Monday, November 12, 2012

"Perfectly Balanced, Job 37:16"

Pastel on sanded Arches, 21x14

In this painting, I have tried to capture the scene of clouds rolling in over the salt marsh.  When I did the preliminary work for this painting, a front was moving in as the tide was going out.  Late in the day, the clouds were suffused with color, and that color is reflected in the wet sand and mud left by the retreating tide.

 Though the clouds were laden with the coming rain, they charged across the sky holding their weight in perfect balance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Northeaster Coming"

Pastel on Wallis, 12x9

This painting is a view of the salt marsh from the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine.  The First Coast Pastel Society had a paint out there, and a northeaster was brewing.  Scattered clouds passed in succession, and the brisk breeze kept the water charged with broken and ruffled reflections of the sky.

This view of an oak and palm hammock in the marsh caught my attention.  The trees have obviously weathered many such days, and were sculptured by the wind.  The tops of the trees have grown away from the dense undergrowth letting the pale sky peek through, which sets the darkness of the trees against the clear, bright green of the marsh.

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Expecting Rain"

Pastel on Wallis, 12x9
This picture was painted at the Barbara Jaenicke workshop in Greenville, S.C. One of the primary things I wanted to learn in this workshop was how Barbara managed her edges and colors. With her help, I came a long way toward managing those key elements of pastel painting.

This painting was done from a photograph of an oak tree on the edge of the marsh. I made some changes in the undergrowth and in the placement of the tree against the background. I moved the colors away from the uniform green of the photo and replaced most of the green with oranges, yellows, purples, and blue.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Between Showers"

Pastel on UArt, 12x12

I have painted several views of this salt marsh at Tide View Preserve, but this painting was the result of my first opportunity to paint there when the tide was full.  At low tide, the view of these two palms is completely different, and there is only a little trickle of water.  I was impressed with the dramatic reflections, but I struggled with the composition and balance.  I finally cropped the painting from 12x18 to 12x12 to eliminate the distractions.

I changed some of the values and added deeper shadows among the underbrush, darkened the water, and cropped the painting to 12x12.  I am pleased with the result and the square format.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"After the Shower"

Pastel on UArt, 9x6, en plein air

The First Coast Pastel Society joined the First Coast Plein Air Painters for a paint out at Tide Veiw Preserve, a local park with board walks over the salt marsh. This piece was painted between passing showers and intermittent clouds and sunshine.

This piece was painted using a limited pallet in order to emphasize the clear, bright colors of the salt marsh. I used purple and lavender to tone the green especially in the distance and in the shadows. At the end of summer, the spartina is so green and yellow that it is almost blinding when it is washed by rain.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Morning Song"

Pastel on Canson Touch, 14x10

In late August on the marsh, the rising sun orchestrates a song for the morning.  The clear light creates the harmony by mixing the blazing, bright color of the day with the soft, muted tones of the shadows and distance.  At this time of year, the spartina grass is an intense green of almost blinding purity, and the tips of the long blades begin to turn to a golden yellow.  The taller cord grass begins to fade with touches of red and light brown.  When the tide is high early in the day, the water is like a mirror for the grass and distant trees.  The sky has a few fluffy, indistinct clouds that lose themselves in pink and lavender near the horizon.

I have set out to capture that image and atmosphere in this picture.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Morning Shadows"

Pastel on Wallis, 16x12

Occasionally my wife and I have breakfast in a little restaurant near our house, and afterwards we like to walk on the beach before we start the day. One morning last week, we came to this scene of the blazing sun rising above the low clouds casting brilliant shadows of the old fences on the sand. There was no wind, and the calm surf lay sparkling to the horizon. The sharp sunlight seemed to draw me past the shadows to the beach ahead. I have tried to capture that atmosphere and experience with this picture.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

After the Easel

Sunset from yesterday over the central Texas prairie - no particular importance to what I want to say, but I like the picture.

What happens after the easel?

