Friday, December 31, 2010

Corner Station — Stage 2

Not a ton of progress yesterday, though I began building up some detail in the signs, pumps and the ground plane at left. Still some straightening to go, along with continued building up of color and values. Happy New Year, everybody.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Corner Station (lg) — In Progress

 Round Rock Gas Station (24 x 30) — Step 1

Happy Holidays, everyone. I hope you're all still enjoying family and friends for a few more days. My blog posts have been few and far between the last several weeks, but now that I've completed my short move (a short move is still a move, trust me) and made it through Christmas shopping, I will be back to posting on a more regular basis. 

Because I've been away so much of late, and because my latest project is a large piece and will take more time than the usual 6x8 or 8x10, I've decided to post it in stages. That way, at least people will know I'm not twiddling my thumbs. 

The picture above is the beginning of a larger studio version of a rough field study I did back in October in Round Rock's new Chalk Walk Art and Music Festival (see field study below). Referring to the field study for color notes and photographic reference to fine tune the composition, today started out by blocking in the main color. I was very happy with how quickly it went, considering the size of the canvas. I used Kevin McPherson's "best average color" method, which can be a huge time saver, because you start right in with the more or less correct color and value for the main color areas and get it down with a big brush. Because of the beauty of the oil painting process, there is no real need to start with a line rendering (I did, however, mark the half-way points along all four edges and the center of the support). The slow drying oil paint, instead allows you to push the shape edges around until you're happy with their location. Another time- and paint-saving element of the block in process that I find especially important on larger paintings is adhering to the well-worn maxim "fat over lean." Thinning the paint and using a big brush makes this stage go so much faster. Now that I've mapped out the composition, in the next stage I'll go in with thicker paint to start adding nuanced color and values and make the edges read as they should. I hope to post again in a day or so.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Afternoon Haze

Afternoon Haze, 8x10

One of the many barns on the outskirts of Malvern, Ohio, this one sits just south of U.S. Highway 30 as it heads east from town. U.S. 30 in this part of the country is known as the Lincoln Highway, and follows the route that for two hundred years has been perhaps the country's most heavily traveled land route for immigrant settlers heading west from New York and Philadelphia. The first of my Ohio ancestors arrived there from Germany in 1825.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Light

Last Light, 6x8

The plan this day was to paint a beautiful Texas sunset over Lake Travis. We had a fabulous spot at the property of our wonderful and generous Plein Air Austin co-member, Lynn. Since I happened to arrive a few minutes late, however, and with every moment so precious, I decided to take the easy way out and paint the pretty, indirect light coming off the water facing north. 

It turned out to be no bargain. The subtle light and color shifts (which, like the actual sunset, were still constantly changing) were more than enough to demand all the focus I had. The exercise was valuable, however, and certainly one that bears repeating and continuing to learn to see and render such subtle, yet powerful differences.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Sale!


Friends, now through December 31 is the time to purchase any of my art that you may be interested in. Visit my store at, add the items you like to your shopping cart, and enter code DEC2010 during checkout for your 25% discount.

Please note that to help ensure arrival by Christmas, items should be purchased using PayPal, and done so by December 15. Items purchased by check will be shipped immediately upon the funds clearing the issuer's bank and, thus, those items are not likely to arrive before Christmas.

Don't forget — enter code DEC2010 for your 25% discount.


Monday, December 6, 2010

In The Barn II

In The Barn II, 6x8

Saturday evening, after a couple hours of painting, Plein Air Austin had our end-of-year party at Westlake Beach and Marina.  The weather was perfect and lots of family and friends showed up for the catered picnic. The scene above is not actually of Westlake Beach, but of the adjacent marina, the name of which I didn't notice. I was attracted by the clear skies and the bright, late afternoon light on the boats.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gruene River Grille

Gruene River Grille, 10x8

Today's post is from last Saturday's PAA paintout in Gruene, Texas, just north of New Braunfels. Once again I had to finish the piece almost a week later. I was fighting a slight fever during the outing and, contrary to the plan, being outdoors only made things worse. Happily, unfettered access to plenty of Thanksgiving food the last few days has returned things to normal.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Wake Zone

