Monday, December 19, 2011

Seen better days

I found this old Ford sitting by the side of the road out in the country with a For Sale sign in the front window. It definitely looked like it had been around the block a few times. Hood wouldn't shut, frame looked cockeyed, and of course the paint gave it an aged patina. It had character.
Fifty-something Ford, oil, 8.5" x 11.5"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Aloha

I have Hawaii on the mind right now. Winter is setting in and I'm daydreaming of my up-coming trip to Maui in February. And also trying to get some more pieces finished for Village Galleries. Hence my recent posts and this one. I just revisited Kauai with a studio version of a plein air piece I did a couple of years ago when I was there for Randy Sexton's workshop.

Hanalei, on Kauai's north shore, is the quintessential little Hawaiian town that time forgot (but who could forget "the land called Hanalei"?). Right in the middle is this popular, walk-up burger stand. Not on my itinerary for the near future, but I can't wait to go back.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mauka (toward the mountains) view

In Hawaii, directions to a destination often include one of two words: mauka—toward the mountains, and makai—toward the sea. Such is life on an island. It's wonderful to be in a place where you can be viewing a an amazing, panoramic seascape and then turn around to see equally beautiful mountains. This painting is a view from Lahaina on Maui. It doesn't do it justice. You'll have to go see it for yourself.
West Maui Mauka, oil, 8" x 16"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hungry fish

It seems like most of the resorts in Hawaii have koi ponds. An Asian influence I suppose, but they fit the tropical setting. It's relaxing to sit and watch them swim back and forth, and of course when they see you, they come expecting to be fed. The Red Koi Collection Gallery on Kauai has a great widget on their website. Hover your cursor over the koi and they follow it, click to feed them.

I've taken many pictures of koi through the years and finally got around to painting some.

Koi pond, oil, 16" x 12"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Glenview Art League Member show

Opening reception, Friday evening, December 2, at the Midwest Care Center for the Glenview Art League Member's Exhibit. I have two pieces in the show and one was featured in the Glenview Lantern newspaper.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beach beauty

Studio painting time again. I've done a couple in the past few weeks, here's one of my favorite Hawaiian subjects. This was on the beach in Maui right next to where I stayed last time, pointing toward Molokai. Double outrigger canoe? Not sure what they call it. This is a high-gloss version of what the Hawaiian's used long ago.
Beached outrigger, oil, 12" x 24"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Into the Harbor

While vacationing at Portage Lake in Michigan this past summer, some friends sailed up from Muskegon. They were headed farther north with their next stop being Frankfort. My wife took them up on their offer to sail along and I drove ahead to paint and meet them for dinner. I went to one of my favorite spots, a bluff in Elberta, where I've painted looking south before, but not north. So I faced the harbor channel and watched for them to come in. It was beautiful weather when I started, but rain was approaching. I had about an hour-and-a-half to get this done before a drizzle began. Not sure if I actually saw their boat, but enough of them came by for reference.
Into the Harbor, oil, 12" x 9" SOLD

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A small mountain

One early morning in the dunes I found this sand mound to paint. With the light to the east and the sky blue, it made great long shadows. After observing the shapes and roughing it in, I thought it really was like painting a small-scale mountain—about ten feet high. Instead of monumental cliffs with piles of rubble along the base, it was all sand held together mostly by the roots of dormant grasses struggling against the elements to hold their ground.

We may not have the Rockies here in the midwest, but it's still picturesque.

Sand Peak, oil, 10" x 10"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Testimony to Being

Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago is hosting their annual "Healing Art" show, this years theme: Testimony to being. My entry is a little different from my usual style. Looser and more from my commercial illustration background. My take on the theme was kind of a universal concern, "What effect do I have on my world and what I will leave behind as a testament that I was here?" I would like to think that my career in art, design, and illustration have had some positive impacts and that my paintings will provide some lasting pleasure to some. But I think the most important proof that I was here are my children. This is my son who just turn 16.

Peter, mixed media on paper, 28" x 22"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More plein air in the sand

I was in the dunes last week and up at the Glenn Arbor Art Association's member show which I had a couple of pieces in. Last of the great summer-like weather I'm afraid. Almost 80 degrees, warm for October.

Point Betsie, at the southern end of the National Lakeshore, is known for it's lighthouse (which I've painted before), this is the view north from there.
Beach at Point Betsie, oil, 9" x 12"

This big pine overlooks Sleeping Bear Bay. That's South Manitou Island in the distance.
Glen Haven Pine, oil, 16" x 11"

On Empire Bluffs looking toward Sleeping Bear.
Oil, 12" x 10"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New painting, new gallery

If you've followed my blog or looked at my website, you may have noticed that I have an affinity to a couple of locations for painting. I grew up in Michigan and summers by the northwest shore are an ingrained part of me. The dunes and lake are always calling. Within a half-day drive I can have my easel in the sand and a beautiful coastal view in front of me.

