Thursday, November 12, 2009

Varnishing Oil Paintings

The photo below is a detail from one of Theresa's portrait paintings. It is a 32 x 48 oil painting of a woman and four horses. She finished it this past summer and we have been displaying it at shows ever since. A couple of weeks ago, between shows, I got the chance to varnish the painting. This is not polyurethane or a varnish you get at the hardware store. Picture varnish is an entirely different animal. First, it is clear. Second, while it protects the painting, it is delicate compared to modern wood varnishes. Third, it is reversible. It can be removed at a later date without damaging the painting.

What it does do it take the painting to another level. The darks become richer and the lights pop out. Think of the difference between a car with a beautiful shiny paint job and one painted with flat grey primer.

Look at the difference between the horse's head on the right and the one on the left. The fence board really shows the difference between the dull unvarnished and the varnished side. Note the girl hair, the side on her left has been varnished the right side not.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Working on a Series of Paintings

Here is an ongoing series of paintings of a woman leading two horses out to pasture. So far, three different size paintings have been finished.These paintings are based a fews photos I took in the middle of portrait painting reference photo session. Actually, that does make sense, I was with my wife, portrait artist, Theresa Brown,we taking photos for her to use as reference in painting a portrait that she was commissioned to do of a woman and her horse at Chadale Farm in Cary, NC.
We had finished one session and Theresa and the client were reviewing the photos, so I prowled around with the camera. I almost missed the trio below, fumbling around trying to change lenses. I think that I was able to get about five shots.

The first painting of the series is a small thumbnail, 3 x 5 on panel, to explore the color and light and placement of the figures on the canvas. Sorry to tell you that it is already sold.

Here is a larger small study, 4 x 6 on canvas.

This is the largest painting of the series so far, 9 x 12 oil on canvas. You can see I have gone back to the first study for reference, but placed them more definitely in a location.

What's next? I am not sure. I might do an even larger, 16 x 20 or 18 x 24. It's really a lot of fun, So many variables to work with. Location of figures in the landscape and within the painting. The interaction of the woman and the horses. The amount of detail. The color of the late afternoon -evening light.
Or I might stay with this one and possibly publish prints of it and work on another series. I have already had a request for a similar painting with a blonde instead of a brunette.

The painting above is available for sale, $425. shipping included. Go to:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Behind the Scenes

As I was removing duplicate image files from my backup hard drive, I came across a couple of photos of "works in progress" Here are three paintings in various stages. Unfortunately, it seems that after I take a photo and start painting again, I get caught up in the process. The next thing you know, I have finished the painting with no photos of intermediate steps.

These three paintings show different stages in the creation of a painting.

Layout of the subject

Above and below show two different approaches to a painting. In the painting of the three corgis, I have gone directly to the subjects, while in the painting of the two jack russells, I worked on the background along with the subjects. The first method stems from my watercolor portraits. With watercolor it can be very difficult make corrections, so when working on a portrait it is important to get the likeness of the subject down before spending time on the background, clothing etc. Oil gives a bit more leeway since wiping off and repainting passages are much easier.

Here are the finished paintings.

Yogi at Blowing Rock, 9 x 12 oil

Three Corgis, 12 x 16 oil

Two Jacks, 8 x 10 oil

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Painting a Series, Developing

Here are two recent paintings I based on smaller 4 x 6 "thumbnail" paintings. Both of the smaller paintings are part of my One Hundred Paintings Blog

Farm near Unionville
8 x 10 Oil on Canvas

This is the "thumbnail painting"
Farm near Unionville, PA. I came across this farm driving around Unionville and Doe Run PA near Kennetsquare and Chadds Ford. I had left the Devon Horse Show one afternoon to paint and take photos. I had been painting down the road (still am not happy with that painting, but I may make another stab at it)and was back driving when I saw this barn in my rearview mirror. Quick U-turn (the Honda Fit has its advantages over the Ford E-350 SuperDuty Van!) and some photos.