No Wake Zone, 8x6

Westlake Beach on Lake Austin was the site for our last plein air class, which was a week ago tomorrow. I got the block-in done on site with fairly accurate color, but didn't get a chance to complete it until today. It's amazing how rusty one can get in a week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee, 8x10

Fall has arrived in central Texas and after a typically long and hot summer, the locals came out in droves last Saturday to enjoy the cool, dry air and bright blue skies. This is Jo's, a popular spot along Austin's South Congress Avenue. It's a great place to read the paper over coffee or to just sit and watch this happening neighborhood wake up and come alive.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Morning Gloria

Morning Gloria, 6x8

This landscape was done in Laurel Daniel's plein air class two weeks ago. I'm just posting it now, because I have been busy preparing to move at the end of the month (still in Austin) and haven't had time to touch  up and post it until today. The class is focused on rendering water in its different environments. The weather shown here is typical of the last couple of weeks — beautifully sunny and cool with light breezes.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Georgetown Square

Georgetown Square, 6x8

Plein Air Austin joined the plein air group from Williamson County this morning on the town square of their county seat, Georgetown, Texas. It's one of Texas' best-preserved old downtown areas, with plenty to paint. The building at the end of the block with the turret on top is the Masonic Lodge of Georgetown, built around 1900.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Life Drawing

Our life drawing class was cut short today, due to transportation issues encountered by our beautiful model. Thus, we only had time for a couple poses. My missing last week's class and the resulting figure-drawing rust rendered today's first-pose effort un-postable. Here is the second one.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Central Air

Central Air, 5x7

The cool of Ohio's summer evenings can seem surreal to someone visiting from central Texas. The representation above of yet another rustically beautiful Ohio barn — with its open windows and doors allowing the breeze through — pretty much sums up the way I felt about the visit.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Done For The Day

Done For The Day, 5x7

Another of the farms on the outskirts of Malvern, Ohio, this one on Citrus Road NW.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Red Barn, Yellow Light

Red Barn, Yellow Light, 5x7

If this barn looks familiar, it's probably because I painted a portion of this same cowshed, which I posted back at the beginning of August after my trip to Ohio. This one makes more of the barn itself, rather than the rolling countryside, and in a looser style.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Michaelis Live Oaks

Michaelis Live Oaks, 5x7

Last spring PAA had a paintout at the Michaelis Ranch outside Kyle, Texas, which is about twenty miles south of Austin. My brother, Paul, was visiting from the east coast and I was able to talk him into coming with me to take pictures while I painted. This piece was painted from one of the many he took that day.  Thank you, older brother.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Columns Of Light

Columns Of Light, 10x8

This detail was painted from photo reference I took while in Ohio this past summer. It depicts a corner of the Hart Mansion in Minerva. Built just after the Civil War in an Italianate Victorian style, the mansion now serves as a fine restaurant. I found the arrangement of this trio of columns to be unusually beautiful and a wonderful example of what's known in design circles as the Divine Proportion, or Golden Ratio.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Local Flavor

Local Flavor, 5x7

Garcia's Restaurant is the place to go for authentic Tex-Mex when you're in Round Rock. Nothing fancy, just really good food and an atmosphere that makes you feel you're among friends. I rediscovered this little spot this weekend after several years away, during Round Rock's inaugural Chalk Walk, an art & music festival.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Corner Station

Corner Station, 8x10

Today the city of Round Rock, just north of Austin, sponsored their first annual Chalk Walk Arts & Music Festival. Plein Air Austin was invited to join in the festivities, which several of us did. The weather was perfect and many turned out. The subject I chose is an old gas station that has been restored on the outside and re-purposed inside into small offices. It's a really cool little place.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hanover Township Firetruck

Hanover Township Firetruck, 24x24

Hanover Township encompasses the farm my mother grew up on in northeastern Ohio. This 1940s firetruck served the township for decades. It still runs, thanks to the restoration efforts of my cousins, the Fureys, some of whom still live twenty miles or so down the road in Malvern, Ohio.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life Drawing Class Studies

