Thursday, December 1, 2016

Casco Bay
5x7 pastel

Trying something new.  I stretched cold-pressed watercolor paper, painted my underpainting, coated it with pumice gel and then pasteled on top. It was interesting to do and I may try it again larger.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On my easel

I had a plan to deal with Winter.  I set up pastels in my old studio, the sun room off the bedroom.  I like to get up early but not to walk down to the studio.  I thought I would use this space to do small studies in the early morning and evening.

For this painting I followed Liz Haywood Sullivan's lessons in her book "painting Brilliant Skies and Water" using my own reference photo.  I am trying to find a method of painting that works for me.This is the first step, an underpainting washed down with alcohol.

At this point I have applied pastel all over matching color to value. The small set I brought up to the house is missing colors and especially brands.  There are no Giraults, my favorites.

The surface of this is Pastel Premier, white. It handled well and did not buckle with the alcohol wash but the tooth seemed rougher than I remembered possibly due to the missing Giraults that I rely on to blend.

It is noon now and I still haven't been down to the studio! This plan may work better for evenings.

18x24 pastel on Uart

I named this "Hope" because after a rainy week-end the sun was just starting to break through on my way home from the mountains.

This is 4 times the size of my usual work and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed working larger.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Salisbury 9x12 oil on stretched canvas L7

I experimented with this one using thicker paint.  I thought it was a wipe-out but then I stepped back and realized I didn't hate it.  I want to work on the background row of trees.  I tried to break up the shape but it still needs more, maybe a tree or two in the middle ground.  I tried to continue the water to the middle ground but wiped it.  I may try again. I am getting better at the foreground grasses, a big brush instead of a tiny one - who knew!


12x16 oil No. 5 Raymar panel

I am working on my goal of creating 100 landscapes in oil.  I could see no reason for my oil landscapes to be inferior to my pastel ones other than practice and technique.  The 100 is my plan for practice, after all I did see my small alla prima still lifes improve. The technique involves classes.  I researched and decided to take lessons from Julie Airoldi, her landscapes are beautiful and I heard she was just as good at teaching.
I have been very pleased so far.  She had me start with a grisaille which I find a very comfortable way to work. It feels like getting the drawing and composition right before adding color. I let that dry for a week. The part that comes next was new to me.  I mixed 4 bottles of medium with different proportions of Gamsol to linseed oil. 3 to 1,  1 to 1, 1 to 3, and the last pure linseed oil. The first pass is a glazing one using transparent color and the 3 to 1 medium.  It added a little color but mainly served as an oiling out for the next layer of more opaque color. I worked on this again in the third lesson with Julie offering suggestions for softening edges.  I would have done this by blending the tops of the trees with the sky, she did it by adding a third color, mixed to show light hitting the edges.

I am happy with this piece, in the future I would like to finish with thicker paint and more visible brush work but for now I am calling this done and ready to move on to the next.


12x16 oil on cradled hard board panel

This is the version I worked on in my own studio.  Classwork is fun and interesting but I also want to be able to work on my own.  I used one of my standard Blick cradled panels but otherwise I followed the same techniques I used in class. This time I played a little more with imaginative color.  It was interesting to note that the panels were not what was giving me problems before but the lack of a system of mediums.

This needs a little more work, some sky holes to lighten up the trees closest to center and a little more definition to the other trees to break up the toy soldier affect.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


12x12 pastel on Uart 350

Pastel underpainting, alcohol wash

Block in


12x12 pastel on pastelmat tan/peach

I have been re-doing some of the pastels I completed in Ed Chesnovitch's class.  This version is on pastelmat, the original was on Uart.  I am enjoying the smooth surface. I have been working slower making sure to do thumb nails and notans and it helps.



