Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From Eastpoint

Every oyster boat in Eastpoint was out in the bay today.  I'm guessing it's because oysters are a New Year's staple and they are stocking the restaurants for the big night.

Here is their starting point.  Apalachicola is the tourist destination, with its romantic shrimp boats, old Victorian homes, and broad street commercial district.  Eastpoint is the real world of hard working fishermen, with its own pick-up truck culture.  The warehouses and launchpoints on this side of the Apalachicola River are much more to my artist's liking.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in Apalachicola

I can't remember the last time I painted a sunset, but last night was a beauty.  This is the scene about a hundred feet from my room here in Florida.  I waited until today to paint it so that I wouldn't be too influenced by the details of the sky.  It was actually the live oaks that I wanted to capture.

Merry Christmas to my Followers!  I hope your stockings were full of art supplies for 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting Settled

I hope you'll forgive me while I'm getting settled here in Eastpoint.  I took some photos of very old paintings before I left.  Oil and still lifes.... So this doesn't fit my blog site at all.  But everybody needs a break sometime.  I just didn't want you to be stuck with the same painting for a week or more. 

Have a Merry Christmas, and tune in again soon!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Going Negative

If you paint the forest, the trees will come.  Painting the areas that are not the subject, but rather the background will give a unity to the background.  Then you can cut into that layer and "find" trees by painting what's behind them.  Repeating this, each time going darker, will grow you a forest in no time!  For variety's sake, add a positive shape tree or two where it comes up against the light.  This technique can be used in depicting buildings, flowers, schooners, and abstract designs. 
Think negative!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Soft vs. Hard Edges

I've recently been re-exploring the advantages of contrasting soft areas with hard edges.  Mixing the colors on the paper rather than homogenizing them on the palette first makes for a more glowing effect and, of course, a softer look.  Soft underpainting makes a good foundation for harder edged shapes to be placed on top. 

Of course, you need to think which areas make using soft edges feasible.  A soft-edged rock doesn't register as a hard surface.  On the other hand, hard edges on clouds defy their soft nature.  Large areas also provide an opportunity to give an out-of-focus look that provides relief from the hard edged focal subjects.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

House of Cards

Here is, I think, the last of the card series for Christmas.

The speed with which I painted these was very enlightening.  Mingling colors became a sheer delight. Not knowing which colors would be chosen, but rather just reaching for a color that seemed right and then flowing it into the wet colors already on the paper seems risky, but is also very liberating! 

To get your creative juices flowing, try this assembly-line approach for a couple of days. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

They wouldn't let poor Rudolph....

Poor Rudolph with your nose so bright!  No reindeer games for you.

Pardon a watercolor gal.  This one is a pastel.  Every once in a while, it's good to get out of your major medium.  And your major motif.  I rarely resort to still life paintings any more, but this one seemed right for the season.

Watch for ways to cluster objects....and to set one apart. 

Yesterday we remembered John Lennon.  Today they pardoned Jim Morrison.  So maybe the lonely lightbulb isn't a lightbulb at all, but a symbol of all those who find themselves on the fringe, on the frontier, on the outskirts looking in. Remember, Rudolph, You saved the day when the rest of us were in a fog.  And we are grateful!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Mountains often appear in the background of paintings.  Why not make the mountain occupy the whole painting?  This is a small paintiing, which made me think of eliminating the foreground because the elements there would have to be so tiny. 

I was also conscious  of providing contrast to the angular edges of the mountain.  Study the snowcovered areas lower on the mountain to see the curves that help define the slopes.

The snow is made by flicking a toothbrush with white paint on it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

TV Star

Here's the latest in the Christmas card series.....only I painted a half sheet!

This morning I got an email from a feature writer for the local tv cable station.  I had totally forgotten that he had filmed my watercolor workshop last May in my hometown.  Here is the clip.  Guess I'll have to watch out for the paparazzi now...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Christmas Cards

I've been on a roll since the last posting.  Here are four more Christmas cards.  You may be interested to know that I didn't even draw these beforehand.  That makes this not only a great project, but a very freeing exercise in staying loose. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hand Painted Christmas Cards

Making family and friends feel special during the holidays is part of the magic of the season.  How about using your painting skills to show them you took the time to create something unique just for them?
Hand painting individual cards will do just that.

