Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Dear Folks,
I told you I'd be back. Here is one of my early returns to the watercolor medium. I think I've given the Spanish word for penguins correctly and spelled it right. If not, you can tell me I'm wrong and I'll change it. These are Gentoo Penguins, by the way, and I painted them from a photo in a magazine which means I can't use the painting for anything except practice, but I was pretty happy with this first effort. I sure like doing all sorts of animals.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"The Girls"

Dear Friends,

At long last I return to the blog with little excuse for having been away so long. I do note that the last post I made, which was in May, was the same time we acquired our new puppy and the rigors of raising a little baby pup--only 7 weeks old when we got her--have been distracting. She's a cutey though, and shows signs of being a great agility dog.

This portrait of three Labrador Retrievers has kept me busy too. I've spent most of the summer working on it one way or another. It took a while to arrange to have all three dogs together at the same time, as they live in different parts of the state, and we ended up bringing them all to my house so I could photo them together. That made it much easier for me rather than trying to match lighting and coloring from different photos taken at different times and in different places. Then I admit to a great deal of waffling on the background for the dogs. I don't think I spent more than a few weeks on the dogs themselves, but the background drove me nuts. I tried foliage. I tried a lot of foliage. I tried black, and orange, and green and ---you get the picture. It involved a lot of fooling around.

The issue was not helped when the mother dog--the one with all the gray on her face--passed away suddenly and left an owner in mourning and me feeling the pressure to put my best foot forward. Fortunately the owner and everyone else who has seen the painting and knew the dog are in agreement that I managed to capture the physical appearance and spirit of this beloved pet.

So now I am on to the next great thing. Watercolor. I have joined a class with a great friend of mine and am relearning technique after a ten year hiatus from the medium. It's been a great deal of fun and I'll be showing you some of the work as soon as I can. I promise! Soon!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring in Brush Country

Hey all,
I have been a little slow to get something new on the blog lately so I thought I'd show this old piece which is another dragged from the "fix" bin. I've had so much fun with what's come out of that box that I find myself leafing through it weekly. Most of them don't need much to make them more finished and I am tickled that with passing time, I've learned to see the problems and be able to address them so easily. Time matures the artist?
This is another plein air piece, done several years ago, in the early spring on a ranch way south of San Antonio. It needed only a little addition to the vegetation and some darks in very small places to bring it up to par.
I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

South Texas Phlox

Dear Folks,
This is a rarity for me. It is a painting done plein air and it is on canvas, 16"x20". I did it a few years ago at a ranch south of San Antonio where the owners encouraged as many wild flowers as they could allow to grow and still run cattle on the place. At this particular time, the phlox were the dominant color on the landscape, but there were splashes of other color from a few bluebonnets, some sort of irisy looking thing and some white daisy-like flowers. Wish I could be more specific but I didn't get their names.
I have been tempted more than once to rework this piece because it is so Eastery looking. It doesn't look real I think. But as with the other flower landscapes you've seen recently, this was painted on location and that's what the location looked like. It's just the way it was. Spring in South Texas can sometimes be that way. Just too good to be true.
I'm going to put it in the gallery soon as I think this is the time of year someone would appreciate it. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Domestic Cat

Here is the piece I did in Vie Dunn-Har's workshop last week. I am extremely pleased with it and am going to endeavor to use this technique in more of my animal paintings. This was so much fun to do. I've used abstract backgrounds in my animal paintings before, but this was much stronger than I was used to, and it works so much better. Vie does masterful botanical paintings and I would not even consider coming close to her lush foliage, but this gave me some ideas of how to present animals in a more interesting background.
This was done on 20"x 24" linen canvas, and we used a medium, unlike I normally do with my landscapes, where I use the gessoed panels and only turp to work the oil paint. It certainly made the paint flow freely.
I struggled the first day with the medium and the canvas and the subject matter, but learned a lot from that effort. The second day of the workshop I was able to start this and it suddenly became much more than I had anticipated. I did most of the finish on it the second day and tuned it up a little in my home studio this week, but I think it's done now and it is going to hang on my studio wall as a reference for future paintings.
The cat is our own Zelda. I used a photo of her sitting smugly on Steve's knee in front of the burning fireplace this winter. Steve's knee became the tree branch but the arrogance only cat's can produce is all Zelda.
I sure hope you all like this as much as I do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dry Wash

And here's one more of the resurrected landscapes I had stored away. I really like this one. It was very basic when I pulled it out of the bin and I have made only a few changes to make it more finished. I particularly like the edges which reveal the underpainting along the ridge of the hill. I think it gives the distance some vibrancy.

