Thursday, March 20, 2014


I found these three colourful "fish camps" in Grand Isle, Louisiana...about as far  as you can go south of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico coast; indigenous architecture. A quiet, peaceful respite from the Big Easy.

100% plein air...might tidy it up a bit, now that I'm away from biting flying beach bugs.

 We had hardly been there 5 minutes before I met the local cops...yes, I know I was speeding...38 in a 25 mph zone...hard to keep track of the sudden and unpredictable sign changes...but it is a good way for me to meet some locals and (them to ascertain that my daughter and I were not new criminals in town) ticket...just a friendly welcome to Grand Isle, after running some checks on us and our gray rental car whose registration said it was red. They got us turned around in the correct direction to our hotel, which the GPS was heading us away from when they pulled us over.

We decided this outpost (and site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil well explosion and gigantic spill) was full of friendly folks. We did some nature trails, birdwatching and ran on back to New Orleans where we saw many wonderful things one could paint if one were not enjoying the gumbo, music, cocktails, singing, art, trombone playing, seafood, walking and handsome guitar players so very much. That easy southern life-style is catching. It sure was great to warm up for a week!

My 44th the bag!

Monday, September 16, 2013


Lake Huron tried to thwart my progress, but I did not end up at the bottom of it like so many before me (mostly plein air painters, that I know of). I kept my feet firmly planted on the shoreline and my eyes on the soggy wet skies in hopes of seeing a patch of blue. I saw all manner of threatening grey/black clouds. I saw rain driven sideways. I saw lawn furniture becoming airborne...and finally I saw a peep of blue. After a long morning of looking, driving, drinking coffee and trying to be patient, I knew just where there was a large beach pavilion with stone piers perfect for lashing my easel to. Yes, bungi cords of several lengths are a crucial part of my plein air gear. I chose the smallest board I had (8x10) because in those winds I did not want to be hoisting large sail.

Much to my surprise, as well as that of the three other people crazy enough to be on the beach that afternoon I was able to make an energetic little pastel painting. This is what I love about plein air painting; challenges met and spontaneous paintings-of-the-moment! Did I say it was barely 50 degrees and that it continued to rain sporadically, but thoroughly, all day? Oh yes, there was the 1200 miles driven, too. It was a great trip...this kind of exciting stuff rarely happens to me at home.

Flexibility is an important tool to pack in the plein air kit. Patience would come in handy, too, but I'm always losing the darn's so small.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Jefferson County is where I finally found the cattle I'd been looking for. Really hot, they'd been fed and now they were headed for the watering hole. I'd never seen cows wading up to their eyes before, but, as I've said the temps were broiling hot and I was wishing for water up to my eyes, too. I had a great hour and a half working on this painting - I was in the shade. Different beefers would come up to the fence to investigate me. Satisfied that I was not bringing food or harm they would watch with those great brown eyes and then, bored, go off for more swimming, eating and mooing. I was thoroughly entertained by them. So, don't tell me there is nothing in Kansas. I am easily entertained by stock, clouds and huge open expanses.

This is the last of the Seven HOT Mid West States Trip. Not everyone thinks driving around the mid west is fun, but I do. Only eight states to go. I think I'll get on I 90  west soon for a couple days and paint something in Michigan, but I'm saving Louisiana for cooler weather. After those it's all West Coast, Nevada, Utah and Alaska. With any luck that will be in 2014.

All paintings unless marked sold are available for purchase by contacting me. 

Monday, July 29, 2013


Vinita, Oklahoma gave me the biggest challenge yet. The main street is a wide boulevard typical of Western cities. Early Saturday morning it was just me setting up my easel by the curb and the guy hosing down my main subject...this sparkling brick 5 story monolith. It wasn't long until trucks were rumbling past regularly. Their trailers carried hay, grain, poultry, cattle, hogs, goats, horses and equipment.   I was aware of the smells and sounds as they breezed by and now I know that goats do not go quietly like the other cargo. Two hours of that and It was becoming hard to concentrate so I pulled up stakes and hit the road myself, less than delighted with my choice of subject and it's execution. I knew I had most of a painting and it could be tinkered with back in the quiet of studio. The paper held the essence of morning light, at least. That is why we love plein air's authenticity and freshness.

Vinita is a rodeo town on the professional circuit; once a year there is a four day event at the rodeo grounds right across the street from my hotel, but not the weekend I was there. Too bad. I'd like to paint a cowboy portrait. I suppose some of the ropers and riders leave Vinita feeling a little defeated, too. At least I wasn't sore and broken.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Searching for far too long for a compelling scene I finally settled on this one somewhere south of Nauvoo along the Mississippi River. Man, was it getting hot! This place had shade, not like the drifts of wildflowers right along the broiling river bank that are still calling to me. Next time. 

Three cedars 9 x 12 pastel on paper

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Windmills! I did not realize how loud these big ones can be...but who's to hear? While I was painting this picture a handsome farmer with two little boys stopped his truck so as "not to spray me with dust" (as the previous 20 vehicles had all ready done).  I guess those white gravel roads are limestone? All vehicles, even the ones going less than 50mph leave huge white plumes blowing behind them which you can see for miles. He also invited me to drive up a dirt track on his land, to get closer to the windmills, which I did, later after packing up my painting. They are truly huge. I fear I did not successfully convey their size in my small painting. The small water pumping windmill offers some scale...but all in all proportion and scale were a problem in this painting. Challenges are what this project is all about. I like that the windmills are grey and do blend in with the sky at times in a surprising way.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I arrived in Falls City on a sleepy,  steamy Sunday afternoon.  I ate some ice cream and drove around the streets looking for something to make a picture of. A hundred or so years ago this little house was someone's prairie dream home. I loved the light and the two peaked gables...and even the satellite dish.

Between 1979 and 2000 I did 630 commissioned house portraits. Now I rarely choose to do a house (never on commission) but when I do, I still wonder and imagine the lives of the people who have lived in those houses, planted those lilacs and apple trees, raised their kids and come home after work.

I pack pre-cut sheets of sanded pastel papers when I travel by airplane. I am limited to a 9 x 12 format, which is really stretching my comfort zone. I usually work 11 x 14,  or larger,  in the field. My 9 x 12 Guerilla Box is self-contained and is carried on the plane as I do not like to have my finished pastels out of sight. I guess most of us travelers have arrived without our checked luggage. Clean clothes I can do without...not my art supplies. I put the tripod necessary to support the Guerilla Box in my checked bag, knowing that I can use the rental car trunk lid or picnic table if that goes missing. I pack a lightweight linen cover up smock and then by removing that, dusting off and scrubbing my hands I am ready for an art museum (not a white tablecloth restaurant).