Take a quarter sheet and divide it in half. Fold the two sheets gently, and then using masking tape, secure them to your painting surface.  After completing your mini-painting, remove the tape, and voila!  You have a neat, crisp border.  All that's left is to write your personal greeting.

I use the inside of the card for the painting because I then use a small sticker to secure it again, and address the outside, saving the difficulty of finding an envelope to fit the card.  Only twice did the post office machine tear the little present.  I just painted another one and hand delivered it.

Get going now, because everyone will want one!

Friday, November 19, 2010

#200 - New Hampshire Birches

This is my 200th post!  Thanks to all who visit and leave a reaction or comment.  I invite you to become a follower and bookmark my blogsite.  Stay tuned for more painting advice in the wonderful medium of watercolor!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Demo

Painting for a large group like the St. Louis Watercolor Society can be rather intimidating.  But last night I did a demonstration painting for a packed house.  What a lively and fun crowd!  I had a great time!

Before I began painting, I tried to reinforce the concept of keeping things simple.  I suggested three things:
1.  A limited palette
2.  Defining large areas with silhouettes
3.  Using the vignette

My subject was appropriate for the Society since part of their logo is a steamboat.  Here's my demo.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is a street corner that no longer exists here in St. Louis.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember that I love including signs in my city scenes.  Don't automatically eliminate signs.  They can provide interest and texture.  Also the lacy quality of the scaffolding appealed to me.

Once again I was working with the secondary triad:  purple, green, and orange.  Most of them are grayed down so that the brighter colors around the focal point can stand out.  Sometimes it's good to have a color idea and know how to employ it when you are dealing with an essentially colorless subject. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Secondary Colors

The whole purpose of this painting was to depict the scene in the secondary triad: orange, green and purple.

I worked from the middle of the scene outward, surrounding the lights with soft-edged darks, gradating from darks to midtones, all the while keeping the color scheme in mind.

Keeping it simple sometimes means limiting your palette.  Try a secondary triad to keep repetitions and harmonies to a maximum. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Here's another take on the tugboat/bridge scene.

What gives this painting its punch is the boldness of the darks.  The hull of the tugboat is a mixed black, not a tube color.  Also, darks don't have to be black; they just have to be dark enough to stand out.  The bridge is a gradation of reds, ochres, blues, and violets. 

The darks work best when contrasted with the white of the paper.  But make sure there are some interesting midtone silhouettes to surround the focal point contrasts.  And just because the silhouette is a midtone, it doesn't mean you can't vary the colors within the shape.  Look at the skyline and you'll see how many colors I sneaked into that solid area.

Be bold with your darks.  They're bound to attract attention!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another Take

Last spring, I painted this scene for the Gateway East Artists Guild at their monthly meeting.  This morning I decided to try it in another, less traditional style.  Values are still important, but this painting's emphasis is on the bolder colors and looser brush strokes.  I think there is a bit more energy in this version. 

This style is actually harder to paint than the more traditional approach.  But every once in a while, I like to cut loose! Inventive color takes even more planning than local colors.   I actually reversed the ordinary practice of placing cooler colors in the background and warmer colors in the foreground.  Encourage your sense of play, and try all sorts of approaches to the same subject.  It is very freeing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Connecting the Whites

There is a near obssession with beginning watercolor students to "save the whites."  The problem seems to be where those whites are saved and why.

Many times I see "popcorn whites"---whites that are sprinkled throughout the painting with no regard for forming shapes.  If you think of white as an important eye-attracting shape, you can use it as a focal point.

Connecting white (or light) shapes can form a pathway through a painting. Surrounding the white shapes by darks will also lead your eye to the important subject matter in the painting.

Be deliberate in your conservation of the white paper.  It can be a powerful director!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Value Plans--Midtones

A problem I've seen with student value plans is that the midtones are not dark enough.  The midtones are important because it is the glue that holds the darks and lights together.  If the midtone isn't dark enough, the jump to the darks will be too startling. 

Making a value plan is crucial.  It will show the weaknesses in composition that color cannot possibly compensate for.  It is also the indicator of aerial perspective.  And most important, it will tell you how to proceed. 

For instance, in the second value sketch above, if you want the light tree on the left to be yellow, you must plan to paint it before you place the mountain silhouette down.  In watercolor, you can't place a yellow on top of a midtone and have it read as a light.  On the other hand, you can paint right through the darks on the barn because you know it will be darker than the mountain or the trees behind it.

