Reason #214: Why plein air painting is tough.

9 x 12

Painted this late in the day and was surrounded by photographers taking family photos. Grapevine is a very photographic town and I'm lucky to live here, but nothing is as annoying as listening to a photographer shout baby talk to get the little ones attention...over and over and over. I tried to immerse myself in my work, but it was tough.


Christmas Painting Exchange

"All the Live-Long Day"
8 x 10

This is the painting I selected for the Outdoor Painters Society Christmas gift exchange. We wrap our paintings in brown paper, pile them up and play a white elephant Christmas game. It gets pretty heated, because you can steal paintings from other people and everyone gets pretty attached real fast. This will be my fifth party and I have really enjoyed the paintings I received in the past. I got an Ann Hardy, a couple from Cecy Turner and a David Moreland Bates. All are signature members of our group...not too shabby.

I hope I don't disappoint someone that gets this one.


Patriotic Tractor

"Patriotic Tractor"
12" x 16"

I tried this one larger than my usual 9 x 12 size. The increased size made it more difficult to finish in my normal time frame and also made the drawing tougher, because it's hard to hide any drawing errors. Some things worked and some didn't, but it's always fun.

I don't need any extra reasons to paint a tractor, but I loved the little flag on the front.


Livery Stable

"The Livery Stable"
8" x 16" oil

This is a plein air painting from my recent trip to Winberley, TX with the Outdoor Painters Society. This was my view from my hotel room, no lie! We meet some colorful characters that worked in the area too. A great local old timer that told me some tall tales while he repeatedly broke wind...all without missing a beat. ;?)

I painted several paintings around the river that didn't quite work out. Not my cup of tea, but I'm trying. I'm much more comfortable painting architecture and form.

My painting buddy, Rick Eakins and I made our way to the grand opening of the new RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg. I was blown away by the gallery, the owners and especially the gallery artists which includes my good friend Rusty Jones. He was grinning ear to ear and had some of the best work there. That's saying a lot considering some of my personal favorite artist, Frank Gardner, Hodges Soileau and Marc Hanson ( see my fav. blogs at right ) all hang in the same gallery. I missed out on opportunity to paint with some of these guys too. I had to return home and they were all going out together the next day. 

I probably would have slowed them all down and drooled on their paintings anyway. I won't miss another opportunity...I promise!


Sorry 2 My Family

"Parade Tractor"
9 x 12  © 2011

I found this tractor, immediately took my family home, squeezed out a call to a painting buddy and went to work. ( Sorry 2 my family )

I laid the darks in very dry and applied the paint with thick deliberate strokes. I approached it a little looser and personally like the results. I'm real curious what you guys think.


We Have a Winner!

Thank you to everyone that posted to my Blog in support of my 100th post. I am happy to say "Doug Clark's" name was drawn as the winner of my painting giveaway. I am also happy to say I know Doug in the real world, not just the cyber world and have painted beside him several times. Doug is also a great sculptor. and I encourage you to check out his Blog. I am proud to be in his collection.

Thanks Doug and everyone else for all the support and kind words.

Photo by Jim Rodgers


Waiting for You

"Waiting for You"
8" x 16"

This is not my normal subject matter, but I fell in love with the photo my friend Lee Brown took in a restaurant in Paris and I lucked out that he posted it in another one of his now famous painting challenges. Click here to see Lee's photo. Using Photoshop, I cropped the figure tighter and removed the shadowed figure in the right foreground and added a chair in his place. The chair back points up to the figure and helps direct the viewers eye back up to the girl and also also adds weight and depth to the bottom of the painting. I also use a filter in Photoshop called "Median" that blurs the details without losing the shapes. When I'm plein air painting the only way to achieve similar results is to squint at my subject.

I painted my painting only looking at my Photoshop image on my computer screen. I have to admit I was surprised when I finished it and looked back at the original picture because it had tons of details I had lost, but hopefully I did Lee's beautiful photography proud. Thanks for another fun challenge. Make sure you visit Lee's "A Day Not Wasted" blog and see the other entries and tell him "Hi" for me.


