Thursday, April 28, 2016

6th Street Bridge Reflections - Los Angeles Bridges - Los Angeles River Bridges - Urban Art

"6th Street Bridge Reflections" 24"x 24" oil on panel

Another view of this Los Angeles icon - this time at night. To learn more about the 6th Street Bridge in L.A. read the recap below from my last post.

If you are interested in seeing a quick video showing how this painting came together then CLICK HERE to see it on my YouTube channel.

If you follow my work on Facebook then you are probably aware of my current bridge obsession. It started when I heard that the 6th Street Bridge in Los Angeles was being torn down. Sadly, it is no longer structurally sound so the city is replacing it with an amazing new modern structure that promises to be more unique than the original.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

6th Street Bridge on a Saturday - 6th Street Bridge Artwork - Original Painting of the 6th Street Bridge - Historic Bridge Painting

"6th Street Bridge on a Saturday" 8"x10" oil on panel
Avaliable at

If you follow my work on Facebook then you are probably aware of my current bridge obsession. It started when I heard that the 6th Street Bridge in Los Angeles was being torn down.

You know this bridge even if you don't "know this bridge" because it's been in dozens of movies and commercials. Grease was probably the most watched movie it made an appearance in. It's an iconic location in downtown L.A.Sadly, it is no longer structurally sound so the city is replacing it with an amazing new modern structure that promises to be more unique than the original.

I'd always wanted to paint it and after learning of the bridge's imminent demise I had a pressing reason to do so. I called up a painter I knew that lives in the area and a small group of artists met up to paint there.  All of us were so taken with the views in the L.A. riverbed we vowed to return and paint the heck out of it while the bridge was still standing.

This is the first in a series of L.A. bridge paintings from the area.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Small Painting Experiments on Paper - New Artwork Added to Website - Art for the Home

"Road to Town" 9"x12" oil on paper
Avaliable at

After a long break from blogging I'm doing my best to make time to post new work here. Where have I been? Wondering why I'm asking because you didn't notice I was gone? No worries, I'll tell you either way.

First, the painting shown here is one of many in a new category of available artwork on my website. They are all oils on paper. Most are 9"x12" with a white border. The actual image area is approx.  8"x10." I consider these experiments where I am able to try new ways of working, like the colorful painting you see above, some are demos from painting classes and some are studies for larger paintings. All are very reasonably priced and include U.S. shipping. CLICK HERE to see all the works on paper.

At the end of 2015 I was asked to work on 4 large commissioned paintings that had a tight deadline. Those paintings took a lot of my time, but, I'll write more about them in a later post.

I started two exciting new ventures with my partner Kelley Sanford. The first is where experts in the art field answer questions submitted by readers. The site goes beyond the "how to" Q&A and often answers some of the more difficult questions about this unique field we work in.

Kelley and I also started a new type of monthly online art competition where artists compete at their skill level for the opportunity to win cash prizes, 6 months of gallery representation and much more. Cash awards are given every month with a new judge each month. Art Muse Contest offers low entry fees and now, while we are still building our business, the number of entries is extremely low compared to other monthly art contests so your opportunity to win is very high.

O.K. long post, hopefully you hung in there until the end and it was worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dodge in Blue and White - Classic Car Painting - 6x6 painting - 6 Squared Art Show - Wall Art

"Dodge in Blue and White" | 6"x6" | Oil on panel

When I paint a demo. for my students the resulting painting isn't usually frame worthy. I thought that would be the case with this painting but fortunately it turned out well. The exercise for that evening was a memory exercise. What I did was I looked at my photo reference for a few minutes, then put it away and began to paint.

Now, I know you're thinking, "Wow, you painted that entirely from MEMORY?"

No. I started this painting from memory. I blocked in all my big shapes using everything I could remember from my photo reference. Once my canvas was covered I did my best to make corrections and adjustments, but there came a point where I couldn't proceed any further without looking at my photo for the information I couldn't remember.

How did my painting look? Awful, nothing like a classic Dodge van, more like my 6 year old daughter's idea of a van painted using her left foot. So, I pulled my photo back out, working quickly (because it was a demo and my students were loosing hope after seeing how poorly things were turning out) I corrected what I needed to and brought it to a finish.

Why bother starting this way if I had to finish by using my reference? So much of painting is about learning and by that I mean not just learning how to copy what's there, how to mix colors or apply paint, but learning by building a visual library of memories and gaining a better understanding of how things are formed and why. Like why light behaves the way it does, why a reflection is the way it is or why the color of the sea changes when it's near the shore vs. when it's near the horizon.

The more I paint the more I understand about how our world is shaped and that in turn has made me a better painter.

