November 5, 2019


a view from Montelparo, where the workshop is being held

Ah, how I love the combination of travel and painting!

When travelling we so often have the experience of trying to jam in as many different sights as we can, and to keep moving from place to place to place.  When travelling and painting, one is compelled to fully savour each spot one visits.  The smells, sights, sounds and rhythms of  a place will reveal themselves if you just sit and stay for a spell.

In this way, the act of painting on location becomes meditative, and the painting at the end of the process a touchstone to remember a particular place and your particular experience of it - a journal in paint, if you will.

Here are some of the experiences I've had - folks coming out from their homes and offering espresso at the easel in the late afternoon in a European seaside village.  I once had a small song bird perch on the end of my brush (yes, the end with no paint).   On still another occasion, I felt the hum of a small Croatian fishing village and the young men brought in their nets and grandparents strolled little ones by the ocean.  In Ireland, I painted the roaring Atlantic while my paint box filled with hail and merino sheep looked on.   I had a large Guiness  by a warm fire at the end of that  particular day! 

So, the next big painting adventure is to Italy, staying in a charming 15 century villa in a small bucolic hilltop town called Montelparo.  It will be a small group that I will take with me, only six to ten, and we will have a private chef.  I can hardly wait!  I've never been to this region of Italy.  If you are curious, or feel you may be interested in joining in on the adventure,
the information is here:   Italy 2022  

It would be lovely to have you join me.  Feel free to email me with any questions:   Who knows what fun awaits?

Happy painting everyone!


July 12, 2019

Create Compelling Light

Alpen Glow, oil on canvas 24X30"

I often am asked by students how to achieve the effects of dramatic light in their paintings.  My mantra for my students,
and for myself is one I heard a long time ago, and I don't even remember where:


If you get all of that right, everything falls into place in a painting.  The learning edge with all of this I find to be training your eyes to see the values, colors shapes and edges that are before you.  Nailing the values is job one in order to get an accurate sense of light in a painting.  It's not about manual dexterity or  trickery, it's simply training your eyes!

Simple, but not easy.

The good news is, it's very doable.  Isolate colors and values by looking through a color isolating device (a pencil size hole in a 3X3" piece of gray cardboard will work just fine) , find value patterns by squinting down, and voila - Bob's your uncle.  Then you have to learn to mix what you see:  hue, saturation, temperature and value - and get all the relationships exactly right.  That's all there is to it.  Concentration and practice are your friends here.

If you want some help with this, here's where you can find me teaching these skills in the near future:

1.  Whistler, "Create Compelling Light"  July 20 and 21
2.  Plein Air Painting with Gaye Adams, July 26-29 (four days)
3.  Croatia Painting tour, September 30- October 9

For all the details on these workshops, click here: workshops 2019

April 30, 2019

Plein Air Time! Some helpful tips....

Early Spring Aspens, 8X10" oil plein air study

I AM SO HAPPY SPRING IS HERE!  Don't misunderstand me...I do love my studio time during the rainy cold days of winter, but I am thrilled to be able to get back outdoors to paint.  After 30 years of instructing, I still believe painting from life to be one of the best approaches for representational painter to increase their level of competency.  After many years of working as a painter, the plein air process never ceases to challenge me.  In addition, it is always great to have an excuse to spend a full day in a beautiful place with painting buddies.

I thought that a few starting tips on the plein air experience for those of you new to the process might be useful, and if you are a veteran, perhaps we could compare notes.  Give me some feedback, perhaps some of your tips that you would be willing to share with everyone.  Let's get into it.... here are some bullet points, some dos and don'ts for those of you just getting geared up:

1.  DO keep your gear light and portable, and reasonably sturdy.
2. DON'T bring every tube of paint you have.  Three good solid primaries, an earth color and white will generally get the      job done.
3.  DO consider investing in a pochade box that mounts on a tripod, as this sort of set up is the lightest, sturdiest, and             most portable.  It is specifically designed to make your field trips easier.
4. DON'T set up in full sun if you can help it, unless you have a good painting umbrella
5. DO scout out a location BEFORE your decided upon painting day.  Know where you are going, so you can spend your      day painting rather than driving around
6.  DO paint with a buddy whenever you can in case you or she need some assistance.
7.  DON'T set up on private property without permission.  Get that permission on the day you are scouting locations.
8.  DO go out with an organized plein air group if you can, especially if you are new.  Check out their gear - it will help         you to get yourself sorted out in that regard.  However, keep in mind that  a big group can be more limited as to where       they can paint as a large group takes up a lot of level painting space.
9.  DON'T forget a hat, insect repellant and sun screen.  Also water and a snack.  One needs to be comfortable to focus           on  the task at hand!  A good hot coffee is great to take, but no cold beer till the end of the day ;).

