Blog Navigation:



A good sports player needs practice, and so does a good artist.  He can get this practice in a number of different ways, but most artists practice figure painting and plein air painting.

Figure painting:  I have heard that a good artist should paint one head from life every week.  While many good artists currently do not do so, they have done so in the past.  The studies from life have given them knowledge in the play of light over three-dimensional features.  If an artist does not have an understanding of the human form, he is crippled as an artist.

Over the past six years I have met often with fine artist John Ball for head studies in his garage.  The practice is great, and the camaraderie is always wonderful.  Because of my constant study, I can paint the human head with confidence.  I can get a finished face in a relatively short amount of time: an hour.

 2004 - 2.5 hrs.

 2004 - 2.5 hrs.

 2005 - 2.5 hrs.

 2006 - 2 hrs.


 2007 - 1.3 hrs.

 2007 - 2 hrs.

 2007 - 1.25 hrs.

 2008 - 1 hr.

 2008 - 2 hr.

  2009 - 1 hr.

Plein Air: A French term, en plein air means “in the open air,” and refers to artists who paint the landscape outside, instead of inside their studios with photographs or memory.  Because the dramatic change of light over the course of a day, plein airs must be painted within a short amount of time.  Historically, collectors have not considered them finished fine art, but recently a market has developed for smaller, less finished works like plein air paintings.  The real value with painting en plein air is the technical proficiency of painting fast.  An artist must observe correctly and paint carefully in order to preserve the impression of detail in a landscape under a shifting light.

This painting reminds me of some of the Hudson River School painters.  I really enjoy the work that they do, and perhaps looking at their work has affected my own work.  I hope so.


When my family took a vacation in the Appalachian mountains, I eagerly took my easel with us.  The beauty up there is astounding.  Because we kept very busy, I was not able to sketch as much as I wanted.  However, this sketch at a camp site somewhere in Tennessee gives a small indication of the incredibly beautiful area.


I have painted at Alan's mother's house only a couple times, but I look forward to getting out there in the future.  They have some beautiful woods out behind their house, and I have not been able to do justice to it yet!


I loved the way the birds perched on top of the old dock posts.  There were several different kinds of bird, and the mix was fascinating.  I also liked the way the verticals cut right down the composition.  Some paintings are just fun to look at.


As my master's show approached, I needed more art.  So I set aside an hour or two to paint whatever I could.  So I set up my computer and painted the view out my back window.  This needed to get done to finish a group of sketches, and it worked well in the grouping.  I love meeting objectives.


I created this special plein air sketch from the cockpit of a two person airplane.  A friend of mine took me up while he was getting his pilot's license.  The sunset was beautiful.  I rested my Wacom tablet on my lap and held my Macbook above it with my left hand.  My right hand would paint a few strokes, then hop up to the laptop keyboard to change the brush size, and then hop back down to the tablet again to move color around.  It was very exciting!  I love the painting, but it cannot fully portray the amazing experience of painting airborne.

Imaginair:  A term of my own making, imaginair refers to a landscape that is constructed from memory or the imagination.  Every once in a while I will see a sunset or cloud formation that catches my eye, but be unable to set up and paint it immediately.  I will make note of the general effect, remembering every detail and color that I can.  Later, I will find a good time to paint my impression of what I saw.  It may not result in the most incredible art, but the practice keeps the mind sharp . . . and helps me remember fascinating images that I have seen.

On the way home from vacation, we drove through rain in southern Alabama.  Whatever people may say about the state, their pine trees look so beautiful obscured by the misty rain against a dusk sky.  I tried to remember how everything looked and painted it as soon as I could.


A couple summers ago I traveled by train to visit a friend in El Paso, Texas.  The trip through the vast barren Texas landscape struck me as awe-inspiring.  This painting, the second of my imaginairs, resulted from the experience.  Someday I hope I'll go back, if only for the train trip through God's beautiful creation.

No comments:

Post a Comment