Season's Greetings

"Tractor at Nash Farm" 8 x 10

Attended the Outdoor Painters Society Christmas Party a few weeks ago. The highlight is the white elephant painting exchange. Everyone brings an 8"x10" painting wrapped in plain brown paper. You pick a painting, unwrap it and sit back and watch the wolves steal it from you. It can change hands four times. I stole a Rusty Jones painting from someone else, just to have it taken from me. Next, I opened a John Cook that was then stolen by the next four people in line. I ended up with an awesome David Moreland Bates painting. ( click on his name to see the studio painting produced from my plein air painting I received that day )
How's that for a lineup. Not to shabby! 

"Tractor at Nash Farm" was my exchange painting and I'm happy to report it changed hands a couple times.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS"! Thank you to everyone that follows my Blog and everyone that takes the time to create a Blog to share. I'm looking forward to a great 2010.


Don't chase the Light

Subject at 3:00 late afternoon

Subject at 5:00 same day

Here is an example of how much the lighting can change on a subject while you're out painting. Comparing the photos its easy to see the drastic differences, but on site it is harder to see. The changes kind of sneak up on you.
I began this painting trying to anticipate what the light would do. I locked in my darks and then laid in my large shapes with a general color and saved the bright yellow orange colors for last.
If I had tried to paint in the light areas first, they were changing so fast, I would have been adjusting all the colors the whole time. You hear plein air painters instruct "don't chase the light" and this is what they are talking about. You can see in my finished painting that the lighting is somewhere in between the two photos.

"Chasing the Light" 8x10


"Ready to Work" 8"x 10"

The overcast weather was giving me fits during this painting and it resulted in a different palette of colors than my usual work. The light was constantly in a flux. I don't think this one scanned in very good. It looks better in real life.

Dads Old Truck Revisited

"Dad's Old Truck" revisited 9" x 12"

I wasn't happy with this painting when I posted it a few weeks ago, so I picked it up and went at it again. I added a glaze with Ultramarine Blue and Liquin to most of the shadow areas and applied a thicker and cleaner highlight to the front fender. I don't normally paint on my plein air work after it's dry, but I think this improved it and I'm happier with the final product.

Get Off My Lawn!

"The Tree Swing" 12" x 16"

I have wanted to paint this house for some time and I found my chance when I saw the owners out front doing some yard work. I walked up to the lady of the house and she seemed delighted that I wanted to paint on her land. So I set up my easel right off the sidewalk on the corner of their property and got to painting. I selected a 12" x 16" canvas which is larger than my typical size so right then I knew I was in for some work. About twenty minutes in the man of the house sees me and makes a bee line towards me looking very confused and not very happy that I was in his yard. I explained who I was and that I had asked permission from his wife because he was on a riding lawn mower at the time. After what seemed like much hesitation he told me I could continue. For the next two hours I was stared at and given the evil eye. My wife came out to check on me and quickly noticed the way I was being looked at. The man wanted no part of me being on his land or cared about looking at what I was doing. Then he walked over and told me I was done because he wanted to mow the grass I was standing on even though he had just done it when I walked up. Very confusing. The lady of the house had asked me to show it to her when I finished but I felt like I needed to leave. The painting was officially done.

Weird day, but hopefully worth it.


Evening Sky

"Evening Sky" Unfinished 9" x 12"

I don't normally show unfinished work because most of it is finished on site. I tried a different approach with this one by using softer brushes and Liquin as my medium. I was able to paint in most of the colors and then decided to let it dry. I'm thinking that building up the colors in layers of glazes will give it a softer glow. It was difficult not to slap on that fat, juicy thick paint I normally go for. I will post it again when I return to it.


Dad's Old Truck

"Dad's Old Truck" 9" x 12"

Recently I was out painting with several other painters. Three of us started painting the same identical scene. ( See previous post ) I was excited because I really respect the other two artists that were around me and I figured it was going to be a good learning experience to compare my painting to both of theirs. After I had finished I started to walk over to view the other painters at work. To my amusement one of the other painters started to hurriedly pack his painting away from sight. With a smile on my face, I asked him if I could see it and he quickly refused. After everyone stopped down for some lunch, I asked if he was going to let anyone see his painting and I received the same answer as before. This guy is a world class portrait painter and his studio work is jaw dropping to me. He has admitted that he is relatively new to plein air painting, but I seriously doubt his painting was anything to be embarrassed about. This showed me how tough plein air painting is, even for an expert level painter.