And remember, the whites in a value sketch don't have to be pure white in the final painting.  They can be slightly tinted with an appropriate color and then painted over.

If your paintings don't look organized, try a value sketch or two.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Watercolor Reflections

                              Brown's Wharf
Why do some artists choose pastel and others, oil? What leads one to lithography and others to egg tempera?  And why watercolor?

My own journey in paint began, like so many other painters did, with oil.  The "fixability" factor played a role, plus the rich history of oil painting.  But I never quite got the hang of mixing colors in oil.  They seemed to get chalky and very dry looking.

At the suggestion of the art teacher at the school where I taught English, I made the transition to watercolor.
I immediately fell in love with the fluid feel of the strokes and the transparency of the colors.  There were headaches, too:  the muddy colors resulting from overmixing, the struggle to save the precious white paper, not enough water, too much water, and leaving too many  "popcorn" whites.

But I couldn't put the brush down.  (Well, one time I did when I dented the ferrel of a $50 brush by slamming it down on the drafting table!)  It took quite a few brush miles before I started to know what would happen before I touched the paper.  But the journey has been worth it.

One of the reasons I enjoy teaching watercolor is that I know the typical mistakes and can make suggestions as to how to avoid them.  The benefit of having made mistakes is helping others to avoid them. (Sound familiar, parents?)  So if you're just beginning in this fascinating, sometimes frustrating medium, seek out a good teacher.    And pay attention!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

By Design

                           The Park Cafe

Here's the latest painting in the Watering Hole Series.  This one is a cafe in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania where I stopped for lunch on the way home from Maine this year.  The cafe owner and I had lots in common.  In college, both of us had started out in the art department, but changed majors to English.  She is also a painter and an avid reader. 

The figures fall on the upper third line.  The lights on the empty tables and the obliques lead you to the customers by the window.  There is a dominance of rectangles to give the painting a repeating shape.  Warm hues work well in interiors and give a unity to the composition. 

Use the design elements and principles to direct the eye.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Favorite Motifs

                                             The Town Square

In this painting, I've incorporated all sorts of favorite subjects:  the town square, statuary, figures, silhouettes, and gathering places.  There are "quiet" areas with not much going on to contrast the busier areas with lots of movement. 

Accumulating a body of work enables you to choose tried and true subjects that you have an affinity for. 

P.S.  I've just recently allowed myself to use Chinese white as an accent.  I would never use it to substitute for the untouched beauty of the white paper in larger areas, but the water in the fountain would have seemed a bit artificial if I had left it a pure white. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Illinois Workshop

                            The Horse Barn at Dubois Center

This past weekend I taught a workshop at the Dubois Center in southern Illinois.  I had some enthusiastic students who welcomed and responded to me, and made me remember why I love teaching so much.

Students get frustrated and discouraged for all sorts of reasons, but two of them are totally avoidable!  First, get the best brushes you can afford.  Working with inferior equipment will only complicate an already difficult
process.  A good brush should come to a chisel or point, with hairs long enough to hold a lot of water, and be springy enough to bounce back to their original shape.  Get at least two very wide brushes.  You can't cover a half sheet with a wash using a brush that is only 1/4 inch wide!

Second, before each painting session, squeeze out a generous amount of paint.  Don't worry about cost or drying out.  Re-wetting will take care of that.  You'll never be able to get a rich, creamy dark with a miser's worth of paint!  You'll end up with more water on the paper and not enough paint.  You have to be able to dig into the paint!

Thanks to my kids for a wonderful, laugh filled weekend!  Hope to see you again very soon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Autumn is a popular subject to paint.  This is a scene on Barter's Island, Maine. 
This weekend I'll be in southern Illinois teaching a three day weekend workshop.  I'll post from there if I can get a wifi signal.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Blues

Most students understand pretty quickly the difference between warm colors and cool colors.  Warm colors look like fire and the sun, and cool colors remind us of ice and snow shadows.  Warm = yellow, orange, earth tones and reds.  Cool = blue and green.

So when students hear that in the primaries there can be cool yellows and warm blues, they freak out!
For example, take the color blue.  Ultramarine blue is considered to be a "warm" blue because it leans toward the red side a bit.  Thalo blue, cerulean blue and manganese blues are all "cool" blues.  The purest blue is considered to be cobalt.

