Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trying to get things done

Spring Break, 2008. oil on panel. 10 x 11. sold.

Do you ever have one of those days when you don't get anything done that you thought you were going to get done? I have stacks of paintings that I need to finish before the end of next week and yesterday I couldn't seem to any work done. For some reason I really didn't mind...

It must be the Season.

Happy Holidays everybody!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Think about it

Huge Late Afternoon, 2008. oil on canvas, 60 x 70

The Rhetoric of many artists has little to do with what they are actually accomplishing.

-Brian Kershisnik

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back to it

Building Summer, 2008. oil on canvas 40 x 58 sold

We are finally back into our house. It's good to be home! We are still settling in and a few things still need to done but things seem to be getting back to normal ( at least a little bit). I think I might even get into my studio this week. ( a real shock, I know, it's been five or six weeks!) I'm ready...I have some work that I need to get started on for early next year.

In the meantime...

We had our reception for the miniature show at First Street last Friday. ( I organized the show for the gallery.) What a party! I think there was over two hundred people at the reception and sales were fairly strong. A grad time was has by all. It was great to see friends and meet new collectors. I'll write more soon...see ya then.

Oh, I guess I should mention this painting is another larger painting from my show. I kinda went old school on it...back to my classic style (can I even have a classic style?) of five or six years ago. Though I have to say I would have never painted the clouds the way I did in this painting six years ago...It was interesting to come back to some of the same color ideas again and see how I look at things differently now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Working with it

Postlude, 2008
oil on panel

7 x 8

This is one of my smaller pieces in my show. I am still playing around with the whole purple/green combination. As I'm getting more comfortable with the color structure, I think I may try a larger piece soon with these same color cords. The sky color was the big surprise, I can remember mixing it on my palette and thinking, "this is never going to work, its too green!" but when it began working together with the other colors in the painting, it felt right. This is one great reason to work out problems on smaller paintings. The time and energy spent on a smaller painting is not near as much as I would spend on a large paintings. So I tend to take as many chances as I dare in my smaller works, I play around and see if something new will work. But in my larger works, I can't afford to spend a lot of time on something and then have to throw it away. I need to have a pretty good idea of what I am doing on a larger work before I start. That is not to say that I don't improvise on larger works. I do. Just because something works on a smaller scale doesn't mean that it will work in a larger scale, so I am still solving other painting problems. But, if I can work out some of issues of a new visual idea on a smaller panel, then I feel I can be more effective in my larger works.

At least that how I feel this month....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A remodel, a broken foot, and a broken arm

Even Later, 2008. oil on panel, 7 x 8

Sorry about the long silence, but I have been kinda occupied. In the last month I (with the great help from my good friend Lee) refinished all of our hardwood floors, about 1000 square feet. ( I really had no idea how much work it was going to be, but we sanded the floors for four days straight!) and then redid the linoleum tile in our bathroom. But then in the middle of all this sanding, in the course of two days, my lovely wife broke her big toe and my youngest broke his arm. So we had many visits to urgent care centers, doctors, and specialists. Which put us way behind. Did I mention we are living with my parents? I think the painting above is one of two small paintings that I finished in the last month. Didn't I use to paint for a living?

Life kind of kicks you in the butt sometimes...

We're almost done with everything at the house and will probably move back in this weekend, maybe life will get back to some kind of normal soon (or maybe not).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Work

Big Turns, 2008. oil on canvas, 44 x 54

Here is another painting from my show. I wanted to see how painterly I could be in the orchards in this painting. I was surprised how little detail was needed and still have them feel like my orchards. I was excited by the outcome and I look forward to trying the same idea again on another painting soon.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Another Way

Evening's Embrace, 2008. oil on canvas 40 x 40 sold

Here is a larger piece from my show. I did a whole series of these blue cloud/yellowish sky combo several years ago and just revisited it again for this show. My color sense has really evolved over the years, even using some of the same color ideas from the past has proven surprising. The color has become more subdued, less jarring at times. I can't really explain how or why this has happened and I don't really think it matters. I'm always seeing things, outside, in other artist's paintings that change how I look at the landscape. I am always being influenced by many different sources.

I enjoy seeing things in a new light of a different experiences, its one reason why I think I will always put paint to canvas.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's up and I'm Done

Ascending, 2008. oil on panel 12 x 15. sold

So my show is finally up. I finished varnishing things today (I know the show opened on Monday, things went up Monday unvarnished, what can I say?) You can see the show at First Street Gallery's website, if you don't live in the area. If you do why don't you stop by and see it yourself? The reception is tomorrow night from six to eight in the evening. It should be a fun party.

