Posts Tagged ‘painting a day’

Painting a day 2016-Day22-Plow horse

March 30, 2016
Plow horse-study 7"x5"

             Plow horse-study

This guy is one half of a big, Belgian team of horses that  I “met” at a historic horse, mule, and oxen farming days.  Such big, beautiful animals that seem to look graceful even when pulling a plow.

Every time I see a team of Belgians, I think of my grandpa “ship” and the summers he kept a team and let me “help” with a few of the chores involving the horses.  I was fascinated by those big, beautiful, blonde horses with the huge hooves.  I remember watching him harness, hitch, and drive them as if he’d been doing it all his life…..oh wait, …..he had.  What I wouldn’t give to have had a few more years with him to learn to drive a team like he did.


Painting a day 2016-Day 21-Austin Study 3

March 28, 2016

Austin Study #3 7″x5″

I got into photography as a result of my painting.  I knew I needed to gather my own reference material and photography was another creative outlet….except with the occasional, quicker result.  The more I got into photography, the more I loved the challenge of getting a new composition or viewpoint and coming up with a fresh, point of view.  I combined that with my love of being outdoors and playing with my horses and wildlife.  I even found myself lying on the ground while the horses grazed…..I’m sure the neighbors thought I was out of my mind….

This little painting is based on one of those days….lying on the ground, listening to soft crunching noise my horse ate grass around me.  Occasionally he’d come over and sniff my hair, tickle me with his nose and then move on around me—almost as if he’s just checking to see why I’m laying there and if I’m OK.  I miss that big furball with the gentle, kind soul.

“Life is too short, ride your best horse first.” ~unknown


Painting a day 2016-Day 20-Dixie Study

March 27, 2016

Dixie Study -7″x5″

This is Dixie.  Another in my dramatic light and vivid color mini series.  Black horses really do have a lot of color when they have great lighting and you look for it.  The photo reference for this was beautiful and worked well as a photo except it was too underexposed and I lost all of the detail in the shadow on the left side.  I tried to improvise and fill in some of the detail–I think I somewhat succeeded but the painting just didn’t meet up to my vision.  Although, sometimes it is tough to capture that vision in just an hour ala prima (all at once, wet on wet) session.  I think I’ll try this subject again….another day.  Until then, HAPPY EASTER all!

Painting a day 2016-Day 13 Mulie Study #2

March 19, 2016

5″x7″ oil on canvas



“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path and I will leave a trail.”Muriel Strode

Painting a day 2016-Day 12-Sunlight and Sage-study

March 15, 2016
Day 12 painting a day

Sunlight and Sage study 7″x5″

I decided to continue working with the mule deer reference photos because; a.)I have so much of it and haven’t really painted much from it yet, and b.)the doe paintings seem to be really flowing.  It is good to be challenged but it is also good to have a balance between the process and progress and feel like you come out on top once in awhile.

While camping, we usually leave camp before daylight so that we can be out and about right at daybreak.  There are two huge reasons for that, the light is great at that time and that’s when the wildlife really get to moving.  Plus, the crowds and traffic are low at that time–so, there you go, there are three reasons!  That saying, “the early bird gets the worm”….very true.  When camping and hiking at a well visited park like Rocky, the best shots are those that take you away from the crowds.  Those that take you off of the beaten path and out of the tent and on the trail bright and early.  Sometimes it is those unexpected shots that you’re just blessed with being at the right place at the right time.  Sometimes it’s when weather is moving in and everyone else gets out of the rain, mist, wind or snow but you stick it out just a little bit longer.  And then sometimes it happens when you just set up in the woods, sit quietly, wait and watch.

This little painting was based on some reference material gathered in a big stand of pine that was beautifully lit by warm, filtered light.  We weren’t sure where we were headed that morning and just decided to head towards the Bear Lake area and stop when we’d decided the light was right and where wildlife movement seemed promising.  As we were headed down the road, I spotted a couple of does and several little ones moving through the forest, just off the road.  We pulled up to the next vehicle pull off and parked.  We decided to hike back down the mountain a bit, down into the pines on the opposite side of the road, find a quiet, spot on some boulders with tree trunks somewhat breaking up our silhouettes and just wait.  We figured if we just waited patiently–we might get some good shots once they crossed the road and moved into the sunlit gaps within the forest–and if not, hey, it was a beautiful morning, the air was just warming up, and the smell of pine and fresh air was strong–it just didn’t get any better than this.

Well, that’s what we thought….  Except that the icing on the cake was that our gamble paid off and I snapped several beautifully lit shots of the does and little ones as they browsed on the grasses and shrubs growing in the openings.  We sat there and just watched them wander about, until they finally moved on through the valley.  We got up and quietly walked back to the road, moving on, in search of our next peaceful moment.

Painting a day 2016-Day 11-Mulie Study 1

March 14, 2016

Mulie+Study+1For today’s painting, I started out with the intent of painting a mulie buck that we’d spotted, lying in the tall grass while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I was excited about the subject and have thought about eventually doing a larger painting of it, so, now’s the time to do a little study and practice, right?  Right.  Well, no matter what I did, the painting was just not coming along.  I wiped parts of it out twice and finally wiped the whole canvas down and decided to move on to another subject.  This doe, on the other hand, almost painted herself.

So, today was a lesson in knowing when to persevere and when to save that subject for another day–it’s all learning!

“Every struggle arises for a reason for experience or a lesson. A great journey is never easy, and no dose of adversity along the way is ever a waste of time if you learn and grow from it.”  ~M. Lim



Painting a day 2016-Day 7-Elk and Aspen

March 12, 2016
Day 7

Elk and Aspen-5″x7″

Day 7-another elk from the Rockies.  I’m continuing with the quick painting (1 hour or less), alla prima style (wet into wet paint-all in one sitting).  These little daily paintings are a way for me to practice sketching, work out color and value and just make me practice on a regular basis–forcing my hand to remember how to handle the brushes and make them work for me rather than against me.

