Friday, April 29, 2011


Rowdy___9x12 oil on linen panel___SOLD commission

I hear Rowdy is a famous bulldog, with a prestigious bloodline! I was given the commission by one of the galleries that represents my work in Tennessee, Up Against The Wall Gallery.

Rowdy is the grandson of the Bulldog mascot at the University of Georgia (UGA VI)....this must be why he is so handsome! (He is described to me as a "sweet dog with a gigantic personality") I suppose when he is not posing for the pictures he is wild and crazy and was given his special name....I hope the collector who Mr. G, who commissioned this likes it!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring's Skipping Light

Spring's Skipping Light__6x8 oil on linen panel__for Passing America...exhibit in October

We took an Easter jaunt over to my in-law's in College Station, TX and I brought the gear along to paint some drive-by's. I only did this ONE small canvas on the trip...the truck was full (5 people, and 4 small dogs who were MOST interested in my drive-by painting, or maybe they just needed my lap...).... Our south plains region is fairly flat, sloping toward the gulf coast to the east. Occasionally there is a broad vista toward the east, as in this view near Thorndale, TX.

I feel sad for our Texas promises to be a BAD year, with the draught we are in. Already the spring color is gone, even though the pecans are only in early leaf. Everything else is the deep green of summer, and the grasses and grains are already golden, on the way to brown. We really are praying for rain...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April's New Moon

April's New Moon__16x20 oil on linen__for Passing America : The Great Plains, exhibit in the Fall

A few days ago I posted the location study for this painting. Click to see and read about it: When I do a small one that "works" for me, I enjoy using that small canvas as reference for a larger work. Since I have no photos of the scene I saw, I could only use the small canvas to refer to. This was fun and freed me up to make changes and play with the subject a little bit. Also, I gave it a new title, that makes the location more generic...just in case viewers cannot relate to Enid, OK...Now, hopefully, the scene will stir up something that others have seen before...something that brings back a good memory...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Texas Elevators

Texas Elevators__6x8 oil on linen panel_ for Passing America: The Great Plains

Saturday I posted a "drive-by" painting from my April plains trip...this one is from my late-February Plains Trip. it is a different view of the same location, not far from my home. I just realized this and am fascinated by the differences. The paintings were completed a month apart, so the change of seasons is noticeable. All the "art words" can be used to describe the differences: The COLOR, VALUE, CONTRAST, TEXTURE, EDGES, INTENSITY, Warm colors, Cool colors, COMPLEMENTS...ALL of these are DIFFERENT in each painting, giving each one it's personality, and specific "voice"...this is why a student artist should never have a formula! Rather, the artist needs to OBSERVE and simply match their paint with what they see! If you can match the color of something, and its relationship to the things around it, your painting will give the IMPRESSION of what you are seeing: its mood, season, temperature and all!
Happy Easter, everyone...I hope your weekend was blessed!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Near Home on the Plains

Near Home on the Plains__8x10 oil on linen__for Passing America: The Great Plains

The landscape from my home on the southern reaches of the Great Plains to the middle of our American Heartland does not change much, superficially: pastures alternate with wooded fence lines, horizons punctuated with water towers or grain elevators, and the distant "line" where plain meets sky. The main difference I observed on my early April trip was the progressive change from spring in Texas to Late Winter in Nebraska. Careful observation tells a story of uniqueness of the regions from state to state, though. I notice subtle differences in crops, architecture, wild places between the farms and even the attire of the farmers! Things that Lady Bird Johnson once described in her book as each region "speaking in its own accent". I agree with her that each area of the country has a story to tell and it ought to "speak" and retain its personality...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Meridian Highway

Tracks Out of Enid___8x10 oil on linen panel__for Passing America...but available!

Leaving Enid we had a spectacular sunrise, and I was able to start several canvases for "drive- by" paintings...this one is about the sky. As we drove I snapped photos between brush strokes, and this rail yard was my favorite foreground. I imagine the cars will be full of farm products in a few months, but this day things looked quiet there.
The route for this leg of my recent plains trip a few weeks ago was the Meridian Highway. We call it US 81, now, and it was EXACTLY what I'd hoped it would be: A BIG ROAD FOR FARMS! It passed through MANY towns, and unlike to towns in the Texas Panhandle Plains, these towns were ALIVE with commerce, mostly driven by agriculture. This Meridian Highway has a great history and even its own web site. This web site says:

As the only primary north-south highway girding America’s heartland, the Meridian intersected with dozens of named trails, including the Old Spanish Trail at San Antonio; the Bankead Highway at Fort Worth; the Ozark Trails at Oklahoma City; the National Old Trails at Wichita; the Santa Fe Trail at Newton, Kansas; the Victory Highway at Salina, Kansas; the Lincoln Highway at Columbus, Nebraska; and the Yellowstone Trail, at Millbank, South Dakota.
In 1926 most of the 2,400-mile-long Meridian Road was converted into U.S. 81, an improved two-lane highway connecting Laredo to Joliette, North Dakota.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lavender Layers

