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The Daily Paintings






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Updated 3/29/12

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

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1 Now the painting has gone into what I call "the Uglies". I have covered more of the canvas areas with the color that is the major color for each area, except for the foreground and the middle fellow, and there is not much edge control, nor harmonizing of colors across the board. It looks a lot like a cartoon at this stage. Not to worry, tho', because I'm going to fix all of that in the next "go pass".You can also see that I still have held to that abstract structure as I add more pigment, and I am finding come proportional edges to bring the image back into balance.
 So the dance with the brushes continues.
 If you like dressage, I was shown a link that has the amazing Blu Hors Matine at the World Equestrian Games doing a freestyle dressage event that is nothing short of extraordinary!  That mare just dances!
2 Today's work on this 12 x 12 oil got tabled for a while since I was packaging and sending off paintings, DVDs and books.  Took me most of the morning to get them all ready for shipment. I'm glad of that, because sometimes we artists need time to cogitate about the work we do, while not in front of the easel with it looking back at us. I came back to the easel refreshed and ready to make some interesting changes to the design and focus. 
I'd like you to look at the major changes in the shapes of the two flanking figures. (They still don't have brains, yet!)  I cut into them and added outward with the literal "washing up" of the background areas to the positive shapes of the action. The central hoof checker now has a tee shirt, but I need to get some britches on him! No hats yet, as those color notes are pure accents, and ought not to be added until the painting is cohesive without them. No sense in sewing up a hole in rotten jeans with new thread!
 I did go over the background again, bringing in some of the more muted cool colors to break up the blocky shapes of the barn siding and doors.

"A Bit of a Worry" is now finished. As you can see from yesterday's progress, my time today was spent in adding more details to the areas where I want your eye to linger, and finishing up the loose painterly aspects of the balance of the surface. By this time, the decisions are far more important than those of the first few passes, and how much detail to pull out is crucial. The lessons of learning what to detail up, and what to leave loosely tendered can consume an entire life! I tend to leave a lot of quasi-unfinished areas, that still support he design without taking your eye away form the story. If you squint your eyes at this finished piece and then go back to look at the black and white structure I sent, you'll discover I strayed hardly at all from that design.

Now we have a painting of the backstretch of Del Mar, and one of the daily routines that go on behind the races. Original oil, 12 x 12 inches, US $500


Sunday without television in our house means that there is no Super Bowl excitement, so I trailered Raindance and met up with about 20 other riders for a great ride around a large open area called Bonelli Park. Water crossings and many western riders enjoying the 83 degree day, and photo opportunities galore. Over three hours in the saddle and a great ride!
 Thus results this small 5 x 7 acrylic on really textured handmade paper collage, of one of the riders in the stream we crossed. Fun to completely get away from the oils and "play" in the acrylics!

 I'm also thinking about my own soon-to-be-underway trip to the Arizona mountains near the Chiricahua National Monument where I'll be on a working cattle ranch for a week, with some friends from the East Coast! Lots of great subject matter there, I'll bet. And I'm taking my paint brushes, of course!

to Mary Cadenhead of Brownwood, Texas


My sister came over to visit for a few hours, and we organized the larger space that will host shows and students. In doing so, sorting the flowers into color groups for display and still life setups was part of the journey. I now have nice vases of reds, yellows, and greens, and this white pitcher of white flowers! It seemed like a fun thing to do to set it up on a sculpting stand and paint it--so here is the 12 x 12 inch oil for your pleasure today! $250

When I slightly squint my eyes, I enjoy how the values hang together with the harmonious colors. Juicy, yet very subtle, and the light source is quite obvious! Such fun to stretch the still life muscles. Maybe another one tomorrow, while I work out the last minute details of another commission still here. Gotta get it right, darn it all.


Every day when I go out our gate, I pass a couple of huge sycamore trees with their characteristic mottled trunks and large leaves. They have been asking me to paint them, and although I did paint the trees up the canyon a few days ago, I knew I wanted to do a study of one of their beautiful leaves.  So today's 6 x 8 acrylic is capturing the unique beauty of these hand-sized leaves that have fallen and rustle on the edge of the road. The sycamores are the first to lose their leaves and the first to re-leaf in the spring.

In the collection of John Wickham of Los Angeles, California.


