Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Off to Greener Pastures

Painted these sheep form a sketch I did this spring. I tried a more realistic appearance of the sheep but used color on very wet paper. This allowed mixing color on the paper. It stayed wet a long time allowing me to go back over areas that needed it. It is best to use transparent paints. It was a fun session on a cold morning in the studio.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Summer Fog

This image of the Golden Gate that I have been playing with is haunting me. I tried several sketches and decided to put some fog under the bridge. It is simplified and has verticles large and small. The curves of the fog add conflict. I like the composition and hopefully it tells a story. I used to live on the Bay and watched the fog come in under the bridge. It was always a spectacle.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Migrant Haven

This is a whimsical painting of flying carpets headed into San Francisco. I love painting the Golden Gate and have used fog, sailboats and even the light house under the bridge. I felt like something different and had a dream last night of being on a flying carpet. I was in line with many others migrating somewhere. We were following like ducks in a line. Maybe the inspiration came from going on painting outings with birders.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter Plein Air Painting

We kent to the creek in the morning of a cold damp day with no sun. Anyone who has tried painting in the cold is familiar with the problem. Watercolor stays wet and fingers get very cold. I am standing by my easel dancing around trying to keep warm. The only thing that seems enhanced with these conditions is the painting of small branches. Your hands are cold and tremulous and this is good. The painting looks cold to me but that may be something I carried back to our show and tell in a nice warm restaurant. I am tempted to work on it but then, I would lose the spontaneity of cold painting.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brush Up on Zion

Have a weekend workshop at Zion National Park coming up. Painted there last year and was challenged by the shear awesomeness of the place. I took some pics, so I took them out and made up a scene. Tried to find a main shape and add the foreground for an area of focus. It was fun and can't wait to get there this weekend.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Farming Engine

We painted this morning in Woodland CA. There is plenty of farmland here and also silos. The grains and rice are big crops. I love this kind of scene with all its verticals and horizontals. It is tempting to want to bone out all of the pipes, walkways and cross bars. I put some of them in but then washed over it all with cobalt blue to pull it together. The early morning had fog and was chilly. It soon warmed up and was clear and sunny.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sheep Studies

My art group took on an exercise in top lighting. We painted barns and sheep with amazing results. The group is very good in using light source and there were plenty of sheep pictures to view today. It was enjoyed by all. In addition, this painting was done on watercolor paper wrapped around spreader bars. Many are interested in getting away from glass and matting for their watercolors.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Flyway

Was at the Sacramento Wildlife area to witness birds moving along the flyway. The day was sunny and the trees are just starting to turn. The sky was covered with thousands of birds coming to land in the ponds. The ponds are filled with all kinds but each section had a distinct species. Some had standing room only. With all this activity, I chose to paint the hillside or coastal range and a beautiful tree among the reeds. I debated painting the birds but they just wouldn't sit still.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Drone View of the Vineyard

Fall weather has arrived in northern California. The grapes were all harvested and instead of feet stomping, a major action was taking place with huge vats, fork lifts that also turn the tubs of grapes upside down and hoses with grape juice. Lots of action. It was chilly at 8 AM but the tasting room of Matchbook winery was open to warm the three of us up. I painted this from the wide veranda overlooking the hills and vineyard. The sky had high clouds and was bright but without sunlight to cast shadows. I felt like a bird looking down. Last week I met an artist with a drone camera and he had wonderful pics of the river in Sacramento, so this could fall into the drone view. This was our monthly Ag-Art group but there were not a lot of artists there. It is repeated on Saturday with music, food and wine. Maybe...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Backlit Watercolor

This painting example is something done in class as an example of backlighting. Most photographers are very familiar with this form of lighting for their compositions. Unless we are doing plain air painting in the very early morning or late afternoon light we are not that aware. Figures can be silhouetted with strong backlighting as can trees. This is quite remarkable with water or marine landscapes done with back light. The lighting makes a strong statement of anything in the foreground. By using rim lighting it is even more accentuated.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Road 29 Slough

It was a muddy water hole on Road 29 that was great for cast reflections. Unfortunately, the shadows moved in when my painting began. I had made some sketches so returned to them when I got to the slough. It started off cool and windy but got better as the morning went on. The other painters all found something in the area to paint. There were old pipes and tractors. Everyone did a good painting of the scene. The sun was very bright and made it difficult to judge values. I did turn my easel so my painting was not in direct sunlight and that helped. I had my bungy chord to hold down my palate so I was ready for the wind. For me, there is nothing more difficult than painting on a windy day.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

