Friday, December 29, 2006

See more, express less

A good artist will see more and express less. Therein lies the power of a good painting. A complex landscape in the country has thousands of elements to consider; trees, limbs, leaves, grass, clouds, shadows, colors, values, and on and on. The artist takes this myriad of overwhelming information and expresses it clearly in simple terms so it can be more fully grasped in its essence.

Web sites and your artwork

The only way I know to sell your paintings or prints on the internet is to have a niche market for your work. I paint many different subjects. In the summer when I'm in my studio in the North Carolina I do landscapes of the Blue Ridge mountains, barns, etc. The problem is that no one knows how to look for such a thing on the web because it's such a broad subject. Now if I were to feature paintings of Mount Mitchell and someone was trying to find a painting of Mount Mitchell, then a search would be able to find my niche. Otherwise it's lost in a sea of general ties.
I've done two books on lighthouses and just by accident, I found a niche market for lighthouse prints. The important thing to know is that people who order lighthouse prints are not interested in buying a print of a lighthouse. They are interested in buying a print of a particular lighthouse because it has personal meaning to them. Any lighthouse won't do. On my website I feature lighthouses and when someone is looking for a print of the "Morris Island Lighthouse", well, I just happen to have it and it's easy to find. It's the only way I know of so far to be successful on the web. I suppose there might be a niche for "fantasy lighthouses" as well. In any case, generalities don't work well if you are trying to promote your work. Be specific.
(Pictured is a painting I did of the Brandt Point lighthouse in Nantucket)

Hesitation makes for weak paintings

You can be sure that a painting that inspires us was done by an artist sure of him/herself and not one that hesitates. Most good paintings display brushstrokes that are deliberate, strong, and know where they are going. It is a very difficult thing to do. Study those who have mastered it and see how much they convey in a powerful and well placed stroke.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Seascape Painting

The painting of most subjects can be learned by looking at subject itself. One exception is the painting of seascapes. That can often be learned best by looking at someones work who paints seascapes well rather than sitting and looking at real waves crashing on the beach.

Getting Results

Don't be overly concerned with the results of your painting. After all, it is just paint on canvas. Move on to the next one and the mistakes you have made combined with what you have learned making those mistakes will serve to make your next work a little better. Laboring over a painting by trying push it to the point you know you would like to see it is often a futile excercise and can worsen your final results. We all have limits from which we cannot exceed. If you have a general idea where those limits are and not beat yourself up over not reaching them every time, your progress will be natural and steady.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Playing up the Important

When everything is bright, then nothing is bright. If you want something to demand attention, make whatever is around it less important like the background behind this small flower painting.

Field Studies

I have seen artists paint on location and use it as reference for a larger more finished work to be done at their studio and tell others how important that procedure is. I have never been able to grasp that concept. When I paint outside, I am never able to finish the painting on location and I never use it as reference to do a larger piece. After painting outside, I finish a painting in the studio and leave it at that, then I have a nicely finished small painting to show rather than leaving it as a study. To create a larger painting I need more information than I'm able to glean during the half hour I painted outside. The idea of painting less and making more of it later just doesn't work for me. My field paintings are simplified and basic and seldom can I transfer that to a larger piece. It doesn't mean that plein air painting is of no value. The soul of the subject can often be felt while in the field as opposed to being in the studio. That information can be mindfully stored and often comes out naturally in future paintings. I require information to complete a larger painting and I use a camera to capture the details I need for a large work, not just a small field study.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thoughts on Essence