Behind the Barn

"Behind the Barn"
9 x 12

“I was so naive as a kid
I used to sneak behind the barn
and do nothing.” 

- Johnny Carson


Free Painting!

This is my 100th Blog post and to celebrate I will give a painting away. All you have to do is leave me a comment on my Blog this month. I will then use a random generator to pick a name from everyone that posted and that person will be able to choose from one of the paintings shown above. The paintings range from 8 x 10 to 9 x12 and are all plein air works from random Texas locations. Each painting was featured on a previous Blog post, so you can read more about them and see where they were painted.

Thank you to everyone that follows my Blog and supports me as a painter.
Here's to another 100 posts!


Work Truck

"Old Green Work Truck"
9" x 12"

I found this great truck parked at Nash farm by my house. I had my twenty year old son stand with the door open in the pose shown and used my painters creative license and magically transformed him into a elderly gentleman complete with red hat and suspenders. You can't beat plein air painting and actually being on location, but I will always change what I see if it makes my painting better.


Rusted Junk Heaven

"Red Tractor" 
9" x 12"

I saw this great red tractor in the same area of Fredericksburgh, Tx as my painting "Rusted Work Truck". It was a rusted junk plein air painters heaven. I could have painted a dozen more just like this one, just spinning in place.


Hummingbird Feeder Glow

"Hummingbird Feeder"
5" X 7"

I hoped to capture the hummingbirds quick movements, but what I was most excited to paint was the light hitting the right side and all the secondary reflected light. This was painted very quickly in around 30 minutes.

The light around the bird is the toned board showing through. My most successful paintings seem to be the ones that the natural glow of the board still shows in places. Once that glow is gone, it is difficult to paint back in.


Not Much, But It's Home

"Not Much, But It's Home"
8" x 16"

I 'm happy with this one and I have plans on painting it twice as big. This is not a small painting, but a lot of the scratched in branches and foliage tricks I did won't work on the larger size. The trick will be painting more detail, but keep all the looseness.

Wish me luck!


Rescue Me

"Rescue Me"
5"x 7"

This was a real quick sketch from my recent Ouray, Colorado trip. I saw this tucked away up next to a mountain waiting for a call. Thankfully nobody needed it's help.


Rest in Peace, Tractor

"Ready for Work" 
8" x 10"

Sometimes, a painting sits around for a few days and you find something you are not totally satisfied so you grab the brushes and go about reworking the places that bothered you and hopefully improve the painting. Sometimes you grab those brushes and no matter what you do things just get worse and worse.  I tried to rework the foreground and background on this painting and I'm sad to say, completely wrecked it. The photo above was prior to the new work. Seeing it again at this size, things don't look so bad and I wish I had left it alone.  After three attempts this painting is dark, dead and near lifeless. A hard lesson learned.

I won't give up because it had promise and is oil. I should be able to cover anything up, but I think it's best to put it aside and let us both rest for awhile.  



 "Hay Stacks"
9' x 12"

Went out with a couple of my painting buddies for some more punishment. You can just feel the heat radiating out of these photos and it was only 9 am! I did get some nice shadows and despite the heat had a lot of fun. We meet a man named Mannie that was working for real that day driving a forklift. He spoke only broken English, but was very excited to see our paintings. We found out Mannie was an artist himself after he showed us a large rock that he had decorated with a sharpie drawing various cowboy related doodles. I encouraged him to drop the sharpie and pick up some brushes. Hopefully Mannie will be starting his own Blog soon.

Glimpse of my palette

Wow, I'm dedicated!


Painting Challenge: Train

"Train Crossing" 
11" x 14"

This painting was done for an online painting challenge from my good buddy Lee Brown over at
A Day Not Wasted. Lee has a great site that features his beautiful photography from his world travels.
I dare you to visit and not get inspired.

This train passes close too Lee's home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Follow the link to see the challenge photo, the other artist interpretations and to possibly join in the painting challenge fun. Thanks Lee!

This is my second challenge I participated in. Here is my first one.

