Thursday, March 31, 2011

Returning to an Old Motif

                                                                  Neptune's Trident

I love painting statuary and fountains.  When they are combined, that is even more interesting to me.  Here's one in Kansas City of Neptune with his trident. 

I'm having trouble with catching a wi-fi signal at home so I'm at the library today.  Don't give up on me if I don't post for a few days! 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Using a Motif

                                                              Kirkwood Market II

One of the best ways I've found to stretch my limits in painting is to use the same subject again and again, but paint it as differently as possible each time.  The first time you might use local color.  But the next time try using only three colors.  The next time eliminate everything in the background.  The following time raise the horizon line; the next, lower it.  Paint wet into wet, but switch to painting on dry paper for the next painting.
Bring the subject up close, then push it back.  Paint the background to leave a white silhouette (painting the negative shape); then paint the object in a darker, positive silhouette.  Paint in neutral tones, then in pure tones. 

Experimenting will give you  options.  You don't have to follow the same method every time.  Deciding what you want to say will influence the procedure you choose.

Here's another take on the Kirkwood Market with a cooler palette and more pure colors.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Final Version

                                          Kirkwood Market
Here's the final version of yesterday's painting.  I'm using it as a model for a demonstration to students in watercolorist Carol Carter's classes at Maryville University this morning.  I'm going to also try it with a cool palette today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I'm choosing to show the midway point in this painting of the Kirkwood Farmers' Market to make a point about saving the whites to form a passageway through the painting.  Rather than think about objects, concentrate on weaving the whites.

I decided to eliminate the background noise of trees and sky in favor of a dominant yellow/orange palette.  That led to a secondary palette of orange, purple and green.   I used combinations of those colors to surround the whites. I then started painting some darks from the inside outward, grading the values so that the whites "pop" where the darks and lights meet.  Textures also remain in the central part of the page, thus subordinating the borders. 

This stage of the painting tells you more about how to link objects into shapes that are interesting and lead the viewer around the parts of the  painting that I want to emphasize. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Matching the Sofa

A little while ago I looked up at the painting over my fireplace.  It was a break-through painting when I painted it nearly twenty years ago. But I've been fiddling with the decor in my living room, and wanted a painting that would not only be an example of my latest style, but also come in aid of the red accents in the room these days.  Luckily, we painters have the option of swapping out old paintings fairly easily.

Sometime it became chic to say that you shouldn't mind, and even be proud of the fact that a painting doesn't match your sofa.  I understand that you shouldn't let the colors of your furniture and accent pieces interfere with your love of a particular piece of art.  But one of the elements of design is repetition which comes in aid of harmony.  Why not let the painting complement the decor and vice versa? 

So here's my effort to match the pillows on the sofa.  It's a full sheet (22" X 30"). 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Missing Naples

Here's a painting I did several years ago of the entrance to the Naples Pier. 

 Look for ways to interrupt straight lines or boring rectangles.  It could be a tree trunk, a bench, a railing or a person. 

Also you can simplify tree foliage by using the silhouette technique to describe it rather than including every leaf or frond.  Too many textures in too many places confuse the viewers.  They can't tell what your focal point is. 

Happy Daylight Savings Time!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Watering Holes

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that I've done a series of paintings of people enjoying themselves in pubs and taverns.  I am pleased to announce that Gleason Fine Art in Boothbay Harbor, Maine has decided to feature them in a show next July.  I hope that some of you can make it!

Since I've been home in St. Louis, the weather has been conducive to studio painting, so here's today's effort, hot off the easel this noon. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Workshop Opportunity

We interrupt this blogsite to bring you an important message about Carol Jessen's 2011 Watercolor Workshop in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. 

My workshop will be held September 12th - 16th.  The scenery is quintessentially coastal Maine:  lighthouses,  rocky beaches, quiet village streets, working waterfronts and harbor scenes.   Each day's lesson will focus on a different aspect of producing a successful and entertaining painting. 

The workshop is headquartered at the Beach Cove Resort, a small resort with spectacular views of West Harbor Pond.   Located on a quiet street yet convenient to the downtown area, Beach Cove has large, modern and affordable rooms.

To request an online brochure, email me at  

We now return you to our regular blogsite.......

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bridging the Gap

While travelling home, it's nearly impossible to dig out the easel from under the suitcases to do a painting. 
And taking time out from the trip can cost money in extra hotel bills.  So, how do you keep your hand and eye ready when bridging the gap between locations?

I found myself in a restaurant which covered their tablecloths with paper.  My hand was itching, so I took out a pen and started to draw.  Suddenly there was a beach with driftwood, a dog and a schooner out on the waves.  The only drawback is that your waitress may be reluctant to put your plate down on your tablescape masterpiece!