Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Quiet Alleyway in Davis

The older section of my town, Davis, has alleyways that are very different charm than the streets of Davis. I am not sure what they have for a mailing address but the residences are typically small without a garage. There are power lines and they have trash pickup. It must be a tight squeeze for the trucks, especially if a car is parked. As you can see in my painting of this alleyway, it has deep ruts which collect big puddles of water, now that the rains are here. In the early morning the sun lights up one side and creates wonderful shadows. When I wander around town looking for something to paint, I am drawn to the alleys.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cold Alley in Oak Park

Our group "Urban Landscapers" rose to the occasion this morning. It was below freezing but all showed at the coffee house in Oak Park and we were off painting. Of course, it was important to find a sunny spot for both the painter and subject. We only went around the corner and found a great alley with the sun casting shadows from one side. Perfect. We all settled right there and did our thing.I didn't realize that I had my sunglasses on and the painting was done in a high key as a result.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Color on Route 113

The best fall color for the past week has been the trees lining our highway. I kept wondering how to get to paint it. It was cold on Wednesday, but sunny. While running in place to keep warm, I sketched the scene from atop the bridge. I and then went home and painted it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall Finally Arrives

Wednesday was a spectacular day painting in Oak Park. The trees along 34th street are ablaze with fall color. Our urban landscape group set up in the morning at an intersection and worked away. It was also warm.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cape Cod Fish Market

This scene was originally painted during my summer on Cape Cod. I was hanging onto some rocks down by the river balancing my gear. I loved the vantage point that I had but I did hurry and overwork the painting. Doing it this time in the studio was much easier. I eliminated some details and kept the colors simple with single strokes of paint. I like it.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekend at Zion

Spent the weekend painting at Zion National Park. What a venue for the artist. It is truly awesome with its red walls and canyons. It is difficult to put a frame around anything since it is so overwhelming. I want to return and try it again. It does take awhile to be up to the task of composing a painting since it is so great.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Utah Creek Trail

What a difference a summer makes. Painted here in the spring with greenery and budding trees. After a continued draught everything is dry, dead and dusty. I was out there on Wednesday morning with my plain air group. Lots of sneezing and itchy eyes with the stuff blowing around, but I'd rather be painting.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fall Color

This was an exercise on desaturation of color. Take a pure color and add its complement to get to a gray and then a dark. It's very enlightening for me to see how bold you can paint and then modify. This was a totally imaginative composition in which I changed values and kept doing the desaturation which I never heard about in my years of painting. I have always mixed my pure color and formed grey, light or dark colors. This was a good exercise to realize what it is really about.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Morning in Locke, CA

Returned home last week and have already had a week of painting. Weather here is warm and bright. This is a painting of the main street in the town of Locke, CA on Wed. morning. It was quiet but for a film crew finishing up a 4-day shoot. They were waiting for the right shadows in an alley of this old Chinese town. While setting up camera shots, they were interesting to talk with, since they waited much of the time. I have painted here many times over the years. The town is usually quiet on weekdays but attracts lots of visitors on weekends. I am always surprised the structures are still standing. The porches sag and are supported by long 2x4 poles. The entire block of buildings lean and I wonder if the collapse of one would set off a domino effect.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sand Dunes and Salty Air

Sand dunes are so calming to observe. We live on a sand bar here at Cape Cod so there are plenty of dunes to see. They become carved by the wind and support the growth of grasses. I found these next to a beach parking lot and sketched. I then wandered up close and there was a beauty getting her tan inside the dunes. Wow. The sand dune is very easy to sketch and then it is a selection of colors to match the grasses both close and afar. It was a beautiful day to paint.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Round Cove Afternoon

Round Cove is quiet this afternoon. One sailor is out in a good breeze. It is autumn and the air is clear with a brilliant sun. The temperature reached only 70 degrees. This is ideal painting weather. I used my next to last sheet of watercolor paper. I leave the Cape in a few more days. That should be fine but I have a habit of painting on the other side of a finished painting. This confuses people when they find it in my rack. Round Cove has lots of boats moored so I only selected a few. The green grass growing along the edge is overpowering. There is a sand bar in the background leaving a way out of the cove. The grassy slope of the distant hill is bathed in sunlight. What a sight.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Listing to Starboard

