My 31 Daily Painting Challenge!

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My 31 Daily Painting Challenge!

January 1st I joined a 31 daily painting challenge hosted by Strada Easel.  I wanted to jumpstart my painting and had heard of this challenge last year.  The rules are paint from life (no photos) everyday.  It was an extremely challenging process to figure out a subject to paint.  Some paintings were started and abandoned due to time or work, which meant if it was plein air, I had to start all over again that evening.  During this challenge I learned that I really should embrace still life subjects more as they are a great way to study light, composition and values when I can't be outside painting plein air.  Most of the paintings were done in an hour and half to two hour range.  After getting home from work, cooking and getting the kids to bed it usually was 10pm.  Some of the paintings I wouldn't considered finished paintings but astute life studies.  Not all of them are successful, but the constant painting everyday has greatly improved my confidence and helped me rely more on intuition an instinct.  If you have not considered this challenge, I would highly recommend you should if you are looking to improve upon your painting skills.  Below are the paintings in chronological order.  For those that followed me on Facebook and Instagram, thank you for your daily support and encouragement!  Thanks to Bryan Mark Taylor for hosting this challenge, I really enjoyed the process and challenge of daily painting.  

 

 

Day 1

Day 1

Day 2

Day 2

Day 3

Day 3

Day 4

Day 4

Day 5

Day 5

Day 6

Day 6

Day 7

Day 7

Day 8

Day 8

Day 9

Day 9

Day 10

Day 10

Day 11

Day 11

Day 12

Day 12

Day 13

Day 13

Day 14

Day 14

Day 15

Day 15

Day 16

Day 16

Day 17

Day 17

Day 18

Day 18

Day 19

Day 19

Day 20

Day 20

Day 21

Day 21

Day 22

Day 22

Day 23

Day 23

Day 24

Day 24

Day 25

Day 25

Day 26

Day 26

Day 27

Day 27

Day 28

Day 28

Day 29

Day 29

Day 30

Day 30

Day 31

Day 31

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My latestest painting working with a limited palette, "Beach Trotting" 18x24 oil on canvas.

I’ve really been enjoying using just the prime colors of Blue Ultramarine, Alizarine Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Light and Permalba White. In using this, I find that I have don’t have to rely on using a mother color or mud to help harmonize the colors used in the painting. However, the real challenge is to get reds to really pop as I would get using a Cadmium Red. I’ve also noticed when needing a dap of yellow when mixing darker tones, if I use too much yellow, the results are muddy and I have to start over. It also means I rely heavily on white throughout all my lighter tones of color. Either way, I am having a lot of fun painting with this limited color scheme. It will be interesting how my nocturne paintings comes out using this as well. Stay tuned!

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My Online Storefront is stocked fresh with new paintings!

I'm excited to announce that I have updated my store front and have new work up available for sale!  To celebrate the kick off, I am discounting all available work 20% thru the end of August.  Be sure to join the mailing list at the bottom of the site for exclusive notification of new works too!

Discount Promo Code: MI84QXP2016-20
Good thru August 31st, 2016

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Finding inspiration when in search of outdoor painting subject

I don't know about you, but I really get stoked on the freedom to go out and drive looking for a spot to paint.  The excitement of discovery and seeing something in the moment.  I don't know how else to describe it except that it fits the surfer in me looking for waves to ride.  Something is out there, I just need to wait a let it come to me naturally.  Both of these paintings are typical of being open to my surroundings and when the time is right, I set up and get painting.  Painting smaller and being more mobile allows for instantaneous decisions like trying to paint a setting sun over the harbor.  Forcing a spot to work for you and your painting usually makes for a bad painting and it turns painting into a chore.  It should be a passion.  Driven and determined to lock down with paint on canvas the visual emotions laid out before us.  I'm not interested in capturing exactly what I see, but rather how I feel about the moment and the surroundings I find myself in.

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ROCK ISLAND PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP!

