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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Etude 1 - Studies in Basics

Etude 1A - Gray
Etude 1B - Brick

Etude 1C - Blue

Etude 1D - Bright Gray

This is a series of 6x6 pastel studies - Etudes - in the same composition with variations of color and value.  I have tried to remain representational but limit detail in favor of abstraction and color.  I chose a simple view of the wide coastal marsh with the only variation in the flat horizon in a stand of distant trees.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Quiet Glory

Paste, 9x12, en Plein Air

I chose to paint the Mayport Presbyterian Church with the First Coast Plein Air Painters.  Painting buildings is a challenge for me, and I have to concentrate on perspective, proportions, and vertical edges.  I have found that the way I stand when painting en plein air I tend to make everything slant left even when my initial drawing is accurate, so my result with this old church is a small success for me.

This small white church radiated the quiet grace in which it stands as an inspiration for the faithful.  It was a rewarding way to spend a Saturday morning with friends from the FCPAP.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Pastel 9x6 

This small painting was inspired by the atmosphere of the beach when the sea fog moves in with the strong winds of autumn.  The bright colors are swept away and the horizon almost disappears. A few spots of color persist in the shadows, but they are overwhelmed by the brightness of the mid-day.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Pastel 9x9

Plein Air

Painted at Jacksonville Arboretum last Friday. I added a few touches this morning and signed it. This was an exercise of assembling widely scattered elements from the vista into a small space.
Early in the painting process, I struggled with the values and composition. Then as the shadows moved, I realized that a major feature of the bank in the back ground had been there all along. 
I need to remember to walk through the landscape as much as possible so that I know the objects that are in shade and shadow.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cut Bank

Pastel 12x12 on UArt

The wind builds and moves the dunes, but the bushes and grass that grow on them are left behind as the dune erodes beneath them.  As the dune is cut away, the old, gnarled bushes create unique drapery and shadow against the mid-day sun.

This painting received the Judges Special Award at the 2018 First Coast Pastel Society Show.  Thank you Chris Ivers for that recognition.  Here is what Chris said when granting this award:

"Simple yet well thought out composition was the main element that attracted me to this lovely painting of the sand dunes. A calmness falls over me from the artist’s rendition of the warm, gentle sky and sloping white sand while the subtle greenery leads me throughout the painting. Adding to everything is the wonderful use of gray violet in the shadows that kiss the sand to cool some areas for the eye to rest. This painting beckons to follow over the dune to what I imagine as a beach and a peaceful sea. I congratulate the artist for taking me to this lovely place deserving of this extra award."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Pastel, 12x16 on UArt

As the tide starts to move and the sunlight and heat start to rise, the day begins on the estuary.  My goal is to capture the sense of stillness, cool colors, and wide vistas on the marsh as the tide begins to return and the heat of the day rises.

Painting is available, unframed, $500. To purchase, please click here.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Afternoon Oats

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered - ArtRage

On St. Augustine Beach, there is a shallow track, the remains of an abandoned trail that stretches away from the beach into the dunes.  The trail is lined with old, weathered clumps of sea oats that stand in defiance of the elements and hold their golden spikes to the sky.

Bright Oats 1

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered - ArtRage

As I look across the small dunes and open sand toward the beach, the sparse, open clumps of sea oats make their own statements about the sunlight, the wind, and the heat of summer. It is this expression from St. Augustine Beach / Anastasia Island that I tried to capture.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Pastel, 9x12

This view of the dunes looks toward the beach from the leeward side.  My goal is to capture the freshness of the color and atmosphere in the early morning before the heat of the day, the wind, and the people move in.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Incoming Swell

Pastel, 9x12 on UArt

At times the tide comes in so quickly that the waves seem to fall over each other in the race to the shore.  One swell is still rolling over wet sand as the one following falls over it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Morning Trio

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered - ArtRage

This small grove of pines stands by itself away from the rest of the trees.  In the morning, they catch the light before anything else, and blaze in color for the start of the day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sea Purslane and Oats

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered; ArtRage

The sea purslane and sea oats often grow together, and they strengthen each other as their roots hold the dunes against the wind. It is good when friends work together.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mulberry 1

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered - ArtRage1.1.1

This old mulberry stands beside a little-used lane to a small patch of virgin Iowa prairie.  The tree shows the signs of age, but it is filled with life and exuberance.

