'Morning Gold' - Colorado River - Grand Canyon

5x7     oil on canvas panel    SOLD

It is a real challenge to portray rushing water.. the rocks magnified under the glass-like clear sheen of the surface .. the movement of the flow.. the turbulence of the waves.  And at the same time making sure to paint the reflection colors so they make sense. In actuality.. painting water is very abstract exercise. The edges and shapes generally should be clean for the best results... no blurry edges or fuzziness. This study is just that.. a study.. a foray into the magic of water.

'Below the Rim' - Grand Canyon

5x7     oil on canvas panel     SOLD

A stylized study of the formations below the South Rim of the Grand Canyon... the turquoise light far above. This is not a realistic image... but an impression of the architecture of the inner canyon. These studies help formulate my ideas of what I am presenting in larger works. Currently... I am working on a large 30x40 oil of this area as seen from the Tonto Plateau... just one of the many layers of this vast landscape.


5x7     oil on canvas panel     SOLD

An impression of late afternoon light on the golden hills of California.
A note on monitor colors.. I have viewed my paintings on several different computers.. the colors were different on all of them. This is a real headache for those of us that present work visually.. we spend much time and effort to get the painting 'just right'... at least I do. So until there is a universally adopted color management system across all platforms.. these are presented to you in the hope that your monitor version is the one that is 'just right' :)

Process - Underpainting - Lake Powell

5x7 oil on canvas panel

A study of a Lake Powell sandstone bluff... another one I am in the process of completing. I like to have several paintings going at the same time.. also different sizes.. keeps it interesting and fresh.  Working on many pieces at once also allows layers to dry.. important for highlights. The paint on this piece is quite thin.. mostly turps.. the first third of the work is done. I also wanted to do a study without the clash of opposites which usually finds it's way into my paintings. This little oil is about the comfort of close relatives.. the calm that pervades a painting when the hues are not opposites on the color wheel.   Here.. it is lavenders and earth colors unified under a silvery light .... mellow.


'Desert Blues' - Death Valley National Park

6x6    oil on gallery-wrapped canvas    SOLD

Lately I have been busy working on larger pieces.. but I made time to paint this little color study... a quiet mood on a winter afternoon in Death Valley National Park where I lived for many winter seasons. This is near the Salt Creek area of this immense desert.. one of my favorite regions because of the exquisite colors and formations. If you visit.. be sure to take the short side-road and see for yourself.  Also seen from the boardwalk.. you will find in the warm waters of the creek house the tiny pupfish playing hide and seek.. said to be from the era of the dinosaurs... truly an ancient landscape.


'Twilight Armada'

5x7     oil on canvas panel     SOLD

Approaching storms fill the monsoon season skies over canyon country.. last last light on the rock formations before all is obscured by darkness. Small studies like this are subtle in depicting the light effects ... a close value range and muted color.. except for the saturated oranges of the late sunset... a moody piece.


'Procession' - Arches National Park

5x7 oil on canvas panel        SOLD

Here is a piece I completed last fall... the compelling stone formations of Arches National Park.. one of my favorites regions in the West. I am going to rework this a little.. I think there is too much orange [even tho the landscape really is this strong color]. This painting demonstrates a too-common pitfall for artists... copying the landscape. I would suggest to artists painting this scene to concentrate on capturing the atmosphere and not be a slave to what you see.

Even tho the soil and rocks are all bright sienna [those strong earth colors of the palette]... the challenge is to present this wonderful land with Southwest ambience without the harsh coloration.. to make it more believable even tho it really is unbelievable! Purple may be the answer.. and perhaps a different foreground treatment. I will try to post the revised version tomorrow.

A weather note: We had one of our fantastic desert storms here yesterday... flash floods, dramatic skies, and the strong pungent odor of wet creosote.. still drizzling today. Rainy gray days are for books.. I took time off from the easel to read true cases of art theft from major museums all over the world ... happens more than you might think. Anyway.. good thing SpaceCamp is on high ground!


Middle Ground

8x10 oil and canvas panel

In my opinion... the middle stage of the creation process is the hardest part of a painting. The fun part of laying in the design is over and the satisfaction of completion is in the future. Here in the middle lies the work ... reworking color and values to a point of balance. This last light on the desert hills is one of my favorite times of day... a study in contrasts.. cool/warm colors.. darkening purple land/light pale sky. The truly artistic part is to develop the sense of the poetic.. to convey a feeling of an appreciation for the ever-changing timeless spectacle.

UPDATE: still working on this... hopefully finished soon!