I'm not sure how the same affection happened with Hawaii, but after my first visit about 25 years ago, I was hooked. It's not just the warm weather and beautiful beaches, you can find those in other places. I love the warmth of the people, the music, the culture, and of course, the island views.

I have had my work in a couple of Michigan galleries for a few years, and I'm happy to say I am now represented in Hawaii by Village Galleries of Maui. With locations in Lahaina and Kapalua, they are Maui's oldest gallery.

A great place to paint on the south end of Kaanapali Beach is the Lahaina Canoe Club. They have a good collection of colorful outriggers and interesting views. I have painted en plein air there a couple of times and now this just completed en studio piece is on it's way to Maui.

At the Canoe Club, oil, 18" x 18"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sleeping Bear Point

I painted over the weekend at Sleeping Bear Dunes again. In case you didn't hear, it was named by viewers of Good Morning America as "The most beautiful place in America." Some local residents weren't too pleased at the influx of tourists this brought, but businesses were.

I stood up in the dunes looking north toward South Manitou island for this painting. With the sky clearing after a stormy morning, the views in every direction were beautiful. I felt like I was on the edge of heaven. The Fall colors are starting to show-up in the trees now, and hopefully will peak when I'm back there in a couple of weeks for the Glen Arbor Art Association member show. I'll try to capture some of that on canvas then.

From Sleeping Bear Point, oil, 11" x 14"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vacant lot view

Along the Lake Michigan shore in some places, it can be hard to find access to the lake. If it's not public land then it probably has a home or cottage on it. When I saw a real estate sign on a vacant lot along Lake Shore Drive north of Manistee, I pulled over and climbed the hill to find this great view. Afternoon was a good time to paint there, but I want to go back for the morning light too.
Birch at the shore, oil, 9" x 12"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the beach

I spent a day last week at Warren Dunes State park in southwest Michigan. Lots of great painting opportunities: forest, dunes, beach. I took the first couple of hours to explore locations and unfortunately missed the best of the morning light. But it was such a beautiful day it didn't really mater. I found some shade to stand in and paint this one. More exploring in the late afternoon and now I'm ready to go back and start painting right away.
A walk to the water, oil, 10" x 8"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MacBeth & Co.

A great little Home & Gift shop, MacBeth & Co. in Onekama and Glen Arbor, Michigan, has been selling my North M22 print for a couple of years. They are now also going to carry some small paintings of mine, like these.

Point, oil, 6" x 6" SOLD
Northern Shore--at Watervale, oil, 8" x 10"
Afternoon Coast, oil, 8" x 6"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saugatuck/Douglas plein air event

I was invited again to participate in Water Street Gallery's annual paint-out in Saugatuck and Douglas, Michigan. A very quaint and picturesque pair of towns on the west side of the state just separated by the Kalamazoo River. The day started out nice enough, but the sky didn't look too promising. A three-quarter mile hike with a couple of other artists, Brian Smith and Kristian Matthews, through the woods of the Saugatuck Dunes State Park lead me to this dune/beach scene. I had to do a little bit of shadow inventing with the sky turning overcast, but it was coming along for an hour or so till the rain started. I made it back to the car before the downpour and headed to a park pavilion in town to finish it. I would like to have done another, but with limited locations and time, I didn't have the chance. The sun came back out before the evening opening which had a great turn-out. Talking with other artists and gallery visitors made for an enjoyable night, and my painting sold.
Saugatuck Dunes morning, oil 12" x 10" SOLD

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wildflowers by the corn shed

This was my morning painting at the Glen Arbor paint-out. I saw this shed among the buildings at one of the historic farms in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore a few weeks before. So I went straight there after check-in. I started about 8:30 in the morning hoping for bright sunshine and long shadows. I got some sun in between high clouds for the first hour so I established the shadows a values right away. It then became mostly overcast so I had to do some from memory but I was able to finish it pretty true to where I started.

Wildflowers by the corn shed, oil, 12" x 12"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Glen Arbor Paint-out Award

I'm honored to have received the 1st Place award for one of my paintings on Saturday at the Glen Arbor Art Association's Plein Air Paint-out. 66 artists got their canvases, boards, and papers stamped at 8 in the morning and were back at 4 pm with two, framed and ready to hang paintings. My afternoon painting was of the Pine Cone, a long-time favorite spot in Glen Arbor for hot dogs and ice cream. Lots of big pines around, of course, and two of them grow right through the building.

Flat light and iffy weather all day. I had to grab my umbrella for a few minutes of raindrops. But the sun came out as I was finishing, just in time to show me the shadow on the roof.

