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Updated 3/29/12

The Daily Paintings and Postcard-Sized Sketches in Oils and Acrylics

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April 2007

1

I am so excited to share with you some really incredible news--I have been working on a portrait of a famous celebrity... can I possibly hold it in??? I could just die with the excitement of it ! I don't know why I've been so lucky, but her publicist has been on the phone with me for hours over the last few weeks. Sometimes things just happen the way they are supposed to, and this event is no exception. I'm presenting the finished painting here for you to see first, since it has been under wraps for the last few weeks. Yes, I can finally share! She's coming to pick it up tomorrow, and my husband is just BEYOND excited to actually get to meet this star when her limosine comes up the driveway. It has been quite a day! Now I don't want you to be envious... but all these daily paintings have finally paid off! I have to tell you that getting the chihuahua "just right" was a bit of a challenge, because he just wouldn't hold still for the photo session. However, I think I've successfully captured his manic look.

I imagine that this work of art will go down in the annals of history as a contemporary example of exemplary portraiture, don't you think?

2

I finished the lesson painting in acrylics, spending most of the work on the details and glazing over to create the illusion of atmosphere and dust. These horses are in a drylot, which means dust and no grass--just hay in the feeder. I enjoyed making the highlights on each of the horses a slightly different color, and then unifying the complementary colors with the glazes using gel medium and thinned colors. I hope you enjoy it!

In other news, I received my advance copy of the American Journal of Veterinary Medicine, with my painting "Lesson Cat" on the cover. You can see the painting in September 2006 of my dailypaintings.com site! It's sold, of course, and I even had some folks trying to buy it again! Oh dear. Maybe I need to paint more cats... I do so love them!

Yesterday's silly Photoshop'd image of that celebrity had a few of you going for a while... April Fools!

3

The result of today's painting session is a closeup study of Pesto, one of the studio cats. She is a calico, and has the most gentle nature, but in this image, she is gazing with that typical "cat intensity". I'm painting her to celebrate the cover of the American Veterinary Medical Association--I've had many nice emails from folks out there who have seen the cover. I need to put it on my web site!

On a sadder note, each time I put in the date in the title, Blogger remembers what i last typed. And last year this time began the week of ministrations to my mother as she declined and died finally on the 8th. I wonder what I will paint on that day, this year?

This acrylic for today has to of Quail Valley, California.

4

Last year on this date, I painted a small 5 x 7 of an Oahu sunset, having heard from the doctor that Mom probably wasn't going to pull through this. My sister has that painting now. If you're interested, you can find the complete month ofApril 2006, and you can scroll down to the bottom to see the series. I don't know why I'm reliving that week, but I must, so the paintings are showing how different the perception is now that time has passed, and how I've dealt with the grief of losing such a treasured advisor and friend. I know I did some of my most powerful paintings during that week, especially this one.

Today's painting was done in a very short time, from no reference other than a small toddler in a dress throwing bread to some ducks--a photo I took ages ago--that started the process. The rest has come from my memories--Lake Barcroft in Virginia, where I spent age 8 through 12, being a tomboy. That's Beach 3 across the water, and that's me about age 11, complete with glasses, a totally outdoors kid. I'm tossing memories from the basket out to float on the water, sharing some of them with you today and through this week. This 12 x 9 oil painting is not for sale.

5

This 16 x 20 oil came off my brushes today and is called "Passages #3"; there is just a great load of symbolism in it for me. I travel the road in the lower portion never quite soaring though life, but with beautiful sights to see along the way. The fence represents the limits we place on ourselves, preventing us from doing more, sharing more, enjoying more. Notice how flimsy it is? It truly is a flimsy reason for not getting out there "off the beaten path". I am headed for the gate at the end of my life, and I know I will slip through that little gap when my time comes, and go into the area I can't see right now. That's where we all will be some day, and the misty blues of that distant place ought not to scare nor keep us from our journey. For me, I know I will meet my mom and dad, and as I age, many more friends and family will be there.
"Passages #3" is for sale from my ebay store for $400.

6

I finally pried Betty Billups away from her mural commission and said, "We need to go paint!" She listened, and we headed out with the pack goat loaded with our gear. Up the mountain behind my studio we went, and had a wonderful afternoon of painting--just enough time for her to regroup and we both painted while Vincent van Goat lay in the shade of one of the many rocks strewn around the landscape. After about an hour, we headed back another way, through the riparian habitat below the house--keeping Vincent away from the poison oak!


