Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Across the Pond"

Pastel on sanded gator board, 24x20

Asking for help!
This painting has been on my easel for more than two weeks, and it's taking on a life of its own - haunting me, really.  I'm putting in the accents, details, but I've hit a block. I wanted to focus on the duck box, lower rights, but it seems to add too much detail for the looseness of the rest of the piece.  My first inclination is to take it out, but then, I like the focus.  Help!

Notes added in response to Facebook comments.  I can't tell you what a delight it has been for me to hear from all of you!
  1. Value issues, especially with the path.  I will fix that.  I need to both deepen the value and vary it from near to far.  Temperature may also be a problem.
  2. Original sketch and reference photos were done on a cloudy day (see previous post from Arboretum).  I went back a few days later, and the trees had more color, but it clouded over again.  With no direct light source, it creates problems. 
  3. Trees trunks on the right have been defined - the ones on the left are still just undercoat.  I'm debating about how to add more variations in light and shadow on the trunks.
  4. I need to deepen the value under and behind the duck box.  Duck box is too cool for surroundings.
  5. Pond expanse - my original idea was to use 4 relatively equal horizontal expanses, pond, near bank, far bank, and background trees broken and tied together by the trees.  I knew it would be difficult, but I took it as a personal challenge.  But that doesn't not seem to work too well.  The pond is covered in lily pads which I have not added.  I plan to expand the shoreline forward, break the pond into 2-3 areas of lilies and open water.  I hope that makes the areas less similar and boring.
  6. Fork in the path - I see the problem, but I want to keep the fork.  Too many people visit this site and would recognize it.  I can, however, lessen the drawing power by changing the color and value near to far.
I have been looking at this piece off an on for two weeks - work on it 10 minutes here and 30 minutes there.  It's gotten to be a lumpy potato in many ways.  Thank you all for your great suggestions. This is the kind of discourse I love.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Autumn Poplars - Aroboretum"

Pastel on Wallis 9x12

This is my effort at the First Coast Pastel Society's paint-out at the Jacksonville Arboretum.  The day started with breaking clouds and a little sunshine, but by 10:30 it was overcast.  Even with no sun, the light seemed to change every five minutes.

I decided to use a warm pallet to counter the gray of the day.  With the low light, I had had to work hard to create values and value contrasts.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Dunes at Talbot

Pastel on sanded board; 14x11

Available, click here

This painting is a view of the dunes back from the beach at Talbot Island State Park.  Oddly enough, these dunes are on the other side of  A1A, and I did the drawing and reference photos from the shoulder of the highway - standing in a bumper crop of sand spurs.

In this piece, I have punched the values and colors in order to add interest and drama.  I limited the detail in the foreground so that I could emphasize the dune ridge.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dunes - on the easel

On the Easel - pastel 14x11, Dunes

I've been away from my easel for too long - needed to get something working, well...  this is the start.

Picture was taken without a tripod - the color is true, but...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Framed Works for November

"Cedars with Color" - pastel 14x11, in frame

"Cedar Cove in the Rain" - pastel 20x16 in frame

To purchase, please contact me.

I framed these pastel paintings under glass with Econospacers.  I did not use mats with these paintings.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Cedar Cove in the Rain"

Pastel on gatorboard; 20x16

Painting is available - contact me

The autumn colors of the salt marsh emerge with greater strength and brilliance when it rains.  Perhaps it is the softer light with the damp grasses that lets the reds and golds dominate.  The rain also makes the greens more pure up close then softer and more purple toward the horizon.  This is one of my favorite times of the year, and this view of the marsh is one of the best.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Refreshed with Rain" Stage 3


Pastel on gatorboard; 20x16


Important lesson for using self-sanded gatorboard - don't apply denatured alcohol to "fix" a pastel under paint and then rub it while the alcohol is damp.  It takes the sand off.  Here is the result.  I had to "resand" the lower half of this work which wiped out what I had done.

Picture was taken with a flash, obviously, because I didn't want to take the time to set up a tripod for this tragic shot.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Atmospheric Perspective on the marsh

"Atmospheric perspective" - value and color become less distinct and dramatic as distance increases. Soft edges are the result, but soft edges do not mean imprecise, blurred, or fuzzy edges. This is particularly true on the marsh. The horizon can be very distinct, but it is so close in value among the sky, the water, the tree line, and the distant marsh that the casual glance fails to see the distinction. That is the "problem" I'm facing in my current project. I must create soft edges with precision and keep them from looking fake.

"Refresh with Rain" WIP

Stage 1
This is the first picture - taken to check composition and color foundation. I've found that setting the color of the sky and horizon first creates the "key" for the rest.

