Sunday, September 14, 2014

Watercolor Landscape - Storm

"Storm Over Cajon"
watercolor on paper, 2014
9" x 13" (22.86cm x 33.02cm)
Direct link to painting here

Although I would describe myself as a fair weather person I love stormy weather. It always makes for a great painting subject.
A nice dramatic storm rising from the Cajon Pass, the long climb from San Bernardino to the high desert, is about to pounce on the Mojave Desert.291

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Watercolor Landscape - Old Tree

"Old Tree"
watercolor on paper, 2014
9" x 13" (22.86cm x 33.02cm)
Direct link to painting here

A simple watercolor of an old tree hemmed in by lush green healthy ones. They seemed to be huddling around it, as if in a protective manner. I simplified the dark mass of trees to better play-off the lines of the foreground.

I also liked the shapes of this landscape, the troughed out foreground and the odd irrigation pipe loop so I painted it. That's it.290

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Watercolor Landscape - Palm Grove

"Palm Grove"
watercolor on paper, 2014
9" x 13" (22.86cm x 33.02cm)
Direct link to painting here

This palm grove near home made for a simple subject but challenging compositional design. Its simple design motif of the palm tree shapes could too easily lead to a boring design of repetitive shapes.
The right cropping and ratio of positive to negative shapes is what makes it work. The only trees shown in their full outline are the yellow green ones which are not big within the overall composition.

I took a more graphic approach for this watercolor using value for atmospheric depth but ignoring the rule of warm foreground to cooler bluer colors (only) as the landscape recedes, except for the distant tree line of blue and purple.
I like to test various ways of depicting distance and here I put the coldest color, blue, in the foreground, a blue green in the near middle ground, changing to a yellow green in the far middle ground. The far background falling into the cooler range of purple and blue.
The alternating cool, warm, cool still does a good job of showing distance - cool foreground, warm middle ground, cool background.
The color saturation and intensity falls somewhere in the middle of the scale but is low chroma.
I like to do simplistic studies like these to work out ideas for the more involved paintings. That way I am not committing huge blocks of time only to find out it did not work.289

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day Workhorse

"PHL 72 Limelight"
oil on panel, 2013
5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.78cm)
Direct link to painting here

In the spirit of Labor Day I am offering this FRAMED painting of a laborer, a workhorse, on DAILY PAINTWORKS.
The Pacific Harbor Line Locomotive's toil away endlessly.
They make the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors function.
Without them the harbors would be one big massive clog, nothing would move in or out.

It is another from my latest locomotive series.

I'm not only using this series to experiment and put down paint in different ways but also looking to make each painting unique in some way, never losing sight of capturing the Southern California light I see everyday all year long.

This was one of those glory moments. I was down in the LA Harbor area and spotted this PHL locomotive towing its prize.

I chased it down, caught it just as it switched tracks, raced back around the corner to get a better position and was just in time to catch it backing up as it passed the lime colored fence. The low-angle afternoon light illuminated the lime green fence, literally and figuratively like a limelight, and since (shiny) black is so reflective... well, you can see.

To further enhance that moment and more importantly my impression of it, I painted the light of a thinly veiled marine layer into the painting for a beautiful atmospheric effect. Gentle, soft, low-slung bright light making long shadows.

I rarely paint a locomotive without having a point of view. No, no, no.
I always see first, the painting in all its totality, then one of a locomotive in its environment. It would be short-sited and do no justice to these mules of the harbor to do a mere depiction of it.

They are the true stars of the harbor. Not the huge bloated 'fat cat' cargo ships waiting to be unloaded, not the pretty white cruise ships with all their 'lace and doilies'.
So their moment in the limelight is well deserved.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Road w/ Pipeline

"Road w/ Pipeline"
oil on panel, 2014
6" x 9" (15.24cm x 22.86cm)
Direct link to painting here

Here's a landscape not far from home. It's an unstable area under constant land movement as it slowly slides into the Pacific Ocean. Because of this the pipeline must be above ground and the road requires year round maintenance. After a rain the road can get cracks and vertical drops of several inches overnight.