This is an original oil, 8 x 10 inches, for sale for $120 through my ebay store. .

Congratulations to Debbie Sullivan--the first signup for the Georgia Workship in September!

7

In getting ready to go to my sister's for a day-early Easter dinner, I painted this 9 x 12 oil of Vincent van Goat from reference material taken yesterday. Betty is just as good with a camera as she is with a brush, and the close-up reference shot of Vinny was just too good to ignore. I know I will treasure this painting of "my boy", one of the friendliest and willingest Saanen wethers I've ever known. He was born in Spring, and fell into my hands. i had Tappy, his mom, as a milk goat. He seems to be looking back over his own life, with many trails and places. New life begins in the spring--I discovered a nest of house sparrows in the electrical box of my camper today! But along with new life, comes the loss of old life.
House guest Betty Billups received news of the death of someone close to her, and she's heading north to the funeral. The mural will be on hold for a few days. So many people seem to die in Spring...I think that is purposeful, to get us to move on into summer and get on with our own living, and to rejoice with all the new life in the cycle of the seasons.

Many have asked what I'm going to paint tomorrow--but I have no idea yet, except to say it will be from my heart. Thank you for joining me on this journey. This painting has to Charlotte R McDavid of Birmingham, Alabama.

8

After thinking for many hours what I could possibly do that would convey my feelings, my thoughts, and share my heart with all of you, the following painting came into my head, and I could see it finished even before I chose the 12" round, beveled edge canvas. I found the material I needed, but wanted to place the lilies above the horizon, as if lifted themselves to the light. I turned the one to face that direction to make the connection. I have an inner feeling of great peace with the completion of this work, and am just humbled by the gift of art that I can share on a daily basis with you.

May you each have a peace-filled, loving celebration in the comfort of your places, based upon your own religious beliefs. The song "Nearer My God to Thee" came to mind as I put the final strokes on the lily. It's one I play on the piano almost every session.

This painting is available for immediate purchase for $295 from my ebay store.

9

Sometimes the muse that sparks one's creativity takes a serious hike. What do you do when the muse is on vacation, and you have to create? I find that if I'm IN the workspace, and start noodling around with a canvas, an idea will come. Thus it is tonight. After a LONG ride (again six hours in the saddle, pre-riding the trails on the mountain behind the studio for a ride scheduled two weeks from now), I have a mind of mush and the creative energy of a snail. So into the studio I go (the discipline of doing 540+ paintings in the past 18 months helps), and I get out a 12 x 16 board, and start "funnin' around" with some acrylic color and gel medium, alcohol (not for me) spray and daub a bit here and there.... and an idea starts. This painting is going to be a really textured pastoral scene, lots of blades of grass, bushes, and horses. Haven't figured out the lighting yet, but misty sounds good, as does low evening light across pastures.
I can see these paintings finished almost, once the idea is there. My muse is back home again, chuckling and chortling in the corner. I gave him a beer. Let's see where this one goes tomorrow, OK?

10

Now take a look at this canvas surface, and compare it to yesterday's underpainting. An idea of a painting has come to me, and it will be fun to pull it out of this sketchy-skritchy brushworked background! I have set up the major values and color scheme, without any focal point yet, as I want this background to play a subordinate part in this 12 x 16 acrylic. Yes, it will be horse-related! Even though you can see the underlying abstract structure of the painting-to-be, I doubt very much that you can tell how the finished work is going to look! That's the fun of being an artist--sometimes the path I take to the destination of a finished canvas goes through some mighty interesting territory!
The lighting on this will be overcast, and diffuse. There will be a bit of backlighting on this one though! (Oh, I do love backlit subjects...)

11

Now take a look at how this acrylic painting is developing! Such fun to add layers on top of what was there yesterday, and start to build the contrast and movement! Although my source material (Rolex, equestrian three-day-event) was much larger, I want the horse and rider to fit into the scenery, so as they head pell-mell through the water (yes, that will be water, just not tonight!), the surrounding scenery will play like the backdrop of a huge stage, with the spotlight on the rider and horse. Do you see how all that mish-mash of brushwork under this focal point now works like the myriad instruments of a symphony? All the players are important when brought together, yet each has its individual "loudness".