I am pleased to announce I will be teaching a two day plein air workshop on Rock Island, Wisconsin.  July 6th & 7th

"Join us as we learn the basics in painting outdoors using oils with Doug Clarke.  In a two day workshop, Doug shares his knowledge on how to observe the outdoors and give feeling and life to complete your paintings.  Set within the rustic landscape of Rock Island State Park off the tip of Washington Island, students will have the opportunity to capture unique lake views and historic structures.
Doug Clarke is an award winning Plein Air and Studio painter based out of Virginia Beach. He works in oils creating plein air and studio paintings. A painter of "en plein air", Doug is known for capturing the vanishing landscapes of Southeastern Virginia.
Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Virginia Commonwealth University, Doug's work has evolved from commercial to fine art. In pursuit of mastering his craft, Doug participates in local and national plein air events. 
Awards include 1st place at Plein Air 757, Williamsburg Plein Air and Plein Air Mount Lebanon competitions. Doug is a three time winner of the Historic Fort Monroe Plein Air Exhibition.  His works have found a home in local and international collections.  Doug is represented by Harbor Gallery, Ellen Moore Gallery and the Richard Stravitz Gallery."

Workshop Cost $175

Sign up:
Washington Island Art & Nature Center
(920) 847-2025 Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30-4:30 Sunday 11:30-4:30
(920) 847-2657 After Hours
wiartandnaturecenter@gmail.com

Materials list and syllabus available on artist site:
www.liquidmethod.com/workshop

 

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Getting my act together with goals and time management.

So it's been a week and I wanted to let you know what I've been up to this past few days.  With my new goal, I’ve been thinking about what direction to go with my painting.  So far here’s the list.

  1. Painting bigger studio works, smaller plein air and still life.
  2. Marketing and promoting better
  3. Exploring avenues in which to sell and reach more collectors

If you read my previous blog entry, I’m setting myself on the projected path to painting full time.  It’s something I feel I’m ready to take on.  With that said, it will take a lot of time management skills on my part.  So I started researching what are good resources to become better at managing my time.  For those that know me, if you had to describe a characteristic about me, I’m guessing you would say that I look tired.  It usually is followed with I drink lots of coffee.  It’s true I’m always tired, staying up late to paint is tough, but I recognize that I need to manage my time better so that I can squeeze in more time to sleep.  

This is where I have my lunchtime siesta.

This is where I have my lunchtime siesta.

One thing I have adopted early on is bringing my lunch to work so I can eat and sleep in my truck.  It helps that I park in a garage, so finding a dark spot to park in is easy.  I tune in to an iPhone app called Nosili that allows me to create custom nature sounds to provide a white noise to block out the car alarms, delivery trucks and other distractions one would hear in a parking garage.  I try to stick to a routine in the car by listening to NPR instead of being on my iPhone while I eat and then switch to Noisli and power nap for 20min.  Believe it or not, I can hit R.E.M. in this amount of time.  This leaves me refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.  I also have a second canister of coffee in the truck to drink when I wake up too.

My Nosili App

My Nosili App

As for managing my time more efficiently, I’ve done my research and the first book recommended to read is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.  The reviews are really good, so I’m hoping that I can get some groundwork laid to be more productive with my painting.

 

So, I’ll leave you with my photo dump of past things from last week.

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You mean you're not a full time artist?

Yes, I have full time gig that pays the bills.  For some, it's a sign of failed artist.  The stigma of a "part time" painter is perceived as one who didn't make it, or worse, isn't good enough.  Granted, every time I show my work to people while I'm doing the day job, I almost always get, "What the hell are you doing here?".  Well, if you must know, I'm here so I can provide healthcare and a steady income for my family.  If you are reading this and follow other artists, you might be surprised some of them also work a full time or part time job.  Unfortunately, most of us have experienced at one time or another, someone telling us we aren't real professional artists because we don't paint full time.  Other times, it's an artist who has established a career that is condescending towards those who can’t make that leap yet.  But I certainly can attest to many amazing painters who have been more than gracious sharing their time and knowledge with me.  My own personal reasons for not being open about my day job is that it invites people wanting my professional opinion, when I’d much rather talk about art and painters that motivate and inspire me.  Why then, might I be bringing this up now?  Well, I know there are a lot of other painters who share the same dream of having a successful full time painting career as I do.  I thought it would be great to share my own experiences with others.