I was also happy to see the red dot appear soon after start of the reception. A woman visiting from Arizona with childhood memories of summer visits to the Pine Cone bought it.

The Pine Cone, oil, 16" x 10" SOLD

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Today I'm heading back up to Michigan for the Glen Arbor Art Associations plein air paint-out and show on Saturday. I had a great time at it last year, made some new artist friends, and sold one of the two paintings I did. This year about 60 artists will paint for the day around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Glen Lakes and the surrounding area. Then an evening reception and sale complete with Leelanau Peninsula Wine and hor d'oeuvres.

This one is from the same area, painted at the Homestead Resort where we stayed a couple of weeks ago.
Toward Sleeping Bear Point, oil, 10" x 8"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

From the dock

Morning plein air standing on a friend's dock on Portage Lake. On the other side of the lake is the historic Portage Point Inn catching the early sunshine. I tried to keep it quick and simple to capture the moment. I will definitely think about a larger, studio version of this one.
Morning Mooring, oil, 12" x 12"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Along the shore

A studio piece done with reference from a plein air and photo trip a couple of months ago. I've said it before, I love the shapes of these big Michigan white pines. They go so well with the shore and the dunes. It's much like my affection for palms by the ocean. Both hold challenges and can make for interesting compositions.
Pines along the shore, oil, 16" x 9" SOLD

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hay bales and small-town news

I'm behind on my postings. A lot of painting in the past month, just not enough time to photo and post. This one is from last week, Michigan countryside. I love getting up early to try and catch the morning mist and long shadows--especially when blue skies make for blue shadows.
Hay bales along Miller Road, oil, 11" x 14"

I also made the newspaper up north for the painting I did on River Street of the Vogue Theatre. It has sat dark for the past few years, but now a campaign to save the old movie-house is underway. I hope to have the print of the painting I did a couple of years ago be a part of the fund-raising.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

'51 Chevy

I was in Manistee last week where River Street Gallery asked me to do a demonstration. I wasn't sure on my way up what I'd paint. A couple of years ago I was there and painted the classic, old Vogue theatre. Since this time I was there on the 4th, there had been a parade earlier and this '51 Chevrolet Deluxe was parked right across the street. I couldn't resist adding a little more interesting background then where it was parked, so after I got the car roughed-in, I moved a few doors down to add the theatre.
'51 Chevrolet, oil, 11" x 14"

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I spent the last week in Michigan at a family camp just north of Manistee on Portage Lake. I had a few opportunities to paint, including a demo at River Street Gallery (I'll post that next). This is the afternoon view in front of our cabin.
Sailing on the lake, oil, 8" x 10"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stable horses

Another plein air event participant and I found a nearby stable to visit for possible painting time. I ended up doing three there. I did this sketch in a little under an hour. The horses moved of course. But I quickly roughed in the pose and then with multiple horses nearby, I could look around and find another in a similar position for reference. I'll post the others later.
Oil, 7" x 10"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another pond view

At the same spot as the "Best seats" painting I couldn't resist trying my hand at these. Now I need to work on a studio version of this pond.
Lily pads, oil, 12" x 16"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Evening farm

A small study, late afternoon start, out in a field looking west. Kept expecting to see deer pass by, but I guess I wasn't there quite long enough. As Kevin Macpherson always emphasizes, doing lots of these little ones is great practice.
Oil, 6" x 8"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cedarburg Plein Air

I had a great three days in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, at their 11th annual plein air event. It continues this week, but I needed to get home so I did two days of painting in the area designated around town and then Saturday, participated in the "quick paint."

This was my fourth year so I know the area pretty well. I have driven a lot of the local streets and county roads there looking for painting locations that did something for me. I was happy that they expanded the map this year so I explored the new area first. When I saw this little wetland from the car I knew I'd found my spot. I looked at a few angles and then approached the landowner for permission. She told me they had created the pond six years ago from what was farmland. It looked so natural like it'd been there forever. When she saw what I had chosen to paint, she said "we call that our 'best seat in the house.'" A good title I thought.

Best seat in the house, oil, 12" x 16" SOLD

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Colors in the sand

I finished-up this last one from my trip to Michigan. I took a little too long while there and lost the light. Without over analyzing it, I love all the different colors you can see in sand. Especially the blue reflected from the sky. Oil, 11" x 14"

Off tomorrow to paint in the Cedarburg Plein Air event. Historic little town in the picturesque countryside of Wisconsin. Lots of subject possibilities.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two from up north

Had mixed weather on my trip a couple of weeks ago. Got three paintings going, mostly finished, but had to stop for one reason or another so I've just gotten around to some touch-up in the studio. This first one was after the rain let up, on a wet, foggy day. I wish I'd had time to do something larger by the shore to take advantage of the atmosphere. But with the day waning, I was happy with this spot I found up in the hills above Portage Lake. For those who've been there, that's the Portage Point Inn faintly showing in the center across the lake.