Why is it important to know these differences?  Look at the painting I did of a spring house in New Hampshire.  You'll see that in the distant mountains I used an ultramarine blue because the mountains are closer than the sky.  By contrast, I used a cerulean blue in the sky.  Remember the old maxim that warm colors advance and cool colors recede. If I had used the same blue in both places, there would have been no contrast, and therefore no differentiation in spatial distance.  I could have also used a thalo green in the sky to make the difference even more pronounced.

So don't always reach for the same blue out of habit.  Know why you are choosing one blue over another.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Hudson River School

A number of American painters have documented the Hudson River Valley, among them Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, William Chase and John Frederick Kensett.  One of the most popular locations was Kaaterskill Falls, just outside the town of Hunter in the Catskill Mountains.  Yesterday I drove through the Catskills to see some of the views that these men painted.  Kaaterskill Falls flows right down to the road and provides a close up view of this popular landscape subject. Unfortunately it was raining, so I was not able to paint it plein air.  So I took a photo. Here it is.  Maybe when I get settled in at home in St. Louis, I'll try to paint it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Palette

The word palette can mean several things: 1.) the physical holder of paint  2.) the choice of colors and
3.) The placement of those paints on the surface..

My choice for a physical palette is the John Pike model.  The surface is large enough to mix warm colors on one side and cool on the other. 

My choice of colors is pretty basic:  a warm and cool version of each primary, some earth tones, and a couple of exotic hues. 

The placement of my paints is based on warm and cool colors.  The warm colors and earth tones are on the left side of the palette.  I put them in a prism order, i.e. yellow, orange, red, violet, blue, green.

It's particularly useful to have the warms on one side and the cools on the other because I like to gray my hues.  As I hammer home to my students, "Put down a warm; reach for a cool. Put down a cool;  reach for a warm."  Instead of giving a list of specific colors to mix, I think the mantra of warm versus cool works better.  When the instructor is not present, the student can sometimes get confused about color choice.  Choosing a warm and knowing its complement is much more helpful than dictating two magic combinations.

Color choice is a personal matter, but knowing how and when to choose certain colors is essential.  And having them in a logical sequence is important in a medium that requires some speed.  (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Early Influence

My plein air group went to a local farm last week.  While the barn and farmhouse are wonderful subjects, I've painted them numerous times.  This time I turned to the woods surrounding the barnyard.

When I first took up watercolor, John Pike's book Watercolor was a major source of inspiration and information.  One lesson concerned the portrayal of "woods trash" in which Pike showed how he came forward in value, color and size.  That lesson came in handy for this subject of a woodshed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Body Facing

Here's the third in the series featuring local Watering Holes in Boothbay Harbor. 

In dance, choreographers are greatly aware of the direction that the bodies of the dancers are facing.  Figures can be used as pointers.  In this scene, the woman is facing inward, the man is looking downward at the glasses, and the figures at the bar are leaning into the painting or facing back at the foreground.  Everything is focused around the central figure of the man, which is also where the brightest color and biggest value contrast occurs.

The placement of figures and body facing can be used to focus the viewer's attention.  When composing them, be aware of this as a focal point determiner.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Watering Holes

The painting in the last post inspired this one.  The best thing about painting in a series is that you don't have to search for a subject, so you can concentrate on color, design, mood and contrast.  The values and warm hues around the bar focus attention on the figures and the glossy bar top.

I have a hunch that the best part of this series is going to be the research!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Being aware of spaces that you find pleasant can provide you with unexpected subject matter.  This bar at the very nice Landing Grill House restaurant in Yarmouth, Maine seemed so inviting that I just had to paint it.

Painter, Know Thyself.  If you respond to certain colors, you can say it with paint to express a mood.  If you like being in certain interiors, paint, not just the space, but your emotional response to that room.  When you see the light on a landscape that moves you, paint the light.   Name what delights you, and you'll find plenty of subjects. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What's On Third?

In this painting of a churchyard in Edgecomb, Maine, the cast shadow on the old bell held my attention.  It defines the bright light and helps to describe the curves on the bell itself. 

The rule of thirds applies here.  The bell is the obvious focal point, so I placed it on the third.  The secondary shapes of the monuments in the church cemetary were also placed on another third.  The size of the bell tells you the subject of the painting, but the monuments provide balance.  The oblique line out where the cemetary begins is also on the upper third of the paper. 