After the Rain

Using the photo that I did value studies on yesterday, I decided to try again with a very limited palate. I used only 4 colors and a very wet paper. You know how bright it can suddenly become after a rain storm. I wanted to use this light to create an eye path to the house and use some silhouetted figures on bicycles for cast reflections on the wet road and added interest. I never know what is going to take shape when working wet into wet. I did put some pencil marks for the horizon and house. With wet into wet there is little control and lots of drips since I paint on a vertical plain.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Challenging Study

Today's challenge was to make nine thumbnail value sketches of a photo, choose one and paint it using only three colors. My colors were quinacridone burnt orange, quinacridone gold and cobalt blue. It was difficult to get anything green with the gold and blue so everything had an earth tone. This 11x15 painting took an hour to complete and shows how sticking with only three colors creates a coordinated color scheme.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Rest Stop

This is a painting of an egret resting in the Davis overpass. There are plenty of birds stopping in the flyway but don't stay long enough to be painted. Last week I was there and conditions were tough. I needed an entry in the Ducks for Bucks fund raiser, so I did this painting on the block that they provide. Since I paint in watercolor, I gessoed the sanded block and then wrapped it with Arches' 140 lb paper which was soaked. The gesso prevents and color bleeding into the paper. While the paper is wet, it is stapled and then allowed to dry. The paper becomes very tight when dry. I then dampened the paper and painted my scene. After it dried, I sprayed it with archival lacquer. Pretty slick. I knew that I couldn't paint watercolor on wood and it is difficult to paint on gesso. I've used this technique before with canvas stretchers and it works very well.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Davis Bypass

It was raining in the distance and the wind really picked up at the flyway. A few hardy souls stuck it out and it did eventually brighten up. At times the clouds were dark and dramatic. I tried painting them and it was difficult with rapid changes and drying paint. Hundreds of birds would suddenly fly up and then disappear. The winds really blew them around. The flyway is maintained for the birds and birders come to see them. There are roads around the waterway and the islands of reeds are everywhere. I had to bungie the palate and paper to my easel after the wind took it off. There was no place to shield from the gusts.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Hideaway

On the backroads of Davis there are farm houses nearly hidden from view. On Wednesday, we all found a spot that none of us knew about. There was a pond with a lot of green scum but great cast reflections in the distance. This was favored by most for painting. There also was this large corregated barn and a very hidden house. I have no idea what goes on here but there were greenhouses behind and some activity. The bicycle riders know this road as they were pretty much the only users this morning. It would be a good place to film a gangster movie with a hideaway.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Out painting at 8AM with the temperature 51 degrees and a bright sun. The Art-Ag group was at a farm. When we pulled in we were directed by the son to a parking area in which his dad was directing parking and giving the history of this farm. It has been in the family since 1883 and some of the buildings appeared to be original. In an hour my sweatshirt was no longer needed and there were many more painters. The buildings are all red and there are olive and oak trees. The tomatoes had been harvested and everything was pretty neat. Personally, I prefer rust, broken farm equipment and falling down barns. The momma, papa and baby size of these 3 buildings appealed to me so I sketched and then painted them. It was a fun time.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Beach Treats

It's important to time your trip to the beach to catch the ice cream truck. Every kid vacationing here knows about the ice cream truck. The truck arrives with the music blaring and there is an exodus from the beach to the parking lot. I was still in my whimsical mode when I sketched this painting. I used an app to distort the size of the truck picture. It stretched it out. I made up the entire scene. The high winds and rain of a hurricane moving out to sea meant an indoor painting day instead of my usual plein air painting. It was fun.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Whimsical High

The Kite Shop is a favorite site to paint when spending the summer in Harwich on Cape Cod. This is different from previous paintings. I wanted to make it whimsical since this is the way one of my buyers described my work. She said she always smiled when looking at my art. I tried painting a whimsical style many years ago but gave up on it. In this painting my intent is to paint the place where whimsy abounds. Every kid here drags a parent there to find something to make them happy. So, why not paint the entire scene as a fun site? My idea of being creative is to interpret with art. I wish I could interpret and paint in an abstract style which is another level of creativity. I am interpreting in whimsical terms. It was fun and I will try it again.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Quiet Boating

A quiet kayak cuts through the marsh waters of Bells Neck in West Harwich. I finished the painting of the kayaker and left it on the table. The wind blew it off. I tried to clean it up but some stuff remained on the face. This happens and then it gets messed up trying to clean it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rock Harbor

Went to Rock Harbor on Cape Cod to paint. It was not busy as the fishing fleet was mostly out. They are mainly sport fishing groups that take the boats. I sketched a few scenes and then painted this one. There is so much to put in a painting here. I did severe editing to capture the essence of what I saw. The sunlight was strong; it was just before noontime. A little lobster bar behind me was very busy with bicyclists and cars discharging hungry people; lunchtime. I'm not a great fan of lobster but eat my share of it while on Cape.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Red Boats

These two boats are moored on the Herring River all summer.  They do not go anywhere.  In the winter I have seen a lighted Christmas tree in the smaller one.  I do know the person who owns them and built them.  He used to be in the fish shack but I have not seen John for a couple of years.  

