Saturday, May 19, 2012


I have been painting landscapes for about twelve years and in that time I hope I have grown as a painter and observer of nature. I had been painting landscapes for about two years when I did the painting below for my in-laws who lived in El Paso at the time. These are the Guadalupe Mountains in west Texas at the top of which is the highest point in Texas. At the time I did this piece I was quite proud of the result.

A couple of years ago my in-laws moved to McKinney so I got to see this painting quite often and they had hung the painting in a place of prominence in their home. The more I saw the painting the more I came to not like it. In the first place everything is green, from the foreground to the mountains with very little atmospheric rendering. From this view point the mountains are at least five miles away and I painted them as green as if they were two feet in front of the viewer and to be honest, there is nothing green out there.

It comes to pass that we are having dinner one night at my in-laws home and I am staring at this painting while we eat and I think at some point I made the comment that "I can't stand to be in the same room as that painting". I asked if I could give the painting a facelift.
As Mothers Day approached I set to task of fixing the painting and I documented the steps I took doing the fix. 

After covering the entire painting in Liquin, I decided to change the sky into a more midday sky instead of late afternoon so I painted in the sky first. This will set the tone for everything that comes next. 

In order to kill the green in the mountains I knew I had to introduce a lot of purples and blues into the shadow side of the mountains. The hardest part here was ignoring all of the green.


Next I mixed up a large pile of blueish gray color to cover the green. Then I repainted the peak to suit my new color scheme.

Satisfied that I have properly judged and painted the mountain range, I moved to the foreground leaving the middle ground as an area of transition that I may or may not change depending on how the foreground turns out.



In this close-up you can really see how green my original greens were. YUCK!

Taking some burnt sienna I draw in a design change to the foreground. I decide I want a lead-in that will take the viewer from the foreground toward the mountains and I'm going to do this by putting the left hand side in shadow then I'm going to brighten up the ground and place scrub brush in such a way that I control the viewer's path through the painting.

Also, geologically speaking, there is a valley full of large boulders that you always see in photographs of the Guadalupe Mountains so I have decided to put them into this painting. They were absent in the original version.


This close-up shows my indication of where the boulders are going to go.

The finished painting. I have decided to leave the middle ground as is which is the only section of the painting I did not redo. Below is the original for comparison. 

I am glad to report that my mother in-law is thrilled with her new painting and now I can enjoy eating a meal in the same room where the painting hangs.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Last week I taught a three day workshop in Port Aransas, Texas. I had an enthusiastic group of seven students who worked very hard the three days we were together. Up to this point most of my workshops have been four day affairs, but I think I like the three day format because everyone, including yours truly, seems to stay focused.

Day one was an introduction to painting outdoors which covers all of the basics of equipment, paint choices, a discussion of the various types of easels, and the step-by-step process of choosing a scene then converting that into a painting.

    " Channel View"   9' x 12"  oil/linen

The first demo, seen above, started off with a hiccup in that I wiped off my first attempt. I'm sure it warmed the hearts of the student to know they spent good money to watch a guy fail miserably. But, in my defense, this scene is actually about two miles from where we were standing so it would be easy to blame it on that. In reality it was one of those scenes with rapidly changing light and I was probably doing more talking than painting and before I knew it, I lost control of the painting. But after wiping my canvas clean I gave it another shot and produced a really nice painting.

  (l to r) Suzy Moritz, Karen Krumm, Pam Bell and Carol Morgan

                                Jesse Barrera

Day two found us in the harbor painting boats. Instead of doing the typical thing of me painting a demo and then the students paint, we all set up to paint the same scene. Then I would paint a bit and explain my process, the students would then paint the same thing until they caught up with me. Once everyone was in the same place I would proceed to the next step and it continued this way until everyone was finished.

While we were at this location the local paper, The South Jetty, sent a reporter over to take pictures and conduct a short interview.

This picture of Suzy Moritz and Pam Bell appeared in The South Jetty the next day.

                     "Crusier at Rest"  9" x 12"   oil/linen

 This is the scene everyone painted together. The challenge of doing demos is being able to talk your way through a painting so the audience or students can witness your painting process and get a glimpse into your thinking process as well. Why choose this scene to paint? Why place objects in certain locations on the canvas? Why use that color? How do you control the value or color temperature of your paint?

After a quick lunch we were off to our afternoon painting location.

                Lynn Dickey finds a shady spot

The final day was spent in a shipyard where many boats of all types are dry docked and being worked on. Everything from small sailboats to large shrimp boats can be found here. It is one of my favorite spots to paint.

                Karen Rike and Carol Morgan hard at work

                         Jesse Barrera painting a shrimp boat

Workshops are hard work for students and teachers alike. I have been fortunate to make some very good friends and meet people who truly enjoy the art of painting. Then you meet special people with whom there is something extra that goes beyond the art. 

  (l to r) Karen Rike, Carol Morgan, Me, Suzy Moritz and Pam Bell

 These four ladies were a riot. I laughed so hard and so much my jaws ached for three days. They were a blast to be around whether we were painting or sitting on the porch knocking back a beer or two, which explains the photo above. Carol had drawn a tattoo on Pam's arm. Someone came up with the idea of us all having matching tattoos and the rest is history (yes they washed off). What happens in a workshop...stays in a workshop.