Maybe I’m not the only guy in the world that is guarded about his work.

I heard another very successful painter state that only one out of ten plein air paintings he does is worth displaying in a gallery. I also was able to visit his studio and see literally thousands of plein air paintings he has boxed and laying around. I learned that not every painting you do will be successful, let alone a masterpiece. Lately I find myself making less negative comments towards my own work and gaining more confidence.
Being hard on myself has always plagued me. I know posting my work online is helping me to open up. Art can be very personal.

Maybe I won’t be so hard on myself the next time my painting is not turning out.


It’s Great to Have Friends!

"Spreading Out" 9" x 12"

If you don’t belong to an art group or you don’t have painting partners, I strongly recommend it. Followers of my Blog can see that I haven’t been able to post as regular as I started. My full time job has really demanded a lot from me the past few months and it still hasn’t let up. I know this is not a totally bad thing in today’s economy, but it really puts a damper on my painting time. Some of my recent chances to paint have been spoiled by this famous random Texas weather. Not sure if there is a harder place to paint outside. This is where having painting partners provides a lift. My friends keep me in the loop and let me know what’s going on in the local plein air scene. Those friendships enable me to join in their outings and even sap some of their enthusiasm when I’m down. Recently I joined around thirty other artists on a great one day paint outing in Granbury Texas. We were unleashed on a 300 acre private ranch. Even though my paint skills were a little rusty, I had a great time! How can you not love painting in a group? Every person truly wanted to be there and you can tell they all treasure their time together.

I appreciate my friends Doug and Cecilia for including me in their “Reindeer games”!


Red Mountain Ghost Town revisited

"Red Mountain Ghost Town"

About a year ago I was lucky enough to take a Rusty Jones painting workshop. The first day, we stayed inside and painted from photographs Rusty brought with him. It should be no surprise that I went straight for an old paint flaking white house surrounded by trees. After first painting a value study, I proceeded to paint what turned out to be a pretty nice little painting. Rusty told me the photo was taken in Colorado while he himself was watching a demo by William Kalwick Jr. On my recent vacation to Colorado, I almost jumped out of my car when I spotted the real house from this painting. I wasn't searching for it, but just turned a corner and it was there. You would have thought I was seeing the ocean for the first time from my reaction. It was weird to see one of my painting subjects for the first time after painting it.

Now I have several photos of my own to work from.

( What you can't see is the hundreds of mosquitos swarming me )


How to enjoy a rainy day

"100 Degrees in the Shade" 9 x 12

"Forgotten Train Tracks" 8 x 10

"Secret Garden" 9 x 12

"In Bloom" 9 x 12

I received a call inviting me to go paint at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens today so I jumped at the chance and took off. Before I arrived it started raining cats and dogs. After it stopped raining I squeezed out a painting in less than an hour in order to join my painter friends for a lunch at the Kimball Art Museum. What a great day this turned into. We hung around talking art for hours and then headed back to sit in the garden of one of their homes for more of the same. I tried to squeeze out another painting as we talked, but it started raining again. Today wasn’t going to be about my next masterpiece. Today was about hanging out with a great group of people that I’m proud to call my friends. Even with all the bad weather, steamy heat and my mediocre work, its days like this that make plein air painting worth all the effort.

I finally picked up my paintings from the Waxahachie Plein Air event. I promised to post them when I did so here they are.


Twice the Fun

"Above the Tree Tops" 5" x 7"

"Close to Heaven" 5" x 7"

Here are a couple more paintings from my recent trip to Colorado. These are much smaller than most of my paintings. I tried this smaller size out for two reasons. First, I knew I would be painting fast so I wouldn't be forcing my family to sit around while I worked. Second, because of the ease of finding a frame.
Colorado plein air was a fun challenge. I have experience painting outdoors with fast moving shadows changing my view, but I found out in Colorado entire mountains change value and color temperature within moments. Clouds pass overhead and cover very large areas. It was hard not to chase the ever changing views, but "wow" was the beauty worth the attempt.
These small paintings and the thousand or so photos I took will keep me inspired for some time.


My Colorado Vacation

"Overlooking Ouray" 9 x 12

Wow, is all I can say about my vacation in Ouray, Colorado. My family and I had a great time. I took hundreds of pictures and soaked in so much beauty. I plan on pouring over the photos and turn many of them into paintings. I know it will be a challenge to capture the large scale & beauty of the mountains. That is something I know I wouldn't have had any chance of doing if I hadn't been there and took them myself.