To make for a better midday painting and give the hillside a dark richness and I dropped in a soft shadow from passing overhead clouds. That also made for a better separation of foreground and background.288

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Discounted Artworks

I recently added a new category 'Discounted Artworks' to my Daily Paintworks gallery page as I prepare to post new art.
Right now a couple categories are empty since art was moved into the discounted one but I am working to refresh those with new art.
Have a look, you might find something there that is crying out to hang on your wall.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer Fog

"17th St. Fog"
oil on panel, 2014
7.25" x 9.25" (18.415cm x 23.495cm)

Here is my painting that will be featured at 
Segil Fine Art Gallery in Monrovia California for the "Home, Sweet Home" Show 
(Note: As of this posting the show dates listed here on my blog are correct and have not been updated on their website). 

Opening reception is Saturday, July 26th, from 5:00 - 7:00 pm.
The show opens to the public on Saturday, July 19th.

This is a gothic farmhouse style home in my neighborhood and I have had my eye on it for a while now. This show's theme was the perfect excuse to finally get around to painting it.
But rather than do a straightforward blue sky painting I decided to add the incoming coastal fog. This is a common sight along the coast in the summer and looks like this on those bright sunny days when the marine layer is stirring about.

It rolls in, partially burning off, lingers around and does a good job of suppressing the blazing summer heat, especially when there is no real breeze to help keep it cool.287

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cuts Like a Knife

"Burnscape 10"
oil on panel, 2014
6" x 8" (15.24cm x 20.32cm)
Direct link to painting here

This a recent painting from my Burnscape series which has been dormant for a while.

Burnscape Series - Living in Southern California and seeing so many wildfires it would be easy to focus on the destruction. My attraction for the burned landscape isn't for its destruction... but instead how it modifies the landscape, turning it into a charcoal terrain... it is rebirth, the way Mother Nature intended.
It is how She manages her jurisdiction, by controlling dense undergrowth. We usually get in the way.
Man has traditionally prevented fires, the growth becoming so thick that when fire does occur it is devastating. Another topic on the Man vs Nature theme.

This one is similar to my "Burnscape #4 (Charred Pine Stand)".
Trees are meant to survive natural wildfires where the brush is low to the ground, the fire sweeping through too quickly, and frequently enough, to wipe them out. These pines were burned too much to survive.
Here I included the dirt road which stands in stark contrast to the blackened soil and slices through the landscape like a knife.286

Click the Series-Burnscape label to see them all.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


In my last post I talked about the clouds and sky and how I design them for the overall composition.

My skies often have drama but I always keep in mind that they are backgrounds so I don't allow them to outshine what is more important, usually the main subject or theme and I never paint them as an afterthought.
I could make them the primary subject of course, then everything else would step up in support of it.

So even with drama it is always an understated drama, at times just enough to provide texture and participation but not so much it overshadows the rest, even when stormy.
They are a supporting character in the whole of the painting.

Click title under each painting to see original post.

"Union Pacific 4259"

"Catalina Pacific Concrete (Storm)"


Being a supporting character can also mean using the sky to describe the sentiment behind the subject of the painting as I did below by painting the sky with a certain amount of upheaval.

"303 S. Pacific #1"


Or by using the sky in a more subtle manner to further an attitude about the subject where I used the sky (part of a design element) as a harbinger of retirement.

"Harbor Line #50 Crossing"


Or painted in a more dramatic manner as the phantom cloud below. Although it occupies very little of the composition its swooping posture and action plays well to the backlit tangle of pipes and busy energetic composition.

"Oil plant #5 (Phantom Cloud)"


Or used as drama to celebrate.

"Truck at Rest"


Sometimes they loom over the subject in an almost menacing way to different degrees.

"HB Power Plant - Dusk"

"Santa Ana River #3 Footbridge"


Or they may be menacingly fun

"Smilin' Jack"


Directly pound the subject into submission.

"Dark Rain"

"BNSF (Cajon Puddle)"


Other times they linger in the background slowly settling over the subject.