12

I finished up the 12 x 16 acrylic of the Rolex Three Day Event rider, putting many glazes of gel medium and veils of color on the distant trees, the water and the rest of the composition to unify and create visual interest. It sure was fun to paint the water! Not at all like the photo, which showed a muddy, murky splash. I like the greens much better! I think I'm going to hold this one for a show coming up later this year. I think it might do well.

And congratulations to Charlotte McDavid of Birmingham, Alabama, on her acquisition of my painting of Vincent Van Goat. The purchase was made through my ebay store. That's a fast, easy way to make a purchase because of all the different ways of making payment. I like that it is up there 24/7 so many people can view the works.

13

When is a painting finished? Last night when this painting came to you, it was signed, and yet there was that itty-bitty bit of doubt that something was missing. Then an email from Cincinnati from a friend in illustration pointed the way. She acknowledged that the horse's stride would make those splashes, but that their repetition and cadence were eye-grabbing, even moreso than the horse itself. So, the solution was to bring the painting up for one more go-pass, and the addition of a large tree shading the water, and those splashes going down in contrast and becoming less repetitive. I also needed to lighten the distant trees making more value changes in them to create more form. Out came the plastic wrap, and up went the leaves (daub, daub, daub!). Once dry, glazes of other colors made those daubs much more interesting.

The lighting on this one tonight, for photography, isn't the best--tomorrow I'll cart it out doors and get an accurate one. Too much glare affecting the curve of values. I can assure you it looks much better in person!

So when is a painting finished? When you can figure out what to do, and when the muse stops poking you in the nether regions with his pencil. My muse is now snoring off a couple beers back in his corner.

Congratulations to Linda McFadden of Murietta, California, on her purchase of "Santa Rosa Plateau, Sylvan Meadows, April" from my big web site's page of paintings from the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve. Thank you!

14

An evening out, with a strawberry margarita, some espresso/vodka and wonderful Italian cuisine, finished up with spumoni ice cream and I'm not bent for making masterpieces, I can tell you. But this 7 x 5 acrylic of the Washingtonian palm trees of the low desert came off the brushes in spite of the funny pleasure of good company and good food earlier in the evening! Discipline. Definitely. And certainty of knowing which color to use, and where.
Acrylics are wonderful, fast and flexible. Now that I have my new tripod for plein air, I think I'll switch back to oils. Betty Billups is back from the on-location work for the mural, and the painting--all 16 feet of it--is now in my outer studio. It will be fun to have her here working on it again!
Complete blog here.

15

Like after a long night in a bar, when everyone looks a whole lot better the later the hour, I woke up this morning and looked at yesterday's painting and said, "Yeow!! Who hit you with the ugly stick?"
OK, all right, so it wasn't that bad, but finding a need to "finish" it made me grab up the brushes and add one more layer. I sought softer desert grays, and made one of the palms shorter for better design (not like two equal eyeballs looking at you!). It's still just a 7 x 5 inch acrylic, but a nice one for $100, soon to be on the ebay store.
On another note, there are still some spots in the next workshop in June, at Shaker Village, near Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. You get to stay, eat and paint an historic town, and it promises to be a fun-filled acrylic three-dayer. I'll hope to meet some more of you in person!

Congratulations to new collector Denise Gutnisky of Covington, Louisiana, on her purchase of two paintings today from my collector's web site, "Evening at the Santa Rosa Plateau" and "Canyon Sunset". Thank you!

16

In my outer studio (which measures 28 x 22 feet), Betty has set up the mural commission she's doing for Mt. SAC (Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California), and I thought it would be fun for you to see it at this stage--about sixty to seventy percent finished. The mural measures six feet tall and sixteen feet long. The image only shows about fourteen feet of it--couldn't get the camera to take in the right side! Each panel (from 1x4 feet to 4 x 4 feet) is assembled separately, and the final presentation will be with a 1/2 inch gap between the separate pieces, with charcoal gray in between. Makes transporting them a bit easier!

Betty does these murals as commissions and has given me permission to share with you her web page for these beautiful projects! I'm so tickled to have her stay with us while this unfolds. A great opportunity to see a pro do her stuff. I hope you enjoy it. You can go here for her mural page.