All my life I have heard artists say that they want to capture the essence of the subject. It is one of those phrases that sounds good and makes the artist feel like they have insights into things that others don't.
So, I've been thinking about it lately (now that I'm nearing my late 50's) and I have on occassion captured the essence of my subject. When it happens I know it but it wasn't something I could force. The more times it has happened, the closer I have become to knowing what it means to me.
Artists must pick and choose what they want to focus on in a painting. Whatever that is becomes the center of interest. all else becomes subservient and takes on a suporting role. It is the difference between a painting and a photograph. The camera, at leasts for most of us, can't capture the essence as it sees all things equally. A good artist, however, transforms the landscape into important and unimportant features that all work together. Those who paint every blade of grass thinking they are capturing nature cannot possibly capture the essence of the subject. It may take lots of time but takes little skill to paint every detail equally. Essence is achieved when one captures an entire field of grass with a few strokes of the brush and gets the feeling of vastness, richness, depth, and light. If those few strokes convey those things they have captured the essence of the subject. Essence is the ability to take the complex, reduce it to the minimum but within that minimum reveal more than the combination of all those blades of grass put together.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


You can know everything there is about painting and still not know how to paint. There is a link between your head and heart and your hand. Those elements must be closely connected. All your knowledge of painting has to be transferred from your knowledge and emotions to your hand and brush. That almost mystical communication just comes with time and cannot be accomplished by intellect alone no matter whether your a plumber, doctor, or an artist.

Learning Curve

I have found that my ability in painting does not increase in an upward curve. Rather it runs in a straight line for months at a time, sometimes longer and then suddenly jumps to the next level quite by surprise. For me, reaching the next step on the ladder comes not by trying to hurry to that next wrung but instead by slowly and steadily working my way upward. Trying to force it often will cause frustration and possibly a fall. I enjoy the level I'm at, enjoy the moment and when I reach another step, it becomes an unexpected and rewarding experience. Once that next level is reached it will always be with you.


The complexity in nature is overwhelming when looking at a subject weather it be a landscape, seascape, portrait, or whatever it may be but the beauty and joy of painting is taking that vast amount of complexity and reducing it to a few simple brush strokes. That is what is meant by capturing the essence of the subject and it's a true joy when this can be accomplished.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kitchen counters

Artists need to know that a Corian kitchen counter is more important than an original piece of art for all but a very small fraction of homeowners.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

George Inness

American Landscape Painter George Inness (1825-1894) wrote: "A work of art must have subtlety of tone and a certain amount of mystery that can never be seen at first glance. It must be looked at a long time before its subtle tones can be grasped; and if it is great, it grows upon you, and the longer you look, the more you see, and to describe it is almost impossible, because you never see it twice a like. It changes with your mood. It is a thing to live with. You study it; you learn to see the soul of it. It is like a face that becomes beautiful because you have learned to know and love the soul behind it. When a picture gives you this effect, it is great art."
What a beautiful statement!

Be Skeptical

A landscape painting can make such a beautiful and powerful statement on its own without entering that realm of opinions and personal points of view. Be skeptical of "truths" when it comes to rights and wrongs of art. Find that truth in looking at nature.

Looking at Art

Looking at artwork that is not up to your standards or not as good as you can produce yourself is generally a waste of time. It can force you to find merit in work that you may otherwise just overlook but other than that, time is better spent looking at nature. When I visit to a gallery I want to leave saying to myself, "Wow, I wish I could paint like that." If that doesn't happen nothing much has been accomplished.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Our Slogan Is....

There are election posters littering the streets when I wrote this and one large sign had a photo of the smiling candidate along with the slogan "We Can Do It". A simple minded slogan and apparently a platform with no meaning whatsoever. Well, in painting the public is "sold" the same thing, trite pictures with no meaning or substance by heavily promoted artists producing primarily for the salability. It seems to be the easy way to go and pleases everyone. Eye candy with no meat. Don't think that anything short of giving your paintings as much meaning and thought as possible will give you any lasting satisfaction. Your paintings need a real platform that speak more than mere slogan. Don't paint pretty pictures for the sake of painting a pretty picture.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Painting Demonstrations

I have been making some painting demonstration videos and immensly enjoy the process and especially being able to share them online. As to the value of such programs, I wonder if watching someone paint is like thinking you are going to read by listening to someone reading. You may be inspired, motivated, and learn helpful tips but it's doubtful if you will learn to paint. I could be wrong.
If you are interested in watching any of my videos on painting and other short subjects you can find them on my video page.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Donated Artwork