Lavender Layers__6x8 oil on linen panel___$150 wet!! ...sketch included

Yesterday's post was a painting at this same location, the lavender fields at Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg, TX. Just as this is not a banner year for our bluebonnets, it looks like the lavender crop might be sparse, too. But then, maybe lavender plants peak later in the spring....for now, the plants are not very big or lush, but I like the scruffy colors in the foliage with just hints of blooming flower. Sometimes a BEAUTIFUL, thick growth of blooms can look too "fantastic" in a painting...bordering on "cartoonish" yesterday, I painted this from my sketch, (below). See the difference in composition?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Deere in the Lavender

Deere in the Lavender__6x8 oil on linen panel___$150 wet! (sketch is included)

Does two years in a row count as a "tradition"? I say "YES", and my friend, artist Pat Haberman and I have a tradition to go out and paint the bluebonnets on my birthday....OK, so my birthday was LAST WEEK (but we were both busy)....and there were only 17 bluebonnets in the Hill Country this year (a terrible contrast to last year's bumper crop) we went to the Lavender farm at Becker Vineyard... (OK, so it's too early for the lavender, but NOT BY MUCH!)...AND, it was too windy to get out the full plein air gear, so I sketched this (see below), and went home to paint it from my notes....more and more often along my Plains journey, I am finding myself very comfortable painting from memory...there's something nice about being able to "make it up", and my many years of plein air study has given me some understanding about light and color...So, I painted the one above, working only from this sketch, because I forgot to bring my camera...The paper is wrinkly because I had a death grip on it because it was so windy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

HP Bluebonnet demo

Bluebonnet demo__6x8 oil on linen__$190 wet! Thursday evening I presented a short workshop in Austin. I began the lesson with a demo, using a photo I took last year. I had pre-mixed my palette ahead of time, but I prefer the "direct" approach, mixing paint as I go along. I remember watching a demo before I was a full-time painter, and wondering "how does he know how to mix those colors?" (I learned that it takes a lot of brush mileage before you can do it instinctively)...So, for this class of less experienced artists, I had the colors prepared for the first demo, and they could focus on seeing the painting process...later in the evening they got to wrangle paint for themselves as we did one of my "Chicken Clinic" paintings together....In REAL LIFE, there are NO bluebonnets this year! What a contrast to LAST YEAR~! Thank you to ALL the workshop attendees! What a successful event thrown by Hyde Park Baptist School at their Quarries Campus. Jillynn Shaver had it perfectly planned and the only bad part was that it was too short! We all had fun painting (and EATING, and visiting, and looking at the other art there!)...I HOPE that I passed along a few bits of info to a full class of 12 or 13 painters! EVERYONE had a great outcome ...probably because we ran short on time and many had to "wing it" to finish. They finished their backgrounds "solo", and some ended up with a background color that I liked more than my own, so I changed mine when I got home! (see my "finish" below)
HP Chicken Clinic___10x8 oil on linen panel__demo $ image to see detail

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Next Morning-Enid

Next Morning-Enid___8x10 oil___available for Passing America: the Great Plains

We left Enid at sunrise the next morning and I caught this glimpse down the street near our hotel....painted it mostly from Impression...Barbara kept noticing the red bud trees in bloom, so I made sure to include a few in this scene.

I got some interesting comments from the blog, the Group-mail and facebook about yesterday's post on Enid. I was told that it was called a gathering place of "bad luck"....from before the civil war and the Trail of Tears to the dust bowl, Bonnie and Clyde, to train wrecks and tornadoes and locusts and wildfires on the prairie to A.D Greer and to being the "Bastard gateway" between 5 desserts,Texas,Oklahoma,Colorado,New Mexico and Kansas......that's a pretty lowly title to have.....and yet they have an orchid club there.! A good friend LOVED Enid, despite these things because her mom was born and raised there! ANYTHING having to do with "mom" HAS to be good!...and I have learned that there is something beautiful in EVERY place!

I chose this route through Enid, because it is along the Meridian Highway, US 81...more on that, later!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Moon-Enid,OK

April Moon-Enid, OK__8x10 oil on linen___for exhibit Passing America: the Great Plains Last week out on the plains we ended up staying in Enid, Oklahoma...twice! Our first day out, we got there just after sunset, and I sketched this last "drive-by" painting of the day. I had already put up my paints for the day, but when I saw the sliver of a new April moon, I could not resist! So, WHY did we stay in Enid twice?? Usually I like to take a different route on the way home, but when we left Enid the next morning we left a bunch of our stuff in the room, so we sort of HAD to go back for it....oops

Monday, April 11, 2011

Green Extreme

Green Extreme___6x8 oil on linen panel__for Passing America: the Great Plains

Yesterday I posted a painting from the "winter" extreme of my recent plains trip. This one is the Spring extreme, someplace in Texas. This spot is where the farms have nearly FULLY complied with the change of seasons. Grasses, trees, and even the stubborn pecan trees are bloomed and budded in that bright clean green of spring. We are having a severe draught here in Texas, so I expect it to turn brown-yellow soon....but I hope not...we sure need rain!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kansas Snowmelt

Kansas Snowmelt___6x8 oil on linen panel__a "drive by" painting for ___ Passing America: The Great Plains

The exhibit I mention will run from October through December, 2011. I have been criss-crossing the Great Plains since 2009, observing and painting what I see on the smaller farms. This most recent trip was for the purpose of seeing SPRING emerge.