OK, so I didn't send one of mine! I'm working on a commission though, which I'll begin to share with you tomorrow as a lesson painting. Another beloved pet, recently gone over the Rainbow Bridge. (This is a particularly nice version of the poem. Anyone who has lost a pet might enjoy seeing this one.)

17

I'm starting the planning stages for a commission of a Jack Russell terrier, and have been given some free rein to do what I like with it. The dog is gone, and it always touches a place of sadness when I am asking my abilities to give the gift of a memory to someone. But I cannot not do it, because I have been so touched by the love of dogs and cats, and their memories are precious to me, too.

I'm working through some ideas for plotting the placement and activity of this JRT, doign what she loved (chasing squirrels) and yet capturing the bundled up energy of this breed. She's mostly white with a tan head. While I work out the design issues, I am thinking about the dog, and studying the three images I have been sent of her. They are small, and don't show a lot of detail. I'm going to have my work cut out for me. AFter I figure the pose, I'll get to working on arranging the background.
Here's one of the source photos:

18

Many wrote with preferences for picking a sketch from yesterday's choices for the upcoming comission, and I appreciate the wonderful reasons for your selections. All are valid. However the muse came in, snorted in disgust and said I could do better. Knowing he was probably right, I got out the pencils and went back to work. The final sketch loosely done with brushwork shows up on this 11 x 14 inch canvas as I begin the work for Marti's memories of Meg. I drew the dog, compositing her from many other dog images, a background from one of the submitted images, and also from having a terrier myself. Nothing like rubbing a hand over a dog to give you ideas on muscles and structure. (Wonder if I can deduct her as a model? Hmmmm.)
This first pass is over a quick removal of the white canvas with a mixture of Australian Red Gold (Artist Spectrum, manufacturer) and Sap Green (Classic Artist Oils). This under layer was wiped with a paper towel, and then the drawing of the background and dog was done with burnt umber. I've started to do the large dark shapes when I remembered, "Elin, take a PICTURE!!". So here ya go! My muse is back on his tuffet, too, hoisting a brew.

19

This is where the fun begins--not with the focal point, the dog, but with the background, laying in all those interesting thin color layers, using more transparent pigments such as sap green and burnt umber. I'm starting to get those big shapes in place that will be "noodled" later on to be more interesting. Work on the dog? Nawww, not time yet!! I wait, knowing that if I get the background to look interesting, then it will be my goal to make the dog even MORE interesting. If I get the background too important at this stage, then when I go to work on the dog, everything will be screaming for attention. So I lay in the background areas, making them "nice" but not "TOO" nice! These areas you see today don't have the details yet, that also comes later, as I bring the design to a crescendo for the ultimate finish. Hmmmm, a lot like music. By the way, my muse is imaginary. My hubby would never come in scratching himself and saying I could do better!

20

Interesting evening. Saw a movie "Big Fish" and it made me think about reality, and where I may be as an artist. We are all at some point on the road to artistic expression, and tonight's movie just helped me to explore my perception of where I am. It isn't a static, no-change location, which is reassuring. As I continue to practice my art, I get better. I learn, I make fewer mistakes, and what I'm doing is very personal and expressive of who I am at this particular moment in time. And moments in time change, so no matter how I feel at the moment, change is inevitable. Perhaps these thoughts are what keep me painting.

I had a wonderful afternoon with Judy Johnson, an artist from Michigan, visiting my studio and meeting her for the first time. Some people are as comfortable as an old sweater--familiar and warm. Judy's that way--and we thoroughly enjoyed one another's company.
And today's work on the commission continues... Now I'm putting in the lighter values, covering the canvas with the shapes and hues of the dog, the patches of snow(!) and the tree trunks. Each element of these added pieces are carefully thought out to enhance the design and keep the viewer's eye within the composition. I minimized the heavier weight of the dog by putting the lower torso in shadow, and having late afternoon light coming in from the right to illuminate the head and chest, keeping the focal point in that area. More work tomorrow!

21

Finished up this portrait of Meg, and the individual who requested this commission is just thrilled. I'm really pleased with it as well, since it not only allows me to do something meaningful for someone, but it also allows me to think through the puzzle of solving the issues unique to the task.

