Sea and Sky...


Sea and Sky Flats 12x16sm


I’ve been absent from the blog for a while. Sorry about that. I’ve taken a break from regular posting so I could work on the paintings for a solo show that opens next month at Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, ME. The show has a little bit of everything, some plein air paintings, figure paintings, a few still lifes. Island views have been a favorite subject while painting on site this spring. It’s been interesting painting these wide open landscapes through changes in weather and light.


Sea and Sky dock 12x16sm


Each of these paintings is 12×16″ oils on canvas. I wanted to keep them pretty small so they could be gestural color studies. I was looking for the big, simple color shapes that describe the day. In some ways these are simple paintings in terms of subject, but the color harmonies keep me engaged with them.


Sea and Sky Rackliff 12x16sm


My show at Dowling Walsh opens July 1st, and will be hanging for most of the month. Please stop by and visit if you’re in midcoast Maine this summer.


Fourth of July 16x20sm


I’m teaching two workshops this year. Both will be focused on plein air painting, weather permitting. The first class is in Maryland at Chesapeake Fine Art Studio from April 1-4. This is a great location with an incredible studio space, and some good plein air locations near by. If you’re interested in this class you can follow up with the organizer’s website, or call  410 200 8019.

The second class I’m teaching this year is in Rockland, ME at Coastal Maine Art workshops September 19-23. This class already has a lot of interest, so if you want to sign up, contact the organizer soon. Her email is




I’ve been working on some big paintings in the studio this winter, including a few pictures of my daughters. With the big ones I tend to do a bit more planning and developing the painting over a longer period of time. I thought it would be fun to show the first few days of work on this one, up to it’s current state. I’m still monkeying with it, and will most likely continue messing with it for the next few months.

I don’t usually start paintings with a grid, but some kind of geometry helps me expand a smaller sketch onto the bigger canvas. I’ve also been using the grid to play around with where to place key elements.



This scene is from a visit to my in laws house where the girls were playing around a little garden pond. The pond is pretty small, but I made it look a little bigger so the bottom half of the composition could be a bout the water garden, and reflection, while the top half is a bit more grounded. Whether working in the studio or on location I always start with some kind of quick drawing in paint. It helps me orient the major shapes before I start adding color.



Right from the beginning of the painting process I’m looking for subtle shifts in color as I mass in the big shapes. In this scene there are a lot of greens, so I was looking for the wide variety in the bushes and grasses, and down to the greens of the lilies in the water. There will be time to get a little more detail in later, but at first I just want to get the big color relationships figured out.




This is an early stage when I had roughed in my first pass at the colors. I’m trying to see how the color temperatures relate to each other, and how the overall scene is coming together. This is the easiest time to make any big fixes if I see things out of place.




After adding a few more elements, like the tall grasses, I wanted to take a break and see how things looked from a distance. One way to check on the overall impact of a painting is to look at the value structure. Before I start a painting I think about how the big shapes of dark and light will interact. Sometimes I take a photo with my phone and edit it to black and white so I can make value comparisons. I noticed a little more contrast than I wanted in the water, and I thought I could push the darks a bit deeper in the trees along the top of the canvas.




The color is getting a little richer here. I’m trying to keep an eye on the big picture as I add lots of small subtle shifts in hue. It’s tricky to keep working on a painting for so long while trying to keep a natural gesture in it. One of my teachers used to talk about making sure a painting breathes. Sometimes I think I might know what that means, and I hope it happens in my best paintings. I still feel like I have plenty of work to do on this one. I’ll post more when I’ve made more progress.


Harbor Islands 12x16sm


So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog. I’ve been working in the studio on some new work, so I haven’t had much to post here. For my new paintings I’ve been playing around with different ideas, including some figurative stuff. As a result I haven’t had as much to post here. I’m not promising to get back to posting twice a week anytime soon, but I’ll try to get a few images up here on the blog once in a while.

Winter is always a time when I can play around a bit more in the studio and experiment. This year I’m also preparing for a solo show at Dowling Walsh Gallery in July, which is extra motivation to develop these new paintings. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing with this new work, so I won’t be sharing those images yet, but I might post some of the sketches sometimes. It can be surprisingly hard to do this studio work every day instead of going out to do plein air work. When I paint outside, I have a lot of things I think about trying to improve, but working on this new show is different. I’m doing a lot of self examination to consider what I really want my painting to be about. I’m not doing anything too wildly different, but I am spending time trying out some paintings I’ve wanted to do for a while. Mostly I’ve been wanting to do a bit more figurative work with my family, an play with some of the formal aspects of my painting, but I’ll write more about that when I’m ready to share the paintings.

The painting above is from a day this past summer when I was painting in Spruce Head. I really enjoyed painting some of these simple landscapes of islands off the coast this summer. They are simple subjects, and leave me room to work on creating color harmonies and a sense of space. The painting here is 12×16.”


2016 Workshops...


crab feast 30x40sm

I’ve decided to cut back on my teaching schedule next year so I can focus more on my own painting. I’ll be teaching just two workshops in 2016, both focusing on plein air painting. In the past these classes have filled up quickly with a long waiting list, so if you’re interested in one of these workshops you may want to follow up soon. The first class is in Maryland through Chesapeake Fine Art Studio. The studio here is perfect for teaching a big class, and it’s a beautiful space where we have a lot of fun.

  • April 1-4
  • Chesapeake Fine Art Studio
  • Eastern Shore of Maryland
  • $750
  • phone # 410 200 8019

The second class is at Coastal Maine Art Workshops, in Rockland, Maine. This one is near my home town, where I enjoy taking classes to some of my favorite local spots.

Contact the organizer directly if you are interested in either of these classes. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about a class, but registrations will happen directly with the organizer.

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