Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Peaceful Valley oil 18 x 14 SOLD
So it has been about 7 months since I started writing this blog.  I have posted more than I thought I would.  I have also discovered something about myself. I am not a writer. Blogging has become another thing on the list of things I have to do.  I thought it might give my readers some insight into my work, but what I have found is that I love to paint.  Painting doesn't feel like a job to me.  I amvery lucky that I somehow wound up making my living at it.

I have work to do and it is making paintings.  So, I am going to leave you with this post.  In the meantime, you can keep up with my work and my current events on my website

I will still keep up with my favorite blogs and I will still spend my free time taking in all I can about art.  I hope you do to.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Attachment and the Importance of Failure

Winter's Designs 12 x 9
   When you make your living as an artist, it is easy to get attached to the final product in your painting.  When a painting does not succeed, it feels like the day has been unproductive.  I want every painting to be a painting that I am proud of, and, as I have written before, sometimes you have to allow yourself to make a bad painting in the process of coming up with something good .  Being too attached to the results can actually hinder you.

I started out the day today wiping out a few hours of work.  But I am trying to look at it as a good day because I tried to paint something that scared me.  I tried painting something that was out of my comfort zone.  And I learned something from it.  And one of these days, I am going to master the things that I failed at today. 

It is important to me to try and tackle new subjects and new ideas. Failure can be and indication of growth. It isn't the easiest thng to face, but it is better than making "safe" paintings. There is nothing worse than being stagnant with your work. 

So its back to the easel for me. A new day and the freedom to fail if that's what it takes.

Try again. Fail again. Fail better. --Samuel Beckett
P.S. I tried to tackle the painting posted here about 8 months ago and failed.  I tried it again this week and I feel pretty good about this attempt!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Illusion of Speed

Brush in Sunlight oil 12 x 9
The subject of speed has come up recently in regard to my painting so I thought I would discuss it here.  I love loose paintings. I love accurate, loose paintings. My goal is to create something with obvious brushwork that is applied thoughtfully and with intention. You may prefer something more detailed with hundreds of hours poured into the surface detailing.  Neither one is better than the other--again, it is a matter of preference.

Richard Schmidt writes in his book Alla Prima," Looseness should describe how a painting looks, not how it is done".  In other words, to create something that has confident control takes training.  It does not mean that the painting was done in a couple of hours. It means that the person who created it has practiced for hundreds and hundreds of hours to produce the illusion of speed. And I am still practicing this! Some paintings are finished quickly--on the days where the paint flows easily.  Most are labored over far longer than they may appear.  The paintings that appear labored are burned.  The paintings that appear to have been made quickly on the first try are framed and hung on the wall.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August Endings

Floating Leaves SOLD
August always feels like an ending to me.  Perhaps it has been ingrained from my school years where summer activities come to an end and a new season begins again.  I start to wish for cooler days and the first blush of color in the aspens--and a new color palette and new subjects to paint.

In a few weeks, the garden will be harvested for the last time before the first frost.  There is a finality to storing potatoes and putting that little square of land to bed.  The leaves will start to fly soon. 

Autumn is restful after a busy summer.  It gives me time to build up my inventory before ski season begins and my galleries are bustling again.  I can't imagine painting a place without the rhythms of the four seasons.  There is renewal and a structure to the year that keeps me in its grips in anticipation of the next season and the next canvas to be filled.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the Eye of the Beholder

All that Glitters oil 22 x 28
Painting is subjective.  There are basic concepts that make a piece a good painting. Concepts like composition, color, balance, and rhythm, and drawing.  But after that, the definition becomes blurred.  Perhaps you prefer very detailed renderings of fruit.  Or painterly interiors. Or works that recall the past. Maybe you like the color blue.

What makes a painting "worthy" or "good" has been weighing on my mind lately.  Sometimes I feel like there is a very narrow definition. And the tastes of the general public or the magazine editors are not always a good barometer. Sometimes I imagine Cezanne or Matisse standing before a room of contemporary paintings.  Which would they think were the best?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fodder for Thought

Antique Wagon Wheel 8 x 6
Once you have started to paint on a regular basis, you will notice that you begin to look at the world around you in a different way. You will notice the color of light.  You will see a combination of shapes instead of a single object. You will ask yourself how to capture a certain moment in time. You will become more attentive.

I have noticed lately that for me, the smallest things are becoming fodder for thought. The small things have great potential for exploration in your paintings. The idea does not have to be grand or expansive. If you are paying attention, a whisper can be louder than a shout.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Criticism

Reflection-Collected Gold oil 20 x 16

 I have been thinking about the pros and cons of criticism lately.  I think it is really easy to dismiss another person's work with off-hand criticism.  It is hard not to do it sometimes. We all have our own views of what makes a piece of art legitimate. I do think that criticism should be CONSTRUCTIVE and is useful when it is delivered constructively.

I have a few stories of my own, largely from art school critiques, where the criticism was aimed at the person, not the work. And I think that it even easier to criticize some one's work when you don't know them. I would like to believe (and I know this is not always true and may be viewed as idealistic) that everyone who picks up a paint brush is doing the best they can at that particular moment in time. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to hang one's imperfect paintings on the wall for the world to see. And perfection is REALLY hard to achieve. The best we can do is take one step at a time towards improving our work and work diligently.

I read this on illustrator Dan Santat's blog recently: "In a world where the arts seems to always be the first thing that gets cut or closed down due to financial strain I think it's more important than ever that there are people out there trying to create some form of art whether it may seem good or bad."