Saturday, January 25, 2014

Quietude, Full Moon over White Oak Bayou

Quietude, Full Moon over White Oak Bayou
6X8, Oil on Panel

This was a little plein air I did at Burns Park in North Little Rock a bit before Christmas.  I had the very interesting company of 4 skunks (1 of which was albino and a another was almost totally white) while I painted it.  They rooted around in the leaves nearby like I wasn't even there, wandering to and fro.  As they got a little too close for comfort and I began to think about leaving, I shined my light on them a spoke loudly but calmly to them, telling them to leave me alone and go away.  To my surprise, they complied and ran off nicely to the nearby woods.  The admonishment didn't last too long, though, as they came back a while later.  I kindly asked them to leave on several occasions, each time they would run away and come back, not unlike a group of young children.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Calhoun County Courthouse, Hampton, AR, Calhoun County

Calhoun County Courthouse
8X10, Oil on Panel

Calhoun County is one of the smallest in Arkansas by population.  It is smack dab in the middle of timber country and I suspect the small population is due in part at least to the fact that timber companies own most of the land!

This painting was much more difficult than I believe it should have been and I'm not sure why.  It was also terribly difficult to photograph.  I may revisit this subject sometime in the future.

This is my first completed new county of the year!  I have put myself under the gun in the first half of the year.  I have committed to Cantrell Gallery that I will have this project complete by the time my show there hangs at the beginning of May!  I have 13 counties left to do.  Not sure how I'm going to pull this off.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Western View from Pinnacle Moutain, Pulaski County

Western View from Pinnacle Mountain
11X14, Oil on Canvas
This is an old painting whose foreground I had trouble reconciling.  I had tried both cooler and warmer colors but neither looked quite right.  After one last go at it, I finally was happy enough.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Laura's Falls

Laura's Falls
10X14, Oil on Panel

Here's some new work for a change!  A few years back my family went on a waterfall hunting trip and found this little cascade upstream of the main waterfall we were trying to find.  It was a grey and humid day but the water was freezing cold.  I told my wife that if she would get into this waterfall, I would do a painting of it and name it Laura's Falls.  And she did.  Shortly after getting back I did a 5X7 of this scene but was not happy enough with it to post it so I finally got around to redoing a larger version with which I would be happy.  I think we need to go back some time and visit this place again.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Plein Air with Ralph Parker

Way back in 2012, I went to the East Coast to visit family and it just so happened that fellow painter Ralph Parker was going to be close by. Ralph is traveling the country in an RV and painting all along the way. I made plans to meet up with him at Gettysburg National Military Park. I had been playing with gouache as a medium for plein air painting and figured what better time to really work with it than alongside one of the best gouache painters I've seen. We set up at the Leister Farm which General Meade made his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg. I finished 3 paintings that day in what was at the time my most successful day of plein air ever.

Hummelbaugh Farm Barn
8X10, Gouache on Matboard

Leister Barn
8X10, Gouache on Matboard

US Regular Army Memorial
5X7, Gouache on Matboard

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Last year, in preparation for a show at Cantrell Gallery, I pulled a few old paintings from the closet to rework.  I had shown these at one point but then realized they were actually failures.  I decided to start with a scene from downtown North Little Rock (aka Argenta.) It depicts 3 figures waiting at a trolley stop in front of a purple building. I chose the scene primarily because the purple building is a mainstay on Main Street in Argenta. You really can't hardly miss it. The painting was done in January of 2009 so it was 4 years old when I did this rework.  Here is my self analysis and thought process:

  Looking at it, I think it is obvious that my goal at that time was very similar to what my goal would be today if I started this painting from scratch: a loose, immediate vibe with economy of brush stroke.

This first thing I see is that light pole on the left side traversing the entire canvas HAS to go! Secondly, the foliage on the right side needs to either be eliminated or pruned back. Refer to Figure 1.