I have dontated countless pieces of my work to causes that seem to call on a weekly basis. But art has become nothing more than cheap entertainment for these fund raising events and lead you to believe that there is something of culture involved with the event. I have never attending one of these benefits where the art and artists were anything more than a side show for what are basically networking sessions for upwardly mobile socialites where wine and ordurves take center stage above all else. Artists know this and artwork donated is usually of second quality because of it. The promises of promotors that the artist will "get a lot of publicity" is just not true. I've been hearing it for more than forty years. If anything it may take hurt the artist by fulfilling the desire for a potential customer to own a piece of art. The artist may well be donating himself out of a potential customer.
I'm not against raising money for good causes and I still donate to most of them that come calling but the artist doesn't deserved being reduced to a Side Show Bob where wine is being spilled over the table next to the artwork and that case of oil that was donated by AutoZone. Donating art is not like giving something for auction that is manufactured. The artist puts down every stroke to the best of his or her ability and that takes time. More than that, the artist whether good or bad, tries to speak through his or her art and most of these events and auctions totally drown out everything the art has to say.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An honored place for something you wouldn't really want.

I have often wondered why people will hang a painting in a prominent place in their home depicting something they consider unsightly when viewed in real life and would find objectionable if it were on their own property or in their neighbors yard. For instance a rusted tractor or a beat up shrimp boat; not something you want next door. We put these images in a place of honor in the home but choose only to be associated with them from afar. Art often reaches people in ways that real life cannot.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Art Centers

Thre are some very good art centers in the country, especially the ones in small towns but often art centers and art councils become organizations that are primarily concerned with keeping and maintaining their own jobs. They become less interested in the artists and more focused on fund raising, patrons, social activities, and place the artist at the very lowest end of concern. This is made most evident by art centers that ask artists to donate art for their fundraising activities and never consider giving back a percentage of the proceeds to the artist. In my opinion, art centers should serve the artist at least as much as the public.

Finishing a Painting

Finishing a painting, especially a larger one, is never like finishing a race and coming in first. It just doesn't comes with that sort of exhiliration. It's more like running out of gas.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Comfortable Formula

Don't fall into the trap of using a formula. I know of several painters that find one subject and have found some success in it both financially and with public approval but their paintings have become stale and predictible. Their paintings lack insight, life, and the esscence of what they were originally in search of. They have become comfortable and in so doing take on the role of a commercial artists whose purpose is to please others and not themselves. They stop growing as artists when that happens. Know your limits but never be satisfied with them.


Dedicated artists do not wait for inspiration. They get down to work much like anyone with a job. Inspiration is a bonus an artist will occassionally recieve. When it happens be grateful and take full advantage of it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


There are many books on how to paint. Some are good, some are terrible. The best way to learn how to paint is by painting and looking at good paintings. Study them carefully. One type of book to study that is imperative is a book on perspective. Lerning perspective can much easily be accomplished by reading it in book form than studying it in the field. It involves the painting of not only things like roads but everything you paint; the trees in a forest, the rocks on the shore, and the clouds in the sky. It is of the utmost importance to know and understand perspective no matter what type of painting you are doing.

Running a Marathon

Painting is like running a marathon. It starts with lots of energy. Things go quickly and progress made with little effort. However, getting to the finish line requires dedication and stamina. The further along you are in a painting, the more difficult it becomes. It's not just knowing at what point to stop, it's knowing how far you can go. Each of us has limits for making a quality work. Beyond that we cannot go. Realizing that limit is important in winning the race. We should always try and push the limit and be our best but at some point the painting takes a reverse in quality. I'm speaking as someone who paints landscapes and not experimental pieces. That's a whole different subject.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Discounted Artwork