Still waiting to photo the two workshop pieces.

A reminder to all of you on the email list: if you are tired of hearing from me with the blog, feel free to ask to be removed. It will not hurt my feelings and I can always add other names.

We are again awaiting rain. It is such a big deal here!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Out of My Element-Snow!

Faithful Readers,

Here's something I didn't think I'd ever do--a snow scene. But my friend Sally sent me a fantastic picture of the valley in front of her house in Virginia this winter. Plainly they had way too much snow. It was just too beautiful a view not to paint so here it is. Sally will note that I eliminated a few buildings in the distance and shuffled a couple of trees and shrubs, but I don't think that matters. The rest of us don't care.

I am just off a three day workshop with Vie Dunn-Har, who does rampant vibrant florals and was gracious enough to let me apply some of her techniques to animals. I feel a wave of new ideas coming on. I'll post the two results of the workshop as soon as I get them photoed. I am anxious to hear how you like these new things as I am thinking of a dozen ways to put my new knowledge to work in my own way. Stay tuned.


Friday, March 20, 2009

East Texas Spring

Dear Folks,

I told you I had a backlog of stuff to get on this blog. Here's another one. This is another 8"x10" oil on board. It was done several years ago at the Botanical Center in San Antonio. It is a little cabin brought in and planted around to represent East Texas. And it does that beautifully. This may be the only place we are likely to see wildflowers this year. They plant and water this so the field is very representative of what you see in that part of the country.

It needed very little to finish it off--a little sharpening of the roof of the building--a little emphasis on some of the field flowers--and there you are.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

South Texas in the Spring

Here is one more bluebonnet done at the same ranch as the last painting. Again, done plein air, on 8"x10" board, and now, years later, fussed with in the studio to bring it up to code. The one from yesterday is at the gallery downtown now, and this will go down there as soon as it dries. I have more to post, so stay tuned!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A little bit of blue

Here is another piece of the group I just finished. It was done on location at a friends ranch south of San Antonio several years ago. I put it away and never finished it. All it required was a bit more paint to give it a more painterly look. I don't do real detailed bluebonnets but have come to appreciate why the public likes bluebonnet paintings. Often we artists look down our noses at bluebonnet paintings and those who do them as trite and overdone, but the fact is, when you are faced with the things in real life, they draw you into their landscape. A field of bluebonnets is a wonder to behold. I try not to go that spectacular, because it always looks fake to me, but really, they do exist in those huge fields and are impossibly spectacular.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hill Country Woods


I am feeling most accomplished today. I spent all morning in the studio working away at a group of paintings from my "To Be Fixed" pile. This is one of them. I painted this 8'x10" oil on location several years ago but was never satisfied with it as a finished painting. I wasn't exactly sure of what was wrong with it, but after letting it sit all this time, I showed it to one of my cohorts at the studio and he went right to the problem. I had never finished the tree tops! Oooh. Why didn't I see that? Because I was so focused on the distance in the thing I never looked above that central blue. Now you know why I go to the studio downtown when I have a perfectly good one to paint in at home. I need those extra eyes now and then.

Anyway, this is typical of the cedar woodlands of the Texas Hill Country and was actually painted not far from my house.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


Dear All,
I can't believe it's been a whole month since last I published something on the blog. I've been working on three or four works at a time and this is one of them. I did this from a photo I took in Charleston's harbor area. I learned or relearned a lot from this one. One thing which continually amazes me is that nature works so consistently in telling you what the complements of colors are. In this case, the late sun reflected such strong red-oranges and yellows that one would expect the complements of purples and lilacs to show up somewhere. And by gum, there they were in the photo.

As usual this one is an 8"x10", oil on board and it looks particularly nice in an ornate black frame I have. It has more than the usual impasto (for me) on it as I am still striving for that painterly effect.

Now stay with me for the next few days as I have a couple more that are finally done and are ready for Jay Lauver's Art Blog.

We are beginning spring here in South Texas, and I will soon be outside again, with paint brush in hand. For a change, it will be the art paint brush and not the barn paint brush!

