Monday, July 27, 2020

Painting from Inside My Car!

"Pacific Grove's Point Pinos Lighthouse"    4" x 6"  gouache

It can get pretty cold and foggy along the California coast at Pacific Grove.  When I had a chance to go there I naturally wanted to go painting.  This day was so cold and windy, setting up my easel was not a good idea.   So I tried an experiment ... paint from inside my car!  

Now painting with oils inside a car is not a good idea, but I came prepared!  I bought my gouache paint!  Gouache is opaque watercolor, so I figured if I got some on my car seats I could wash it off.  I was lucky none spilled.  Check out my setup!  I have one of those trays that you can put over your lap.  I have not seen those in the stores in a long time, but when I bought it I thought.... "Hey I can use that one day!"  So the day finally came.  It is great as it holds my water, brushes, paper towels, ceramic palette and a wet palette too.  I was able to straddle it over my console in my new Subaru Outback.  It fit perfectly!

my painting and value sketch on my steering wheel easel 

<  I made a gizmo to fit over my steering wheel and clipped my 4" x 6" piece of archival mat board to it.  It all worked out great!

Point Pinos Lighthouse from my car

My scene was of the old lighthouse in Pacific Grove called Point Pinos Lighthouse.  It is currently closed due to the virus, but a few years ago I toured through it.  It is a wonderful piece of history.  The light still works and it shown bright yellow in the tower.  You might be able to see it from my photo.  

The scene was pretty far away and there is an old wooden fence which I felt blocked the eye leading to the lighthouse.  So I eliminated the fence and added a path.  There are lots of native grasses and some off-white flowers blooming which I enjoyed putting into my scene.  Three hours later, I declared my painting finished!

This little painting is up for auction on Daily Paintworks.
Check it out on my gallery page at

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sloshing Around in an Almond Orchard

 What a fun day sloshing through the almond orchard!  When my friend's family irrigates their almond orchards I come running over with my paint box!  Sam had the sprinklers going and there were large puddles of water under the rows of the almond trees.  Luckily, I was able to set up my paint box on the driveway and saved my shoes from getting soaking wet.  I couldn't wait to get out my paints!  The reflections are wonderful... almost magical under those trees!  I can see so many colors in the water, soil and grasses on the ground alone!  The trees bend here and there in different directions and the soft green leaves on the branches hang down loaded with the almonds.  It is late July and soon the almonds will be harvested in the Central Valley of California where I live.

 Here you can see my paint box.  I started out in the shade, but soon the light dappled through the tree behind me and I had to put up my umbrella.  It is important to see the painting in even light as I am painting it. 

When I got home, worked on the painting a little more, refining some places, adding more color, etc. using my photo references and my memory.

Scroll down to see the finished painting in a frame.

Here are some of the photos I took that day to help me finish my painting. 

Look at those reflections!
"Time To Irrigate" - oil on linen panel - 9" x 12"

Here is what the painting might look like in a frame.

Available for purchase on my gallery page at


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Exploring Gouache

Half Dome - almost finished - gouache - 3” x 4” - on gelli print
I have been having fun exploring with gouache.  Gouache is basically opaque water color.  Sometimes I add white gouache to water color to make it opaque.  Why do I like it?  It dries with a flat finish, can be painted on archival mat board or illustration board without putting a gesso coat first and is water soluble.  My brushes can be washed with water (I use distilled water).  One thing that is somewhat frustrating is that the colors do not dry the same as when they are put down on the paper.  Light colors dry darker and dark colors dry lighter.  It is more difficult to get darks, but I am learning. See the finished painting below.

Gelli plate printing is lots of fun so I was wondering if the two could be combined.  In this video you can see that I took a print and glued it to mat board.  Then using a photo I took in Yosemite, I began to paint on top of the gelli print.  I wanted the print background to show through here and there which you can see in the next video.

So this is a time-lapse video (my very first one) of my process.  I made a goal to complete this small painting in just 30 minutes, so it is a quick study.  That made it necessary to keep the brushwork loose and simple.

Finished painting

  Below is the photo reference I used.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Painting the Almond Blossoms

I had the opportunity to paint way out in the countryside at a friend's house east of Modesto. CA.  The California Central Valley is the home of thousands of acres of farms and especially almonds.  Each spring the valley is white with trees all in bloom.  It almost looks like snow and when the blooms fade and start to fall, it looks like it is snowing!  It is not great for people with allergies, but it sure is beautiful!
 My friend's house is at the top of a hill overlooking the valley for miles.  You can see the Sierra Mountains and the foothills before them.  Layers and layers of hills and valleys all covered in neat rows of blooming almond orchards!  It is an amazing scene.  I was attracted to this view because of the road that zig zagged back into the distance.  

My friend and I set up our easels and painted the scene for several hours.  When I got home my painting surprised me!  The colors seemed so very washed out, which often happens when plein air painting.  I have a show coming up where we take a painting we did in plein air and enlarge it in our studio.  So I thought this scene would work for me.  So enjoy watching my process below.  

Painting on location

Working out the composition

Adding color washes to the canvas to cover the white canvas

Working on the road & back orchards
Adding under painting color to the right orchards

Refining the trees

Adding the blossoms

Testing the finished painting in its frame.

"Acres and Acres of Blooming Almond Orchards"
15" x 30"  oils  $2400


Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Scrub Jay  8" x 8"  acrylics
I have watched and admired birds for as long as I can remember.  When I was in high school I had to stay at home after a minor foot surgery.  We had a pair of binoculars and I noticed something out the window.  It was a scrub jay!  I was blown away by his beauty and antics.  Now that I am hearing about the loss of so many birds around the world I am so saddened.  So I decided to paint a series of paintings of my favorite birds. 
I have been exploring gelli plate printing and mono printing lately, so decided to see if I could combine my love of birds with the fun of this kind of printing.  This is an 8" x 8" cradled wood panel which I had a lot of fun pouncing acrylic paint colors with sponges, stamps and foam stamps which I made myself.  I then painted this Scrub Jay and traced around the leaves.  I then painted the negative space around the leaves with white acrylic paint. It seemed too plain so I filled in the bottom spaces with stripes and dots here and there.  I am pleased with the way it turned out.  Available on my Daily Paintworks Website  $150 + shipping & tax

California Quail    acrylics   8" x 8" cradled panel
When I was in high school, we lived in the country.  I used to watch the quail wander around our two acres.  They would chatter and scamper through the redwood trees.  There was always a male on guard bobbing his head with that black feather on top, watching for danger.  I miss seeing them.  I painted this quail on top of a stencil design sponged on the background in acrylics.  Available on my website $150 + shipping & tax
side view of the Quail painting

Come back again to see more in MY FAVORITE BIRDS SERIES or visit my website at:

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