I'm really pleased with how everything turned out. The paintings are strong. ( at least that's how I feel about them right now, I still could be a little too close to them) I tried some new things in this show that I think will help improve my work over the long haul. I'll talk about more about that in future posts.

Right now I really just want to spend some time with my family and relax...cause I'm done.


Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm not lost, I just don't know what day it is

Late Stormy Color, 2008. oil on panel, 8 x 7

I have been totally slammed by an upcoming show. Somehow I got behind on it, so now it's put up or shut up. I'm not sleeping well, so I just get up and ride over to my studio and go to work early in the morning. I tend to work well under pressure so I feel like I am doing some strong work. I have two weeks before the show opens, and I will be working to the bitter end. I haven't even had time to document any of my new paintings, but I will so new work is coming soon.

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Repeat after me (well, Cezanne)

Falling Down, 2008. oil on canvas. 18 x 18

Light is a thing that cannot be reproduced, but must be represented by something else - By color

-Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hand painted grids

The Three Hundred, 2008. oil on canvas 60 x 72

Here it latest commission. I really had a lot of fun doing this painting. The collectors let me make a painting. They showed me their land and then said to me, "We want you to make the best painting you can, so do whatever you need to do to make the best panting you can for us." "Wahoo!!" I thought. I get to do the painting however it needs to be done. That's not to say that their commission wasn't without its challenges. Their ranch is very large, so I knew that trying to literally paint the whole thing was really going to be impossible, and even if I was going to try and paint it how I wanted to, I would still be painting thousands of trees. Plus the trees were not a defining element for the painting. I had to find an element that I could build the painting around. Exploring around their ranch I found it in a spring creek that ran through their property. I knew that if I got that right, it would feel like their ranch.

When they came into to my studio to see the finished painting for the first time they immediately said, "Hey, that's our three hundred..."

Let me tell you, that felt good.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Making Tracks

Orange Notes, 2008. oil on panel 12 x 12

I continue to explore different color ideas. Here is one of my more recent efforts. I don't really know where this is going to lead...but then that really isn't the point, is it? I don't know who said it first but I'm stealing it from Wolf Kahn,

"I just follow my brushes and let them take me wherever they want to go..."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Slinging paint

Around Evening, 2008. 9 x 12 sold

I have been slinging paint on a very large commission (a 60 x 72) for the better part of the last eight weeks. As a result, I haven't had a lot of time to do any other work, but this was a piece I did while I was letting the large piece sit. Do you ever need to let a painting sit for a while? These big commissions take so much energy that it feels good just to be able to knock out a smaller painting in a much more manageable time period.

I'll post the commission when its finished.

Hopefully it will be done this week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wet Dirt

Early Spring Fields, 2008. oil on panel 7 x 8

I was thinking about those wet spring days that we have around here every year when I did this little painting. The fields are wet with some of them planted and others are waiting to be so. The air is always clean and clear between spring storms. I really look foward to this time of year.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


spring pastures, 2008. oil on panel 14 x 20 sold

This is a painting that I did outside recently. It was done on a large private ranch on the eastern side of the valley. When I get the opprotunity to paint on private property, I always jump at the chance because I get access to great places to paint that are often not available to me. I was very fimiliar with this area since I have been painting this section of the Merced River for almost a decade, but this year I was able to go anywhere I wanted to go, instead having to stay only on the side of the road. I knew that there were some hills just off the road that I thought would offer some fantasic views of the Merced River Valley. I scrambled up the hill and was treated to a great overlook. I came back and painted several views. What a treat!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Newest Stuff

Just Passing Through, 2008. oil on canvas 24 x 20 sold

I love the big clouds that somtimes roll through the valley every spring. In this piece really wanted to push how big the clouds feel sometimes, so I turned the canvas sideways (at least for me) made the horizon very low to emphasize the vastness of the sky.

This painting is part of The Central Valley Landscape Show at First Street Gallery during the month of June. The Reception is on June 6th from 6-8 PM. Stop by if you are in the area.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I don't understand

Golden Twilight, 2008. oil on canvas, 28 x 34. sold.