I would like to see an article or a series of articles on the mechanics of what to do after completing a painting with pastels – when the painting leaves the easel

No one I know has someone waiting to take the finished picture to a professional photographer and then to a framer who will than whisk the famed piece to a gallery where it will stay for a week or two before it ends up on the wall of a collector’s home or office. Most of these tasks are the work of the artist, and they are just as important to the process of selling our paintings as creating them in the first place.

Here is a list of some of the things that I have to face and would like all the information I can get:

• Mats and matting, importance of acid free, acid neutral, etc.

• What to do if one cuts their own mats

• Framing without mats and the advantages, disadvantages

• Frame considerations for unmatted pictures

• Glass types and glazing considerations

• Kinds of frames and frame terms such as “plein air,” rabbit, etc.

• Consideration in selecting a frame for the best presentation of a particular picture

• Differences of framing for a show as compared to a gallery

• Photographing one’s work

• Creating an accurate and usable catalog of completed pictures and making it work for identifying and tracking one’s paintings

• Accounting of expenses and revenue for tax purposes

• Keeping accurate records of expenses and sales and being prepared for tax accounting

• What to do with paintings that aren’t framed – storing finished paintings when framing them is not practical, the use of glassine and storage folders, drawers, boxes, etc.

• Fixatives and considerations for their use

• Building and keeping a resume – what’s important and what’s not

One additional issue that I would like to see addressed is why galleries do or do not feature pastel paintings. With only a few exceptions, my observation is that pastels are rarely prominent or plentiful in galleries. I would like to know why this is and what can be done about it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Quiet Promise"

Pastel on Canson Touch, 14x10

In the early morning, the calm air and quiet waves give only a promise of the sea breeze that is to come - thus the title of the paining.

In the heat of the day, the wind and surf rise along with the temperature.  What I have tried to capture is the calm, quiet peacefulness of the beach before the day begins.  In those few moments, the colors are clear and the values are crisp.  Purple lingers in the shadows for a while before the blaze of the sun burns it away.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Thru the Sea Oats, III"

Pastel on Wallis, 9x6


This picture is a view from the top of the dunes at Cape San Blas State Park.  The blue of the water and the blazing white of the sand are always spectacular, and in the mid-summer, the sea oats add their greens and golds to the vista.

I have done this scene before, but doing it in pastels offers new opportunities, new pallet, and new challenges.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Storm Tide, Color on Gray"

Pastel on Wallis, 12x9

When the summer storms come at high tide, the waves push almost into the dunes. The colors among the sea oats are their purest after the rain.

This painting was inspired by a photo of the beach after a summer storm.  The high tide the night before had washed sea weeds into the base of the dunes.  As the sun was starting to come up, the sea oats were awash with color, and the grays of the storm grew muted by purple.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Windy July, Sea Oats"

Sumi ink on paper, 9x12

As an exercise, I use sumi ink on "rice" paper. The nature of the ink, brush, and paper force me to discipline my mind while I release my expression and motions.

In July, the sea oats hold their heads high and bend their long stems in unison to the sea breeze.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Palm on the Water, II"

Pastel on UArt, 9x12


This picture of a single palm tree standing straight and proud on the edge of the marsh is a representation of a palm that I have used several times in other paintings.  It is near a group of palms but stands separate from them closer to the water as if it is the rear guard protecting the grove from the incoming tide. 

The haze of the late afternoon mutes the greens of the distant pines and oaks with shades of gray and lavender while the sky and water are painted with gold and purple.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Palm on the Water, I"

Pastel on UArt, 9x12

This is an image of a single palm tree that stretches its curved form over a bend in an old boat channel through the salt marsh.  In the late afternoon, the distance fades to lavender, but the foreground blazes with color

I started this painting with Chinese ink on UArt paper.  The use of the ink and brush help me simplify and solidify the design.  Then I added color and "drama" with pastels.

This is the beginning design in Chinese ink.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Guardian

Pastel on Arches, 14x18

This painting is available, $250.00.  If interested, contact me.

