Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Plein Air Competitions are fun to participate in. I have done several competitions around Wisconsin. 

When you arrive in the town where the competition is held, you register and check in. The organizers of the event stamp the back of your canvases, and give you a set amount of time to complete a few paintings. They stamp the canvas, so that they know that you created the painting during the set time limit. You then frame up your paintings, and return them to the venue, for the chance to win awards and prize money. There is always a great reception for the events, and I've found that the whole community comes out to see what the painters created. 

I was in Beloit, WI painting for the Edge of the Rock Plein air festival last week. 

I painted from a rooftop, downtown, again this year.Painting from the roof was great, but came with several challenges. We had to climb a fire escape up two stories, and then set up a ladder to make it up the last ten feet. I painted 20x24, so I needed my large easel, big paintbox, umbrella, canvas, and lunch. All in all, my gear was 50 pounds, and once we were on the roof, we had to scale several walls to get to our vantage point.

Getting the laddar was easy on the first day. Tom at Suds O'Hanahans borrowed us his nice wooden ladder, which we returned at the end of the session. Tom was home sick on the second day, however, and we didn't have a ladder. We went from store to store in downtown Beloit, asking everyone and anyone to help us out with a ladder, but nobody had one to borrow two young men with paint smeared clothes and backpacks. At our last possible stop, we found an employee of Beloit College, who borrowed us her large ladder. We were very lucky, and happy to be back on the roof.

It was hot on the roof. I worked for four hours in each of the two sessions that it took to complete the painting. On the second day, a can of soda exploded when I tried to open it because of the heat. This startled us, and I was reminded of the 2013 Beloit Plein Air Festival when Matt Holt and I were painting, and gunshots rang out just down the street.

The show reception and awards were held on Friday June 12. The gallery was packed with paintings, patrons, friends, and fellow painters. There were great snacks and beverages, and two good friends of mine were judges!

When it came time to announce the winners, I was honored with the Pride of Beloit award. My award was sponsored by North American Tool Company, and they received the painting as the award was a purchase prize. Josh got an award as well, the Friends of Riverfront Award. Josh's work was not a purchase prize, and a smart collector quickly bought the piece.

I had a great time at the event, and plan to paint in Beloit again next year. To read more about the show, please visit

In July, I will be hosting a unique workshop at my Chicken Coop Studio. The workshop will focus on painting afternoon and evening light, including sunsets. I have had a lot of interest in this workshop, if you would like to to sign up, please let me know at

Have a great day!

Old Barn 8x8" $200 Framed

Memorial Union Girls 8x10" $200 Framed

Sunday, May 24, 2015

New Paintings Opening Reception

Maci was a model in a couple pieces in the show. She loves going to shows!

Cory and I

Matt Holt, myself, Wade Holtz, and Josh Hess

We had a great opening reception for my new paintings last night at Blue Heron. The show was very well attended and I'd like to say thanks to everyone who made the show possible, especially Cory Polanek, Sarah Pittz Ganem and BJ Ganem. Matt Holt was in town, and stayed at the farm last night, and we got out for some rainy day painting today along with Cory and Josh Hess. I've got a great group of people around me, and that's the best part of finishing a body of work.
 The show is up for the summer, and the paintings posted above are available. Please give me an email at if you have any questions about the work.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Painting Time Lapse Video

Here is a timelapse video of some painting sessions in the field. Last year, I was filming with my iphone and I had a tripod for the phone built onto my easel. The battery would die too quickly, and I found that it was hard to film that way, if a call came in, the thing would stop recording, and then I'd smear paint all over the phone getting it back up and running. I bought the Brinno time lapse camera a month ago, and couldn't be happier with it. It's very easy to use, only shoots timelapse, and I just put it on a tripod. The batteries never drain out. I can forget about it for the most part. Sometimes it's more hassle than it's worth to set up a camera, but I think I got a couple good shots out of the times when I did set it up.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ohio Workshop

Yes, I think I can find something to paint here! 

Paul and Dave making marker sketches  in the beautiful studio

Value Marker Sketch

Paul starting a value sketch in acrylic of a still life. 

Sandy painting the model

I had a great time teaching a painting workshop in Upper Sandusky,Ohio last weekend. On the first day of the class, we focused on values. I have developed a values curriculum that does a good job explaining how to observe in a simple manner and how to get our simplified vision onto a canvas. On the second day of the workshop, I gave a a plein air demo of a barn scene that was near our studio. The goal on the landscape was to simplify the complex scene on the canvas and then take the concepts a step further by putting more information and color shifts into the initial masses. On the third day, everyone was warmed up to the class, and we were lucky enough to have a model. I think the third day was great because it showed everyone that painting a figure into a composition doesn't have to be more tricky than a still life.

I have my most popular class coming up in June! My values class is a great first step into painting outdoors. We really ease into the concepts in this class. We start with very basic concepts of drawing, and then practice them. We then learn how to see as a painter, and practice it. We then go outside and practice some more. Every day, I review the earlier concepts, demonstrate, and work with students to make sure that the ideas will stick with them after they leave the farm. I have seen students who have not drawn or painted since middle school create a half dozen outdoor studies in a weekend. The groups who get together have always been great, everyone works together in a positive environment to help each of us to do our best work. If you'd like to sign up for the workshop, or for my mailing newsletter, please give me an email at:

This is the Chicken Coop Studio, where the workshops are held

The Chicken Coop Studio is located in Rock Springs, WI.

May 23, Solo Show at Blue Heron in Reedsburg, WI!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Treeline Paintings - Show at Blue Heron May 23

We moved out to the farm during the winter, and it's great to be surrounded by the landscape. The night we moved into the 150 year old farmhouse, I began to see the landscape out of the windows.

We are on 100 acres, on a road with few cars each day, surrounded by fields and the bog. The first paintings that I made looking out of the windows focused on the treeline out of the west window. The field is very rough, and so is the treeline, which gave me a challenge to paint.

It was good to study the different light effects and complete some different paintings of the same subject. There were elements that can make up a landscape painting, the ground, the upright masses of the trees, and the sky, it was just organizing them in different ways to show variety. The light in winter was unobstructed by summer haze. It was nice to focus more on the sky on these afternoons and evenings.

Sometimes, it seems that just getting to the location to paint is half the battle. Rushing around and setting up an easel in the freezing winter eats up time and daylight. I enjoyed having my paints set up and ready to go, with a crock pot of soup at arm reach.

I have a show coming up, on May 23 At Blue Heron in Reedsburg. I will be showing around 40 paintings from the winter, going through mud season, and ending up in spring.