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Saturday, May 21, 2011

What's on the easel? ...cont.

So, what do you do when a painting is not going well?

I thought I had a good handle on this painting after completing the monochromatic block-in. I expected this past week's work to go smoothly. Well, not quite so fast Speedy. This has turned out to be one of those times when dissatisfaction followed dissatisfaction.
Almost from the beginning I felt that a palette of chromatic black, cadmium red, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow medium and lemon yellow would be sufficient to achieve the desired mood. Color swatches were made to test the theory. Chromatic black is a bluish black. I thought it would work well to gray color, but also mix well with the yellows in order to achieve a nice variety of greens.
As I began to apply color, serious doubts arose as to the appropriateness of the palette so ultramarine blue was added. Well, things proceeded downhill from there.

When problems arise such as these, what is one to do? The answer...always go back to basics...concept, composition, drawing, value and color.
Originally, the problem appeared to be wrong color choice, but in reality it was an unresolved concept.
Yes, the values were set, establishing the mood, but what was the painting about...and where was the point of focus to be...on the train, on the tunnel and beyond, or somewhere else? These questions should really have been answered from the very beginning.
When the ultramarine blue was added, it immediately became evident it was a wrong choice. It was removed and I continued on with the original palette choice.
A natural focal point of the painting is the view through the small tunnel. A truck was added for interest. I never felt completely comfortable with that choice, so it was removed. The house added nothing to the portrayal of a small rural town scene, so that soon was changed to a filling station. The storyline and focus of the painting was moved from background to foreground with the addition of three young friends.

With the focus changed, the decision was made to change the KCS locomotive colors from the colorful new color scheme to the older grey model. More work yet to do before I can sign this.
The next time this painting is posted, it will have been professionally photographed and on its way to Kansas City for the "Kansas at 150 Years" show.

Here's where you come in.
Submit your title suggestion for this painting one of two ways...through the "Comment" box below or to
If I select your title, you will be awarded a free Pototschnik print from my print collection.
Deadline for entry: 5:00 PM, Friday, 27 May.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring Festival 2011

Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art
San Antonio, TX
13 May - 3 June

The Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art in San Antonio, TX is hosting their first Spring Festival of fine art. The show features almost 100 new paintings created by many of their gallery artists.
I have created four special works just for this show.

Brisk Evening - 14"x 14" - Oil

It's been a bitterly cold day but now as evening comes the sun pops through...turning all those snowflakes into dancing, sparkling crystals. It causes my heart to sing.

Evening Stroll - 14"x 18" - Oil

The sun is rapidly descending. The last of its glow kisses the stately tree in the front yard. There is a feeling of coolness replacing the warmer air of the afternoon. The dinner plates have been washed and returned to the cupboards...and now...what a nice time for a stroll with my beloved.

Off the Beaten Path - 14"x 18" - Oil

There is nothing that quite grabs me emotionally as being in the country alone...alone with God, with nature and with all the special sounds that one hears when away from human activity. My goal for this painting was to capture that quiet, contemplative serenity.

Cherished Memories - 12"x 24" - Oil

It has been a beautiful day. The temperature is in the low 60's, and the colors of autumn all about are enhanced by the orange glow of a descending sun. What a great day it has been playing with friends...and they get to spend the night. It's a cherished memory for sure.

To purchase one or all of these works, please contact:


Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's on the easel? ...cont.

Last week I showed you these two paintings that are currently on my easel. I also revealed the procedure I followed to get them to this point.
The painting on top remains as it is. I have been concentrating on the development of the Italian scene. As you can see, it is beginning to take shape.
Early in my career I did a few paintings using this monochromatic under painting technique, but eventually cast it aside in favor of a more direct method of painting...mixing the correct color and value at the same time.
A few years ago, Warren Chang wrote a wonderful 8-part series for International Artist titled, "Pursuing an artist's life behind the easel". In the series he demonstrated his use of this technique as a precursor to the application of color. I guess I had arrived at a point in my career that I was ready for a change...and also had come to realize the great importance of achieving an organized, clear value structure for each painting.
I am often asked just how often I employ this technique. I would say on most studio paintings this is the way I work, particularly if the painting is very complex. Periodically, I even use this raw umber block-in technique for plein air work. One thing for certain, I believe it has strengthened my paintings. It is also a useful tool in manipulating the compositional design because the values can be adjusted so easily with no concern for color.
Once the values are set in the monochromatic block-in, I try to adhere pretty closely to them as I begin to apply color. The palette selected for this painting is: titanium white, cobalt blue, cadmium red, cadmium yellow pale, and lemon yellow. The colors I considered most important for this painting were the reds, oranges, and greens. By choosing a warm red and two yellows, it allowed for a nice variety of warm hues. Cobalt blue, which I call a neutral blue, mixed with the yellows, oranges and red provide a beautiful variation of greens.
I began applying color to the white building in the center, and proceeded outward from that point. There's a considerable amount of work to be done before this painting is ready to be signed. I have just begun working on the water and have hardly touched the background.
This is the stage of the painting as of today. I will put it aside for now and work on the train piece this week. I desaturated the painting above in photoshop, just to make sure it still reads well. So far, I think I'm still on track.
I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

What's on the easel?

I began two new paintings in the studio this past week. I am asked from time to time what the motivation is behind the paintings I choose to create. The motivation varies from painting to painting, but first and foremost I must be interested and enthused about the subject.
Neither of the paintings shown here have a title at this point. The naming of a painting often evolves for me during the painting process. I don't care for cute titles. I like to choose titles that are real, down to earth, and express experiences from everyday life.
????? - 18"x 24" - Oil on canvas

American Legacy Gallery in Kansas City has represented me for a number of years. This coming June they will be hosting a show with the theme, "Kansas at 150 Years".
I found this neat bridge in, I think, Cottonwood Falls, KS. I am privileged to have had Kansas City Southern Railroad purchase several of my paintings over the years, so this scene lent itself perfectly to incorporate a KCS locomotive as an added dimension to the story.
Since no trains passed by at the time, I had to set up a scale model of a locomotive in the correct lighting and perspective in order to accurately add it to the scene.
The time of day is early afternoon. As I teach my students, value establishes the mood. If the values are correctly set, the mood will be obvious. Raw umber was used for this monochromatic block-in.

????? - 20"x 20" - Oil on canvas

Accurate drawing is just critical in the execution of a quality realistic painting. I spent considerable time in making sure the drawing for each of these paintings was accurate in proportion and perspective. This is no time to be lazy.
I do a lot of square format paintings. I like the shape, they fit well in a number of decorating situations...and I enjoy the compositional challenge. Actually, I find this early stage of creating the most exciting and stimulating. I am not afraid to rub out and move things around if need be.
The initial stage here is very rough in appearance. I have visualized how the scene will be placed on the canvas and have helped this process along by lifting out the lightest areas of the monochromatic block-in with a paper towel.
In this case, once I was assured all the elements were properly placed, I began to carefully draw the scene from the focal point outward.
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries I have visited, that in itself was motivation enough for me. I have done a number of Italian scenes and they always seem to delight the viewer. There's another reason for you.
I have just begun adding color. The lighting for this scene is bright overcast. A large portion of my paintings contain a warm light, that is, warm light/cool shadows. This painting will be the opposite, cool light/warm shadows. Palette selection is: titanium white, raw umber, cobalt blue deep, cadmium red, cadmium yellow medium, lemon yellow and chromium oxide green.
I'll keep you posted on the progress of these paintings.

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