This pine tree towers above the open meadow by the pond at the Arboretum.  This piece was originally done en plein air at the "Brush with Nature" paint-out.  Since the painting did not find a new home, I took the liberty to touch up the shadows and the highlights at Patty's suggestion.  The result speaks for itself.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July Palms

Pastel, Ink, and Watercolor
on Wallis Pro - 5.5x8.5

Palm trees and the salt marsh have become a favority theme for me.  These two paintings of palm trees on the salt marsh were done by doing a sketch in Chinese ink, shading and coloring it with watercolor, and then adding the values, color, and detail with pastels.

This project started with sketches on my white board.

Both painting have been sold.

 Then I added the Chinese ink in broad outlines of the subject.

Next I added the color tones and suggestions with watercolor.

Finally, this is what the whole process looked like.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Thru the Oak Thicket"

Pastel on UArt 600, 9x12

To purchase on E-Bay, click here.

The woodland in front of Pablo Bay will be developed in the next year, and all the trees will be gone.  This painting was done from a photo I took some weeks ago, but the photo was out of focus. 

I've taken some license with the photo and added my own expression.  I pushed some of the color and the values and added detail where it seemed to be needed.  This small piece was done with the possibility that it could be developed into a larger work.

This picture was up on E-Bay under a different title - "Path to St. Paul's 1" - and did not sell.  I went back and punched up the shadows with some purple and lavender.  I removed the original photo and replaced it with the update, changed the name of the painting, and lowered the price.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Sunlight Center Stage"

Pastel on sanded Arches - 21x14

When I matted and framed this piece, I realized that the design of the foreground did not draw the eye of the viewer into the focal point, the sunlight in the center middle ground.  I revised this painting for a third time - changing the foreground to remove the branch to the right. I am much more pleased with this design and its effect.

I wanted to convey the warmth of the summer in the marsh, but I also wanted to capture the fleeting light and shadows as the ray of sunlight light fell on the cord grass and spartina. In order to make that statement, I moved from my earlier green green pallet for the spartina to a more autumn pallet to add yellows and browns to the grass. The light falling in the center makes the broad scene more accessible and much more dramatic.

As I worked on this painting through its several revisions and through the change in camera, my goal has been to present this scene to convey my praise the the Lord, the Creator.  On the back of this painting I have written the words, "to the praise of His glory."  I want this to be the theme of what I do.

This is the first revision of the painting I posted in June.  I redid the foreground on this piece from what I published late last month.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Sunlight on Center Stage"

Pastel on Sanded Arches - 21.5x14.5

Every now and then a painting starts as one subject and "morphs" into something entirely different.  I assembled the composition for this piece from several photos and previous paintings of the salt marsh.  What I originally envisioned was an emphasis on pine trees across the marsh, but as I worked on the lighting and values, the cord grass took center stage.  I believe this was an exercise in values and color that really stretched my experience and imagination.

To purchase, contact me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Mayo Marsh" - Work In Progress

Pastel on sanded Arches - 21x14.5

I completely wiped out the bottom 2/3 of the picture and started over.  Actually, I came really close to putting this one aside and starting something new, but there were parts of this and the vision I wanted to present that drew me back.  Here is the revised design and plan.  We will see where this leads.  It's still to cool in temp and "green" in hue.

Not much time to work today - I've had better days....
Added more color and definition.  Added trees as the center of interest.  My vision is to have the foreground in shadow from clouds with sunlight on the center middle distance.
At this stage, it looks a little ThomasHartBenton-esque.

Added the basic color for the marsh grasses using mostly NuPastels and Rembrandts. The harder pastels seem to cover and blend well at this stage of painting. I'm thinking of a title - "Pink and Green"... not!

