Friday, November 22, 2013


A small 5" x 7" study of the marshland along the Chesapeake where I love to go and paint. Chincoteague is a wonderful reserve on the coast of Virginia full of birds and ponies. Obviously waterbirds predominate but with a fair amount of surrounding trees (mostly pines), warblers and other birds are the attraction - especially during migration, so while painting I keep the binoculars handy! This painting will be in the exhibition at Berkley Gallery that opens this weekend so I hope if you are in the area, you will come and visit.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I love being out in inclement weather so when a strong storm neared the coast, I was out there trying to do some studies in an effort to capture the feelings of wind and rain - plus the rather heavy surf! Here two waves are breaking at the same time and the wind is whipping off the tops in sheets of spray. Whitecaps further out show just how disturbed the sea was that day and heavy clouds darkened the scene rather dramatically. This smaller work is perhaps a precursor to larger paintings that I hope to complete at a later date - a pleasant reminder perhaps of time spent sea-watching off the North coast of Cornwall. Storm at sea is an oil on canvas, size 9" x 12" (23cm x 31cm).


To complete the painting I laid in the background trees using various shades of brown, then the evergreen trees followed before finishing up with finer details such as tree branches etc. A wooden fence on the right helped add much needed detail to the mostly open area on that side and the smaller spots of orange brought a little more color into the foreground. I'll probably fiddle with it a bit more but for now I'm declaring the painting finished! This oil will form my centerpiece in the up-coming exhibition at Berkley Gallery in Warrenton, Virginia that opens this weekend. The reception is on Saturday Nov 23rd from 5:00 to 7:00 and the exhibition runs through to the end of December. Country Farm is 24" x 36" (610cm x 915cm).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I saw this farm in morning snow not far from my home and due to a convenient side road, was able to park on the side and do a number of sketches and studies. Later back at the studio, I chose a large canvas and drew out the composition in pencil. Usually I start at the top of the painting then work down and forward but after putting in the sky, I became so interested in the silos and other farm buildings that I just had to paint them next. After working on the mid-ground area for awhile, I decided to finish the foreground so I added the snow with the long shadows cast from the tall trees just out of the picture on the left. Next I'll work on the background and finish up with some of the final details around the farm.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Living near the Potomac River means just a short drive to its wooded banks and I love to walk the towpath especially in the spring and fall when the river is particularly beautiful.  Migrant birds abound drawn not so much by the water but by the tall trees that boarder each side. On the Maryland side, these trees often form an extensive network of woods leading deep into the northern part of the state. I usually start my walk at Great Falls and watch out for larger birds overhead as well as warblers etc which at times seem to be in every bush and tree. On occasion I'll see an Osprey or two usually following the river or soaring higher over the trees and love to follow them in my binoculars. More rarely eagles appear but it is also a good place to find Black (and Turkey) Vultures.
When I'm painting I try to remember to keep looking up in case there is something overhead and this is the idea in the painting here. I'm often attracted to the area below the falls especially when mist fills the air and distances seems absolute. For me it is a magical playground where each vista takes on a new meaning - I'll spend hours painting until the sun rises high enough to burn off the mist and the river returns to normal. I never seem to tire of it. Osprey and Morning Mist, oil on canvas, size 9" x 12".

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I seem to be painting a lot of winter scenes lately - although this is one I did awhile ago. I felt it needed some re-working so added a slightly darker foreground, some deeper tones in the range of trees and  little re-shaping of the clouds. Now I'm finally happy ..... Winter Landscape is an oil - size 12" x 14"/

Monday, September 23, 2013


This scene is just steps from my home here in Maryland - we consider ourselves very lucky that our community borders a large reserve and I'm often over there watching birds, sketching and painting. I'm presently working towards a exhibition at The Berkley Gallery in Warrenton, Virginia that will open in November. I have a lot of paintings to show you but have been overseas for awhile on family affairs so haven't had much time to upload then to my blog - I'll get to that soon. Hopefully most of my latest paintings will be shown here so consider them a preview to the Berkley Gallery show - exact date and time of the opening to follow. Evening Sky is 9" x 12" - oil on canvas.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


