Thursday, January 25, 2018

First Light, Vilano Beach

Pastel, 9x12 on UArt 400

In the early morning as the light of day begins to grow, the reflected pink and golden clouds bath the wet sand and breaking waves with wonder.  A few gulls seem to question the presence of any who venture into their world of wonder.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Early Evening

Pastel, 9x12 on UArt

With the departing day, the sunset over the beach and water rewards the few who remain into the evening.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Pastel on paper - 16x12

Dusty is nearly 30 pounds of king-cat.  I wanted to capture the of nobility that I see radiated from his face.  My focus began with the eyes and the way Dusty looks at his world with authority and kindness.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Last of Autumn

Last of Autumn

Pastel, 6x6 on UArt

As an exercise, I set myself a limit of 35 minutes to do this painting.  

I did this small study based on sketches and photos of a branch of salt marsh near my home.  This is a view from the sidewalk beside a busy 6-lane parkway.  The traffic is all forgotten here as summer has gone, autumn is passing, and the marsh lies waiting for winter.

Note: 11/28/17 Evening - I punched some of the values, changed the distance, and took a better photo.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rick's Rules #2 - Elegance

Elegant – Design with elegance through simplicity

Mayo Marsh - Broadview
“Being elegant is being pleasingly ingenious and simple.”

Now that you have a motive for the painting and you have decided what you want to say, what in the view before you is essential to that message?  Is there anything that will obviously detract or distract from that message?  What can be eliminated from the painting without changing or lessening your message?

Simplicity begins with the earliest stages of design as you choose a subject and select an idea.  Develop a composition with objects, abstract shapes, values, and colors that clarify your motive – your main idea and emotion.  Eliminate everything that is distracting to your motive and vision.  Among the remaining elements, select only those that will support your motive or whose exclusion from the painting would distract from your vision.  Don’t forget that sometimes an element in the scene needs to be changed, moved, or replaced; or an element needs to be added to the design to help explain or emphasize your motive.  At this point, you should be nearing the irreducible minimum for your message.

Now that you have an idea of what your painting should contain, you can develop your composition around those elements.  Be careful as you build your composition that you do not introduce without good reason any elements that may distract from your motive.  It is no crime to change or modify your motive if you discover that another idea or emotion inspires you more, but do so deliberately.

The most difficult part of achieving elegance in simplicity is rejecting good and often beautiful elements from the composition because their very “beauty” distracts the eye from your objective.  Elegant simplicity can help you achieve the greatest beauty in your painting.


I took the photo above of a view of the salt marsh near my home.  I have often been inspired by this view with the tall pines on the back edge of the marsh and the reflections in the water.  As the photo shows, this view contains a multitude of ideas that would make a good painting.  My first step was to make a sketch with notes to record my inspiration, and this is the sketch I made on-site.

Mayo Marsh - field sketch
I was standing on a sidewalk beside a 6-lane parkway when I did this drawing, so it is somewhat abbreviated.  I made some notes and did a few adjustments for composition.  My goal here was to capture the essence of the day and my response to the scene.  I drive by this place almost every day, and each time I'm reminded that beauty surrounds me everywhere if I only take the time to look.

Mayo Marsh - Detail sketches
From my notes and guided by the photo, I made detail sketches of areas of the view that inspired me.  For each sketch, I made notes to guide me as I decide what to select for the "final" drawing.  Putting this together in a trial composition and drawing is the next step in the process, so the accuracy of sketching and quality of observation in the sketch is critical.

Rick’s Rules for Painting

These "rules" are my own principles of painting developed over time for my personal use.  My goal is to use and apply these steps in all my painting efforts.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Rick's Rules #1 - Motive

Motive – You can’t start without a motive

Quiet Expectation, Study 1

You have a clean sheet of paper, a blank canvas, a fresh start, and you need to paint something.  You are looking at a scene or photo that could anything such as a broad vista or a cityscape, or a bowl of fruit, or a pot of flowers. It doesn’t matter; you are looking at something – looking for something to paint.  The problem is you don’t know where to start.  Your first reaction is to paint it all, but you know that’s not going to work.  Answer this question, “what one thing before me will make the best painting?”  What of all you see inspires you the most?

Here is my advice to myself - before you do anything else, you must reduce your project to one main idea and one clear emotion that the main idea can inspire.  Edgar Payne calls this your “motive.”  Too many of your paintings fail because you started without a specific vision of what you wanted to say.

When you decide on a main idea and emotion, your motive, write them on your sketch to remind yourself of your motive while you work on the painting.  At some point this may become unnecessary, but until having a clear motive becomes second nature, write down your description of the main idea and emotion.

Once your motive is established, remember your goal is to make a painting that you will enjoy and want to see again often.  If you don’t like the painting, don’t expect anyone else to want it.


Below my Motive/Idea for "Quiet Expectation, Study 1."  My initial idea was to place a focal vertical in a strictly horizontal marsh scene by using clouds and reflections as design components. I wrote this on the drawing before a chose my palette or put a single mark on the paper.

Motive / Idea on drawing

Below is my emotion for "Quiet Expectation, Study 1".  Knowing the flatness of the scene would be essentially quiet, I wanted to add an emotion that would build on that feeling.  The logical emotion for an early morning with sunlight breaking through the clouds is "expectation" which builds on the confidence of the vista.

Emotion on drawing

Rick’s Rules for Painting

These "rules" are my own principles of painting developed over time for my personal use.  They are to be used and applied in all my painting efforts.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Quiet Expectation, Study 1

Quiet Expectation, Study 1 "original
Quiet Expectations, Study 1 - after "corrections"

Pastel 6x6 on UArt

This is a small study for a planned larger work.  In working though this study, I have been following my own working rules - Rick's Rules for Painting.  The rule that seems to have given me the most problem, as usual, is number 9 - "Untended ideas wander into bad places." 
Drawing with notes and motive
After reviewing this painting against my original motive, I realized that I was missing the emotion I had originally wanted to express.  To add the sense of confidence, I added a darker shade of golden orange and a deeper shade of pink.