Although placing things on the thirds is not obligatory in every painting, certainly it should be considered. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Local Favorite

This is the East Boothbay General Store, owned by friends Liz and Dom.  It's the best place on the peninsula to have a pizza or grab a great sandwich.  I painted it quite a few years back, and you can probably tell the change in my style since then.  Also, Liz and Dom have spruced up the place with flowers and plants that the old owner didn't care about.  Still, it is a pretty good building portrait. 

 In this case drawing skills are very important.   All the angles and perspective problems were a challenge.  Still, it's fun to document the most popular sites in our small village.  I guess I'm getting a bit nostalgic about nearing the completion of another summer in this quaint and special place.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Complementary Colors

Fall colors--yellow, red, and orange--can be intensified if placed next to their complement on the color wheel.  In this painting of an oft-painted scene on Southport Island, Maine, I painted everything a pale blue except the white side of the houses and the red fish shack .  This is the unifying underpainting.  After it was dry, I painted the orange-red colors right over the blue.  The orange was dark enough to still retain its hue.  By leaving some of the blue next to the orange, both colors seem more vivid.

The mud flat was grayed down on the first wash.  I began the darks around the red shack and underneath the dock, extending them to the cast shadows of the boats.  From there I worked outward, gradating as I went to keep the high contrast around the focal point. 

I've said it before.  Avoid painting pieces of the painting in a coloring book fashion.  Give the painting a unifying color before putting down the midtone wash and then the dark wash. And use complementary colors to their full advantage.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Here's the first painting that resulted from the drawing I did in the last entry.  The greatest contrast in values is right around the focal point which is the cafe and its umbrella.  I could perhaps have made it a bit more colorful, a task I might take up the next time I try this scene. But the interlocking shapes and the values were my first concern.

Look around your town for interesting restaurants, cafes, and architecturally interesting buildings.  If you're shy, take a photo, or if you're brave enough set up en plein air!

Friday, September 10, 2010


When you have an interesting idea for a painting, and then do a good drawing, there's still the matter of executing the painting.  How to procede and what order to paint things becomes a big part of how the painting will turn out.

I'm a traditionalist when it comes to procedure.  With the values, I paint from light to midtone to darks.  In many cases that means painting the sky, the far distance, the middle distance and the near areas in that order.  With color, I usually choose cool neutrals in the distance, and as I work forward, I warm things up a bit.  But colors are usually grayed somewhat no matter how close they are, unless I want to attract your eye to a particular object, in which case I use a purer color.

Here's the drawing of the painting I'm going to paint this afternoon.  I'm posting it first to give you a chance to think about what your procedure and color choices might be.  An instructor can show you what she does, but that is never a substitute for thinking out what your procedure will be once you're on your own with your own subject matter.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Complementary Colors

When looking for subject matter, it is helpful to know what makes your heart go pitti-pat.  In the past couple of years, I have been drawn to objects that have a lacy look against the sky.  In this street scene in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, it was the lamp posts and the telephone poles. 

It was a rainy day when I visited, so the photos I took were all gray.  That turned out to be an advantage because I could invent any colors that would come in aid of expressing the mood.  I chose yellow and violet to express the feeling of the brightening sky and the wet pavement. 

Placing complementary colors side by side intensifies both colors.  It is important to consider color choices that help establish the mood and express the feeling of light.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hurricane Earl

Thank goodness, Earl went out to sea. It rained overnight, but now it's a bright sunny day!  The best part of these storms that go by is that they kick up the surf.  It's a spectacle not to be missed!

Painting surf in watercolor is difficult.  I've used up many a sheet of good watercolor paper trying to depict its force while trying also to capture its grace.  Too many hard edges will make the waves look cut out.  Too many soft edges and you've got cotton candy.  The only suggestion I can make is to study the repeating waves.  Watch what happens along the top.  Then study the fold of the wave.  Look for shadows in the foam.  Make many drawings before even attempting a painting.