This scene looking across snowy fields is set at dawn in an area just north of where I live. I have often painted around Rachael Carson Park in Northern Montgomery County where there are a few farms surrounded by open fields dotted with the occasional woodlot. Clear and cold is how I remember the day, frozen snow crackling underfoot, no wind and a certain peaceful solitude that spoke deeply to me. Size is 12" x 14", oil on canvas.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


This painting is the second or third version that I did of a window that I used to pass every day on my way to the island ferry while living on Lamma in Hong Kong. One day in the afternoon, I noticed how the sun created these exciting shadows against the wall and I knew that I had to paint what I saw. A few drawings were done on site then a larger watercolor study. I did the first version using acrylic on board that sold soon after I had painted it. Then quite a few years later did this one on gessoed watercolor paper. I made the window slightly less rectangular than in the original and kept the work relatively small but still hope to do a large version someday. The painting has hung over our bed since then and is still one of my favorite. I feel that I came as close to saying what I wanted to say with this work than with any other that I have painted. Recently I took it out of the frame as there were a few areas that I wanted to work on. Washes of acrylic had settled into the texture of the paper creating an even mottling effect that I didn't like so I carefully painted over this making it much less noticeable. I also slightly darkened the area surrounding the window so there was less of a contrast then slightly lightened some areas on the wall. The shadows were made slightly warmer and the bars slightly more grey-blue than they had before. Finally happy with the update, I re-photographed the painting then put it back in the frame. The area that this window came from has seen many changes and this building has long since been destroyed. I am really glad that I took the time and effort so many years ago to document the many architectural details of the surrounding buildings as most all of these old Chinese houses are gone.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Finishing off this study now that I had most of the values correctly indicated was a case of completing the foreground rocks and vegetation followed with a little more detail painting done to the coastline. All along I tried to keep the image bright and airy although my camera hasn't quite captured the blues of the original. Size is 8" x 10", oil on canvas.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


While there may not seem to be much difference between this stage and the last one, I realized that after looking at the painting for some time that the shadowed area of the outcrop needed to be darker so I re-painting it. Immediately I felt better about the work and could see my way to continue. Smaller details were added here and there, some work was done to the sea and further work sculpting the foreground rocks seemed to lead the eye into the scene.


Here I have started work on the almost sheer rock outcrop using cool greys then some slightly warmer ones to create some detail. Brighter greens at the top add a nice accent. I have also lightly indicated the shadows within the foreground rocks but will hold off on completing this area until the headland is finished. So much for wanting to paint this study in a loose manner! Details have crept in all over the place and I feel that I have lost sight of my original goal. It is at this point that I become discouraged with the painting and put it aside for awhile. Next I hope to make some changes and find inspiration.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


When living in South Africa, I traveled around the country quite a lot and found it to be diverse and quite beautiful. I moved to Cape Town for a few months in the 80's working on renovating a wing of the Groote Schuur Hospital (where Christiaan Barnard successfully completed the first open-heart transplant). I was deeply impressed not only by the stunning beauty of the Cape but also by the many buildings, homes and gardens - many built in the Dutch style with gabled ends and thatched roofs. In my spare time (which I have to say was not that much!), I explored the region driving from Cape Town to Hout Bay to Simon's Town around to False Bay and points in between, drawing and painting the places I found most interesting. I particularly have fond memories of walking the slopes of Table Mountain, watching birds, sketching and feeding the tame deer to be found there. I'm very much looking forward to another visit - hopefully next year.
The view in this painting is along the coast looking down over a headland and across the many miles of wild Atlantic sea. Since most of the details will be in the foreground rocks, I kept the sea and sky simple. I had planned to do a loose interpretation of the scene but as you will see later, this was not to be!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Finally here is the finished painting! The completion of this work took longer than I had thought it would and there are still a few areas that I'll probably work on over the next few days. I'll also try and post a slightly better photo as this one came out a little blotchy showing more texture than there is in the actual painting. Finally I am feeling a sense of completion as I slowly work through some of the many unfinished paintings here in the studio. Another one was finished off just yesterday and will post pics of that one soon. There are also a few new paintings on the go as well so expect to see them coming up here in the not too distant future. 'Approaching Noon', watercolor on Fabriano paper, 30" X 22".