The marsh land is very yellow at this time of year.  Currently, at this plein air painting, the tide is very high.  The sun is bright without a cloud in the sky.  It finally rained this morning.  I did this painting in an hour and half, working mainly wet into wet.  Things do dry fast here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Little Dinghy

Out painting at Round Cove and there were plenty of boaters.  One brought in a nice catch of sea bass.  Wish I had some but had plenty last weekend.  I wasn't sure what the weather was up to.  There were sprinkles of rain and then the sun.  We then settled for overcast.  Round cove is a popular mooring and I met the owner of the dory.  He has lived here a long time and tells me that his dory is painted many times each year.  He found a painting of it while shopping in Providence.  He also owns two moorings.  These are prized and people get angry with him over it.  The popularity of the dory is its closeness to the pier.  If you looked to the left of this scene you would see probably 50 boats.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Riverside View

It hot here on cape Cod. The wind is really gusting and I keep watching my umbrella, as I expect it to go any minute. There are usually two cat boats moored here on the river but today, surprise...both are gone. I am always envious of the home owners on the riverside who can watch all of the activities. Water views have a real calming effect on me. I can even battle the wind gusts. There are squeals of excitement from the little ones jumping into the water. They keep asking their father to score their dive. I've been there.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Yellow Line

For most of the backroads of Cape Cod the yellow line is more or less a suggestion. Walkers, bike riders and cars all have to navigate narrow passageways. This scene is a Cape Cod road with typical houses. I did not attempt rigorous 2 point perspective but judged with my eye. The road went up slightly and will then head down. Most of our houses are grey with shingles. They are suggested rather than detailed.

Cape Cod Back Yard

Got in a painting before the rains came yesterday. We painted at the home of a local landscaper. It is possibly true that there are more landscapers than any other occupation on the Cape. That is, unless you count artists. The morning started sunny but the dark clouds loomed overhead as the morning reached 10AM. The challenge was not only the imminent rain but the many greens that I had to make. I used yellows, burnt sienna and ultramarine mixes with sap green to produce many shades of green. It was a good outing if only for a couple of hours.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Kite Shop Redux

My grandson wanted a picture of the Kite Shop. This is his favorite stop in town and he always returns with something. I sketched it with a pen and then filled it in. He will love it.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Colorful Shopping in HarwichPort

Ask any kid in Harwich where to stop and shop and most will tell you the Kite Shop. Dr. Gravity's Kite Shop has been here a long time and just keeps getting bigger. That is, it spreads out more onto the main street. I love painting the place and usually do it from across the street. This is from imagination and what I remember seeing on my walk. The Cape has been very warm for the past week. The humidity is very high and we keep hearing that it will break with a storm. The storms veer off. Weather forecasting is very difficult out here. Fortunately, our cottage has central AC.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hanging by a Thread

This is the old fish shack. It has been a subject for my painting for years. I just learned that it is to be torn down and replaced. Someone said that the power line from above is the only thing holding it up. My kids have fished from it and crabbed from it. It was also a site for music lessons and kayak rentals one year. One of the attractions for en plein air painting was the two women, both concert pianists, who lived across from it and practiced all morning. You could have charged admission. It was wonderful. Both women have died and the music stopped. I painted during the morning which was bright and sunny. The wind did blow my umbrella down several times. I will miss it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Quiet Streams

The Harwich Conservatory maintains many wooded areas and lots of streams. I escaped to one of them this morning and it was so peaceful. We do have a house that is filled with guests, young and old, and it is a bit chaotic. I love having all the grandchildren but the older ones are easiest. The yellow green of the meadows and the sudden splash of a fish is a welcome contrast. I don't know birds but there are plenty of them and different bird calls. The very distant trees have a white spacer so I continued this in front of the closer trees. Just little puffs of clouds were there at the start and then disappeared. It was a good morning and thanks for my bug spray which is needed in these woods.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Left Behind