Painting Process .. Underpaintings

8x10 oil on canvas panel

Here are examples of paintings in progress. The image above is fairly well along...  think it is perhaps 75% finished... three hours into it. The subject is the earth colors and oranges that one finds in the low reaches of the Grand Canyon where the Colorado River passes through desert.. the Lee's Ferry area.. saturated in the impressionist style.. strong light coming from behind my left shoulder... hardly any shadows on the forms. The water is least developed and I am undecided how much reflection I want to show. I don't usually paint in this manner.. preferring the drama of backlit subjects.. but the flat design of the shapes and challenge of depicting space through mostly color changes was irresistible.

Below is an example of how I might lay-in a quick impression... about 20 minutes worth. Now comes the real work on this piece... back to the easel.

8x10 oil on canvas panel


HEAT! and Tent Studio pics

Record temperatures right now in the Southwest. Here at SpaceCamp in the low deserts of southern Arizona.. I am sitting in front of a solar powered fan. It is almost sundown and still almost 100 degrees. While working in my studio this morning.. I accidentally knocked over my container of turps.. evaporated almost immediately.. didn't even have to wipe it up!
In a couple weeks we will be trekking north to Nevada for a short visit and retooling at my father's place.. then we are heading up to Great Basin National Park to be campground hosts until late fall.. 7800'.. so it should be cool. We will be camped on the banks of a trout stream.. Lehman campground. If you are in the vicinity.. you are welcome to visit.. posted is a photo of my tent studio which will be set up by the creek. So enduring this unprecedented heat wave will make it that much sweeter when we are in the mountains. A new adventure!



6x6     oil on gallery canvas

Some artists never go back into a painting once they consider it done. I say nothing has an end.. I will rework a painting if I can think of ways to improve it. My large pieces are always painted with many layers until I am satisfied [satisfied at that point in my evolution as an artist]. Years later I may see a few things I might have changed.. but they are nearly always a composition revision.. and most paintings are too far gone to paint over with major changes despite what many people think.. that oils are easy to change.. not. If the changes are too radical.. it is best to just start over on a fresh canvas.


'Nankoweap Noon' - version ll - Grand Canyon

30x40   oil on canvas

Here is the revised version.. about 98% finished. I am still tweaking the colors and I think I want to do something different to the water.  It was a muddy color [as the river generally is].. but perhaps I could deepen the effect. You can see the waterline comes down further into the picture plane than before.. and the rocky cliffs on the left are larger. The farthest Canyon formation is shades of magenta and different blues.. it is very tricky to get just the right shade there. I will also probably paint some of this area over a tad as well.. I think it is too blue. I will post version 3 soon ... the continuing saga.


'Nankoweap Noon'

30x40 oil on canvas

I am posting a painting which no longer exists.. it has been reworked with major revisions and several months of work had to be painted over. There are many layers in this work.. and I will post the revised version with many more layers on top of these.. the canvas is considerably heavier than a blank one.

Why did I have to rework it??  Because I did not do a drawing before I started this large piece.. only a small thumbnail with some shapes. This subject should have had a detailed drawing done before picking up a brush.. not to scale but at least a large sketchbook study. 

The Grand Canyon is not a landscape for impatient painters!  All the many parts must follow the law of perspective when doing contemporary realism. Usually I can draw well.. I spent many years only drawing as an art form and not painting.. but on this.. I did not do my homework and I paid for it. I could have had another two large paintings done in the time I spent correcting this one. I had to redraw shapes to conform to not only linear perspective.. but also the colors of all those pieces had to recess with aerial perspective. You will see when I post the newly completed 'Nankoweap Noon' the differences a few changes in composition will make to the overall feel.

So all you artists out there.. if you want to do the smart thing.. do your homework!


'Rising Mists - Grand Canyon'

5x7    oil on panel    SOLD

This is a piece I completed last summer... an inspiration from a stroll on the wonderful South Rim Trail of the Grand Canyon. The desert monsoon season... the swirling mists rising on the hot air currents from far below to the high cool elevation of the Rim. You will be amazed at how fast the weather can change.. if you visit.. be prepared!


'Lee's Ferry' - Grand Canyon Art

6x6        oil on canvas       SOLD

Arizona was a territory when Lee operated a ferry across the Colorado River on the Arizona/Utah border.. the only easy way across the river until a bridge was built.  Here is an impression of the timeless sandstone formations of the Vermillion Cliffs that assuredly look the same today as in those historical days. This is the view from the boat launch where the rafts put in.. the official start of the Grand Canyon.. no turning back from here.