If you find a collector in your studio who wants a discount on a painting, ask them if it is because they can't afford the work or because they don't think it is worth the price.
The real answer to the question is it gives them a sense of empowerment, and they become superior in some way by being the better business person. Unfortunately it makes the artist feel discounted, not just the artwork.
When a collector buys artwork, they are in many ways giving the artist a belief in himself and a stamp of approval. With the discount thing, it reduces any transaction to strickly business. It may save the buyer a few dollars which may be part of the prize but know that it says to the artist, "we think less of you."
This of course applies to work that is fairly priced to begin with and that is always subjective but I think most people will know what is fair and what is outrageous.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Take an Asprin, be an Artist

A lady came into my studio today and told me that she had done one painting in her life and then said, "I guess we are all artists." With that reasoning, I think the next time I see my doctor, I'll explain to him that I took an asprin once and that we are all doctors.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Truth about Giclee Prints

A Giclee print is nothing more than a print done on a ink jet printer probably like the one you have beside your computer at home. The only difference is that it might be capable of printing larger images, most of the time superior paper is used and six or seven inks are used instead of four. Other than that, when a gallery pumps you up about a Giclee print, it's mostly hype to make you think your getting something that is beyond what most others are incapable of doing. It's an ink jet print plain and simple.
In defence of most Giclee prints, they are very color fast. I've done tests and the inks are almost non fading over a years worth of sunlight which is quite incredible. I use an Epson printer that can print images 24 inches wide and however long the paper is. The quality can't be beat. Just don't let a gallery owner lead you to believe there is some magic in the term Giclee. It's a French word that means spray which is what an ink jet printer is.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I find that clouds are one of the most difficult things for me to paint. Other people find it complicated to paint water or waves. Me, it's clouds. I have noticed that much of the time the bottom of a white cumulus cloud is gray and that gray is most often about the same value (lightness or darkness) of the blue sky around it. (Not the case with this painting on the left) I've made a mistake many times of making that gray area of the cloud darker than it should be. In other words, I were to take a photo of the clouds and convert it to black and white, the bottom of the cloud would often be the same shade as the sky around it.
No hard and fast rules with clouds though. It takes very clear thinking to paint them. They are far more complex than just putting a few strokes down on the canvas.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What is White?

What color is it? A question I often ask myself. When you look at a paint chip in a store you might say that it is red, or blue and recognize that it has a particular shade but what color really is it? The color only exists because of the light that is shone on it at that moment. In other words, there is no color at all without light and the type of light or shadows that fall upon the object determines the color. If you look at a white building, one side might be in shade, one side in sunlight, one area might have reflected light on it from the grass giving it a green cast and so on. The problem of seeing color clearly is one of determining what colors are around it and how they are influencing it weather it be the color of the light itself or of reflected light and shadow. To say something is white is mearly a generalization. For the artist that white wall may be seen as having a hundred different colors. Study a white wall and see how many colors and different shades of light and dark you can find. It will surprise you.
Sometimes you will only be able to say that this part is a warm color and another area a cool color but you will readily see that white is not white at all.

Inspiration Anywhere

I have always been able to see something worthwhile painting in the most unlikely places. Even an unsightly construction site where the earth has been plowed up and trash litters the area will have something there worth painting. It could be a small flower that struggles to grow among the rubble or an interesting piece of machinery. Whatever the case, I can always find something of beauty wherever I go.
Having said that and being in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains for the past six months, there is much more motivation to create in a place where things are natural and that inspires me to paint with an enthusiasm I don't have in places where nature struggles against man.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The $1000 Painting

For the artists that don't think about it and for the collectors buying art, the price tag is broken down many times.
For a piece of art that sells in a gallery for $1000, the gallery genereally gets 50%. That leaves the artist with $500. The frame might cost the artist $75 if he or she is lucky. That leaves $425. Then the government at the end of the year will want about 25 to 30% of that leaving the artist with a total of about $260 for that $1000 painting. That's the reality of being a painter and trying to make a living at it. Think about it! But not too much because you might become depressed.