I didn’t go to college to become a painter.  When I graduated with a BFA in computer graphics & illustration, I was even more confused about what I wanted to do.  So here I am, in my 40’s knowing exactly where I want to be in life, and I feel a lot of anxiety.  Most of it comes from not knowing if my mark as a painter will reach it’s full fruition.  I’ve made a lot of progress in a short time, but I’m restless and know my best work is yet to come.  To paint at the level I want to be at will take an enormous amount of time and effort.

So I hope that you enjoy reading about my painting adventures and my own personal insight as I continue to evolve my art career into a full-time profession.

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My painting experience with Spike Lavender as a medium.

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My painting experience with Spike Lavender as a medium.

After listening to friends with their own switch to safer painting methods, I decided to go to try nontoxic methods with my paints. A good idea since my daughter, who is three, now spends more time in the studio with me. Recently, I learned a close friend had gotten ill due to the exposure to turpentine.  My first venture into this was with the M. Graham Walnut Alkyd Medium.  I liked it, but getting the oil thin enough to spread around fluidly was not happening.  It dried fast and left a nice gloss to the finished oil painting.  Using this as my sole medium made a difference in the odor of my studio and I became aware the gamsol on the few occasions that I did use it and found I preferred not to use gamsol if possible when painting.  Leaving it in an open brush washer does make you exposed to it’s vapors.  I decided move on to explore other options.  During trips down to my local Jerry's Artarama, I discovered several nontoxic mediums to use with my oil paints. One that looked the most appealing was Chelsea Classical Studios spike lavender. The claims by the manufacturer stated spike lavender is a safe historic alternative to turpentine and the chronic health problems associated with it.  It also promoted that spike lavender is used for aromatherapy and has calming effects. I should have become wary with one of the listed benefits of spike lavender was for “well-being”, but I was too intrigued with it’s benefits.  So I dived in, cleared out my remaining gamsol out of the brush cleaner container and poured in the Spike Lavender.  Immediately, the smelled dominated the entire studio.  I began painting and found it to be as good to mix with as turpentine.  I really began to enjoy it’s performance as it broke down even my thicker paints with ease.  However, after 40 minute into the session, I couldn’t take the smell anymore.  Tried to hang in with odor as best as I could, but my senses were literally overloaded from the vapors.  Even my sweater had absorbed the odor and smelled like it had been soaked in the medium.  I closed the lid and the next day returned to find my studio was still reeking from the powerful presence of the Spike Lavender. Having thrown out all the rags, I wondered what why the smell was still so prevalent, and then it occurred to me to smell the painting.  The painting itself was loaded with the powerful odor of spike lavender.  A week later and the smell was still as strong as the day I painted with it.  To my dismay, I realized there was no way I could sell a fresh painting directly to a buyer in this state.  My wife was already complaining of the studio every time she entered the room.  Begrudgingly, I threw the painting in the trash outside.  It took over a week for the smell to fully dissipate.  Maybe I wasn't using it correctly and should have kept the lid on as much as possible or maybe it wasn't designed to be used with thin washes?  One thing positive about the Spice Lavender was it's ability to break down paint to allow for thin washes with oil.  For that alone, it worked incredibly well.   I rationalized keeping the Spike Lavender in some form even if just to use as a brush cleaner, after all, the stuff is expensive.  Luckily, for me, the gracious folks at Jerry’s Artarama were more than happy to return my purchase, those guys are awesome and always looking out for me.  It took almost seven days for the studio to be free of the odor of the spike lavender.  After further research, I came upon some documentation that indicated that I might be susceptible to an allergic reaction.  After discussing with several artists who experienced similar reactions, it left with the conclusion that this was not the medium for everyone.  So I began to search for other methods to paint in the least non-toxic manner possible.  As of this writing, I have purchased Gamblin’s Solvent-Free Gel Medium and look forward to trying it on my paintings very shortly.