Pastels again

Sunlit Oak
12x12 pastel on pastelmat wine

This is my favorite tree.  It's the view from  my sun room and former studio.  I did the first version of it in a class with Ed Chesnovitch and decided to re-do all the paintings from that class to see how much I could apply what I learned and improve on the originals.  I am happy with this one and especially happy working on pastelmat - my new favorite paper.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Snow Scene

Snow Scene
9x12 oil on panel
Landscape #3

My obsession with painting water and reflections needed a break so I found this reference I took on a trip to visit my daughter last winter.  I loved the way the light hit the edge of the shed and the trees in layers surrounding this barn.
I may do a little more work on the fence posts and snow.
Umber sketch

Block -in

Marsh Grasses

Marsh Grasses
5x7 oil on panel

I struggled with the larger version of this scene, I still haven't resolved it.  I thought I would take it easy and do a small version - it wasn't.  I struggled with this one too and finally decided to blame my reference photo. It looks like the water in the upper body might spill out.
Landscape # 3 of 100

Cape Cod Light

Cape Cod Light
11x14 oil on panel

This still needs some tweaking but I am happy with it so far.  I like it better than the alla prima version I did last week of the same scene.

Landscape #2 in my goal of 100 oil landscapes

Friday, February 12, 2016


Cape Cod Light

Marsh Grasses

Two starts today, both done with raw umber/ burnt sienna grisaille. I can't wait to add the color.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Marsh Grasses

Marsh Grasses
5x7 Pastel 

I did this study on a 5x7 mounted piece of U-Art that had been used and washed off.  My aim was to see if the pastels I loaded into my Heilman box would be enough for a landscape like this.  The box and it's set up on my tripod worked beautifully.  The colors were enough, I only added two.  The Ludwigs seemed to work even better broken in half.

  • I started with too deep a pink for the sky and it was difficult to tone down.
  • The line of trees in the background is the same width as the marsh grass in front of them, the tree line should be narrower.  
  • The distant marsh grass is too vibrant and pulls the eye and doesn't receede.
  • The mid ground grass band is too uniform, it should be wider on the left and the right side should fade into the distance
  • The reflection on the lower left should dip down more
  • The floating reeds should not follow the exact direction of the grasses and should not be centerred.  They also are too uniform

Monday, February 8, 2016

My New Heilman Sketch Box

My new Heilman Sketch Box arrived today.  It is beautifully designed and made. The box snaps onto the tripod my son-in-law found for me and the easel slides into two holes in the box.  Very light weight and sturdy.  It even has a snap on tray for the pastels in use.

I plan to fill it with my Terry Ludwig Stan Sperlak set and a few of my favorite Gireaults.  Now I can't wait to go plein aire painting.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Landscape #1

Landscape #1 
I love landscapes but my oil landscapes are not good yet and it frustrates me but I know the reason and I have a plan.
3 years ago when I got back into oil painting my still life's were not very good but after about 300 paintings they got better. I can say the same for my pastel landscapes.  So the plan is paint more and see what happens. This is #1 of 100.

I did two pastel studies to decide which image to complete in oil and I chose this one.  My plan was to complete one version alla prima and do the same scene again with a grisaille. This was complicated by the fact that I switched to oil primed canvas rather than my usual acrylic primed panel.

The only thing that kept me from wiping this completely was feeling that I could not count it as #1 if I did not salvage it. I like some of it, the suggestion of houses by the far trees, the touch of marsh water reflecting the sky but overall it has none of the sophistication of the pastel version. Well actually I pretty much dislike it.

My next step is to use the same reference for a grisaille version, maybe I will get to it tomorrow.

Cape Sky
9x12 pastel 

This is the pastel version

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sunset on the Pink House

Sunset on the Pink House
12x16 pastel on Pastelmat, maize

On the way home from Plum Island we saw the sun setting behind the pink house.  Of course we had to stop and photograph it even if it was only with our phones. I would love to see this landmark restored, there is even a "save the pink house" group.

This is soft pastels, Girault, Ludwigs and Senneliers.  I have been working on pastelmat lately and really enjoying the smooth surface.
This is the graphite underpainting

Monday, February 1, 2016

30 in 30 collag.