This guy was trying to herd a group of cows and calves through an aspen grove one rainy morning.  There were other bulls trying to move in on his harem and he was having a hard time keeping up with everyone.  He was trying to get his group out to one of the open meadows, where, I’m guessing it was easier to keep them grouped and away from rivals–he wasn’t succeeding.

We had no idea just how many elk there were in that aspen and pine grove until they started moving through and trying to catch up to the rest of the herd.  It was awesome chaos for a bit accompanied by cows making little whining noises for their calves, bulls bugling and other bulls answering, and the sound of branches cracking and rustling as the large mammals moved through.  It was tough to capture photos during this time because of the tree obstructions, no worries, sometimes it isn’t about having a photo to remember the exact instance-sometimes it is about taking it all in and just filing away mental notes.  It is about closing your eyes and remembering the sounds, the misting rain, and the saturated colors.  enjoy.

Painting a day 2016-Day 6-Cliff Cave Park

March 8, 2016

Day 6, I took it outdoors.  I met up with a couple of friends who are members of Missouri Plein Air Painters Association or MOPAPA.  They meet every Sunday at different locations and paint en plein air, have lunch, visit, and give each other pointers.  It was a beautiful, spring-like day.  It was a warm but windy day along the Mississippi.  We met up at Cliff Cave Park, a park that I’d never been to but was interested in exploring.  As I was driving down the road to the main pavilion, the first thing that caught my eye was the large cliffs that the railroad tracks ran along side and trees and brush separating the tracks from the river on the opposite side.  The tracks led right to the arched bridge that crossed the river.  I’ve learned that if something catches my eye that much, that’s what I need to paint.  If I have no feeling towards something, the process can become a struggle.

I did walk around and tour the park a bit, just to see what was there and see if something drew me in more than those bluffs.  I was also intrigued by the barges on the river but they were back-lit and I knew it’d be a tough paint with the sun in my eyes….maybe next time.

I set up my easel, pulled out my sketch book and went to work with a couple of thumbnail sketches.  I knew the bluffs would be a tough subject so, I did some prep work.  After doing the thumbnails and deciding on a square canvas panel, I went to work making a monochrome sketch on my panel.  After getting the bulk of the scene down, I asked a good friend and fellow artist, Judy to take a look and give me pointers on the composition before getting too far into the painting process.  That right there is one of the best things about painting with friends–the second opinions and fresh eyes!

I’m not going to kid, even with the prep work, the subject was challenging and made me second guess my choice more than once but, that’s when you learn the most, right?  I continued to work through the ugly duckling stage and with pointers from other artists that walked by, I think the painting came out all right.  I struggle with painting rocks sometimes and this bluff was no different so, that was one of the main reasons I knew I needed to paint it.  I left feeling tired, a bit accomplished, and with the umph to try and tackle that subject again sometime.  I would say that’s winning!


Painting a day 2016-Day 2-Over the hill

March 5, 2016
Elk study

Elk study

Continuing with the “studies” theme….this little painting is based on a photo I took on a camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park a few years ago.  the sun was just starting to rise, the morning was crisp, and we were blessed to witness a herd of elk moving through.  They were being accompanied by a handful of mule deer does and yearlings.  The mulies just kept hanging around the herd and grazing with them.  I’m not sure if they were following for safety or what, but it was humorous to watch the bull run them off half-heartedly, only to see them continue to follow the herd.

Painting a day—March 2016

March 3, 2016

For the past couple of years, I’ve challenged myself to a month of painting a day challenges. Normally I do this during the month of February since my schedule seems to slow down a bit during that month. This year was an exception. Life was busy and a bit messy and I fell behind. The next thing I knew, I was shaking my head and a week and a half into the month of February and I hadn’t done one painting. Rather than continue to be frustrated with myself, I decided to postpone the challenge for a month. Well, here it is…. it’s March…. How’d that happen?

I have to say, February went out with a bang, I ended it with a two day painting workshop followed up with a new nephew born on leap day…..I guess life really hasn’t slowed much, but, I’m determined so, here it is, the start of my painting a day challenge.

For the first painting, I got up a couple hours before I had to get ready for my “day job” and decided to go to my easel and do a quick study. I decided to start where the workshop I had just taken, left off. One of the main concepts of the workshop was, “paint what you know”. We worked on sketching multiple thumbnail sketches, all from our memory… photos….no “en plein air” work. It was all based on scenes we’d studied, maybe painted before, or were just familiar to us. As we built up several sketches, we chose one to build upon. We sketched it in greater detail and made detailed studies of key parts of the sketch. Later, we worked on a color study of one of the thumbnails. This was meant to be a quick study but, I had trouble working out the colors that I had in my mind. We were given a two hour period to do a “final” painting based on the reference material and study we’d made previously. I didn’t feel like my color study was quite where I wanted it to be so, I spent an hour on it. With the last hour, I felt I needed to get something done on my “final” painting so, I started blocking in color and shape. My “final” painting wasn’t done by the time our time was up and it wasn’t quite meeting my vision. I say all of this to introduce my first painting for March…a quick, 30 minute study on background for my “final” painting. It is nothing fancy but it is a building block. Building blocks and the benefit of structured, repetitive practice are my goals for my painting a day challenge. I hope you’ll come along for the ride and maybe gain a bit of insight as to my process…..or just stop by to see what I felt like painting that day.