"Oil Plant Backside (w/ Storage Tanks)"

"Oil Plant #3"


I may use them to burn, beat down or choke out the subject.

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 8"

"Warehouse Rooftop (w/ Palm)"

"Villa Riviera Wrapped for Restoration"

"Study 'Villa Riviera Wrapped for Restoration' "


Or are left nearly white to make a point about the eventual disappearance of the subject.

"Catalina Pacific Concrete (Demolition 1)"


Sometimes my skies contain contrails, as a design element variation, allowing me to carve up the sky instead of relying on the usual clouds.

"Gorman Spring"

"Oil plant #7"

"Sunkist Packing Plant (w/ Contrail)"

"Whitepoint Battery Bunker"


And yes, sometimes I will even use higher chroma or saturated colors in my skies when I need to. You know, happy skies.

"BNSF Mojave"

"Pacific Harbor Line - Weeds"

"Power Pole #5 (2 Buttons)"

"LA River #3"

"Rails, Bridge, Refinery"

Lately my skies have gotten lighter as I explore its subtleties and what I can say with them.

Sometimes choosing an overcast or severely understated sky is the answer, instead of a cloudy or clear blue sky.
It gives the painting a different feel whether it is one of a thick smoldering atmosphere or a cool crisp breath of air.

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 3"

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 13"

My skies are never accidental. I always consider how they will play against the whole of the painting and the idea it represents. It is how I arrive at so many variations. I am not painting a sky or clouds just to suit  some design purpose. I am not mindlessly dumping in blue as a background.
I am instead putting down an idea, a thought, a concept, my observations, something about life and using the sky as part of that language.

The sky's the limit (sorry, I had to).

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Series - Locomotive - UP 2464 Fire Hydrant

"UP 2464 Fire Hydrant"
oil on panel, 2013
5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.78)
Direct link to painting here

Number nine in my New Locomotive Series.

For this series, at least early on, my aim is to feature the locomotive in its entirety, in profile and in its environment.
The challenge with that is its horizontal format. That means I have to find ways to counter the side to side emphasis by using verticals and diagonals.
The hydrant was used as a compositional device. It helps break up the foreground horizontal sweep of the otherwise simple vacate street. This is part of my experimenting with the series.

Lighting is another element I am experimenting with. Here I backlit the subject as I did in "UP 4343". The difference in this one as opposed to UP 4343 is the locomotive is under a subtle undefined shadow consistent with the windy, cloudy spring day and not receiving a direct hit of sunlight.
So while UP 4343 has a diagonal streak of sunlight to break up the simplified foreground this one has a strong vertical to accomplish the same.
The same can be said of the clouds in each. It is not by accident but by design. In UP 4343 I designed the light streaking through the atmosphere to echo the foreground diagonal. Here I dragged nearly vertical streaks to break up the horizontal band of clouds and make a better composition.

I have some others in progress for this series that are different formats and views and will begin posting those in the near future.285

Click the 'SERIES-locomotive' label to see all.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 15

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 15"
watercolor on paper, 2014
5¾"  x 7¾" (14.605cm x 19.685cm)
For sale at Daily PaintworksCLICK HERE

Studying more of the shapes within the overall mass as I have done in study 13, study 12, study 11 and study 2. Of course I could say that is true on all of them since you really can't ignore shape but these four I was focusing more intently on the debris atop the main structure.

This one, 13 and 2  I was also really looking into the shadows. There are so many great jagged puzzle pieces within the shadows that even with a predominantly horizontal composition and rectangular form, and I am referring to the upright structural nature of the architecture in its blocky squareness, it is secondary to the dynamic and lively action of its torn and shattered appearance.

There is some anguish in the shredded metal of the tank as it reaches up and back upon itself. Sort of like a fist cursing its demise.

The more I do of these, the more I see.284

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 14"
watercolor on paper, 2014
5¾"  x 7¾" (14.605cm x 19.685cm)
For sale at Daily Paintworks, CLICK HERE

Taking my cue from Study 13 I kept the sky nearly white except that here I used coastal fog just beginning to envelope the ruins, but while they are still in sunlight.