Are you brave enough to give the memory painting exercise a shot? I promise you'll learn something if you do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rolling Hills - Sonoma County Painting - Petaluma Farm Painting - Landscape Painting - Art for the Home - Traditional Art

 "Rolling Hills" | 8"x 16" | Oil on panel
Available at

Most artists produce a themed series of work at some point in their careers and typically the series has a subject that is visually similar and is painted in a similar style like Kevin Macpherson's Reflections on a Pond series or Ann Gale's Head series.

From my own experience in painting I believe most artists attempt a series because they hit on a subject they want to explore in as many different ways as they possibly can and the most successful subjects are the ones that have enough substance in them that the artist doesn't loose interest while working. Of course, a series can be many things and isn't always limited to a subject that looks similar, what a series needs is a common thread that weaves through the work like a series based on environmental issues or landscapes from a particular location.

Until recently I hadn't thought that any of my body of work could be considered a series. Which brings me around to this piece from Sonoma Plein Air which I guess you could say is part of a series now.

This was painted is my sweet spot, a location in Sonoma County that I seem to find my way back to each time I visit there. To date I've created 9 paintings along the road that runs next to this view. Every year when I drive through this area I ask myself if it's been played out, I ask myself if I really do have any more to say in this location and every year I leave with several more painting ideas in my head that I could have done there.

If you paint plein air and want to push yourself I highly recommend finding a sweet spot of your own, a place that speaks to you and inspires you. Once you've found it, work the area for a while, see just how many different paintings you can create. Use what's in the area to your advantage, move things, find the best light of the moment, if something interesting shows up in the area paint it (my sweet spot includes lots of cows and one unpredictable farmer that welcomes me one year and shoos me away the next), change your color palette, try different techniques, try a composition you've never attempted and use a new tool. If you're not bored after your 5th painting then I say you've found a muse and after that....paint on my friend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lakeville Road Blues - Working in Three Values to Create a Strong Painting - Sonoma County Painting - Petaluma Farm Painting - Landscape Painting - Art for the Home

 "Lakeville Road Blues" | 8"x10" | Oil on panel
Available at

Before I start by preaching about how essential a value study can be at the start of a painting I would first like to admit that I have been known to skip this step and jump right into feeding my painting addiction in spite of knowing how important creating a value sketch can be and in spite of seeing positive results from taking that initial step. Instead I've often allowed the lure of color, lush paint and the call of my paintbrushes to lead me astray, blindly fumbling my way through, erasing things, changing elements or *gasp* just rolling with bad decisions.

This year however,  at the Sonoma Plein Air Festival I took the time to sketch. Sketching in three values kept the composition strong and clearly stated. Linking areas of similar value together into one larger value mass kept the overall concept focused as well.

Sketch for Lakeville Road Blues

It's easy to believe that detail, color and bold brushwork are the elements that make a dynamic representational painting happen, but just like a building, a painting is only as good as it's foundation. While this little 8"x10" plein air piece isn't a huge, epic, multi-figure narrative painting with chiaroscuro, it still did benefit from having a plan at the start.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tower - Transamerica Pyramid - San Francisco Landmark - Contemporary Art - Modern Art - Urban Art

"Tower" | 19" x 12.5" | Oil on panel
Available at

If you've read my blog for a while or know my work then you probably know me as a Plein Air landscape painter (or painter of oil pumps). What you don't know is that I never planned on that being my final destination as an artist.

I knew going into this that I needed to have some basic skills and develop an understanding of some of the techniques and principals of painting. When I started out, the thought of tackling a blank canvas was daunting (dry throat, sweaty palms kind of daunting) and it was something I struggled with in college especially when my professors flatly refused to teach anything relating to representational painting. All those years ago I figured that Plein Air was a good place to start since there are no model fees involved, the landscape doesn't move around (unless there is a boat or car involved then they always move) and I could be out of the house away from the distractions of my family life (which used to include changing my kids diapers, so yeah, I really enjoyed being outside at the easel) .

Now that I have spent a number of years in the field painting from life I have a bit of a better handle on the basics (I'm not saying I'm any expert or anything because there is always more to learn and there is always someone else with way more miles on their paintbrush). So, this year I've spent more time painting in my studio (O.K. it's not really a studio, it's more of a tiny corner in a small house that I share with my whole family and their toys, shoes, books, craft supplies, dirty dishes, etc.).

Painting in the studio has allowed me to experiment with things that are difficult to do in the field. In this painting for example, I planned my color palette starting with the under-painting which I hoped would work as a highlight color on the Transamerica building. Fortunately, the under-painting also worked when I wiped away applied paint to indicate the windows on the other high-rise buildings. Allowing paint to run, leaving spots of the under-painting showing through, breaking more edges, mixing colors together from different areas of the painting to create harmony and using broken color are all things I wouldn't normally do when working en Plein Air. Studio painting is a much more deliberate process whereas Plein Air is more of a quick response to an ever changing moment.

As my work evolves I find I have a a number of paintings that head in all different directions stylistically, but, I trust that the schizophrenic look of my work this year will eventually evolve into a thing/style, whatever that my be.