Monday, December 29, 2014

My New Bag

The Old Bag
...or "What to do with an Old Bag."

This is an update of a post I did a few years ago which has been a very popular post on this blog. When I first wrote about this bag it was used to carry either a 6 x 8 or 8 x 10 pochade box into the field. Earlier this year I built a couple 9 x 12 pochade boxes. Those boxes didn't fit in the old leather bag very well, so I made a new leather bag. Here's a picture of it:

The New Bag
This bag is used to carry a 9 x 12 or 8 x 10 pochade box. A separate bag is used to carry the rest of the painting gear, as described in the older post mentioned before. A tripod to mount the box on is carried separately.

So, what to do with the old bag? As it turns out, the old leather bag is perfect for carrying not only a 5 x 7 pochade box, but also all the painting gear that goes with the little 5 x 7 pochade box. (Except the tripod, which is still carried separately.) A separate bag isn't needed.

New Use for an Old Bag
Here's what is now carried in the older bag:

  1. The 5 x 7 pochade box.
  2. Apron
  3. Case containing other painting gear.
The little grey case was a close-out item I found in a store. It largely (no pun intended) takes the place of the separate leather bag carried with the bigger pochade boxes. Here's what the case contains:

And here is what those items are:

  1. Several folded paper towels for paint clean-up.
  2. Can of odorless mineral spirits.
  3. Plastic bags for used paper towels. I always carry extra.
  4. Small jar used as a brush washer, in a metal cup that clips onto the wooden palette.
  5. Brush washing soap, if ever I need to wash brushes before arriving home.
This outfit is small, light, and so easy to carry even on long hikes in the mountains. The brush washer and soap are stored in little plastic bags to contain any leaks that might happen. Undoubtedly there will be adjustments made to this gear from time to time as needed. For instance, I no longer carry any sort of mediums when I go painting. If I need to thin paint I use odorless mineral spirits - and (except for initially toning the panel) that is rarely and only in tiny amounts.

I hope you've found this post informative, and thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Three Color Palette

5" x 7" Oil on Panel
It isn't shaping up to be much of a white Christmas around here, at least not here in the valley. The general appearance of the landscape is of various grays and tans. Nothing in the way of the brighter colors of summer or fall. The first image in this post is of a little painting made on a mostly sunny day in late November. It shows a little more chroma than the next image, which was painted on a very overcast day and is much more subdued.

5" x 7" Oil on Panel
For these paintings, instead of laying out the usual split primary palette, I thought I'd try a very limited palette of just three colors, plus white. Those colors were yellow, red, and blue.

The third picture shows the colors laid out on the palette board in the 5 x 7 pochade box. Although the painting shown at the top of this post was painted on a traditional white panel, the second painting was made on a dark panel.

Here's the colors used for these paintings:

  1. Titanium White
  2. Cadmium Yellow
  3. Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  4. Ultramarine Blue
  5. Mix of Alizarin and Ultramarine, with a touch of yellow.
Cadmium lemon yellow would have provided cleaner, brighter mixes than cadmium yellow, but I wanted the dirtier mixing qualities of cad. yellow for more subdued colors. Perhaps earth tone paints such as yellow ocher and transparent red oxide could be used in place of more expensive cadmium and Anthraquinone (perm. alizarin crimson), but there's no room in the little paintbox for two more tubes of paint!

Here's the second painting still in the box:

As I was finishing up the painting shown directly above, someone with the COOLEST pickup drove into the parking area where I was set up. I asked him if I could photograph his truck and he happily agreed.

This restored model T pickup would be so much fun to go painting in, even if it would probably also be necessary to bring along tools and spare parts! It's almost Christmas. Maybe I could write Santa and ask for one...

Merry Christmas everyone, Model T or no.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Shows and Exhibitions 2014

Two weeks until Christmas! A little less than two weeks left to do your holiday shopping. If you're looking for a unique gift for someone, a plein air oil painting would be a gift to enjoy for a lifetime! Evergreen Framing Co. & Gallery in Salt Lake City is showing several of my plein air oil paintings, plus a wide variety of works by other Utah artists.

The picture at the top of this post shows some of the paintings I have at Evergreen Framing Co. & Gallery, along with some paintings by David Meikle and works by other artists. The image directly above is another angle of some of those paintings.