When I saw the photo I knew it would be a challenge. All the detail caught my eye first, but what I really wanted to paint was the light on the left side and the depth of the distant background. I tried laying down a monochromatic underpainting, but this time I didn't wait for it to dry before applying the color. At first it caused me some grief because the color kept picking up the grey beneath, but in the end all it took was a second round of good clean saturated highlights to not have it too washed out.

How does it look?


Mountain Studio Painting

"Purple Mountains Majesty"
10" x 20"

This was painted from a photo I took in Colorado somewhere between Rico and Delores. If anyone recognizes this location by name, please let me know. It was an unbelievably gorgeous spot.

This was my first attempt using a monochromatic block-in. I let it dry for three days before adding color. I really dropped the ball by not taking progress photos, but I was totally absorbed and fascinated by the technique. I have seen other painter use this method, but to tell the truth it sounded kinda tedious to me. Why paint everything, just to repaint it again with more color? Now I understand and have become very intrigued to try it again. It was much easier establishing my values by using only a dark and middle tone and letting the board show though for my lightest light, than using all the colors on my palette, especially on a much larger than my normal size painting. After I had my values clearly established it was so easy to put on the color. I was able to add color very quickly and it came to life before my eyes. The speed of the coloring process made this studio painting feel closer to my plein air work.

Painting is so fascinating to me. There are so many different methods to apply paint to canvas.


Colorado Red Mountains

"Colorado Red Mountains"   
10 x 10

This was my first plein air painting from my recent trip to Colorado. I packed the basics only and encountered problems when the Titanium White I brought was extremely gummy. I had never used this tube and it acted like it was 100 years old. I'm not sure where I bought this paint, but it's the first time I have ever had this problem. I lucked out and found a new tube in Ouray.

With that said I'm happy with the final product.


Plein Air Artist video

I was one of the chosen artist to be featured in this video promoting Plein Air Artists.ning.com. Considering they have 1,900 members around the world, I'm proud to be showcased. ( I appear at 5:17 ) Video produced by Don Maier.

If you haven't visited this site, please do. I am proud to be included with so many great artist from around the world.


Downtown Ouray Colorado

"Mount Abrams from Downtown Ouray"   
6" x 12" 

I just got back from spending a week in Colorado with my family. Colorado is beautiful and we saw countless waterfalls and mountain peaks. I didn't want to shortchange my family, so I woke up extra early each day to get in some painting time and let them take their time getting up. You don't have to go far to find a great view, so I just set up my easel downtown and had 360 degrees of paintable mountains. Texas is not known for giant mountains, so I was jumping at a chance to paint some. Even a quick rain shower didn't ruin the moment. One thing I learned was the light changes and shadows come and go quickly this high up.



Nash Farm Barn

"Nash Farm Barn"      9 x 12

Sometimes I go out and I don't know what I want to paint and this was one of those days. After moving my easel around two or three times, I settled on this scene. It felt good getting outside because my brush was a little rusty.

I have been on vacation in Colorado for the past week and have several new paintings that I will post this week. The Colorado scenery was breathtaking and very inspiring.



"Twilight"         12" x 24"

 This is a studio painting based on some photos I took in Fredericksburg, TX. My wife and I left our boys at the hotel and went off for an adventure. The sun was disappearing right before my eyes, but I managed to snap a couple photos before it was gone. I don't have a lot of experience painting this large or painting from photographs, so this was a challenge. My camera was set on "night photo" and I realized this brightened my pictures and almost made them look like they were taken during the day, so the biggest challenge I had was working from photos without any accurate color. I am also accustomed to painting fast, so I tried very hard to take this slowly. I have mixed feelings about the final work. I'm not sure how much better this version is than the night I first blocked it all in. I think this painting has less paint than my plein air work, even though I painted on it on several different occasions. I think I became cautious and didn't want to cover up all of my previous work. Is this common for all studio painters?

I'm very happy with the method I painted my sun. I simply painted it solid white and after it dried completely I dry brushed yellow on top of the white. I think this made a brighter sun than any solid yellow I could have mixed.

Don't get me wrong, I like the final product. It just feels different working in the studio.
What do you think? I need some input.


Rusted Work Truck

"Rusted Work Truck"   9" x 12"

This truck sits in a field off W. Main St. in Fredericksburg Texas. Don't feel sorry for it because it had a several old rusted friends that I hope to paint in the near future.