Using Masonite for Painting

I have found that painting on masonite is good for several reasons and I use it exclusively now for small paintings. Since my summer studio has limited space, the masonite takes up 1/5 the room as one piece of canvas. It also gives me a surface that I can work more detail into than using canvas.
I use to buy a 4x8' sheet of masonite, cut it into small pieces and gesso the boards but I have discovered that I can buy a sheet of masonite already primed at the large home supply centers. The board I'm talking about is used in inexpensive kitchens as backspashes and such. It has a shinny surface on it but if you take sandpaper and remove that high gloss finish, I've found that my acrylic paints stick extremely well with no problem. This saves me the trouble of applying a coat of gesso. If the board is still too smooth for you, add a thin coat of gesso. One thin coat will do the job to give it some extra tooth. An 8x10" piece after you cut it up will cost you about 20 cents or less. Don't use really large pieces of this or masonite as it can warp. The largest I use is 16x20" and I've had no trouble.
The home centers will also cut the sheets for you for a small cost. Just be sure they are very accurate when they cut it so the pieces will fit in your standard size frames. It's a good idea to use standard sizes too. That way you can mix and match frames easily.
You can view a 3 minute video on this subject HERE.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Artists need an audience. Without that, it is called practice.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I heard a conversation the other day about how humans think in words and that language is the base for all we do. But the artist, musician, and dancer don't use the a language based on words. Their language is one completely removed from words. Like any language, some people understand it intuitevly and some don't. When I paint there are no words going on in the process either verbally or in my head. It is a language without words.

Building a painting

Painting is like building a house. It goes quickly at first when the framing gets put up and you can visualize what the house is going to be but then after several months, the flooring and cabinets are still not in place. A painting is like that. It goes quickly at first and then gets slower and slower as minor adjustments have to be made and more considerations have to be taken into account as you progress towards a finish.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

More than a camera

The camera can see a lot more than I can but when I paint I want to paint something that the camera cannot see. The complexity of nature, its light and how it plays on objects, is detailed down to the last molecule and beyond. The painter takes the basic information in a simplified form he or she sees and expresses a feeling about it in their heart and soul. That's something a camera can't do and something no book can teach.

Left Brain

A nice lady came into my studio this morning and was beginning to paint. She told me she was studying the book "How to draw with the left side of the brain." Throw those books away. Your not going to learn how to draw or paint in a book. There is no fast and easy method. The only way to learn to paint is to paint and do lots of it. Everything else is just mind entertainment and that includes my posts.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Too much

I think that there's just too much stuff happening in the world for people in general to be interested in art much anymore.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Old Barns

I love painting the old barns that are in the foothills of North Carolina. Time has transformed them and made them a part of the mountains. They become one with all that surrounds them and those old structures in no way intrude on the landscape as new homes do. There is a sincerity about old structures that make one feel that all is right with the world. A good feeling to have if even for a moment.


It is not so much the subject but rather how it is painted, how it is thought of by the artist that will make a painting good or not. One of the very first paintings I ever sold was of two garbage cans. Not a glamorous subject but the mood and vigor in which it was done became focus more than the subject itself.


One job of a painter is to find big things in small things.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Using Standard Size Frames

If you make your living selling your paintings, consider using a few standard sizes so you can mix and match your picture frames. I have found there are many times someone will like a painting but not the frame. If you use standard sizes, then it's easy to swap them and then everyone's happy.


In my case, creative output is not associated with the sale of artwork. Many of my most productive periods have been during my most troublesome times and slowest sales periods. It sometimes is the case that brisk sales bring down quality of work yet in the long run, artists need an audience and some appreciation to keep the spirits up.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Social painting

Painting in some cases seems to be a social experience. Art centers rely on this but painting is a solitary persuit and the mixture of painting and being social at the same time can deminish the heart of your painting.

Too Easy

Don't fall for instructions that show you how to make a leaf with the flick of a brush in one stroke. Those type of approaches trivialize what you are capable of creating.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Not seeing at all

Many people that come into a gallery and don't see the first painting on the wall and have no idea what their eyes just drifted over. I'm sure this carries over into their daily life concerning observation. However, there are those few who come into the gallery and get absorbed into the work and see things with the same interest as the artist sees them. Those few keep the blood in an artists veins from clogging up while the other group can soon make an artist wonder why he or she is bothering at all.