Sunday, June 30, 2013


Continuing to work on different areas of the painting, I first darkened the shadows inside then added a wash of burnt umber to the large pot. Further deep Windsor red washes were added to the frame and the post helping to define that area somewhat. I also darkened the walls in shadow then took a deep breath before working on the lettering. I worked really slowly on each Chinese character making sure that they exactly matched my references as not only would each character have to read correctly but I also wanted to capture the artist's style. After a few hours, the base coat was done then I went over all the lettering once again deepening the tone slightly. Happy with the work so far, my plan was to finish the roof next then I would be better able to decide how much darker the shadows had to go. Apart from the architecture and individual character of the place, what made the scene so interesting to me from the start was the areas of sunlight and shadow, especially surrounding the pot used to burn offerings to the Gods. The rest of the painting would have to be slightly understated to allow one to focus there so there would be plenty of deepening watercolor washes to come.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


When I first moved to Hong Kong in the mid 1980's I could scarcely believe that I was actually there! It had been a dream of mine for so long. Each new day was an adventure as I explored the districts around where I was staying in Kowloon. I then had the great fortune to meet someone who suggested visiting the out-lying islands so the next day saw me on a ferry to Lamma Island. The closer I got to the island, the more certain I was that I would live there and within a week I was! Life back then seemed to be idyllic - I would rise early and explore the island watching birds and butterflies, drawing nature in my sketchbooks and swimming in the sea.
I first came upon this shrine almost by accident as it was off the main walkway through the island but in an older area that had caught my eye some time before. I did some sketches on site then moved on to other things. Much later, here in my studio I came across those earlier works and decided to do a larger watercolor of the scene. Well that was a few years ago and the painting has sat at home here for some time before I recently decided to finish it off. Up to this point, the painting had been developed as seen above except for the horizontal decorative strip just under the eaves which was worked on last week. I can't find an earlier photo of this work in progress so this series of posts will have to start with the painting developed up to this point.  Basically I had built up the work using successive washes of color as usual keeping in mind my initial ideas and focal point. It seemed to be going okay so far but I realized that  lot of work was still to come.....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


A plein air painting done overlooking the marsh near Blackwater NWR on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Often these smaller studies don't come to anything, but are extremely useful non-the-less. I always learn something from doing them and I can often use them as the basis for larger paintings. Or even combine certain aspects from a few different studies to work them into a painting. For me, its all about discovery and experimentation. I do a lot of looking and thinking before actually painting anything and I hope my work has improved because of it.  Near Blackwater - Oil on Canvas, 9" X 12".

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


A study of a female Ornate Hawk-eagle from before. In the past I made many studies and drawing of this amazingly beautiful bird. Large and powerful, it really had an imposing presence. Incredible markings too - almost art-deco like and with a wonderful crest that could be laid flat as in the above painting. A bird of the forest, in flight it had short rounded wings and a long tail - built for maneuverability. I did this study in watercolor - size is 11" X 7.5".

Saturday, June 1, 2013


This painting needed only a few touch-ups to it before I called it finished. A difficult painting to photograph properly - in reality the work is a little darker (especially the foreground) and the grasses are more subtle in their tones. This painting - along with a few others, are being exhibited at Berkley Gallery in Warrenton, Virginia - I'll be having an exhibition there later in the year and will keep you posted.
The farm painting that I mentioned in my last post has become bogged down so will be awhile in coming. In the meantime I am happily working my way through some of the other unfinished painting in the studio. Hopefully more pics soon. Summer Landscape is an oil on canvas, size 16" X 24".