The above painting was done roadside, looking down on the town of Ouray. The weather was a wonderful 72 degrees. I heard Texas was around 104 at the same time, so I wasn't missing it very much right then. I would like to say that I had people from all over the world pulling over just to watch me work, but I'm sure at least a few of them only stopped to take in the view.
I will post more of my plein air attempts and share some of my photos in the following days.


95% Plein Air Painter

"Sonjia's Red Bowl" 8 x 10

This is my first post in a while. A family problem and the Texas hot weather combined to keep my recent painting outings sparse. I am presently about a 95% plein air painter. Very few of my attempts come from studio or indoor work. That is something I know I have to change about myself. I have become comfortable painting outside and now I need to learn to be comfortable inside which is probably the exact opposite from most painters. I decided a few nights ago to set up a still life and get some painting in. The funny thing about the way I work is I paint inside the exact way I paint outside. I have done work as large as 2’ x 3’ but still finished in about three hours time. I need to learn to slow down and not sling the paint. I don't like painting on dry work.

Next week I am going to Ouray, Colorado for a combined family vacation and paint out event with the OPS. I have never painted in the mountains before so I am very excited!
I promise to post many photos and hopefully many paintings.


Two new Challenges

Here are a couple images from recent outings. The first one is a little 6 x 8 painting of some trees. I tried something different with this one. Instead of my usual wash in, I started by painting the whole background very dark and building up to the light. I lifted my main trees out of the background with a little turp and a stiff brush. It actually took form very fast, coming in at about thirty minutes and it definitely gave the final piece a different feel.

The second painting is a restored 1880's farm house. This painting gave me a challenge in that the home is a very unusual chalky green color. This house is owned by the city of Grapevine and they took donations to help restore this home and the surrounding property. I heard everyone was kind of down when they found out what color this had to be to restore it back to it's original form. Not sure if I actually pulled it off.


Waxahachie Paint Out Merit Award

Here are the four Plein air paintings I had on display & sale in the Paint Historic Waxahachie, Tx. 4th Annual Paint Out. This was a ten-day event with over 50 artists participating. The event judge was Bruce Peil. I'm happy to report that I received one of the seven awards given out and was very proud to be mentioned along side other winners like Ted Clemens, Tina Bohlman, Ann Hardy, Chase Almond & Olivette Hubler.
This was no easy task considering the 250+ paintings entered into judging. I was lucky enough to receive a similar award at last years event.
I will post better photos of my entries as soon as possible.

This was one of my entries. I wanted to attempt more flowers in hopes that I could expand my audience. As you can see in my photo I was set up a little further away than I would have preferred. The home owner wasn't home so I didn't venture closer than the sidewalk. This may have worked to my advantage by forcing me to not over detail my painting. It's hard to over detail something you can't see.

"In Bloom" 9"x 12"

My view

( My apologies for the low resolution camera phone pictures. I was not able to pick up my paintings after the show. I wish I didn't have anything left to pick up. )


Train Depot 9 x 12

Here is another of my paintings from the OPS Grapevine paint out. This was my early morning effort. I thought I had something good going on, but I found myself a little distracted surrounded by all my friends and fellow artists. After visiting a while I realized not only had the light changed, but so did my view. I think every car in Grapevine was suddenly parked in front of me! I had been looking forward to painting the little green cart at the base of the train, but it was no longer in site so I finished it up from memory. This painting still brings me a smile because it reminds me of that very fun day.

I'll have to revisit this spot again and give it another try.


The Pink Anteater 8x10

This past weekend was a blast. I was hosting my painting group in my home town of Grapevine, Tx. We had a real good attendance that included several new members and several signature members showing up to get their paint on. I was a little nervous and prayed the outing would go fine. We had a forty percent chance of rain in the forecast, but we made it through the day with only one ten minute downpour that didn't stop anyone. Several really nice paintings where done and even with all the talking and direction giving I managed to paint three paintings. I'll show some pictures of the outing in some upcoming posts.

The "Pink Anteater" is a painting of some vintage farming equipment on a farm only one block from my house. My family drives by it all the time and my boys always remark how much the old bailing machine looks like an some kind of strange animal, compete with green eyes and weird smile. I've wanted to paint this scene for some time. I was in luck that day because a red tractor was left right next to the bailer. In my eyes painting both of these together not only tells the viewer what this machine is used for but also just how large it is. This was very fun to paint and my boys got a kick out of it too.