Purchasing Art

I believe many artists like myself are suffering from people who have WalMart mentality when it comes to the appreciation and the purchase of art. The Giclee print is also sounding the death nell for original art.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More is sometimes less

I avoid knowing too much about the subject I'm painting. Knowing too many facts can prevent an artist from feeling the essence of the subject. When that happens the painting becomes more of a report and less of a work of art.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Watercolors can be as rich as oils or acrylics but few use the medium to its full extent. Just because they are water colors doesn't mean they have to be watered down to where they appear insipid. Put some color on there, deep and dark.

Dark to Light

Make your painting darker than you think it needs to be, then work your lights over your darks and let some of those darks show through. It will give your paintings more richness and texture.


I'm not one to copy others work, but the best way to learn how to paint seascapes is to look at others who paint them well.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Planting Trees

When I paint a tree I make sure that the trunk is anchored to the ground in such a way that the ground and the trunk become indistinguisable. I paint the shadow and the trunk the same color and the same value out from where the tree meets the earth. They melt into one and other. The same is true of fence posts and anything that protrudes from the ground. It must feel like it is part of the earth; solid and strong.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Using Paint

Don't be miserly with your paint. Use it like it were dirt if you need to in order to accomplish what you have in mind when you paint. Not having enough paint on your palette will slow you down and hinder you immensly.

Direction toward Simplicity

I think one key reason that paintings are attractive lies in simplicity. It must be that way. It can't go the other direction and would be impossible to make a painting more complicated than nature with all its variations in texture, color, and ever changing light. Landscape painters recreate nature but must put it in simpler terms if by no other reason than only a few colors are used on a palette compared to the millions of nuances we see in life.
It could be that intuitively a viewer likes this simplification in his or her life as does the painter. It might make things clearer in some ways and gives answers to the heart and soul that might otherwise be lost in the ever changing three dimensions.
Art is a process of transition as light and paint are completely different from each other and can only be compared in the most general sense.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Using Photos

Painting from photographs, especially since digital photos can be viewed so clearly on a monitor, can have many advantages over painting landscapes in the field. The benefit is that your composition has been established and your borders defined. You can do all your composition in the viewfinder of your camera which eliminates one major step while painting. A two dimensional photo is also easier to grasp being that you don't have to transpose your three dimensional view in the open into two dimensions on your canvas.
There is no substitute for seeing though and everywhere you go, you must constantly analyze the things you eyes see in real life.
Use your own photos otherwise you will not have the same understanding about the subject even if seeing the real thing was only for a moment.


You can watch a violinist for twenty years but by doing so you won't be able to play a violin. Watching a painting demonstration won't teach you how to paint either. Don't kid yourself. Only picking up the bow or the brush can anyone become a musician or an artist. There is a place for seeing how things are done but too many people use it as a lazy substitute for doing it themselves and finding their own way. It satisfies a need, can give some motivation, but it won't really do much else. There is no substitute for doing.

Art School

People still ask me where I learned to paint and are looking for an answer about which school I attended as if the attendance at an art school had much to do with current paintings. I don't know why the notion that everything an artist knows came from a few years with a few teachers and the thousands and thousands of paintings I have created since then has nothing to do with that they are looking at in my studio presently.
Artists must give credit to themselves for creating art. This making of paintings has little to do with instruction and a whole lot to do with sitting in front of a canvas and finding ones own way with paint and brush.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Moving On

Don't labor over a painting. If it doesn't look right, try to figure out why and if it can't be fixed without excessive labor drop in and go on to another painting. Once your enthusiasm has been dampened it is difficult or impossible to regain it, so best move on. Your discouragement will be less than had you stubbornly stuck with a piece that just doesn't have a spark.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Never think that any tool you use is cheating. There is no substitute for knowing how to draw and one must know drawing, perspective, and such before it can possibly show in a painting, even abstract painting. Without knowing the basics even the most uneducated viewer will instinctively know something is wrong with the painting. But when an artist is firmly based in composition, drawing, and the use of line, using tools such as a projector, camera, or anything else for that matter to accomplish your goal can be useful and one should not be embarrassed by using those tools that are available to him or her.
I believe if the old masters had digital images available, they certainly would have put them to use.
When someone buys a painting from me they care very little about how the image was created. What they are buying is an image that speaks to them in some way. They don't care if I used a paint brush made of sable or one of old hemp. They are interested in the result, not the path that created it.

