Monday, January 9, 2017


I picked up some colorful and interesting leaves during my morning walk, so that I'd have something to paint in my sketchbook during my lunch hour. I've probably painted everything in my office by now. Sumac, Bradford pear and the different varieties of oak trees are the most colorful in this part of Texas during the fall. This one is about 8 x 10" and painted on some stretched hot press watercolor paper.
Sumac Leaves
These Bradford Pear leaves were painted in a 3.5 x 5.5" Pentalic Watercolor Sketchbook.

This image of a red oak leaf includes the actual leaf I painted. I thought it was interesting to mount it to the watercolor paper. Too bad the color won't stay as vibrant; it's already gotten a lot duller in the short time since it was painted. It might be interesting to watch it change color over time compared to the painted version. It's about 9 x 12."
Red Oak

This was painted life size. I'm not sure what 
variety of oak this is but it has ENORMOUS acorns.
Insert your own joke here. 
Oak and Acorn

More oak leaves in various states of decay. The ones that are more damaged are always more interesting to paint.

Finally, the first new paintings of 2017. I stumbled upon this abandoned house about 30 minutes from my home, and spent about 2 hours painting it in oil. I'm about 70% happy with it. I'm bothered by the issues with perspective in the front gable, as well as the way the shadow underneath makes it look like it's floating there (it needs some grass to break up that edge. Both things are easily fixed, if I want to adjust them in the studio. I'm sure I won't get to it, but you never know.

Painting an abandoned home in Webberville, TX

Abandoned house, Webberville, TX, Afternoon 9 x 12"
My first studio painting of 2017. I found the bird (which I call The Maltese Sparrow) at a junk
store. The books are "The World of Li'l Abner" from 1953, "The Sad Sack" from 1944, and an English Phrasebook for Italians from 1907.

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Still Life with Red Books 11 x 14" oil

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Barton Creek, Morning, 9x12"
Winter has finally arrived, but I got out to do a little painting this past autumn, whenever I had the chance, and the weekend weather cooperated. In this part of Texas, "winter" usually just means rain on the weekend and clouds or sun the rest of the week (when I'm at work), with the occasional chilly day. Barton Creek and Bull Creek are my go-to places in Austin.

Trattoria Lisina, morning 9x12"
I also made another stop at Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood to paint the exterior of the restaurant. It's a terrific setting looking out over a vineyard. I think this was my 3rd time to paint the grounds.

I refuse to be sucked into the whole Black Friday shopping thing, so once again I went outside. This year found me in Luckenbach, Texas in a misting rain painting the iconic post office.
Luckenbach, TX , Rainy Morning 9x12"
Painting the Luckenbach, TX Post Office

Guthrie Bldg, Kerrville, Night 9x12"

Afterward, I went to Kerrville, where I set up to paint one of the Christmas-decorated buildings.

I've been having a lot of fun recently with small sketches in my watercolor sketchbook. I mainly have been doing these during my lunch hour at work.

Ringo Starr turned 76 this year, and I painted a drumstick in my sketchbook in his honor. By an odd coincidence, I had painted a Granny Smith apple on the previous page of the book.

On my office windowsill I have a Happy Buddha figurine that was given to me a few years ago as a souvenir. The shells are from the time I took a flight on a WWII B-17 bomber (it was awesome!) The copper one is a
50 caliber, and the blue one is 70 mm (I think).

These sketchbook pages are 5 x 8" and feature things I have in my desk, or I found in the supply cabinet at work. I've owned that "Snoopy Harp" since about 1970. I can verify that it REALLY hurts when it whacks against your teeth, but I can sound like a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica, or imitate Peter Frampton's talking guitar!

For some unknown reason, there were clothespins in the pencil drawer of our office supply cabinet. I pressed a few into service as models for about 45 minutes.

I think Eberhard Faber Design Markers were the best magic markers on the planet for doing marker comps. They were discontinued, but I still have a few that I hoard jealously. This is another way of saying that I can't bring myself to get rid of them. They also make good subjects for watercolor sketches.
I have painted the inside of quite a few of these mini Altoids tins with white appliance enamel, so I can make watercolor kits with different color palettes, or give them to people who might want to make their own portable set. They will hold 5 half-pans of watercolor. I buy empty ones and fill them from tubes. Many art supply stores carry these empty pans, or you can find them on ebay (cheap!), if you are willing to wait a month to get them shipped from Hong Kong! They are great for a travel set when used with water brushes like the one I painted in this page from my sketchbook.
Altoids travel set and water brush

color chart (5 colors)
Here are the 5 colors in the one shown above (Turner and Daniel Smith), and a chart showing the mixes you can make with them. They are: Hansa Yellow Medium, Sap Green, Phthalo Green (Red Shade), Phthalo Blue, and Alizarin Crimson.

watercolor tubes

And finally, a 3.5" x 5.5" sketchbook page 
Altoid Smalls Cinnamon