Category Archives: Inspiration


“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 In Progress

Islands & Tidelands

Went birding at Plum Island, Northern Shore of MA a few days ago. It was really the best weather one can expect in New England in February. I love the textures of the grasses and wild beach plum shrubs in winter. Most of the island is part of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge so the birding can be very surprising. They protect a good chuck of it while the piping plovers are nesting.

Lots of wind to sweep my brain clear, lots of sun to soak my skin, a feast for the eyes and creative spirits.

Also posted in Landscapes, Waterscapes

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 In Progress, 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 Progress, In the Studio, Landscapes, Oil Paintings


Painting in the studio today…thinking about what inspires me…could be my 1983 BMW R80ST!