Pines above the lake, oil, 8" x 10"

This one was done with a little better weather at Lake Michigan.
Afternoon shore, oil, 6" x 8"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On Guard

Some of the best times to paint plein air are early morning or late afternoon. Known by artists as the "magic hour" or "golden hour," after sunrise or just before sunset. The sunlight gives everything a golden glow and the shadows are long and cool. You have to work quick when you are on location to capture that light. This is a little more studied version done in the studio. I tried to keep the fresh, bold brush strokes of a plein air piece without having to hurry so much.
On Guard, oil, 18" x 12"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On deck

A little boat study from a marina visit last summer.
Oil, 12" x 7"

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Graduation Gift

A friend of mine had a great idea for a personalized graduation gift for the daughter of a close friend, so she commissioned me to carry it out. Three small paintings of important places in the recipient's life. The steeple is from the summer camp she has gone to her whole life. The tower is part of the church she grew up in. And the cupola is at the University she will attend. The family happens to be close friends of mine as well, so that made it an extra-enjoyable project for me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two in the show

I had two paintings juried into the Randy Higbee Gallery 6"x6" show opening today in Costa Mesa, CA. They are also known for great frames at King of Frame.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Canoe Beach

Just at the south end of Kaanapali beach on Maui is a public park that is also home to the Lahaina Canoe Club. They often have their outrigger canoes lined-up on the beach ready to go. I was there for the morning shadows one day and did this. Took lots of reference photos so I'd like to do something bigger in the studio.
Canoe Beach morning, oil, 9" x 12"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back from Maui

Had a great time with my family for spring-break on Maui. Wonderful weather, just a bit breezy from the trade winds. And I even had the chance for a few plein air pieces. My family likes to sleep-in on vacation. I'd rather be up with the sun--especially in paradise--the perfect time to paint.

I spent a couple of hours first thing one morning at a small park on the south side of Lahaina to paint this one. It's a great spot with paintable views in all directions.

Island solitude, oil 16" x 8"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Here is a commission I recently finished. It was a wife's gift to her husband, their favorite path to the lake from their cottage.

To the Lake, oil, 14" x 20"

And here are some work-in-progress images. I generally follow the usual rules of oil painting, thin to thick, dark to light. On a warm-toned canvas, I begin with a transparent wash-in of the composition with Alizarin and a little Ultramarine blue, establishing the dark values still with semi-transparent paints before moving to opaques. In a scene like this, I work for the most part foreground to background, so I can cut-in around object to define their shapes. But I like to bring up the whole painting at once as much as I can to make sure it holds together and doesn't end up looking like a paint-by-number. Rocks, sand, foliage, water, and sky.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A new studio piece

I like the time-change when visiting Hawaii. Getting up and out early allows you to see the most beautiful light. In Lahaina you are in the shadow of the West Maui Mountains at daybreak when the first light hits Lanai. Impossible to capture all the colors, but fun trying, and remembering being there.

To my friends heading there today—enjoy! I'm not far behind you.

Lahaina Harbor Morning, oil, 24" x 18"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Procrastinated finish

I started this one a couple of years ago on Maui. I set-up on the ocean-front side of the Whalers Village mall on Kaanapali beach. It's a nice place with shops and restaurants, including one of my favorites, the Hula Grill. I was about 40 minutes into it when a security guard happened by. After asking what I was doing, he proceeded to tell me I was on private property and that I would have to leave. I was on the grass at the edge of their property, out of anyone's way, by the sidewalk, but I said okay, give me a few minutes. I tried to get a little more done, then he was back "warning" me, so I packed up. It's sat, half-finished, in the corner of my studio since.

This week I was inspired thinking about my friends on Maui at the Plein Air Invitational (and wishing I was there), so I put it up on the easel and had at it. I think I'm a little better painter now then when it was started, so the security guard probably did me a favor.
From Kaanapali, oil, 10" x 20"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mango pair

Another little studio painting between larger pieces. Mangos must be in season, wherever they come from, they were only a dollar a piece at the grocery store. Very tasty and hard to paint. It's difficult to achieve a three-dimensional look while trying to capture all the varied colors.
Oil, 6" x 6"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Small works

I've been working on some small pieces in the studio the past couple of weeks. There's an upcoming show I want to enter, but it is also both good practice and satisfying. It's nice to be loose and bold and not worry about messing-up a big canvas. And it's nice to have a finished piece in an hour or two.

Here are a couple that were done with plein air and photo reference from my trip last year to Kauai.

Outriggers, oil, 6" x 6"

Hanalei view, oil, 6" x 6"