Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mrs. B.'s Yellow House, November

Pastel on self-sanded Arches, 16x20 (Revision, 2015 12 14)

When I first saw this house on a gravel road not far from Harlan, Iowa, I knew I had to paint it.  The house is such a brilliant yellow and sits alone on the corner of country roads.  The November fields were already bare, but the golden and rust of the harvest still remained.  In the mid-morning sun, the long shadows of late fall paint a pattern on the lawn and across the road.

After looking at the 16x20 version for a few days, I decided to crop the painting to 8x20.  This version includes all the important information ans adds the feeling of width and space that I wanted.  The part of the painting I worked the longest and hardest on is the foreground which I could never feel was right.  It seemed to dominate rather than support the image of the house.

Pastel on self-sanded Arches, 16x20 (Original Version)

This is the original version - more true to the photograph but "missing something."

 Design Change

Redoing the design with a black and white print and a scissors - removing the bridge and the back ground to do some radical changes to the background.

I dropped the horizon and roughed in the plan for the broad fields and low hill in the background - will work out details of the road and perspective later.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nishna Greenway, November

Pastel, 14x18 on self-sanded board

In the late afternoon, the sunlight floods between the trees and timber on the old roadway that runs on top of the south levee at Nishna Bend Park near my hometown of Harlan, Iowa.  Almost all the leaves are gone from the trees, and the tall grass has turned to rust and gold, but the short grass on the greenway still blazes with color and life. In this painting I have tried to capture some of the multitude of contrasts for this time of the year - contrasts in color, in value, in temperature, in line, and in direction.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bottom of the Field, November

Pastel 10x14,  on self-sanded board

November can be a time of beauty and drama in the hidden corners of the empty fields.  The long shadows of late afternoon stretch across the stubble of the harvested corn field.  The grass on the edge of the field is still vibrant green against the dark, leafless trees.  The weather is still not cold, and it's as if in expectation of winter, the bottom land next to the river puts on one last show.
I constructed this surface and design using what I learned from Tom Christopher in his workshop.  Thanks, Tom.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Autumn Sea Oats

Pastel 9.5x14 on self-textured Gatorboard

Tom Christopher workshop - first studio piece.  Using Tom's instruction for texturing Gatorboard and emphasizing values, I developed this painting from a photograph of the sea oats on the low dunes at Jacksonville Beach.  My objective was to capture the textures and color of the sea oats on an early November morning.  The green of summer has been replaced with rust and gold in the early autumn light.
Photograph from my phone.  I will take another, more formal photograph after the workshop.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Off the Path

Day 1 Tom Christopher Workshop, Pastel 9x12

This is my first painting done in the Tom Christopher workshop.  I determined to do as much of this painting following the guidelines from his demonstration and personal instructions.  My challenge of working in the deep woods in Florida is to avoid being overcome by the color green.  The instruction Tom gave was to work with values first then color and to let my movements and marks be more free and gestural.  This is the result.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Marsh Colors, Autumn

Pastel, 9x12
My desire with this painting is to present the colors of autumn in the early morning.  In that brief moment as day waits before the sun climbs into the sky, the colors on the marsh seem to blaze with an inner fire.  The shadows are muted and indistinct, and the sharp details are diminished to bring the whole scene into a sense of expectation for the day ahead.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Marsh Vista, Study 1, Ps. 107:8

Pastel, 7.5x10 on Wallis

This painting is a composite of a number of views of the salt marsh near the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.  I have tried to capture the sense of space and calm that this vista inspires drawing my attention to the beauty of God’s creation.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:8
I executed this painting with different values of pure primary and secondary colors - very few grays were used.
I took a new photo and updated the image, October 28, 2015.
To purchase this painting, click on Daily Paintworks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cedars with Color - Revisited

Pastel on sanded Gatorboard - 11x14

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.
I originally completed this painting in November 2011.  It received so much attention recently on Facebook that I had to give it another look.  I have retouched parts of it, and brought it out again. 