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Get a chance to win a 3hr Plein Air Painting lesson with me!


Lesson Donated by Doug Clarke
Supplies Donated by Kathy Rust

Unleash your inner artist and learn the classic technique of Plein Air (French for “open air”) painting in the great outdoors. Explore the effect of light on objects, use of color and compositional elements with celebrated local plein air painter Doug Clarke whose recent commissions include both Harborfest and Neptune Festival posters. 

Choose your favorite Hampton Roads location to paint such as your house, favorite street, beach or your personal Pixie Hollow and work alongside the artist for 3 hours in order to complete one 8”x10” painting. Also comes with a gift basket of art supplies to keep up your artistic practice at home. All materials for your painting will be supplied... just bring your enthusiasm and your inspiration! 

Mutually agreeable date TBD. Must be scheduled by end of June 2016. 

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Chasing the light after a week of rain.

"Restless" 9x12 oil on linen.

I need another two plein air paintings.  It’s submission time for some of the plein air events, and I don’t feel I have the pieces I need.  It’s been rainy, cold and occasionally snowy.  Worst of all, my strongest paintings are not of cloudy overcast days, I need the sun to peek out.  I’m painting on a studio piece today with my gear ready to leave in case the sun peeks out today, so the forecast is predicting.  It looks like it will rain, so in my effort to jumpstart my fitness challenge after being almost two weeks of sick, I decide to run four miles.  Mind you, I haven’t run in a while and even then my runs were a mile in recent months.  After the first lap around my neighborhood, it begins to torrential down pour on me.  At least it is 60 degrees outside.  As I make my way around long run, I look up in hopes of a fast moving sky to indicate it could clear by afternoon.  It’s raining so hard though I can’t tell what it’s doing.  I’m soaked to the bone by mile eight and exhausted.  No chance of sun in the next hour, I clean up and get back to my studio painting. 

An hour later, I pop the garage door open.  Another hour rolls by and nothing.  After lunch though, the sun peeks out for a fraction of a second, giving me hope.  Back in the studio glimpses of the sun come and go, but I look out and see a small patch of blue sky on the horizon.  On the weather app, it says that the cloud cover will push off over the Atlantic.  My chance to paint today is looking better.  By three pm, the sun has just broken and I have less than three hours of light.  I realize now I have a delay, no small panels to use.  Luckily for me Jerry’s Artarama is just down the street, time to pack up and go.  It takes me 15 mins to get my panels, longer than I wanted.  Somehow on my decision to go the marina to paint, I’ve chosen the wrong route and I deal with almost 40 minutes of traffic to get to there.  I am trying to stay focused with every jam and construction obstacle I encounter. 

I will have about two hours left of light, on my way to the marina, but I realize I will passing the Little Creek train yard.  If I am lucky an engine or two will be there, so I take 10 minutes to detour down the backroad and muddy potholes to take a look.  Plenty of cars with no charisma or color and no engines, back to plan A, the marina. 

Five minutes later, I get there and I have to see what is the best subject to paint.  The boats are always in a constant state of rotation, so most of what I saw last time I painted here as changed.  Back and forth between the fishing boats, the boat lift and the dry docked sailboats.  Ten minutes later, I decide to go with a hard docked sailboat.  It has the most going for it composition and light wise, plus I know what the light and shadows will do as the sun goes down.  I set up and begin to lay in my underground painting.  Five minutes later I realize it’s too big and centered, wipe away and start again.  Trucks are going by slowly as I know they are trying to figure out what the hell I am doing.  I stay focused and ignore the cars and the people walking by to the restaurant next to me.  The composition is almost done, but it needs something else.  A orange cone is near by in the shade, so I walk over and place it in the foreground, but not to obstruct any cars.  The cottage houses with their A Frame roofs are going to be too busy, plus with the light quickly fading, I decide to leave them out of the rough in. 

