Saturday, December 22, 2007

Start of a new painting

I apologize for the delay in this posting but I have been under the weather (hopefully I'll be back in good form for the holiday). Here's a look at the latest piece I'm working on.

Best wishes to you for a great holiday. I'll talk to you in 2008!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Work on the blue heron

The blue heron painting is toned and drying. It should be ready by Friday for some color. I am also working on two more paintings and hopefully by Friday I can post at least one of them.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blue heron ready for paint

Well, the blue heron piece is ready for paint. I have finished the drawing on the canvas and can't wait to start. The painting is large (for me), 32" x 48", and will take me awhile to finish, but I hope to have it completed in time for the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition.

Now I am off to Gallery Jamel in Waldorf, Maryland, for the Robert Bateman show tonight. This is supposed to be his largest show ever and I am very eager to get up there and see some of his work in person. For information on the show, visit

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Back from Pea Island NWR

Well, I am back from my research/reference trip to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Outer Banks, NC. I had a great time and have come back with roughly 950 reference photos. Of course, half of those are probably no good but I think that I have enough to keep me going until spring.

The trip started off with a smile. Any of you who go down to the Outer Banks knows that inevitably there will be that person who tries to drive on the beach in a car. I turned off Route 12 onto the beach ramp to Oregon Inlet and what do I see in front of me but a little Mazda Miata dug down to its frame with two people standing outside the car looking at it as if they can't figure out how this happened. So of course I drove up and said, "What on earth where you thinking!" Neither of us had a tow rope but the gentleman had a 100-foot extension cord. Yes, indeed, I pulled out the car with an extension cord. The trip was off to a great start.

After getting some reference shots at Oregon Inlet I went down to Pea Island to spend some time down there. Wow, did things go downhill fast... can anyone say mosquitoes? I don't know what they have been feeding the bugs down there but these things where huge and plentiful. Now keep in mind that I came prepared with bug spray but these guys didn't seem to notice the fact that I had it on or the fact that I had three layers of clothes on; they still got through. After noticing the blanket of mosquitoes on me and the camera I packed it up and went down to "The Point" on Cape Hatteras and spent the rest of day down there.

The next day the wind picked up and I was able to go back up to Pea Island in the morning for some good shots. Below are some of the shots from both Cape Hatteras and Pea Island.

The main reason I went on this trip was in hopes of getting some more reference of a Great Blue Heron to use on one of my current paintings. I didn't see any the whole time that I was there so I was getting up early on the last morning to try some spots on the way back to the main land. I had my morning coffee brewing and I was just starting to pack up camp when a heron flew over and landed in the pond that surrounded the camp site. It couldn't have been better!

End of another great trip! Back to the studio.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

Wow, where has the past week and a half gone?

I have been busy with a couple of things... working on the new large piece of the blue heron and getting ready for a research/reference-gathering trip. The heron piece is not far enough along yet to show any progress but hopefully by next week I'll have the pencil drawing completed on the canvas. As for the trip, I'm trying to catch the end of the migration period along the coast of North Carolina. I am eager for some new birds to paint and this trip should fill my computer hard drive with some needed reference material.

On another note, my friend and colleague Terry Miller is having an open house along with two other artists this Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. If you have the opportunity you should drop in to see some excellent work! You can e-mail Terry for directions at As always, you can see Terry's work at

Well, I'm off to spend some quality time in the marsh. I'll share pictures when I get back.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Onto the final layer

The bird has been blocked in with color and it's now time to paint the final layer. This next layer is my favorite part of painting. It's the magic time when things really start to pop and you feel as though you can stick your hand into the painting and touch the bird.

Congratulations to the winning bidder of the Richmond Audubon Society Auction! Enjoy your new piece of art.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Work on two small paintings

The first painting is coming along nicely. It has moved past the stage of frustration. When laying down that first layer of color, the colors on the palette don't always match what is in your head. Then, sometimes, the color that you think is right ends up being color bias to the color that it's next to (for example, you have a green but when you put it on the canvas with a background of blue the green takes on a blue-green tone). When this happens, it's back to the palette to remix the paint so that it works with its neighboring color. I will be working on the bird today, which usually goes really well. Since I try to stay true to the bird, there are no decisions to be made -- it's either the right color or not. The other painting is now toned and ready to have color added.

Painting 1, the first layer of color is blocked in except on the bird.

Painting 2, The canvas is now toned and ready to start laying down some color.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Two new works

I have spent the last few days composing two new paintings. They are both 7" x 12" and will be done in oils.

Painting 1, drawing completed and canvas toned.

Painting 2, drawing completed and ready to be toned

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Presenting "Morning Guest, Carolina Wren"

Here is the completed drawing for the Richmond Audubon Society Auction.