Life Drawing Studies

It's been thirty years since my last life drawing class and, at long last, I'm finally taking another. This one is taught by David Everett at Laguna Gloria and it's great to have found such a capable teacher. The instruction is geared toward finding the correct proportions, strictly in horizontal and vertical terms, which I am finding very helpful. The standing poses were twenty minutes, the center one, forty minutes. Not that there's much difference in the level of finish. They were done using a peel-able charcoal stick, which I have not yet learned to shade with. For the time being, I'm roughly cross-hatching to indicate shadow areas.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Glass Cube With Stem, 12x16

This attempt is for a class I'm taking at Laguna Gloria, taught by Laurel Daniel. The class is focused on painting glass objects in still life. If this particular exercise taught me one lesson, it is to not be late to class! Still life classes often have several set-ups, and it's usually the case that the most challenging set-ups are the ones that always have room for a late-arriving student. With only so much painting time available in class, the simpler set-ups are at a premium. As a result, I was stuck with this little monster, which still has me seeing spots.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Road Out II

The Road Out II, 8x10

I painted this landscape from photos I took a year ago in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. My college buddy, Bruce Powers, hauled me up there to help him build a tool shed on the property he and his wife, Peggy, bought there a few years ago. This view is from the road that fronts their scenic property.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lake Austin Piers

Lake Austin Piers, 5x7

Our friend and fellow Plein Air Austin member, Cindy Ridge, hosted today's paintout. Her shady Lake Austin property was one of the few cool outdoor spots around Austin today. Torrential rains earlier in the week and today's sunny skies made for a hot and extremely humid day. Luckily for us the water temperature in this part of the lake is around 70º at the moment, thanks to a release from Mansfield Dam, upstream. The water temp and a slight breeze kept Cindy's shady yard nice and cool. When can we come back, Cindy?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Colonial In Color

Colonial In Color, 5x7

The shapes and angles of this house in the late afternoon light attracted me. In reality, the house is all red brick, black shutters and the small addition at bottom left, sadly, is covered in white vinyl. This being the case, and because I wanted to accentuate the myriad shapes and angles, I decided to give each wall a color of its own. I like the festive, bungalow feel of the colors, even more so when I recall that this house is, in real life, the rectory of a church.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Barn On Avalon Road

Barn On Avalon Road, 6x6

These farm structures stand about a quarter-mile outside Malvern, Ohio, heading south along Avalon Road, toward Lake Mohawk. The evening before I returned home, I drove all over the area to get as much photographic reference as I could. I was intrigued by this scene, in the way the buildings were nicely tucked into the road embankment and how their geometric shapes radiate out in different directions. The telephone pole approximates the vertical axis of the group.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

'40 Chevy

'40 Chevy, 8x10

This 1940 Chevy sedan was my Uncle Louis' first new car. It was restored several years ago by my cousins, Donald and Charles Furey and Donald's son, John. If I've left anyone out, Fureys, let me know and I'll update this post. Everyone involved did a magnificent job.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not Dead Yet

Salt Lick Shack, 6x8

This morning's Plein Air Austin paintout was on the property of a famous central Texas Bar B-Q joint, the Salt Lick, in Driftwood. Before this image convinces you never to visit said gathering place, rest assured this is not the actual restaurant. In fact, this forlorn structure is a good quarter mile away, back where some maintenance and repair equipment is kept. I guess you could call this a supply shed, as it's full of all sorts of, "supplies." I don't think you'll find any of them on a working inventory list, however.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Azumaya, 8x10

Ahh, the wonders of the Internet. With a few keystrokes, I've identified the structure depicted above. Anything I spend three hours scrutinizing and painting (and scrutinizing and painting), I figure I should know the name of. So, this structure — this open-air Japanese shelter, commonly comprised of a roof supported by beams and four vertical posts — is called an azumaya.

In any case, our paintout was wonderful. We overran the normally peaceful confines of the Austin Botanical Garden early Thursday morning under conditions that were almost perfect — slight overcast, breezes that were actually cool, and no rain.