Jack on Plaid
8 x 10 Oil on Canvas

The "thumbnail" for Jack on Plaid

Speaking of the One Hundred Paintings Project, I have now started Phase Two, Second Hundred Paintings. The blog will still be the same, but I will allow myself to paint different sizes, both larger and smaller.
You can sign up for Email notices about new blog posts at the blog

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Off to College

One thing we notice painting portraits - Time keeps moving. This painting is of a girl leading her horse to the barn before heading off to college.
This 9 x 12 oil painting is a commission. In the photographs I worked from she was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Unfortunately, the colors get lost between painting, digital camera and computer monitor.

Back to Blowing Rock - Josie

No, it's not a bear. It's Josie. Josie is a dog, a Newfoundland. A big shaggy Newfoundland who has become a feature of the Blowing Rock Horse Show. Her owner is Doug Beach, horse show board member and owner of Twigs Restaurant in Blowing Rock. We took Josie to the top of "the Hill" to include the pine trees and view of the showgrounds. I worked from a number of photographs, some in sepia tone, some black and white and some in color.

8 x 10 Oil on Canvas

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pig Paintings

Two of the paintings from my One Hundred Paintings/One Hundred Days Project provided the inspiration for larger works. The Sampson County Arts Council is holding a art show entitled "Show Your Swine." I expanded on two of the 4 x 6 paintings to create a couple of 8 x 10's. I know it doesn't sound like it's any bigger but they are over three times the size.

These two are hanging at the show. A note about Sampson County and pigs. The Arts Council 2010 calendar will be exclusively filled with images from this show. They like pigs in Sampson County. A wonderful reception this evening with with a piano player, wine, pigs in a blanket, pork tenderloin and barbeque and a rather large turnout.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to the Beach ( Haven )

I was up in New Jersey, visiting at the shore, when I ran across this painting in one of my collectors homes. I realized that it had gotten away without being photographed.

The painting, which is 9 x 12 oil on canvas, was painted in Beach Haven NJ. from a park which is a block off the ocean. What's so special about a water tower? If you look around you probably notice that water towers all seem to be a light blue, green pale sort of color. When the time came for this tower to be painted, those were the plans for it. But a hue and cry was raised. It seems that the orange tower has been used for years as an aid to navigation by boatmen and mariners. The orange color stands out against the blue sky and its uniqueness lets navigators know that they are off of Beach Haven.

You can see more seascapes at my website

And a number of paintings for sale at my ebay store

Come to think about it, one of my first, "take the easel and oil paints outside" plein air paintings was done a couple of block from here when I was still in high school.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Saratoga Paintings

Here are some paintings of the Saratoga Race Track. These paintings are currently being exhibited (and joffered for sale) at the Beresford Gallery on Union St. in Saratoga Springs, NY.

I am not a morning person, but getting up a dawn to head over to the race track and watch whats going on is worth it.

8 x 10 Oil on canvas

8 x 10 Oil on Canvas

You can also find some small paintings at my One Hundred Paintings Project blog:

Bringing the Mountain Home

Between shows and the One Hundred Paintings Project, I have been away too long from this blog. We returned from Blowing Rock last week after two weeks of painting and showing. The horse show paintings are on my website:

After the shows were over for the day, we would walk about 1/4 mile down the road to a small stone wall with a view of the John's River Gorge. After numerous trips of sitting and watching the sunlight and shadows and clouds move across the mountains and taken lots of photos that looked like nothing when you got home, I finally carried my easel and canvas down and set up on the wall to try and capture the view. I intended to take a small canvas to capture the light and color as it moved across the mountains. I found that I only had a 12 x 36 canvas prepped and ready to go. So it was to be a larger painting. I put them in the Honda Fit and drove down. There are no parking places at the wall so the honda "fit" just fine in what space was available. I began painting, at first getting the shapes of the mountains. Its amazing how much the camera flattens the scene when compared to what you view with your eyes. I painted until the sun was almost beginning to set. One hand holding the canvas and easel and the other shading my eyes from the lowering sun. Or maybe one hand holding the brush and the other jumping between the canvas and my eyes. A second trip would be nessecary.

The next two evenings it rained. Or was it three evenings. Time was running out. Sunday was the last day of the show and it started out foggy and raining. It cleared up by the afternoon. And the evening was looking promising. Theresa had already left with the dogs in the Honda leaving me with the big van so driving was out of the question. I left our display set up and carried the easel and canvas down to the wall. Thankfully, the weather cooperated, and I was able to paint long enough to get it on the canvas.