Added deep purple for the basic shapes of the darkest values and blocked them in with denatured alcohol. The sky is roughed in with NuPastels and a few Rembrandts - yellows, ultramarine, and lavender

Initial sketch - orange pastel outline, sprayed with fixative.
Started a larger painting, and I'll document the work as it progresses. I'm falling in love all over again with NuPastels.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"The Stairs of St. Barnabas"

Pastel on UArt - 8.5x5.5

Whenever Barnabas is mentioned, he is helping or accompanying another in the work of the gospel.  These are called the “the Stairs of St. Barnabas” because the pathway leads from the fields, and the stairs aid the weary laborers up the last steep slope to the level road beyond.  So it is in life – when weary with the work we must do, how welcome it is to have a Barnabas to come and help or just to walk beside us.
This piece was done on UArt using only NuPastels.  I like the combination of the hard pastels with the texture of the UArt paper.  I planned this painting to work out the design, values, and colors for a larger work.
I am debating how to offer this painting for sale.  If you are interested, contact me

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Tide Water Afternoon II"

Pastel on UArt, 8x5.5


This is an image I have done before.  The view is from the board walk over the marsh at Tide View Park.  Looking north in the late afternoon, with the tide going out, the marsh puts on a great display of oranges and purple.  The heat of the day begins to fall, the moving tide and wind ruffle the water.  What more could I want?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"St. Paul's Gate"

Pastel on UArt, 12x9

Private Collection

For this painting, I have tried something new - at least, new for me. 

I pass a set of gates every day that inspired me to do this piece.  I have taken quite a bit of license in the design, color, and placement of the objects, and I added the Pauline symbols of the open book and sword to the front of the gate.  I tried to emphasize the light on the path to represent Paul's experience with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus as a reminder for me and inspiration to everyone.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Scurrying Light and Shadows"

Pastel on Sanded Arches, 18x14

To purchase, click here.

7/10/2012 - Accepted to the Degas Pastel Society's Fourteenth Biennial National Exhibition.

I started this scene from the edge of San Pablo Parkway near the Mayo Clinic.  A small tidal stream passes under the parkway and through this bay of salt marsh edged by pine trees and hardwood.  The afternoon sun passed in and out of the broken clouds sending patches of light and shadow scurrying over the marsh.

This piece was done on 140 lb. Arches hot press to which I have added a coat of acrylic gesso and a coating of pumice gel.  In an earlier blog, I documented my process, but between the beginning of this piece and finishing it today, we have moved my wife's parents from Panama City to Jacksonville and gotten them mostly situated in a new apartment.  There is still much to be done for them, but hopefully I can get back to my studio.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Marsh at Mayo" WIP

Pastel 18x14 on sanded Arches

Work in progress.

These are the steps I take in putting together a studio work in pastel.  I document this as much to help my own memory as to share my ideas.

1. Crop photo to proportions

2. Do a formal sketch to scale to correct design and verify proportions and placement of objects.

3. Transfer proportional drawing to Arches paper marked at the intersections of the register lines.  for this I use an orange pastel pencil.

4. I rough in the sky.  Then I add the deepest values with a dark purple NuPastel - #244 which I then wash in with denatured alcohol.

5. Design issues - I'm not liking the cedar tree on the right, and I'm having trouble getting the color and value to look "right."  I've rubbed out what I had and I'm debating about putting it back in or leaving it out altogether.  In the meantime, I will go on to the foreground and the water.

6. Most everything is in - just some details in the foreground to finish.  At this point, I want to give it a rest and come back to it in a few hours.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Pond Colors"

Pastel on Sanded Arches - 5x7


This painting started life as a watercolor that needed help, so I coated it with sanded gel and redid the problems with pastel.  I am very pleased with the result.