Dinner with Friends

I recently went to dinner with several of my Outdoor Painters Society buddies. If they sat us together by talent, I wouldn't have been at this table. From left to right is Dave Bates, Me (with the big stupid grin), Andrew Wages, John Cook and Kaye Franklin. If you are not familiar with any of these people, do yourself a favor and check out their work! So much talent.


Rusted Tin Roof 11 x 14

I'm not totally happy with the way this painting turned out even though I do like parts of it. I think some of my feelings are based on what I edited out because of time restraints and maybe poor layout. I ended up removing a tree from the right side and a tractor plow from the left foreground. While I was laying it out it never seemed to come together. I should have know from the start if the layout doesn’t feel right to correct it then, but I was in a hurry for the fun part. This painting also made me doubt not using canvas on my board. The texture is nice, but it seems to become dry looking reel fast. I don’t add a lot of medium to my paint. With this one I only added some Alkyd to speed up drying time. Maybe I should try something else before I totally give up on my gesso only wood boards. Also, I have a few scratches along the fence from my carrier that I haven't cleaned up yet.

Any opinions about the painting or texture?


Rainy Day Painting

"The Hill Country" 11" x 14"
As soon as it stopped raining on our drive home, Andrew Wages & I looked at each other and knew it was another chance to paint. We turned off onto a dirt road and found this interesting hill. I had to park my van at our backs to shield us from the high winds. It was challenging conditions, but so much fun! I wish I had taken a picture of Andrew's painting, but the wind wouldn't allow me to leave my setup.
A look at my palette and painting in progress

This photo doesn't show the clouds that filled the sky

More Plein Air Lessons Learned

My friend Andrew Wages creates another master piece.

"Goat Farm" 9" x 12"
A farm we discovered on a back road. It was covered in goats.
We were lost at this time & I doubt I could ever find
this location again.

Photo from site

I had a great time visiting the Texas Hill country. I was lucky enough to paint with over thirty members of the Outdoor Painters Society and make many new friends. I partnered up with Andrew Wages who has been painting for over forty years. Andrew has seen it and done it all. We had a great time.
Andrew is no nonsense lets get painting type of guy that can paint from sun up to sundown. We woke up early and packed lunches. If you have painted in Texas you won't be shocked to hear that we painted in 90+ degree heat one moment and cold high winds and rain the next. A local farmer found us on a dirt road and asked if were "working hard", I think he was joking, but honestly we were! I won’t be the first person to say Plein Air painting is hard work!
I returned from my trip in time to paint in a local wildflower festival. Good news is I sold both paintings I created. Bad news is they had two silent auction times going and I turned my paintings in five minutes before the first auction time. They quickly sold for the minimum bids, because nobody had time to see them. I should have turned them in after the first auction.

Lesson learned.

I did have a lot of fun and even let some fifteen or so kids actually help me paint on my paintings. The kids were all excited and easy to coach and I saw a lot of surprise on their parents faces. I figured I could repair anything that didn't look quite right. Everything was going fine until a woman who told me she was also an oil painter walked up. I told her I needed a break and wanted her to paint something for me. She picked up the brush I was using to paint grass with and stuck it into a combination of Prussion blue and Viridian Green and proceeded to paint in my sky for me. Ouch! Neither color was being used in this particular painting. After cleaning up that mess I now know I can clean up anything.

Lesson learned.


Lazy Tree 9 x 12

This painting is from my secret location. It appears to be this grand forest and in reality it is a patch of land between some buildings and an apartment complex. I have never seen anyone else within my secret forest and I plan on keeping this area to myself.

This week brings some excitement for me as I get to leave town for three days with fellow Outdoor Painters Society members on a painting trip to the Texas hill country. We will be in the Fredericksburg area as part of the Plein Air Southwest 2009 event. We are expecting a great turnout. Also this weekend I will be participating in the 4th Annual Fort Worth Prairie Fest. I will be painting all day with my work and several other artists work being sold during a silent auction.
Because of my day job, this will be the first time ever that I will be able to paint for four days in a row sun up to sun down. Just imagine the possibilities. Of course, I will share everything when I get back.

If you are in Fort Worth area please come out and say “Hi”.



Grapevine Train Station 9x12

I recently had my five seconds of fame as a local TV station doing a segment on Grapevine, Tx. included me in their shot. While that news would only bring a smile to my mother's face that painting outing also marked another first for me. Right after the news crew left it started pouring down rain. I decided to put away most of my supplies and keep painting. I had a huge smile on my face and knew I looked like an idiot to everyone driving by, but I didn't want to stop.