It feels strange sometimes when a painting comes together. I often struggle to make a painting work when I try new ideas. When I finished this painting, my wife commented, "You've been trying to paint yellow clouds for ten years, I think you finally got it right." And I thought back and I think she's right. It was 1997 when I first painted some strange looking yellow clouds in one of my paintings that prompted someone who was in my studio to say, "Is that piece done?" Not words any artist wants to hear. I've been fiddling with yellow clouds ever since, and not very successfully. I can't tell you why they started to work now. I guess persistence does pays off.

This painting is for the Central Valley Landscape show at First Street Gallery in June.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Where does the time go?

Winter Clouds, 2008. oil on panel 8 x 10 sold

It has been a crazy few weeks, and everything seems to be happening all at once. This year, I am trying to be more prepared and not wait until the last minute so I already getting ready for a group landscape show (a show that I am also organizing) at First Street Gallery this coming June. I think that I am almost ready for that show. Maybe one more painting, I think...

This little painting was something I did when I was working on another larger painting for the show. What was unusual for me with this piece is not only the painting which is a winter scene, but the frame which is a very ornate in a deep earth reddish color and at least three or four inches wide. (Sorry, I didn't take a picture of the frame.) I usually use a simple modern floater frame for all my work, so this frame was a huge departure for me. I found the frame in the back of one of my galleries, and they let me take it and see what I could paint for it. I'd never done anything like that before, and it was kinda fun probably because it worked.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Let's count the ways

Autumn Evening, 2008. oil on panel 8 x 10 sold

How many different colors can a sunset be? I enjoy exploring the possibilities. (I think they might be endless.) This is yet another small painting from the first of the year. I'm currently working on some larger pices that I will post soon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I didn't paint that

A Little Big Red, 2007. oil on panel 7 x 8

Well, okay I did paint it, but what I mean is that you can not control how other people perceive or look at art. While my work in general is fairly polarizing (people either love it or hate it), I recently started a series of red cloud paintings that are particularly divisive. I mean people either really love them (like they can't help it but to buy them) or they think that I'm painting the end of the world, like in a nuclear holocaust. Two unrelated people actually said that to me. They figure the paintings must come from a very dark place in my mind and they find them very disturbing.

I can assure you that the latter is wholly untrue and the former is a little strange (not that I mind selling my work). What causes viewers to react so strongly? I just thought that a big red cloud could make an interesting painting and the color interaction could be powerful.

I guess I was right.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Classic combinations

Dusk, 2008. oil on panel 7 x 8

Another small painting that from the first of the year. I was playing with the purple/green combination....two colors that I think were made to go together.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Another summer day

Afternoon Squares, 2008. oil on panel, 8 x 8

Here is yet another summer afternoon painting.

I never tire of playing with closely related visual ideas. I think it was Richard Diebenkorn who said it was only when he set up a very limited set of rules within his work that he found the freedom to try radically different ideas within those set of rules.

I keep playing with the elements of valley summer afternoons. How can I push it around, bend it, morph it, but not break the rules that I have set for myself? It's a great game to play.

This is one such painting, and it was effortless to paint. The composition and color just came together without a second thought. If only they were all this easy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

It is Raining

Winter Weather, 2008. oil on panel 8 x 10

In this small painting I am beginning to explore winter/rainy weather. It is something a little different for me since I've spent the better part of fifteen years painting basically only summer. Fall and Winter would roll around and I would just ignore these seasons in my paintings. I was so interested in the painting problems of summer that I didn't think about the other seasons. Then this winter I started thinking how I could paint a valley covered in winter. This is one of my first.

When I told a friend of mine that I was starting to paint a different season, after so many years, he said that at that rate I could paint the valley for at least sixty years.

Sounds good to me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Stuff

Between, 2008. oil on canvas 16 x 20

A painting just off the easel.

It will be available at The Vault in March.

Monday, February 11, 2008

For Marilyn

Marilyn's First Sunset, 2008. oil on panel 7 x 8

Here is a painting that I just finished.
It was a gift for my cousin's first child.
It was a joy to paint.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Last of 'em

The Old home place, 2007. oil on canvas, 60 x 66 sold

This is the last large commission I did in 2007. This piece had a couple things that were unsual for me. It features a house and a vineyard. First,I hadn't done a vineyard in some time and second, I have never put a house in one of my paintings. A few barns have found there way into my work, over the years, but never a house.

I generally don't put buildings in my paintings because they tend to give away too much. I like to let the viewer decide how big everything is. And by putting a house in gives scale. I guess I have always liked to make the viewer work a little bit.

