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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Studio Piece, Painted as if En Plein Air

Here's a piece I've been working on all week. It's 19"x25" and is based on some reference photos I took this summer. I used soft pastel on a sheet of white Canson Mi-Teintes. The underpainting was done in complementary colors and then heavily fixed to avoid having the complements mix in with the "true" colors I applied later.

While working on this studio piece, I tried to treat it as a plein air -- loose strokes, tried not to get lost in detail (so easy with a photo!) and also tried to evoke the feeling of that warm, sunny morning.

"Packed In, Head Harbour" 19x15, pastel

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Plein Air Painter's Prayer

Whenever I paint outdoors, I feel a purpose to my art. Here's a little prayer I say to help me in my task:

God, please give my eyes the vision to see Your creation fully and give my hands the skill to honor it. I pray that through my own works, others will come to know Yours.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Studio Time

Hey, even a dedicated plein air painter like me needs studio time!

Lately, I've been working on an article for The Artist's Magazine, and for this, I did four small studio paintings as "demos". These studio pieces, unlike plein air paintings that MUST be completed under two hours, required a sharp analysis of technique rather than a gut reaction based on 30+ years of doing art. These studio pieces, though only 9x12, took literally days to create -- EACH. (Gosh, I hope my editor likes them!)

Studio time gives the artist the opportunity to paint with thought and correction and refinement.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Going from Small to Big

Taking a small plein air piece and expanding on it to create a larger work is fraught with issues. "Just use a bigger brush," folks say. I suspect they say it tongue-in-cheek, because once you get started, it's a lot harder than you'd think -- even if you do use bigger brushes.


  • How do you recreate the energy that you immersed yourself in when you made the smaller painting?
  • How do you not "generalize" what you've already recorded?
  • How to you keep areas of seeming-emptiness, which will become only larger and more intimidating, interesting?
  • How do you avoid losing interest in what you're doing?


  • You have the opportunity to improve your vision -- improve composition, improve color use, improve focus.
  • You also have the opportunity to REVISE your vision.
  • You can fine-tune your skills over days, weeks and months without worrying about the light changing in two hours.

All this bears exploring.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Plein Air to Finished Studio Piece

Sure, anybody can make a two-hour plein air painting, but taking that painting and turning it into a large, finished studio piece is another matter entirely! "Just use a bigger brush" some might say. (Or, in this case, a bigger piece of pastel.) Going "large" involves refining composition, taking the time to correct errors that were made on-location, and more. As a teaser, I'm posting my plein air piece plus the finished studio piece below. You can see the full demo at my web site.

Here's the plein air piece (9x12):

And here's the finished studio piece (19x25):

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Summer Paintings

Viewers have asked that I put a few samples from my summer of painting in Canada and New England here. Here are a few. More are available on the web site ( All images below are 8x10 plein air oils.