Plein Air Timelapse: Dana Peak Park

(in the video window, click on the settings icon, a little gear wheel on the lower right, and view in 1080p).

I went out to my stomping grounds, Dana Peak Park in Harker Heights, TX, to kick off 2019. Hoping to find some prickly pear on rocks to help with a painting I was working on, I saw this scene on the way. This is overlooking the lakeside (lake is to the left) as the setting sun casts warm light over everything. I never finished the painting, but had a lot of fun laying in the foundation for it, catching the mood and accurate color and figured it’s worth sharing. I hope your 2019 is full of adventure and surprises along the way!

Artist Chat: Usually I lay in a burnt sienna under-painting to establish a basic plan on where things are and the values needed, but the light was moving fast! I did a quick line drawing with a pencil and plunged right in, top to bottom. The distant views were so brightly lit, I was using straight white with a touch of the warm color, which really contrasted well with the foreground cedars to establish the sense of distance. It was so cold my acrylics were acting like oil paint, staying wet the entire time. This really helped to soften the edges of the distant hills and trees.

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Sunrise at Tyler State Park

I went camping at Tyler State Park after a fun couple of days in Tyler with friends. It was about 40° and probably less by the lake, but the sunrise woke me up, shining on my tent screen. I jumped to it, grabbed my gear, coat and threw on my cowboy boots to catch the light. The far bank was lit up in an orange hue while the foreground trees were still mostly in shadow from the tall pines behind me. The camera failed to really catch the glow, so I flung that paint fast to get down the actual blues and orange colors that vibrate dramatically. After finishing the sketch, I used that to repaint it on a larger 12×16″ canvas. Sweet memory I’m blessed to have!

Studio Work: Fall Colors on the Lower Swift River

This is a piece I’ve been working on for a while. I visited my brother and his family for about two and half months in Marblehead, and was lucky enough to find a break in the rains in later October to travel to the southeast White Mountains. The Lower Swift River flows near Conway, NH and at peak fall color has crowds lined up along the highway to go down to the river. Spectacular. I found a park where I could head down and explore the area. Up river about a quarter mile, where to people quit and turn around, I found a bend in the river perfect for a sketch to get careful notes of the area. I took those notes and a photo to paint this 18×24″ view. I wanted to get a good contrast between the light boulders and dark waters to invite the viewer into the scene. The main tree was actually some bare birches, so I look the liberty to “enhance” it with a vibrant maple also seen along the river. The sky was actually much more brilliant hues of blue, but it needed to be muted to showcase the main tree. After about a week, I couldn’t see anything else I could do, so I called it done.

Loved the journey! Onto the next.

Next Generation Disc Golfer

Image of kids watching dad throw a disc
“Next Generation Disc Golfer”, 8×10”, acrylic

While Dad and I were playing disc golf with friends, one of them brought his brother’s family with two kids. Both the wife and husband were pretty good disc golfers and their kids watched intently, the oldest eager to give it a try. As they watched the Dad, the sunlight caught their blond hair and I saw a painting I really wanted to try. Covertly, I snapped a pic with the iPhone. Later at home I painted the two kids omitting the Dad in the background. Might have made for a neat story to have him back there, but I thought the disc in the toddler’s hand told the story sufficiently.

Hopefully, the young couple will enjoy their painting as much as I enjoyed painting it!

October in Marblehead

The leaves are changing and pumpkins are out along the front yard walls in Marblehead. I saw this riding my bike around town and it seemed like it’d make for a cool fall-style painting. It’s one of those you can put up temporarily for the month as a fall celebration. I think I’ll add a few maple leaves to finish it off in the studio.

The Old Homestead Oak, TimeLapse

 

There is an old homestead on my uncle’s property from the early to mid 1900’s we call “the bed and breakfast”, that has a gigantic oak outside of it with deep ridges and enormous, winding arms spreading about 100 feet for a canopy. I wanted to zero in on the trunk this time and had fun with another TimeLapse. If you can think of anything you’d want me to include in the YouTube videos, please let me know in the comments, thanks!!

I’m steadily gaining energy back after a round of chemo and letting myself drop down to seriously low weight, so I’m hoping the adventures at different state parks will soon be underway!

