Monday, December 21, 2015

Some Reds

Reedsburg Alleyway

Rock Springs sketch

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mixing Primaries from Secondaries

Autumn Forrest 24x36"

Clouds 6x8"

I started using a new color on my palette this summer. Violet. In kindergarten we learn that by mixing blue and red, we get purple. You can make a pretty good purple on the palette by mixing a cool blue with a cool red. But, whenever two pigments are mixed, it is not as brilliant or chromatic as a color from the tube. Violet is more chromatic straight from the tube than a mixture of red and blue.

The reason I put violet on the palette was not that I needed brighter purples on my palette. I needed this secondary color to mix lower intensity primary colors.

By mixing violet and green, you can get a lower intensity blue. By mixing violet and orange, you end with a low intensity red that is sort of a red ochre.

If you mix green with orange, you can get a low intensity yellow. If you give it a try, mix more orange than green. Of course, you will lighten these mixtures to get them as light or dark as you need.

It might sound funny, but I've really been excited about mixing secondary colors to make the primary colors. It's the little things that can keep you sparked!

By the way, I got this bit of info from a passage in Robert Henri's book The Art Spirit, which just might be the best book on painting. If you want to read more about color, you could also check out the book Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green from the library.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Autumn Trees - Fall Art Touring, and DTouring

Autumn Trees - painted on the DTour, and shown on the Fall Art Tour

There is plenty to do around the area in October. I'm honored to be a stop on the Fall Art Tour. The Tour is the longest running studio tour in Wisconsin, it has been going on for over 20 years. Showing art in a gallery is great, but what makes the Fall Art Tour Special, is that you get to enter the studios of the artists and see their process. Each year we have hundreds of visitors to the Chicken Coop Studio, it always feels like I'm harvesting my paintings during that weekend, just like Brian Bender is harvesting the crops in our fields. describes the event:
The third full weekend each October, some of Wisconsin's best-known artisans open their studios, allowing visitors a unique, behind-the-scenes view into how their work is created. Known as the Fall Art Tour, each year it draws visitors from all over the country to artists' studios tucked away in the scenic hills in and around Wisconsin's art communities of Baraboo, Spring Green, Dodgeville, and Mineral Point.
During the three-day tour, artists will be in their studios, demonstrating and selling their work. These artisans include painters, sculptors, potters, weavers, jewelers, woodworkers, mixed-media artists, and more. Many of these studios are open only for this event, providing a unique opportunity to meet the artists and purchase their work. So join us on a drive through the autumn countryside during this once-a-year event that includes a rare glimpse into the restored breweries, one-room schoolhouses, and historic storefronts where some of Wisconsin's best-known artists work.

The Chicken Coop Studio in the 2014 Fall Art Tour

There is also the Farm Art DTour.
The first year of the DTour was in 2009, well that year was sort of the pilot for the DTour. In 2009 Jim Splittgerber, Joyce Ihde, and I painted in a field as one of the stops on the DTour. The DTour has grown since the first year, and now there are thousands of people who come to take the DTour.

Donna Neuwirth describes the DTour as a 50-mile self-guided back roads tour by car, bike or buggy through the beautiful, unglaciated hills and valleys of Sauk County.
The DTour is punctuated by temporary art installations and artist-built Roadside Culture Stands selling fresh, locally grown produce as part of our new Food Chain initiative. You’ll also find Field Notes (rural culture education sites), Farm Forms (creations made by farmers, area businesses and community groups), Pasture Performances and more!

Painting on the Farm Art DTour in 2013

Painting at Devils Lake State Park

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Small Works Show at the Art Bar



The Art Bar in Milwaukee has a small works show every November and December, and it's up now! The paintings have to be small, 8" in the largest direction, the paintings shown above are 8x8" or 6x8". The theme for the show is to do what you normally do, just do it small. Painting small is fun, and usually quicker, but shapes of color are sometimes easier when the canvas isn't so little. I painted most of these in the week after the Fall Art Tour. It was nice to have a project lined up for the week after, and working small was refreshing in the height of Autumn color.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fall Art Tour Preview Video

A quick peak into my Chicken Coop Studio!
We have been working really hard to get everything ready for the fall art tour. I have 103 paintings ready to show this year! We got a pellet stove in the Chicken Coop Studio, and it really heats the place up. We also have a new patio, right outside of the Coop, made from the cement staves that we have from when the silo came down earlier this spring.
This is the 22nd year of the Fall Art Tour, and it's my fifth year. I'm honored to be a part of such a great event. I couldn't have done this without the help of my Mom, my Girlfriend Cortney, and Hess. We will be open October 16, 17, 18 - 2015 from 10am - 6pm.
S3749 Schneider Road
Rock Springs, WI


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!