Monday, December 10, 2012

The Natural Way

It is hard to believe that it is early December. This year has been on fast forward for me, and it seems like it could be late August. However, the weather has not waited for me to catch up, and it is cold out. During these winter months I enjoy changing my routine. I have been working on the exercises prescribed in the book The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides. I first heard about the book, from what I consider a great learning tool, Oil Painting, Develop Your Natural Ability, by Charles Sovek. Nicolaides taught at the Art Student's League. His influence on the teaching of drawing has been long-lasting and substantial, and his book is still in use today. In brief, he advocated a three-pronged way of learning to draw, through (1) slow and meticulous contour drawing, (2) free and rapid gesture drawing, and (3) vigorous tonal drawings of weight or mass.

The book has 25 Chapters. In order to complete the book, there is 15 hours of drawing to be done for each chapter. The 15 hours is broken into 5,  3 hour sessions. Nicolaides wants readers (participators?) in the book to have an experience. It takes much work to learn to draw, and any serious art school works it's drawing students for hours on end as well. I'm at the beginning of my journey into the book, but it already feels like a fascinating journey. For instance, in several university classes, there have been assignments to do blind contour drawings. My experience in the classroom is that these are quick, one minute at best, gesture drawings, but in the book, Nicolaides demands an hour. An hour, of moving your eyes and hand in unison a hair at a time, tracing around the subject. Mind you, that is the last hour of the 3 hour session, where the first two hours being very gestural. I'm hooked!

 There is still time to register for my winter workshop in Fish Creek. To view the class description, supplies list, and to register, please visit the Peninsula School Of Art Website. The workshop is the third from the top. If you have any questions, please email me at

Wildes Interior 14x11"

Sunflowers Still Life 16x12"

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Show Will Go On

Taliesin - Midway 12x16"

Midway Morning 20x24"
The Taliesin Artists are having a showing of our work at the Overture Center For The Arts in Madison, WI.
In 2011, 25 artists were chosen to paint on the grounds of Taliesin for two months. Artists who participated were invited to a gala auction at the end of the summer, with proceeds benefiting the Taliesin estate. Chris Gargan, John Ribble, and I had a three person show as well as participating in the gala, but there has never been a showing of ALL the Taliesin artists... until now! The show will open in May, my favorite time of year in Madison. Special thanks to Cynde Quinn for corralling the painters and getting the show on it's way.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Dates Are Set!

I am happy to announce a 3 day workshop on January 18-20, 2013, at the Peninsula School Of Art in Fish Creek. The workshop is going to focus on my favorite facets of painting, values and composition! I find that painting interior and still life is a very refreshing change of pace from landscape painting, and the winter is a perfect time to study values and color. There are fresh value arrangement and color harmonies in waiting around (and in) every corner, and these are worth exploring. In my workshops I describe the information in several different ways and make sure that the concepts make sense to every student. In order to make the concepts of value design clear, I provide a few tools that ensure success, I even include some video lessons that recap the main ideas of the class. We are going to put some serious miles on our brushes, I hope you can join us!

To view the class description, supplies list, and to register, please visit the Peninsula School Of Art Website. The workshop is the third from the top. If you have any questions, please email me at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Art Tour

The Fall Art Tour is this weekend, October 19,20,21, from 10am - 6pm daily. I've been busy, framing and pounding nails into the wall of the Chicken Coop Studio. This year, specially for the tour, I created 40, nine-color hand pulled serigraph prints. In addition, I collaborated with Alan Anderson on some hand carved frames. We have been working on these frames since January, and Al delivered them this week. The Coop is full of work, and I can't wait for the tour to begin.

Be sure to stop by Alan, in Baraboo, as well as Sandy and Wyn Byers in Rock Springs. Al refinished the woodwork in his home from the ground up. When you buy a piece from Al, your family will have it for generations to come. Sandy and Wyn are nationally known for their porcelain and stoneware respectively. Sandy's porcelain work is very delicate and light plays an important role. Wyn works with simplified forms and complex glazes. Their studio is in the old school in Rock Springs.
For more information, including a map,

It's going to be a great weekend, I hope you can attend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Door County Plein Air Festival

I looked forward to the Door County Plein Air Festival for a long time. For me, the festival kicked off a week early, as Dan Corey came out to stay and paint. While he was in town he taught a well receive and attended workshop at my home space, the Chicken Coop studio. He covered everything, from ideas for studies that students could explore to more advanced concepts of composition and personal vision. All the while he stressed the power and importance of the abstract. Dan is very straightforward as a teacher which is refreshing. and I took in as much info as I could. I got 15 pages of notes, just off the first demo.