Video TimeLapse for Painting

I started wanting to share the experience of what it like painting en plein air more and figured I’d try my hand at making videos that wrap up the journey in about a minute. My equipment is really extravagant. It’s a phone with an app called “TimeLapse” and a $20 Amazon tripod. My other equipment is my highly modified Walmart easel and canvas panels from Hobby Lobby. My video taking skills are even more extravagant! Ha. It’s all part of the fun. My brother is a marketing/design genius and helps me know what format videos to post where. Right now, it’s about 1min. per TimeLapse. Later, I made a YouTube channel that will have more scenes of the area I’m painting to bring a closer experience of being there. We’ll see how that goes. The more people I can inspire to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature, the better! Whenever it is my time to leave this Earth, that’s what I want to leave behind. I love a quote I just recently read in scripture where Jesus said to God,”Glorify your Son so I can glorify you.”. That makes so much sense. We have a purpose. If we were given a gift (music, art, acting, caregiving, …) and we love this unimaginably awesome experience called “life” (which I think of as at least part of the mystery of God), we get to be ourselves, expressing our thanks for being a part of it. How cool is that?

Here’s a link to the last video I made: https://youtu.be/cSo9PsGDF6Y. You can also click the picture above as a link.

Studio: “Into Reality” Mt. LeConte, NC

“Into Reality” acrylic 11×14″

My cousin Andy and his wife backpack to a lodge in Mt. Le Conte n the Appalachian Mountains. It has a special meaning to them as their getaway hike and he took a snapshot of his wife walking into view of the mountains. This painting will be a good “happy unbirthday” surprise. He’s been wanting this painting for some time and I finally felt ready to paint it. 

I’ve been learning about Impressionism and manipulating color, value, edge… all the aspect the affect the mood of the scene. When backpacking through the woods its been called the “long green tunnel”. After a few miles, it’s meditative as you listen your rhythmic footsteps, the sounds of the forest, your breathe and you fall into introspection of life. Then, BAM, bright light hits you and an overwhelming view of the mountains appears. It’s a sudden jolt internally to go from introspection to such awareness of life outside of you. Humbling. Everything thought about for miles snaps into proportion, so teeny-tiny in comparison. Appreciation. It’s no question that this life is a gift, and being a part of it, however infinitely small, is incredibly comforting. These are the words and feelings behind the painting that guided my decisions. Hope they like it! 

Plein Air: Belton, TX along Nolan Ceek

“Playful Moments”, acrylic on paper, 8″x6″ish.
June in Texas is a game of dodging thunderstorms! I saw blue in the sky and actual shadows on the ground, so I headed out to paint along Nolan Creek that runs through the middle of Belton, TX. Everyone and their dog (literally) was in the river tubing, feeding the geese and getting a nice sun burn. 


I wanted to express that great feeling of sunlight and sense of fun along the creek bank and snapped a few photos from my phone of the geese. Right then a girl that had been feeding the geese walked down to the water with the geese following. I quickly set up, did a few 1 minute sketches of the geese and gesture of the girl as practice, took ten minutes to do a small thumbnail color map (blobs of color next to each other to see the relationships), and dug into the sketch. I wanted the feeling of sunlight to fill the painting, so I toned the paper with a watered down yellow and layer down paint over that. It peeks through in areas nicely. After spending about twenty minutes roughly filling in the background and grass, keeping it somewhat abstract, I filled the geese and kid in from the pic on my phone with enough detail and form to add a sense of realism. It’s so much fun! It feels like it adds movement and life into the sketch getting a bit closer the the feel of being there. 

One hour later … dark skies, rain and thunder. Ha. 


HONK! Goose for see ya next time (and you better bring bread).

Plein Air: Chalk Ridge Falls

This is an area along the river in Chalk Ridge Falls in Belton, TX,  a local hot spot for me where I can explore and consistently find something to study. Rivers, creeks, grasslands, rocks, caves… it has it all.  Plus, it felt great to paint over a previous painting that flopped big time. 

What initially struck me about the scene was the deep curelean blue sky against all of the greens of the land and the shadow of the main bush cast over the sandy ledge. It’s always a challenge to get the right value (darkness) and color of the shadows to coordinate with the sun-lit areas. When it’s right, it’s seamless and the eye just accepts it. The temps are rising as summer approaches and soon enough that green grass will tan. You can bet I’ll be huddled under a tree somewhere out there, thankful for the shade and living in the moment.