Because the primary shape and composition is essentially a rectangle within a rectangle I needed to add some element to make it interesting. Although the cast shadows do some of that work, the atmospheric condition adds more and also increases the depth.283

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 13

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 13"
watercolor on paper, 2014
5¾"  x 7¾" (14.605cm x 19.685cm)
For sale at Daily Paintworks, CLICK HERE

This is one of my favorites so far. I love the energetic shapes in this one, especially the shadows
It is Study #2 from a different view.

I painted the sky in the most subtle pale washes I could. Just enough to give it some substance, a breath of tone that a solid blue, darker or gradated tone would not accomplish. The hard metal and concrete against it gives the painting a cool toned stark quality that doesn't quite translate in this photo, the original is far better.282

Friday, April 25, 2014

Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 12

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 12"
watercolor on paper, 2014
7¾"  x 5¾" (14.605cm x 19.685cm)
For sale at Daily Paintworks, CLICK HERE

This, like the previous study focuses more on the rubble but also I pushed the color, exaggerating the warms and cools.

The chunks of concrete and broken edges of concrete walls, (and the ambiguous shaped torn metal tanks in the background), are painted in that pale blue while the weathered surfaces are warm gray-greens, yellow ochres and rusty sienna's.
This is akin to painting a tree for example that has been split open, revealing its clean color on the inside against the weathered surface of its bark.281

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 11

"Catalina Pacific Concrete - Ruins Study 11"
watercolor on paper, 2014
5¾"  x 7¾" (14.605cm x 19.685cm)
For sale at Daily Paintworks, CLICK HERE

This study is more of a detail than previous ones. I am figuring out the shapes within the rubble.
The even light of being in shadow makes it a challenge since I don't have the advantage of light and cast shadow to aid in revealing form. This forces me to not just see the shapes but really design them and edit a lot. It takes a clearer understanding of what is going on to make it work. I know because I have done several of these that did not pan out.280

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Some Thoughts on the CPC Ruins Series (so far)

I'm working on some other projects right now so I'm reluctantly pausing on these studies.
Here are some of my thoughts and observations after the first ten. I have done more but some did not work out.

Even a simple idea or motif can have endless possibilities and I am not short of those in this series.

It does not matter what the subject is VISUALLY, these could just as well be landscape rock formations, still life's or ancient ruins, which I am basing them on. I chose the ruins of the industrial landscape.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Study 7

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Study 4

For the artist the same concerns apply the moment you sit down and begin working. You are faced with all the design issues of value, shape, composition, color etc.

But really all those are merely tools put to work to make the picture and present some idea or record some observation. You have to mold them into your vision.

The hard part is figuring out HOW to say it. And the combinations are limitless.
That is one reason for the studies. Another is to get familiar with the subject.

Some of these studies have a monumental scale to them as in 3 (below), 4 and 7 (above), while others rest within the picture frame peacefully like 6 and 8 (below).

Study 3

Study 6
Study 8

Study 9 (below) is close to that monumental scale but is pulled back ever so slightly. It makes a subtle difference. This is middle distance cropped close. It is a little less commanding.

The relationship of distance and cropping is very much like any relationship of the art elements, they can be separated but are really tied together.
Crop in close on an object, from a near, middle and far distance and you get 3 different results  relating to perspective and our perception.

Study 9

In Study 9,  in addition to the practical reasons I noted in the post, I wanted to downplay its overall block shape. To do this I needed to put the focus on some other feature in order to modify its shape.
I de-emphasized the blockish straight sides by making the value close to that of the sky, losing its edges, then concentrated on the busted up concrete in shadow, climbing from the corner to its scooped out top.

Simply by adjusting values up or down you can overcome predominant shapes to suit your end goal.

Study 2 could have that monumental sense too but is tamed somewhat through values and edges. And even though it is cropped tight like Study 3 its angles are less severe. It makes a difference.

Study 2

No one factor or element really does it on its own. It is the interplay of the various combinations.

See my Daily Paintworks page for available works from this series.