Friday, September 28, 2018


Painting A Day.
Follow me as I paint a personal portrait of October. Each day I will do a painting from life, recording a slice of season. It will be a whirlwind tour of my favorite month. Some paintings will be on location and some in the studio or where ever I am. I’ll try to include in progress photos and some videos.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Yooper

Just returned from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I stayed in Ironwood, just over the boarder from Wisconsin. It is on the edge of the Porcupine Mountains near the shore of Lake Superior. A big area for winter sports, there are several ski hills the area. I was drawn to the are for the waterfalls. There were more than 30 in a 50 mile radius from where I stayed. Because I was new to the area and with a major road closure I spent more time driving than visiting falls. I did get the chance to paint a couple. Altogether I painted 11 plein air paintings. That is a little shy of my expected average of 4 to 5 per day. As I get familiar with the area I will drive less and paint more.
This was the first real field try of the fluid acrylics I have been using in the studio. Wanted to see how they performed in hot sunny conditions. I was pleasantly surprised how well they did. Because they are of a thinner more runner consistency they didn't on my palette too quickly. With the one exception being when I was on top of the Porcupine mountains painting the Lake of the Clouds. I had my palette shaded but there was a steady 20 mph wind that sucked the moisture right out of them. I used 2" diameter cups to hold the paints so there was not a lot of surface area for them to dry out from. I brought all my other paints, gouache, casein, and oils but never took them out.

Old Victoria, 12"x12"

Gorge Falls, 9"x12"

Cascade Falls, 12"x12"
Above Conglomerate Falls, 9"x12"

Black River Bank, 12"x12"
Lake of the Clouds, 8"x10"

Mt Zion, 9"x12"

Little Girl Point, 8"x10"

Superior Driftwood, 8"x10"

Thursday, August 9, 2018


New Series

A collection of remembered places on Minnesota's North Shore.

These paintings are a reflection of all the time I have spent collecting visual memories while paint the North Shore.

For nearly twenty years I have been traveling to the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota to paint the landscape. I began with the thought that to help my studio painting I needed to paint from nature to learn. This grew into a love for solitude with nature and plein air painting.

Plein air painting and the effort to capture the light and sense of place became my obsession. As many successful artists quickly learn it is a different challenge to paint in nature. Besides the the ever fleeting light one has to contend with weather, insect and fatigue. I embraced the challenge painting exclusively plain air for many years. I became a purist only working on paintings in the field and never in more than one session, but I always felt like I was still learning.

Now I have changed focus slightly with this series, Recollections. The paintings are based on memories of the places I have been and many I have painted. I am drawing from the vast experiences and recollections of abstract feelings and the concrete elements. I used plein air studies for some as seeds. Some will feel very familiar and hopefully all will elicit a sense of place.
To make the paintings work together and feel as a whole I set up some parameters. All are painted in a square format. This forced me to make the composition tell part of the story rather than use a horizontal format for panoramic views or a vertical format for tall subjects. Having  a consistent format also best conveys the idea that these are all born from the same idea, as if all are looking through the same window into my memories. If asked, I could tell you the locations that inspired each painting. While some are specific most are a conglomerate of several places.

The color palette I used was restricted to red, yellow, black and white. This gave me a basic set of warm and cool. Using black as my only cool, gave me a really strong dark to create dynamic contrast of the values. It also forced me to look at the subtlety of grays. Something I really enjoyed that will forever effect my plein air and studio work. I will do another post that I get into more depth about the palette in the near future.

Another departure from my plein air and studio work was with the choice of medium. Until recently I painted most studio paintings in oil and plein air paintings in oil, gouache, or casein. These are done with fluid acrylics. The fluid of the acrylics allows me to stay fresh with my brush strokes. They are, for most colors, pretty opaque. Which means I can lay down lights or darks and develop a painting without thinking about the process. Although I love oils I don't think I am disciplined enough to get the best out of them. This is also why I have recently been using gouache and casein for my field sketches.

Sometimes, as an artist, it is tough to change up what you are doing especially if you are having success. You work hard perfecting your craft and it is hard to okay lets try something different. I guess part of it is the risk of failing. I'm glad I took the risk and believe I learned much from the process and plan to continue this series for a while.

12"x12", Acrylic

12"x12", Acrylic

12"x12", Acrylic

12"x12", Acrylic
More to come soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trip to Montana

Last week I had the opportunity to take a trip to Butte Montana with my father in-law and brother in-law. They went to visit family and I went to paint the mountains. This was the first real trip for me the mountains. My father in-law has talked about Butte for years. He has a couple of sisters and a a brother that lived much of their life in the mountains, some of them gold mining.

Butte is a mining town that has a rich history. Once over 100,000 in population now it's dropped to under 30,000.  The people love the town and, as I was told, never leave. I understand that, as it is surrounded by several mountain ranges and one of the most beautiful areas I have visited.

