Showing posts from 2017

Paint Outs

I've had a busy Fall teaching workshops in Nevada and hosting Paint Outs where local artists get together to paint outdoors at a select location. We try to do this once a month in a new place, and I plan to also host these in a wider geographic area in California and Nevada. We named our informal group Desert Plein Air Painters, and you can find us on Facebook and MeetUp.

In October and November we met at different locations in Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada. We each painted a similar view, and the results were very different interpretations of the landscape--always interesting to see the different styles!

Completing a painting outdoors is quite a challenge, and I've had to "throw out" several attempts--either the sunlight changed too fast to finish, or I simply couldn't capture the effects I wanted in the few hours working outside. Actually I never throw out a painting, they are all valuable experiences learning how to mix color,…

San Francisco Before the City

500 years ago: imagine standing on Nob Hill in present San Francisco looking eastward towards the East Bay, Mt Diablo barely visible in the distance. The middle ground Bay shore to the right is the site of downtown SF, since filled in with landfill. Market Street with tall skyscrapers would fill the view today. Treasure Island lies in the middle distance, and Oakland and Berkeley are in the background shore. Sand hills, coastal prairie with diverse bunchgrasses, California buttercups (Ranunculus californicus), California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), lilac bushes (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus), and a shed tule elk antler are visible in this early scene of San Francisco past. 

I painted the bay waters with a glaze of verdigris in Copaiba balsam to make a translucent glassy effect that differs from the opaque greens of the grassy hills and flats. The glaze was placed over a bright white acrylic gesso ground, and light bounces off this white ground through the glaze to add sparkle to the …

Art Prints Now Available

I have a collection of limited edition prints of various oil paintings, many of which are illustrated in my book A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010). These are printed on a professional press with archival ink on microceramic paper, and each has a label and protected by a clear sleeve, ready for framing. I adjusted each print during the process to match my original oil paintings as closely as possible.

Go to this link on my art website to view the prints:

As a fundraiser towards publishing my future manuscripts, such as a possible volume 2 on the ecological history of California and Nevada, I am reducing the price on these prints. Email me to purchase prints and I will ship them to you by Priority mail. You can mail a check to me at PO Box 70, Beatty NV 89003, or drop a payment into my PayPal account.

I only have one or two of each, so collect them while you can!

Meet Up Group

Check out my new Meet Up group for painting and sketching in the Great Basin. I'll be in South Lake Tahoe the first week of August. 

Also a new Facebook page to go with it, where I share my explorations of the Great Basin:

It's a long process, but this is all part of how I do research for a potential Volume 2 book on the Ecological History of the Great Basin, which would be a companion volume to A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010).

Mountain and Desert Travels With Paintbox: Part 1

The past month I've been trying to bring the paint box along with me more on trips and pause for an hour or two at certain spots to paint a landscape or a study of a part of a natural feature. Since I live in the Nevada Desert, any sort of travel means I have to drive through some beautiful countryside, so I have been determined to paint more of it (and sketch it too). In this 3 part series I show some of my methods and the resulting open-air oil paintings.
Twenty or so years ago when I took my paint box outdoors to do oil studies it was this large and somewhat clunky old paint box:

This served me well over the years, and it held everything I needed, but it was large and heavy--too heavy really to take on a hike. I usually sat on a chair or on the ground and set this paint box on the ground near me or on a table--no tripod in those days. Today there is a large array of small, light-weight, and well-designed paint boxes of all kinds to choose from. Many come with a backpack or car…

Desert Oil Painting Workshops Schedule - A Catalog

I have been organizing a variety of plein air oil painting workshops for the summer and fall (and getting the permits for a few more), in a diversity of outdoor locations in California and Nevada. These range from a few hours, to a day or weekend, to an entire painting vacation package where just about everything is covered--including lodging and meals. 

Browse the selection below and register early, as workshops are limited to 10 people. These are ideal for beginning artists who want to see and work with the different kinds of materials that are available to paint landscapes outside in beautiful locations. I provide the easels and paints, you provide the creativity. 

Shoshone Oil Painting WorkshopAsh Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Plein Air Painting WorkshopDesert National Wildlife Refuge Plein Air Painting WorkshopMono Lake Aspen Color Oil Painting Vacation Workshop
Shoshone Oil Painting Workshop

October 28 to October 29, 2017

Beginners welcome! If you have never lifted a p…

Painting the Desert

This is an excerpt from my manuscript on oil painting nature and landscapes.

An August cloudburst at Cima Dome in the Mojave National Preserve, California Desert. A desert tortoise emerged from its burrow to find a drink of rainwater. I watched this summer monsoon cloud open up and drop a cloudburst of rain onto the dry creosote-burgage desert. I had to paint this remarkable weather scene in the arid landscape.
This is a great example of how to paint clouds. Notice how the cloud shadows and rain columns are painted more thinly and the light areas painted thickly and opaquely with the brush loaded with white. Colors used: Titanium white, Naples yellow, permanent rose, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and terra rosa. 

Fortunately the storm did not rain on me, but the air was humid and a welcoming coolness filled the air. Another special day in the desert.

Art book or text book? And a note on styles.

In writing and illustrating my book, A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010), I had originally intended it to be more of an art book, filled with pages of large oil paintings and field sketches. Something for the coffee table I had hoped. After four years of editing, the book turned out to be more text and somewhat less artwork, but Heyday did a wonderful job of creating a manageable, readable work from my unwieldy manuscript. Still a good art book, I thought.

A lot of artwork was left on the cutting room floor, however, and I am going to use it for my upcoming book on Oil Painting Landscapes and Nature. Here are a sampling of illustrations I had completed years ago as Chapter title pages for A State of Change. I am re-purposing them now as new Chapter titles for my current manuscript. As an aside, I have been accused of having too many artistic "styles." But I enjoy exploring different media, materials, and stylistic expressions. Why should an a…

Carrizo Plain: a glimpse of California back in time

I drove through Carrizo Plain in late April on the way to the Bay Area for some book and art events; I stopped, I walked around, I took photos, and my jaw dropped.

My timing to visit the broad valley and surrounding South Coast Ranges in southern California was off, I had missed the peak according to all accounts on the Internet and social media. So I was not sure what I was going to encounter. Perhaps the Superbloom had dried up?

No--it was amazing. In fact the best wildflower display I have ever seen in the California Floristic Province. It was epic. Prehistoric. What California might have been like before European Contact 300 years ago.

I grew up in California and spent decades exploring the Golden State, searching out wildflower displays, observing and trying to see what the grasslands and oak savannas might have looked like. And I was quite pleased to drive into Carrizo Plain and experience something I had not seen before.

My first visit to Carrizo Plain was in the mid 1980s when…