Stage 2
Changed some of the composition.  Working on "soft" edges using value and color in the background.

Pastel on gatorboard: 20x16

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cedars with Color

Pastel on Gatorboard, 14x11

To purchase, contact me
This painting was started from beneath the Beach Blvd. bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.  It was raining, and the colors of the salt marsh were spectacular.  The part of the scene that attracted my attention most was the stark contrast between the dark, gray-green cedars with the marsh grasses and coastal shrubs that the rain had turned to brilliant green and gold.

With the rain, I had to do most of this back in the studio, where I could work with edges, colors, and the composition.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Marsh in the Autumn Rain"

Pastel on gatorboard - 14x11


This is a view of the marsh and the Intercoastal Waterway from the access road that goes under the Beach Blvd bridge. I've painted this before. The bridge provides a little shelter when it rains. The gray/purple sky bathes the marsh grass a special light that paints everything in dark, warm gold and brown.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Tide Veiw Park at Low Tide"

Pastel on gatorboard; 14x11

This painting was started on location - en plein air - but the rain chased me in before I could finish.  I finally had time to get back to this and finish it this morning.  The rain was coming in from the northeast, and the tide was completely out which created this drama on the marsh.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"So Many Ways to Go"

Pastel on gatorboard, 14x11


I did this painting on request.  I found this oak tree in the woods near our house.  The old hunting trails go in everywhere direction from here, and the sunlight gets through the trees making the pine straw and fallen leaves sparkle with color.  There are deer tracks everywhere!

Note - October 24, 2011.  The person for whom this was painted, selected another painting instead, so I did some revisions this afternoon.  I tried to punch up the value separations some - I like it better.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Walking the Tide Line"

Pastel on gatorboard, 7x5


This is a small study for a larger work.  I wanted to catch one of the sandpipers as they scurry along the tide line.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Taking Wing"

Pastel on gatorboard, 12x9

Done on commission

People seem to like my sea gulls, and I painted this by request.  The drama of the rolling surf in contrast to the easy, almost careless flight of the gulls is a never ending source of inspiration for me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Standing Tall" and "Come Fly with Me"

"Standing Tall"
Pastel on gatorboard - 8x10

This small painting was done from sketches and segments of a larger work - "October Colors" - done for the Color the Coast paint-out.  This assembly of palm trees in the distance a cross the marsh first caught my eye because some of the palms were much taller than the surrounding oaks and willows.  The morning sum peeked in and out of the clouds, and I wanted to catch the sunlight at that moment.

"Come Fly with Me"
Pastel on gator board - 12x9

It rained most of the day today, but I wanted to finish one more piece for the Color the Coast paint-out.  I had done an earlier work of the waves and sea gulls from the boardwalk at Jax pier.  Using my notes, drawings, and reference photos, I did this painting of three sea gulls taking flight across the surf.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"October Colors"

Pastel on gatorboard, 14x11

Available, click here

Painting will be part of Color the Coast - Ponte Vedra Cultural Center

The paint-out goal for today was Mickler's Landing Beach Park.  The center of the 40 acre property is a fresh water marsh.  The view of the palm trees on the other side across the marsh grass and open water caught my attention.  There were passing showers and a strong north-east wind, but I managed to put down the basics before the rain chased me in.  Pastel doesn't do well when it gets wet.

The bright sun against the approaching storm created the feel of color and drama.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Break in the Storm"

Pastel on gatorboard, 12x9


I painted this scene  from beneath the Atlantic Blvd. Bridge at the ICW.  The clouds were building, and rain was coming, so I set up my easel under the bridge hoping to escape the worst of the weather and still get a painting.  Fortunately, the clouds broke and sun bathed the marsh just south of the bridge.  The sunlight held for nearly an hour, and I was able to get the basics down before it was gone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Who Called This Meeting?"

Pastel on gatorboard, 14x11


It was windy from the north-east, and painting at the beach was a bit of a challenge.  I completed the waves and the sand, but when I tried to add the birds, I kept getting blown about smudging the details.  After about three redo's on the birds, I decided to take it home and finish it inside.  This is the result.

My wife, Patty, suggested the title.  I think it's delightful.  It's as if these birds were just standing in the edge of the surf without any purpose or any activity - so like some of the meetings I had to attend.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Clear, Bright, and Breezy"

Pastel on Gatorboard, 14x11


This painting was done as part of the "Color the Coast" paint out.  It was painted at Dutton Island Preserve.  The tide was out and the air was amazingly clear and bright.  It was an ideal October morning.  By the time I finished, the wind had picked up considerably, and the tide had come in which changed the waterline and destroyed all the reflections.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tidewater Park - beginnings...

