Collecting Reference Photos

Traveling the northeast this week and not time to sketch or paint. However, the travel provides a great opportunity for collecting reference photos. I will skim through these photos later and paint from them. We can’t always work directly from plein air. Most artists will do this to help develop ideas.

Pier Bridge NH, Covered.Railway Bridge

Pier Bridge NH, Covered.Railway Bridge

Back home

Made it back from the UK. Had time to complete one small painting of the high cross at Clonmacnoise Monastery. Built in the seventh century the monastery is in ruins today. It’s amazing many of the high crosses survived.


On The Road

I don’t get a chance to paint when on the road. However I will always sketch as much as possible. In UK right now. Here is a sketch I did at Buckingham Palace, London while waiting on changing of the guard.


Paintings help convey your story.

This was intended as a tribute in remembrance of my father.   Dad was a tool and die maker and these are some of the measurement tools I still have.  Dial Calipers by Brown and Sharpe and a 2 inch Micrometer by Sterratt.  The image in ink is an automobile clutch.  Dad worked for a division of Borg Warner in Chicago that made clutches like that shown.  The painting turned out an oddball size at 11x12 inches on 140# Hot Press Arches.(my failure to plan). Used watercolors, pen and pastels.


Re-examining old work

Recently I’ve been going back through old work and making some decisions. Some of the work gets designated for a burn pile. Things I just don’t want people to see. However most of the work I will. Keep or preserve. Some of the pieces never got anywhere because they lacked focus or interest. I’ve been taking time to relook at these and decide if they can be salvaged or fixed. The one I post here is called ‘Mystery Falls’. I kind of turned it into a mixed media piece by adding pastel chalk above the falls in addition to a few other areas. This tended to add more mystery to the scene. Just this little action resurrected this painting and kept it out of the burn pile.

Mystery Falls

Mystery Falls

Here is another example. I never cared much for the “before”painting as it was just way too brown.  Using the Gesso glaze, some gouache and pastels this “after” version has more color and interest.  Calling this one ‘Whirlpool Falls’.  Was watercolor now mixed media.

Gesso Glazes

I fiddled with a painting of the slave Cabin at Magnolia Mound in Baton Rouge.   Had been reading about an artist applying a Gesso glaze to add some distress and also focus the center of interest.  Gesso is normally used as an acrylic primer.  I tried the glaze technique on this 2018 watercolor and I really like the result I got.

The Cabin, 300# Arches Cold Press, 12x16 inch.  Watercolor with Gesso glazing.

The Cabin, 300# Arches Cold Press, 12x16 inch. Watercolor with Gesso glazing.

There’s always a Lesson

Watercolor is one of those mediums that can easily get away from you. I learned this lesson while working on my most recent painting “Caneland”. I had to ditch the first painting after 6 hours of work on it. I had applied a glaze at the wrong time and managed to muck up the whole bottom half. You really have to think and plan a procedure for each painting. As you paint there are literally hundreds of decisions to make. Of course the second attempt was successful as I glazed the bottom half wash before applying the detail of the cane stalks.

“Caneland”, 12x16 inches, Watercolor on 300 lb Arches Cold Press

“Caneland”, 12x16 inches, Watercolor on 300 lb Arches Cold Press

Digital Data

Sometime back I read a book Fast Sketching Techniques: Capture the Fundamental Essence of Elusive Subjects by David Rankin. I’ve since used some of David’s teaching for my own sketching. It’s particularly a good method for iPad users. Using the app Paper 53, the iPad and an Apple Pencil you can quickly produce nice sketches with very simple digital tools. You don’t need the difficult to use Adobe tools. For sketching it’s ideal. I’ll show two examples. The first is a pencil type sketch of an Angel in our living room. The second is Lt. Commander Data from one of the Star Trek series. Neither one of these took much more than 30 minutes to complete. I admit I may fiddle longer but it’s not necessary. I recommend the book for those wishing to learn fast sketching - sketchbook or iPad.

Formula One Ferrari

I couldn’t resist sticking with the racing theme. I worked on a project based on Sebastian Vettel’s Formula one car. The painting is 12x16 on Bockingford Watercolor Paper. My process is illustrated with three images. First I laid down an initial pencil sketch. I photographed the sketch and imported to Paper 53 on my iPad. Then using Watercolor tools I produced a concept image to go by. Next I work the actual watercolor.

July 2019 Sketching

Done a lot of traveling this past month and that’s allowed for some opportunity to sketch. We visited Budweiser, Gateway Arch, R.E.Olds transportation museum, National Corvette Museum and The Henry Ford. This has led of course to automobile sketches. The following charcoal sketch was inspired by an image taken during the 1909 Vanderbilt Cup race. The Vanderbilt Cup races were predecessors to today’s NASCAR. This image features car #7, a Chalmers-Detroit, driven by William Knipper. He led most of the race finishing third after developing oil problems on lap #20. There were 15 who competed. This is charcoal on 8x10 toned paper.