The third image shows a few of the paintings I have at the Window Box Gallery in Provo. As with all the galleries showing my paintings, the Window Box Gallery also has a wide variety of works by several artists. They include Kimbal Warren, part of whose painting shows in the lower left of the above photograph. The picture below is a closeup of a couple paintings of mine at the Window Box Gallery.

More of my paintings can be found at Logan Fine Art Gallery in Logan, Utah, and at Juniper Sky Fine Art Gallery in Ivins, Utah (near St. George). Click on any of the links in this post for more information about these galleries. If you're able to visit one or another of the galleries, you might find an original painting of mine that would make a wonderful gift for someone on your list, or for yourself!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Charcoal Sketch - Blonde Woman

12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
This is the portrait sketch I did at yesterday's live drawing session. Drawn with vine charcoal, charcoal pencil, and "white charcoal".

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Palette

Probably what most people imagine a painter's palette to look like is an oval or kidney shaped thin board with a thumb hole in it. I don't have one of those. While the traditional palette might work well in a studio, that's not where I do most of my painting. I paint outdoors. Rectangular palettes are more packable and easier to transport. The palette board in my biggest paint box does have a thumb hole, but I sometimes wish it didn't. I rarely use the thumb hole, but when I do I usually end up with a painted thumb.

The color palette I use is a basic split primary. Of course it's arguable what "primary" colors are, but for all practical purposes here, I mean yellow, red and blue. By split primaries I mean a "warm" and a "cool" version of  yellow, red, and blue - with an extra color or two thrown on the palette. A generous pile of white is always a part of my color palette.

I don't think I'm too much of a stickler concerning paint brands. M Graham, Utrecht, Holbein, Gamblin, and Grumbacher are some of the brands I use, but I'm not adverse to trying other brands. Anything with good color, good strength, and lightfast works for me. I avoid "student" or "studio" grade paints, also any cheap, obscure paint brands. By the same token, exorbitantly priced paints - such as those made with exotic pigments like lapis lazuli - aren't likely to find their way into my paintbox, either. 

Below is a diagram of the colors I use for plein air painting.

  1. Titanium white, made with safflower or walnut oil - not linseed oil. I like linseed oil in all colors except white because it yellows white in a relatively short time.
  2. Cadmium lemon yellow. A slightly greenish yellow.
  3. Cadmium yellow, cad. yellow medium, or cad. yellow deep. A more orangey yellow.
  4. Cadmium red, or medium, or deep. A red on the yellowish side.
  5. Permanent alizarin crimson, or quinacridone red, or another apropriate quinacridone. Dark, semi-transparent, and on the purplish side.
  6. Cobalt blue. It's about as blue as paint pigments get, I think. I used to use cerulean blue, but found I can do everything with cobalt that I used to do with more expensive, but less strong cerulean. Cobalt blue is expensive enough.
  7. Ultramarine blue. Dark, semi-transparent, and a touch violet.
  8. Viridian green. A dark, cool green. Not a primary color, as oil paints go, but very useful.
  9. Mixed dark purple. This is what I usually use for "black", or rather instead of black. It's a mix of alizarin and ultramarine, plus a touch of yellow to tone it down a little. This color can be made more blue or red as needed.
Other colors I occasionally add to the palette are:
  • Ivory black. Mixed with yellow makes a wonderful earthy green like that found in high desert junipers.
  • Yellow ochre. A good color for things like winter marsh grasses.
Colors I no longer allow on my palette: 
  • Anything that starts with thalo. Thalo blue and thalo green are good strong colors. Overpowering, in fact. I've been unable to always control them. Thalo colors tend to take over any painting I've ever tried with them. Thalos also take over my hands, clothes, and anything I touch or walk on. The only way I've been able to control thalos is to tone them down with so much complementary color that I spend more time mixing paint than I do painting. But thalo colors are clear, strong, permanent, and inexpensive, so if you can learn how to use them successfully, more power to you!
  • Any color with the term "hue" in it. Honestly, I won't rule out hues entirely, They can sometimes be convenient. But hues are just mixes. Generally, a painter should be able to easily mix whatever's needed.