I've painted this fish shack many times. It is still standing. You cannot see the huge chain under the house between the pilings. It is to prevent it floating away. It is tilted and there used to be a 'for sale' sign out in front. The tilt increases each year. Today is the first day of fall. There is a chill in the morning but the sun is warm and bright. A few breezes are blowing and I have the place to myself.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Cranberry Bog

Saturday was the Stroll. Artists and musicians spread out around the cranberry bog in Harwich. People come to this conservation site and meet you. They buy raffle tickets and drop them off with various artists for a chance to win the painting that is being done. The artist donates the paintings to the Conservatory to raise funds to maintain the area. I chose a spot in the shade and spotted a few birch trees. Birch trees are rare on Cape Cod. The white/black contrast of them makes a very graphic image and I used them for a focal point in the painting. It was another great day painting on Cape Cod.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kayaking the Bog

Such a great day for painting. I was out to Bells Neck in Harwich and met up with a couple of guys crabbing. I remember the days when I could not drag my kids away from this place when catching crabs. Sun was brilliant and the air clear. I did block the path into the little wooden bridge so I could paint in the shade. Usually, this is a buggy place but there was not one to bother. The tide was just starting in and along came some kayaks. I've wanted to put them in my painting but they don't stay around long enough. Yesterday, while painting at the river, several were preparing their kayaks so I sketched them. We are having the best weather for painting on Cape Cod that I can ever remember. I had fun but the crabbers were drawing up empty baskets.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Red Canvas Cover

What a beautiful morning for painting.  At the end of the river was a brilliant red covered boat.  People were busy putting in their kayaks.  I set up my umbrella and started sketching.  The tide was coming in and the paddlers were going upstream to take advantage.  Cape Cod is magnificent at this time of year.  The light is bright and everything pops.  Great place to be painting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Brewster General Store

No Big Box stores in Brewster.  They are not needed with the Brewster General Store.  It has everything you need.  The building could have been a church but it has always been the store since I came here. The windows on the sides look like stained glass.  It is a very tall structure with a road in front and a highway (Rt. 6A) in front of that.  I did many sketches but did not want only a building so moved closer.  There was much to put in and leave out.  The cantilevered front roof is supported by very ornate angle structures.  In front of the steps are more benches and market umbrellas.  The sun was overhead and it was a beautiful morning. Several tourists stop and take pictures.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lazy River on a Hot Day

It's September here on Cape Cod.  The weather is supposed to be cool and fall-like but it is hot.  I think this is the warmest day of summer. I used my umbrella and with the breeze, it was very comfortable.
The color of the river is this dark greenish brown but the breeze brings out a very blue sparkle.  I tried getting that with manganese blue and some dry brush strokes.  It was somewhat successful.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Harwich Port, Cape Cod

From previous sketches, I put together this monochromatic painting.  The whites all interconnect leading you into town.  They are created by leaving the paper clear.  It is a fun exercise, especially with all of the wet into wet background.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Way to the Beach

Many families trek by the house enroute to the beach. Some are loaded down with inflatable rafts, umbrellas, chairs and towels. Others are already suited up and only have their shades. Some very lucky ones have a beach pass so everything is in the wagon. Later, they all slowly return from a fun day in the sun.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Run Into Town

On vacation, yet, everyone out running in the morning. This is the approach to Harwich Port. The traffic builds during the day as people make their way to the beaches or breakfast. The summer is winding down but there is still a lot of activity in town. Used my iPad to take a photo and then copied from it to paint the picture. No need for prints.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Waiting for Breakfast

I was up in the center of Harwich this morning and did a quick sketch and painting of Ruggies, a very popular breakfast spot. Several people were in front waiting to get a table. The morning was cloudy with sun coming and going. Great to be out painting.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lobster Shack II