Thinking about it now, it was almost like painting a seascape with the ocean in slow motion. Rather than waves constantly changing, the mountains would be in sun one minute and in a shadow the next. Ridges and hollows would be there but when I looked back up from the painting, the would be lost.

Later, back at the studio, a little touch here and there and after twp years of visiting the site, I finally finished my first painting of the John's River Gorge. I envision spending a week or a month painting that location. Taking numerous canvases and changing them as the day progessed and the weather changed.

John's River Gorge
Oil on Canvas 12 x 36

John's River Gorge is available for purchase. I have a 3" gold leaf "plein air style" frame for it. Painting and frame are $1850., unframed $1650.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Home from the Show

Boy, the One Hundred Paintings in One Hundred Days Project has kept me pretty busy. I have been posting paintings to that blog daily and neglecting this one. We recently set up our art exhibit at a local horse show, the NC Hunter Jumper Assoc. Show in Raleigh NC. It was hot, but since we were inside, we were out of the sun and had plenty of electricity to run numerous fans. ( No AC )

While there, I worked on paintings for the One Hundred Paintings Project. A lot of the little paintings were sold at the show in addition to online. I completed a portrait while at the show and finished a landscape of a red barn and hay bales.

Portrait of Heidi
8 x 10 Oil on canvas

Red Barn Round Bales
9 x 12 Oil on Canvas

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One Hundred Paintings starts

In the midst of getting the One Hundred Paintings project started and getting ready to head to Keswick VA for the Keswick Horse Show and Lititz, Pa to the Quentin Riding Club for the Bluestone Horse Show, I got a chance to head to the coast for a day.

Of course, it wasn't about hanging around the beach or fishing or boating. Well a bit about boating. I was back at Budsin Woodcraft, builders of fine wooden electric boats. We have featured them in a past newsletter, but if you missed it, check out their website.
I went down to letter boat names of the transoms of some of these beauties. One boat was headed to The Point, a resort on Lake Saranac in the Adirondack Mts of New York. One was headed to a private lake at the Beaver Lake community in New Jersey and the last one will be going to the producer of the TV show Cheers. Here's a shot of it. The name is done in 23kt gold leaf with red and black trim.

With a high temperature that day of 60, I didn't miss the beach at all.

Don't forget to visit
to see the first of the one hundred paintings.

Friday, May 8, 2009

One Hundred Paintings One Hundred Days

I am starting a new project later this week. One Hundred Paintings in One Hundred Days.
You can follow the work on the blog I specifically created to show the paintings as they are completed.

Here is the link to One Hundred Paintings blog

Here is what I wrote there to introduce this project.

One Hundred Paintings in One Hundred days. That's my goal. A new painting to be shown everyday. Most of these will not be large paintings. Probably in the 4 x 6 inch range. The paintings will be for sale. The price, One Hundred dollars.

So what's the big deal. Just a little painting a day. Yes, but that is in addition to what is already going on in my studio. I will still be working on larger paintings, painting at the Horse Shows, setting up and exhibiting Theresa's and my work. Traveling to the shows. Not to mention, setting up all the backend to be able to show these to you.

Why? Productivity. I am always able to get more done, the busier I am. So I am going to make myself busier.

I hope you will come back and check on my progress. I am counting down to the start. When? Sometime in the coming week. No, I am not stockpiling paintings. I am getting this blog ready. Adding a mailing list for those of you who want to recieve email updates and just trying to get the logistics squared away.

As a lot of my paintings and our portraits are of dogs, I am going to donate a portion of all the dog paintings sold from this project to Danny and Ron's Rescue. Those of you who know me through the horse shows know all about Danny and Ron. Those who don't, you can check them out here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fun at a Local Show

After the adventure of traveling to California and Florida to exhibit at some larges shows, we kicked back and stayed local. Our first show was a one-day Hunter Jumper show at a local barn, MacNair's Country Acres.
Travel time: 40 minutes. Set-up time: 30 minutes. We did not rush.
We spent time with old friends, clients and collectors and met with new friends, clients and collectors. It was a take your horse and sit under the tree and watch kind of show. The local 4-H was manning the food concession. Cooking real Hamburgers, Hot Dogs etc on a grill......
Thanks, Eastern Hunter Association and MacNair's

