Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

What a wonderful site is the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. This view is from across the inlet looking north from New Smyrna Beach. It stands today as one of the best preserved and most complete authentic light stations in the nation. It was completed in 1887 and is the tallest lighthouse in the state of Florida at 175 feet high. Across the inlet are a few scattered homes and a couple of marinas. I was intrigued by the way the landscape was divided into three different sections, the sky, the water and the beach. Each section was to be it's own element. The "Z" composition brings you from the bottom left to the middle right and then pushes you back to the left again where the lighthouse is the exclamation point of the painting. A nice trip through the painting and up the 203 steps to the top of the 175 foot tower. Are you ready to make the trip?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Painted Lady

I recently went with a group of artists to paint in conjunction with the Lake Helen Holiday Tour. Each artist had the opportunity to choose a home to paint that was a part of the tour and to do a painting of it on location. I found this old victorian style house that was mostly white but the lower area around the porch was painted in three different colors. I soon learned that the owner of the home was in the process of painting the house the original colors. This style of colorful architecture is called "Painted Ladies" and comes from the San Francisco area. A rare find in Central Florida. Though the owner had not yet finished painting his house, I decided to finish the Painted Lady in this watercolor painting. One of the people coming by on the tour saw the painting and purchased it for her home. It must have been the combination of colors that attracted her to the painting.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Florida Cracker House

This painting is of a newer home on Lake Howell in Central Florida. The design is of course based upon the old Florida style homes. A large open porch around the house makes it an ideal place to have a nice quiet rest and sip on a cool glass of lemonade. Of course it wouldn't be Florida without the palms in front of the house, hanging moss in the oak trees, and also the staghorn fern hanging from the oak tree too. You can sit on the back porch and have a great view a Saturday morning regatta on Lake Howell. What could be nicer than that?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

While looking through old photos at the Sanford Museum I came across a photograph of an old steamboat at dock on Lake Monroe. I was more excited about the foreground with the two small boats and the grass along the lake's edge than I was about the dock. I was especially interested in the way all the little nuances of composition pointed you towards the dock and steamboat. Even the stairs on the right side took you down the steps just to have the small boats take your eye back up to the center of interest. It must have been a great time to live, back in the 1880' before gasoline and automobiles. Wouldn't you rather ride a steamboat than a Greyhound?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Early Morning

I recently took a trip back to Ohio to visit family and friends. In Ohio there is a easel that I keep in my mom's garage so that it will be there each time I return home to visit. I always try to find a few days where I can paint in the area that I knew as a child. This year I spent two weeks there and was able to get over six small paintings completed. I wanted a different viewpoint so I stood inside one barn looking out to another barn on my Uncle's farm. This particular morning started out with a frost on the ground and a fog that didn't lift until after 10:30 in the morning. My painting didn't want to dry fast so I got a lot of interesting soft blends and blurring effects, including the inside of the old barn that formed the outside edges of the painting. I took a walk in the nearby woods as I let the painting have a chance to dry. I watched my cousin bring in few trees with an old tractor that my Uncle will use for heat this winter. That will make another interesting painting. When I returned to my almost dry painting; I put in a few of the bolder colors and indicated some of the near trees and shrubs with some calligraphic strokes of a rigger brush. Finished painting is 16 x 20 on Arches Watercolor board (A new surface material I am trying that does not need a mat and glass when finished.) Doesn't this finished painting remind you of a cool foggy autumn morning?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hide "N' Seek

A couple of months ago I was walking around Treasure Island looking for something interesting to paint. Near John's Pass I found this old sailboat morned near a boat yard. I didn't have a good view of the sailboat because of all the mangroves that were in the way. There was this one small opening that had a dilapidated dock with boards pointing out towards the vessel. Old structures and old boats are always quite interesting to me so I set up my easel and began sketching the composition. The scene was backlit; creating a lot of vibrant yellow/green leaves in the mangroves. There was so much action in the mangroves that I needed to indicate the sailboat as a few simple larger shapes so it would be viewed separately. I think my favorite part of the painting is the old dock leading you onto the sailboat. Watercolor on Arches archival paper 16 x 12.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Barn at Rebel Haven

There is nothing like painting an old wooden barn. They have so many stories to tell. We don't get to see many interesting barns these days where I live. A lot of them have been taken down and sometimes replaced by concrete and metal structures. Thus I have to refer to some of my old photos. This barn was on the farm where I grew up and has sense been demolished. I used go to the barn and feed the animals everyday before going to school. Sometimes I went to school smelling like an old barn. I wanted to keep the painting mostly warm earth colors to show late autumn season. I threw some salt into the still wet pigments and watched it create crystal like features that I transformed into weeds. A little red cardinal sits on a branch waiting on the first snow. Wouldn't it be nice to keep these old barns around forever?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sanford Landing

