Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Flood Warning for the Baraboo River in Rock Springs

I am getting ready for another flood. The Baraboo river borders my farm. In 2008, we got a huge flood, which at the time was dubbed a 100 year flood. That meant, it was a flood that was supposed to come only every 100 years. Well, the floods are becoming more frequent.
In 2008, the flood water was inside the farm house, on the main level of the house. Last August, the flood water touched the bottom of the floor, and soaked the whole thing. The floors and furnace had to be replaced. 
Last year, I moved all of my paintings into the hay mow in the barn. They were safe and dry. However, I had a trunk of older paintings, stored in a shed, that I did not remember to move. These were paintings from 2008-2013. They all got ruined. 
Tonight, I am going to start preparing for the high water. I'll go into my chicken coop studio, and move everything into the hay mow. Then I'll make sure that there is nothing important in the milk house or the basement. I don't think I'll have to move much on the main level of the farmhouse, because I don't predict that the water will reach that height, and also, there's no place to put most of it upstairs. 
Who knows, maybe this will make for some good painting?

The Baraboo River is predicted to crest at 25.7 feet, which is a major flood.
On 6/11/2008 the river crested at 28.73 feet. On 8/31/2018 it crested at 27.60 feet. This Saturday, the Baraboo river flood is predicted to be two feet lower than last August.

This is the neighbors farm, in September 2018, after the flood already started to recede.

Here is my neighbor, Tim Harms, coming to pick me up in a canoe.

Tim Harms and I grabbed some paintings from my studio, that I took to Chicago during the flood.

I painted the flood last august. If you look closely, in the background, you can see the intersection of HWY 154 and 136 under water. This is downtown Rock Springs, which is pretty much vacant these days as it has been hit with floods several times in the past 10 years.

IT still looks like this outside, there is still snow and ice everywhere. However, the sky's are dark and it's pouring rain. I guess we will see what happens!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Plein Air Painting at Memorial Union in Madison Wisconsin

Here is a video from 2011, of a day spent painting at the memorial union. A film crew from the University saw me painting, and got a few shots of me. I was in town to see a show of paintings from my friend Marla Brenner. She was showing at the UW hospital. Her website is
I was working at the Boys and Girls club that day, so I can remember being late to work that day. I painted two paintings, and then saw the show with Marla, and then got yelled at for being late to work.
Here is a painting that I did at the Union around the time that the video was shot. These are the little boats that the Hoofers Sailing club uses to teach sailing. "Grapefruit Boats at the Union" 2011

Another painting from the same timeframe. "Late Summer Farm" 2011

"Terrytown Sunset" 2011

Monday, January 14, 2019

Peninsula School of Art Workshops!

Door County is one of my Favorite Locations to paint. Door County is the 'thumb' of Wisconsin, the Peninsula of land that is surrounded by Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan to the East. The light in Door County is prismatic, and the weather is very dramatic. Those conditions make for some memorable painting experiences!

I have two adult workshops scheduled at the Peninsula School of Art in 2019. I have been teaching painting workshops in Door County, at the Peninsula School, since 2012. Both of my classes offered this year will be two days, which is the perfect amount of time to learn the concepts that I will teach.

I will supply some special tools for the class, that will help you to compose the landscape in it's simplest forms, and then build on top of the simple structure with striking outdoor color. Everything that I teach is easy concepts, one skill leads to the next. Learning to paint does not have to be a huge ordeal, I think that you will see that I have a lot of fun when I paint, and that I keep it simple.

No matter what stage of painter you are, it is always the best idea to constantly practice the fundamentals. In this class we will have some great lessons that will help you with your drawing skills. We will make thumbnail marker sketches, so that you can learn to compose your paintings according to the values that you perceive. And finally, you will learn how to mix your colors, according to specific values using my special 'value palette'.

The Painting Light Indoor and out will start out in the studio on the first day. We will make thumbnail sketches and create paintings of a lamp-lit still life. On the second day, we will take our paints outdoors, and create some paintings en plein air. We will work the same way as in the studio, taking time to create greyscale marker sketches, and matching our paint mixtures to specific values.

In the Barns Workshop, we will spend our time outdoors painting the historic Barns of Door County! In this class, we will focus on the fundamentals of good drawing skills, and composing with marker sketches. The best part of this class is that you will learn to paint the light illuminating the landscape.

I hope to see you this summer at the Peninsula School of Art!

A Greyscale Marker Values Sketch, and the still life painting that it informed. We will create marker sketches before we paint, which will help us to get the light into our paintings.

This is the Uncropped Painting for the promotional image above. This is a very graphic painting, it is nature simplified to it's basic elements. The trees are simply shapes of shadows and light, and the ground is only some swatches of colors. The more that I paint, the more that I am interested in keeping it simple and graphic. 