Starting out in Central Texas, where I live, there has been PLENTY of green for over a month, now. On the plains farther north, winter hangs on a little bit longer, and I wanted to see it. I was especially eager for the return trip, when I would travel from "winter color" to "spring color"... The painting above was painted right about where the "green line" was...Everything north of this spot in Northern Kansas was still dormant with winter color, and there were plenty of marshy areas where I had seen snow last month. Everything south was tinted with spring greens...more amd more green as we got closer to Texas....tomorrow I will post the green extreme!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Gathering for Kansas

Gathering for Kansas___6x8 oil on linen panel__for my October exhibit, Passing America: The Great Plains I have returned from my latest Plains jaunt, and ended up with 18 small "drive-by" studies, several thousand photos, and lots of sketches and notes. This little scene caught my eye in Kansas on the way back. It was a small gathering of cattle crossing the gathered waters of snow melt, under a little gathering of clouds, which were the only clouds we saw on the way home. We got home just in time for a special day for my son. On Friday, April 8, he signed his letter of intent to play football at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, KS. (Now you know why I asked if anyone knows anybody in Salina or Wichita, KS!) After many college visits, and lots of consideration, Sam chose this wonderful small University and is eager to become part of that community. His high school makes a big deal when kids get scholarships, so Sam enjoyed a nice morning with his friends, and we got to dote on him for a few minutes before school. It also happened to be my birthday!!! A great day which ended with the boy pitching in a victorious baseball game, and lots of time with family and friends.... Purple CUPCAKES!!! (I am a better painter than "froster")
Friend, Priti helped design the tables complete with Kansas sunflowers and Round Rock Donuts.
The boy (coyote shirt), and some of the greatest "other boys" in Round Rock.
Vaughans 1 through 7...

...I don't talk much about my personal life...sorry to break tradition....back to art and such tomorrow!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Spring Blush-Nebraska

Spring Blush-Nebraska___6x8 oil on linen panel___for October exhibit, but available The old stalks from last year's crop were falling down in the rows of this field. They make interesting textures for artists and provide food for the migrating birds. The fields were still filled with sandhill cranes, which graze all day and then spend the night on one leg in the cold waters of the Platte River. Spring is in full "verge" in this central part of Nebraska. Each farm seems to have at least one field that is brilliant green with new grass, while all the perimeter trees are blushing with sap, but no leaves, yet. Looking like Texas did about six weeks ago!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Field Day-Nebraska4

Field Day-Nebraska___6x8 oil on linen panel__for the October Exhibit Passing America:The Great Plains
As I painted this one while passing buy, it seemed as if this might be the first day the farmers took the tractors out to work! There were three in this field, going different directions and kicking up dirt....Spring is arrived!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Creekside OK

Creekside OK___detail_8x10 oil on linen panel for Passing Ameriica: The Great Plains Another scene in Oklahome, as I have been "passing" through the plains, gathering more info and doing "drive-by" paintings from the passenger seat. I think the name of this creek was "Sandy Creek" which crossed under US HWY 81, aka The Meridian Highway. this route has long been an important farm to market road, and passes through every county seat from Texas to Canada...I think. I will update the project blog soon, and the correct details will be there. Yesterday we spent the day along the Platte River near Kearney, NE. The sandhill cranes are there on their migratory way up north. We went to a blind at the Rowe Sanctuary, and watched them come in from the cornfields to rest for the night. I will elaborate on all this, later, but WHAT A SIGHT TO SEE!!!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Oklahoma Springtime

Oklahoma Springtime-study___8x10 oil on linen panel__for Passing America: the Great Plains I am on the road in the plains again this week...This study was a quickie at sunset in northern Oklahoma, yesterday. I am focused on the change of seasons, this trip. Central Texas is FULLY bloomed (except the pecan trees, but I expect them to "pop" at ANY moment) I write this, I am in Kearney, NE, and we have spent the day watching springtime recede back into the colors of winter...EXCEPT, even here there are great pastures of winter grasses all decked out in green. Watching the weather channel, I see snow on the way, though. I am looking forward to the trip home, which will be a moving snapshot of the season shanging from winter to spring....all the 10 "drive-by" paintings I have done so far are just my "studies" for the trip home!...RIGHT NOW, I am leaving the hotel with my driver-buddy, Barbara, to go out to the Rowe Sanctuary and see the cranes on the Platte River.