Finally found a chance to paint. I love my original painting of the lobster fish market but wanted to brighten it up. This is my redo. All of my guests, family, have been with me for the past 6 weeks and we had fun. They left this week. It is very quiet. Weather on Cape Cod is marvelous. Will get to more painting now.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Swan River Lobster Shack

Yesterday was a hot day on Cape Cod. I ventured out trying to find my plain air group meeting on the Swan River. I ducked down to the water's edge and painted this fish market on the Swan River. There were plenty of kayakers with comments. It was so humid that my wet into wet was never in danger of drying.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


This is my second attempt at a dropped ice cream cone. I included the feet of a young subject to complete the story.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Campground Beauty

The Harwich Garden Club sponsored a paintout in the Campground of HarwichPort. This is a busy beehive of small houses with wonderful gardens. We were to paint a house with a garden of hydrangeas. It was sunny and bright and there were plenty of people on the tour. Other painters were there and many stopped to chat. I heard much of the history of the place as I was located outside of the historian's place and she gave information to anyone stopping. It was fun. I am not a flower painter so chose to compose more structure than garden.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Swan River Boating

Today it was humid but painting on the Swan River was fine with the small breeze. I took my market umbrella for shade. No one from my art group showed up for our weekly plein air event. The green growies along the river are a very yellow green. The tide must be high since there was no bank or shore line to see. I had only two visitors while painting; a jogger who commented on my painting and a policeman. He pulled up with his police car in full battle dress with all the lights flashing. I was on the sidewalk with my easel and umbrella. He asked if I was leaving as he had a complaint that I was blocking the sidewalk. I told him that only one person had come by in the past couple of hours and that was the jogger. Well, he said those are the kind that complain. He then circled back again with all lights ablaze and wanted to be sure that I was leaving. Too many police with little to do in this summer town.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Toddler PTSD

The trauma that occurs with a dropped ice-cream cone is very real to a 4 year old. I imagine it comes from it being a special treat and also from the inability to salvage any of it as the ice cream melts on the sidewalk. This painting is an imagined scene and I will try it again with a wider composition that may include some bare feet of the toddler.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Vacaville Hills

A wonderful morning with cool breeze and good light. We are all prepared for very hot weather but were surprised at Lagoon Creek in Vacaville. I actually had to put on a light shirt. I painted here back in the spring when everything was green. Not so anymore with our drought. The hills are shades of yellow with the sun beating down on them. I was in the shade but my wet into wet painting was drying very quickly, requiring lots of spraying. I did not spend much time doing this as I am on my way to Cape Cod and need to pack a few things. Good to be out painting with friends.

Friday, June 19, 2015


I went out early this morning to the Univ of California, Davis Arboretum to do some sketching and painting. Only the birds were making noise and then some very young campers wound past me in a long single file of bicycles down to the creek. A woman sat alone on a bench staring ahead at the vista that included the creek. I started sketching the scene and she remained absolutely still on the bench so,I included her in the sketch. She was silhouetted because of the back lighting and only some blonde hair showed color on the top of her head. She disappeared when I started painting and then reappeared in the exact pose she was in previously. I painted for more than an hour and she remained almost to the end. I doubt she was aware of me painting. The arboretum is a peaceful place with its plants; a perfect place for meditation.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Plein Air Painting in Audubon Sanctuary

Anther beautiful California day for painting. We were at the Bobelaine Audubon Sanctuary near the Feather River on this trip. There is water and lush vegetation all over this farming country. Plenty of shade for painting and the only limitation was the poison oak growing all around the water sites. I painted from the dike instead of being on the shore which I prefer. After a couple of sketches I got started but then totally changed my focus. Usually, I stick with one of my sketches which has all of the detail and value change. When I do, the painting is easy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Rain at the Wetlands

Awoke to a cool morning with a few raindrops. Very unusual at this time of year. Yesterday we were in triple digits for heat. We are in the worst draught in years. Is this global warming? Headed out to the wetlands and there was water in the pools and plenty of birds. The sun was not out and the sky kept getting darker. I hurried my sketch and then soaked my paper. This was wet into very wet painting for the top 3/4 of the painting. It actually got cold and the rain drops increased so that I finished the bottom of the painting when I returned home. It is an ideal day for me to get out into the countryside and do plain air painting.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Meeting at 2nd and G

