I got a little painting in during our stay in Tepoztlan, Mexico. Beautiful classic Mexican town surrounded by rugged mountains and even an ancient pyramid.

This is a watercolor of the morning light looking from our balcony.

Bumpy cobble stone streets and amazing wall textures mixing adobe bricks, stones and stucco. I especially appreciate the little broken tiles inserted between the adobe bricks.

In the winter of 22-23, as we were getting out of the covid era, maybe, I painted over 200 small watercolor landscapes. Some “en plain air” some from shots I took on my phone. From those I picked 30 of the best to paint in a larger format on full sized sheets of good watercolor paper. We had scheduled a show at the Clymer Museum a year earlier and I thought we could fit about 30 paintings, matted and framed in their large room without being too crowded. I about 3 months I completed over 30 new paintings. After leaving out a few clunkers I had 28 new works for the show.

My wife Ren and Matthew Lennon, the curator of the Clymer helped arrange the show. It was so satisfying to see that many works up in such a beautiful space with good lighting. Thanks to the Clymer Museum for expanding what their show and supporting local artists. 28 Landscapes 2023 will hang through June 2nd 2023.

I have an interesting relationship with painting portraits. A loose, confident application of paint is required in watercolor to keep the paint fresh and clean while an accuracy in the positioning and drawing of the main features and structure of the forms is required to make it convincing. I’m after a balance between the cartoon and photo realism. This is the demo I did during a class I taught at our local gallery.

Watercolor portrait of guy

I’ve been teaching a Saturday afternoon oil painting class at GalleryOne in Ellensburg, WA. We started with a small still life of a lemon…. not so easy, but everybody did great. The second Saturday we got a good start on a landscape, learning to simplify and look for values. Next week we’ll dive into a portrait. It’s an interesting process to figure out where people are at and what they need. I hope I’m doing a good job.

Lemons

Sunny Kiss 10×8 watercolor

We’ve been socked in with winter fog for days. This morning the glorious sun hit the hills outside our kitchen window. I’m trying to narrow down my view in a few small watercolors trying to catch one fleeting effect. An enjoyable hour with morning coffee at the kitchen table.

Snow on the Hills 8×10 watercolor

When I’m a bit lost I remind myself to get back to the basics. Composition is the foundation for all that sits on top of it. Value is where form is described and color is like the flavors that make up a good meal. Out of many tiny thumbnails a few will stand out and call for more exploration and refinement. It’s design at this stage, pushing the shapes around and easy to adjust anything at a small size, no more than a few inches. Then after many small idea sketches a few will stand out and hopefully one will be interesting enough to take into a painting. This is just one process of many, but a good one to remember.

Thumbnail notes to myself
Color -Value study 3.5 inches

In my little watercolor notebook I start working this out. I want the brightest glow from the sky to just hit a bit on the right wall and around the figure. Perhaps the left wall is still too light. And I have to do a couple real vanishing points so the walls read correctly. And then the water reflection shapes need to be worked out as I don’t have a real photo of this, just a snap from a TV image.

After being completely focused on the straw bale building project for eight months, I’m feeling a bit burned out. So my watercolors and notebooks showed up and I started to play with some little landscapes again. It feels good to put the brush in the paint. The curves and shadows of nature are endlessly inspiring.

Notebook color sketches

Up in the loft the last straw bales are going in. This area is just above the tub on the first floor so I used conventional stick framing to make the walls less permeable to moisture from the tub and shower. You can see here the extra layer of rock-wool insulation on the outside. Way overkill on the insulation but it was much easier to set these bale vertically than cut them all around the 2x6s and wiring.

Last Bales