Before starting, I thought the house could present some problems, but I figured the vineyard would be easy enough. Boy, was I wrong. When I did the study for this painting I soon realized that if I was going to use any sort of prespective in the vineyard it would mean that I would have to rethink how I paint orchards.

Up to this point I had really ignored the rules of perspective in my orchards. I used color, size and position to make them "lay flat" within the space of the painting. It was also fun to play with flatness of the surface of the picture plane. I like when a painting can be seen in more than one way. And my orchards were great places to play around with this. If you look at them in one way things fell into place, but if you didn't, things look flat with no depth. It depends on how you preceived them. It's a game I like to play with the viewer.

In this painting I realized quickly that if the vineyard was going to be in perspective then the other fields were going to have to be also. I tried to make the orchards how I had always done them in the past and it just did not work. It looked terrible. If I could have been more selective in where the orchards went in the painting I could have maybe gotten away with it. But this painting was a particular piece of ground and so I could not just move things around like I do in some of my other paintings. The trees had to be painted in a way that worked with the vineyard. It was a huge change for me. I did not look forward to making them in a different way.

After much nashing of teeth, many stress headaches, and then sitting in my studio dreading working on this canvas. I just did it. Do you know what happened? I made an effective painting I was really happy with. And now that I think about it a little bit, this painting may have been the breakthough for some of my new work that I have done since. This commission forced me to rethink the valley again, and made me realize that I do not have to do things only one way.

It was liberating.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Clearing Off, 2008. oil on panel, 8 x 7

I can count on one hand how many vertical paintings I have done in the last ten years. I can't tell you why (well, I could but it would bore you to tears) let's just leave it at, "I haven't done any."

In this new group of paintings I have been posting I've done three or four "sideways" paintings. I don't know why I decided to do them now, I really didn't think about it, I just did them. And blow me over they were kind of interesting. It presented a set of different problems for me to think about and got me out of thinking only in one way. It really helps when I don't really care if something works and just see what happens. What's the worse case scenario? I might stumble and have to throw it away? Really, is that such a big deal? It's just a piece of wood or canvas. When I am willing to take chances like that, its liberating and I believe stronger work is the result, even if I have to toss some paintings to get there.

Besides, it's cold I could use the firewood.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Big Afternoon, 2008. oil on panel 7 x 8

People often ask me how I come up with my titles for my work. And to be honest I sometimes wonder where the names come from because often the works seems to name themselves.

I have done, well, let's just say a lot of paintings and drawings of the San Joaquin Valley. I used to have titles like Flying Over the Valley, Flying Over the Valley II, Flying Over the Valley III, Flying Over the Valley VI. You get the point. I thought the names were just fine since its about the work, not the title. But when I first met my wife she told me that my titles were so boring that I couldn't help but improve them dramatically if I just used a little imagination. She encouraged me to use the working titles that I usually came up with when creating a piece. I had always felt that they were not serious enough to use as finished titles, and maybe gave too much away in terms of what I was thinking when I was making the painting. I soon realized it didn't really matter and it became fun to be more creative with my titles.

Titles sometimes come before I start a painting and the work is built around that title. Other times they come to me as I am working on a piece. If you came to my studio you would see titles graffitied all over the walls because they come to me at odd times. I never know where a good title will come from: the paper, a magazine, a book, a movie, the radio, or a conversation. I have learned to always have my ears open.

You would think that I would run out of titles for at some point, but I doubt it. As you can see I'm still "flying over the valley".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If it ain't broke, change everything

Winter Color, 2008. oil on panel 8 x 10

There are times when I realize that I'm in a rut. It's time to mix it up and change things. I start a piece that I don't really know how to make it work. I explore. I make mistakes. I mumble to myself about how bad a painter I am. I get mad at the canvas. But sometimes my experiments work. And my painting change and, I believe, improve. So you get Winter Color which is different than anything I've done before. I'm excited to see where it will lead.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not just a pretty picture

Every Afternoon, 2007. oil on panel 7 x 8

Here is another of my paintings from my Afternoon Sky series. In the summer the clouds build up on hot days in the afternoons and then the upper winds flatten the tops of the clouds off. It happens nearly everyday. I enjoy the luxury of seeing the same type of things on a repeated basis. It gives me deeper understanding of the landscape and the environment I live in. It is more than just a snapshot of a place, rather it is something that I hope is more truly and deeply felt.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Like a Mad Man