Well I started the 30 in 30 to get  painting more, I especially wanted to work on landscapes.  For the first week or so I did small pastel studies but then the desire to do larger works took over.  I painted and forgot to post and painted some more. In the end I did 29 finished pieces of all different sizes.

I sent five in to a local gallery show, have one to enter in an upcoming pastel show, painted plein aire in the winter and have a new plein aire friend. A very successful month and now I am headed to the studio to paint some more.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Plein Aire Dunes

Plum Dunes
9x12 pastel on pastelmat, wine

A first for me, winter plein aire painting, well actually the temperature was at least 50 degrees. I usually plein air paint not far from the car with a wheeled cart full of supplies.  This time I bought a back pack and only took what would fit inside. 

I did this in the studio from a photo before heading out to make sure I had chosen  pastels that would work on the dunes.  I only had to add two colors to my box.  When I got to the beach I had a perfect range of colors but oh there is so much more color in real life than a photo can provide.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Clouds over Lake Massabesic

Clouds over Lake Massabesic

9x12 pastel on pastelmat
Another cloud study - these are fun.  My plan was to study in pastels and do a larger version in oils.  My goal is to complete 100 oil landscapes as a way to improve.  So far I have done one oil landscape and I keep playing with pastels, oh well, my pastels are getting better.

dry underpainting
block in

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cape Sky

Cape Sky
9x12 pastel on pastelmat (tan)

I took the photo reference for this on Cape Cod after a class with Ed Chesnovitch.  The pink under the blue is an influence from Ed.  I usually focus on the land and not the sky so this was different for me.  I really liked working on the clouds so there will be more, maybe I will start a series.

My plan was to do pastel studies of two scenes, "Snow on the Marsh" and "Cape Sky"and choose the one I like best to do a larger oil painting.  I want to try a grisaille and a direct approach to see what works best for me.  I think I will use this image.

I have to keep reminding myself that my journey is to create more landscapes simply to improve, I want to be able to create landscapes like Ed's that take your breathe away.

Snow on the Marsh

Snow on the Marsh
9x12 pastel on pastelmat

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Plum Autumn

Plum Autumn
16x20 oil

This is almost done, I need to let it dry before I put a few finishing touches on it.

I took the reference at Plum Island.  There is a special trail that almost never opened so when I heard it was I headed over with my camera. It was a beautiful clear crisp fall day.

I started the painting with a grisaille and was really pleased with the result and could not wait to add color.  My hope was to finish it in time for my solo show at Sullivan Framing. Things did not go well and so to end my frustration I wiped it out and set it aside.  The ghost image reminded me of my grisaille and how pleased I was with that so I decided to give it another try. Again I started with a value painting in raw umber and then proceeded with the color.  I would like to tweek the bottom edge of the reflections but it is time to let it rest, look at it with a fresh eye and maybe call it done.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

It's Local

It's Local

I just finished these five 6x6 oils for Sullivan Framing's Feb. show "It's Local".  It was fun doing the photo research and the paintings. I tried a variety of toned panels for these.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Snow Trail

Snow Trail
9x12 Pastel on Pastelmat

I worked on this yeaterday, I am not sure if it is finished.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Little Island Pond Sunset

Little Island Pond Sunset
5x7 pastel

The sunsets over the Pond are spectacular.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Casco Bay Morning

Day 14 of 30 in 30

Casco Bay Morning
Pastel Pencil

I have worked with this reference before.  This time I wanted to crop in close and fade out the background.  I did this with pastel pencils.  It is not exactly what I was looking for.  You win some, you lose some.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lavender Sky Day 12 of 30 in 30

Lavender Sky
9x12 Soft Pastel on Uart 400

Another attempt to loosen up with color as well as technique.  I love the coast line and especially the marshes.  I took the reference photo for this in Maine.