High and dry, for sale, but little interest. This power boat is in a field with long grass growing beside it. It is hardly a boatyard. Judging by the long grasses and weeds it probably was there all winter. I just returned to Cape Cod and found some time to paint. I find it so relaxing to get totally absorbed in painting. This subject was chosen because there was shade under a nearby tree on a hot day. It is the 4th of July holiday and many people are here to celebrate the holiday.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Low Tide on the River

Back on Cape Cod. It is always relief to find my house just as I left it. My paints and easel are right where I left them. There is plenty to take care of at the house but I squeezed in a morning to paint down by the Herring River. The tide was out and a lot of mud was showing. One of the wonders of painting on Cape Cod is the brilliance of everything. Someone once said that is results from having water on each side of the land. This creates an 'umbrella effect'. Whatever, it is a great place to paint plain air.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Gnarly Oak

I went to the Delta this morning. The Heringer Estate proved perfect for painting. There were many old oak trees along the bank of the slough running through the vineyard. I was fascinated with the oaks. An expert explained that the trees are about 250 years old. The family did not allow cutting for fuel during the steamship era. So the aged and tately oaks still stand. They are twisted with many limbs turned down to the water. I painted from close in and it was difficult to draw an entire tree. Instead, I selected one section and tried to show some of the bumps and blemishes. There were wonderful cast reflections from the levee into the water, but the sun was often behind clouds. No complaints. I will take this anytime.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Morning Coffee

The temperature finally dropped out of the triple digits. Out to paint in the early morning and the coffee customers are there on G Street in Davis. Nice cool morning and no people to bother. This was quick and the coffee people were there almost to the end. I am still working on my trees. This was done with sap green and raw sienna, gradually increasing the sap green and then adding ultramarine blue to the mix.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Dixon Fishing Club

Away outside of the little town of Dixon, CA lies the fishing club. There is a long dirt road leading to it. The grounds are more like an oasis since for miles around there is nothing but grazing land and very few trees. But in the little patch there are trees and water with some small boats and a pier to fish from. All of this was in play as we arrived this morning. The heat had not got that high and there was a slight breeze. There were bugs; those intolerable gnats. The sun was bright and you could see the tiny black specs on your skin as the gnats found you. Between itches, a spilt water bottle in my case and trying to stay in some shade, I finished painting this scene. My trees are more like I want them but I still experiment. Using a fully water loaded brush with bright yellow green I start on the lighted side. Then follow with a darker shade of green before things are dry. I keep the leaf making to a minimum. I recently saw some watercolors by Direk Kingnok, and found his painting of trees and vegetation to my liking. You know it's a tree, even a certain type of tree but there is minimal detail. I want to do something like that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Suisun City Marina

The day was everything an artist could ask for. Great sun and warm with only a small breeze blowing. I was in Suisun City, The marina is very tidy and those are the city office buildings across the way. We all found different places to paint. I was visited by all of the walkers along the marina and that included a group of kids from Ecuador. They had just arrived a week ago to spend the summer working at 6 Flags. They had lots of questions and we chatted for a long time about what to see and do in Northern CA. I was not happy with my work today. I really wanted to underpaint my background and then come back to it. As it turned out it was too strong a value. My boats need lost edges. I felt like I was a beginner with my watercolor work. Some days no matter what, the painting does not come together the way I want it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Old and New Horsepower

On Wednesday, our group traveled out to a farm near Rio Vista. This place had the goods. They never threw away a piece of equipment but let it gather rust and sit where it ended its tour. There were plenty of rusted parts, tractors, and trucks for painting. I loved seeing the old dozer next to the newest truck; this was my subject. The day was hot, near 100 degrees with the sun beating down and no shade. I sketched quickly and when painting, was discovered by tiny black bugs. They gathered on my paper and were biting. Out with my bug spray but not in time. Maybe you've had a day like this. Ground too solid to put up an umbrella, the wind gusting, and then my easel got temperamental with collapsing legs. I know I had it coming after so many good days to paint on location.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Art Ag Outing

We visited a wonderful farm this morning. The day was beautiful and plenty of people showed up to paint. The corn is up to 4ft and the tomatoes are thriving. This scene is along one of many roads and includes the 'bone yard'. There were not many bones in the yard. Everything looked in working order with no traces of rust. It is a very tidy farm. those are the blue mountains of Winters in the background.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Rural Road to Winters

Last week we found a quiet road to stop and paint. No one was very enthusiastic because we originally setup and found the site to noisy with lots of truck traffic. We packed up and went around to the distant street and began again. It met our needs and everyone was much happier. Little traffic but a lot of bike riders.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