After the workshop, it was time to head up to Door County. The Peninsula School of Art has created and nurtured this event to the current state of it being the premiere event for outdoor painting. Year after year, they bring in a fresh group of the best painters and put them in position to be successful. During the festival, there are several opportunities to paint in specific areas. The staff at the school hands out maps with a list of "who's going to be where" to collectors and those interested to see a dozen or so painters all in a relatively small area. This is a nice touch, as it connects the painters with the collectors and general public.

There are several reasons why the Door County Plein Air Festival is the best event. The Peninsula School promotes the event very well, advertising in several publications and releases a large guide book each year. The organization is well thought out, planning for this event is no small task. The volume of collectors is large and the quality of artists is high. All these reasons aside, it's the staff at the school who makes this week special. Cathy, Kay, Karen, Martha, Tori, Lindsay, and who can forget Trevor, this one's for you! Thanks for building such an inviting and successful event year after year.

Gills Rock Harbor 8x12". I enjoyed painting this working fishing harbor the most of all during the Door County Plein Air Festival.

Girl 10x8". This was painted during the sunset paintout in Sister Bay, on Wednesday night. The evening was just perfect, sparkling light on the water followed by a celebration with wine, crab cakes, and a jazz quartet playing some of my favorite blue note numbers. Jenny Anderson, Dan, and I had a great time listening to the band and drinking Spotted Cow that night!

A piece from the Gills Rock Harbor. 14x18"

Fish Creek 14x18"

Trap Net Boat 16x20".

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chetek Vacation

Summer is gone. This year, the second half was hot and busy. I am going to make a series of posts to pick up where the blog left off... nearly two months ago!

Each year, my wife and I take a fishing vacation for a week in Chetek WI. This year, it was during the second week in July. I like to fish, but when I get out on the boat, I usually end up with the urge to paint. I brought my pochade box with me this year and several panels, instead of my usual french easel and stretched canvases. This made it easier to paint on a whim, because I could just hop on with a loaded palette and a couple of brushes. The week was one of the coolest of the summer, and it ended up being a nice warm up for the Door County Plein Air Festival.

12x16" oil on linen Morning Clouds

8x10" oil on linen Blue Gill

9x12" oil on linen Out To Dry

9x12" oil on linen Golden Hour

5x7" oil on linen Sun on the Water

Monday, July 16, 2012

Midsummer Drought

July is the busiest month of the year. Jenny and I just got back from a week long fishing and painting trip, and today I'm getting my gear in line for the Door Co. Plein Air Festival. Dan Corey is arriving in town this week as well and all the students at the Chicken Coop can't wait for his workshop, which is Thursday and Friday. Yesterday, I was at the opening of a two man show that I'm in titled Double Vision. The show is up through the end of the month at Rountree Gallery in Platteville. Mike Kabele is the other half of the show, and everyone agreed that our paintings complemented each other's work nicely. I also have two more shows coming up, toward the end of summer, but more on that soon!
We are in the middle of a drought. There has not been a good rain here, since Memorial Day. The grass is brown, and driving down the interstate, there are large burnt areas of grass where fires started from cigarettes being thrown out the window. I can remember the last big drought we had here, in 1988. My mother drove us towards Tomah, and there was raging fires on both sides of the road, right next to our car. If I remember correctly, those fires started because of some faulty brakes on a big truck. I also remember there being warnings that fires could start by the sun reflecting off of a foil gum wrapper. It is going to be 100 again today, but then will taper off to the 90's for the next week or so. Last year, in Door Co, it was hot and humid. I hope this year it's just hot.
12x12" Union Sailboat