Figure 1

Before I went any further in my analysis, I went ahead and took about 20 minutes to basically re-mass everything but the figures. I knew something needed to be done about them but had not thought it through much. At this stage, I enlarged the building ever so slightly and fixed some minor perspective issues.

Now I'm confronted with the big question of what to do about the people at the trolley stop. The arrangement as it was painted in 2009 is cluttered. The purple building and the trolley stop with figures occupy almost identical amounts of surface area. The roofline of the trolley stop is perilously close to the same height as the purple building and this severely stunts any verticals in the composition. (Perhaps that was why I hamhandedly included the light pole??) So a critical decision must be made: what is the painting about? Is it about the people or the purple building? I had named it "Waiting on the Trolley" thus making it originally about the people. But if I genuinely want to make it about the people at the trolley stop then I really need to push the building back to subordinate it. However, the building is the reason I wanted to paint this corner in the first place. If I want to make it about the building then I need to subordinate the figures and the trolley stop. Ideally, I would do this by pushing them back in space and further to the right in the picture, possibly even cropping part of the trolley stop. This is the course of action I prefer but there is a critical consideration here. The trolley makes a left turn right beside this purple building so the trolley stop must be clearly indicated as existing in front of that intersection! In painting real locations, one must realize there are important details and not so important details. This falls into the important detail column I think. I could probably achieve the subordination I desire without sacrificing the reality of the location by increasing the presence of the road that cuts left to right across the scene. In effect, this pushes the viewer closer to the curb and might require a slight modification of the perspective of the both the purple building and the trolley stop.

In order to prevent having to do that, I could also shift the near corner of the purple building to the left. This would give the effect of moving the lateral street "back" relative to a diminshed size and location of the trolley stop figures without sacrificing the size of the building.

That's 3 options:
  1. Push the building back and keep figures where they are, figures are the focal point
  2. Increase the size of the building and street, move figures right and adjust perspective on both, building is the focal point
  3. Push building slightly left and figures to the right, should require little perspective change, building or street becomes focal point
Option 1 is the easiest to execute while option 3 will require the most effort. Option 2 falls in between I think. I opt for Option 1. I pushed the building back by reducing it's size and reducing the saturation in the color. After deleting the foliage on the right hand side I realized that this made too much open space and added a crepe myrtle tree further in the distance and much smaller in size.

Waiting on the Trolley

Monday, January 6, 2014

Main Street, Westminster, MD

Main Street, Westminster, MD
11X14, Oil on Panel
Private Collection
I am continuing my efforts to capture the work I have posted in the past on another blog here so that I may shut that other one down.  This is a painting I did last year as a gift for my oldest son on his 18th birthday.  He spent a lot of his youth in this town and still feels a connection with it.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone out there!  I have a tradition, instead of making a "resolution," I make a set of goals.  2013 was a great year for me, definitely my best year as an artist so far.  Hopefully 2014 will continue that trend.  Here is a rundown of my 2013 goals and how I fared in meeting them:

1.  Complete 20 counties!  

      I documented completion of 19 counties in 2013.  I have the 20th well started but I intentionally set it aside to complete in 2014.  The reason?  I wanted to avoid having an unlucky 13 counties to complete in 2014, lol!

2.  Get in a gallery outside of Arkansas.
      I didn't work very hard on this one and I think it maybe should be a couple of more years off. 

3.  Get into 2 national shows. 

       Technically speaking, I accomplished this one.  The Dairy Center for the Arts Bike Show was the first national show I got into this year and the second was the Diamond National in Hot Springs.  However, I was really intending this to be in-state national shows.

4.  Visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art!


5.  Participate in a plein air competition.  

       Schedule conflicts prevented me from attending the competition I planned on.

Well, when I look at this, it doesn't look like a great year but sometimes these goals aren't really indicative of what is really important.

Here are my goals for 2014:

1.  Add another gallery either in-state or out.
2.  Get into another 2 national shows.
3.  Attend a plein air competition.
4.  Complete this Painting Arkansas project!