was about the only fog left as I finished the painting. Like everything else this time of year, it just goes by too fast.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Workshop / Show

A quick post to let everyone know I am teaching a workshop in conjunction with a one man show at Brazier Fine Art in Richmond Virginia. The dates are Thursday night the 20th for the reception and the workshop begins Friday morning and is a three day workshop ending Sunday afternoon. I think the show will hang for a month so if you're anywhere near Richmond over the month of November stop by or if you would like a hands on plein air landscape workshop I am sure the girls at Brazier would be glad to sign you up. 804-358-2771 and tell them I said "hi".

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Finally, after an August and September that felt like they would never end with 95 - 100 degree days the norm, we finally got officially into Autumn.  Not on the calendar but weather wise. I always measure the calendar at the end of the year by certain events and changes in the weather. Dove season was always the end of summer for me. Activities, schedules and weather would change after that opening. Then the next was the first frost. Autumn began in earnest and the woods and fields started a different look and feel. Opening day of deer season was another milestone when cold weather was close behind. Real cold weather, winter weather. And then the first snow which meant that deep, short days, bone chilling cold for the next few weeks. After that it was waiting for that first 70 degree day to change in the other direction.
Yesterday we had our first significant frost so I forced myself out of bed early enough to enjoy it before the sun burned it off and I have to say it was worth it. The sky was crystal clear and the creatures were out. I saw more wildlife than I have seen in months. I guess they were glad the summer was over too. After riding awhile I wound up painting in Totty's Bend at a friends farm who had called to let me know he had round bales on the ground. As I painted the sun was burning the frost off the tops and creating vapor that I tried and found out frost vapor is a little tough to paint.
Now that we have had that first good frost things will start to change rapidly over the next few weeks and there is not a better place to catch the show than here in middle Tennessee.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

CSOP - 4

I recently had the good fortune of painting with Pam Padgett and Paula Frizbe. While we were preparing for the Leiper's Creek 10th Anniversary Show we planned a couple of paint outs, one in Leiper's Fork and the other a road trip to Bedford County, specifically Bell Buckle, Wartrace and Normandy. The area there is full of things to paint. It is small little towns surrounded by rolling hills, haybales and bovine.
Other than the occasional Cumberland Society paint trip I don't get to paint with these two very often. Our schedules keep us moving in different directions but it is always fun to paint with other artists of their skill commitment and experience and hopefully we can make it a regular occurrence.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

10th Anniversary Show @ Leiper's Creek

Just wanted to let everyone know Lisa Fox at the Leiper's Creek Gallery is celebrating the gallery's 10th year. Congratulations! There will be a celebration at the gallery on September 10th and hopefully all the artists will be able to be there. Would love to meet them. I know there will be tons of new work there from each artist and will be a great evening in Leiper's Fork so drop by and say "hi".  Festivities begin at 5.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Not much to say here. I've gotten behind with my posting and just wanted to try and catch up with some of the work I have done over the last month. More to come later.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


We have an insect here in the south that I think anyone who has been outdoors any length of time has been eaten by. It's the chigger. I always thought they were a cousin to a tick but apparently are more akin to the mite. When they are larvae is when they attach themselves to the "host" and "feed on the fluids of the skin cells". And just by where they seem to go on one's person, I would say they like dark and concealed areas. Just guessin'.
The reason I feel so compelled to write of the chigger right now is the fact that I am sitting here writing this and wearing out a good set of fingernails scratching and digging at my "dark and concelled areas" that I mentioned earlier.
I painted with the Chestnut Group yesterday getting ready for the Land Trust Show in October on the farm of Bill McEwen. Bill has a fabulous farm and a more fabulous wife, who was our host most of the day. We had a good crew turn out and scored a little lunch at the Duck River Market in Shady Grove. But before all this began I was offered bug spray and refused. For some reason I feel impervious to chiggers and it has never worked out for me. Ever. But I will say, for some reason, it has been a light chigger year for me. Not too many this year. And the reason I posted the picture above is the fact that this was painted during one of the most aggressive chigger attacks I have ever been under. It was painted a few weeks ago and it took awhile to get over that one. When I see this painting I shudder. And itch.
This painting and about 15 others are about to make a trip to Charleston, SC to be in a two man show with Ken Pledger at the M Gallery. I will be leaving on Tuesday and the opening is Friday night. The show will hang most of the month of August so if you're in Charleston drop by the gallery and take a look. And if you get a whiff of Deep Woods Off or DEET, that'll be me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Huntsville Museum of Art

I just got in from the Huntsville Museum of Art after delivering paintings for the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast's exhibit "A Sense of Place" which runs from August the 7th to September 23rd. There will also be, in conjunction with the show, workshops taught by members of PAP-SE given during the month of September. Anyone interested in taking one of the workshops should contact The Huntsville Museum of Art for details.