To purchase click on Daily Paintworks.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Alpine Plantation - Gray and Breezy

Pastel, 12x9, Plein air

The First Coast Pastel Society held their monthly paint-out at the Alpine Groves Park.  This old plantation house has been restored, and the view of the back door and porch intrigued me with the dark oaks behind it and the huge dead tree covered in grape vines in the foreground.  The weather was overcast, cool, and a little breezy - altogether a perfect day for painting.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lake Ray, September Colors

Pastel 12x9 - Plein air

When I started this painting in the early morning, the sky was a slate-gray overcast.  As I worked, the clouds broke in patches.  The gray became lighter and the shadows lost their depth and mystery, but the colors remained gray and muted.  A light breeze kept the lake from being smooth making the reflections vibrant and soft.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Autumn Dunes

Pastel 6x9 on UArt 320

As the summer has ended and the autumn has come to the beach, the sea oats and other grasses adopt the colors of fall.  In an effort to get more vibrant color into this painting, I started with a turquoise undercoat which I have permitted to show through in places.  I was hoping that the brilliance of the underpaint would set the tone and help instruct my color choices for the rest of the painting. I chose a view at low tide with a wide beach and the surf far away.  I deliberately understated the beach and surf in the background and left the sky without clouds order to emphasize the contrast and colors of the late summer grass and bushes on the dunes.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September Wave

Pastel, 6x8 on UArt 320

At the end of summer, the prevailing wind turns to the southwest, and the swells come in from a flat ocean.  They normally break in regular succession on the beach, but every so often a large sell comes in and rolls over the smaller waves that have come before.  I call these "September Waves."

9/22/15 - My wife Patty observed that I needed something to fill the big empty void in the middle of the painting.  After some thought, I agreed and added some sea gulls.  I like the addition.

I you are interested in purchasing this painting, please click on Daily Paintworks.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Beach Colors 2

Pastel, 8x8 on Wallis

This is an interpretation and expression of the small dunes that edge the beach.  The sea oats stand without formation until the wind comes up and pushes them all in the same direction.

To purchase, contact me.  Painting is in GNG, St. Augustine, FL.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dune Expressions

Original photo - problem with the camera and setting

Second photo with better camera and more precise colors

Pastel, 6x9

This painting is a representation of the view through the dunes to the beach.  The sun is bright and the wind is brisk.  The clear light turns all the colors up a notch.  I did this small study to test my design and color selections for a larger painting.

To purchase, visit my entry at Daily Paintworks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Marsh Expectation

Pastel, 9x12

This painting represents a challenge to take a portion of a photograph - in this case a very small portion - and to emphasize the design elements and simplify the palette.  No bright greens were used in this painting with the expectation that other colors and values would suggest the marsh grass in this vista.
This painting was executed in the Lyn Asselta workshop, and she's the one who took all the bright green out of my box!  Thanks for raising my expectations.

To purchase, go to my Daily PaintWorks.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Lyn Asselta Workshop

Lyn Asselta Workshop, Making the Most of Photographic Reference Material

I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in a Lyn Asselta workshop with six other members of the First Coat Pastel Society.  The subject and emphasis of this was turning our reference photos into better paintings.  Here are the results.

I want to thank Lyn Asselta for her patience and unrelenting push to make us better in what we love to do.

Day 1 - the pre-workshop assignment was to do a field study of a scene and bring a photo in color and B&W of the view we painted.  Using that study and the photo our first in-class assignment was to produce another quick study of the same scene making any changes that seemed necessary.  Unfortunately, I later spilled coffee on both those paintings. Trust me, no great loss.

The rest of the day was devoted to creating a larger version of the study.

Day 1, Study 1 - Salt Marsh Reflections, 9x12

Day 2

For this study, I took the same photo and selected one portion that I thought provided a good design and potential.  We did a number of drawings, value reductions, and notans to come up with our "best" design.

As I was starting this painting, Lyn took away all my bright green pastels - how can I do a salt marsh in summer without green?!!!!

 Day 2, Study 2 - Salt Marsh Distance, 9x12

 Day 3

Using the same photo, we started with a small study of the design from Day 2 done entirely from memory.

Day 3, Study 3, Salt Marsh Memory, 6x6

Using another photo in color, Lyn gave us 2 minutes to study the photo and then 15 minutes to paint a small study,

Day 3, Study 4, Beach Dunes,  5x5

For the next four paintings, we were to choose a specific, limited palette, and paint the same image as Study 3 from memory.  Here are the results.