All this, of course, is subject to change.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Last of Autumn 2014

5" x 7" Oil on Panel
This is a little plein air painting done one late afternoon a week or so ago. The view is looking across a field to some bright yellow cottonwoods and grey green russian olive trees. Maple mountain is in the background.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quercus Gambelii

8" x 10" Oil on Panel
Quercus gambelii, otherwise known as Gambel oak - or more simply, scrub oak - is a common shrubby tree found on mountain slopes and in canyons of the Wasatch Mountains. It typically grows in bunches and thickets which can be very difficult for a hiker to pass through. Where Gambel oak grows in small bunches or singly, it's rugged, deserty forms can be as fascinating as those of juniper or cliffrose. Pictured above is a painting I made earlier this year of a Gambel oak I came across while scrambling around on the slopes of the Wasatch Mountains not far from where I live.

This next photo shows how the painting gear had to be set up to paint that tree. I'm glad the lump of limestone was sticking up there. It provided the means of leveling the gear without being too low.

The day started out with very blue skies, but clouds moved in as the day progressed. Sometimes I'll paint the clouds in when that happens, but this time I kept the blue sky.

The last photo shows the painting still in the pochade box.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Major Mohawk

Pastel and charcoal on gray paper.
This is an old sketch, done from life. It has some drawing problems, but her hair really was like that. I wonder how she got in and out of a car? What did she do in a stiff crosswind? If she rode a longboard, could she use that mohawk like a sail?

This was a really fun drawing to do. I think the model was a student at one of the local universities, but I can't remember which one. She also attended the drawing sessions for a while. Her hair put on such a spectacular show for us only once, and that was the day she modeled for the session.

Also, this is the only even remotely Halloween-themed image I have to post right now. Happy Halloween, if you're into that sort of thing!

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sugarhouse Park

12" x 16" Oil on Panel
A view of the Wasatch Mountains from Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake Valley.

There were a lot of interesting things going on in Sugarhouse Park last week as I painted this. It's a very busy park. I set up at the top of a rise overlooking the big field depicted in the lower part of the painting. At different times during the day there was a game of "ultimate frisbee", a lacrosse game, or people just tossing a frisbee to one another in that field. Others, walking their dogs, tossed balls for their dogs to chase. Many people simply strolled, enjoying a nice day in the park. Up where I was, some laid back souls relaxed on blankets or even in hammocks. Other more active types walked, jogged, bicycled or longboarded on the park trail.

A large pond a couple hundred yards to the right of where I was set up is where the most curious things were happening. A large crowd was assembled at one end of the pond to watch a few interesting characters wearing funny costumes paddling around on the pond in giant carved-out pumpkins. I didn't know anyone did that sort of thing. 

As I painted, someone strung a sturdy line between two trees just to my right, and several people took turns practicing balancing on it. Off to my left someone was flying a radio controlled model airplane. He flew the RC plane, which had a four-foot wingspan, for several minutes before accidentally crashing it into a tree, where it then crashed to the ground - twenty feet away from me!

Of course, many people stopped to visit with me as I painted. A few even returned a number of times to see the painting's progress during their visit to the park. One person remarked,

"This looks just like one of those how-to videos on YouTube!"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Along a Wasatch Backroad

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
Most of the population of Utah lives just west of the Wasatch Mountains in an area called the Wasatch Front. On the east side of the mountain range are small towns, mostly ranching communities or ski resorts. This area is known as the Wasatch Back. That's where I went wandering with paintbox last week.

Fall colors are at peak - at least they were last week before a wind storm blew through over the weekend. I went out as the wind was gaining strength, but before rain moved in. Taking a break from making big paintings, I took along a 9" x 12" pochade box. The pochade box would be much more stable in strong winds than a 24" x 36" panel on an easel. I was just a little too tired that day to care to wrestle with the wind over an easel.

At a gated road I parked the car, gathered my gear and walked down the two track trail until coming to the scene shown at the top of this post. There I painted until sunset. Afterwards, I just had to walk farther down the trail to see what was there. I came across a couple mule deer browsing along the trail. I also saw more views of the landscape beckoning me to paint them! I don't know if I'll make it back here before the season's gone, but I think it's one of those places I'll return to again and again.

All because I went for a walk instead of just painting beside the car.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Another Biggie - and Another Cattle Drive

24" x 36" Oil on Panel
The weather's been beautiful. The colors have been beautiful. So late last week I got out and made another two foot by three foot plein air landscape painting (shown above). Once again I went to Heber Valley, one of my favorite places to paint.