It was only a week later, that we were even closer to home at a local Arts and Crafts Festival in the nearby town of Wake Forest, NC. Meet in the Steet is put on by the Wake Forest Chamber of Commerce and has been getting better and more organized each year. Volunteers help unload. Happy volunteers help unload.
Drive time: 15 minutes. Set-up time: A bit longer as a chance of wind and rain had us bringing out the big gun, our Craft Hut tent, rather than an EZ UP (EZ up, EZ down, EZ blow away)

Again it was FUN! Meeting people we haven't seen in quite a while. Meeting future clients and collectors. Catching up on the local arts scene.

Leave home 7:00 am, start packing up at 4:00 pm, at home by 6:00. Priceless

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another painting video

I thought that I would share this painting video with you. A bit to long for YouTube. And I can't about to spend anymore time editing it. Working on other projects now.

It is recorded in real time, not high speed "fast painting." Though more has been edited out then left in. Mostly shots of the painting with nothing happening while I mix colors and decide what to paint next. The painting is 3" x 5" Don't turn up the volume, there is no soundtrack.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


In the midst of all the goings on (see the previous post) Theresa has been writing, with a little help from me, two books to help other artists who want to have the greatest job in the world market and sell their work. They are available as ebooks, so you can purchase and download them immediately.

Click on the images to read Theresa's description on her blog.
Meanwhile, I have been learning about e-commerce, digital product downloads, autoresponders putting together the website and newsletter. Which is free by the way, so you can sign up here. The website also offers articles on various aspects of an art career and an ongoing blog.

Catching up the world turned..and the water flowed under the bridge

Whoa! The last post on this blog was in February! Time to get with the program. A lot has happened since then. Get ready, this will be a long post.

Theresa and I spent a couple of weeks in Wellington FL, mostly at the Winter Equestrian Festival. I drove down a few days early to set up the camper, do some painting and get our exhibit up. It is just great on a long drive to pull over at a rest stop, make a meal and take a nap, then head on down the road again. When I got to Wellington, I ran into Vicky Moon who told me that I ought to go see a polo match before we got tied up at the horse show. I went to the Palm Beach International Polo Club on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. What a deal, cheaper than a NASCAR race ( I assume, I haven't been ) or a hockey game here in Raleigh. And free champagne at half time out on the field. A reward for replacing divots. I don't know what I expected, after seeing the old prints and watercolors, I thought it would be like golf on horesback. More like football or rugby. I took a lot of photos and some video as refernce for future paintings. After halftime, I walked down to the end of the field where the ponies and grooms were to get some behind the scenes shots. Now speed ahead from February to April. I had been with the Lechuza Caracas team, which lost 21 ponys at one time due to a improperly prepared vitamin and mineral supplement. One of the polo paintings is completed and it features a Lechuza player and pony. Is this one of the ponys that died? I couldn't tell you.

Painting of Palm Beach Polo, Lechuza Caracas

Click on image for more
Check back for more polo paintings.

After all the fun, it was time to go to work. At the horse show. Theresa got and completed two commissions right at the show. A norwich terrier and a girl and her pony. You can see them here

The Bridge at Winter Equestrian Festival, Wellington, FL
Click image for more Wellington Paintings

Meanwhile, I was painting the showgrounds as always and also I was asked to paint the H'nD Stable to be given as a present to the owner.

Painting of HnD Stable in Wellington, FL
H'nD Stables Click image to see more barns and commissioned paintings

NEXT STEP: The drive to California
Here as some entries in Theresa's blog about our journey

Some of my recollections.