I had the opportunity to do this painting as a commission for one of the local city managers as a gift when he left his office. I have always been fascinated by paddlewheel steamboats. When we were discussing this commission, we wanted to show historic Sanford and something to do with the lakefront. I suggested the idea of steamboats and off to the historic center we went to research the steamboats that used to come into Sanford in the late 1800's. This scene was only a few blocks away from where my current gallery is on Lake Monroe. Horses with carriages were used to take passengers and cargo off the boats. Sanford was also know as the Celery Capital at this time and the workers on the left are show "boarding" the celery, to keep it tender for market. Wouldn't it be fun to go back in time and ride a Steamboat down the St. John's River?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vermont Covered Bridge

I watched the news last week about the flooding in Vermont. They showed a covered bridge being swept away in the floods. On a trip to Vermont about six years ago I photographed a few covered bridges that were near my brothers home. Searching for subject matter; the news reminded me of my trip to Vermont and I pulled some images from my archives to work from. I exaggerated the fall colors a little bit to make the background hills appear to be more lively. I kept the sky simple with a dark to light coloration so it would not compete with the old covered bridge. The three trees on the left were used to pull you down from the sky to the foreground. The road leads you right into the center of interest; the covered bridge, where I put the most visual contrast, darks next to lights. Wouldn't you enjoy a trip to Vermont?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Old Boat at JB's

I found this old boat pulled up on the shore at JB's Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, FL. It's hard for me to resist painting an old boat. This one was no exception. There were larger and more modern boats with a large dock in place of the old dock I painted. I decided to leave them out. The sky was brushed in quickly, and left alone so that it did not compete with the rest of the painting. I placed dark colors next to the white of the boat and light colors next to the dark bottom of the boat. This helps to make the boat stand out. I used splatter techniques on the foreground sand to get the granular effect. The last value I painted was the shadow in the bottom right on the sand. I needed some color there to keep your eye in the composition and not following the foreground out of the painting. Are you ready for a boat ride?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The cloud formations are a wonderful subject to pint. I wished I lived in a house with a magnificent view of the landscape without the obstruction of other buildings, Well I don't so, I have to drive a few miles to find open areas of land where I can observe the cloud formations. Recently, I went to one of the last little cattle farms around, about three miles from my home. There is a nice place pull off the road and enjoy looking at the pasture. I love the live oak trees in Florida that reach to the ground and then gradually turn upwards again and support the massive tree vegetation. These trees provide ideal shade for a ranchers cattle. My goal for this painting was to paint the sky and the clouds. Don't you think the old oak tree and the cattle added an interesting statement my sky painting?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunset at Treasure Island

Treasure Island is a nice little town on the Gulf of Mexico near St. Petersburg. My wife and I celebrated our thirtieth anniversary there last May. It has a nice wide beach area and a few palms scattered around. I was fortunate to get a few photographs as the sun was setting behind these palm trees. I came back to the studio a few weeks later and did this painting of the sun setting. I liked the way the sun changes the colors of the silhouetted palms tree trunks. They get warmer and lighter as they near area where the sun is brightest. Don't you wish you were here?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Marked for Demolition

I drove past this bright green colored house while I was looking for subjects to paint for the Winter Park Paint Out. I noticed this large tree in front of the old green house, then I passed it by. I thought about it as I drove around the block and then came back the second time. Then I noticed the "Marked For Demolition" sign posted on the door. Sometimes the odd subjects stand out and make for an interesting painting, such as this lime colored green house. I couldn't resist painting the houses with the large overgrown trees in front. I knew that this house was probably going to be demolished in the near future so I decided to get out my easel and paint a memory. I enjoyed the way the large overgrown trees partially hid the buildings and how they cast shadows upon the house, sidewalk and the street. I framed the painting that night and it was sold during the Winter Park Paint Out event.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Venetian Canal

This painting shows the bridge over the Venetian Canal in Winter Park, FL. I would love to sit in a boat and attempt to paint this view but I am afraid I might get run over by other boats. If a boat comes from the other direction, one of the boats has to back up out of the canal because the canal isn't wide enough to pass. I enjoyed painting the reflections in the canal of the sky and the green landscape along with the bridge. I was able to splash in different colors and allow them to merge before the watercolor paints dried. I especially liked the overhanging Spanish Moss. Doesn't that give you a feeling you are in the South?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Egret & Chicks

One of the most interesting places to paint in Winter Park is Kraft Azalea Gardens. I spent a couple of days painting there during the Winter Park Paint out last week. I was amazed at the number of egret nests that occupied a few select trees in the park. Some of the nests were just twenty feet from the ground. I set up my easel and began painting on the first day. It took three days of painting to finish this project. I kept my camera nearby so I could view the subject up close at the same time I was painting. Some chicks had fallen or were pushed out of their nests too early and were stumbling around the park, trying to find strength to last another day. Others fledglings were were more mature and anxiously awaited the food their parents would bring to them. It was a noisy place to paint. The birds were squawking continuously. Maybe that's why I had to go back three times to finish the painting. That week my painting found a new nest too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blue Ridge Mountains