20x16" Shell and Jar
8x10" Golden Light

24x20" Statue

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cedarburg Revisited

Every June, there is a week and a half long plein air painting event in Cedarburg. There are several categories that make up the festival and this gives a good mix of days spent ‘just painting’ with the quick paint events. Quick paint events are always a good time. I do not mind working under the gun, and there is nothing like rushing down a busy street with a wet canvas, or framing wet paintings with floater frames. There were 3 different events that I’d say qualified as quickpaints and also a category that allowed painters to submit 2 pieces known as the Main Event. The Main Event is more relaxed than the quickpaint event , and I was in Cedarburg on the first day to get canvases stamped. Painters could have an unlimited amount of canvases stamped, and a week to complete the paintings to be shown at the opening reception on Friday Evening. I had a box of canvases stamped, and was hopeful to get a pair of nice canvases for the show.
I painted a trout fisherman under a bridge under late light that evening. I didn’t have more than 45 minutes to work and I knew going in that it would probably end up being a throw off sketch. The piece did serve a purpose as it broke the ice in a new town and going into these events I don’t switch it up and pretend to be someone else for a few day’s creating polished pieces. I just paint throw off studies like normal, and hope there is a sweet one in there someplace.
My accommodations for my first leg of the trip fell through at the last moment, and I had to stay at a motel in South Milwaukee. I was looking for a cheap place, and I found it. They even gave me a discount for being on a work trip. I painted the next day for as long as I could, warming up with another throw off study, and then painting the ladies sitting under the red umbrella. Meeting people, while out painting is great. They are normally very respectful, and lately the level of questions they have been asking me has risen. These ladies were a lot of fun to paint, I especially enjoyed putting the warm light, coming through the umbrella onto the shadowed ladys turquoise get up. While packing up, a young couple approached me to talk about the painting. They were so nice that I asked if I could paint them. They agreed and even had a setting in mind. They led me to a path, by the river and sat so that they were backlit. This was probably 5 in the afternoon by the time I got painting (value sketches take me some time!) and the light had failed by 6. I made a decision to leave the painting at the state it was in, rather than to work under the now overcast light. I thanked my new friends, and called it a day.
The next day, there was a Morning quickpaint in Cedarburg. We had 2 and a half hours to paint and frame. When I arrived to paint, the light was not very inspiring, but the clouds broke for an hour, in which I painted quickly. I was able to lay in a pattern, but then the clouds and rain returned. The wind was so bad during this time, that my umbrella turned inside out, breaking it to pieces, just like in a cartoon. I took it off the easel, crumpled it up and put it in a trash can on the street. After the quickpaint, I went home for a couple of days. I was in another painting event, in Evansville WI, and the reception was the day after the quickpaint. I had 2 days off from events, which helped me clear my head and restate what I wanted to say about Cedarburg. I returned on Wednesday and Painted The Cedarburg general store. I was drawn to the abstract design of the stacked buildings, and found that the trees foiled them nicely. This day was hot, and the paint was flowing off the brush. I almost didn’t even use duck sauce medium, but the allure of flowing paint can lead to paintings that don’t dry or easily frame. No umbrella up, of course, but the winds were high and I couldn't have dealt with it, even with the Beauport. I painted a pretty nice late light piece that day too, I'm going to give that one to my mom, because the Cream City bricks reminded me of Europe. Our canvases were due the next day, and I had a couple to turn in.
I decided to turn in the General Store Canvas, and also the Coffee Shop with Red Umbrella piece, but when I got to the Cultural Center, people were asking me where the "figurative piece" was. This was interesting to me, because the people had not seen the piece before, but had heard of it, almost as if the piece had taken on a personality of it's own.... The thing is, the figures felt a little undercooked because I had to pack it up early after the afternoon haze rolled in killing my effect. Even so, I decided to hang the figures by the water and also the General store. I stayed over night at the home of some friends, and returned to paint and enjoy the artists reception and awards on Friday. At the awards, it was nice to see plenty of familiar faces, of artists and collectors. I enjoy looking at paintings, and as there were 167 artists represented, there was plenty to take in. My painting of the Cedarburg general store won the Best of City award. I felt like I was getting drafted to the pro’s because when I got on stage they gave me a new “plein air” magazine hat, which I immediately put on. Good times, like the awards go fast, and pretty soon it was Saturday morning, with another quickpaint event titled "Paint the Festival". The Strawberry Festival is a large event in Cedarburg each summer. I gave a quote to the Reedsburg Independent that there were going to be 30,000 people on the streets that day, but I found out that it is really 130,000. That is a lot of people to fit in 8 or so blocks in a Wisconsin small town. I set up and painted some light hitting those Cream City brick buildings, with some EZ up tents as a foil in the foreground. I made it EZ on myself as well, not using a floater frame. I painted for a couple of hours and retired a  restaurant across the street with a couple of award winning artists from the night before. We got back just in time for the awards of the quickpaint. I remember that the judges were talking about 2nd place, a piece that had good light, an unexpected composition, and a feel for the energy of the festival. I was looking at the body of work wondering which piece they were talking about. When they announced my name I was surprised. I gave some hi fives to my fellow artists, and dedicated the award to them, the painters that made the body of work.
Cedarburg was a well spent time away from home. It is a long way from home, but I really wanted to get out of Reedsburg more often this summer. It is 1/3 of June, and next year I am planning to stay over more days, to continue to explore the sensations of the town.
Hang Loose
Paint the Festival
Cedarburg General Store
Permanent Green Ribbon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Edge of the Rock - Beloit Plein Air