Every once in a while I get a hankering to do a series of seasonal images of one scene. Thus today's painting, a 5 x 7 acrylic of a farm landscape near where I used to live, closer to Hemet. This is another of those places that is quickly disappearing, as the area is desirable to developers because it is flat, and lends itself to cookie-cutter tract homes. It remains there so far, yet I expect to find it missing in any month in the future. Now we will see it go through four seasons in the next four days--and here is autumn for your pleasure. I love the blue/orange play of color. The summer flushness is gone, and the field lays fallow for the coming winter (tomorrow's painting!) Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.


Brrrrr!!! Yesterday's fall weather has changed with this decent snowfall over those fields and with the trees now completely bare. What a change from yesterday's autumn colors, yet the scheme is still blue and orange--just really subtle oranges! I think I'm going to enjoy spring when it comes through tomorrow! Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.


"Spring has sprung, the grass has rizz, I wonder where dem flowers is?"...That's a silly ditty taught to me by my mother. Well, here are some spring flowers along the path, and a field of mustard with its characteristic lemon yellow flowers. We see the same barn off in the distance, and the purple mountains creating another complementary color scheme. Darn it! Guess I can't get too far away from those schemes since nature wants us to see it. Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.


"Summer Field" The final image of the four paintings depicting the seasons. The first one (Autumn, February 7) came from the source photograph, the other three are completely out of my imagination. The Color System makes it really easy to choose colors that work, and even change the season, because you have room to play since many of the problems are solved for choosing the color. I really enjoyed doing these four paintings, however now I need to produce some more serious work for galleries and the designer. Orignal 5 x 7 acrylic $120.


"Sam and Beverly Maloof's Home" On location Saturday I did this 12 x 9 acrylic of the front entrance of the wonderful Craftsman style home of this American icon of woodworking. (You can find out more at )
The gardens are all drought tolerant and beautifully laid out with some of the trees actually having been moved from the old location to this newer property next to the San Gorgonio mountains. I wanted to paint some more, but as it was getting later, and I forgot my spray bottle to keep the paints moist, so I had to pack up.  $325

After the rain this morning, I spent some time working in the yard, transplanting agave and aloe to new locations on the slopes, and filling the dumpster with more vegetation as we continue to clear up the property. It's starting to look more like "our" space now, and that is a comfort.

Howdy, Pardner! At the beginning of next month, I'm going to a working cattle ranch in southern Arizona for a week of painting and riding and teaching--they do have internet, so you'll be able to see lots of pictures and paintings! The daily paintings won't stop, but will definitely take on a more "cowboy" look for that week! And those Arizona skies...yum!


In doing commission work, I end up with some unusual requests every once in a while. And since I learned long ago that saying "no" to a challenge does nothing but close doors you might never know are there, some of these commissions have been very eye-opening!  Today's daily painting is a design rough for a designer who is asking for a specific installation piece for a specific market. It presented some unique challenges in that it is SO far away from my usual color and design. However, I said yes to this because in doing things like this, I open my mind to new ways of seeing and thinking about the art I create.  Is it "me"? Of course not!  But who knows whether or not down the road a ways, I may use something I learned here in my "usual" work. 

And reworking this rough allows me to think outside the box as I am focusing so intensely with the design, negative space, contrast and all those other things you learned in Design 101. This one is only the first step.  So don't be afraid to say yes to offers from folks who don't think like you do. It may send your art off in some really interesting directions!

On another note, I do have a painting waiting to get out (as soon as I finish up one more commission's tweaking), of a whippet dog.  My folks had them, and this painting just aches to be born.


I'm starting a painting that has been in my head for about two weeks, and I sure hope it matches up with the idea of it! It is different in that the format or canvas is a three to one ratio. That is to say, the canvas will be three times as long as it is high, very unusual. However, this has to happen to convey what I feel to be important--the speed and grace of the extended reach of the dog's movement. There is a story in this one as well, as you can see a small spash on the left side indicating something has moved out of the picture, but is what the whippet is headed for. 

My Dad had a whippet named "Dido" in Hawaii in the mid 1930s, and I have two silver trophy bowls from her show career. Later in Canyon Lake, my folks had Keiki Makana, a whippet that I used to watch running free in the open flats of undeveloped land. She was greased lightening and a joy to watch with her flow and effortless movement!
Today I share the two working sketches for this larger painting, and you can see me figuring out the placement, and the values in the lower one. This will be backlit with a high attention on the water and the splashes. I'm going to love painting those beautiful dog muscles, too!