Once I start laying in paint, I am very aware of the creeping shadows that are now threatening to rob me of color and light in just a short time.  In the span of an hour, critical thinking and gut reaction takes over.  I glance to the back of the restaurant and notice a group of workers on the their smoke break.  I need a figure to make this painting work, so off I go to get one of them to stand in for me to gesture in.  I get even more lucky as the guy eagerly volunteers, mentioning he has worked in the boatyard a few years.  I tell him where to stand and for a two minutes he blends into the scene as if it were his boat that he was working on.  I get my few strokes to imply a figure and get back to work.  The shadows are creeping in and I have to focus on the masses and save all the minute details for later, if there is time.  I debate on the color of the sky and decide to reach for the thalo blue to get that warm late afternoon sky.  A few minutes of mixing and I get the right color.  The hull of the boat is tricky because of the sharp lines and no room for error without a serious wipe away, but I learned a few tricks on my own the last time and they work out here perfectly. 

It’s the last fifteen minutes of light for me, the sun has about twenty five minutes but the shadows will reach my scene before then.  Furiously, I work on the details of the rudder and the propeller that I am just now noticing.  Funny how details aren’t discovered till near the end.  I get the mast and a couple rigging lines, add detail to the back of the fence and mass in the foreground.  Add the telephone poles, random clutter in the background and sharpen up the shadows and darken where needed.  Detail the figure again and add scaffolding.  The shadows are covering the boat now and it’s now down to the last details I can muster before the cold sets in.  I have not dressed appropriately and the chill quickly starts to affect my hands.  By sunset, I’ve finished enough to pack up go home and add the last details to the railings, telephone wires and other small stuff.  By the time I do get home, help out with the kids homework, eat dinner, tuck them in bed, iron clothes, and wash dishes it's midnight.  I add  final details, sign and shoot the painting, import and color correct, and then call it a day.

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It's 2am and freezing cold in the studio.

Tonight, it’s 23 degrees out and snowing. Only a few degrees warmer in my studio and I am wondering why I was such a slow learner from a workshop that I took several years ago. All the instructor wanted me to do was simplify with 3 colors! It seemed simple, but time after time I kept adding detail. After a few hours of this during the workshop, he kept dumbing down the paintings. I thought I understood what the goal was and yet I seem to fail miserably at it. Why wasn’t I getting the concept? It’s haunted me to this day and every now and then I start a painting out with an attempt at this formula. For the most part, it helps, but my inability to grasp the simple approach to painting has frustrated me. Every now and then, I will see a post of his showing a old master who has this concept carried through in the painting. I see it, I understand it, but dammit, I can’t seem to produce the same results! And when I read about a designer who has taken his class and “gets it” right away, I am thoroughly pissed. I am just blind to simplification? What is wrong with me? There are other painters who have this down and it’s amazing to see their process from the simple start to an amazing finished painting. Ugh. So anyways, here’s my 3 color approach to my current painting. I’m sure it haven’t dumbed it down as much as it could be. Maybe I’m holding on to visual cues to help when I start to add detail. I think I get this. The color underlying simple painting is supposed to let me know if it can stand on it’s own two feet. If it can’t then I’ve got problems.

My attempt at simplifying what is going to a busy painting once completed. 

My attempt at simplifying what is going to a busy painting once completed. 

Other things on my mind while painting tonight, are just for me to remind myself of why I paint. If any of it is useful to you, great. If not, I don’t care, I said it was for me.

1. If you are just starting out to paint and can find a mentor willing to guide your development as a painter, DO NOT WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY! I only wish I had that, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Honestly, though, I’m late to the game when it comes to painting and really didn’t show much promise early on. Thank God for the Norfolk Drawing Group!  I owe so much to everyone there for all I have learned.

2. I’m at a place now where my competition isn’t with anyone else but myself. I can see in my mind where I want my completed paintings should look like when they are finished, but rarely do they ever hit the mark.

3. Painting to just paint is reward enough for me. It’s the process of painting and getting better at it is what makes me happy. I’m at a point in my development where much of my old work has made it’s way to the trash bin.

4. I’m not a writer, and half the time I have a hard time trying to figure out what’s wrong with my own paintings that I really am no authority on how to paint.