"Morning Guest, Carolina Wren," Graphite pencil, 8" x 6"

I have donated this graphite drawing, "Morning Guest, Carolina Wren," to the Richmond Audubon Society for their annual auction. This auction is RAS's major fundraiser and supports their habitat, science and education activities, and projects, as well as their basic operations. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for the silent auction (which will run until 7:14). Dinner will start at 6:30. The raffle drawing will be at 7:15. The gavel will sound to open the live auction at 7:30 and the final bid will be heard at 8:30. What a great opportunity -- you can add a piece of art to your collection while also helping to support a great organization. All proceeds benefit RAS programs. For more information about the Richmond Audubon Society, please visit If you would like to bid on the drawing but cannot make it to the auction, please e-mail me at to request an absentee bid. Your absentee bid will given to the auctioneer the night of the auction and he will bid as appropriate. Deadline for the absentee bid is 5 p.m. November 14, 2007. I will be at the auction around 7 p.m.

To those who received an e-mail from me about the auction, please note the new times for the event above.

Monday, October 29, 2007

RAS drawing awaiting final touches

This is the last in-progress posting for this drawing before Wednesday when the finished piece and selected title (from your suggestions) will be unveiled.

Drawing in its final stages

More work on the bird

Title suggestions:

"Morning Coffee"
"Coffee Break"
"I Asked for Tea!"
"Morning Guest"
"Lazy Sunday"
"Tweet Tea"
"Tea for Two" (suggested twice)
"Early Bird"
"Let's Talk"
"Quality Time"
"Morning Tranquility"

Please leave more suggestions for titles or tell me which one you like best ... and look for the final drawing and title here on Wednesday.

For more information regarding RAS or the auction please visit

Saturday, October 27, 2007

RAS drawing nears completion

The RAS drawing draws near to completion. It will be wrapped up by Tuesday and I will post the finished drawing along with its title on Wednesday, October 31. I have gotten some good suggestions so far for the title, but keep them coming.

Title suggestions so far:
"Morning Coffee"
"Coffee Break"
"I Asked for Tea!"
"Morning Guest"
"Lazy Sunday"
"Tweet Tea"

For more information regarding RAS or the auction please visit

Work on the bird about halfway finished

Coffee cup and saucer are finished and work begins on the bird

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Progress on the RAS drawing

Here are several in-progress images of the drawing for the Richmond Audubon Society Auction. The background and foreground are basically finished and work on the saucer and coffee cup have begun.

I have gotten a few suggestions for titles (see below and let me know what you think). I will choose a title before posting the finished drawing.

Title suggestions so far:
"Morning Coffee"
"Coffee Break"
"I Asked for Tea!"

For more information regarding RAS or the auction please visit,

Work on the coffee cup begins

Work on the saucer begins

Final touches on the background

Background in progress

Beginning of the background

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Drawing for the Richmond Audubon Society

I thought I would be halfway done with this drawing by now, but I got hit with a cold bug and have been down for a couple of days.

Here's the start of the drawing [insert your title here] for the Richmond Audubon Society Auction. It is in its early stages with basically the lightest values blocked in. Please leave comments/suggestions regarding a title for this piece. I will pick one before I post the final drawing.

Above is the drawing in progress for the auction; the drawing will be done with graphite pencil and the final image size will be 8" x 6".

For more information regarding RAS or the auction please visit,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Drawing for Richmond Audubon Society

I have been asked if I could donate a piece to the Richmond Audubon Society for their Annual Potluck Dinner and Auction. This auction raises money for RAS to do a number of things from education to bird counts and conservation. There have been a couple of helpful people at RAS who have directly and indirectly helped me over the past several months to find the areas where I can find the very subject that has captivated my interest. So, of course, I said yes. Below is the composition sketch for the drawing that I am going to donate to the auction. Keep checking back over the next couple of weeks to see its progress. Also please leave comments/suggestions on a title for this piece and I will pick one before I post the finished drawing. I have also included a link to the RAS Auction site; please visit it for more information.

Composition Sketch for the RAS Auction Drawing, will be done with graphite pencil and final image will be 8" x 6"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Start of a new painting

Here's the composition sketch for my next painting. For me, this will be a large painting and will take some time to finish. The painting will be 32" x 48". I was lucky enough to run across this heron when coming around a bend in a creek at Presquile National Wildlife Refuge. As usual, I had my camera ready and as I started taking reference shots the heron took off. Leaving the refuge, I was disappointed because I thought that I had missed a great shot. To my surprise, when I got back to my studio and uploaded the photos, there was the image of the heron in mid-flight and the lighting was fantastic. I knew I had to paint this bird. It has taken me several weeks to decide on a composition and after actually erasing the first one off of the canvas I have decided on this one. You can kind of see the influence that Wisconsin's "big sky" left on me!

A quick reminder about the Artist Reception at the Burwell-Morgan Mill tomorrow for the "Art at the Mill" show. It is held at the mill from 2-5 p.m. Please refer to past postings for additional information and a map. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Art at the Mill update

The show at the Burwell-Morgan Mill is off to a good start. The pieces that where originally entered are all sold and have been replaced with a couple of new ones. Below are the images of the new work at the mill. A quick reminder of the Artist Reception this Sunday from 2-4 p.m. See the last two postings for a map and show hours.