Frustrating as it is to paint wild surf, it's worth the struggle just to be able to witness the power and beauty of a breaking wave.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Adding figures to compositions not only adds interest, it also can extend a shape into an otherwise boring area.  In this painting out at Ocean Point, the figures help to break up a straight unbroken line and jut into a large area that, without them, would be very static. 
Practice painting figures so that including them is not labored and out of character with the rest of the looseness of your painting.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday Drive

Many tourists fail to discover that inland rural Maine has a charm all its own.  Yesterday I took an old fashioned Sunday drive and ended up in the little hamlet of Sheepscot, a place that time forgot.  I set up my easel under a big old maple tree and looked across the meandering river at the village church.  It was such a lovely idyllic scene that I'm afraid I was in danger of the painting becoming trite.  But it was so relaxing to be in that environment that I took my time and savored the sunny late summer day.  A mother and her young daughter were swimming under the bridge, splashing and laughing happily in the reversible falls.  Later the little girl presented me with the gift of a milkweed pod. 
Plein air painting, more than a result and a product, is a process and an experience.  As Hemingway once advised another writer, Just go out and see what happens to you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Plein Air Decisions II

A friend wrote me to ask why I hadn't included the red-orange tree in the painting I did a couple of days ago in Newbury, New Hampshire.  She thought it would give the painting a fall feeling.  It's a good question.  Here's what I was thinking.

I wanted the church and the strolling couple to be the focal point.  Accurately reporting the scene with that one orange spot would have immediately drawn attention to it since brighter warmer colors attract the eye more than cooler, neutral colors.  Furthermore, it would have been an isolated color among all those blues, greens and neutrals.  A good painting features repetition, so I would have had to repeat that orange somewhere else in the painting, further distracting the viewer's eye from the focal point.  Finally, it's a summer scene!  I wanted to report the day that I was there.  A fall scene would have to be a studio painting, and I'm mostly a plein air painter.  

So, artists really do think about line, color, direction, balance, texture, placement for emphasis, and that means making decisions to support a unified work. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Plein Air Decisions

Here's the scene I painted this morning in Newbury, New Hampshire.  I'm including the actual scene and the finished painting.  It's self-explanatory what was left out and why.  One adjustment was made to the background mountain's height.  I wanted the steeple to stand out against the sky, so I had to raise it above tree level.  I painted the entire church first, letting the paint flow out into what would eventually be covered up by trees. Then came the background trees/mountain.  Finally, the dark overlapping foreground trees.

Watch for ways to connect objects to make shapes.  Careful planning went into the placement of the figures so that they connected to the dark pine tree, but their highlighted heads and shoulders separated them from the darker background. 

Light to, church, background trees, foreground trees.  And remember, light doesn't always mean white.

Travel Paintings

Several of my paintings hang in the New London Inn, New Hampshire, one of them over the front desk.  I come here every year for medical treatment at Dartmouth Medical, another half hour away.  It's nice to be in the mountains for a few days as a change of pace.  But I also take advantage of the opportunity to paint landscape that is different from the seacoast of Maine.
Here's the Town Hall that is on the town common.  The building in the background is the New London Inn.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Overlapping for Distance

To show depth in a landscape, try overlapping planes as you come forward.  The darkest and most textured area is around the focal point which is the dock.  The next plane is the profile of the building which I've painted in a grayed blue.  In the far distance, I wanted to give the feeling of sunlight, so I made that plane lighter, but to look sunny, I painted it in warm tones. 
To further emphasize the different planes, I used the masts of the sailboats to overlap the distant shores.  This brings you back up to the foreground.  Also the building on the right keeps your eye up front.
Overlapping three planes will provide a feeling of distance and space.  But be sure to think of ways to look through and around objects in the foreground to keep your eye from resting in the distance.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Populating Paintings

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is one of the most dramatic spots along the Maine coast.  People make the 15 mile trip down the peninsula from Route 1 to see the cliffs, the surf and the old lighthouse.  Painters show up daily to capture the scene.  Yet most of the paintings I've seen of the lighthouse have removed the people.
Figures can give life to an otherwise static scene.  Reconsider their inclusion in your work.

P.S.  I've tentatively scheduled a workshop for Boothbay Harbor next year-- September 12 -16.  For more details,
email me at :

Friday, August 20, 2010


Sorry that I've been offline for nine days.  My computer has been at the hospital, but I think the problem has been fixed.  I hope I didn't lose any followers or new visitors during this time.
Meanwhile I kept painting.  You'll notice that I've begun to add figures to the scenes.  Some subjects just need human activity to be accurate.
Thanks for visiting!