Day 3, Study 5, Split Complements - Blue, red-orange, and yellow-green

 Day 3, Study 6, Complements - mauve (reddish purple) and green

Day 3, Study 7, Monochrome - Blue - Dark values

Day 3, Study 8, Warm tones of limited palette

By the end of the day, I was dragging, but I believe that the last effort was the most successful of the small exercises.  


Thursday, August 6, 2015

"Low Tide, color sketch"

Pastel on Wallis, 6x9

I did this color sketch at Tide View Park. I wanted to capture the color of the grass and simple reflections against gray-purple sand of the marsh.  When I stopped with this sketch after 30 minutes, the tide had completely covered the sand.  Paint the shore line first, because it is what changes most quickly.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Beach in Dawn Colors

Pastel, 6x9

Even in the winter, the rising sun paints the sky and the beach in radiant color.  I have tried to capture those colors with this view of Jacksonville Beach just before the sun comes up.  In the chilly days of February as the rain passes and day begins, the sense of stillness and color is exceptionally vibrant.  The dampness deepens all the colors of the winter grasses, and the rising light paints the shadows on the sand with deep purple.

To purchase, click on Daily Paintworks

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Beach Way, A Study

Pastel over ink and watercolor, 5x7

Along Neptune Beach, the low dunes are punctuated with paths that have provided access to the beach for years, the paths are well marked with the footprints of others who have come this way.  With the breaking clouds, the beach beckons with a clear invitation.

To purchase, click here for Daily Paintworks

Gray Day, A Study

Pastel over ink and watercolor, 5x7

This is my view of the walkway to the beach from Walnut Avenue in Neptune Beach.  The day was gray and mostly overcast and the wind was steady and strong from the south west.  The waving sea oats and the soft light give the scene a feeling that heavy weather is coming.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Evening Walk, Study

Pastel on UArt 240 - 6x9

The last light of the day paints the sky with gold and lavender which is reflected in the wet sand and broken waves.  The beach is nearly deserted in the evening after the tourists and families with children have gone. As the light falls and the temperature drops, this is the perfect time to come out for a stroll on the beach.  

To purchase, click on the DPW Link.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Palm Bay

Pastel on UArt, 12x12

I did this painting to express the sense of stillness and calm that surrounds the slow moving stream as it enters the salt marsh.  On the banks of the stream at the edge of the deep oak forest, the palm trees grow tall and straight.  It is as if these palms guard the entrance to the higher ground, and in the heat of the day, they appear to stand all that much taller.  As the clouds begin to form in the early afternoon, they diffuse the light and cast passing shadows over the marsh.

To purchase painting, visit my Daily Paintworks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Palm Bay, Study

Watercolor over Ink, 7x7

In this view, I have tried to capture the sense of the expanse of the marsh as it appears through the opening between the groves of palms where the fresh empties into the marsh.  The summer haze softens the colors and edges of the distance but intensifies the nearby shadows.  I did this painting as a study in preparation of a larger work, but I like it enough to let it stand on its own.

To purchase, click on Daily Paintworks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Watercolor 7x5

While away from home this week, I was able to complete this small watercolor view of Lake Ray at the Jacksonville Arboretum.  The foundation for the painting was a photo on my phone from a recent paint-out, but the final work was done as a reconstruction of memories.  It is from those memories that I assigned this piece the title, "Remembered."  I gave this painting with deep gratitude to my son and his family for their most gracious hospitality during our visit.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Marker Palms

Watercolor, gouache over ink on paper, 7x5

This small work is an view through the dunes to the beach. The path is marked by these two palm trees.  The painting was done with water media over an ink drawing.  I find working that way solidifies my ideas and focuses my vision.

To purchase, click on Daily Paintworks.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Off-Shore Wind

Pastel on UArt 400 6x9

This painting started as another test of UArt, but when I finished the basics of the main wave, I stepped back to check my progress thinking to add detail in the waves in the foreground and horizon, but I stopped. I was captivated by the contrast to the wave as it is and the almost abstract minimum of detail that remains.
This painting will not be offered for sale - I plan to keep this piece as a reminder to myself of what I can do with fewer details.