Hope you like this one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Dear Faithful Readers,
Here is Panda, the Shih Tzu, a beloved pet of one of my dear dog friends. Panda lived a very long and happy life and was so endearing to her owner that she wanted a portrait.
This is an oil on gessoed board, 8"x10", and was done from a series of good photos supplied by the owner. The main photo I used did not have a good look at the eyes so I used one of the others for that. Can't have a portrait without eyes, can we? I liked the fact that the photo had the bouganvilla in it as that provided me an excuse to use some bright color to set off a black and white dog. And since the photo was taken in the owners garden, that lends something to the painting too.
I sure enjoy doing these animal portraits. I just like the subject matter.
Next to go on the blog, though, will be a waterscape taken from a photo in Charleston Harbor a couple of years ago. As soon as I get it photoed, it will go on the blog. Keep tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Hey, y'all!
Here we have Emily, who belongs to the daughter of my friend Peggy. Emily runs her house with a strict paw and takes no nonsense from anybody. She was grandly gracious to pose for me in this beam of light so that I might appreciate just how elegant she is. Naturally, a painting followed. Emily eats well, a fact not hidden by her long flowing coat, and I did not choose to make her a bit more svelt. If she had been nicer to me, maybe--.
I really enjoyed doing this. My favorite part is the light glowing through the cat's ear. I did this pretty much entirely at the fall River Art Group show at La Villita, as a demonstration piece. You haven't seen it before because I was tied up with aforementionned surgery recovery and then troubles with the computer AND troubles with getting a photo which was in focus. I hope you like it now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ivanhoe Painting

Dear Folks,

Here is the finished painting of Ivanhoe as promised. I decided that I had to get this on the blog today while I had time to mess with the computer. As you can see, the background has changed quite a bit. The foreground has had heavy impasto added with a palette knife and the background trees on the left have been blued into the distance. The trees on the right have been developed more and the tape and posts in the background have been removed in favor of a more prominent shrub in the foreground. The shrub gives the painting some balance in its composition. I am very pleased with the action in this work. This is the sort of action I really like to portray in horses. Sally and I are discussing the possibility of entering this painting in a competition later in the year. I'll let you know what we decide. Also, I want you to know that for some reason, perhaps the compressing of the file, the color in the background is grayer than the actual painting. The trees on the left are more yellow than in this photo and the trees on the right have much more color to them.


Dear All,
I am sending along the beginning images of the horse painting I've been talking about lately. The lower image, picture taken in my studio, is the start of the painting. I concentrated at that time on the image of the horse and rider on a toned background. I felt that the horse was the most important part of this painting so turned his head a little from the photo so that he is looking at the viewer and seems to be ready to run right at you. This effect was enhanced by the fact that he has a nice white stripe on his face. This beginning was time consuming as I wanted the drawing to be correct.
The top image is of the painting about half way along. The background lights and darks are laid in and the relationship to the landscape is forming. This is important too, as the background helps focus attention on the horse and rider. At this point the background landscape is thinly painted and awaits a more impasto layering. There was still time to make some decisions on the background as you will plainly see changes in the final image.
This horse is Ivanhoe, who belongs to my friend Sally. He carried her successfully for many years in Eventing competition and is happily retired now, sharing his expertise with young riders. It keeps him busy and happy but does not stress him. His portrait joins that of Spindrift, another of Sally's horses I have portrayed. This painting is done from a very good photo she had of the two of them in competition.
Stay tuned. I'll soon get the finished portrait on the blog. I am anxious for you to see it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rainbow the Bichon

Dear Patient Friends,

This is one of the long ago promised paintings of my aunt's little Bichon, Rainbow. It's one of the many projects I completed while I was away from the blog for so long.

My surgery turned out to be more of a deal to recover from than I had anticipated and while nothing really went amiss, it seems I am slow to get my brain back in real gear after anaesthesia. I sort of knew this before but didn't think this particular surgery would turn into one of those long recoveries. Right about the time I decided I was ready to return to the internet my computer decided to have it's own brain failures and I've been fighting that for a month or more. I finally had to call a computer company and even they had to make extra trips. The end result is that none of my usual settings are where I am used to them and I am still thrashing around trying to get images where they are supposed to go--in focus. Let's hope you all get this.

This was a fun painting to do. I started it while at the fall River Art Group show as a demo piece. I finished it in the studio and am pleased with how it turned out. This is a cute little dog with a lot of personality and he was easy to paint.

I have finished the horse painting I have been working on for a couple of months and will get that on the blog soon. I took pictures of that as it progressed so you can see it as it went along. I'll keep this short in hopes some of you, at least, are still with me on the blog and would prefer I not talk so much. Let me know if you are still out there in computer land. It's always good to get feedback.

Best wishes,