I have been participating in several plein air painting events this summer. Last week was the Beloit WI, Edge of the Rock Plein Air event, sponsored by Friends of Riverfront. Besides some visits to the skate park in Beloit in 2000, I have not been there in over 10 years. The best part of the 10 day painting event were the people involved.
On the first morning Wendie Thompson pulled up beside me on the interstate, honking her horn and waving. I sped up and followed her to the Visit Beloit headquarters downtown (See first pic, below). As is customary with these events, in order to participate, we had to have our canvases stamped on the back, which proves that the pieces were created during the event.

Following Wendie Thompson

Nicki Meyer was giving tours of the riverfront on her golf cart. I might not have agreed to do the tour if it was sunny, but I'm glad I did. I painted 8 pieces in the 3 days that I participated, all of which I found during this tour.
The first day was not too inspiring to paint. It was dark and cloudy. I ended up painting two pieces, but I'm much more interested in sunny days, so I decided I would come back soon. I had a workshop at my home studio (Chicken Coop Studio) over the weekend, so that kept me at home for the next 4 days.

Shaking hands with Nicki Meyer and Sandy Kincaid

I returned on Monday, June 4 and painted morning until dark. Artists in the event would be allowed to present 2 works, and as always, I need to paint several works to end up with something worthwhile. While painting my first piece of the morning, a 20x24" that did not get entered, I chatted with a man named Bob, who works at the potato chip company Kettle. He was a nice, hard working man, who enjoyed watching me paint so much that he gave me 10 bags of Kettle chips that he had in his car. Beloit has several large companies, and it was interesting talking to Bob and getting the low down of all the different industry in town. I also met Sandy Kincaid. Sandy is passionate for painting, and she is a driving force behind the planning and success of the event. She was combing the area, looking for artists to give bottles of water. This was welcomed, as the day was very hot. She asked if there was anything that she could do to accommodate me further, and I looked over at her and noticed the light hitting her white hat. I asked her if she might be interested in sitting for me later that evening, to paint her into a late light composition, and she agreed. She showed up at the exact time that I suggested, just as I was finishing my second piece of the day. She was seated on some rocks, on the riverbank of the Rock River as I painted her. It was great of her to show up, and I ended up using that painting as one of my pieces for the show.

My palette

The next day, I drove to Beloit again. This time, I returned to the same area that I painted Sandy in her hat, and found a composition. I painted 3 paintings again that day, and was satisfied with the second. It was a composition showing the landing, an area with a large stainless steel sculpture and park/plaza where people go to fish. I had two paintings to exhibit at this point, and I took a day off to prepare for and load my car for a workshop that I held on June 8 & 9 in Lima Ohio.

Working on the piece
I dropped off work on my way to Lima on June 7. While there, I got to visit with some of the other artists, and showed them some of the video's on composition that I have been making for my workshop students this summer. Two of my favorite painters from these events, Jenny Anderson and Jason Prigge, were lurking around that morning, and it's always nice to see what they have to offer. Jenny always works with tasty color harmonies, and Jason stayed up all night painting nocturnes. Jason was framing his work in the parking lot, which is not very much fun as I know from personal experience, especially not after staying up all night.

I am going to make a post about the Lima workshop this week (am hoping to have pictures sent to me) so more on that soon. I was not happy to miss the artists reception on Friday, but was having a great time in Ohio. Everyone from the workshop was partying on Friday evening, as we ate pizza and drank beer after 10 or so hours of painting. As we were leaving the restaurant, I got a call from Nicki, and asked her how she was doing. She replied "I'm doing well, but you are even better, one of your pieces won best of show!"