This is the other uncropped image, from the promotional materials above. In this piece, I underpainted the fields with a warm orange color, and then put the greens of the field on top, leaving much of the orange showing. This broken color technique gives the feeling of outdoor color.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Organizing my Digital Images of Paintings

Outdoor Still Life  - 2011 - 16"x20" 
Happy New Year! I have set a goal to organize all of my digital photographs of paintings this year. I started painting in 2008, and have been pretty good at shooting photo's of all of my work. I have not been good at organizing the photo's. I have 4 computers with images of my work, and I'm motivated to get all of my images of paintings in one place. It's pretty cool to go back and see some of the images that are long gone, and I will probably get a little story to go with each painting.
The painting above was a still life piece that I painted in the early spring of 2011. The boquet was one that I had in the studio for a large piece that I slaved over in March of that year. The flowers must have some chemicals in them that kept them alive, because I believe that this was painted in May, and well, the flowers were not wilted.
I was looking at the paintings of Henry Hensche, and other artists associated with the Cape School of Art at this time. While Hensche would develop his sophisticated color harmonies over a series of days, my paintings in 2011 were mostly completed in one session. The flowers in this still life are mainly divided into masses of light and shade, there is not much development in color shifts beyond the simplest division of light and shade. 
I also was observing and painting the phenomena of halation in this painting. Halation is similar to refraction, it's light bouncing off of the flowers in this case, because the sunlight was very bright on this day. Refraction is light bending around an object, which I suppose is somewhat different. Physics aside, it's just painting your observations. When your eyes are squinted, you will see little flares of light bouncing around in your subject, and it's fun to try and include those. It's also something that happens when your eyes become fatigued from painting way too much. I had that problem alot in 2011.
These days, I try to do less with color shifts inside the major masses, or halation. Maybe I'll go back to those ideas, but I think that it is always a good idea to error on the side of simplicity in painting. Something done well, but very simply can say a lot with very little.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Winter Plein Air

I just built a new easel to use, and am going to put my french easel to rest. These two paintings were some of my last on the french easel.

I have had 9 french easels, and my favorites have been the original Jullian, and the Mabef M22. I am pretty hard on my easels because I mix with a knife, so there is a lot of weight on the palette. French easels are too short for me, and I am tired of leaning over them to paint. I don't mind the wing nut's, but will say that my new easel is much easier to set up and take down than the french easel. I'll post about my new easel soon! 

Tim Harms' Cows in Pastel

Here is another pastel, this time of my neighbor's cows. It's my farm in the background. This one features a gouache and watercolor underpainting, on the cool grey colourfix paper. It's hanging in my house right now.

Winter Forrest

Here is a pastel painting that I did a month or so ago. The top photo shows my gouache underpainting. I will use either gouache or watercolor to make a tonal underpainting, and then dig into the pastels to lay in some color.
This painting was inspired by a day of Cross Country skiing at the Hartje Center.

Pastel Paintings

There was a lot of cloudy days in November, and I decided to work in my studio in a new medium. I love to paint in oils, but I normally like to be outside working en plein air. I just like being outside, and oils work well outdoors because they remain workable during the duration of a painting session. I don't like using oils in my studio very much. I bought a set of pastels to try out in the studio, and I'm glad that I did. These are the first 3 pastels that I made, and it's fun to just be able to grab a stick instead of mixing a color.
Painting is all just shapes of value and to a lesser extent color. I have arranged my pastels according to value. So once I know my target value, I just choose what color will work well for what I want to do. The toned colors of the sanded pastel paper are also lovely to work on. I usually do a watercolor underpainting on the sanded paper, before laying the pastels down. I find that it's very fun to work that way.

My Uncle's house

My Uncle grew up on the farm next to the one that I live on. He has a historic house in Gotham, Wisconsin. I painted it over a couple of days in November. He received it as a gift for Thanksgiving. He took down a painting on his wall and put this one up in it's place.

Farm Chairs

This is a painting that I did in the springtime. I was painting a lot during the week that I made this one, I remember that it was my third painting of that day. When the sun is shining and the colors of spring are in bloom, it's almost like you have to paint all day. The best part of working on a few a day is that by the end of the day, your brush just does what it wants. Your brain is no longer a part of it. I used a think and chunky flat brush in size 12 to paint this one. It's a 14x18" panel, and I sold it to a friend of mine.

Dandelions in Gouache

This is a little gouache painting that I did on my front yard of the dandelions. Gouache has the best qualities of watercolor and oil painting all in one medium. You can start with transparent watercolor painting, and then layer up opaque paint on top. I would probably do more gouache painting if the tubes were not so small.

Devils Lake State Park in Baraboo en plein Air

This was a painting that I made at Devils Lake in the Autumn. It was the first time that I had painted in a couple of months. This break was because of a work commitment, but I'll take a week or two off from painting whenever I feel like it. It always seems like you come back with a new energy.

This painting was started on a pink toned canvas. I toned this canvas with acrylic paint, and it got a little pinker than normal for me. It was fun making it work and it felt good to be outside painting.