Upon arriving where I wanted to paint, I saw cowboys moving cattle in a nearby field. Figuring they were going to drive the cattle, I waited to see which way they would go. The cattle moved out onto the road and headed away from me.

"Good." I thought, "They're going away this time."

I set up the easel and secured a big panel onto it. Next, opened the big paintbox, hung the brush washer from the easel, and began squeezing paint onto the palette. Then a red pickup pulled up and the rancher driving it said to me,

"There's cows coming."

Here They Come...
I looked up. The herd had reversed course and was headed my way. I considered temporarily putting everything, including myself, back into the car but there wasn't time. So I put the easel on the "downstream" side of the car and moved between the car and the fence to discourage any cows from coming that way. I wanted them all to pass to the left. It worked, and the easel remained untrampled.

...and There They Go.
I watched the cattle go, then finished setting up and painted until well after the sun had set below the Wasatch Mountain ridge line. 

Studio painters don't have to consider these kinds of things. That's too bad.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Big Finish to Summer

24" x 36" Oil on Panel
A few more big plein air paintings have come off my easel since the one I showed in my last post. The painting shown above is of one of those places I like to return to again and again to paint. It's not far from where I did the painting in the previous post.

These paintings take all day to paint! I also tend to get paint all over me when I paint this big.

22" x 28" Oil on Canvas Panel
The next painting was made last Wednesday high up on the "Nebo Loop" in the Wasatch Mountains. It was a windy day shared with a lot of elk hunters. I'd planned on coming to this spot but had forgotten about elk season. I was happy to find this spot free of the pickup trucks and horse trailers that crowded other places along the loop.

The photo above shows the mostly-finished painting along with the usual big red 4WD taboret. Note the big rock suspended halfway down the easel to keep the wind from blowing the easel and painting over. There's also a smaller rock inside the trash bag to keep it from whipping around in the wind. The rocks worked - this time. Below is a close-up of the rock and easel:

So often I get to enjoy the company of wildlife as I paint. On this day two blue grouse foraged in the grass nearby.

The last painting, a view of a barn through a line of willow trees, was made the following day after returning to Heber Valley. I'm out of big panels now, and am trying to get some more so I can go out and do more of these paintings - hopefully in the next few days.

22" x 28" Oil on Canvas Panel
These might be the last of this summer's plein air paintings for me. I guess the paintings I do next will begin to look more and more like Autumn. These ones already look that way a little.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Going BIG!

24" x 36" Oil on Panel
It's not the biggest plein air landscape in the history of painting outdoors, but it's pretty big! It's twice as big as any plein air painting I've ever done before. It's also probably bigger than anything I've seen at plein air shows I've attended over the years.

I've been toying with the idea of doing some very large (for me) outdoor paintings for quite some time. Recently a gallery that sells my work called and told me they had a client interested in my work, but they wanted to see paintings much larger than what I usually do. That provided the impetus for me to actually go out and paint bigger.

About a week and a half ago I went to Heber valley, set up my easel along a country road, secured a two foot by three foot primed panel to the easel, and set to painting. The painting was started around ten or eleven in the morning, and finished around six or seven in the evening. During that time I forgot to take any breaks. I had some food and water with me, but I forgot to use any of it. I did have one break imposed upon me, though. A small cattle drive came down the road so I tossed all my painting gear into the car and waited for a couple minutes as the cattle were driven past my parked car. After they passed I immediately set everything back up and got right back to work.

It was the smallest cattle drive I've ever seen. I might have been OK if I had not taken refuge in my car, but I've been stuck in some much bigger cattle drives where I was glad to be secure in my car. Cattle want to avoid you, but in much larger cattle drives cattle in the back of the herd press forward, pushing those ahead of them. I've had cattle pushed into my car hard enough to rock the car. I think it would not do to try to paint in something like that.