Here is the canvas--yes, a 12 by 36 inch format--long and wide, with the first sketch laid in and a rough start on the color of he dog in shadow. I lifted off the mid-tone layer behind the dog's head, because I am wanting to have tha area be where the sunlight glints off of he water. You can see the sketch of the splash of what the dog pursues laid in on the far left.
This long, horizontal format seems to make the dog move more swiftly. If you are conveying speed or vertical rise, one effect to enhance that feel is to choose a canvas shape that seems to duplicate that. As this progresses, I'll talk about how each brush stroke works to push the dog forward and move your eye across, not up and down, the composition.

And getting an email such as the lines below is the reason why I take the time to write back to each one of you:

...the memories you have stirred. Our neighbour bred and raced Whippets all through my chidhood. Ive not seen or heard of Whippetts since I moved North. Ginny was our fav and I so loved watching her race.

You give me the gift of seeing fragments of your lives, and knowing that what I'm doing means something for you... it gives me such great satisfaction to live a life where the gifts are always moving. A long time ago I read Lewis' thesis on the Erotic Life of Property, and, contrary to its racy title, is a rather dry read of the study of gift within the cultures the islands of the South Pacific. In a nutshell, it is paying it forward without expecting something in return. It has molded my life, and given back countless unexpected gifts.


Today I've started to cover the canvas with the oh-so-important mid values. The painting is about mid values, with accents of dark and a large light area. Edgar Whitney (astoundingly good teacher of watercolor and no longer with us) used to talk about six value plans that always work, and this painting will definitely be the "small darks, large light in midtones" one. You can find out more about Edgar Whitney's wonderful design lessons in his book Watercolor Painting. The section on designing good paintings is priceless. Learning to recognize the value plans in successful paintings can help to make your own work stand up to scrutiny. The light area of water behind the dog's head will not be pure white, either. I save those highest values for the rim lighting on the dog and the sparkles on the water. Right now, though, I'm concerned mainly with making interesting mid tones in lots of grayed hues, staying mainly with the purple/yellow, blue/orange combinations. I also lowered the pelvis and angle of he back for more illusory speed.


This part of the painting process is to cover the canvas and start to develop the lights of those value areas defined yesterday. Now the colors start to dance against one another and the fluid motion of the dog is starting to take shape, along with her three-dimensionality. I am thoroughly enjoying painting this piece--purely for my own development and also for the statement of the gracea nd beauty of whippets. Eagle eyed members of the list have pointed out the front shoulder area as being "not quite right" and I'm going to make some more changes to that structure to clarify the lift and reach of the forelegs. No splashing water yet, that is to come tomorrow! The colors of the background are also flowing through red, orange, yellow and over to blue and violet. I do hope you can see that I've held to the value plan throughout! Again, this ia a 12 x 36 inch canvas, and an oil.


"In Hot Pursuit", original oil, 12 x 36 inches. The addition of the splashing and sparkling water, plus the details on the head, legs and muscles don't show up as well as they would if I could make this a larger image! I have made it eight inches across, which is bigger than what I'd normally bring to your email, and the web site. It does show more of the detail. I just really am happy with the colors in this light and the suggestion of the dog chasing something that has gone out of the picture. It pleases me that this came out of my head, placing the daylit dog in evening light and designing the background to enhance that feeling. I'm hoping to save this one for an art show that features dogs down the calendar way a bit.


Backlighting is such fun, especially when I can quickly lay in a painting and know what values to use, and how to energize that flat surface to create something that engages the viewer. Here is a quick study of my mare Raindance, lit form the right side as the sun heads toward the horizon. The light on her tail and mane captivated my senses, and the blue of the sky reflected from her back was the icing on the cake, so to speak. Out came the brushes, and this 12 x 16 oil came together. She's a good mare, and a complete tax deduction because of her selfless service as a model for my paintings! She has other duties, however, including taking me to places where I can gather more material for future paintings, good mare that she is.
This one is called "Evening in the Dry Lot". It will be in the digital online show of the Equine Art Guild as part of the "Artist's Muse" exhibit opening soon. I'll post a link when that show is up.


I was out among 'em today, about sunset, and saw a wonderfully colorful sunset unfold as I headed up the hill to the UPS store to drop off a painting going to a new collector. The sunset presented the solution to a problem I'd been trying to solve for quite a while, and I had one of those "AHA!" moments as I was driving (fortunately traffic wasn't heavy!). I made a discovery about lighting in such wonderful skies, and had to come back and duplicate the solution so I would have it in my repertoire of skills whenever I wanted it. Doing it, after mentally solving the problem, was just as exciting as the "AHA!" moment back there on the road! So now I have this little 6 x 8 oil to remind me of the obvious knowledge that had been obscure before. This view is from the hillsides above Riverside. $200 from the web site.