Sorry about the flub-up on yesterday's subject line. That happens when I type in a date--last year's subject automatically slips in, and I just forgot to update it. Been to Hawaii, not going back any time soon.

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and Betty and I will be heading over to a special event at Dos Lagos near Corona to paint "en plein air'. I will be saying goodby to her next Wednesday, and she already knows how sad that will make me. It's been great fun having such an accomplished artist and friend to interact with, and I'll miss her conversations and good heart.

So tomorrow's painting will be one of the two or more I'll do while on location. See ya then!

22

Off to the celebration of Earth Day and vendors in a local shopping center. I painted this 8 x 10 oil feeling as though I was being disloyal to my own definition of Earth Day standing where I was. I left out the hordes of people--guess I'll add 'em later.
This shopping complex and bunch of homes sits on what used to be an old quarry which had gone below the water table with the result being two lakes. A haven for wild birds, these two lakes with their island were stopovers on the flyways of migrating birds. What has replaced them is two concrete-edged-and-lined ponds with a man-made waterfall between them. No self-respecting migratory bird would waste their time in those waters. Anchored with a Starbucks, the stores and other vendors did a thriving business with balloons, politicos celebrating relationships with developers, and "working to the betterment of the community" speeches. Bleagh. I noticed no birds anywhere on the grounds.

I hunkered down and looked up and painted clouds. Did a second one which I will share with you tomorrow.

23

I have to admit that painting along side Betty Billups (or at least in the vicinity of) sure kickstarts the color and choice of subject! There is pure artistic energy when artists get together to paint, and even moreso when the artists have as many miles of canvas under their brushes as Betty and I.
I encourage all artists to get to where they can be influenced by others (classroom, workshop or just getting together!) because it is true that the sum is more than its parts when applied to artists painting together!

This 12 x 9 oil came off the brushes as the day turned cooler and windier on Earth Day. I love the way the fog comes in over the Cleveland National Forest and the coastal range of mountains in Southern California. Since I considered the buildings to be incidental to the scene, they are bit players for that sky. Interesting though, that the light posts jut up into that space, connecting and also saying "look at me" the way humans and human-created things tend to do.

24

Sorry about the late post on this one. Our Netgear wireless hiccupped last night (at midnight) so although I was having the best of intentions, nothing hit the airwaves!
I have a bit of news to share with you, which happened because of my web sites and blog. I've been contacted by representatives from the Colony Theater in Burbank to hang a show of my large African wildlife works during the run of a play with that theme this fall. They are interested in the big pieces, and I have three in the series which were found on my big website. (Scroll down). In the series are giraffes, cheetahs, and elephants. I need to fill it out with BIG canvases (4 x 5 feet and larger!) of zebras and lions. Oh! I do love to paint large!

So I start with some small studies, which are actually nice little paintings. This is an 8 x 10 acrylic study of a Grevy's zebra. I'm thinking I don't want to do the pencil-striped zebras for the big one or else I'll be completely nutziod when it's done! Yes, there are zebras "of a different stripe" out there!

This original is available through my ebay store for $140.

25

On location this afternoon painting with Betty Billups, who will be leaving after a grand visit with me for the past month. I'll miss her humor and good friendship. We went up to my favorite places to paint, the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve near Murrieta, hoping to meet up with other Plein Air Artists of Riverside (PAAR). A horseback rider said she'd seen one other, but we didn't find her. Now I've brought Raindance up here to ride myself, and know the area well. Thus I decided to paint the water trough where well water comes in and over flows to water the thirsty horses. This is a 10 x 8 oil, and will be up on my ebay store in a couple of days.
Interesting that using a new tripod had me standing to paint, and I can see the difference in my horizon lines in this piece. The horizon line is well up above the mid-point of the painting. (This is good.)

26

The second of the two paintings done on location on Wednesday--found out that there were others there painting, but we didn't get in contact/phone numbers in time, so Betty and I just painted our brushes off and then went to dinner. This one happened later in the afternoon, when the "mare's tails" of clouds were coming in to indicate a change of weather. Wonderful skies, and Betty is such a sky painter, that it was fun to do one while she was nearby.

Today I said goodbye, as she left for parts north on her way home to Idaho. I'll miss her, but we both benefited greatly from the time together, and she stored about 25 of her paintings here for the show this September! They'll continue to inspire me.