Speaking of the museum, I had no idea Huntsville had such a nice facility for the arts. This thing was gorgeous. I had heard some of the art community in Nashville talk about how nice it was but after a private tour today due to the fact they were closed, I was very impressed. I plan on getting on the mailing list and hopefully making the one and a half to two hour drive from time to time. Not bad at all for a day trip. If you get a chance in the next month or two drop by and see the show.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Carnton Show

Here are the only paintings I got done for the Carnton Show with the Chestnuts next week. Time was short these past few months and I had a million things I was trying to accomplish and get ready for.
We here in Tennessee have tons of wonderful Civil War significant locations and properties in our area and are fortunate to have them, so hopefully we can generate a little money to help maintain them. They are treasures that once gone are gone and I think we should do everything we can to preserve and keep them.
There should be around 200 pieces in the show when all is said and done so if you get a chance drop by the Carnton Mansion next week and take a look.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happenings in Middle Tennessee

Recently I have had the good luck to attend a few quality happenings here in our area.
As I was painting the painting above in the Leiper's Fork area I could hear a sound check in the distance.  If you ever hear a sound check in the Leiper's Fork area, run to it. I guarantee it will be a show like none other. The area is full of talented and pedigreed musicians and when they get together it is a show. The sound check I had heard was for two bands to play on the back porch there in the fork. The Hog Slop Stringband and L'Angelus.  To say these bands were talented and tight would be an understatement. If they come anywhere near you, go.
My second southern cultural experience was the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival's rendition of "Comedy of Errors". It is Shakespeare set in late 19th century S.C. and it is clever and funny and is held under a large tent on the campus of The Webb School in Bell Buckle Tennessee. Take a picnic, bottle of wine and a blanket and make an evening of it. It is a great way to spend a summer evening.
And thirdly, I spent July the fourth at the Nashville fireworks display downtown. What a fireworks show! Geez. We have friends that have an apartment on the hill at Lea Street at the grassy field above the old KDF building. Great view and easy parking. Sweet. Thanks Sherri. Something else that if you haven't done you might want to try at least once. It's awesome. The roar and bang factor is phenomenal. We were a half mile away and it shook the whole building we were in. As it was happening I imagined the din and concussion of Paris streets during the Franco Prussian war of 1870, Gettysburg, or the charge of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers and the 8th and 11th Hussars straight up a mile long valley in Balaclava into and through a line of cannon in a constant state of fire. What could that have possibly felt and sounded like? I was flinching at a firework show a half mile away. Not being from a military background it is incomprehensible to me what can compel a soldier to complete a mission in that type of chaos and shock. They call it bravery but to me bravery is living your life openly as you are, amidst bigotry and hate, it is sitting at the front of the bus when society tells you you don't have the right, or stepping up with courage and dignity and taking that first step in a long and arduous battle with cancer. Those things take courage. Combat is something else entirely, something I don't have a word for or understand. Is it training? Teaching the mind to do something that is completely abnormal to every ounce of fiber in the human psyche that says flee? All I know is that it is possible and works because every time we as a nation stand up and point and say "there, there is your enemy" the military strap on their boots, set their jaw and hurl themselves at the dogs of war.
"Theirs not to make reply,
  Theirs not to reason why,
  Theirs but to do and die:
  Into the Valley of Death"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Painting Flowers

I usually don't paint flowers. I struggle with some of the color with my three color palette and the drawing and rendering can be a little complicated and delicate. When done right though they are of course gorgeous. I submit Richard Schmid and Dan Gerhartz right off the top of my head.
But I do have a couple I like to paint. And they are both weeds. Mention them here in Middle Tennessee and the farmers cringe. One is the Creeping Buttercup and the other is the Thistle. The thistle has about as much character to me as anything. They have a long Celtic history and are the national flower of Scotland and are prickly and tough and will grow anywhere with a little sun. And when they bloom they're beautiful . Beautiful, tenacious, delicate and full of character. Yikes, I just described my two daughters to a tee.