5. The more I learn about painting, the more I feel clueless. It’s like math, I see it, but don’t expect me to break it down and communicate the reasons behind it.

6. Give up on trying to paint what sells. It doesn’t work for me, it probably won’t work for you unless you are a machine or robot. Paint what you know and love, the effort somehow transcends through to the painting.

7. If I sound mad, I am. Not at you, but at myself and the lack of progress made.

8. I forgot what 8 was for.

9. You can’t help being inspired by others. Just make sure you are feeding your influences beyond just one painter. Nobody likes a clone. So go out there and find as many painters as you can to admire and appreciate.

10. If you aren’t painting for yourself, pack it up, throw in the towel and just quit. I am grateful for every person who has loved my paintings enough to be willing to pay me for them.

I’m going to stop writing now that my feet have warmed up enough to work a little more in the studio. I hope the little heater has gotten it warmer than 30 degrees by now.

Not much heat coming out of this little guy to make a dent in the cold.  Feels like 30 degrees inside. 

Not much heat coming out of this little guy to make a dent in the cold.  Feels like 30 degrees inside. 

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Winter colds and mixing paint

I hate to say it's too cold to paint.  When I'm fighting a cold that won't go away, the only thing I like to focus on is to get better.  I don't know about you, but being sick really sucks.  My energy is gone, but the motivation is still there.  I just finished my second largest painting to date, and already I'm feeling like I may need to paint another one the same size so that I get better at mixing larger amounts of paint.  If you haven't painted in oil before, paint is expensive.  Especially when you have paints that is rated in series numbers.  For instance, a series I burnt umber is a lot cheaper than a series V cadmium red.  So when mixing colors and a large amount of paint isn't the right hue, sometimes I have to start over mixing.  That wasted paint goes into my mud mix.  What's a mud mix you say?  Well it's a mixture of various paints mixed to a nuetral color that I then mix into most of the other colors that go into my painting to help balance all the colors in the painting.  It's easier to write this than to do it, believe me. 

This month is busy for me and one of the things I have to tackle is to get two more solid plein air paintings under my belt.  Tuesday is looking like my best opportunity to go out and get a solid painting done outside.  The weather forecast says partly sunny with a strong chance of rain.  I'm hoping the sun stays out that morning at least.  I have this vision of where I want my paintings to be at in this stage of my painting career.  I got one done last month that fits the bill, but my second fell short.

I'm still playing with the Apple Pencil and so far it's been great.  The responsiveness it incredible and it makes any work done on a wacom feel feeble and sluggish.

My largest solo is coming to an end this month on the 29th.  I would make sure you see it before then, because I will be there bright and early to tear down so I can ship out all the paintings that sold.  Here's the address in case you missed it.

 

2101 Parks Avenue

Virginia Beach, VA

23451

 

I like to use the marker in Notes when building a drawing up with the Apple Pencil.  Next I'll use the pencil to add detail.

I like to use the marker in Notes when building a drawing up with the Apple Pencil.  Next I'll use the pencil to add detail.

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"Moonlit Pier" 30x40 - oil on canvas.

Despite the odds these past two months, I managed to get this done. Looking forward to the next big painting.

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Currently in the studio

All painting has been on hiatus lately due to a nasty cold. Starting to feel better tho.

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"Gabrielle" 12x16 - oil on canvas.

Our Norfolk Drawing Group had the opportunity to paint Gabrielle, who is expecting. I went with a high key this time and tried to loosen more up. Overall I'm happy this went well and I'm happy with the finished work. So far I am enjoying using CaptureOne to edit my paintings more than Lightroom. Just need to work out a good flow.

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Captain Jack Sparrow. #applepencil #ipadpro

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"Red Canoe Resting" 9x12 Plein Air

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New place to paint! "On The Hard & Waiting"

I found a new place the paint and there is plenty of subjects to choose from.

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First painting of the year, "Catherine".

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Trying to get back in the saddle again

Katherine was gracious to fill in for the Norfolk Drawing Group when the scheduled model bailed on us.

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