Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Morning Fog- 8 1/4 x 10 1/4
Vine charcoal on Twinrocker handmade paper
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

I'm about 24 hours behind on this post but I did not want the day to end before wishing you all Merry Christmas. After a lovely Christmas Eve with family we woke to a dusting of snow here in northeast Texas. Tonight was cold and starry. God bless us, everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Comes Early

Stream Study -7 1/2 x 6 3/4
Vine Charcoal on Strathmore paper
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

For artists there are few things that can match the excitement of new materials. A trip to the art supply store is like a pilgrimage. Living in a very rural area has curtailed that particular pleasure for me, as my supplies these days arrive in bundles from the UPS guy. Still, one of the first things I do when a new roll of canvas arrives is unwrap it and unroll just a little so I can feel and smell it.

A few weeks ago artist Brian McGurgan mentioned on his blog a source for paper-Twinrocker Handmade Paper. As I am teaching an online class on drawing and painting trees soon, Ive been trying out different papers for pencil and charcoal. So, I ordered their sample swatch set and a few small sheets of one of their papers. What pure delight to open that package and find such beautiful papers! That day the UPS guy looked a lot like Santa.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why Draw?

Tree Study 5 1/4 x 9 1/4
Vine charcoal on Twinrocker handmade paper


Landscape painters often think they don't need to draw. Or, if they do, they study life drawing but leave the drawing materials in the studio rather than taking them to the field. In the 19th century artists often used drawing as a way to record information which would later be used in studio paintings. Although we think of the 19th century as the time when droves of landscape painters headed outdoors, often they brought their sketchbooks rather than their paints.

Drawing lends itself to both the sketch -what John Constable called "that which you were at the time" -and the more considered study. In both cases the economical time and materials invested in a drawing can bear much fruit.

Study of Mangrove Trees
7 1/2 x 9 3/4
Vine charcoal on Strathmore paper

Thumbnail sketches help us explore compositional ideas, sketches can quickly record a fleeting effect, and studies provide raw material for studio work. I've also come to see recently that my drawings often help me work out the visual shorthand I need to describe something in a painterly way.

My new online class- Drawing & Painting Trees- filled so quickly that I've opened up a second section for those who missed out. Information and registration is here.
Update: 5 spots left!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Autumn- Rick's Pool
8 x 12
Vine charcoal on Strathmore paper


Every once in a while you have to shut down and reboot your artistic energy . I've just come off an intense three months in which I completed almost 40 paintings for various shows and events. Although I have a solo show coming up in February at M Gallery in Sarasota, this week I just couldn't pick up a brush. Instead, I made a series of charcoal drawings- some studies for paintings I have in mind to do for the show and some simply for pleasure. I feel better already!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Drawing & Painting Trees

Southwest Corner
7 1/4 x 8 7/8
Vine charcoal on Strathmore 500 paper

For landscape artists, trees are arguably the most important raw material of our craft and art. Their very individual character, their attitude as living beings within the landscape make them a source of endless fascination and challenge for the artist. Artists in the 19th century routinely sketched and painted studies of these sentinels of nature in order to understand their structure as well as their artistic bearing. These drawings and studies were then used to create larger studio works.

I have a new online class scheduled- Drawing and Painting Trees. I plan to structure it as an online atelier for the study of this most important subject. You can go HERE (scroll down) to read more and to register. Class is limited to 10 students - 3 spots left!

More Inspiration

I was walking back to the house from the studio a few days ago, watching the late light flicker through the trees on the southwest corner of our property. I turned around and saw this- the rising moon. The white oak still holding onto its autumn color provided a beautiful warm note. Of course what the photo didn't pick up was that lovely pinkish hue at the bottom of the sky. And that, of course, is why you have to get out there and see it for yourself.