Nothing got finished today.  I started at Tideview Park in pastels from the covered shelter - a little rain? no problem. But when the clouds came, it got too dark to see my subject, so I packed up and came home.

This is the view that I started working on.  It is looking north from the covered shelter.  This view is a couple of hundred yards away across the salt marsh.

These are the clouds that built up to the south.

This is why I had to give up.  The shadows took away all distinction.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Dawn Promise"

Pastel on archival board; 12x9


A few days ago I had to drive to the beach early in the morning.  The sun was just coming up, the colors in the sky reflected in the water, the ground fog held to the edges of the salt marsh, and the balance and peace of the scene was spectacular.  I had no time for sketching, but I stopped on the shoulder of the expressway to take a few reference photos.  I wanted to capture the air of stillness, expectancy, and the brilliant colors that promised great things for the day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Path along the Marsh"

Pastel on sanded archival board, 10x8


I have done other paintings of this scene, and I have a number of reference photos, so I revisited it.  It was too hot to paint outside in the afternoon, so I did this painting in anticipation of cooler weather and autumn colors in the marsh.  This painting was done yesterday afternoon/last night and completed this morning in the better light.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Doodlebug, Mayport"

Pastel on sanded Gatorfoam, 14x11


This is view of one of the shrimp boats at Mayport.  This particular view was taken from the ferry while crossing the St. Johns River.  I have taken pictures of these boats several times over the years, but this one, taken some years ago, I found particularly appealing.  The Doodlebug looks as if it has been recently painted, and the yellow band of the wheel house really sets it off.

This is a "quick" sketch done mostly with Rembrandt and NuPastels of self-sanded gatorfoam.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Heading Out"

Pastel on sanded Arches watercolor paper - 14x10
I retouched, updated, and signed this painting today.
This is a view from the Little Jetties, Helen Floyd Park, looking across the San Pablo River / Intercoastal Waterway. This is where the ICW meets the St. Johns River. The channel has cut into the bank on the far side making a dramatic backdrop for the boats as the make their way into the open water. The sea breeze has caught the sail of the nearest boat as he heads out for the day.

This view impressed me with it's dramatic view of the eroded bank, the blue of the water, and the almost overpowering brightness of the sunlight. By mid morning, the sun has burned away the haze, the sea breeze has come up, and a few puffy clouds dot the sky.

"Gap in the Dunes"

Pastel on sanded Gatorfoam - 14x11


This view of the dunes at Talbot Island State Park lead away from the beach into the "wilderness."  The gap between these two dunes gives the hint of a path that I've never had the opportunity to follow.  At the end of the day, the sea breeze has died, the light is low and beginning to fade, and an unusual calm settles over the dunes.

This is a painting on self-sanded gator foam over a burnt sienna undercoat.  I used dark NewPastels for the deeper values and set them in place with denatured alcohol.  I've found that plan works best for me and preserves the accents and drama I am looking for.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"After the Storm"

Two painting from 2009 that I need to put up on my blog.


“After the Storm, a Study in Waves”

Pastel on sanded Arches watercolor paper, 9 ¼ x 13 ¾

Completed, 8/11/2009

To purchase, contact me

In May of 2009, Jacksonville Beach was hit with an unusually intense storm.  After the storm had passes, I made a few sketches and took several reference photographs of the waves.  I wanted to do a large work on a full sheet of Arches paper, but I had not done anything of this nature and size before.  As preparation, I did this preliminary study to become familiar with sanded watercolor paper and the various shades of gray, blue, green, lavender, and yellow that would bring life to the painting.
I was so pleased with the result that I believe it should stand on its own merits.

"After the Storm, Jacksonville Beach"
Pastel on sanded Arches watercolor paper

Size - 29 x 21 1/2

Completed 9-8-2009

To purchase, contact me
When I had done a preliminary pastel paining, "After the Storm - a Study in Waves" which pleased me very much, I rendered this work on a full sheet of Arches paper.
This scene intrigues me because of the complex directions and patterns of the waves, the subtlety of the veiled sunlight on the stormy water, and the churned sand near the beach

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Ft. George Companions"

Pastel on gatorfoam, 9x12


These two palms stand by themselves on a small hammock in the salt marsh at Ft. George Island.  In the late afternoon, the hazy light suppresses the distance but brings the foreground into sharp color and values.

I have painted these two trees a number of times, but I never tire of their simple beauty and substance.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Marsh in October Colors"

Oil on stretched canvas, 9x12


The muhly grass brings in the pink color in waves before the rest of the autumn colors fade.  This is a color study of those colors in oil from some earlier works and reference photos.  The feel in October is one of expectation and dazzle.

This painting was done with larger brushes to limit the detail in order to emphasize the color and drama.