This painting exercise was good for me. I don't stay within the lines and doing the Starbuck cups ala Warhol was challenging. I made as large a drawing as possible and then copied the logo. I had problems with the resist perhaps because it was old and had lots of bits. The color scheme was a triad. The cupcake was done in the Thibauld style. He is well known in this area because he taught here at the University and is still putting in appearances. He never considered himself a 'pop' artist but it can be said that he made the most expensive deserts. Sally is leading a class for us to experience this world of art and it is fun. She is a good teacher and does all the baking. We get the still life to eat afterwards.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Vineyard in Davis

Not very far on the outskirts of Davis, there is a small vineyard. We were invited to paint there last Wednesday. I was surprised when I found it on a dirt road heading south in Davis. This is the town that contains the wonderful wine school at UCDavis, so why the surprise. I guess because I've lived here for 45 years and was never been aware. There are vineyards all over the outlying towns so the soil must be right. The vines are just starting to leaf. The grounds were so clean with no weeds showing. In painting the scene, I tried several quick thumbnail sketches but could not find a focal point. Rather than worry about composition I decided just to try mixing greens to define the leafage. Great day was had by all.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Capay Valley Winery

Today was Art-Ag day and the weather was perfect. This winery is in Capay Valley which is a hidden gem of hills and valleys that waits to be painted. The temperatures got to the 80's sometime today but the morning was just perfect with only occasional winds. There were plenty of artists. My watercolor dried faster than I was used to. First I wet my paper with plenty of water but today I needed to go back over a lot of what I had thought finished. I was using an umbrella and maybe my chroma wasn't as dark value because of the shade. My approach is to use as few strokes as possible, sort of like golf.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rapid Running Creek

Had a wonderful day watercolor painting in the Sierra Foothills around Penn Valley. The stream was running fast and the rock color was glowing in the warm sunlight. What a day. We had our group there and everyone had a successful day of painting. There is always so much to paint when you go to a new location.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Windy Beach

Finishing a month of conducting a class in watercolor painting. We focused on value change and composition. I love the experience of convincing everyone on different techniques. My satisfaction is seeing someone experience success with something new and also, answering questions that really indicate involvement in the issues of watercolor. It was a good month. This was one of my demonstrations this morning.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lean on Me

It was sort of chilly with wind out on Jepson prairie this Wed. as we painted. Last year there was a carpet of varying colored wild flowers but the grass has grown so much that they are not visible from afar. I was disappointed. In order to shield myself from wind and paint, I found a large trash bin and set up beside it. I painted this group of Eucalyptus that was close-up and real, about 6 feet from me. I am not a realist and do not like realism in artwork. This is as real as it gets for me. One thing that wind does bring is quick drying time for watercolor. I used lots of water and was continually adding more pigment to previously painted areas.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Bone Yard

The warm weather is back and a group of us went to Grizzly Ranch to paint. Lots of material here with marshes, barns, rolling hills and rusting farm equipment. I seem to be drawn to this area, known as the bone yard. As the morning moved on the temperature rose, and soon sweaters, shirts and hats were peeled off. I had my umbrella which allows me to stand out in the middle of a pasture and keep the sun off of my painting and my head. Grizzly Ranch needs a return visit.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Shopping in Positano, Italy

An exercise for my art class was to put together this sketch and painting using value changes. As a demonstration painting, it was a tour de force having only an hour and a half to complete and answer questions. More time for critique and individual help would be nice but is limited by room availability. My Senior Center volunteer teaching has been a rewarding experience. They are wonderful, accomplished artists along with beginners and I try to have something for everyone.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Work of El Nino

The hills along Hwy 80 are so green. I mixed lots of greens but they didn't look real compared to the vista in front of me. The sun was bright. I was high on a hill looking over the lagoon along the highway. The last time here the hills were golden. We were in the 5th year of a drought. Now, I'm complaining about mixing greens. I always end with my default sap green mixed with different yellows or reds. Sap green is the only green on my palette. I try using aurorean yellow with my blues or new gamboge with different blues or even burnt sienna or raw sienna. Some of these greens work but good old sap is my go to green. It really works well in the tropics.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Pumphouse

A cloudless sky and sunny morning started the day but it changed completely in an hour. I had a quick sketch with my shadows in before the clouds arrived and the sun was gone. I was at an Art-Ag event with lots of artists again today. I had both eyes working today and my painting went along fine. This old dilapidated pump house was appealing to many of the painters so I joined in and did my version. The sun never returned.