One of my little paintings from 2006 is going to be in an 8th grade English literature textbook to be published next fall. Funny how stuff happens. I paint a pair of socks because I run out of new ideas for subjects to paint, and THAT painting is selected for publication! Amazing who is coming through my web sites, isn't it? It's going to be tied to a poem about socks. It's from the month of August 2006 (opens new page), created on the 25th of that month, so scroll down.
I'm getting ready to start the big paintings after I finish up one commission, and I'll do those as lesson pieces for your enjoyment.

27

Thank you to all who wrote saying they were getting their morning (mostly) fix of daily painting emails! I'm so glad to hear from you and yet I worry about those who said they weren't getting them! Still haven't figured out what's going on.

We all wonder when a painting's finished, right? When can you stop? Well, in my case, I know when a painting ISN'T finished--it shows up without a signature. I ran across this acrylic, started while in the Arizona mountains at Grapevine Canyon, and decided that it needed to go the mile to the finish line tonight. So what did I do? I added the necessary contrast to perk it up--using layers of acrylic color to both bind and unify the design, creating the spiral wherein your eye traverses around the image, and finally finding a resting point somewhere in the middle of the cactus on the left--between the areas of yellow ochre and violet. Another artist might work an additional umpteen hours pulling out all sorts of details. I tend to stop when I get the visual feedback that the design is working. This original 8 x 10 acrylic will be going up on my ebay store in a couple of days for $120.

Tomorrow I lead a ride of perhaps 20 riders up my mountain and out on the trails for a five hour ride. I'm looking forward to it, although the temperature finally went above 85 today. Warm! And then company is coming over for an overnight and movie in our theater. I hope I can keep my eyes open!

28

I thought you'd enjoy seeing the terrain I rode over with 20 other riders today. I led a ride up on Box Springs Mountain for my riding club, and we enjoyed five hours in the saddle with a lunch break, and some quite steep pitches. This image isn't a painting, but shares with you that being almost 60 doesn't mean one has to slow down at all! I love to ride Raindance, and today's ride with friends and cowboys was a real corker.

Tomorrow I'll begin the big paintings for you. Tonight I'm dog tired, and fun relatives are visiting, so I will get some sleep and hit the brushes tomorrow!

29

Time to begin the big one, and I can already see it finished in my mind. That completely takes out any trepidation. The canvas is a 4 x 5 FOOT gallery wrap, which means the canvas goes all the way around the edges. I'd mentioned that I'd wanted to do the more common African mammals--the lions and the zebra, but I remembered the Springbok, and how elegant they are! Combining that with a tumultous cloud backlit sky, and I think I'll have my painting!

So here I've taken an image of my studio setup, with this huge canvas on my Hughes easel, and it has the tone to get rid of the white canvas already on it. I've sketched in the cloud structure lightly, which makes up the abstract framing element to bring attention and eye direction down to the group of Springbok that are going to be backlit. It's a bit hard to see from this angle. Goodness, photographing this will just have to happen outdoors!
If you have any questions about the easel setup or the taboret shown, please ask. I'm so used to it, that I might overlook something you'd enjoy knowing more about. The hanging covered trash receptacle is a nifty device available from simplehuman.com and it uses ordinary grocery bags. No fumes from paint towels!

Congratulations to new collector Anthepy Nelson of Timonium, Maryland on purchasing "The Red Barn" from the dailypaintings site from June of last year. Thank you so much!

30

Oh Goodness! What a marathon day of painting! I hit the inch and a quarter filbert and went to town on the backdrop for the herd of Springbok that will be bouncing and running across this sky. I'm so pleased with how much I have gotten done, and will be looking to plant those mammals tomorrow. I'll do some correcting on the sky as well when the final layers go on.

I have looked at every Springbok in my files and on the 'Net to where my head's spinning. I know the proportions of leg joints to body thickness, and of course having drawn hundreds of ungulates in my career, pulling off a herd of them from sketches ought to be, well, not quite a piece of cake.

On another note, I received in the mail the Del Mar Race Track's 2007 Turf Club Pass with my painting on it. Every person who purchases a pass for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Racing season this year will have my painting in their hand when they go through the gates! How fun is that? I'm honored to have my image (and name!) on every card for this season.