In reflection, I'm not sure if I would do it again.

Signature Stamp

I had this idea to create a signature stamp for myself after designing this logo for my web site. I predominantly use birch panels for my painting supports and sign the backsides. Now that will also contain this official, one of a kind, get it only here logo stamp.
It's so cool! :?)


Evening Glow 9 x 12

There are so many elements that come into play when you are painting outside. Sometimes you start with a plan of attack but once you're in the flow of painting, it just becomes what it wants. I became a spectator of my own work, as any other viewer would be. This painting started out as a simple tree study and quickly turned into a painting about the setting sunlight even though you don't even see the sun. This is the reason people paint outside. Unlike studio paintings where you have controlled lighting and all the time in the world, painting outside is all about connecting with the environment and learning to roll with what life gives you.
Painting outside is exciting for the artist and I feel that comes through in the finished work.


Morning Light on Shed 9 x 12

I squeezed in some painting time during my recent spring break family vacation. I accomplish this by waking up before the chickens crow so my family won't even miss me. I was in such a hurry to get painting that the car windows where still fogged up as I drove away. We spent the night in Fredericksburg Texas and it is so picturesque I didn't have to go far to find a subject.

I am drawn to weathered buildings and it is always a bonus when they are bright red. I started painting without setting up my umbrella and as the early morning sun blasted out I found it hard to judge my values. Once you're into your work and covered in paint you never want to stop long enough to make some shade. I seem to always situate myself in the open. The photo shows how shadowed everything was at the beginning of my painting. Compare it to the photo with my palette and you get an example of how much the light changes from beginning to the end. As a painter you have to pick a moment in time and stick with it as the shadows and light change around you. I like parts of this painting a lot but feel the foreground shadow & fence line could have been executed better. I try real hard not to paint on my plein air paintings after they are dry so I'm not sure if I should rework the foreground.
What do you think?


Valentines Day Gift

I took the cheap route this year and whipped up
a rose for my wife. Sometimes being an artist is
a good thing.

Outdoor Painters Video

Here is a link to a video that my friend Rusty Jones put together showing various members of the Outdoor Painters Society painting plein air in Big Bend National Park as part of the Plein Air Southwest competition. If you haven't visited the "OPS" or Rusty Jones web site you can find both links on this blog. If this video doesn't make you want to get out and paint I don't know what will. Great job Rusty!



Celebrate the Day - 6" x 8"

I went out to the local Marina for a little painting time and ended up painting a "little painting". I set myself up in a location that I didn't think I would have much of an audience. To my surprise I attracted quite the on lookers. Everyone was very pleasant and encouraging to me. When you have an audience and you're painting something you enjoy, it is an awesome feeling. It is very nerve racking when you have that same audience and the painting is not working.
Luck was on my side. Not only did I end up liking this painting, but I was able to sell it to a very nice couple right off my easel. They said buying this painting would help them celebrate their purchase of their first home, so right then I knew the name of this work was "Celebrate the Day"

Rusty Truck 8" x 10"

I have been trying out a different painting surface lately. I use 1/4" thick Birch board that I cut to size. I apply a layer of gesso. After that is dried I add a layer of thick modeling paste with a wide brush, intentionally leaving the brush marks and texture. Then I finish the board off with a final layer of gesso.
I started out in oils taking a few classes with a French painter that utilized a palette knife instead of a brush. I fell in love with the thick, juicy paint. I have painted several paintings using his same techniques but felt more of my drawing skills would show up using a brush.
I'm hoping this new board technique will give my brushwork the thick textured appearance of using the palette knife.
Click the photo above for an enlarged view. The textured board is very evident in the bottom golden field.

A Big Texas Hello

Welcome to my Blog. This is an new endeavor for me and I plan on approaching it the same way I did with my oil painting by jumping right in. If you read my bio or know me you can see that I have been creating various forms of commercial art for twenty plus years now, but I have only been oil painting around three years. I am relatively new to this form of art and hope that this Blog will not only document my journey but also entertain you or possibly inspire you to pick up some brushes. I chose the title "In the Field" because I am primarily an outdoor painter. The majority of my work is done on location from start to finish usually within a couple of hours. Painting is normally a solitary experience for the artist. Painting outside opens me to an interactive encounter with my subject in ways no photograph in my studio could do and allows me to share my experiences with interested onlookers or possible art collectors. It also allows me the opportunity to meet, paint with and learn from other artists.
At the very least I hope you enjoy viewing my art.