The scene is one from a sketch and reference photos from the Arboretum paint out.  Early and late in the day, the sun casts the background in shadows but pours bright sunlight on the outer and higher branches of the trees next to the pond.  This gives me the opportunity to deal with values by changing the colors, using deep purple for the dark greens and grays.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Evening Passage"

Pastel on UArt - 9x12

In this painting, I wanted to capture the glories of the evening sky over the salt marsh, but I did not want to simply paint the clouds.  The colors of the marsh grass, the pine trees, and the thick undergrowth all contribute to the sense of stillness and wonder.  The last of the falling tide reflects the sky and the tall pines that frame this scene.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Low Tide, Late Day"

Pastel on Self-sanded Arches, 9x7


This is a study made from notes, drawings, and reference photos taken at Tide View Park.  The tide was completely out and the afternoon was passing quickly when I began these notes and drawings.  This painting was done as a value / color statement in preparation for a larger work.  The drama of the scene is accented as the sand turn lavender and blue and the oysters stand out against the reflections.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Early Start"

Pastel on Arches - 8.5x6.5


This was a quick "sketch" to capture a fleeting impression.  I did this painting from a single reference photo and some notes.  The picture was taken across the bay from Cape San Blas while I was on an outing there with my father-in-law to renew our memories of younger days spent fishing at this place.

The colors and time of day are the early morning before the sun us up.  Everything is still, and the distant shore and the sky are purple and gold.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Brush with Nature - Paintings

"Bright Green, Deep Shadows"

Pastel on Arches 12x9


I did a practice run at the Arboretum this morning (note from 3/28/12) in preparation for A Brush With Nature. In the early morning, the sun catches the east end of the pond in a blaze of back lighting on the trees next to the water. The woods behind are still in deep shadows. I had to work quickly because by midday the sun light washes all this into an even shade of bright, overpowering green.

The challenge for this piece was making the background shadows something other than just dark, so I used purple and lavender to contrast the bright green on the bank and walkway.

"Patriarchs of the Hill"

Pastel on Arches 12x14

I did a preliminary sketch of this clump of oak trees on Monday in preparation for the paint-out.  What captured my attention was the dark trees against the light background accented with the light gray Spanish moss.  When I started the painting on Friday morning, the sunlight fell on the trees in the foreground making them light against a dark background.  By lunch time when I was starting to wrap up the painting, the values had completely shifted to what I originally envisioned.  So I wiped out most of what I had done and redid the values.  I much prefer this result.

"Guardian of the Meadow"

Pastel on Arches 14x18

I did a preliminary sketch of this composition on Monday afternoon for preparation for the ABWN paint-out, and on Thursday afternoon, I did the preliminary work on the painting.  I had to wait until Friday afternoon to complete the work, because I wanted to catch the low light coming from the right of the piece, and I wanted to set my easel in the shade to work.

This solitary pine tree towers above all the other trees in the open meadow by the lake.  It even stand much taller that the trees in the background.  It is this towering majesty in a peaceful setting that I have tried to capture.  The path bends across the meadow as it passes this tree, and dives into the woods to again.

"Morning Tranquility"

Pastel on Arches - 17.5x 14


On Thursday morning, I returned to the spot where I painted "Bright Green, Deep Shadows" to do a larger version, but the light changed before I finished, so I covered the painting intending to come back the next day.  On Friday, several other people beat me to this spot, so I went to do the "Patriarchs of the Hill."  On Saturday, I came back early and finished this piece just as the news came that a rain storm was coming fast.  As I was packing to leave, one of the event volunteers came by and bought the painting while it was still on the easel.

I got out just as it started to rain, took the painting home, matted and framed it, and hurried back.  I took it into the wet tent through a pouring rain (no pun intended), and the purchaser met me there.  She was so thrilled to get this piece that she had arranged for her husband to meet her there to take the painting home right away.

I was in such a hurry to get the painting famed and under glass that this is the only photo I was able to take.  This was my wife's favorite of my work for this event.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Bright Green, Deep Shadows"

Pastel on sanded Arches cold press - 12x9

Painting sold 1st day of A Brush With Nature

I did a practice run at the Arboretum this morning in preparation for A Brush With NatureIn the early morning, the sun catches the east end of the pond in a blaze of back lighting on the trees next to the water.  The woods behind are still in deep shadows.  I had to work quickly because by midday the sun light washes all this into an even shade of bright, overpowering green.

The challenge for this piece was making the background shadows something other than just dark, so I used purple and lavender to contrast the bright green on the bank and walkway.