I am currently working on a composition for a painting that I hope to start by the end of the week, and I am also looking through my reference material for something to draw for the Richmond Audubon Society Yearly auction. I should have something posted by the end of the week for both.

"Worn, Northern Cardinal," Oil, 12 x 18

"Young Downy, Downy Woodpecker," Graphite pencil, 7 x 4

Friday, October 5, 2007

Presenting "Your Majesty, Black Vulture"

Well, it's finished!

Below is the completed drawing of the black vulture, and I have titled it "Your Majesty, Black Vulture" because of the feather structure around the neck. Those feathers give a feeling of an Elizabethan collar.

The feathers on the back that are fluffed out are what grabbed my attention to this particular bird and composition. The contrast of the light reflecting off the feathers with the deep black shadows are what made this a good piece to do in graphite.

"Your Majesty, Black Vulture," Graphite Pencil, 9 x 6

Upcoming show "Art at the Mill"
Opening Day: Saturday, October 6, 2007
Artist Reception: Sunday, October 14, 2007, 2-4 p.m. (I hope to see you there!)
Final day: Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sunday through Thursday: 12-5 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Please refer to Friday's posting about show location and the artwork on display.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Almost done with the black vulture drawing

Here is the progress on the black vulture drawing. I should have it finished later tonight or by tomorrow.

An upcoming event.

Saturday, October 6th, is the opening day of "Art at the Mill" at the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia. This is another unique venue for a show and is in a fantastic area. It is worth the drive!
I had two pieces selected for the show: "Summer Vine, House Finch" and "November Branches, House Finches." I will be at the mill on Sunday briefly around the lunch hour bringing more work to the show because, happily, "November Branches, House Finches" has already sold. If you don't see me then, please stop by on Sunday, October 14th, from 2-4 p.m. for the artist reception. It is a fun occasion where you get to meet the artists.

Map of Burwell-Morgan Mill:540-837-1799 Route 255 Millwood, VA 22646, US

"Summer Vine, House Finch," Oil, 9 x 15

"November Branches, House Finches," Oil, 25 x 10

Monday, October 1, 2007

Aldie Mill Art Show & Sale wrap-up

Thanks to everyone who came to the drawing demo on Sunday. I had a great time and it was a pleasure to meet all of you. Your comments and enthusiasm over my work is greatly appreciated. Below are a couple of pictures of me working on my latest drawing, the black vulture. A big thanks to fellow artist and Birds in Art exhibitor Mary Cornish for taking these pictures.

If you didn't get a chance to visit the show this year hopefully you can make the trip next year. The Aldie Mill is such a unique place to have an art show and the surrounding country is beautiful. It's a great area to just drive around and take in all the sites.

Thank you to Brenda Branscome, the wonderful woman who puts this show together, and all the volunteers who help her throughout the show.

And to all who bought art ... enjoy!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ready for Sunday's drawing demo

Well, I didn't get as far as I wanted, although I am happy with the progress and am ready for the demo tomorrow at the Aldie Mill Art Show & Sale. I will be at the show from noon to 5 p.m. working on the black vulture drawing. I hope to see everyone there. Below is a link to the map of Aldie, Virginia.

Map of Aldie Mill:703-327-9777 39401 John Mosby Hwy Aldie, VA 20105, US

I finished the background and worked on the little hairs of the head today.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Progress on Black Vulture drawing

I have been mainly working on the background today but you can start to see some more value being added in the feathers.

I plan to work on this friday and saturday morning and I will post the progress saturday afternoon in preparation for the drawing demo on Sunday at the Aldie Mill Art show and Sale.

Click on link to find out more about Aldie Mill --

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Off to a good start

Here is the beginning of my Black Vulture drawing.

It takes awhile to get one of my drawings off the ground because the first layer of graphite has to be carefully laid down. Working on Cotton rag watercolor paper, you have to be careful not to nick one of the fibers of the paper, doing so would make it difficult to work with. I have carefully used a 2h pencil to establish the first layer of value and then built on top of it. Once that first layer is down the graphite pencil glides over the surface. As you can see I have started to "push" back the shadows.

-back to work!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


This being my first posting, I would like to thank Terry Miller for suggesting I start a blog. If you haven’t seen Terry’s work or his blog, please visit his site at and his blog at, both of which are also in the links section to the right.

Right now I’m working on a graphite drawing of a black vulture, which I started on Friday and will continue to work on this week to complete it by September 30. On Sunday the 30th, I will be doing another drawing demo at the Aldie Mill Art Show & Sale from noon to 5 p.m. If you haven’t stopped by, this is your last chance to catch this year’s show before it closes. I hope to see you there!

This is the very first step of one of my drawings, the comp or thumbnail sketch. It is the blueprint of what will be my finished work. Check back through the week to see the progress of this drawing.