Checking the stats on my Blog, I found that my truck paintings pull in the most views. That works out for me because I always have fun doing them


Blast From the Past

"The Crossing"      9" x 12"

 I'm currently busy working on a large studio painting that I hope to share soon. Until then, I wanted to share one of my favorite paintings from a few years ago. The Waxahachie Paint Out is currently in progress and I was unable to attend this year, so I am missing all of my friends. This was painted during the event. What you don't see in my painting are all of my fellow painters to my left and right also enjoying the day.
Great times!


Roadtrip Anyone?

"Hill Country Roadside"    9" x 12"

Painted this on a recent road trip to the Texas hill country around the Marble Falls area. The sun was setting and I found some beautiful blues hidden in the shadows.

Click to purchase. $100 w/ Free Shipping 


Garden Path

"Garden Path"     8" x 10"

I was asked to do a demo at a local event celebrating National Garden Day last Friday. I wasn't real excited to do this, but I gave it a go. I paint outside in front of everyone all the time, but a demo is different. What if the painting doesn't work? I quickly realized I shouldn't worry because NOBODY was there to watch me! LOL
It was a shame, because the painting turned out okay.

$80.00 w/ free ship


Addie May's Iris

"Purple Iris"    5" x 7"

  This Iris is from my wife's grandmothers house. She remembers they filled her yard with purple. My wife and her two sisters took the bulbs after their grandmother's passing twenty-seven years ago. They planted them and have moved them from house to house, but they never bloomed over all those years! Last year they bloomed for the first time for all the sisters and they have come back this year too. Her grandma passed away two months before I started dating my wife and I really wish I had met her. She is still loved greatly today and I know she helped shape the woman I love today.

Happy Mothers Day Sweetie!


Walking to Texas 2

"Walking to Texas 2"  8" x 10"

Walking to Texas, by Michael Cunningham, was Grapevine's first piece of public art, dedicated in 1996. This sculpture and fountain is a tribute to the pioneer families who came to the Grape Vine prairie seeking a bright future and new life. Located in Liberty Park on Main Street. 

I painted this very quickly as the sun was setting and my wife was shopping! ;?)

This is not the first time I painted this statue. Here is the first painting from last year.


Fish Market

"Fish Market"          9 x 12 Oil  
A few weeks back I had the opportunity to paint inside the Central Market grocery store as part of  a Grapevine Art Project outing to create awareness for our group. It was a great opportunity to paint live inside for a change. With a projected potential audience of over 5,000 people, it was a challenge to interact AND paint and most of all, not embarrass myself. I think it turned out nice. The store managers were great to us and treated us like stars. I even stopped down and created several small paintings with some of the kids watching me too. Hopefully helped create some future painters!


Old Sunbleached Truck

"Sunbleached Truck"    9" x 12" Oil

I did something I shouldn't have done and painted this from a photo that wasn't mine. I found it some time ago and don't know where from. I was wanting to paint and had this picture saved. Loved the composition and subject. I didn't intend for it to turn into a full fledge work of art, but it took on a life of it's own.
Have you ever done this? Should this not be for sale. How much could I have changed this and still used the photo?

I haven't had to worry about this before, but I would love to know other artists opinions. 


DPW Painting Challenge

"The New Chicks"    8 x 10 Oil on board

This is my first entry for a very fun painting challenge put on by the Daily Paintworks website. This is a great site that encourages artists to post their take on each weeks new challenge. This weeks challenge is aptly called the Chicken Challenge.

This may be your only chance to pry this from my wifes hands!
$150.00 w/ free shipping


Quick Draw event at the Dallas Arboretum April 9th

I got help getting my quick draw painting done within the 2 1/2 hour limit

My Quick Draw Entry "Young Faun" 9 x 12 Oil 

Beverly Boren paints another masterpiece

Debob Jacobs, with onlookers 

Charles Pruitt and Chuck Rawle

Fran Ellisor

The beautiful Ann Hardy

John Cook at work

Quit telling me the time! I'm working as fast as I can!