Preconcieved Notions

Get over the childhood notion that tree trunks are brown, the grass is green, and the sky is blue. Use your eyes and start to see the huge variety of color there is going on all around you and how they all interact to each other. Think about what colors you would mix on your palette to create that tree trunk you are looking at.

Self Consciousness

Don't be concerned about what someone else will think of you painting. Loose that self consciousnessabout it. The world is too busy with other things to really care anyway. If you paint what you feel and leave what you think other people will feel out of the equation , then your painting will be much improved not only in your eyes but in others as well.


Paintings must start out with a good foundation. In other words, large shapes have to be established before details are added. Otherwise the painting will collapse like trying to install door and windows before the walls are even up. One way to see these large important areas more clearly is by squinting the eyes as it will eliminates detail and bring masses into your realization more readily.
Of all the principles I try and follow when painting, laying in the large areas first is probably the most important to a successful result.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Light leans towards color, not white.

Painting quickly

I try to complete a painting as fast as I can in order to keep the look of spontaneity that iniatiated the spark of enthusiasm I had to make the painting in the first place. A labored painting always lacks the excitement of the artist who created it and the viewer can consciously or unconsciously pick up on it right away.


You can't do a good painting with a bad brush and it's a bad investment of your time and energy to think otherwise.


The most difficult part of painting is putting down the first brush stroke. It takes courage and a fearless committment.
The next most difficult part of painting is knowing when to stop.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An Effortless Look

A painting should always look like it were done effortlessly even if it was not. That is much easier said that it is to actually accomplish but it is the mark of a good painting.
This small 8x10" painting was done in Saluda NC.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Type of Collectors

There are three type of people who purchase art. One collects art as an investment. They hope it will not only increase in value but increase their standing among their colleagues. Secondly there are those that buy art to fill that empty space over their sofa. This usually requires that the art match the color of the sofa. Then there are those who purchase a painting because it has a particular meaning to them. It speaks to them and reminds them of something that they are fond of. It creates a good feeling in their home.
Most people who purchase a painting from me fit into this last category. I would like to think so anyway.

Monday, July 10, 2006


When I was young I thought it important to aquire all that I desired and I pretty much did that. Now that I'm older I have an overwhelming need to rid myself of all that material as soon as possible. Things that were once a focus have now become a burden.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Making Statements

I have tired of looking at art that has been made convey social statements or to shock. There is altogether too much of it in the 24 hour a day news to entice me to spend much time looking at one more opinion. For myself, I need to look at something that takes me away from the upset and offer instead sense of permanency the world has existed in for so long without needing change. A mountain is as beautiful as it has always been. It doesn't need to update itself. I think we all need a rest from the shock. That's what I try and do with the paintings. I navigate to paintings without a message to offend, surprise, upset, or alarm. Paintings that give a respite from that is what I need.


Most of the information that one can get when looking at a painting lies at the edge of the form. For instance when painting a tree or group of trees, most of what is within those borders is simply mass. What really describes the tree is the shape around the edges and by that outer shape it can easily be realized what type of tree it is. This is true of any subject.
I watched some very skilled artists at Disney World cut side view silhouettes of tourists using black paper and scissors. They worked because the edge described all that was necessary to convey what was within.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fewer Strokes

The best paintings are often created with the fewest brush strokes. Anyone can make a fairly comprehensive and convincing painting if they dab at it long enough with a tiny brush. The trick is to create the same result using only a few strokes. It's often not an easy task as it takes forethought and conviction. The result will be more powerful, the statement stronger, the conviction more apparent, and the beauty will be seen more clearly with this economy of means. However, it is not an easy task to accomplish and I often find myself picking at a painting with details to try and dig my way out of a painting situation that would have been much better corrected by building a stronger foundation to start with.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Tone of a painting