Friday, June 17, 2011

On The Shoulders Of Giants

As plein air painters, being exposed to crowds and having contact with the public as we paint, we are all asked questions about what we do and how we do it. But I have noticed there are certain questions that are asked repeatedly:
Whatcha' doin'?
How long you been doin' that?
Do you know Bob Ross?
The first two I understand. They're pertinent. But the last?
When asked the third question I always respond with this "yeah, I know who he is" that is laced with a tone that says,"I can't believe you asked me that. I am a serious artist." And I am asked this question over and over and over. I have thought about putting a counter on my blog and keeping up with how many times I am asked, "do you know Bob Ross?"
But I had an incident recently that has caused me to re-think my response to the question.
I had a slow leak on an outside faucet and called a plumbing company to come and fix it. When the plumber shows up, he walked in and saw my easel and painting set up and didn't ask "where's the leak?" or "what's the problem?' Nope. The very first thing out of his mouth,"Do you know Bob Ross?"
I started to respond with my patented smug "yeah" but then I noticed here is a guy standing in my studio and we have started an artistic dialog thanks to Bob Ross. He goes on to tell me that he has a mother and cousin who paint consistently due to the Bob Ross t.v. show exposure. And that is usually how the stories go when people talk about Bob Ross. "I have a cousin..." or "I have a mother-law..." or a neighbor or a retired executive or bored housewife or, or, or...  There are thousands and thousands of people out there who Bob Ross made believe they could be artists and he got them up off the couch and in front of the easel and got them started. Thousands. I have them show up for my classes and workshops. And I bet almost all the other artists I know, at some point, have had Bob Ross started students. Bob Ross exposed people to art that may never had the opportunity or resources to begin an artistic life. He got them started. And some may argue the artistic merit of his style and methods but you have to admit, he has had a huge impact on art in this country. People don't come up to me and ask,"hey, you know that John Singer Sargent guy?" I've never been asked. But how many people out there got to John Singer Sargent via Bob Ross?  How many has he started on that quest and journey and constant lifelong pursuit for the betterment of their craft?  I guarantee  more than anybody else you can think of.
So the next time I am asked, "do you know Bob Ross?"
"You mean that artistic titan that has had such an impact on the arts? You mean that creative powerhouse with that quite soft hypnotising demeanor? The guy with the afro?"
"Oh hell yeah I know him."
Just don't ask me about Thomas Kinkade. I'm still working on that one.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


A 12x16 done afield. That is massive for me.
After calming down from that first initial burst of frenetic paint application to block in the big stuff it didn't seem to be any more time consuming than a 9x12.  Go figure. Granted it wasn't the most complicated painting I have ever done but again having only about 2 hours in it was quite surprising especially since I didn't abandon the number 1 brush I use. You gotta' dance with the one that brung ya'.
The other photo is mid-painting in a field of roundbales.  It's that time here in Tennessee. Roundbales seem to be everywhere you look.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Three Hour Time Limit

I have an imaginary time limit when I paint outside. If I have painted for three hours I generally have a problem or just finished fighting a problem. I tell myself that if I don't have it done at the end of three hours stop and re-group. Quit fighting it. Such was the case a few weeks ago on the painting above. The distant trees and hills went just fine. Like clockwork. But when I started laying in the foreground field my head just couldn't make it happen. I tried rows to the left, rows to the right, foreground textures, vegetation, rocks, posts, trees, etc., etc. Nothing made me happy and the three hours had expired so I scraped off the bottom half and when I got back to the truck I threw it in the tool box and there it stayed for about two and a half weeks.
Last week I revisited the same spot at the same time, fetched the half painting from the tool box and painted the foreground field in about 15 minutes. 15 minutes. That was all it took. I don't know if I was tired or frustrated on the first attempt but putting it away and recalibrating my head made a difference. I typically don't have the patience to go back a second time or try it later when I get it home. I am ready to move on to the next one. But I do believe in stepping away for awhile to let your head clear. I think it saved this one.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Heat Sissy Steps Up

I have always admitted I am the biggest heat sissy that has ever plein air painted. I'm an eskimo. So if you would have told me I would be painting outside at 2:00 in the afternoon in 96 degree heat last Thursday I would have called you a liar. Yet there I stood, painting, sweating and whining.
Anne Blair Brown had called me the night before and suggested we go downtown for a few cityscapes. We would meet at 8:00 so I assumed I would be back in an climate controlled environment by 10:00. My bad.
We painted first on Rutledge street downtown. The area I picked had one small shade tree and that was the only shade I saw in that area so that's where I set up and apparently it was the same shade that most of the homeless use. Spent an hour talking to "homeless Mike" and he actually had some very pointed questions about what I do for a living. It was 10:00 and he had just finished his first stove pipe so I noticed the questions becoming a little less pointed.
After finishing that painting and regrouping at the Farmer's Market my painting posse, Anne, Cathleen Windham and Bitsy King all turned to each other and said,"what now?" Being the only man I couldn't be the one to snivel and cry about the heat so I said "whatever". That's how I wound up standing on the bank of the Cumberland River in 96 degree heat. All and all it wasn't that bad in the shade and I got some paintings done and got to use the heat for an excuse to spend the evening with the "posse" at an East Nashville establishment for conversation and libations.
I will say this about the summer though. There is a thick humid density to the atmosphere that you don't get as well in the winter that is fun to try and paint. It creates real grey atmospheric perspective that is a challenge to try and pull off but when you stick it it looks fantastic.