Category Archives: In Progress


“Northeast Air” Oils on canvas 10 x 20″

I often work from photos I have taken of skies, tree lines, marshes, tidelands. In the midst of mixing colors, pouring mediums, stretching canvas and all the other steps of preparing and using materials to create a painting, I often need to re-examine the reference photo.

What was it about this scene that initially gave me an uplifting jolt? Where’s the movement, the flow, the crescendo?

I practice mindfulness on a regular basis which helps me to focus on that initial excitement and then work with worldly mediums to portray that feeling onto a painted canvas. It’s a balancing act of intention and outcome.

Also posted in Inspiration

Looking at Brushstrokes

Brushstrokes: Footprints to Understanding

Wondering what the brushwork that provides the texture, direction, depth of paint, etc. on a canvas surface can help tell the story of a piece. Artists have a lot of tools to use: color, composition, subject matter, perspective…

The brush can leave an expressive swath of paint, a smooth continuous tone and other effects. When I go to museums I often like to stand near a painting at the distance I would stand if I were painting it. Of course this makes the guards nervous, so I don’t move my hands, just my eyes soaking in the motion and lengths of bush marks. How else could I perceive what they did?

I read up about techniques, for instance Turner left his thumbnail long to use as a scraper of sorts, or what kinds of brush hairs to expect in the dried paint. (Art conservators will determine I used brushes of border collies and labrador hairs, I am certain.) 

I’m curious as of late about larger, more expressive strokes, not the seemingly rigid, smooth, careful small, very small, strokes of sometimes realistic scenes. I would like to express the aliveness of nature around us, of scenes we love. An emotional response.

Sometimes we say “That artist is a “painter’s painter” and I think it’s all about how they handle paint on the surface. This isn’t Photoshop, people. We know it’s paint we’re using as a language. Express the paint’s life as paint!

Also posted in Inspiration, Oil Paintings

Moving Towards Completion

How do I move thru a painting towards completion?

While studying the piece, I ask questions…in no particular order:

— What is the story here?

  • — A coming storm?
  • — An inhale / exhale?
  • — A conflict, a resolution?
  • — Momentum?
  • — A sigh of relaxation?

— Are the lights and darks holding their own, carrying the story?

— What did I see this morning in the sky on the way to swimming?

These questions help me see strengths and areas I need to work on more. 

And then the paintings will fully express it’s story.



Also posted in In the Studio, Inspiration, Landscapes, Oil Paintings