I hope that was helpful in some measure.  Let me also take a moment to extend an invitation to my summer plein air workshop.  Skill level isn't important here - I will work with you whatever your stage of experience.  Come as you are.

For info on my summer plein air workshop  CLICK HERE 

ps,  for beginners that have no gear, I have extra pochade boxes that I will lend you.  You will need a camera tripod.

Happy painting, everyone!



March 11, 2019

Why do Workshops?

Persimmon and Friends, life study 6X8"

I know some of you reading this go to a LOT of workshops, some occassionally, and some perhaps not at all.  Or perhaps you do a few and then take a break....what best serves your growth?  Well, I have an opinion on that, so if my opinion interests you, read on my painting friends.....

I have been learning to paint all my life,  and teaching others that are learning to paint for over three decades.  I have met those that only paint at workshops, those that are afraid that taking workshops will deter them from developing their own style, and those that attend workshops and glean what is useful to them and see how it might create growth and provide tools that they can apply when in front of their own easels.  They stay open and curious, and work hard.  I think you can guess which group experiences the greatest growth.

Here is what I think is most effective:

1. Study with someone who's work resonates with you (ie, you like their work and feel that there are aspects of the way they work that you would like to learn)

2.  Study with someone that knows how to teach.  Brilliant painters are not always good teachers.  Painting and teaching painting are two entirely different skill sets.  Ask around and see what kind of reviews previous students are giving that instructor.  Try not to listen to those that are typically full of sour grapes.  Ask more than one previous student to make sure you are getting fair review.

3. After a workshop, read the notes, and review and practice what was offered.  It is important to lock in the learning with practice.   And, as in an AA group, "take what you like and leave the rest".

4.  Recognize that workshops shorten the learning curve, which is awesome, but they are not a substitute for easel time.  You've got to practice!  Keep those brushes wet.

5.  Don't worry about not developing your own style because you are being too strongly influenced by an instructor.  That will only be a problem if you study with only one instructor, and if you do no painting on your own.  Style evolves as a function of many hours of painting experience.  You do not "create" your own style, so much as uncover it over hours of painting in your own studio.  It develops much as your writing signature did - it already exists.  Right now.  It just has perhaps not become fully obvious yet, but you can trust that it will IF YOU DO THE WORK.

Well, I hope that is helpful to in some measure. I wish you all many happy easel hours!



Here's what's coming up:

March 28, six consecutive Thursdays
Fort Langley
Please contact me by email:  Registration is taking place now.
The workshop includes skill drills, critiques, demos, and individualized coaching on your studio work.

Ellis Art Studios, Kelowna
April 12, 13, 14
For more info, click here

February 13, 2019

Upcoming Workshops

Available Light, 24X36" oil on canvas
Hi Everyone!  Just wanted to give you a heads up on what's up.  I will be teaching the following workshops this spring:

1.  Color Theory and Mixing - March 1,2,3  hosted by the Federation of Cdn Artists
     for info :  click here

2.  Studio Workshop:  Six consecutive Thursdays, starting March 28, Fort Langley 
     for info:  click here

3.  Create Compelling Light:   April 12-14, 2019 Ellis Art Studios, Kelowna
     for info:  click here

4.  Create Compelling Light:  March 16,17,18 Kube Gallery, Fort Langley. 
     for info: click here

5.  PAINT CROATIA!  Sept 28 - October 9, 2019
    for info: click here

Please feel free to email me at with any questions you might have for me.

I'll be posting some upcoming images from my Santa Barbara painting trip coming up shortly, so stay tuned.  I also did some demo videos down there and will post them before long.  I'm just in the throws of learning IMovie so I can edit the darn things.  I'm such a luddite.  Honestly.

Happy painting, all!