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Thursday, October 29, 2020

It's That Time of Year Again: 2021 Calendar and 50% Sale!

The 2021 Calendar is Here!

Not long ago, I complained to my mother, who is in her upper 80s, how time seems to fly faster as I get older.  She replied, "Just wait until you're my age!"  

I'm surprised that it's almost November.  The holiday season is, once again, right around the corner.

With that in mind, I have two things to offer you for the holidays: My 2021 calendar and a 50% sale.

2021 Calendar

I've made a collage of the images, which you can see at the top of the post.  I've chosen my favorite paintings from this year.  Since we weren't able to spend the summer on Campobello Island, I ended up making several paintings of Scotland instead, which are included for the summer months.  The calendar is only $10.99, and you can get it from Lulu at this link.

50% Sale

I don't think I've ever offered 50% off my paintings before!  Through December 31st, I'm offering 50% off of any painting and any number of paintings from my website. To make shipping easier, these will all be unframed (even if the description says they are framed.)  I'll include free shipping to the lower 48 states; if you are outside this area, I'll contact you for shipping costs.  Also, keep in mind that most of my Maine and Canadian Maritimes paintings are trapped at my Canadian studio; I won't be able to ship those until Canada lets US visitors in again.  Southwestern paintings, however, I can ship with no problem.  Use the coupon code “Holiday50” on checkout for the discount.  Go here for the details.

Holiday Sale

And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

New Book: Casein Painting with Stephen Quiller

Will casein become the next new “thing”?

As many of you know, I recently fell in love with painting in gouache.  Until then, I'd never been fond of water media.  Watercolor, especially, was my nemesis; for someone who has always painted in more opaque media like pastel and oil, watercolor required me to shift into reverse and drive backwards.  Gouache, on the other hand, let me put the pedal to the metal and accelerate for the wide open spaces.

Casein paint is similar to gouache in that it is water-based, opaque and dries to a matte finish.  However, whereas the binder for gouache is usually gum arabic, for casein paint it is casein, which is made from milk.  What this means for the artist is that, over time, casein becomes insoluble and cannot be re-wetted.  Gouache, on the other hand, remains soluble and can be lifted—or damaged—by water.  Casein becomes much more durable as it ages.

Here's what Stephen Quiller says about casein:

The original formula used by Ramon Shiva included 20% of casein from skim milk, lime, pigments, a little oil and chemicals.  This mix is what gives casein such a beautiful, velvety visual quality.  A pine oil is added to the mix, which gives it an incredibly clean smell.  It has a soft visual quality that is unlike any other medium.  I love to use casein to help create an airiness and earthiness in a landscape; the dryness and the aged quality of architecture and boats; and the raw earthy feel of adobe.  It is truly magnificent and unsurpassed when used in this way.

Quiller, who is known worldwide for his books and videos on water media and also as the inventor of the “Quiller Wheel,” a very useful color aid for painters, has published a new book:  Casein Painting with Stephen Quiller: Casein Secrets Revealed in the Ultimate Definitive Guide.  The author, who will be one of the artists featured in a book I am working on, shared his new one with me.

Quiller, who has been painting in casein for over 50 years, offers his vast knowledge of the medium and includes demonstrations, suggested exercises and many useful tips.  Lifting the volume into the realm of fine art coffee table books are scores of beautiful images, many of them his casein paintings from the last half-century.  (I have included some here.)  The paintings, which show the breadth of casein's capabilities, delighted and inspired me to get my own set of casein and give it a try.

The book presents casein in a logical, easy-to-understand fashion, starting off with the basics of the medium plus detailed sections on its color possibilities.  Continuing with materials and equipment for both plein air and studio painting, the book then launches into creating different moods with the medium and seques into a wonderful section on using it for painting snow; and finally, it addresses the flexibility of casein with other media, and how it can be used to great effect with acrylic, watercolor, charcoal or pastel.  A gallery of richly-colored paintings completes the book.

Casein Painting with Stephen Quiller is available on his website at and is $29.95/softcover or $34.95/hardcover.

Here are a few of Stephen Quiller's stunning casein paintings.

