Sunday, February 20, 2011


Landscape painter and explorer Thomas Moran made one of his treks into the Grand Canyon in 1871. During that expedition he sat and did a rendering of this point that is now named after him. His rendering was included in a proposal to Congress that eventually led to making the Grand Canyon a national park. Tell me artists don't impact the vision we have of the world...bohonkey is all I have to say.

These two studies were done to prepare myself for a larger version. I painted Moran Point twice when I visited the park for the first time last August. One was done in the morning and the other in the late afternoon.

"Moran Point" was done on location in the morning and "Moran's View" I just completed in the studio as a color study. Neither view show's the entire Moran Point. I am doing another study now and will add these to my "Canyons and Badlands" series.

"Moran Point" 9" x 12" oil/linen

"Moran's View" 12" x 16" oil/linen

For a REALLY good time visit for a full 360 degree panoramic view of Moran Point and other points that give great views of the canyon.
I found it best to go full screen and then use the buttons to rotate the camera around.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


My February newsletter is now available. Click on the link below to see the newsletter. There is a "Join Email List" button on the top right if you would like to subscribe and get the newsletter in your email once a month. It would make me very happy if you subscribed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


"McKinney Snow Day" 12" x 16" oil/linen

As everyone knows we here in Texas got hit
with a load of snow the last two weeks. This
farmhouse is just up the road in Prosper. I
was actually on my way to paint the
grain elevators they have when I spotted
this little gem. It has a real nice old
barn down the hill and plays home to a few
horses and goats.

It would have been easier to stay in the studio,
but as few times as it snows here each year, I
couldn't let the chance to paint in the snow pass
me by.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Last week I posted a freshly completed painting called
"Canyon Floor" (see below).

"Canyon Floor" 24" x 30' oil/linen

As is my custom I put the painting away
out of sight for the past week and pulled it out
this morning to give it a fresh look. After fighting
back whatever was creeping up my throat, I placed
it on the easel, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat
back about ten paces from it to give it a look over.
After a few minutes of honest evaluation I decided it
needed to be rekeyed. Rekeying a painting just means
the values and color are off in a few places and need to
be corrected.

Having to rekey a painting is fairly common when you
have been away from your subject matter for awhile or have
been painting in the studio more than being outside, which
right now, as cold as it is outside, is understandable. And
its not like Canyon De Chelly is right around the corner so
I am relying mostly on my field sketches for color.

I also decide I didn't like how the dirt road makes a sharp
right turn into the painting from the left side so this area is
going to have to be reworked a bit. I like the sky and I like
the cliff and lead-in foreground on the right so these will
remain as is. I'll rekey the rest of the painting based on the
colors and values in the areas I've decided to leave untouched.

Below is the newly rekeyed painting.

Here they are side by side. Notice the huge difference in
the distant cliff. Also notice the ground cover and slow bend
I put into the road on the bottom left side to eliminate the
sharp turn in the previous version.

Below are some details.

Detail of the distant cliff.

Detail of the road.

Today I am happy with the change. Tomorrow I may not be.
This painting will now go back into the closet. I will pull it
out in a week and go through the same evaluation process
to determine if the painting is worthy or not. Paintings
must earn their place into a frame and onto a wall.
A completed painting has no rights. It is a privilege
to be placed into a frame and sent to a gallery.
Most paintings are happy just to be taken out of the
closet. To be put into a frame...well that's living it big!

Friday, February 4, 2011


Just completed a 24" x 36" oil on linen landscape painting
today and in the process realized it represented the best
and worst of using photo reference to paint from.
Had this painting been a smaller piece like a 12" x 16"
the problems of using photo reference would not have
been so significant. In a larger piece the problems are
compounded because there is so much more to say.

In a small painting a single stroke can represent an
entire tree. In a larger painting you have to more
clearly define that same tree. And it's not just the tree
but the ground around it and anything in front of or
behind it. Before I get too verbose, its time to show
images so I can better explain myself.

Let's start with my setup:

My palette is to the left of the easel. From where
I stand in front of the easel I can easily view my
reference on a 42" HD monitor. The monitor
is plugged into a laptop where I keep all of
my photo reference. I have Photoshop on the
laptop to manipulate photos (more about this later).
On the easel is the completed painting. Notice the still life
setup in the back on adjustable shelves so I can paint
at eye level or lower depending on what I'm painting.


This shot from Canyon De Chelly is the basis
for my painting. Without photo reference the opportunity
to produce this painting wouldn't exist. So this is the
good part of using photos to paint from.


Here are the problems with painting from this photograph
and why you cannot rely on photographs to paint from.

First there are two lead-ins into the painting indicated by the
red arrows in the photo below. One of them will have
to be eliminated so I can control how the viewer enters
the painting. Next the cliff on the right is so dark on my
monitor I cannot make out any details so I will rely on
one of my sketches from the trip. This is why painting from
life is so important. Without the plein air pieces I did on
the trip, I would have no idea how the reflected lights look,
what colors and values are in the shadow side of the cliff or
how to portray the true character of the cliff.

I want to control how the viewer enters my painting
and how they travel through it, so I need to
replace the right side lead-in with something else.
Searching my Canyon De Chelly folder I find the
reference below.

I decide to place this at the bottom right
of the canvas. Now I have eliminated one of the
lead-ins and feel in control of the design. Sometimes
I will take the time to take both photos into Photoshop
and splice them together, but today I'm ready
to paint and don't want to take the time. Instead I
just put both images up on the screen and draw them
together to start the painting. Notice that I
have made sure the light is coming from the
same direction in both images.

I decide to tackle the problem of the dark cliff and the
new lead-in reference first, figuring I'd better solve
these problems or this painting is going to be a
huge waste of time.

Here's a detail of the right cliff and
foreground element. Resolving this problem
was a two hour process. Satisfied I move
on to the distant cliffs.

Feeling confident that I have resolved all
design issues I paint the distant cliff and
ground in about an hour.



Time to wrap things up by putting in the dirt road
and sky.

The completed painting (4 1/2 hours later).
I'll wait a few days for it to dry then go over
the entire painting with Liquin and touch up areas
that I feel need to changed...or not. All-in-all
a good day in the studio.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


"Canyon View" 24" x 36" oil/linen

My painting "Canyon View" has been accepted
into this year's Salon International show.
Salon International is one of the top shows of the
year and I am very excited to have been selected.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


"Moran Point" 9" x 12" oil/linen

While cleaning out my closet this morning I
came across a wet panel carrier I
apparently forgot to unload upon my return
from the Grand Canyon last August. Found
this little jewel of a painting I did of
Moran Point. I did four paintings of this
historic point while there and had
completely forgotten about this one.

I say this one is a jewel because it was
in a box with three real dogs! I guess
one out of four ain't bad. Seems I need
to work on my success percentages.


Maybe because I'm iced in today that my thoughts
go to warmer weather activities like my passion
for golf. I actually became a landscape painter
so I could paint better golf holes. April is one
of my favorite month's because the Augusta National
is played that month. Below is one of my favorite
golf holes in the entire world, Augusta number 12.
A sneaky little par 3 that will eat your lunch.