The question for you is, Do you know what the "Aha" moment was all about?  Hint: you ought to have been in a workshop or have a copy of the Colorful Oil Painting DVDs to get it right.  And think values, too! Artists usually love to solve puzzles, so now you have one! Another hint: it is definitely in the sky.

And in other news, I have a three-day workshop featuring color, acrylics and plein air in Shakertown Kentucky, June 3-6. I made my flight reservations today, and will hope to meet some of you there! Here is more information:
Fantastic opportunity to work with acrylics and do on-location painting, too!


Tomorrow there may be a few artists wandering around the Two Trees Studio, on location painters from the Plein Air Artists of Riverside (PAAR). I'm looking forward to what the painters will be interested
in capturing in their time here. And so pleased that I can open my home/studio for my peers.
I did this quick study of a sunrise on an 14 x 11 canvas to experiment with the phenomenon again that hit me yesterday. And what was that? Well, I noticed that below the clouds, the sky (made up of cools) is the same value as the sunlit cloud underbottoms (made up of warms). And that the value of the horizon is lower than those clouds! That's why the sun looks so spectacular in the evening light!
I really like the colors and value changes in the sky on this painting, but it doesn't have the color of yesterday's. Still...I like it. Looks like the country I'll be traveling through on my way to Pearce in a couple weeks.


Today's opening of our home and studio was a wonderful experience, as the creative energies around the gardens and animal area was palpable, and how fun to see paintings of Vincent van Goat come off the easels of the Plein Air Artists of Riverside! There were seven artists around the property today, and every one saw things in new and different ways. I so enjoyed the experience of having these artists come, that I can hardly wait until Saturday, when they will be coming to visit and paint again!

As for me, I spent some part of today putting together the pochade boxes that were delivered yesterday. I'll be using them in Arizona, and I also took the car in for service in anticipation of the trip. I was so busy hosting and chatting, that I didn't get my gear outside until later in the afternoon--my favorite time to slap paint on canvas! But what to paint? Loving backlit subjects, my pots of geraniums on the end of the patio caught my eye, and resulted in this 7 x 5 oil.

to Charlotte McDavid of Birmingham,

On another note, we have had company of another sort--this fellow is still in one of our pine trees. All the artists had a chance to see his backside from about 40 feet away, however I thought this close up as he came down the tree this evening would be a nice treat. I'll be really happy when he takes off for other neighborhoods, as he is a huge male weighing in at about 50 pounds, and could really give a headache to our Tibetan Mastiff.


I'm trying something a bit different for all the folks signed up on the Daily Paintings email list--I'm posting my painting to my blog with instructions for it also to be sent to the group. I hope it works, as it saves me a whole boatload of time.
Today's painting is a small color/value study of a Foo dog that is one of a set of bookends that has been in the family for at least two generations. It is a study for a larger painting that is fomenting around in the channels of my mind--a work for the Artist's Floral Fantasy show at the Riverside Art Museum. I was in it a few years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. I'm plotting a still life that features many of the things that my mother had--her love for the oriental and Japanese style was part of my growing up experience!
Foo dogs are fearful looking beasts, so please focus on the color and brushwork for your pleasure today. This is an original acrylic, 7 x 5 inches.


Yippee! We're off and running again, this time with a wonderful image from a nice lady who bought one of my saddles off ebay. Her horses are knee deep in snow in Colorado and she took this picture as they wait for her to come feed in the evening light. Oh boy! This is great source material, however it does have some design issues. Like any regular person with a camera, Pam put ther horse right in the middle of the composition, creating a static equality around all three sides that the viewer (that's you!) might not have noticed. Heck, we all take pictures and we all put whatever we like smack-dab in the middle, right? Problem with that is it effectively cancels out any possibility for dynamic movement or tension--what I call the "Made ya Look" syndrome.
So me the artist takes this great photograph and has to rearrange it a bit for interest. This will be a 16 x 20 acrylic, and hopefully good enough for a show or two. We'll see as the painting progresses. Here is the source image, and here are my sketches (called thumbnails, although they are about 4 x 6 inches) showing some rather more interesting design possibilities. Note I am not "drawing the horses", but am positioning the SHAPES of the horses, fences and bushes to create a better composition.
Hurray! We're off on a new painting adventure!
Yes, come visit the blog and please forward folks to the blog here, and thanks.