Painted in downtown Davis this morning before the stores opened and while there were plenty of parking spaces. All was quiet before 8AM and then the nail shop behind me opened and a lot of smells were in the air. Then the wonderful smell of baked bread and soon the coffee drinkers arrived. It is interesting to see the city awaken. The cleaning ladies are seated on the benches viewing their smart phones awaiting someone with a key to show. The trees are in bloom except the one in the foreground which is just starting. It is sunny and warm. There are long shadows with the rising sun. It is a challenge to edit this scene. There is so much signage and plenty of things on the walkway. Big trucks pull up and block the view as they unload kegs of beer but they are quick. Getting down a good sketch at the beginning is the secret to paint changing shadows and blocked out views.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Just Resting

Painting this morning at the Yolanda Ranch, Woodland, CA. Many structures and old buildings on the property. Also some very friendly animals watched me paint. Two ducks kept me company along with a large black angora cat who desperately wanted to be petted. I chose this leaning house because it was tired and old and that could be said for most of the stuff here. They are restoring the main house (not this one) to host wedding parties. Many people showed at 8AM but by 11AM, when I left, there were just a couple of cars. The cast shadows were changing while I painted. The fronts of the barn and house were totally shadowed at the start but only had partial shadow later. It was not a very sunny day but cloudy off and on. My paper dried fast so I kept misting with my spray bottle.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Two Icons

The Taco Truck and the Water Tower stand out in Winters, CA. I picked a spot across the street and painted this scene yesterday. It amazed me how many people come to the truck. There is pretty much a continuous stream of people and this was after lunch. Cars pull in and empty out the occupants. They stand and wait for the orders. This is a busy spot for traffic going into this small town. Fun place to paint.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Eucalyti Robusto

Was out on the far reaches of Dixon, CA this morning. It was sunny and a bit chilly for painting. The landscape here is flat as far as you can see. There were sheep and cattle grazing and then we came upon a dike with water and a stand of eucalyptus trees. There were also some cat nine tail and other reeds. It was like an oasis. I painted from below the dike looking at the trees and reeds. The two eucalyptus trees were different. The distant hills could not be seen because of haze. Everyone had fun painting with most of them sitting atop the dike and looking down into the water. I loved being out there but prefer some structures to put into my composition.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Retired Watertower

Water towers are all over the coast of California. They were important early on to catch rainwater as well as for water storage. Some have been turned into extra rooms. They also become sheds with add-ons. I have painted many of them and, recently, used their simple shape for a lesson in my art class. The goal was to minimize brush strokes in a wet into wet format. We also wanted to leave lost edges in the painting. This was my demonstration done in the class.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Beach Parking

This is another variation on an alley to the beach in Sayulita, Mexico. I painted and sketched many of the routes to the beach and have used them for paintings. We stayed out of town and the beach extends quite a long way from town so there are plenty of paths to the beach. I think that the horse was for hire in this situation.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Storm Over; Walkers Out

This painting shows the glow that comes after a rain storm. There are some puddles. The walkers are out. I did this painting for my watercolor class. I thoroughly wet the paper so I now have cockles in it but it stayed f;at during the painting. It was a very quick study and everyone was interested in how to create texture and sand.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

After the Storm

I did this painting as a classroom demonstration with the objective of varying edges and painting puddles. It was done wet into wet and was somewhat difficult for me to get through in a time that would allow everyone to try the exercise. I have a very talented class that was up to this challenge. It was remarkable to see the results.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Call