"Elongated Shadows"
24x34 casein / Stephen Quiller

"High Mountain Patterns, Late July"
17x11 casein / Stephen Quiller

"Canyon Up Miner's Creek"
36x36 casein / Stephen Quiller

"Early August, Wolf Creek Pass"
36x36 casein / Stephen Quiller

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Our Digital Life as a River

"Lighter Relieving a Steamboat Aground"
1847, George Caleb Bingham
30"x36", oil/canvas - Collection of The White House

When the land shifts, rivers dry up and disappear.  They leave behind canyons and buttes, painted pink, beige and ochre, all gracefully sculpted by the flow of water.

Our digital life is a river of electrically charged bits, rushing from our laptops and smartphones.  For awhile, it was a pleasant idyll:  floating on our digital rafts, watching the scenery glide by as we steered clear of the occasional sandbar or log. 

But now, mightier than the Mississippi, the river has jumped the levee, flipped our rafts, and is hauling us downstream.  We can barely keep our noses above the torrent.  Or at least, that's what it feels like some days.

In some distant decade, this digital river may dry up and disappear, too.  Most of us today can't imagine that ever happening, but who can predict the future?

And if it does dry up, what will be left? Certainly not our e-mail or blog posts.  Nor our storehouse of millions of images.  The “cloud” will vanish like a puff of steam in a dry wind, taking all of that with it.

We artists, however, can hope.  Canvas can rot, but our museums have paintings on canvas that are a half-millenium old.  Wood panels can break, but we have paintings on panel that are twice that old, and more.  Pottery and sculpture can shatter, but we have examples of these dating from the very dawn of humanity.

Once the digital river is gone, these physical artifacts will remain as our canyons, our buttes.

But then I'm reminded of the poem, "Ozymandias," by Shelley:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Paint, Shoot—Or Just Look?

I recently posted the above picture on Facebook.  I took the photo on an afternoon's hike over a lakeside trail.  The foliage had just begun to turn: reds and oranges and yellows were seeping into the oaks, gold coins were dropping from the poplars.  Off in the distance, across the lake, the sandstone cliffs, stained red over the ages, completed the beautiful color harmony of the day.

A friend commented:  “Hard choice of which to paint—the tree or cliff.”  I replied:  “Sometimes, you just want to look.”

How many times on a hike have I regretted not carrying my camera or not lugging along my painting gear?  More times than I can count.  A scene takes my breath away, and I wish, for a moment, that I could shoot a picture or capture it in paint.  But then I remind myself, not everything beautiful is meant to be painted or photographed.  Sometimes, the beautiful is meant to be enjoyed only in that moment, and then savored as a memory.

I'm reminded of that poem by William Carlos Williams:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The poem invites many interpretations, and I seem to interpret it differently each time I read it.  Right now, as I am reciting it in my mind, it is a moment in time.  It's the moment when you wish you had a camera or your gear, but all you can do it look and savor.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Plein Air Painters of New Mexico Paintout

"Path to the Lake"
9x12 Oil - Available

Here's a group activity well-suited to these times—a paintout.  There's no problem with close quarters, and fresh air is in abundance.  And for those of us who have been painting alone in our back yards, it's an opportunity to reconnect with our social selves.

Last weekend, I hosted a paintout at a local lake for Plein Air Painters of New Mexico.  Nine of us gathered—so to speak—to spend the day under the intense sunshine of early fall.  Despite a breeze that picked up in the afternoon, we couldn't have asked for a better day.  The chamisa bloomed with a bounty of bright gold, and yellow edged the boughs of the cottonwoods.  The lake waters glowed with a dull green, dabbed with blue here and there by the reflected sky.  I've been longing to paint the chamisa ever since it started blooming, so that was my focus; others painted the lake view.

In New Mexico, the state currently requires masks to be worn when in public, and gatherings are limited to ten.  We followed the rules—a mask does not hinder painting—and even during a lunch break under a bit of shade, we kept our distance.  Now that cooler weather has arrived, I'm hoping to host more of these.

You're right--I'm not wearing a mask in this photo.
That's because everyone else was a few hundred feet away!