Thursday, September 12, 2013


Over the last few weeks, I've been continuing the habit of doing a small painting during my lunch hour (most days). These are a few of the most recent ones. I have a small lamp with a daylight bulb clipped onto a cardboard box, and I set up a small still life inside it. I made these panels by gluing the last of my primed canvas onto masonite.

19 August, 2013 Figs #2 6x8" oil

The composition of this next one would probably work better if it were cut down to a 6x6" panel.

21 August, 2013 Figs #3 8x6" oil

26 August 2013 A Single Pear 8x6" oil

This painting of M&Ms was painted on a canvas made of hemp, which has a pretty nice texture, much like linen. I primed it with acrylic gesso, then rubbed some burnt sienna acrylic onto the canvas to tone the surface and keep the gesso from soaking up the paint too much. Painting candy on a canvas made of hemp really opens me up for jokes about "the munchies" so I'll let you take a moment now to make one.

28 August 2013 M&Ms 8x10" oil SOLD

The next model came from a bakery near my office. They make incredible kolaches and cinnamon rolls, and I struggled as I tried to decide to eat it, or paint it first.

29 August, 2013 Kolache 6x8" oil
10 September 2013 Granny Smith 6x8" oil

Thursday, August 15, 2013


For the past several weeks, I've been using my lunch hour to paint small still life setups in my office at work. I clipped a lamp onto a cardboard box, and placed my objects onto a piece of fabric. I used a converted cigar box as my easel. It is small enough so that a piece of cling film covers the paint and keeps it from skinning over between painting sessions. I put a few small bottle caps of clove oil in with the paint. This also keeps the paint soft (and smells nice too).

simple still life stage
Peaches and cherries have been in season, so they have been my main subject. I paint them, then eat them. These paintings were all done in about an hour.

9 July 2013 Texas Peaches 8x10" SOLD

10 July 2013 Rainier Cherries 6x8"

11 July 2013 Rainier Cherries 6x8"

12 July 2013 Rainier Cherries 6x8"

17 July 2013 Texas Peaches 6x8"

29 July 2013 Figs 6x8"

30 July 2013 Figs 6x8"
5 August 2013 Apple and Cherries 6x8"

6 August 2013 Fruit 8x10"

8 August 2013 Cherries 6x8"

13 August 2013 Bottle and Grapes 10x8"
I've owned this pewter goblet for years, but this is the first time I've ever painted it. The perspective got a little wonky, making it lean slightly. I'll have to try again.
14 August 2013 Goblet and Grapes 10x8"

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Here is some recent field and studio work. I spent some time working on a larger versions of studies I did last year. The first is based on some trees I painted along Bull Creek in November. I punched up a shadow that was only slightly indicated on the original piece, and made some changes to the trees in the distance.

Fall Color on Bull Creek 12x16"
 I then did a new version of a study I did along the Colorado River in East Austin a few weeks ago. It was an overcast day when I did the study.

Gray Day on the Colorado River 11x14"

2013-05-18 Colorado River Study 8x10"

I decided that I need to learn to paint a cactus, and used photo reference I took last month. I still need to learn to paint a cactus, but this is a start.

Cactus Study 12x9"
Today I went to a paint out with members of Plein Air Austin. We returned to Formby Ranch, and I set up to paint another view of the cabin I painted last year. I'm told the cabin once belonged to J Frank Dobie.

Dobie Cabin 8x10"
I had some extra time when I finished painting the cabin, so I set a timer on my phone, and painted a 40 minute study of an Ashe Juniper (cedar) tree. I like doing these quick studies, because you don't have a lot of time to work a painting to death; you lay down a color and leave it alone. Plus, you have an excuse if it doesn't turn out ("I did it in 40 minutes!")

Ashe Juniper Study 10x8"

Friday, May 10, 2013


Last week, I attended a four day painting workshop in Austin with Australian artist Colley Whisson. Each day, Colley did a demo in the studio, taking a painting along in stages, which we then repeated so that we could learn his methods. Colley uses a lot of medium when he paints, making his his paint layer quite thin. The smoothness of the finished work reminds me of gouache. On the final day, we went outside to paint on the grounds of The Oasis, a pretty famous restaurant in the area. Again, Colley did a demo, and then we went off to find our own subjects to paint. These are the paintings I did on the final day, and are not based on Colley's work.

Archway at the Oasis 8x10"

Stairway at the Oasis 8x10"

Prior to the workshop, I gave Colley a tour of Powerhouse Animation, and introduced him to Threadgill's for lunch with a couple of the guys.

Ronnie Williford, Bruce Tinnin, Colley Whisson, Frank Gabriel

I bought this little painting of Goulburn River in Victoria Australia from him for my collection.
It's about 5 3/4" x 10"

Goulburn River, Victoria by Colley Whisson

Friday, April 19, 2013


I recently made a trip to Manchester, England on business. My company, Powerhouse Animation, made a pilot episode of an animated version of the HUGELY successful live action TV show Mrs Brown's Boys. One of my business partners, Bruce Tinnin, and I were flown by BOCPix to screen the pilot to people from the BBC and Universal. We met the cast and crew in Manchester, where they were performing a series of sold-out shows of the stage version of the show.

Frank and Bruce with Brendan O'Carroll as Mrs. Brown
After the show, Brendan O'Carroll (Mrs Brown) mentioned to the audience that we were there.

To backtrack slightly, we had an 8 hour layover in Newark, NJ, which gave me some time to break in the new 12 pan travel set of watercolors and moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

Newark Airport
I also did some quick ink sketches of the people and surroundings in another sketchbook.
Newark Airport

 We were put up in a two bedroom apartment. This was the view from the window, drawn with brown ink and a water brush.
Down Hanover Street
Corner of Shudehill and Hanover
We spent a few evenings in Waxy O'Connor's Pub with some of the members of the cast, drinking Guinness and drawing in our sketchbooks. This is the best I could do after more Guinness passed through my system than at any time since I was at college. A terrific bunch of guys, and I hope to see them soon. One morning we took a train to Liverpool, and just about froze while painting along the Mersey after visiting the Cavern Club. Then it was back to Manchester and the pub.

On the train from Liverpool to Manchester
Pepsi, Bugsy and Mike signed my drawings of them
Waxy O'Connor's Pub customers
On Saturday, we took the tram to Heaton Park, where we painted until just before it started to rain.

Heaton Park

photo by Bruce Tinnin

Monday, March 4, 2013


I painted on the grounds of the Texas Capitol building this weekend, and came away with two studies of the Capitol. The sky was completely cloudless on both days, and a beautiful deep blue.
Texas Capitol dome 12x9"

Painting at the Capitol 2013-03-02

Texas Capitol building 12x9"

Painting at the Capitol 2013-03-03
It was also Texas Independence Day on Saturday, so there were re-enactors all over the place this weekend, including this group firing a musket salute on Sunday.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I found this old house on the side of Williamson Road, around Buda. Several groups of people (their family owns the land) stopped by to see what I was doing. From them, I learned that up until a month ago the entire field was covered with mesquite trees, and you couldn't even tell that a house was back there. I also learned that at one time, this was the home of the Creedmore, TX Postmaster. One young guy who stopped told me that he wouldn't have believed that a old broken down building like that could make a nice painting.I told him that I think these buildings are the best things to paint. I've said it before in another blog post, I'm drawn to the old rusty metal roofs and weathered wood.

2012-02-02 Postmaster's House 9x12"