I’m still wrestling with watercolors below freezing. I’m curious if it can be done well. It was cold and windy so I knelt on the ground again to try to stay out of the wind. The first one I painted I used just warm water. I had success with that last time but today it was freezing into colored slush on my palette and I noticed it was making ice on my paper. The second one I used a 50/50 mixture of vodka. It worked better for avoiding icing but also created interesting effects with the pigment on the paper.

The chilly weather forced me to paint different and to let go of trying to control it. After the first painting I thought I’d switch to oils or acrylics for the winter, but after the second painting I want to keep playing. Both 9×12″

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Newport, RI

I got to spend a few short days in Newport, RI over the weekend. It’s such a beautiful place, and I didn’t have nearly enough time to paint. The rocky coast is amazing. It’s so different than the Jersey shore.

Our First Evening, Brenton Point, oils, 8×10″ 


The Next Morning, Second Beach, oils, 8×10″ 


The sun was out when I started and I was disappointed when it clouded over.


I spotted this guy sitting on a car while I was crossing the parking lot of our hotel. He didn’t seem to mind me much.


Our Last Morning, watercolor, 9×12″ 


It was raining before breakfast so I tried to hide under a pavilion at our hotel.


One Last Try, Easton’s Beach, watercolor, 9×12″ 


It was still raining after breakfast and I thought I’d be clever and sit in the back of our car to paint. Unfortunately I parked on a busy street and every truck that passed blew rain in on my painting making spatters. It was fun to try anyway. The worst part was trying to paint on my lap.


Before we went up to Newport I had located a few spots where William Trost Richards had painted. On our first evening one of the spots was fenced off and inaccessible so I found a different beach further down the road. The painting below is his Mackerel Cove in Jamestown. I wanted to paint there but didn’t have time. We drove past it as we were leaving to head home. Obviously he was further up the hill than where the road is. In his painting I was in the bottom right corner near where that fisherman is heading towards the center of the painting.


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Our model today was sleepy and kept dozing off so I started her head three times in the three positions she kept ending up in. Eventually she spent enough time in one general spot for me to get one face relatively finished.


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This morning was my first morning of the season painting below freezing. I took watercolors to see what would happen. Obviously water freezes. I brought some vodka along in case I had trouble with ice as others had recommended. I also brought a thermos filled with warm water. I only needed the warm water. Maybe when it’s colder I’ll need the vodka so I’ll keep it in my bag. I also brought my oils just in case nothing worked with watercolors. I expected the biggest struggle to be with my brush freezing. It was actually trying to hold a little watercolor brush with mittens on. Oil brushes have longer handles. 10×15″


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Hard Lesson

It’s not unusual for me to paint over old paintings. A little bit of sanding and an old painting is ready. I actually prefer it with oils because I use them opaquely. The paint handles nicely on the surface and I like the colors underneath peeking through here and there. Painting on a new white canvas is a completely different experience.

The painting I painted last weekend was painted on an old panel from art school. I didn’t notice before painting on it that I had used a Sharpie marker to draw some abstract lines (art school is a time for exploration). Within an hour or two of finishing the painting the lines began bleeding through the oil paint. They show through nearly 100% like they were drawn on top of the paint.

Lesson learned. I repainted the painting in my basement partly as punishment for my mistake but also to try to bridge the gap between field sketches and studio paintings. The plein air took about an hour but the repaint took several hours. The plein air has a spontaneity to it, as they typically do, that was smoothed out in the more careful approach with the studio version. In hindsight I wish I had painted the studio version larger.

11-20-16-oops1 11-20-16-oops2

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Nice Outside

I had a little time after lunch today so I stopped at a park near my home for a quick painting. I wanted to find a subject that seemed unpaintable to see if/how I could handle it. Since I don’t find twigs in the woods to be very exciting I thought this scene would do nicely. It was fun and educational to let the specific elements break into abstract shapes. I couldn’t possibly stand there and paint all the little branches. I’m not used to painting this time of day and the shadows moved more than I expected. More of this to come. More simplification and distilling of overly complex subjects. watercolor, 10×15″ 


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Morning Rush

After the school bus picked up the last of my kids this morning I rushed down to the river to get a quick watercolor done. The fall color is nearly gone. 10×15″


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End of Color

Our fall color is coming to an end. I painted over an old painting from art school. This is all painted with a knife because I forgot my mittens and my fingers were freezing. oils, 9×12″


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Post Election

Had to get out of the house today and away from the computer and the TV.

watercolor, plein air, hot press paper, 12×18″ 


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Autumn River Again

Back to the river for more fall color this morning. 10×14″


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