I always enjoy painting cloud formations in the sky, so why not enjoy painting clouds in the mountains. This painting was a result of a photo one of my students wanted to paint. She spends the summer in the northern mountains of Georgia. I wanted to show the distant mountains as cool shapes descending into the distance, gradually getting darker and warmer as they became closer to the viewer. The clouds laid in the valleys between the mountains. I softened the top edge and the bottom edge of the white cloud shapes so that the clouds blended into the mountains. If the mountain was in front of the clouds then I would paint a hard shaped tree top to stand out in front of the cloud. Don’t you like the z-composition of the clouds that brings your eye down through the mountains?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Two Blue Canoes

A week of painting the Wekiwa State Park and the Wekiva River is always a treat for a plein air artist. I was able to wake up in the morning and walk out the cabin door to see Lake Prevatt. The water level of the lake was much lower this year than last year. However this meant a feeding frenzy for the birds that gathered in the small pools looking for bits of food to eat. Nearly a hundred wood storks, egrets and other birds gathered to participate in the mornings and continued throughout the day. Quite a few deer and turkeys also walked into the open area to get to the water.
The springs were always crystal clear and made painting along the springs a cool comfortable place to set up my easel. Downstream, I found a few wonderful places to paint to paint also. I have quite a collection of paintings from the state park and the river that I created during the last two years. I'd be happy to put together a show some day. Maybe in June at Gallery On First, let me know if you would like to attend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bee Nice

I like producing a painting of a flower that is two or three times larger than it is in real life. This is a white flower and I wanted to simply show how the petals overlapped by creating the cast shadow. Then there is the form shadows that help to make the petals appear three-dimensional by creating a variegated wash of color. The contrast created by the white of the petals really makes the flower stand out from the dark background. The bee was the important part of the painting, which only took a couple of minutes to paint. If you recognize this flower, let me know what it is. I am not sure if it is a rose or a camellia.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vegetable Salad

On Saturday mornings in Sanford there is a farmers market one block away from Gallery On First. I like to walk through the market to see what there is each week before I go to the gallery to paint. This week I picked up some vegetables with the idea that I would do a still life painting of them. I put the vegetables in a basket and then looked for an angle where the composition was pleasing. It was easy to get complementary colors next to each other, reds next to green and yellow next to violet. My value study helped determine how dark or light to go with the different shapes next to the complimentary color. In Sanford we also have lots of antiques stores. Someday I hope to make a still life out of different antiques I have picked up in town.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trees Along The Wekiva

Next month is the annual Wekiva Paint Out and I felt an urge to get a head start on painting for this event. I was working from a photograph I took last year; while taking a boat ride down the Wekiva River in Florida. I wanted to do this painting because it had some really bright areas of sunlight and reflections. I usually put blue in my skies, but this time I resisted the urge. The light of the sky was really bright and I wanted to silouette the trees in front of the sun. I put the painting in a frame and took it to Images Art Festival the next weekend. It quickly sold at that show. This painting now hangs in the Dean's office of the College of Arts & Humanities at one of our nearby colleges. Another college professor was traveling with the Dean and she bought a small painting also. Now I have a painting in Moscow. How about that?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wildflowers & Palms

When I first moved back to Florida thirty years ago I didn't paint palm trees. I had hardly ever seen a palm tree before. So it took a while for me to get enough courage to paint the palm trees. Now I seem to paint one in every landscape painting. This painting was done as a demonstration in my workshop last month. I was showing how to paint palms, wildflowers and a simple sky with clouds. I kept the composition simple, knowing that if a put in very many palm trees it would take too long to complete the painting. We did a lot of masking on this painting. I masked out the lighter valued palm fronds and the wildflowers in the field. Then I went back in and painted them in light colors after the dark wash had dried and I removed the mask. The sky takes up a very large space in this painting and I was able to paint the sky in about five minutes. This allowed me to spend the rest of the time working on the palms and wildflowers in the field. These wildflowers grow along the St. John's river and only flower for one to two weeks in October.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brick House in Winter Park

I was requested to do a painting of this house as a birthday present for the man of the house by his wife. It is a beautiful house located in Winter Park, FL. I always like seeing a red brick house in Florida. There doesn't seem to be too many of them around. I did take quite a few photos of this house on different days at different times. I finally got my best reference photos in the early morning when the sun was shinning on the front of the house. The trees on the left cast lots of shadows and made it hard to see the house later in the morning. I tried to keep the roof and bricks simple and not show every shingle or each brick. The detail is in the white trim and the shadows cast by the trees. The only directive I received by the person asking me to do the painting was to be sure I included the landscaping. Wouldn't you like to live in this house?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Snow Shadows

I recently returned from a trip to Ohio. I traveled with some watercolors paints, brushes and a pad of paper. I couldn't leave before I attempted to paint the snow on location. This was the first time I ever painted plein air in the winter. I was told to use alcohol in the water to keep it from freezing but I had drank it all the night before. (Just kidding) I didn't have any. Thus, while I was painting, the water was freezing in the brushes and the mixtures on the pallet turned into slush. I got in the basic shapes of the background woods and hills, the main tree trunks and the shadows on the snow. Then I went inside to warm up. I painted all the smaller limbs on another day in the comfort of the living room. My main composition was to get the feeling of the shadows radiating out from the center of the painting. I did complete a few other smaller snow paintings later in the week, after the temperature soared above 32 degrees.