The workshop continued Saturday, and I had to leave directly after the final critique to get back to Beloit and see the show. As I entered the building, at 10 pm or son, I was surprised to see so many people waiting to greet me. The body of work, as a whole was strong, and I am honored to have one of my pieces selected. Sandy even exhibited her hat, placing it on a table below the painting that I made of her.

A photo from the artists reception, which I could not attend

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I am pleased to announce an addition to the 2012 summer program.
Daniel Corey, a personal favorite, will be here on July 19 and 20th from 9 AM - 3 PM.
Space is limited, and I expect this workshop to fill up quickly. To register, contact Dan directly at

We hope to see you there!

Well known Maine painter, Daniel Corey, has been added to the list of artists giving workshops at Chicken Coop Studio.

Inspired by light quality, color harmony, and abstract shapes, Dans paintings are created from direct observations en plein air. He enjoys the challenge of painting nontraditional views and subjects. He finds beauty in them along with what he interprets as "what makes Maine, Maine".

Selected to be the 2009 Monhegan Artist in Residence, Dan is a traditional painter influenced by Robert Henri and the Ashcan School and rooted in the aesthetic values of the impressionists of the Cape Cod School of Art. Dan also participated in "Creative Convergence", a plein air painting trip to Mexico, which was covered by American Art Collector Magazine, among others. Daniels work has been featured in a number of New England Galleries and Museums.

July 19 & 20 Dan Corey will be giving a plein air workshop at Chicken Coop Studio.
The hours are 9 AM - 3 PM with a lunch break.
The price is $150 for both days,
or $100 for one day.

Chicken Coop Studio
S3749 Schneider Road
Rock Springs, WI

Saturday, May 5, 2012


 In addition to the workshops at the Peninsula Art School in Fish Creek, and the 2 day workshop at the Studio of Fine Arts in Lima, I am offering several 3 day workshops in my chicken coop studio. The studio was renovated last summer and is my space on the Fall Art Tour. Having the chicken coop, complete with chandelier, is a great home base to grab some shade and critique between paintings. 
Value and design are the topic of the first workshop, which will give a great foundation to explore outdoor color in the second. I'm beginning to prepare lesson plans for each workshop to make sure there isn't a dull moment, and there is a few spaces left for each. For the schedule, and more info, please give the images a click! My email is

Our early spring keeps on going! These pieces are framed and hung at Blue Heron.

24x20" Baraboo Cherry Blossom
20x16" Magnolia Branch
16x12" Stream
16x20" Turquoise and Pink
12x12" Georgia Magnolia in the Rain

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reedsburg UncorkedWine Walk Silent Auction

The Reedsburg Uncorked Wine Walk is a great time, Jenny and I always enjoy attending the event. It's a nice opportunity to see what's new and to reconnect with businesses downtown.

Dana, from the Blue Heron does a lot of work to make the Wine Walk happen. A few weeks ago, I was dreaming of spring, and really wanted to paint some flowering trees. I set up this still life, with Carr Valley Cheese and Wollersheim Port in my studio with one of my favorite plein air studies from a couple of years ago hanging on the wall behind it. It was something a little different and fun for me to paint. The still life is 24x20" and is being auctioned off, in conjunction with the Uncorked event, with proceeds to benefit the Reedsburg Revitalization Organization "Community members working for the revitalization of Reedsburg". If you'd like to place a bid, email Blue Heron at:
Hope to see you there!

Photo's by Jacob Owen

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring is in the Air

The weather is always unpredictable during early spring, but this year is extraordinary. This piece, Loganville Stream is 16x20" and was painted when we were still in the calendar's winter, but I considered it to be the first day of spring because I painted in a t-shirt. The temperatures were in the 80's and everything greened up all at once.

Which among equal colors will look more or less dark or more or less bright... The painter will show you things at different distances with variation of color due to the air lying between the objects and the eye.

-Michelangelo Buonarroti

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Late Winter

When it comes to blogging, you don't have to be great to try, but you have to try to be great!

Here are some pieces from late February and the first week in March, the end of winter.
This year, the temperatures are so high, that the trees are blooming now. Maybe it is payback for the late spring that we had last year? Whatever it is, I'm happy to wake up every morning and rediscover what I like about painting color in the warmer months.






"Maybe I am not very human - what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.

-Edward Hopper