Thursday, November 19, 2015


Light becomes second nature to us in this world of electricity. Not until power is taken away do we realize how much we rely upon it.

On Tuesday, eastern Washington State experienced what they have dubbed an "historic" windstorm. We lost power about 5:30 pm. When we learned the extent of the damage in town, we knew we would be without power for quite a while. That also means no water. With a well powered by electricity, one's living conditions certainly change.

I found myself walking into a darkened room and hitting the light switch. Wanting to see better, I didn't think, I just did. I expected the light to be there. It wasn't.

If I might stretch an analogy, I wonder how many times I work on a painting and expect the light to be there. I don't make a conscious effort to create the light in the piece. Maybe I think my subconscious will just make it happen. Sometimes that is true. And other times I need to spend some time to make sure the light I see in the scene in my head is translated into paint.

In the piece below, I was thinking about how I could convey that gorgeous light on snow. I started with a tan colored gesso to give an underlying warmth. The snow has a lot of warm blues and I pushed the color around to give a softness to the background. The "white" is titanium white with a little cadmium orange and cadmium yellow deep. Even though a whitetail deer's coat turns gray in the winter, with just the right light on her, she can glow a stunning orange-y brown. The shadow on the young deer in the foreground keeps his coat gray.

First Winter
6" X 6"
Original Oil

This painting is in the 
Holiday Miniature Show
Pacific Flyway Gallery, Spokane Valley WA
(509) 747-0812

Surprisingly, our power, and hence our lights, returned this afternoon. We were prepared for longer but are grateful to return to the light. For a time, I will think about losing power every time I flip a switch  - until having light will once again become second nature.
I hope I never take the light in my paintings for granted and I will strive on each and every piece to keep the lights on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Small Paintings

The devil's in the details.
This saying aptly applies to this next painting. After working on a large piece, I wanted to do something small, really small. Stripes and spots are the most difficult to do at a miniature scale so rather than work on one zebra, how about FIVE.
The large caribou painting (see previous blog) was drying on my easel so I used my small table easel and a wonderful 5 diopter LED magnifying lamp from Global Industrial. Without it, the painting would have been even more difficult.
There were times I wondered what possessed me  to have 5 zebras in a painting less than 1/2 a square foot. Trying to figure out if I was working on a white or black stripe and the subtleties of shading at this size made the piece especially challenging.

7" X 10"
Original Oil

This painting is at Pacific Flyway Gallery & Framing for their Holiday Miniature Show.

Pacific Flyway Gallery & Framing
409 S. Dishman-Mica Rd.
Spokane Valley, WA
(509) 747-0812 

Saturday, November 7, 2015


A number of changes have been made to the painting since my last post.
Starting at the top -
1.) the mountains have a dip on the right hand side. It makes the scene feel more intimate to me and clearly defines the ridge as mountains, not some darker sky.
2.) brighter highlights on the antlers and some new highlights on the lower prongs
3.) shadow underneath both bulls
4.) "red" glazed on for the ground cover (my favorite bit) I used barium red and burnt sienna along with some cadmium red, cadmium orange, and titanium white. Liquin was the medium.
5.) foreground grasses. I continued some of the warm colors of the antlers into this section. Still, I wanted to keep it loose so not to draw your attention away from the action.

The Battlefield
27.5" X 48"
Original Oil

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Since the last post I have made the mane on the right bull fuller. Also, the wedge of furthest background underneath the right bull was looking a bit too warm. Using a little liquin and a purple mix, I glazed over that section to cool it.
The foreground looks like a crazy gobbley mess and what's with all the white blobs? The reds of the tundra in autumn are so brilliant that an alla prima rendering would not capture them. So my idea is to paint those sections white and, when they are dry, I will glaze over them with my reds.
With titanium white underneath the glazing, the reds will glow with maximum brightness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Finishing the second bull

At this size, the mane of the 2nd bull (one on the right) is looking a bit dull and flat. I often find it helpful on large pieces to look at my quick photos. Seeing it at a smaller scale can illuminate problem areas difficult to see when you are looking at something big.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Beginning the 2nd bull

This second bull's head is more challenging than I thought it would be. I knew it would be darker than the first bull, but if it is too dark the head looks like a dark brown blob. It is almost there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The first bull

It may be hard to see in this photo, but I have quite a bit of light purple on this first bull, especially on his legs. This gives the impression of a sheen.