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Both of the above oil paintings were done just after dawn trying to capture the freshness of the crisp snow and the early morning light. Often these works are kept small as I find it easier to work out the composition etc, then when I'm happy, I use these studies work up into larger paintings. I have such a large work in progress at the moment and will probably feature in the next post. It is a new farm painting also in the morning light but is taking some time as there are rather a lot of details that I'm slowly working through. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013


This painting was another in the studio waiting for a re-work. I started on the sky deepening it somewhat and  then adding a few high thin clouds. The wood-line behind the barns was deepened slightly and extended in height to slightly above the forward-facing building - this helped the anchor the buildings within the scene somewhat. I also re-painted the snow adding a slightly warmer underpainting to the mid-ground then getting cooler towards the foreground. The barn buildings were slightly deepened in tone and then a few details picked out in places finishing off with a little work to the grasses. In the frame it looks fine but I'll give it a week or so - who knows, by then I may find something else to do to it! Size is 9" X 12" - oil on canvas.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I did this study awhile ago and developed the lower foreground slightly later on when back in the studio. As is usual with these smaller studies, the idea is to try and capture an idea or mood then translate this into a larger painting. I have actually started the larger work but am struggling with it a little so have set it aside for now while working on other paintings. As mentioned in an earlier post, I'm trying to work through the unfinished painting I have here in the studio before starting some new ones. While that is the general idea, in reality I am often swayed by a new and exciting idea or thought. I am trying to keep any new paintings small at the moment so as the give the larger ones more of a chance of being completed.
Winter Sky study is an oil on canvas - size 4" X 6".

Monday, April 1, 2013


Sorry for the long delay between posts - here is something to tide you over. Yet another small study of the evening sky. I have been working on a quite a few different things but have yet to finish anything other than this study - lots of unfinished paintings lying around the studio : (
Perhaps it's an unsettled feeling of the in-between seasons that is throwing me off - still cold and wet here and looking as if spring will never arrive! I hope to have more to show you soon. Summer Fields is an oil on canvas, 8" X 10".

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


This painting is one of a series of works that I did while visiting the deserts of Southern California and Arizona some time ago. Here the mountains near the Salton sea are still in shadow and the day is shaping up to be another hot one! I was excited by the colors and tones of this scene, along with the distant mountains and sparse scrub in the foreground. Difficult to get right but I tried hard to capture something of the spirit of the place. It was a wonderful time spent driving around with Mo and friends - thanks to Nancy who started it all! Size is 6 1/2" X 17" (16.5cm X 43cm) - oil on canvas.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I have been working on this portrait for many years and finally I am about finished with it. I approached my friend and sculptor Pete Zulazec more years ago that I want to remember, in the hopes of doing a portrait of him. He kindly agreed so the rest then was up to me. I really struggled with this one, trying a version in oils, then watercolor, then back to oils etc etc etc on and on. Still after all this I couldn't get any of these paintings to work out the way that I had hoped. Finally after so long I managed to finish this version. I have given so much to this painting that I don't think that I would be able to try it again. Maybe time will take away some of those feelings but for now, I'm on to something different! Pete, I'm sorry that it took so long.
Details of the painting - watercolor on Arches paper, 15" X 22".

Friday, February 1, 2013


Winter is upon us again here in the Eastern part of the US. Mild up to a week ago then we were hit with sub-freezing temps and a bitter wind! A warm-up followed and now it has turned very cold again. Not much snow but enough to enjoy on our walks through the nearby reserve. I saw this scene one evening looking across the frozen surface of Beaver Lake so did a small study of it when I got back to the studio. Work has been a little slow lately but is picking up now so I should have some more paintings to post here soon. Frozen Lake, 5" X 7", oil on canvas.