My time there was split between time with family and painting. I would have loved to paint more but I guess I will have to visit again.

This is looking east from Butte. The clouds were low over the mountains, sometimes covering their tops. Just to the left on the mountain top is the 90 foot Mary statue looking down on Butte.
Gouache, 8'x10"

Gouache, 8'x10"
I headed into the hills and found this spot at the entrance to a closed mountain park. I met a young man walking his dog and asked him if the bear are a problem in that area. I read a lot about the bear in the Montana mountains and the need to be alert. He reassured me that there were not any bear in that area but said he has seen many signs of 'cats'. I think he meant mountain lions. I asked what should I look out for. He said that if there was a territorial male in the area it he would get me before I realized he was there. Not too reassuring especially after I noticed the stripped clean bones of some large animal in the stream near where I was standing. Needless to say I kept looking over my shoulder painting this one.

The next morning before breakfast I walked a block from where we were staying to find this view. These are the Highland Mountains where my father in-laws's sister and her husband mined for gold. They were pretty successful I'm told. The mine is all closed up now.
Gouache, 8'x10"

This is the pass going to Philipsburg. I was on the edge of a 600 ft cliff at a scenic pullout. All while I was painting rocks were letting lose from the cliffs above and rolling down on the other side of the road. 
Gouache, 8'x10"

This lake was still frozen in the mountains near Anaconda. Many of the roads and parks are not yet open for the season. I had to go over a little snow to get to this spot.
Gouache, 8'x10"

This is the county seat in Anaconda. I had to drive up the hill to the cemetery to get this view. While standing under a tree to shade my easel a bird landed on my head. Kind of freaked me out a bit.
Gouache, 5'x7"

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nickelodeon Universe

Last night while my wife Heidi was taking a class at the Apple store I did a little painting in Nickelodeon Universe. Nickelodeon Universe is the theme park in the Mall of America. It is a great place to paint. It's indoor but mostly naturally lit by a huge glass skylight. It feels like painting outside without the challenges of the elements. I was sitting at a table on the second level looking down on the park. It was not real busy probably because it was a Monday. One of the best parts of painting the park are all the wonderful colors. Colors that I don't see when painting outdoors. Usually I need to dial back the vibrance of the colors when I paint outdoors to make the painting believable. Here I had to pump them up. This is the second time I painted in the park. The first was over the Christmas break of last year. I painted with my daughter Leah. The results weren't as good. Half way through the painting the park lights were turned off. Since it was evening I had to try to finish from memory. I am pleased with this one though. I did miss the company of my daughter though.
Approx 8"x10", Casein

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Challenge Complete

12 Paintings in 24 Hours. Here are the 12 paintings I painted yesterday. I started at 6:30 am, Saturday and finished around 1:30 am, Sunday. All were completed in Scott County, Mn in less than 24 hours. They are all Casein on paper. 
7:05 am Murphy Lake
7:53 am Frosted Sunrise
9:33 am Green House
11:33 am Edge of Wetland
12:09 pm White Barn
2:06 pm Depot
4:14 pm Bargain Betty
5:08 pm Sunset on Hills
6:51 pm Store Front
8:41 pm St John The Baptist
10:20 pm Late Shopping
11:38 pm Factory Steam

Friday, November 25, 2016

12 Paintings in 24 Hours

Tomorrow, Saturday November 26, I will be doing a 24 hour painting challenge.
At 7 am I will start a 24 hour plain air painting session where my goal is to paint 12 paintings. I will be staying in Scott County and try to paint in the cities of Prior Lake, Savage, New Prague, Jordan and Shakopee. 

I don't have a schedule of the places I will be at, Im' hoping to work my way from town to town stopping at places that catch my eye. I might chose a spot hoping to be able to paint two views. That may be hard though. I have several places in mind but won't limit myself to them. With travel time and setup I will have to paint quickly to complete the challenge. One painting on average every 2 hours is a bit ambitious. I think my best day out painting on the North shore was 6 paintings in a day, but that was in oil and for an easel. I plan on painting in casein and mostly from my car.. I'll stay in my car since the weather is not ideal for painting with a water based paint like casein. As the temp approaches 32° the paint will stiffen up and could freeze.
As the sun sets I will need to find places that are interesting and pretty well lit. I am thinking factories, grain elevators and shopping areas might give me the best options.

I love to paint so I am excited for this challenge but worry as the day ends I will get a little burt out and be quite tired. That will either decrease the quality of the paintings or force me to be more direct with my brush strokes and prevent me from over working a painting. I hope it will be the latter. With some luck I can gat a little ahead on the painting count during the day so I can be a little more relaxed for the evening. Not too relaxed, though, I don't want too fall asleep.

On Facebook I will be posting photos as I go of paintings and possibly locations all through the challenge.

Also check back here for photos of all the paintings after I am done. Thanks