Business Cards

One of our Art Guild Members suggested a neat way to promote your art business with personalized business cards. I worked on some of them on Wednesday this week The picture here shows the result. It’s a great concept, print on demand when you need more. No need to order from Vistaprint or other sources for your cards.


June 2019

Have been relatively busy in May and in June. Our USk Baton Rouge Sketch group continues to plug along. In May we did a sketch crawl on the LSU campus which was great fun and then met afterwards at LIT Pizza. For June we will be sketching at the MAIN Library on Goodwood in Baton Rouge. Looking forward to it.

The Austraiia trip was wonderful. I didn’t get much sketching in but I had enough photos to provide fuel for a few paintings. I recently completed one called Twelve Apostles which is a location off of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria some distance outside of Melbourne.

The River Road show for Art Guild of Louisiana is coming up. I plan to help them at a minimum with the show take in and hanging and then also with the take down. I have to fit the activities in between travel.

This image is titled “Twelve Apostles”.  The limestone cliffs are magnificent setting and majestic at sunset.  I completed this one in June 2019.

This image is titled “Twelve Apostles”. The limestone cliffs are magnificent setting and majestic at sunset. I completed this one in June 2019.

April 2019 Update

I apologize I haven’t been posting here but have finally found more time to keep the art activities going. I “officially” retired last Thursday and now hope to set course on an art career. This week I completed a nice portrait of my daughters dog “Rita”. Rita is a Chaweenie and she barks way too much. None the less we all love her dearly. Additionally, I completed a portrait for an old HS friend’s Dad in watercolor. He had an old oil painting from 1952 that had gotten damaged so I tried to recreate the image for him.

I definitely hope to make this BLOG more routine - travel aside. We also have a lot of travel planned this summer so although thats good for sketching and getting ideas on what to paint, it will limit my time at the computer.



9x12 Watercolor. 300 lb Arches 100% Cotton Rag Paper.

Bi Weekly Newsletter Begins Jan 2019

For 2019 I am planning to get started with a biweekly newsletter for those of you who follow my art. The plan will be to showcase my latest paintings, sketches or other activity with regard to artwork. It will be personal writing about my art activity. Subscribers to the mail list will receive discounts on commissions and/or purchase of art. I will schedule the newsletter to fly on the 1st and 15th or each month. The list is managed by MailChimp and you can opt in or opt out as you wish. I am not going to bombard you advertisements. The newsletter will be limited to 26 issues for the year. The newsletter is free of charge. I am asking all of you who follow my work to sign up and I appreciate your support. Sign up here:

Recent Happenings

 I’ve been happy with the urban sketchers group here in Baton Rouge.   We have had two events so far. In June we went to the Audubon state historic area. There we did some awesome sketches of Oakley plantation. 

July looks to be exciting. I’m anticipating the announcements for the River Road show. I entered four paintings  And I’m looking forward to find it anywhere selected. Also this weekend I’ll be attending a pen and ink workshop put on by Louise Hansen and the Art Guild of Louisiana.

Finally have gotten back to you thinking routine this month. The last couple months on the floors going in the studio so I was a little bit put out. Hopefully things will start getting back to normal. 




Urban Sketching Baton Rouge

Just wanted to plant the seed that we are starting a new Urbansketchers group in Baton Rouge this spring.   Our first event is next weekend at Magnolia Mound Plantation at 10am.

You can join us on Facebook at the group:  USk Baton Rouge


The Drought

Have to admit I have been in a painting drought and finally broke through today with a piece called "Surf Fishing".    I don't know what happens but sometimes you just lose all sense of what you are doing with regard to painting.    You tense up.   Work too fast.   Don't plan well.   All kinds of traps you can fall in.   Bad painting is usually the result of bad decisions and poor planning.  I need to learn to be patient and take more time.   I have a problem when I see the first underpainting and think there is nothing there.   I've torn several up.    I need to put them aside and come back to them later.   


Surf Fishing


The planning process

Most people I know think painting takes talent, but the reality is its like any other endeavor.  It takes effort and time to be invested in learning and practice.    Additionally its not always that simple to plan a painting.   Most artists work in a studio but do a lot of study on location or out doors.   Photographs help and can be used for references.   Often a good composition is the result of combining elements from more than one photograph or location sketch.   The image I am posting here is for a painting I am currently working on for a swamp cabin in Louisiana.  This is a value sketch created on iPad with 4 primary values.   White, light midvalue, dark midvalue and black when combined together help guide and establish the values for the final painting.   I don't always stick to these guides exactly but definitely use them for planning.  I will share the finished piece after it is painted.   



This weekend is the reception for the LWS member spring show.   This is only the third judged show that I have entered.   The receptions are always fun and a good chance to rub elbows with other very good artists.   I have yet to win anything but am hopeful as I improve eventually the recognition will come.   

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A recent commission

Last Friday I delivered this commission piece called "Double Shotgun",  I have done a couple paintings now that provide memories of childhood for my patrons.    The Double Shotgun is representative of a southern style of home where the front and back doors are aligned.  It's said a bullet shot through the front door will exit the rear. 

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