Wednesday, December 7, 2022

An Improvisational Approach

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic experience, I painted my wife shopping at the market.

The painting process was looser and more improvisational than usual. 

If you haven't seen it, you might enjoy watching the video on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

How Church Painted the Icebergs

In 1859,  American artist Frederic Church (1826-1900) commissioned a schooner to take him on a plein-air painting expedition to "Iceberg Alley," a dangerous region surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Church produced an impressive set of oil studies from observation to provide the raw material for his big studio painting of The Icebergs (later called "The North"), above. 

The big painting is now in the Dallas Museum of Art, but was lost for many years.

To commemorate that adventure, and to recognize the fragility of arctic landscapes, Frederic Church's estate Olana is hosting an exhibition called "Chasing Icebergs: Art and a Disappearing Landscape."

It's a small show, with Church's art occupying just one upstairs bedroom. Unfortunately the show doesn't include any of the paintings in this post, instead relying on notes and documentary information. But if you haven't toured the house of Olana, it's worth checking out.

Louis Noble, who accompanied Church on the expedition, noted that the artist had a bad case of sea sickness during most of the voyage, but he painted anyway, using a paintbox open on his lap. 

Noble said: “While I have been talking, the painter, who sits midship, with his thin, broad box upon his knees, making his easel of the open lid, has been dashing in the colors.”

Noble continues: “Again, the painter wipes his brushes, puts away his second picture, and tacks a fresh pasteboard within the cover of his box, and gives word to pull for the south-western side.”
Exhibition: Chasing Icebergs: Art and a Disappearing Landscape will be on view through March 26, 2023. Price of admission is $10.00.

Book: The quotes are from After Icebergs with a Painter by Louis Noble.

Book: The Voyage of the Icebergs: Frederic Church's Arctic Masterpiece by Eleanor Jones Harvey

Wikipedia: The Icebergs
Thanks, Ida Brier and Glenda Berman

Monday, December 5, 2022

Midwinter Greetings

Midwinter is fast approaching in Dinotopia. A light snowfall covers the boulevards in Sauropolis. Carolers sing from high up on their sauropod saddles.

This sketch is a little thank-you to all of you who follow and comment on this blog.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Sarah, a Potter

Sarah, a potter, painted while she was working. 

My goal in the first stages of the painting is to establish the big shapes with flat colors, as if it was a poster.


Saturday, December 3, 2022


Boatyard, plein-air study, gray markers and charcoal with white gouache.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Watching the Magic Show


Watching this guy trying to figure out the magic was better than the show itself.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Bukovac and his Scraps of Paper

"While he was teaching his girls at home, at the table, Vlaho Bukovac (Croatian, 1855-1922) used every piece of paper, newspaper and book to make sketches on. When the last piece of paper in sight had been used up, Bukovac would calmly continue, drawing on the napkins, tablecloth, everything that was white and could take the mark of a pencil. He most of all hated to have to interrupt his work, even to the extent of having to get up and look for a piece of paper."


Vlaho Bukovac on Wikipedia 

Quoted from the book Vlaho Bukovac: A Cosmopolitan Croatian

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Five Rules for Painting

If you keep these 5 things in mind, you'll paint faster and your paintings will be nicer to look at.

The BLAST Rule is one of many painting tips in my book Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist, which you can get signed with free shipping at my website store.

More on this previous post

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

How to Play Bucktail

To play bucktail, a Stegosaurus stands between two large mounds of straw. 
Each player in turn climbs on the tail and holds onto the spikes. 

The tail begins to wag back and forth until the player loses hold and tumbles safely into the straw.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Black Friar Pub

The Black Friar Pub in London.

I love the weird juxtaposition of elements. The wedge-shaped Art Nouveau landmark stands alone, surrounded by stark geometric forms from the postwar period.

I use two grades of graphite pencils, an HB and a 3B. I sharpened the soft pencil into a chisel tip, which helps with the treatment of the window details.