That's right, no rain — making it, of course, unnecessary to seek shelter in the nearby azumaya.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In For Repairs

In For Repairs, 5x7

Here is a study from one of the photos I took on my recent visit to Malvern, Ohio. It depicts a GMC dump truck parked for servicing behind Furey Motors. Judging strictly by its dog-eared facade, I think this one might have had multiple issues.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Krause Springs Cactus

Cactus On The Rocks, 6x6

The site of last week's PAA paintout, Krause Springs is about thirty-five miles west of Austin, not far from where the Pedernales River feeds into Lake Travis. Our summer sites are invariably near water, so we can cool off before, during or after we put the paintbrushes away. This particular day, the forecast was for a high of 105º, so it was absolutely necessary to take a dip in the 72º spring early on to keep cool while painting. I chose this rocky, cactus-laden outcropping partly because it offered nearby shade and also a variety of textures, colors and values.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Afternoon Ride

Afternoon Ride, 5x7

I found this red motorcycle parked in front of the Firehouse Grill in Malvern. It is one of an endless number of cycles we saw while in Ohio. The rolling countryside and summer sunshine no doubt contributed to their ubiquity.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Road Warrior Redux

Road Warrior, 24x24

I'm building, albeit rather slowly, a body of larger work, taken from smaller plein air and studio pieces I've done in the past. The original study for the piece above is from a paintout we had several months ago at the Davis Ranch out Hamilton Pool Road in the Hill Country. Below is the original 6x6. 

Road Warrior (original plein air study)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Place In The Shade

A Place In The Shade, 8x10

This shady spot can be found alongside 613 Porter Street in Malvern, directly across the street from Furey Motors.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rolling Corn, Red Barn

Rolling Corn, Red Barn, 8x16

Coming from central Texas, it's amazing to see the rolling farmland of northeastern Ohio this time of year. In the week I was there, the corn seemed to grow well over a foot. This barn and corn field are on County Road 15, just off the main road between Malvern and Carrollton.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ready To Pick Up

Ready To Pick Up, 10x8

Furey Motors, an auto repair garage opened by my Uncle Louis Furey, has been in Malvern, Ohio for a very long time. Since it predates me, I never even thought to ask just how long. To me, it's been there forever. My cousin Tom now owns the garage and while the car designs have changed, everything else looks virtually unchanged from the way I remember it during our family visits of my childhood. 

The garage was a special place. One reason was that Uncle Louis always made sure I had a clean mechanic's rag ready for my back pocket when I showed up for "work." That was cool. Even cooler, however, was that Uncle Louis had one of those old bottle-dispensing Coke machines at the garage AND the keys to go with it. To me this meant the Cokes were free, not just for me, but for Uncle Louis, as well. This being my perception, at even the slightest twinge of thirst, I would hit up my very patient elder for one frosty beverage after another. 

In hindsight, I don't know how Uncle Louis weathered this brazen tendency toward self-gratification so magnanimously, but he always did.  Louis and my Aunt Alta both passed away several years ago, now. But their seven children, and the two generations that follow them are remarkably similar in their kindness.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Home for Dinner

Home For Dinner, 8 x 6

My recent visit to the small town of Malvern, Ohio and the surrounding area was very nostalgic. We used to visit relatives there in the summers and spend time on the family farm about twenty five miles away. The afternoon before returning home, I had a chance to drive around and get plenty of reference photography of Malvern and some of the surrounding farms. I was amazed how much things have stayed the same there. The residents have done a great job maintaining the old homes and buildings. This back porch in the warm afternoon light is emblematic of the comfortable and friendly nature of this place and its people. I'll be posting more new art in the coming weeks, recalling this trip.

Monday, July 26, 2010

San Marcos Gazebo

Veramendi Plaza Gazebo, 6 x 8

Saturday morning Plein Air Austin met at Rio Vista Park in San Marcos. I was glad to find the solitude of this gazebo a few hundred yards upstream from the park's waterfront recreation area. With the river up and the summer heat on the rise, the park was crowded by 9:00 a.m. with locals ready to cool off in the San Marcos River's spring-fed waters.

Friday, July 23, 2010

St. Philip Neri Church

St. Philip Neri Church, 12 x 9

Last week I accompanied my mother to eastern Ohio to visit relatives and the area near the farm on which she grew up. At eighty-eight years old, she was glad to be able to make the trip and had a wonderful time. The church above is special to my mother. She, along with most of her direct American-born ancestors, on both sides of her family, were baptized in this church. She attended the church, built in 1849 in the village of Dungannon, until she left the area to become a Navy nurse during World War II, where she met my father. The painting is a gift to my mother, Ruth Wernet Parker.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Minnows Anybody?