That's about It, 2008. oil on panel, 6 x 7


I've been painting a lot these first few weeks of this year. I'm mostly doing smaller paintings which is nice because I can quickly just get a batch of new ideas down on the panel and out of my head. Probably some will work their way into larger paintings. At the same time these are not studies, per say. Its just easier to try new things on a smaller scale first to see if my new ideas work in paint. If any larger works come from these, they won't really resemble these painting at all, except in some of the color combination that will be used. Some of my most recent (stuff from this past week, I'll post them when they are dry) are quite surprising, I don't know to make of them yet. So, I'll have to wait and see what they look like next week when I get back to my studio.
I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Quote It

Early Evening, 2008. oil on panel 7 x 8
With every painting comes a very complicated layer of memory.
- Stuart Shils

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

another pastel

Soft Light, 2007. pastel on paper 9 x 12

Here is a pastel from late last year. I am really interested in the color of the evening sky when it transitions from yellow on the horizon to blue above. As we all know blue and yellow make green and while green does appear in our skies more often that people think, but it doesn't always, and it's fun to explore how to make the transition from the one color to the other without making green. In this piece when I mixed the light yellow and the light blue together it made the grayish color in the middle. It was an unexpected solution to the blue/yellow set up.
That's one reason that makes working in another media interesting and fun, because you can find unexpected answers to questions that you have been asking for years when you switch to a different media. That in turn affects how you solve the problem in your primary media.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Turlock Centennial Exhibtion

Canal Reflections, 2005. oil on canvas, 30 x 40

Study-The old Home Ranch, 2007. oil on panel, 20 x 22
These two paintings are included in an exhibition celebrating the one hundred year anniversary for the city of Turlock. The show is titled Turlock: Past & Present. My work obviously fits the present part of the show. I was asked to submit work that featured canals because of the importance that they have played in the development of our region. So, these two works fit the bill perfectly. The first piece is inspired by the large canals east of town, no particular place, just memories from when I used to ride the canals on my bike. The second painting is the study for the last large commission I did for 2007 (I'll post the commission soon). It features an actual piece of ground southeast of Turlock and has what is called the high-line canal that runs next the collector's property.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

some small drawings

Long Way Back, 2007. pencil on paper, 3 3/4 x 4 1/2

Over the Top, 2007. pencil on paper, 4 1/2 x 6 3/4

Here are few small drawing I did recently. I have been so busy with other projects that I have not had time to do any drawings for the past eighteen months, but late last year I found a couple of days where I could do a few small drawings. I love the graphic quality that black and white drawings offer and the deceptively simple aspect of drawing. You can say so much with so little. I love making drawing.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

This is my big plan

Peoria Flat Meadow, 2006. oil on panel, 12 x 16. NFS

I hate big pronouncements. It just seems that when someone makes one they rarely come true. Therefore I have made a habit of not making them. And yet I'm going to tell you about a big idea I had a couple of days ago.

OK, here it goes...

I think it might be time to go outside and paint again.
I know what you are thinking, "Is this the same guy who just mere months ago lambasted painting outside"? On the contrary, I was only commenting the current state of outdoor painting. I still won't even say the popular word associated this movement and what it has become in our little sub-culture of the art world.

But I digress...

Which brings me back to wanting to paint more outside. Now let me be upfront here. I will always be a studio painter, and I can't image that ever changing that focus, but I think that going back out could serve me well in my quest to become a better painter. Mixing things up is good. The works will not be an ends to itself and will be only used as a tool for my studio work since they will not be offered for sale (unless I'm participating in a gallery sponsored paint out.) I hope they can be used as an agent of change in my work and in ways that I can't anticipate.

I can hardly wait to get back outside! (Did I really just say that?) I've never been one to plan where my work is going next. Rather I sort of just follow my brush and see where it takes me. I guess I still going to be doing that, just outside. So that's my my big plan.
Onward and outward.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

variations on a theme

Afternoon Build Up, 2007. oil on panel, 7 x 8. sold.
Happy New Year to everyone!

This is small painting I did last year. It is one in an ongoing series of painting with large afternoon skies based my experience here in the valley. I find the subtle color changes and their seemingly endless possibilities fun to play with in these paintings. The sky in this piece in some parts is a greenish-blue, not what most would think as a normal sky color, but it works in this painting. I'll post some others in this series when I get the chance. I don't see this series exhausting itself anytime soon.