Pines of Dutton Island Preserve

Oil on Masonite - 14x11

To purchase, contact me

This painting is a view of the salt marsh across the Intercoastal Waterway.  I have shown this picture a couple of times under the title “Pines at Dutton Island Preserve.”  This was one of my first paintings Done plein air with the First Coast Plein Air Painters.  I have painted this scene a number of times since then, but sadly two of the picturesque trees on the left of the island have died and disappeared.

I am posting this painting here because some have expressed interest in this scene and in my work, and I wanted to bring it out again.

I have returned to this scene a number of times because of the combination of the lonely pines, the reflections in the water, and the sense of stillness and openness that characterize the salt marsh.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Using EconoSpace with Pastels

These photos illustrate the use of EconoSpace frame spacers with pastel paintings.

Spacers attacked to the glass.  This one is to frame a work 14x11.

The glass is placed on top of the painting - spacers between painting and glass.

Finished frame with EconoSpace spacers.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Using Econospace Frame Spacers

This is the Tips Sheet provided with EconoSpace frame spacers.  I have found them very easy and effective for framing pastels that are done or mounted to gatorfoam board.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Saltbush Path"

Oil on Masonite panel - 14x11


I needed the frame that this painting was in for something else, so decided to take it down and put it up on E-Bay. It was done in '06, but I added some retouch this afternoon.

This is a plein air painting I did of a path beside the marsh and through the live oaks.  In October, the saltbush puts on spectacular show of fluffy white heads.  This path gets a little wet at high tide, so I had to hurry to get down the basics and finish it at home.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Standing Guard"

Pastel on sanded Gatorfoam, 11x14

To purchase, click here

This solitary palm tree seems to stand guard over an old path through the dunes at Ponte Vedra.  Boardwalks have been built for dune access, and the old paths are "off limits."  It's as if this palm tree stands watch to keep beach-goers off his path.

This painting was done on gessoed and sanded gatorfoam.  I neglected to sand the gesso before I added the pumice sand gel coat.  This made the surface rougher that I expected, and I almost threw the piece out.  I kept going anyway, and I really like the effect of the undercoat showing through - especially in the sky.

We have an older pastel that I did a year or two ago that has this same motif and design.  Patty wanted me to do another one with brighter colors - so here it is.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Over the Dune"

Pastel on sanded gatorboard - 14x11


The sugar white sand of the Gulf beaches and the spectacular green of the sea oats have always captured my attention.  This view of the Gulf is from the top of the dunes at Cape San Blas state park.  I have drawn and photographed this particular view a number of times, and I have done other painting from this position looking in the other direction.  I don't know why I've never painted this view before.

The gatorboard was given two coats of acrylic gesso, then two coats of pumice gel with acrylic burnt sienna.  The surface has enough texture that the undercoat show through in places.  That "peeking through" lends warmth and contrast to the greens.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Sunshine Choices"

Pastel on sanded Gatorfoam - 14x11


In October, the muhly grass is spectacular along the marsh.  It is especially colorful at the Little Jetties Park.  This painting is the result of earlier drawings and photographs of a path that follows the edge of the marsh. 

This painting was done at a place where the path divides.  One branch continues next to the marsh.  The other goes through the groves of cedar and palm trees.  Either choice is good.

At the close of yesterday, I took what I had done out in the yard and hosed it off.  Yesterday was filled with frustration.  This is the same panel, new undercoat, new color, and sand, and voila!

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Leaving Together"

Oil on canvas panel, 12x9


These sea gulls are a selection from a series of photos of a massive flight of gulls that have been my inspiration in several other works.  A large flock of gulls came and settled on the sand just where I was drawing and taking pictures.  I took a few pictures for reference.  Then the whole flock of dozens took flight together.  The light was right, the surf was great, I was in the right place... it doesn't get better that this.

I have pulled five gulls from the flock for this piece. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Still Water in the Channel"

Oil on canvas panel - 14x11


I have drawn, painted, and photographed this old boat channel in the salt marsh from many angles and at different times.  This is a view looking across the still water.  It is in the morning, the sun is well up, but the sea breeze has not yet come.  The brightness and soft winter colors add to the air of tranquility.

I first did this painting last winter, but it needed something more.  I've touched it up a bit, and like the result very much.  I changed the name for "Boat Channel III" to "Still Water in the Channel."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Afternoon Shadows" Repost

Oil on RayMar canvas panel - 8x6

On several occasions, I've painted this view of the old draw bridge across the salt marsh. I am always intrigued by the subtlety of the colors and the softness of the horizon. Unfortunately, this draw bridge has been replaced by a larger, permanent span, but my old drawings and reference photos keep me coming back