Most great paintings that deal in realism have an overall color tone to them. I look at such paintings and immediately say to myself, "This is a green painting, or this is a yellow-ochre painting." There are exceptions but generally an overall tone is a mark of a well thought out, well visulaized painting. It is a mark of someone who sees beyond what one expects. Objects effect each other so strongly with regard to reflected light as well as shadow that a painting will be lacking without these effects being realized on each other and as a whole.


Paintings that I have done which are most successful are the ones that have no more than three major elements in them. Each element can have multiple trees, buildings, umbrellas, etc. in them but for my taste they must be grouped as one. If the one element is a set of buildings they must be connected or grouped in some way either by light, shadow, color, or a physical connection of touching each other. In any case they must all look and feel like one large block.
Sky and water can become one element as they can share the same value and color. Trees and grass can do the same but the better paintings have a unity of oneness about them and much of it is obtained by this grouping of objects.

Clearly stated

In the much overused current political vocabulary, the word "clearly" means that their opinion is right. If you have a different view, your opinion is wrong and are probably an idiot. Whenever a polititian uses the word "clear" then he or she has an adjenda. The word raises a red flag for me and I know there is probably room for discussion. Of course the use of the word also means that there is no room for discussion.
Another much overused word is "absolutely" and it too has lost all meaning.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The subject of talent has often come up by people that visit me at my studio. Occasionally they tell me how talented I am. "What God given talent you have", they say. It's like going into someones home and telling a mother how well God raised her children and give no credit at all to the mother. When I bring up this fact, I get a response similar to what you sometimes get when you say you are against the war. Many instantly believe you are anti-American, unpatriotic, aiding the enemy by stating such a thing, etc. In the same way when take some credit for all the work I've created (probably 10,000 plus paintings, drawings, and sketches) I am branded as being anti-God.
I've come to the conclusion that it's not the business for anyone to assign credit to you or to God. Appreciate the work and leave it at that. They should keep silent on the matter of allocating credit. I'll give credit to God to whom I believe and love but don't come into my home and imply that all this hard work wasn't really hard work and dedication at all but that it is all a gift. It isn't. It requires decades of dedication and hard labor. If I have any gift from God (which I have many) it is a gift to not quit.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Missing colors?

I woman came in my studio today and asked if I saw color. She had spent time in Sedona and told me she had learned to see colors and wondered if I saw colors. She said it changed her life. She was speaking about auras. Well, I'm not sure I see colors around things but I certainly see and am acutely atuned to color. Why is it people feel the need to add to the abundance that is already there? Is there something missing in reality?

Monday, June 26, 2006


I have never been on a vacation and gotten away from my job. Never. It's not that I am taking care of business in the normal sense with phone calls and such. I care very little for that. The fact is that everywhere I go and am confronted with colors, shapes, lights and darks, and compositions that I constantly study and analyze. It's like a curse. I can never relax from involving myself with the light. I'm constantly squinting my eyes to see the big patterns, picking up on a reflected color from one object to another. They are there for everyone to see but for some reason I don't think most people see them as I do or at least do not involve themselves with it.
I feel like I have to make a record of magnificent ever changing beauty. Of course, no one cares for the most part but I'm compelled in this work of observation. It may be a bit silly but in other ways it's what creation and the Creator has put here for me to see. I appreciate every element of this light and shadow play so much. I feel I have to express my appreciation for it all in what I do weather it be in paint on canvas or through video.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Copies anyone?

I have been painting all my life and making a living since I was twenty with the creation of colorful brush marks on canvas. But things have changed. I think the profession of being a fine artist is going the way of the old sign painter.
In general people don't make a distinction between original and copy anymore. Reproductions have become so good that it's hard for even a trained eye to tell the difference, so why should anyone be interested in original art? It's a problem that more artists are finding out.