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.