We didn't quite make it to Memphis TN as planned the first day, but that was alright, we missed the tornados. Spent an hour watching the weather channel for the travel weather. Never did see it. Do they have any helpful information on that channel anymore. We went driving merrily along until we reached the Arkansas Welcome Center where the nice lady told us that there was snow in Oklahoma. Not only that, but I40 and the city of Amarillo Texas was totally shut down due to a blizzard. We stopped at friends in eastern OK, only two inches of snow. A beautiful drive the next day. Remnants of snow all around but the temp was in the sixties. Got to Albequerque NM. Late, followed the GPS to the Tumbleweed Steakhouse. Drove in the parking lot. Saw various groups of people hanging out in the parking lot. Drove out of the parking lot. Found an Applebees. Next morning tried the weather channel again, no luck. But the local news mentioned snow near Gallup and that I40 was closed on the other side. Went outside to load van and gas up. Froze your buns off. Next thing we know, we are driving through a snow storm. The NM highway dept. was nice enough to install windsocks along the road so you could see which way and how strong the wind was blowing, even when it wasn't snowing. Got to Gallup, stopped for coffee and to clean the snow and ice off the windshield. I40 was now open. It had been closed due to an accident. Got to AZ, and by the time we reached Winslow (they have a statue of Jackson Brown standing on a corner there) it was a beautiful day. In Flagstaff also beautiful, with snow on the San Francisco Mountains. Stopped in Williams AZ for gas and to wash the van. It looked like it had just spent February in Buffalo, New York. Found Cruiser's Grill on Rte 66 where we ate ribs back in 2001. Stopped in for ribs. Then on to California. Flagstaff to Williams is a beautiful area lots of ponderosa pines. Westward ever westward, down, down to the desert. Kingman AZ then to CA. Whoa! Crossed the Colorado River, stopped at the Agricultural Station and into the desert. A two lane road that was the backway from Needles to the Palm Springs area. A two lane road through nowhere. I have to admit after 4 days on I40 it was a great release. We watched the sunset and noticed that there were no lights anywhere. A couple of cars passed us. Finally got to Indio. We had made it. Did the show, visited family, got sick for four days and headed home. Oh to have had ruby slippers..."there's no place like home." Theresa drove most of the way back. I was useless for two days, able to drive some the next two. On the way back, wildfires in OK burnt 60+ homes in one town near OK City. Our friends, who live near Muskogee, told us that the fires reached the back of their property. We noticed that everyone had hoses laying stretched across their yards. All the time, just in case. When we got to North Carolina it was lush and green. It looked like a place where living creatures are meant to live. Glad to be home.

Aiken Horse Show...
Our trip to CA meant I was unable to paint at the Aiken Horse Show ( the show in the woods) I had sent four fox paintings down to them to sell to help the Hitchcock Woods Foundation. They were all sold.

Red Fox Paintings More Red Fox Paintings
Thanks to Holly Houghton and Sandra Tucker for all the help with these paintings.....

Today: I am working on paintings of some old and new barns at a horse facility in Raleigh NC. MacNair's Country Acres. The old barns are going to be restored and the owner wanted to capture the character that you can only get from an old barn before work on them began....that's one of them in the painting at the top of this post.

Paintings for the upcoming horse shows and for Saratoga in July. And the polo series...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Further along our road to the grand prix...
In yesterday's video we explored the two point position. Today's video is the posting trot and the dismount.The next video will look at painting again.
If you happen to be at the Winter Equestrian Festival for the next couple of weeks, come on by and visit Theresa and I . We will be set up the weeks of Feb 18 and Feb 25. I will be around and painting a bit earlier.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Here are a couple of videos.. No painting in these two. After being around and painting at  horseshows and at home buying and hauling hay and grain, putting up and fixing fencing, paying farriers and vets, I decided to to see what is it about riding horses that has such an attraction. Not only that, but learning something new. Learning balance. Learning about the horse, the tack. Where are the long stirrup leathers and the big question... Where do I find wide stirrup irons for big feet? 

So here is a video of an early lesson. The horse I had be learning on was indisposed, so a smaller, 15.1h (that 15 hands 1 inch for those non-horse people, roughly 4 cubits) horse that would look a little more absurd was given to me.....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Something Different - German Short-haired Pointers

I am always trying to get a series of photographs of the process of creating a painting. I take a first photograph of the painting's beginning, and then just get into the painting, realizing after finishing that I forgot to take the interim photos. These portraits of two German Short Haired Pointers are a case in point. I could have taken another, earlier photograph to start with and the last two seem pretty close looking at them now. The variation in color between the last two photos is due to the photography, lighting, digital imaging etc.

This first photo is the finished painting of Courtney.
Check Spelling

These three show some of the changes the painting goes through.

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