Minnows Anybody? 5 x 7

This was painted from a photo I took at Stony Brook Harbor on the North Shore of Long Island over Labor Day weekend, 2008. Typical of kids this age, this brother and sister were excited to be the owners of a big bucket of minnows. As young entrepreneurs, I think they were even more excited about the prospect of turning a tidy profit off their sale.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bungalow with Blue Trim

Bungalow with Blue Trim, 8 x 10

I passed by this bungalow while in Marble Falls in April. There was nothing really unusual about it, other than I found everything about it inviting. I always loved the porches common to houses of this era.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Staying Put

Staying Put, 6 x 6

This spring, Plein Air Austin had a paintout at the Michaelis Rance, south of Austin. On this particular day, feeding the cattle and mowing a pasture were enough to keep the hands busy. Happily, that meant this aging trailer was around to be admired, photographed, and finally today, painted.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cotton Warehouse

Cotton Dock, 8 x 10

This dock once was the loading point for the cotton grown on the historic Boone Hall plantation in South Carolina. Barges transported the cotton from here down the tidal Wando River to Charleston Harbor for export.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Power In Repose

Power in Repose, 6x8

This is one of four bengal tigers at the Austin Zoo. When the first two walked out from their shelter, I was amazed at their size. Then this one appeared and it was huge, in comparison. It was obvious by the size difference that this was a male, which was confirmed. He weighs nearly 400 lbs.

Having never painted at a zoo, I wondered from the outset whether it would even be worth trying. I eventually tried quick pencil sketches of a couple goats nearby, but the exercise was less than satisfying.  Then this magnificent cat climbed up on a rock to sun himself after taking a swim. I came over and was able to get a quick sketch of him in this pose, which was very fortunate. I took a couple pictures later but none had as good a head position. With a sketch I liked, I spent the remaining time mapping the composition on my panel and blocking in main color, before heading home. I used the photos back in the studio to reference accurate color and shading.

Overall, I found painting at the zoo a little nerve-racking. But in the end, the one pencil sketch made the trip worthwhile. I managed to get the pose I wanted from probably the most beautiful animal I've ever seen.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Evening Gathering

Evening Gathering, 8x10

Here is a piece I started last Friday on our trip to Bryan. It required some tweaking, which I wasn't able to get to until today. Summerville Lake is a slight detour to the south from the route between Austin and Bryan, about halfway between Caldwell and Brenham, Texas. The picturesque scenery, ample shade and a nice breeze made for a nice opportunity to paint.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Save The Queen

Save The Queen, 10 x 8

Hello, everybody. My postings have been few and far between the last several weeks, but they will be back on a more regular schedule beginning with this post. This piece was done in Bryan on Saturday, as part of Plein Air Austin's participation in a promotional paintout put on by the Forsythe Gallery. The Forsythe is presently exhibiting the work of PAA members through July 31 and they invited us down to join in with locals interested in trying their hand at painting en plein air. The turnout was good and we all enjoyed the trip. Bryan is undergoing a renaissance of its downtown area and they are fortunate to have many wonderful old buildings to work with. The Queen theater is one of its most unique and one most in need of repair. I was happy to hear the city has recently secured funding for the restoration of this magnificent structure.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 Plein Air Austin Show at Forsythe Gallery

FYI, from now through July 31, the work of Plein Air Austin members will be on display at the Forsythe Gallery in Bryan-College Station, Texas. For anyone interested in attending the opening, it will be this Friday evening from 6:00 - 8:00. The address is 110 N. Main Street in Bryan.

If you're unable to make it out to the Brazos Valley for the exhibit, you can view a web album of the accepted entries here. Click the "slideshow" button near the top left corner of the page.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Front Gate

 Front Gate, 22 x 28

Here is a large studio version of a plein air study I painted last summer at Laguna Gloria. The original 6 x 8 study is posted below.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Light Traffic

Light Traffic, 6 x 6
This morning I painted at a street corner in the Riata mixed-use neighborhood in north Austin. It's a place full of beautiful little landscapes, all within walking distance of my apartment.