Reflections 1

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered - ArtRage1.1.1

This painting was inspired by the reflections on a pond near my house. The grove of pines on the near bank stand in a lone,shaft of sunlight while the rest of the vista is wrapped in the cool gray stillness of early morning.  

I have created these paintings so the result will have some of the appearance and freshness of a block print. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Palms & Cedar 2

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered - ArtRage1.0.0

This is a view of a small stand of palms with cedar on the edge of the estuary.  When the tide is out, they stand isolated above the sand.  

I have created these paintings so the result will have some of the appearance and freshness of a block print. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dunes and Oats 2

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered edition of 20.

View of the oats bending in the sea breeze.  I have created these paintings so the result will have some of the appearance and freshness of a block print.  

These images are created stroke-by-stroke in the same manner as I would do a painting in watercolor or oil.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Pastel, 12x9 on UArt

As the afternoon showers rise over the marsh, they assemble in majestic splendor and soar into the heavens.  I have reduced the horizon to emphasize the height of the clouds against the blue sky and strength as the storm begins.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dunes and Oats 1

Digital Tablet Painting

Printed on W/C Paper, 5x7 signed and numbered edition of 20.

View of the oats bending in the sea breeze.  I have created these paintings so the result will have some of the appearance and freshness of a block print.  

These images are created stroke-by-stroke in the same manner as I would do a painting in watercolor or oil.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Come On In

Pastel, 12x9, Plein Air

This was my effort for the Romanza on Aviles annual plein air event.  This doorway opens to a quiet, green garden - an escape from the crowds and heat of the street.  I find these images mysterious and inviting.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rising Tide

Pastel - 9x12

Plein Air

As the color begins to return to the grass and before the heat of summer, the gentle breezes over the salt marsh lend a sense of calm and expectations.  Alas, the tide does not wait, neither do the clouds nor the seasons.
To purchase this painting, click HERE.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Pastel, 9x6 on UArt

In the afternoon, the early summer clouds begin to move in from the southwest in stages. They march in by ranks, each new bank of clouds running into the sea breeze until they finally pile up, overcome the breeze with their numbers, and move on past the beach.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Theme and Variations

Pastel 12x18 on UArt

This view of South Ponte Vedra Beach is built to show the repetition with variation of the many lines and forms that make up the coastline vista.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

First of Spring

Pastel, 9x12

Plein air across the salt marsh.

This is the early morning view across the Intracoastal Waterway on the last day of February. It is warm and bright with the spring winds carrying the clouds and ruffling the water. The marsh is just starting to show green among the golds and bronze of winter.

Monday, February 20, 2017


Pastel, 9x12

In the early morning, as the tide starts to move in, the sea gulls gather expecting the waves to bring them breakfast.  I selected this one gull from among many because of his frozen, unmoving gaze, expecting good things for the day.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Pastel, 12x16
As the line of showers approaches, the estuary lies in quiet expectation waiting for the rain.  The long line of pines on the shore have seen the storms come before, and they will weather this one easily.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pond Pines

Pastel, 11x14 on drawing paper

I did this study on drawing paper with pastel pencils and NuPastels.  The subject was taken from earlier sketches on photographs of retention ponds near my home.  As I worked on this, the composition and materials began to look more like watercolor, and the image became more informal.  I left white paper to keep that quality. 
I am doing a series of views of these ponds to highlight the beauty and wonder of the small vistas that surround us and that we pass without notice.  What beauty could there be in an ordinary retention pond or roadside canal?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pine Portrait 2

Sepia Conte on tan Canson, 12x9

Second study for a new project - Urban Parks and Vistas

Monday, January 2, 2017

Pine Portrait

Conte on Paper, 15x11

I wanted to capture the substance and stature of a stately pine that grows on a pond near my home.  I did the drawing with sanguine Derwent Drawing pencil.  I like the sense of color and the smoothness that these pencils supply.
This is my first effort of the new year.