On this particular day, though, the cattle passed without incident. A little later a car full of teenagers stopped to see what I was doing. They complimented me on the painting, and one of them said from the back seat, "Dude! Your painting's sick!" 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Salon d' Automne 2014

Logan Fine Art's annual Salon d' Automne opens this Friday evening in Logan, Utah. I'm happy that one of my plein air landscapes (shown above) was accepted into the show. The show will be at the Logan Fine Art Gallery, 60 West, 100 North in Logan, Utah. Friday's opening will be the best time to meet many of the painters and sculptors who have works in the show, but there will be a lot of fine works by Utah artists on exhibit through the holidays. For more information you can visit Logan Fine Art's website at:

Or you can click on their banner which I've put at the top of this post. Hope you can come enjoy the show!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Substitute Model

12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
Sitting still might have been a little challenging for the dancer who modeled for us at the drawing session yesterday evening, but she did a great job and was fun to draw. She filled in for the scheduled model who was unable to make it. When the scheduled model realized she couldn't be there, she was thoughtful enough to find a substitute model for us. The picture above shows my drawing of her.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Plein Air Spring City 2014, Part Two.

8" x 10" Oil on Panel
This is part two of my post about this year's 2014 Spring City plein air event. You can read about part one here

After painting Wednesday and Thursday, I didn't manage to paint Friday. Instead, I entered the paintings I'd already done, then scouted around for other good painting locations. That evening was the artist's reception and awards presentation, where I found out both of my paintings had won merit awards. Saturday's "quick paint" event was a little challenging for me. First, I slept in a little late and had to drive as quickly as I could over wash boarded roads from my camp in the mountains to register for the event. Second, I still wasn't sure where I was going to paint. Third, the sky had a flat bright overcast - my least favorite light to paint in.

One solution I've recently discovered to the problem of painting on rainy or overcast days is to paint with a view through trees. After driving around a few blocks I came to the scene shown in the painting pictured above. Already having lost time because of sleeping in late and not knowing before hand where to paint, I set up and got to work. When time for the "quick paint" event was almost up, I framed the painting, threw everything into the car without cleaning up, and got the painting back to the show.

The paintings in the"quick paint" show were auctioned off around noon. I sat in the back with other painters to watch the show. It was interesting to see the auctioneer work the crowd, and watch the bidding for my painting.

The painting I made on Wednesday for the main show also sold. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Plein Air Spring City 2014

11" x 14" Oil on Panel
Here's a quick post about this year's Spring City plein air event, which is now in full swing. Painting for the competition began Wednesday. The painting I did on that rainy day is shown above. Below is a photo of the painting I made yesterday. It's the first time I've painted that large for a plein air event. We'll see how that goes!

18" x 24" Oil on Canvas Panel
I may have time to do one more painting today. Paintings for the main competition have to be turned in early this evening. Tomorrow is the main show and "quick paint." These paintings look far better in person, so come see the show! For more information about Spring City's art events visit their website

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Dark Haired Model

12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
Here is my latest drawing from this month's drawing sessions. It's another charcoal drawing on paper toned by lightly rubbing charcoal onto the paper. Lately I've been setting up so as to draw the model in direct light, rather than the side light or back light I had been doing so much of. Every change of angle or lighting teaches you something new about drawing from a live model.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Monday, August 18, 2014

A View Through the Trees

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
This is a painting made at another of my favorite places for taking a walk. It's a view looking south east from a trail near the lake. I made a similar painting last year, but in 5" x 7" size - the very first painting from a new pochade box I made for that size. This time I brought my 9" x 12" pochade box. The weather on this day was sunny as opposed to the rainy weather I painted in for last year's little version. This spot will likely become one of those places I return to again and again for paintings. The different seasons and weather offer a variety of images and moods that will likely attract my attention for a long time to come.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Charcoal Portrait on Charcoal Toned Paper

12" x 9" Charcoal on Paper
The subject shown above is the daughter of one of the women who attends the drawing sessions. She has modeled for us number of times. A budding artist in her own right, she was willing to sit for our most recent session when the regularly scheduled model canceled, and I was able to make this drawing of her. The drawing is charcoal on white paper. The paper was first toned with charcoal. A charcoal pencil was then used to sketch in the subject and draw the darks. A kneaded eraser was used to lift out the lights, and "charcoal white" was used to strengthen the highlights.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Day Up On The Bench

18" x 24" Oil on Canvas Panel

This is one of my favorite places to go for a walk. It's a section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail near the base of the Wasatch Mountains. No matter how many times I come around this bend in the trail I think, "I've got to paint this!" - even though I've painted it several times before. I've done versions of this scene in nearly every size from 5" x 7" to 12" x 16" and in nearly every season. On this hot day in July I brought along the portable easel and my biggest painting panel size - 18" x 24" - and painted 'till the sun went down.