24 It was a very busy day, with the Plein Air Artists of Riverside coming over to paint for a full day, including a pot luck at the end of it. I did manage to get a good start on the two horses painting though, and share it with you tonight (or tomorrow morning, if that's when you get these!)
Although the voting was almost equal for the sketches, I chose the upper right one because of the possibility of making large areas of textural interest in the dormant trees and shrubs. Toning the canvas first to "get rid of the high value white", I sketched in the location of the shrubs, the two horses and that all-important counter balance in the gate on the right.
I changed the location of the darker horse, moving him away from the red one because the negative shape formed by the area between them was odd looking and very distracting. Sometimes designing paintings is more about those negative space areas than the actual subject! Note that the negative space areas (where most of the snow will be going) are all different shapes and sizes. That's good design--making related areas without repetition by an infusion of variety.
Note, too, that I painted some of the three dimensional form of the horses...just can't leave 'em flat. Now that I have the initial lay in with the values established for my dark areas, tomorrow I cover the canvas with lots of paint, getting those big shapes in place.

The painting is now covered, top to bottom, left to right with the basic colors that will influence the final result. I work this way for a bunch of valid reasons:
because it is easier to go from big shapes to little shapes--big brushes to little brushes.
I never lose the overall design shape (abstract structure)
I've solved many of the issues that will bring the viewer closer to inspect the painting in further detail (which is the next step--those details and edges).
I can immediately tell if the design holds up at distance (Howard Pyle used to tell his students, "Thirty mintues, thirty yards" which means if you don't have a strong abstract structure in the first thiry minutes of painting, you ought to start over. Good sage advice. Google his name and look for his history. He taught me a lot, even if he died in Italy in 1911. I have his books--for example the ones by Andrew Loomis, one of his students "Creative Illustration" credits Howard Pyle's influence for his success. Howard Pyle is considered the "Father of American Illusatration" which held high honors from the 1900s through the 1940s until the advent of photographs. Pyle's students read like a who's who of American Illustration. His legacy was his .


I didn't get time to work on the horses today, so will share with you one of the two plein air pieces I did while the Plein Air Artists of Riverside were here last Saturday. Called "Got Rocks?", this 6 x 8 oil was done sitting next to my horse's corral, looking out the back gate. I love the light on these monoliths of "exfoliating granite" that make up the exposed rocks in our area.
The trail that is shown in the lower left is the beginning of the "Brittlebush Loop" that i made with the help of Vincent van Goat a while back. It is nice to look at the painting and see the results of good, hard labor!
Now when you look at this painting, you might think, "nobody has rocks that look like that, all round and that big". But we do have them here and they are great fun to paint! The rocks are abou 15 feet tall from this view.
I'm beginning to pack for my trip to the ranch in Arizona next week. And I sure hope the dial up will allow me to post my paintings! My friends are there already, and have written about the activities and ranch life so far. I'm looking forward to it!

The blog (and I apologize for the incorrect link yesterday) is here.

Congratulations to new collector Linda Hughes from Davis, California on her acquiring "Homeless", the painting of the cat head study.


The second painting from last Saturday's painting time with the plein air artists of Riverside. This is a 6 x8 oil, and I set up my easel just in front of my horse trailer, and painted the evening light on the side and front of the garage. The title of this painting is actually "The Green Tub" because that really is the focal point.
Someone today asked me why I've been so committed to painting and delivering an art lesson or painting every day since October 12 of 2005, and I replied, after a pause to think, "Because I don't feel my day is complete without opening my heart and mind to the wonderful people who are expecting to see the image tomorrow." I went on to say, "I offer these paintings as a gift. Whatever ability or training I am manifesting in these canvases are as if a gift to these patient and delightful people." You are friends, collectors, and/or artists. The rigors of daily painting give back to me as well, in becoming a better artist, and demonstrating discipline for the practice of painting.
Now tomorrow, since the paint is at least partially set up on it, I'll continue the two horses in the snow!


I know you have been patiently waiting for the finish on this step-by-step painting of the horses in the snow, and I'm pleased to share with you the almost -finished work today. A fitting end to the end of February--brrrr!! This part of the painting process was with a focus on edges and details. None of those details or edges were in any way important in the last view of this work (February 25). This part of the painting process is actually a lot of fun for me, as I make decisions aobut what is important, and what isn't. This stage can be the most difficult for the learner, in that without experience, the choices are so many! So may I encourage you to paint more, for there truly is no short cut to making good paintings except the doing of it--the progressing from learner to experienced artist.

Being experienced encouraged me to add the steam breath of the horses, increasing the feel of cold weather. Entitled "Waiting for Dinner", this 16 x 20 original oil is available for $850