Painting can also be seen on Daily Paintworks

Thursday, May 21, 2015

UArt Surface Test

I received notification of the UArt Online Competition, and in order to enter, I needed something done on UArt Sanded Pastel Paper.  I nave a number of different grit grades, but I wanted to understand the comparative properties, so I did a test.  
I set up four (4) 6x9 sheets of paper on a board, and worked a simple still life with the same image on each sheet.  On the top left is 240 grit, top right 320 grit, bottom left 400 grit, and bottom right 600 grit.

I started with a Vine Charcoal Outline.

 I usually start with the outline, work and rework it until I'm satisfied, and then take most of it out with a kneaded eraser.  All 4 grits worked well and left a faint outline for the color.

Next I added some color using hard and semi-hard pastels.  I wanted to compare coverage between the papers. 

Next I added softer pastels to see the blending characteristics.

The next step in this test for me was the addition of contrasting colors, purple and blue, and shading to see how it reacted with the different papers.

I then added some contrasts, turquoise and blue, for the background to see how they would react across the different textures.

My reactions and decisions:

1. The 400 and 600 grits work best for me in the style to which I have become accustomed.

2.  In the 400 and 600, edges were easier for me to create and disguise.

3.  Blending of colors is easier and more predictable in the 400 and 600. The coarser grits do not blend in the same way for the effects I try to achieve, but they do take the pastel and hold it well.

4.  Erasing the pastel is more difficult the in the more coarse papers.

5.  All of the papers have a distinct linear texture running across the paper surface.  With more pastel it covers well, but with light touches, the texture is visible.  I do not find this objectionable, but it is something I need to keep in mind as I am working.

I may try to work the 600 grit into a final picture, but the others will go in the box as "experimental."

Monday, May 18, 2015

First Light, Jax Beach

Pastel 6x9

When the eastern sky begins to show color and the light of the coming day rises, the dunes are suffused with color and contrast.  The deep shadows retreat and are replaced with lighter, warmer colors washed across the sand and grasses while the waves and wet sand are painted with the pink and gold of the first light of the dawn.  In this painting, I have tried to catch the glories of this moment when the world moves from deep, cool night to warm, brilliant day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Grassy Path, Fatio House

"Grassy Path, Fatio House" pastel 8x8
"Grassy Path," is a depiction of the herb and salad garden against an old coquina wall at the Fatio House, Aviles Street, in St. Augustine.  This garden is behind the buildings.  The path to the wooden gate which passes beneath the dense foliage of a fig tree made a delightful combination and contrast of cool shade against the bright, midday sun.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Morning Palms

"Morning Palms" pastel 8x8
This is another treatment of the painting "Predawn Palms" using warmer, brighter colors.  This painting seeks to capture the feeling of stillness and expectation of the palms and salt marsh as the clouds of the night start to dissipate and the temperature begins to rise.

I reworked this painting on 5/15/15 to change the temp of the foreground and add some color and contrast to the palms.

This painting is available on my Daily Paintworks.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Romanza on Aviles, 2015

Grape Arbor, Fatio House
To purchase "Grape Arbor, Fatio House" follow the link at Daily Paintworks.

Grassy Path, Fatio House

Both of these plein air paintings were done as part of the Romanza on Aviles, St. Augustine, Florida.  The participating artists drew a location from a "hat," and I drew the gardens at the Ximenez-Fatio House.  This was an ideal place to spend the day painting.

The first painting, "Grape Arbor," caught my attention with the combination of organic forms in the wall, shadow and grape vines which contrasted with the arbor itself and the old stoneware pot and stand.  The bright red of the geraniums was a big plus!

The second painting, "Grassy Path," is a depiction of the herb and salad garden against the old stone wall at behind the buildings.  The path to the wooden gate beneath the dense foliage of a fig tree made a delightful combination of cool shade to escape the bright, midday sun.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Predawn Palms

Pastel 8x8

I have often used this view of the salt marsh with is clump of palm trees and a few craggy pines as the subject for a painting.  In this piece, these elements provide the foundation for an expression in complementary colors.  I couldn't resist throwing the touches of bright green into an otherwise purple and gold composition.

Painting will be available for purchase - click on Daily Paintworks.