Painted at the monthly Art and Ag out on a beautiful morning. Arrived shortly after 8AM and there were already plenty of people at the site. After meeting with many of the artists, I located a place to paint. There were 4 tractor types lined up along a road. I sketched and started painting when someone came and drove off with one of the tractors that I planned to put in my painting. I only roughly sketched the green tractor. This reminded me of a day on San Francisco Bay when I sketched a pile driver boat that had been tied up for months. I went to my car to get my paints and on return, found it being towed out to sea. I have a tendency to get into the details of something I don't know like this red tractor but you know that the other edited one that got away, is still a tractor. It shows how little detail is needed to make a tractor. We see symbols and our mind puts the rest together.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Morning Bakery Stop

In the downtown area of Davis is the Village Bakery. It is next to the train station. They turn out wonderful bread and pizza. The aroma of baking bread torments as I stood across the street painting this scene. Customers came and went during the early morning. There was plenty of parking. Students were up at 8AM but otherwise, things were quiet. The train kept unloading waves of people who appeared late for whatever they were headed to. I did a quick sketch and determined my values. Then, when I had worked out all of the issues, the painting was a snap. As I was finishing I had plenty of people stopping to chat. One even offered to buy me a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Garden Fountain

It was a nice warm morning and the flowers were blooming. My focus was on the fountain with some of the flowers behind. There were many greens to mix, always trying to change the value of color with every plane change. It was a challenge to find different greens because there were so many. The final painting size was 18x24. I liked the painting although I am always uncomfortable with flowers and manicured lawns. My preference is wide open spaces.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Vacaville Hills

Our Plein Air Group was out this morning in Vacaville. It was chilly at the start but the sun was brilliant and the clouds kept gathering. After a couple of hours it was clouded over with dark shadows and looked like rain (we would love rain here in California). Recent rain has kept these hills green and beautiful. Painting hills means lots of graded washes to create roundness and depth. There is also the 'problem' of greens. I mixed all of the greens using raw sienna and Ultramarine or gamboge and ultra and then burnt sienna and sage green for the darkest values at the bottom. It never really warmed to comfortable but painting was fun.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Spent the morning at the Jepson Prairie Preserve in Dixon, CA. Quite an interesting place with wild flowers and vernal pools. The yellows that appear in the lumpy grass are carpets of wild flowers that are all over the place at this time of year and called yellow carpet. The grazing sheep control the nonnative grasses and weeds. I assume that the fleece of these sheep is not used for clothing as it appears very coarse and yellow. The sheep do keep moving but return and so easy to sketch. This was a very quick sketch and painting. It was a beautiful morning; very quiet with only the sounds of birds.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ladies Day

Had fun dressing up some cows and trying to give them some character. This was done in acrylic on 16x20 canvas.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy New Year

It is the Chinese new year of the sheep or goat. Since I was around sheep for a long time while living in New Zealand, I feel quite close to them. I found a picture of these two just standing there on the green grass and used it as my subject for this acrylic painting. Sheep are very timid animals, never wanting to be alone. They are always moving inside the group. Our border collie, Brett, would race out and herd them for my inspection and I was so impressed at how efficient Brett was in putting them in the pen. He would race back and forth, keeping them together as they approached the entrance. Brett really didn't need me to direct. This is a 16x20 painting on stretched canvas. Maybe I'll put it up on the bedroom wall to help me count sheep when I can't get to sleep.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Davis Alley

Spring was in the air this morning. Instead of class, I decided to do some plein air painting. I remember seeing all of these alleys in Davis back in the late fall. I did some painting of them at the time but wanted to return. After finding all of the wonderful alleys in my town in Mexico there had to be something just as good her in my little patch of Davis. The light was strong and cast long shadows. Everything pretty much stayed in place while I sketched and did my painting. This was an improvement over my plein air work in Mexico where everything was in motion. I limited my palate and used a wide tonal scale to accent the alley. I like it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Workers Live Here

This painting is a composite of several attempts at painting alleys in Mexico. This imaginary one goes down to the beach and shows two methods of transportation;horse and truck. Most of the alleys in my neighborhood in Sayulita are not paved and the back or side of the house comes out to it. It is a place to park. Most are not cluttered with bottles or paper. The sides that are on the alley usually need some fresh paint or at least a good wash. It makes good subject matter for a painter.