Thursday, April 24, 2014


"Illumination" 12 x 18 oil on linen
Sold, private collection.

There are many scenic treasures in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains area, and one of them is definitely Hickory Run State Park. This sprawling park covers almost 16,000 acres, and within it you'll find a variety of scenery from the National Natural Landmark Boulder Field to gorgeous, tranquil streams like Sand Spring Run, shown here.

This recent oil landscape painting captures the park in early autumn. I discovered this view along the park's Shades of Death hiking trail, which is named in tribute to the rough, hilly terrain that early settlers encountered when they first came to this area. I love that name, and while I was sorely tempted to use it on this piece, I knew it would be a little heavy-handed. So I chose a title that symbolizes the opposite sentiment, "Illumination." This piece recently found a home with a local collector.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Winter Haven, 12" x 24" original oil on linen

Winter Haven, original oil on linen
"Winter Haven"
12 x 24 original oil on linen
With my studio work, I was always lag behind the actual season. So even though we're steadily progressing into spring, I'm still exploring winter source material from this past season. This new panoramic landscape, "Winter Haven," was inspired by a sunset vista just outside of Pine Grove Mills, Pennsylvania this past January.

I love to explore color contrasts in my artwork and winter subjects are fun because of the juxtaposition of warm and cool colors. While this type of palette has figured heavily in my pastel work in the past, it's fun to explore it anew in this medium.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Cross Pollination

I’ve devoted about half of my studio time so far this year to practice in oil painting and it’s definitely been easier to get out and do some plein air painting with gloves and brushes rather than bare hands and icy pastel sticks during these cool, early days of spring. One additional benefit of working with oils is that they are changing the way in which I work with pastel. I’m finding it easier to translate the complex motifs of my cityscapes with a loose underpainting done in oils. This idea is not my own. It originated with the well-known pastel guru Albert Handell and his student, Richard McKinley. Both artists are based out west, and they use this loose, ethereal approach in their landscapes to great effect.

Years ago, I took a workshop with Richard McKinley down in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the workshop occurred just days after I lost my grandfather and I ended up missing a portion of the workshop while attending the funeral in Wisconsin. Nonetheless, I saw McKinley demonstrate this approach with a plein air landscape and I filed it away for future use. It wasn’t until I started practicing with oils late last year that I felt I would want to experiment with this approach in my own work.

This first example is from a brand new piece, “Market Street, San Francisco,” an original 12″ x 12″ pastel on paper. Shown here are some photos of my working process from initial concept to finished piece as the work progresses on my studio easel. Although I found this subject during a bright, sunny day in the city, much of the street was shrouded in shadow by the tall office buildings of the financial district. For this reason, I laid down a predominantly cool underpainting. This work is done on paper with a custom pumice ground applied. I enjoy this approach because it allows me greater control in the “toothiness” of the surface and, therefore, the amount of detail that I can incorporate into the final piece.

The initial underpainting.

The first block-in, beginning with dark hues first.

About midway through, with some highlights and more definition.

More refinement and re-balancing of lights and darks.

This subject was appealing to me because I liked the contrast of the fiery red tail lights and the warm, distant sky against the geometric pattern of cool shadows throughout the composition. I'm still mining the source material that I collected from San Francisco this past fall and you can expect to see more pieces inspired by this fantastic city in the near future.

Completed and signed.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sunset on Winter?

It's finally April, and could it also be the end of winter? I was in Washington, DC this past weekend during the height of the cherry blossom festival, but because of our unseasonably spring to this point, there were no blossoms as yet. But the weather is slowly warming up, and I'm looking forward to getting out and doing more painting in the field.

February, Aflame original oil painting
"February, Aflame"
8" x 16" original oil on linen.

To celebrate the end of the winter season, I'd like to share with you a recent landscape, "February, Aflame." While the bitter cold wears me down by this point in the year, I never get tired of the clear atmosphere and beautiful colors found in winter skies. I caught this view on the edge of State College, Pennsylvania last month. You just don't see this type of rich, indigo sky during the hazy, humid days of summer, and I thought that this piece was a fitting tribute to the conclusion of winter this year. Enjoy!